Addis Ababa, Nov 28 (IANS) The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) has said that more than 43,000 Ethiopians have fled to neighbouring Sudan amid the ongoing clashes between the Ethiopian federal government and insurgents in the country’s northern Tigray region.
A UNHCR statement, which quoted agency spokesperson Babar Baloch, revealed on Friday that “since the start of fighting in Ethiopia’s northern Tigray region in early November, more than 43,000 refugees have crossed into Sudan seeking protection and shelter”, reports Xinhua news agency.
“Even before this influx, the country was hosting nearly one million refugees,” Baloch added.
Since the early hours of November 4, the Ethiopian government has been undertaking military operations against the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), which rules the region.
The federal government’s operation followed the TPLF’s attack on the Northern command base of the Ethiopian Defence Force, a division stationed in the region for over two decades and based in Mekelle city, capital of Tigray region.
Amid the ongoing clashes between the Ethiopian National Defence Forces (ENDF) and forces loyal to the TPLF, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, will visit Khartoum, the capital of Sudan.
“Grandi will review UNHCR operations in support of the government-led response to the latest influx. He is also scheduled to meet with refugees,” the UNHCR statement issued on Friday said.
In eastern Sudan, the UNHCR has continued to ramp up its relief effort together with the country’s Commission on Refugees and local authorities amidst complex logistical challenges.
According to the UNHCR, aid is being mobilized to help refugees almost half of whom are children.
Humanitarian agencies continue to provide shelter and other facilities to help refugees.
It, however, emphasized that “more resources are required and Sudan needs international support urgently”.
The UN agency has helped relocate nearly 10,000 refugees to the Um-Rakuba site, 70-km further from the border inside Sudan, as work continues to put up shelters and improve services.