Sudan: Ethiopian refugees face increasingly difficult conditions as more people flee their homes (09.08.2021)

Ethiopian refugees in the camps in south-east Sudan face increasingly dire living conditions.

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia, August 9, 2021 – As fighting in Ethiopia’s Tigray region and other areas in the north of the country forces more people to flee their homes, Ethiopian refugees in the camps in south-east Sudan face increasingly dire living conditions. Food, clean water, shelter and sanitation are desperately insufficient, and an increasing number of people suffer from malnutrition and diseases like malaria and hepatitis E. The onset of the rainy season worsened the situation and some refugees are choosing to undertake dangerous migration routes or move to other areas of the country.

“Everyone is just trying to make their life better, but youth are in a bad situation and they’re turning to drugs and alcohol. They’re starting to have psychological problems. There are also all the children separated from their families who are here alone,” said Daniel, a 23-year-old student living in Um Rakouba camp.

Besides the harsh living conditions, thousands of refugees are unable to contact their family members with telecommunication networks in many areas of the Tigray region down. Many people suffer trauma and emotional distress, following months of not knowing if they will be reunited with their spouses and children.

Since the beginning of the Tigray crisis, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) facilitated nearly 22,200 successful phone calls between refugees and their families. However, it registered over 20,000 unsuccessful phone calls in the same period, meaning that thousands of people could not receive news from home.

“Months go by without any news from family members for far too many people,” said Maria Carolina Aissa, the head of the ICRC sub-delegation in Kassala. “It is heartbreaking to see how people struggle to maintain dignity and hope in these circumstances.”

About ICRC’s work for refugees in Sudan:

• The ICRC supports the Sudan Red Crescent Society (SRCS) in Gedaref and Kassala to help refugees maintain contact with their families. The SRCS works in Um Rakouba and Tunaydba Ethiopian refugee camps, in Shargrab camp for Ertirean refugees, as well as in two transit sites, where the SRCS and the ICRC trained 38 host community and refugee community volunteers.

• The ICRC collected 228 tracing requests for family members inside the camps and received 20 cases from abroad through national Red Cross and Red Crescent societies. It resolved 6 cases and registered 58 unaccompanied minors. In total, approximately 60 – 70% of the total Tigrayan refugee population in eastern Sudan has benefitted from phone calls or tracing services.

• The ICRC has been supporting Doka Rural Hospital, rehabilitating infrastructure, providing medical supplies, personal protection equipment and training for the staff. It donated more than four tons of medical supplies to the hospital, that provides services to more than 40,000 members of the host community and to over 18,000 refugees in Um Rakouba camp.

ICRC dramatically increases its budget in Ethiopia and Sudan as needs grow at an alarming rate (27.05.2021)

The new appeal will bring ICRC’s total budget for Ethiopia to 65 million Swiss francs.

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia, May 27, 2021 -The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is asking donors for an additional 28 million Swiss francs ($31.3 million) for its operations in Ethiopia and Sudan following violence that has forced tens of thousands of people from their homes, increasing the need for food, clean water and medical care.

The new appeal will bring ICRC’s total budget for Ethiopia to 65 million Swiss francs ($72.7 million) and the total budget for Sudan to 36 million Swiss francs ($40.3 million). It is the ICRC’s largest such appeal in four years.

“We haven’t seen such an increase in the level of violence in this region for many years,” said Patrick Youssef, the ICRC’s head of operations for Africa. “The world’s attention has been mostly on Tigray, but pockets of violence broke out in other parts of Ethiopia as well, while fighting also resurfaced in Darfur, causing more fear, more displacement and preventing people from meeting their vital needs.

“We are facing an unprecedented challenge, responding to several crises that unfold against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic and climate shocks,”Mr Youssef said.

In Ethiopia’s Tigray region, the presence of humanitarian actors increased in cities, but significant gaps remain in hard-to-reach rural areas. Access to food and primary healthcare are major humanitarian concerns. At the same time, humanitarian needs in other violence-affected areas like Oromia continue to grow.

In Sudan’s Darfur region, the flare-up of violence forced tens of thousands to flee their homes. People can’t grow food and access essential services. Meanwhile, the country is dealing with several displacement and refugee crises. Nearly 2 million Sudanese remain internally displaced, while the country is hosting more than a million refugees, including over 60,000 people who recently fled Ethiopia.

“The emergency response alone will not suffice in the situation we are now facing. The level of violence and destruction is such that we must be prepared to deal with the protracted consequences of these crises,” Mr Youssef added. “Respect for civilian life and property, as well as for healthcare facilities and personnel, is the only way to limit the disastrous humanitarian impact of the ongoing violence.”

The ICRC stepped up its response in Ethiopia and Sudan to cover urgent humanitarian needs, providing emergency relief and preparing for long-term interventions. Additional funding will enable it to expand its programs in Tigray, Oromia and other violence-affected areas of Ethiopia, working alongside the Ethiopian Red Cross. Reaching rural areas of Tigray, reinforcing health services, and increasing support for victims of sexual violence are among the main priorities.

In Sudan, the ICRC will expand its activities and support the Sudanese Red Crescent to respond to the increasing humanitarian needs in Darfur, Blue Nile and South Kordofan. It will focus on delivering assistance to people affected by violence, reinforcing primary health care and physical rehabilitation services.

ICRC in Ethiopia:

  • Supporting health centers in Zalambesa and Altitenna and hospitals in Shire and Sheraro;
  • Providing almost 200,000 liters of drinking water daily to more than 22,000 displaced people and host communities in Mekele, Axum and Shire;
  • Distributed seeds, tools and fertilizer to more than 35,000 families in Somali, Oromia and Tigray Regions.

ICRC in Sudan:

  • Expanding operations to Kassala state and supporting the Kassala teaching hospital’s emergency room;
  • Helping Ethiopian refugees reestablish contact with families and supporting health centers for around 60,000 Ethiopian refugees in 8 camps;
  • Distributed essential household items to around 90,000 people affected by violence in Darfur.