The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the UN Refugee Agency, on Tuesday said “several thousand” Ethiopians have sought safety in Sudan’s Blue Nile state over the last month fleeing escalating violence in Ethiopia’s Benishangul-Gumuz region.
Tensions have been high in Ethiopia’s western Benishangul-Gumuz region’s Metekel Zone since 2019 with several reports of inter-communal attacks in parts of the region.
As the situation escalated rapidly in the past three months, the Ethiopian government had declared a state of emergency in the area since last month.
The UN Refugee Agency on Tuesday said it is working closely with Sudanese authorities and partners to assess the situation and respond to the humanitarian needs of the newly arrived, “many of whom have arrived in hard-to-reach locations along the border.”
According to figures from the UNHCR, out of the 7,000 people estimated to have arrived in Sudan’s Blue Nile State, nearly 3,000 have been registered.
“This number is expected to increase as the verification exercise continues in all the locations where refugees are being hosted,” the agency said.
In the past weeks, UNHCR and partners have already provided humanitarian assistance to nearly 1,000 refugees in Yabatcher, on the Sudan-Ethiopia border, it was noted.
Refugees have received food, access to health, water and sanitation facilities, and aid supplies.
The UNHCR also stressed that the majority of these asylum-seekers are living among the Sudanese host community who continue to welcome people seeking safety.
The UN Refugee Agency and its partners “will continue to ramp up the response to support the government in its response,” the agency reiterated.
The displacement of Ethiopians in Sudan’s Blue Nile State is not directly related to conflict in Ethiopia’s northern Tigray region, which has pushed more than 61,000 to seek safety in Sudan in recent months.