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11,000 Ethiopian refugees arrive in Sudan, UNHCR says

Refugees fleeing the Tigray region after their arrival in Sudan's Gadaref on 12 November 2020 (Gettyimages)November 12, 2020 (KHARTOUM) - Over 11,000 people have fled from Ethiopia to Sudan to escape the conflict in their home country, an estimated 50% of whom are children, a U.N. refugee agency (UNHCR) official said on Thursday.

“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 in Sudan, Axel Bisschop, told reporters in a videoconference briefing.

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

“We also have a further contingency for up to 100,000 people but ... it’s too early to have an informed estimate of the number of people who can actually arrive,” he added.

About 7,000 of those crossing have arrived at Hamdayat in Sudan’s Kassala state, with another 4,000 arriving at Luqdi in Gadaref state. Most of them are Tigrayan and some 45% of them are female, said the UN official.

Sudanese officials in Kassala and Gadaref say they are collaborating with the UNHCR and ready to provide the needed support for the refugees, stressing on the need for international support, as they project that 200,000 refugees would cross the border.

Eastern Sudan region is already hosting about 100,000 refugees, the majority of them coming from Eritrea.

In a statement released on Tuesday, the UNHCR said deeply concerned about the situation of more than 96,000 Eritreans living in four refugee camps in Tigray together with 100,000 internally displaced people.

Last week, the Ethiopian government announced a military operation launch into the northern region of Tigray.

The Ethiopian army since 4 November has launched military operations against the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) after accusing the latter of attacking its Northern command which is based in Tigray.

As the conflict escalates day by day, the Sudanese border has seen the arrival of thousands of refugees daily.

The Ethiopian Prime Minister has refused regional and international calls to stop hostilities and minimized fears of a civil war in the country.