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Sudan Tribune

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Sudan orders aid groups to evacuate border area with Ethiopia

Hamdayet reception centre for refugees

Hamdayet reception centre for refugees

September 4, 2022 (KHARTOUM)- The Sudanese authorities urged humanitarian aid agencies to evacuate the Hamdayet border reception centre for Ethiopian refugees, citing fears for their safety following the intensification of clashes near the Sudanese border.

Thousands of refugees fled from the northern Ethiopia region of Tigray when hostilities broke out between the TPLF and the regular army in Ethiopia in November 2020.

However, in recent weeks, fighting resumed between Ethiopian forces backed by Eritrea forces against the Tigray People Liberation Front, which controls northern Ethiopia.

Informed sources confirmed to Sudan Tribune that fierce military confrontations between the sides continued on Sunday near the Sudanese-Ethiopian-Eritrean border triangle in the areas of Dima and Qudimah.

“As a result of this escalation, the Sudanese security authorities ordered foreign organizations operating in the Hamdayet reception centre to leave the area after the intensification of military confrontations around Dima, which borders Hamadayet,” the Sudanese military sources further added.

The sources, also, said that the authorities plan to evacuate the civilians reseeding the area as Sudanese military reinforcements were deployed in both Hamdayet and Qudimah.

Hamdayet is located in the Great Fashagah near the common border between Gedaref and Kassala states in Sudan, adjacent to Ethiopia and Eritrea.

Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), Plan Sudan, UNHCR, COR, Muslim Aid, as well as the Child Welfare Council are among the aid groups working in the border area.

Renewed Conflict

Guns had largely been silenced in Ethiopia’s north after the two warring parties agreed to a ceasefire some six months ago.

However, conflict resumed last week with clashes on the ground and air raids over Tigray dashing hopes to peacefully end the nearly two-year-long bloody civil war.

Fighting is ongoing around the southeastern border of Tigray, with Tigray forces pushing into the neighbouring Amhara and Afar regions.

Eritrea’s re-involvement

This week, the Eritrean government has once again dispatched troops alongside Ethiopian troops to fight Tigray.

Getachew Reda, Spokesperson of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), said on Thursday that the Ethiopian and Eritrean government forces have launched an offensive against their positions.

Citing to drivers coming from near the border area, a humanitarian worker in Shire town of western Tigray told Al Jazeera that there was cross-border shelling on Wednesday.

Getachew accused the government and its neighbour Eritrea – which backed federal forces during the war’s early phase – of being responsible for opening a new front.

“The Abiy regime, along with the Asmara regime, launched [an] offensive on these fronts.  We are defending our positions,” he said.

U.S. special envoy

After the war resumed, the U.S. government is sending its special envoy for the Horn of Africa to Ethiopia and the region.

Mike Hammer is expected to arrive in Ethiopia on Sunday, and will “convey that all parties should halt military operations and engage in peace talks,” White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said.

The U.S. government has also condemned Eritrea’s renewed involvement in Ethiopia’s renewed conflict.

“We condemn Eritrea’s re-entry into the conflict, the ongoing TPLF offensive outside Tigray and the Ethiopian government’s air strikes,” she told reporters.

After the renewed fighting, more Ethiopian refugees have crossed into eastern Sudan in recent days.