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Camps for Ethiopians fleeing Tigray region to Sudan 'lack basic necessities'

November 14 - 2020 EL GEDAREF / KASSALA
The Tigray region in Ethiopia faces some of the toughest development challenges in the country (UNHCR/Zerihun Sewunet)
The Tigray region in Ethiopia faces some of the toughest development challenges in the country (UNHCR/Zerihun Sewunet)

Camps for Ethiopian refugees fleeing the Tigray conflict lack even the “simplest necessities of life”, Hussein Taha of the El Gedaref Rescue Initiative told Radio Dabanga in an interview yesterday.

Ethiopians who fled to El Gedaref were received in the areas of El Lugdi and Hashaba, according to Taha.

He explained, during his visit with a delegation from the intiative to Ethiopian refugees in Hashaba, that there are severe food, shelter, and health care shortages which “exceed the supplies of the governments of El Gedaref and Kassala.”

Food prices in the border areas with Ethiopia have doubled because of increased demand, and might lead to a humanitarian catastrophe if international organizations do not intervene, said Taha. He stated that some refugees have begun to travel to other areas within El Gedaref due to the deteriorating conditions in the reception centres.

A temporary reception camp in the Hamdayit border area with Ethiopia was visited by Kassala state Security Committee yesterday. The committee also visited Reefi Kassala and Wad El Helew on Friday to examine the conditions that people who have arrived from Ethiopia are living in.

The members of the Security Committee said that providing a helping hand and assistance to those affected is “a part of neighbourliness and human brotherhood,” especially since the locality has previously received refugees from Ethiopia.

UNHCR

Sudan dispatched the Minister of Interior Affairs, General El Tereifi Idris, and senior UN refugee agency (UNHCR) officials yesterday to El Gedaref and Kassala to study the situation on the ground and to take the necessary and quick measures to provide temporary shelters, in accordance with UN protocols.

“We are urging Governments in the neighbouring countries to keep their borders open for people forced from their homes,” said UNHCR Regional Bureau Director Clementine Nkweta-Salami on Wednesday. The UN expects the arrival of more refugees in a severe form, which “will require a significant mobilization of resources to address the needs of those seeking asylum.”

On the same day, the UNHCR announced that it is working with Sudanese authorities to help more than 7,000 refugees who have been fleeing Ethiopia. This figure rose significantly on Thursday, when the Sudanese Commissioner for Refugees announced that the number of people fleeing the war in Ethiopia’s Tigray region to Sudan has risen to more than 11,000 and expects that it will reach over 20,000 if military tensions and armed conflicts continue.

Rocket attack

Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), the ruling party in the Tigray region in Ethiopia, fired rockets at airports in a neighbouring state on Friday.

According to the Ethiopian government, the airport in Gondar in neighbouring Amhara state was hit, and another rocket aimed at the Bahir Dar airport missed the target.

According to a statement yesterday by the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), “the Tigray Defence Forces conducted missile strikes in military bases in Bahir Dar and Gondar in retaliation of air strikes conducted by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s forces in various parts of the state.”

11 days of conflict

“As long as the attacks on the people of Tigray do not stop, the attacks will intensify,” Getachew Reda, a spokesperson for the TPLF, said in a statement on the Facebook page of the Tigray state’s communications office.

Major clashes have rocked the opposition-controlled Tigray region of the country, which is located at the borders of Eritrea and Sudan, since last week. The Government of Ethiopia declared a State of Emergency on November 4, after which the Prime Minister’s office launched a military offensive against the TPLF and accused it of attacking the offices of the Defence Forces Northern Command.

On Thursday, an investigation by Amnesty International revealed evidence that hundreds of people were stabbed or hacked to death in the South-West Zone of Tigray on the night of November 9.


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