ADDIS ABABA — The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees on Tuesday said it has relocated the first batch of Ethiopian refugees fleeing the violence in Ethiopia’s Tigray region to a new site in Sudan.
“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,” said a statement by the agency. Weeks of fights in Tigray between the Tigray People’s Liberation Front and the Ethiopian Defense Forces have reportedly left hundreds of people dead, thousands displaced, and millions in urgent need of humanitarian assistance. “Refugees are arriving with little more than the clothes on their backs, fatigued and in weak conditions after days of travel. More than 30 percent of them are estimated to be under 18 and 5 percent over 60 years old,” it said.
The UN agency and Sudan’s Commission for Refugees continue to relocate the refugees from the arrival locations at the border to the designated refugee camps, further inland in Sudan’s Gedaref State, according to the statement. With the Um Rakuba refugee camp almost at full capacity, the UN agency 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 km from Gedaref town. Since Sunday, 580 refugees have been relocated to Tunaydbah from Village 8 reception site, with relocations from Hamdayet reception site set to start also this week, said the UN body. Both reception sites are overcrowded, and their close location to the border put the safety and security of refugees increasingly at risk, it said.
A total of 1,000 tents, capable of sheltering up to 5,000 people, have so far been set up in the new site. More than 56,000 Ethiopian refugees have fled Tigray into eastern Sudan since early November, according to the latest figures from the UN refugee agency. The UN agency said by the end of 2020, some 40 million U.S. dollars has been pledged to the agency for the regional response to the emergency in Tigray, which covers only 37 percent of the financial requirements in Sudan, Ethiopia, and Djibouti.