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Sudan reopens famine camps to shelter thousands of Ethiopian refugees

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UN official says over 10,000 Ethiopians have fled the fighting in Ethiopia, while hundreds more are waiting to cross a river in the border zone between the two countries.

Sudan reopens famine camps to shelter thousands of Ethiopian refugees www.theafricanstand.com
Volunteers gather to donate blood for the injured members of Ethiopia’s National Defense Forces (ENDF) fighting against Tigray’s special forces on the border between Amhara and Tigray, at the stadium in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia November 12, 2020. (Reuters)

(The African Stand) — About 11,000 people have crossed from Ethiopia to Sudan fleeing the conflict in their home country and an estimated 50 percent of them are children, a UN refugee agency official has said.

“They are coming with very, very little possessions and while most of them have actually come in in a healthy condition, we have had information on some who have been injured,” UNHCR representative Axel Bisschop told reporters in a virtual briefing on Thursday.

The agency had built a response plan for about 20,000 people, Bisschop said.

About 7,000 of those crossing have arrived at Hamdayat in Sudan’s Kassala state, with another 4,000 arriving at Luqdi in the al-Qadarif state.

Most of them are Tigrayan and some 45 percent of them are female, said Bisschop.

One photograph of a border crossing point showed about four boats ferrying people across a river, he said.

1980s famine camps reopen

Sudan said it would shelter thousands of Ethiopians fleeing the fighting, streaming across the border on foot, by bike, and by boat, in a reopened 1980s camp for victims of a historic famine.

Exhausted Ethiopian refugees, mostly women, youths, and children, arrived on foot or by bicycle and motorised rickshaw, said a correspondent for AFP in the Hamdait border area of Sudan’s eastern Kassala state.

Sudan has reopened the Um Raquba refugee camp that hosted thousands of Ethiopians from 1983-84 amid the country’s worst famine of the century, Gadaref state governor Ali Mohammad told the state-run Suna news agency.

“To accommodate the wave of refugees coming from Ethiopia, we have reopened the Um Raquba camp, built in the 1980s and closed in 2000,” he said.

“We have set up an administration in the camp to be able to receive them.”

Hundreds have died since Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, last year’s Nobel Peace Prize winner, sent troops and warplanes into Tigray last week after a months-long feud with the Tigray People’s Liberation Front.

The UN’s humanitarian affairs office warned that lack of access meant “food, health, and other emergency supplies have no way to make it into the region” and voiced “increasing concern for the protection of civilians against hostilities”.

Written by Hassan Juma

Hassan Juma is an international reporter who graduated with a degree from The United States International University where he majored in Journalism and International Relations and he is currently working for African Stand as a senior reporter covering the Middle East, US, Asia, and Europe.

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