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1000 Ethiopian refugees live in 'extremely difficult conditions' in eastern Sudan

December 13 - 2020 HAMDAYET
Children pictured in the Tigray region in Ethiopia (UNHCR/Zerihun Sewunet)
Children pictured in the Tigray region in Ethiopia (UNHCR/Zerihun Sewunet)

Acting governor of Kassala, El Tayeb El Sheikh, warned of the effects on eastern Sudan of the war in Tigray in Ethiopia and the influx of tens of thousands of refugees into the region on Friday.

1,000 refugees live in “extremely difficult humanitarian conditions,” the acting Governor said during his visit to the refugee reception camp in Hamdayet in Wad El Helew locality in the southern part of Kassala.

“The war in Ethiopia is having repercussions on the region, including an increase in smuggling of weapons and drugs, human trafficking, and overwhelming pressure on the 6,000 residents of Hamdayet and services,” he said in a joint press conference following the visit.

The governor also pointed out that many Ethiopian soldiers are fleeing the battle fronts.

The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) should provide more support to the children, the handicapped, and the elderly among the refugees, he said, noting that 65 children have arrived in Hamdayet unaccompanied.

The is an urgent need to redistribute the pressure on Kassala state by transporting refugees to neighbouring El Gedaref state, said the governor. The spokesperson for the Kassala Security Committee, Maj Gen Khaled Awad, mentioned a number of difficulties facing the transportation process, including the refusal of some refugees to go to the Um Rakouba refugee camp in El Gedaref.

Mohamed Yagoub, director of the Hamdayet camp, described the overall conditions in the camp as “bad” due to shortages of the most basic supplies, including food, water, fuel and cash.

The head of the Change and Services Committee in Hamdayet, Mousa Ibrahim, warned of environmental deterioration and the emergence of water-borne & vector-borne diseases, as well as COVID-19, in the area.

One month on since the start of the conflict in Tigray, the humanitarian situation continues to critically deteriorate and could lead to a humanitarian catastrophe, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). “The conflict continues to force people from their homes, with thousands internally displaced and nearly 50,000 seeking refuge in Sudan,” the office reported on December 8.

Sudan’s Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok has asked the UNHCR for technical and programmatic assistance to deal with the influx of Ethiopian refugees. He and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi agreed to organise an international conference on refugee issues to be hosted by Khartoum at the beginning of next year.

The UN and its partners have finalized a refugee response plan seeking $147 million to help a projected 100,000 refugees expected to arrive in Sudan between November and June 2021.


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