Number of Ethiopian Refugees Escalates in Sudan


Escalating war in the northern Ethiopian state, Tigray, has led to an increase in the number of Ethiopian refugees going to Sudan. With Tigray forces firing rockets to a neighboring state, indicating a possibility of the conflict spreading to other states, fear levels have heightened among Ethiopians.

UN predicts an increase in the number of refugees

According to a UN refugee agency official, UN agencies have warned that probably 200,000 Ethiopian refugees are expected in Sudan over six months.

Thirty-three thousand refugees have arrived in Sudan, exceeding the UN’s prediction by about 11,000 persons.

“Together with all the agencies, we built a response plan for about 20,000 people, and currently, we are at about 31,000, so it has already surpassed that figure. The new planning figure is around 200 000,” said Axel Bisschop, a UN refugee agency official, during a Geneva briefing.

Tigray Situation

Ethiopian government troops launched the war that began about two weeks ago against Tigray state’s regional authorities. The government troops accused the regional authorities of mounting a surprise attack on federal forces.

The November 4 military expedition on Tigray was unleashed by Ethiopia’s Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed, 2019 Nobel Peace Prize Winner, to remove from power Tigray’s ruling party, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF). The premier has accused the party, led by Debretsion Gebremichael, to go against his government and try to destabilize it.

Consequently, hundreds, possibly thousands, have already lost their lives. Earlier this month, the Ethiopian government announced a state of emergency in Tigray, resulting in electricity and telecommunication outage, combined with a short supply of fuel and cash, which has since cut off humanitarian access.

Cry for Immediate Assistance

According to UNICEF, the current Tigray situation has left about two million children in need of immediate assistance.

“Inside the Tigray region, restricted access and the ongoing communication blackout have left an estimated 2.3 million children in need of humanitarian assistance and out of reach, “said Henrietta Fore, UNICEF executive director.

She added that another 12,000 children were at the registration centers and sheltering camps without their parents making them risk-prone.

International Concerns

The conflict in the second most populated country in Africa has sparked international concerns. United States officials on Thursday urged a truce between the two but saw little hope for negotiations.

Michael Raynor, the US ambassador to Ethiopia, said that his earlier discussion with Abiy and Debretsion had convinced him that there was “a strong commitment on both sides to see the military conflict through.”

‘Nothing more than clothes’

There is a sorry state at the camps with different agencies raising health concerns bearing in mind the COVID-19 pandemic is still a reality.

Will Carter, county director for Norwegian Refugee Council in Sudan, said people were living in the open with no blankets nor tents and that many families arrived with “nothing more than the clothes on their backs.”

$50m in immediate funding is what the UN agencies are seeking to provide food and set up new camps for the refugees in immediate funding.



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