Tigray conflict: difficult conditions await refugees in Sudan

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Radio-Canada

The tens of thousands of refugees who have decided to flee Ethiopia, where government forces clash with those of the Tigray People's Liberation Front, find themselves grappling with difficult conditions in camps in Sudan, where food and equipment are rare.

While the two opposing parties in this conflict try to control the information transmitted to the rest of the world – one ensuring it has the upper hand over the other and vice versa – civilians continue to flow to the Sudanese border. -Ethiopian.

If the Sudanese authorities have already received 42,651 people in the rapidly mounted camps in the east of the country, they expect to receive up to 200,000, said Bastien Renouil, a journalist currently based in Gedarif, to 160 km from the border, at the microphone of Midday info.

Many have fled Ethiopia in order toavoid fights, he explained. There are overwhelming numbers of them talking about violence against civilians, especially against the population of Tigrayan origin.

It is difficult to know who to believe between the Ethiopian government and the authorities in Tigray. But several horror stories told by refugees who witness executions suggest that the government may be responsible for massacres against civilians, Renouil reported.

Despite reports of killings taking place in Tigray State, some refugees are still thinking of crossing the border again or of trying their luck in the Sudanese nature, as the conditions in the camps are difficult.

Refugees told Renouil that they were considering leaving the camp if conditions do not improve in the coming days. They prefer it rather than starving or freezing, he said.

Two armed men are sitting on a pile of bags in which are food.

Soldiers keep an eye on bags containing food intended for Ethiopian refugees in Camp Fashaga, Sudan.

Photo: Reuters / MOHAMED NURELDIN ABDALLAH

Many of the refugees do not have enough to eat and do not have what it takes to build shelter. Despite international aid, the presence of UN agencies and NGOs local supplies, such as blankets and rugs, are in short supply.

In this desert region of Sudan, temperatures can reach up to 40 degrees during the day, before dropping to just above 0 degrees at night. This is without counting the gusts of wind that sweep the landscape at all hours of the day.

If the material is slow to arrive, it is because the NGO must transport it to the camps, which are far from the major centers. It takes many hours of driving to get there, and the trails are sometimes difficult to access, making it even more difficult for them.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) is working with the Sudanese Refugee Agency (COR) to coordinate the delivery of equipment and food to the camps. The World Food Program, another branch of theUN, has already provided food, such as lentils and sorghum, but in insufficient quantities.

A child sits on equipment in front of a tent featuring the UN World Food Program.

The World Food Program has provided some food in the refugee camps in Sudan, but the quantities are still insufficient.

Photo: afp via getty images / ASHRAF SHAZLY

Although Sudan is showing openness by welcoming tens of thousands of refugees on its territory, the country has neither the means nor the structures to take all these people under its wing. With itself grappling with a serious economic crisis, to which is added the COVID-19 pandemic, Sudan already has 1 million refugees on its own soil.

Over the past week, however, the number of people crossing the border has declined, according to data from the UNHCR. On Wednesday, the UN agency recorded 718 arrivals, against 3,813 on November 21.

The Tigray region, which lies in northern Ethiopia, has been rocked by violent clashes since Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed gave the green light for a military operation on November 4.

Mr. Ahmed accuses the leaders of the Tigray People's Liberation Front of wanting to destabilize the Ethiopian government and of being behind attacks on two military bases in the region. The authorities in Tigray deny being responsible.


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