Civilians fleeing the war in Ethiopia come to a neighbouring country that is unable to cope with the crisis. Among the refugees are many children who have moved away from their parents.
Aid organizations on the ground said that around 45,000 refugees from Ethiopia are now in miserable tent camps in Sudan. The number continues to increase, despite the fact that it is happening at a slower pace since it has become more difficult to cross the border.
There are very many children, all the way down to the age of two, who have gotten away from their parents during the chaotic escape, or who have parents who have been killed. It is heartbreaking and work is now being done to register the children with the hope that they can find relatives, Berte Marie Ulveseter, country representative for Norwegian Church Aid, reported VG.
Those we meet fled in a hurry. In addition to the urgent need for food, water and tents, there are many who demand clothes – they have not been able to change since they fled their homes several weeks ago, she continues.
On Thursday, one of the refugees, who said that he and his family had to flee separately. Now he does not know where his wife and their five children are.
A rebel leader in the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) said on Saturday that Ethiopian forces had begun bombing the provincial capital Mekele. In a message to Reuters, the rebel leader writes that the city is under heavy attack, and leaders in the Ethiopian military have previously warned that they will take Mekele.
Ulveseter says that the refugees have been received with great hospitality by the locals, but that the region they come to is not able to take care of them.
There will be a great need for outside help. The situation in the camps is getting a little better every day, but at the same time the number is coming. Sudan does not have the finances to deal with the situation. It must be borne in mind that there are already nine million people in Sudan who are dependent on food supplies.
She says that the area to which the refugees arrive has been hit by a drought. On Thursday, Ulveseter visited a refugee camp with 12,000 people and on Friday a camp with 8,000 people.
“We were afraid to die in the war, so we came here. We will not die of hunger and disease here. If anyone wants to help us, they must do so quickly,” says one of the refugees, Terhas Adiso.
The conditions in the camps are unhygienic and the health situation among the refugees is described as terrible by local authorities. However, the number of new refugees has fallen in the last week. Refugees who arrived in Sudan on Thursday accuse the Ethiopian army of blocking a road near Humera near the border.
“Those trying to get to Sudan must avoid the main road and cross fields without being seen by soldiers,” said Tesfai Burhano, who had just arrived at the Lugdi border crossing.
The final battle between the rebels in the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) and the Ethiopian government army will be focused around the regional capital of Mekele. The city, which has about half a million inhabitants, is surrounded by tanks from government forces.
Abiy Ahmed Ali, the Prime Minister of Ethiopia who last year received the Peace Prize for ending the war between Eritrea and Ethiopia, gave the green light to the army on Thursday to start the attack.