Sudan grants asylum to over 200 Ethiopian ex-UN peacekeepers
September 4, 2023 (KHARTOUM) -The Sudanese government has granted refugee status to 247 former United Nations peacekeepers from Ethiopia who served in the UN mission in the disputed Abyei region.
The granted, who originate from Ethiopia’s war-torn Tigray region, are among a group of 649 former UN peacekeepers currently sheltered in Sudan’s Umm Qarqour camp.
“The daily report of the Gedaref State Housing Office for Refugees indicated today (September 2) that 247 of the 649 refugees (…) were granted refugee status,” said the Sudan News Agency.
Prior to the grant, authorities had conducted refugee Status Determination for the asylum seekers, the official news agency further said.
Last year, over 500 Ethnic Tigrayan UN peacekeepers refused to return home after completing their UN mission in the disputed Abyei region citing fears for their safety due to the civil war raging at home.
Since the eruption of the conflict between Tigray and government forces in November 2020, hundreds of Tigrayan members of the Ethiopian army have been targeted in a wave of mass arrests across the country.
The UN deployed about 4,000 peacekeepers, mainly Ethiopians, to Abyei in 2011 after South Sudan seceded from Sudan.
Until last year, the Ethiopian troops within the UN Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA) accounted for the vast majority of the 4,000-strong peacekeeping force in the oil-rich Abyei, a disputed border region between Sudan and South Sudan.
The Ethiopian contingent was replaced by a multinational force, over Sudan’s request, as ties between Addis Ababa and Khartoum deteriorate over a territorial dispute and over fallout from the Horn country’s controversial mega-dam project on the Blue Nile river which downstream countries, Sudan and Egypt fear would eventually diminish their water share from the River.