More than 30,000 refugees have fled conflict in Ethiopia’s northernmost Tigray region into southeast Sudan where many have been sleeping in the open, under the threat of COVID-19, a UN spokesman said on Wednesday.
“The UN team, with the government of Sudan, is working to ensure that people are not in reception centers for more than two days before being transferred to more proper facilities in refugee camps,” said Stephane Dujarric, spokesman for UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. “There are now over 30,000 refugees in Sudan, and families and children are sleeping in the open.”
“The United Nation’s concern right now is with hygiene conditions, as more and more people arrive and that hygiene is focused on trying to prevent the spread of the virus,” Dujarric added.
A team of representatives from the UN Refugee Agency, the World Food Programme, the UN Children’s Fund and the UN Population Fund with the resident and humanitarian coordinator in Sudan, Babacar Cisse, has assessed the situation in refugee camps in the southeastern region of Sudan, bordering Tigray, the spokesman said.
The mission visited the Hamdayet Reception Center, hosting nearly 16,000 people, parts of the Um Raquba camp, now with 4,440 Ethiopians but prepared to accommodate 10,000 people and being expanded to shelter more.
“They are also identifying additional sites so that refugees can get away from the border and receive aid and essential services,” he said.
The stream of displaced began shortly after violence erupted Nov. 4 in restive Tigray between the national government and local authorities.