The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), on Tuesday, disclosed that the number of Ethiopian refugees fleeing to neighboring Sudan surpassed 41,193 amid the ongoing fighting between the Ethiopian National Defense Force (ENDF) and forces loyal to the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), which rules over the Tigray regional state.
“As of November 23, 41,193 Ethiopians had crossed into East Sudan,” the UN Refugee Agency said in its situation report issued on Tuesday.
The UNHCR said that the rate of new arrivals that had reached an average of 4,000 per day decreased to just 2,000 per day on November 19 and 20.
“However, over the weekend, rates increased again with 3,111 arriving on Saturday and 1,640 on Sunday,” it added.
According to the UNHCR, the majority continue to cross at Hamdayet border point (27,533) in Kassala state, Lugdi border point and Abderaf border point in Gederaf state (12,042).
It also stated that no new arrivals are reported in Blue Nile State, which hosts 702 refugees.
“The remote border areas are still heavily congested with overall poor living conditions despite the aid provided,” it added.
The agency also said that as of Monday, 8,329 people have been relocated over the course of the week to Um-Rakuba on a journey that takes an entire day by bus.
It also said that the assessment of the new site Tenetba at Fau 5 is underway. Plans are being made to relocate 60 Eritrean refugees who arrived with the Ethiopian population to Shagarab refugee camp.
UNHCR and protection partners are increasing their protection monitoring on the ground.
According to the UNHCR, many refugees have expressed reluctance to leave the border points, some because they are still searching for missing family members.
The Sudanese Red Crescent Society (SRCS) along with ICRC are setting up a mechanism for family tracing.
Meanwhile, the Ethiopian government has vowed to rehabilitate the recently displaced nationals into neighboring Sudan amid the ongoing fighting in the restive northern Tigray regional state.
Since the early hours of Nov. 4, the Ethiopian government has been undertaking military operations against the TPLF, which rules over Ethiopia’s northernmost Tigray regional state.
The federal government’s operation followed the TPLF’s attack on the Northern command base of the Ethiopian Defense Force, a division stationed in the region for over two decades and based in Mekelle city, capital of Tigray region.
The mounting disputes between the federal government and the TPLF were exacerbated in September this year when the Tigray regional government decided to go ahead with its planned regional elections, which the Ethiopian parliament had previously postponed due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.