Following major conflict in the Tigray region of Ethiopia, over 60,000 refugees have fled over the border to Eastern Sudan; with thousands having arrived over the weekend. The International Rescue Committee (IRC) is working with the Sudanese authorities to roll out emergency services to meet additional needs in both Um Rakuba Camp and the newly established Tenetba camp where 265 tents have been erected.

Carolyne Kanaiza, IRC East Sudan Emergency Response Director said, 

“The needs are extremely high and the logistics of transferring refugees to the camps because of the distance from the border plus inadequate provisions has slowed  delivery of aid to those in need. We are working in Um Rakuba Camp as well as in Tenetba camp where 20,000 refugees will be relocated due to overcrowding in Um Rakuba. Of most concern; we are seeing extremely high numbers of unaccompanied children as compared to most crises; almost half the number of refugees are children. Due to the high risk of exploitation and abuse of children, especially those that have been separated from their families whilst fleeing the conflict, the IRC is implementing a protection program which will include psychological support for children that are often found to be severely traumatised.

“As women, girls and children are more adversely affected by conflict and disaster, we have been engaging with female refugees to identify needs and will be providing women Protection services that includes psychological support and gender-based violence services whilst consultatively working with the community to protect the most vulnerable from exploitation and abuse. We will also be distributing essential items such as hygiene kits and menstrual management kits. 

“Our assessment shows a dire need  for proper sanitation to avert diseases but also a mitigation measure  for COVID-19. Our water and sanitation response will include the construction of 105 emergency latrines and 92 shared bathing spaces with proper waste management systems. We will also be distributing emergency cash so people can decide for themselves what they need most.”

Ethiopia’s Tigray region has been experiencing an intense bout of conflict since early November which has forced over 60,000 refugees to seek refuge in Eastern Sudan.  The IRC calls on all parties to the conflict in Ethiopia to agree to an immediate ceasefire and ensure civilians, including refugees and aid workers, are protected and able to access and deliver life saving services.