Sudan: Thousands of Ethiopians seek asylum in Sudan’s Blue Nile State (23.02.2021)

This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesperson Babar Baloch – to whom quoted text may be attributed – at today’s press briefing at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

23 February 2021

Several thousand people fleeing escalating violence in Ethiopia’s Benishangul Gumuz region have sought safety in Sudan’s Blue Nile State over the last month.

Tensions have been high in the Metekel Zone since 2019 with several reports of inter-communal attacks in the region. The situation has rapidly escalated in the past three months. The federal Government of Ethiopia declared a state of emergency in the area on 21 January 2021.

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, 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.

Benishangul Gumuz is in western Ethiopia. The current displacement is not directly related to conflict in the country’s northern Tigray region which have pushed more than 61,000 to seek safety in Sudan in recent months.

Out of the 7,000 people estimated to have arrived in 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.

In the past weeks, UNHCR and partners have already provided humanitarian assistance to nearly 1,000 refugees in Yabatcher, on Sudan-Ethiopia border. Refugees have received food, access to health, water and sanitation facilities, and aid supplies.

The majority of these asylum-seekers are living among the Sudanese host community who continue to welcome people seeking safety. UNHCR and partners will continue to ramp up the response to support the government in its response.

Ethiopia: Ministry of Foreign Affairs – Press Statement on Ethiopia-Sudan Border (18.02.2021)

Ethiopia-Sudan Tensions: Continued clashes on Sudanese territory

It started with new skirmishes in December 2020. When there was two times skirmishes between the Sudanese and Ethiopian troops. There was even Amhara Para-Military (Fano) involved in attacks on Sudanese soil. Therefore, it seemed deliberate from the Ethiopian side to attack border-points and venture into the Al-Fashaqa region.

Now, the last 48 hours there been reported of two more incidents. First yesterday on the 9th February 2021 one more Ethiopian Soldier died inside Sudanese territory. Today on the 10th February 2021 there been reports of 5 Ethiopian Soldiers killed and one Sudanese Soldiers on Sudanese territory. It seems more like a steady planned attacks from the Ethiopian side. As the Sudanese has re-established and sent brigades to control this border towards the Tigray Region.

They have now been doing this since the 13th December 2020. It isn’t one rare incident where one soldier went astray and got lost on a adventure close to the Sudanese border. No, this has happened on a steady occurrence since then. That should strike a warning. It should also make you wonder why they are trespassing and using violent means across the borders. If the Ethiopian state have plan or even a military operation to be extended from the Law Enforcement Operation, which it started on the 4th November 2020. Since they already moved several of forces to the Northern Ethiopia for that reason alone.

That is why you can start to imagine that the leaders, the commanders-in-chief had the idea of taking more land to be greater and more powerful by doing it to someone who wasn’t prepared for the invasion. The Sudanese in transition after Al-Bashir and having erratic protests would be a fitting target for a foreign invasion. That is maybe why Prime Minister Abiy saw a reason to get back the Al-Fashaqa Region from Sudan. So, that he could access and annex a valuable farmland.

We should wonder why they are doing this and ordering such skirmishes. You can also ask yourself what it is to gain to do this. The Ethiopian government already asked to calm down and stop their operation in Tigray. While they are escalating here, which is creating a bigger international crisis. As they making enemies of their neighbours, which they are so supposed to be negotiating agreements in concern of the Great Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD). Yes, Ethiopia is a sovereign, but needs allies to get best deal as possible in concern to share the Nile water. Therefore, making neighbours in combat-mode. They are most likely not friendly or sharing of things with mutual interests. As they are remembering who shot at them last and it just happened to Ethiopian army.

If Abiy and his Prosperity Party thinks this is the way to get more friends. I hate to say, but you make more enemies. As you attack and try to invade other people’s land. That will end hostile and will be fatal. Just like the recent two days has proven. This sort of play will end up in no good and there is no positive silver lining. There is only death. Just like all wars, but that is what a war-lord is promoting.

A warlord that is happy to create more havoc and political crisis. Maybe he will invite Prime Minister Hamdok for another short meeting in Addis Ababa before sending him packing without any solution. Also, order a new group to attack Sudan after that meeting. Because that happened in December and could easily happened again.

It seems like this will not be over soon. The Republic’s have already started and the war-drums are hit. However, we still have to hope that peace will conquer this. Nevertheless, the warlord of Addis seems to be striking the drums, again and again. Peace.

Ethiopia-Sudan Tensions: Second round of skirmishes at the Sudanese border

On 16th December the Ethiopian National Defence Force (ENDF) and Amhara Paramilitary Group (Fano) ambushed border patrol points in and around the Jabal Abutiour inside Sudanese territory. That was reported by Sudanese authorities.

There been talks since then. This was after Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok visited Addis Ababa for a few hours holding talks with Prime Minister Ahmed Ali Abiy on the 13th December 2020.

Therefore, the new reports of shelling of border-points. On Wednesday 23rd December 2020 Ethiopian army and same Amhara paramilitary group attacked Sudanese army points in Jebel Abu Tuyor in Eastern El Gedaref.

This is the second time in the same month the Ethiopian forces are attacking the region and creating tensions. The Sudanese is at defence and have moved more soldiers to region because of it. That is public knowledge too. As after the first attack earlier in the month. Days after the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) moved troops there.

The talks seems to futile… what is really staggering that the Nations agreed on the border and the disputed area back in April 2020. The Al-Fashqa region became officially Sudanese. However, with the current warfare. Maybe Addis thinks they can annex another region too?

This here is really worrying as the escalation is furthered. The prevalence of armed forces. The true usage of armed forces to prove a point. What is also striking is how you in one minute calls the Sudanese your brothers and the nano-seconds after the positive headlines. Your forces is attacking the brothers again. Not like the Sudanese has attacked Ethiopians or crossed into Ethiopian territory here. They have only fortified areas, which is theirs.

Just to prove the tragedy. Here is two excerpts from news sources on both attacks. First 16th December and then 23rd December 2020.

Sudan’s armed forces said on Wednesday that a number of its officers had been ambushed by “Ethiopian forces and militias” during a security patrol of the border region. “During the return of our forces from combing the area around Jabal Abutiour inside our territory, they were ambushed by Ethiopian forces and militias inside Sudanese territory, as a result of which lives and equipment were lost,” the army said, adding the attack took place on Tuesday” (Asharq Al-Awsat – ‘Sudan Says Officers Ambushed by Ethiopian ‘Forces and Militias’ during Patrol’ 16.12.2020).

On Wednesday evening, Ethiopian army and militia forces shelled the site of the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) in Jebel Abu Tuyour in eastern El Gedaref. Sudanese army forces clashed with Ethiopian reconnaissance forces near Wad Kouli” (Radio Dabanga – ‘New Ethiopian attack on Sudanese army forces in El Gedaref’ 25.12.2020).

If you see a pattern, I do. Both attacks was on a Wednesday and seems planned now. It isn’t just a coincidence that the ENDF and Fano suddenly ambush and attacks Sudanese border points. Neither is the weird outskirts of battlefields in Tigray region. No, these seems suspiciously planned. You don’t stumble on the humble a border point of a neighbouring nation.

If it was a one time thing and a boo-boo, but when you use heavy machinery and coordinate two military groups. Then it starts to seemed planned. The Sudanese better be prepared. It is like the Ethiopian authorities are testing the waters and seeing how far they can get.

While the Sudanese needs not only to fortify the area. They need to be mentally prepared. That the same folks that is hunting their own. Can easily come here for the same blood-thirst. Prime Minister Abiy isn’t a man of peace, but a warlord. That is what 2020 have told me. Peace.

InterAction: Statement on deteriorating humanitarian conditions in Ethiopia (16.12.2020)

As the conflict in Ethiopia’s Tigray region enters its sixth week, there is an escalating risk of a regional political and security crisis, coupled with a large-scale humanitarian emergency, that could affect nearly 2 million people.

InterAction, on behalf of its humanitarian and development Member non-governmental organizations (NGOs) working to support conflict-affected communities in Ethiopia’s Tigray region, calls on all conflict parties to allow safe, free, and unfettered humanitarian access into and around Tigray, as well as the full restoration of telecommunication services and electricity.

In this highly politicized context, all conflict parties must consider and treat the humanitarian response as neutral, independent, and impartial to ensure civilian populations can access the lifesaving services they are entitled to and the aid workers serving them remain safe. InterAction reminds all parties of their obligation to protect the civilian population and civilian objects during and after the conduct of hostilities by following international humanitarian, human rights, and refugee law, and to take the utmost care to ensure that humanitarian workers, facilities, and assets are not targeted or attacked.

As nearly 50,000 Ethiopian refugees have crossed into eastern Sudan, InterAction calls for all concerned parties to allow for free movement of the civilian population seeking safe refuge and assistance within the Tigray region or outside the affected areas. This includes protecting the right to cross international borders to seek asylum and upholding non-refoulment guarantees extended to Eritrean refugees in Tigray.

InterAction also calls on donors to provide new, flexible funding, particularly for frontline NGOs, to adequately scale up and sustain the humanitarian response in Tigray, the surrounding area, and in refugee-hosting communities, while simultaneously ensuring funds are not diverted from existing humanitarian or development programs in Ethiopia.

Ethiopia: UN Emergency funding released for humanitarian response to Ethiopia’s Tigray conflict (17.12.2020)

Ethiopia: Is the Law Enforcement Operation entering Sudan?

Sudan’s armed forces said on Wednesday that a number of its officers had been ambushed by “Ethiopian forces and militias” during a security patrol of the border region. “During the return of our forces from combing the area around Jabal Abutiour inside our territory, they were ambushed by Ethiopian forces and militias inside Sudanese territory, as a result of which lives and equipment were lost,” the army said, adding the attack took place on Tuesday” (Asharq Al-Awsat – ‘Sudan Says Officers Ambushed by Ethiopian ‘Forces and Militias’ during Patrol’ 16.12.2020).

These reports have also been verified by Prime Minster Abdalla Hamdok on Twitter today. What these reports are saying is that the Ethiopian National Defence Force (ENDF) and Amhara militia (Fano) has entered Sudan. That is escalating the conflict. Just after the three hours of meeting and talks between Prime Minister Ahmed Ali Abiy and PM Hamdok in Addis Ababa on the 13th December 2020.

Seemingly Prime Minister Abiy is more in favour of continuing warfare. Just like he involved Eritrean forces on his soil to punish the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) and the regional state itself. Which it did start on the 3rd November 2020.

The Sudanese authorities have already shielded refugees from the region and also stopped arms from crossing the borders. Therefore, the Sudanese was naturally a proxy as its borders are directly to the new war-torn region of Tigray. Where two armies and one militia have attacked civilians and the enemy of the Federal Government.

Now, the same militia Fano is attacking in coordinated attacks on Sudanese soil. It is not longer back that in April 2020 that the Ethiopia and Sudan came to an understanding about the agricultural region of Al-Fashqa to the Sudanese state. However, by the time of the agreement the Ethiopian government hadn’t demarcated the area. Now, they are retuning with forces just months after.

Does Prime Minister Abiy wants more enemies? Does he want to the cordial and friendly neighbours in Khartoum? Is his ego speaking to loudly, as he has celebrated a too early victory in Tigray?

Because, this was an direct attack on Sudanese soil. This wasn’t Sudanese troops crossing into Tigray or Ethiopian soil. Therefore, the ones acting deliberately was ENDF and Fano as they entered Sudanese soil. This is escalating and a possible renewed border conflict. As the latest agreement is tarnished by skirmishes on the border.

Does PM Abiy has such ambition that he wants to Abyssinia Emperor or something? Because why does he do this? Before he has even ended his first war within “his” own territory. That is reckless and he needs the goodwill of Khartoum in the negotiations of GERD and with the witness of refugees from the conflict in Tigray. Therefore, Abiy is really stepping out of line here and needs rethink his strategies. Peace.

Communique of the 13th Ordinary Summit of IGAD Heads of State and Government – November 29 2019, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (29.11.2019)