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UN opens camp for Blue Nile’s refugees in Ethiopia


October 8, 2011 (KHARTOUM) – The United Nations (UN) has opened a camp in western Ethiopia to accommodate Sudanese refugees fleeing violence in the border region of Blue Nile.

Sudanese refugees from Blue Nile state cross into western Ethiopia through the Kurmuk border crossing (UNHCR/P.Rulashe)

More than 27,500 Sudanese refugees from Blue Nile have crossed the borders into neighboring Ethiopia since their state plunged into violent clashes on 1 September between Sudan’s army (SAF) and rebels of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement North (SPLM-N), according to UN figures.

The UN refugee agency (UNHCR) has announced it opened a refugee camp on Wednesday in Ethiopia’s western town of Tongo to provide shelter for Sudanese seekers of refuge from the war in Blue Nile.

Adrian Edwards, UNHCR spokesperson, said in a press briefing on Friday in Geneva that the new camp is located 200 km southeast of the main border entry point for refugees at Blue Nile’s border town of Al-Kurmuk, which is the stronghold of the SPLM-N rebels.

“With refugees still arriving, UNHCR is working with the Ethiopian government and the International Organization for Migration to speed the moving of refugees to safer locations,” he said.

The UNHCR spokesman noted that at the beginning of the influx, the arrivals were mainly women, children and elderly “generally in good health.” He however stated that recently the arrivals included men and injured individuals.

“We had recent cases involving a young man who had sustained bullet wounds, and a woman injured by shrapnel. Another man had lost his legs in a bomb explosion. All three were taken to the UNHCR health center in Sherkole camp for treatment,” he pointed out.

Edwards revealed that the UNHCR plans to move around 400 refugees daily from the border to Tongo, where shelter, water, food and sanitation are provided.

He further pointed out that the other main camp in the area at Sherkole reached its full capacity of 8,702 people on Tuesday.


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