January 4, 2021 (GADAREF) – The Ethiopian Federal Army deployed more troops on the border area to prevent people fleeing the war in the Tigray region to cross into Sudan.
The federal troops have retaken control of most of the territory of the Tigray region. However, the TPLF fighters continue to resist in several areas triggering new waves of refugees.
Sudanese authorities recently identified over 40 TPLF elements who arrived in Sudan among the civilians.
“The Ethiopian army began closing the borders with Sudan, deploying troops, patrolling the border and building a fence to prevent refugees from reaching Hamdayet camp,” an eyewitness told the Sudan Tribune on Monday.
The witness further said that the Ethiopian army and police patrols chased the refugees in May Glitte area leading to Hamdayet Reception Centre on the Sudanese side of the border.
There more than 5,000 people in Dima, close to the Sudanese border who seek to enter the Hamdayet centre, according to eyewitnesses.
Fateh Moghaddam the director of emergency housing for refugees told the Sudan Tribune that the number of Ethiopian refugees has exceeded 63,000.
Moghaddam pointed out that 44,000 refugees from Hamdayet camp in Kassala state are waiting to be transferred to Altanideba camp in the Gadaref state.
He added that the transfer of refugees from the Hashaba Reception Centre in Gadaref began on Monday, with 250 refugees.
The UNHCR and Sudanese authorities initially decided to transfer 1000 refugees per day to the newly opened second camp in Altanideba area, but they reviewed their plans after the outbreak of the coronavirus in the Um Rakuba camp.
Moghadam said that the High Commissioner for Refugees reduced the number of passengers in a single transport bus from 35 to 15 people.
Also, 250 refugees are transported to Altanideba from the Hamdayet camp which is near the triangle border area between Eritrea Sudan and Ethiopia. The HCR and Sudanese authorities say they consider ways to accelerate refugees’ evacuation from this sensitive area.
Geneva, 5 January 2021
UNHCR relocates first Ethiopian refugees to a new site in Sudan
This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesperson Andrej Mahecic – to whom quoted text may be attributed – at today’s press briefing at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.
UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, continues to register new refugee arrivals at the Sudanese-Ethiopian border. Some 800 people crossed from Ethiopia’s Tigray region into eastern Sudan in just the first few days of the new year. Since early November, more than 56,000 Ethiopian refugees have fled to neighbouring Sudan.
Latest arrivals tell of being caught in the conflict and being victims of various armed groups, facing perilous situations including looting of their houses, forceful recruitment of men and boys, and sexual violence against women and girls. Refugees are arriving with little more than the clothes on their backs, fatigued and in weak conditions after sometimes days of travel. More than 30 per cent of them are estimated to be under 18 and 5 per cent over 60 years old.
In support of the government-led response in Sudan, UNHCR and Sudan’s Commission for Refugees (COR) continue to relocate the refugees from the arrival locations at the border to the designated refugee camps, further inland in Sudan’s Gedaref State.
With the Um Rakuba refugee camp approaching its full capacity, UNHCR and its partners are striving to swiftly relocate refugees from reception sites at the border to a second, newly opened refugee camp, Tunaydbah, in order to keep refugees safe and offer them better living conditions.
The new site is located some 136 kilometres from Gedaref town. Since this Sunday, 580 refugees were relocated to Tunaydbah from Village 8 reception site, with relocations from Hamdayet reception site set to start also this week. Both reception sites are overcrowded, and their close location to the border putting the safety and security of refugees increasingly at risk.
Upon arrival to Tunaydbah, hot meals are being provided and 1,000 tents, aimed at sheltering up to 5,000 people, have so far been set up by partners. More tents are being pitched as the relocation is set to progress in the coming days and weeks.
UNHCR, COR, and partners are scaling up their response to meet the needs of the increasing refugee population in all locations. Currently, more than 20 humanitarian partners are on the ground in Um Rakuba and another six are starting their activities in Tunaydbah to assist and engage the refugee and host community with shelter, health, food and nutrition services.
Once more, the government of Sudan is generously keeping its border open to refugees, but additional support is needed to complement the authorities’ response. In particular, it is critical to further improve water and sanitation conditions in the refugee camps and reception areas, as well as to ramp up COVID-19 prevention measures, including isolation facilities. Additional funding is also required to sustain shelter projects and improve the living conditions of refugees in the camps, especially in anticipation of the next rainy season expected to start in May.
As at the end of 2020, US$40 million has been pledged to UNHCR for the regional response to the emergency in Ethiopia’s Tigray region, which covers only 37 per cent of the financial requirements in Sudan, Ethiopia, and Djibouti.