June 21, 2021

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Sudanese PM vows to protect Ethiopian refugees streaming into Sudan

The head of the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) visited some refugee camps near the Sudanese borders with Ethiopia where over 43,000 Ethiopians fleeing from fighting in their homeland have arrived in Sudan, saying urgent assistance is needed for the refugees, most of whom are children

“I am in Sudan and visiting areas near the Ethiopian border, where 43,000 refugees from Ethiopia’s Tigray region have arrived so far,.” said UNHCR Commissioner, Filippo Grandi, shortly after landing in Kasala, one of the areas hosing the Ethiopian refugees.

“Sudan once again is showing its traditional hospitality to people in need — and urgently requires international assistance to support its efforts,” the UN High Commissioner, Mr Grandi, tweeted on Friday.

Meanwhile, the UNHCR spokesperson, Babar Baloch, told the international media at the Palais des Nations in Geneva, that the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, is visiting Khartoum as the country is receiving a growing number of refugees from Ethiopia.

The Spokesperson said since the start of fighting in Ethiopia’s northern Tigray region in early November, more than 43,000 refugees have crossed into Sudan seeking protection and shelter.

The spokesperson stressed that “even before this influx, the country was hosting nearly one million refugees, mainly from South Sudan”.

The Spokesperson said in eastern Sudan, UNHCR continues to ramp up its relief effort together with Sudan’s Commission on Refugees and local authorities amidst complex logistical challenges.

“Aid is being mobilized to help refugees almost half of whom are children. Humanitarian agencies continue to provide shelter and other facilities to help refugees but more resources are required and Sudan needs international support urgently,“ the UN official underlined.

Already, UNHCR has helped relocate nearly 10,000 refugees to the Um Rakuba site, 70 km further from the border inside Sudan, as work continues to put up shelters and improve services.

The spokesman announced that on Friday “a plane carrying 32 tons of UNHCR emergency aid from our global stockpile in Dubai landed in Khartoum”, adding that another airlift is scheduled to leave Dubai on Monday with 100 tons of additional relief items. UNHCR’s global stockpile is hosted by the International Humanitarian City in Dubai (IHC). “In total, we plan to send four airlifts”.

“Today’s cargo included 5,000 blankets, 4,500 solar lamps, 2,900 mosquito nets, 200 plastic sheets and 200 plastic rolls. A second airlift will carry 1,275 family tents and 10 prefabricated warehouses. This aid will meet the immediate shelter needs of more than 16,000 people. The transportation costs of both flights were generously covered by the Government of United Arab Emirates. The UNHCR said as workers in the ground started complaining that with almost two weeks elapsing since the arrival of the refugees, very little was done on the ground.”

The UN body has meanwhile complained that inside Tigray region, concerns are growing for the safety of civilians in the conflict, particularly in its capital, Mekele, home to more than 500,000 people.

“UNHCR remains concerned as the humanitarian situation continues to worsen in Tigray, including for those displaced and for some 96,000 Eritrean refugees who will run out of food as soon as Monday if supplies cannot reach them. We join other humanitarian agencies to reiterate our call for the protection of civilians and immediate humanitarian access in order to resume the delivery of life sustaining assistanc,” the UNHCR complained.

However, the office of the Ethiopian Prime Minister, Abyei Ahmed, tweeted that the leaders of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front are seeking to manipulate the international community into backing a power-sharing deal that grants it impunity for past crimes.

The Prime Minister himself underlined that the overall safety and well-being of the people of Tigray is of paramount importance to the Federal government and “we will do all that is necessary to ensure stability prevails in the Tigray region and that our citizens are free from harm and want.” (PANA/NAN)

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