UNHCR says Ethiopian refugees crossing into Sudan surpass 61,200

The UN refugee agency, together with its partners, has also continued to establish refugee community structures at all sites.

The United Nations Refuge Agency (UNHCR) says more than 61,200 Ethiopian refugees have crossed into East Sudan amid recent military confrontation in Ethiopia's northernmost Tigray regional state.

The 61,200 Ethiopian refugees crossed into Sudan since the start of the military confrontations between the federal and regional forces in the Tigray region broke out in November 2020, the agency said in its latest situation update.

According to the latest figures from the UNHCR, some 20,572 refugees have been relocated to Um Rakuba camp, and 14,551 refugees to Tunaydbah settlement. It also disclosed that the relocations of Ethiopian refugees from Hamdayet reception centre resumed as of February 14, with more than 1,000 relocated to Tunaydbah settlement. 


The UN refugee agency, together with its partners, has also continued to establish refugee community structures at all sites.


In addition to Ethiopians fleeing to Eastern Sudan, the UNHCR and its partners have established a regular presence in the two Eritrean refugee camps, Mai-Aini and Adi Harush, in Ethiopia's conflict-affected Tigray region, it added. 


The UN agency also noted ongoing relocation efforts after the Ethiopian government has recently announced the closure of Shimelba and Hitsats refugee camps, and the relocation of Eritrean refugees dispersed across Tigray to Mai-Aini and Adi-Harush camps. 


So far, some 5,000 have relocated to the two southern camps, it was noted. The Ethiopian government is presently providing protection for nearly 1 million refugees mainly from South Sudan, Somalia, Eritrea, and Sudan, who are being hosted across 26 camps and non-camp locations.     


State of Tigray 'concerning' 

UNHCR said the humanitarian situation across Ethiopia's conflict-affected northernmost Tigray regional state "remains deeply concerning."


"Many refugees, internally displaced persons and host communities have endured more than three months of conflict with extremely limited assistance, leading to a significant escalation in humanitarian needs," the agency said in its latest situation update issued on Thursday. 


According to the UNHCR, the security situation "remains volatile" especially in rural areas, and in and around Shire, affecting civilians and constraining humanitarian actors on the ground.


The UNHCR, however, said basic services have gradually resumed in parts of Tigray. It also stressed that electricity and banking services remain intermittent.


On Wednesday, Ethiopian authorities said sabotage on electricity lines has left the region in total darkness. In a press statement, the Ethiopia Electricity Power (EEP), said sabotage by "Junta remnants" on a high voltage electricity transmission line carrying electricity from Alamata city in southern Tigray to Mekelle, the Tigray regional capital, has forced the region to be in a total electricity blackout. The EEP said it's working to repair the damaged high voltage electricity line. 



"Junta remnants" is used to refer to forces aligned with the ex-ruling party of the Tigray region, Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF), which is now forced to operate in rural parts of the region.


According to Ethiopian government figures, the Tigray region conflict has resulted in the displacement of around 2.2 million people, while 4.5 million people in total are in need of emergency aid.   


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