UN says 11 000 have fled Ethiopia to Sudan, 50% of them children


About 11 000 people have crossed from Ethiopia to Sudan fleeing the conflict in their home country and an estimated 50% of them are children, a UN refugee agency official said on Thursday.

“They are coming with very, very little possessions and while most of them have actually come in in a healthy condition, we have had information on some who have been injured,” UNHCR representative Axel Bisschop told reporters in a virtual briefing.

The agency had built a response plan for about 20 000 people, Bisschop said.

“We also have a further contingency for up to 100 000 people but … it’s too early to have an informed estimate of the amount of people who can actually arrive.”

About 7 000 of those crossing have arrived at Hamdayat in Sudan’s Kassala state, with another 4 000 arriving at Luqdi in al-Qadarif state. Most of them are Tigrayan and some 45% of them are female, said Bisschop.

One photograph of a border crossing point showed about four boats ferrying people across a river, he said.

UNHCR and local authorities have identified one site 70-100 km from the border at which to host the influx of refugees and were working to identify others, he added.

Ethiopia’s military has been waging a campaign against local forces in the northern Tigray region, where air strikes and ground combat have left hundreds dead.