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Ethiopian ambush on Sudanese army death toll reaches 27

December 18 - 2020 EL FASHAGA / EL GEDAREF
Map, updated on December 9, to show the movement of refugees from Ethiopia's Tigray region into Sudan's Kassala, El Gedaref, Sennar, and Blue Nile states (USAID/UNHCR)
Map, updated on December 9, to show the movement of refugees from Ethiopia's Tigray region into Sudan's Kassala, El Gedaref, Sennar, and Blue Nile states (USAID/UNHCR)

The number of wounded in the attack by Ethiopian armed and militia forces on members of the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) in El Fashaga, El Gedaref, on Tuesday has risen to 27.

Sources from El Fashaga told Radio Dabanga yesterday that Ethiopian militiamen from neighbouring Amarah region (called shifta in the region) and Ethiopian army troops seized army vehicles and captured at least seven Sudanese soldiers during the attack on Tuesday.

They also said that that the SAF recaptured a number of settlements of seasonal farm workers at the El Fashaga-Ethiopian border that were occupied by Ethiopian militant farmers.

El Burhan inspection

Chairman of the Sovereign Council, Lt Gen Abdelfattah El Burhan, inspected Sudanese troops deployed on the eastern border in El Gedaref on Thursday, following the attack on Tuesday, accompanied by the Chief of Staff, Mohamed Osman El Hussein, and senior military commanders.

El Burhan was briefed about the situation at the headquarters of the Second Infantry Division in El Gedaref.

The Sudanese government, Sudan Revolutionary Front, and other political groups have voiced their support of the SAF and condemned a coordinated attack by the Ethiopian army. The Rapid Support Forces also condemned the attack yesterday.

Egypt declared its full solidarity with Sudan and its right to protect its security and exercise sovereignty over its lands, according to a statement issued by the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The country condemned the Ethiopian attacks, which it described as unjustified, and affirmed that it is following developments and their impact on the security situation in the region “with great concern.” The statement noted the importance of putting measures in place to prevent such events from happening again in the future.

The Sudanese government has requested Addis Ababa to “stop the violence at the border” and intends to file a complaint about the recent attacks in El Gedaref at the eastern Africa Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD).

The SAF has declared a state of high alert and sent military reinforcements to the border. Similarly in Ethiopia, the armed forces has declared a state of high alert and sent military reinforcements to the border.

Reclaimed land

On December 2, the SAF took control of the area of Khor Yabis in eastern El Gedaref on the border between Sudan and Ethiopia due to the ongoing conflict in Ethiopia’s restive Tigray region. The Radi El Fashaga Committee said in a statement that the SAF recovered Khor Yabis in El Fashaga El Sughra, off Barakat Norein, after 25 years of absence.

The shifta regularly conduct violent cross-border raids to steal crops and livestock or kidnap people for ransom.

Radio Dabanga Arabic reported earlier this month that the El Fashaga Lands Committee claims that 90 per cent of the lands in the border area of El Fashaga El Sughra has been occupied for years by the shifta, who cultivated the land together with Ethiopian farmers.

SAF troops who entered El Fashaga El Sughra to retake control of the area “reached 35 km from the border with Ethiopia from the east, and about 110 km in the northeast,” the committee said in a press statement.

The area was evacuated voluntarily by the Ethiopian side. At the time, the El Fashaga Lands Committee called for taking complementary steps that achieve “the liberation of all Sudanese soil and affirm national sovereignty”.

50,000 refugees

Just over 50,000 Ethiopians have fled to Sudan to date, following escalating conflict in Ethiopia’s Tigray region.

The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), together with the Sudanese authorities, has moved some 14,000 refugees from Hamdayet and Abdelrafi border points to Um Rakouba camp, situated 70 km away from the Ethiopian border. Most of the refugees in the camp and those crossing into Sudan, many of them women and children, are desperate for food, shelter, clean water, sanitation and health care, according to the UNHCR.

“The needs are overwhelming. The Hamdayet transit centre which was originally built to house hundreds, now has thousands living there,” said Andrew Mbogori, UNHCR’s Principal Emergency Coordinator in Sudan. “It’s located in such a remote area and it has been challenging to upgrade facilities to minimum standards.”


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