The United Nations Refugee Agency, UNHCR, on Tuesday reported that it has relocated the first batch of refugees fleeing the violence in Ethiopia’s Tigray region to a new site in Sudan, reported UN News.
“The UN Refugee Agency continues to register new refugee arrivals at the Sudanese-Ethiopian border. Some 800 people crossed from Ethiopia’s Tigray region into eastern Sudan in just the first few days of the New Year,” the UNHCR said in a statement.
The ongoing fight in Tigray between the Ethiopian military and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front and has reportedly left hundreds of people dead. The clashes have left thousands displaced, and millions in urgent need of humanitarian assistance. More than 56,000 Ethiopian refugees have fled the country since early November.
UNHCR spokesman Andrej Mahecic said hundreds of Ethiopians continue to flee for their lives. He added that the refugees are arriving in eastern Sudan fatigued and weak after days of travel, with little more than the clothes on their backs.
Mahecic said over 30 percent of the refugees are estimated to be under 18 years and 5 percent over 60 years old.
He said that as the Um Rakuba refugee camp has almost reached full capacity, the UN agency is now swiftly relocating refugees from reception sites at the border to a second, newly opened refugee camp in Tunaydbah, located some 136 km from Gedaref town.
A total of 1,000 tents, capable of sheltering up to 5,000 people, have so far been set up in the new site. More tents are being pitched as the relocation is set to progress in the coming days.
The UNHCR has appealed to its international partners for additional support to complement the authorities’ response.
“It is critical to further improve water and sanitation conditions in the refugee camps and reception areas, as well as to ramp up COVID-19 prevention measures, including isolation facilities,” the UN agency said.