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UN officials assess needs at camps for refugees from Ethiopia’s Tigray region

Senior UN officials have conducted a two-day mission to southeastern Sudan, where some 30,000 Ethiopians have found refuge after fleeing ongoing fighting between national and regional forces in Tigray province, the world body reported on Wednesday. 

The UN’s humanitarian coordinator in Sudan, Babacar Cisse, together with the heads of the UN refugee agency, UNHCR, the World Food Programme (WFP), the UN Children’s Fund, UNICEF, and the UN Population Fund (UNFPA), were there to assess the situation in refugee camps.

Tigray is located in northern Ethiopia and the clashes broke out earlier this month following the reported takeover of an army base, prompting the Prime Minister to launch a military offensive.

Some 4,000 people a day are streaming into Sudan, according to UN Spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric, who added that families and children are sleeping in the open.

“The UN team, with the Government of Sudan is working to ensure that people are not in reception centres for more than two days before being transferred to more proper facilities in refugee camps,” he said.

Identifying additional sites

The mission visited the Hamdayet Reception Centre, home to nearly 16,000 people, as well as places in Um Raquba camp, which currently hosts 4,440 Ethiopian refugees.

The camp is prepared to accommodate 10,000 people, while the reception centre is being expanded to shelter more people streaming across the border.

The UN also is identifying additional sites so that refugees can get away from the border and receive aid and essential services.

Mr. Dujarric said the main concern now is hygiene, as more and more people arrive, with the focus on trying to prevent coronavirus spread.

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