Posted November 16, 2020 5:28 pm by

Heat and hunger: Sudan struggles to shelter 25,000 Ethiopian refugees

Um Raquba Refugee Camp, Sudan, Nov 16 – In a sun-baked and dusty wasteland in remote eastern Sudan, crews are labouring to rebuild a refugee camp for the 25,000 people who have fled heavy fighting in neighbouring Ethiopia’s Tigray region.

Exhausted and terrified men, women and children from the conflict zone have struggled against searing heat and hunger to escape ground fighting, air strikes, rocket fire and artillery barrages in northern Ethiopia.

Sudan — one of the world’s poorest countries, now faced with the massive influx — has reopened its Um Raquba camp, 80 kilometres (50 miles) from the border. The camp once housed refugees who fled Ethiopia’s 1983-85 famine that killed over a million people.

For now, though, desperate families are huddling in the shade of sparse trees because only two permanent buildings remain from the camp that closed years ago — an old school house missing a roof and a dilapidated former clinic.

Others are erecting their own basic tents or lying on plastic sheets provided by aid agencies.

Map of Ethiopia and Sudan locating the Ethiopian region of Tigray and the Sudanese towns of Kassala and Gadaref © AFP / Simon MALFATTO

“You see I am sitting on the ground with my three little girls,” said one of the recent arrivals, 37-year-old Gabriel Hayli.

“We thought the authorities would transfer us here because there are shelters — but there is nothing, we have been told to wait.”

So far, only basic emergency relief has been set up at the isolated camp, located amid abandoned fields some 10 kilometres from the nearest village.

The UN’s children’s fund, UNICEF, has provided drinking water and the World Food Programme is handing out sorghum and lentil rations, assisted by the Sudanese Refugee Commission. The Red Crescent is running a field clinic out of a tent.

– Bygone famine to war –

Heat and hunger: Sudan struggles to shelter 25,000 Ethiopian refugees

Ethiopian refugees who fled intense fighting in their homeland gather in Sudan’s Um Raquba camp © AFP / Ebrahim HAMID

Several dozen Sudanese workers have started digging trenches in the rocky ground to lay water pipes and build the foundations of wooden shelters and administration offices.

“Electricity has been installed today but it will take at least seven to 10 days of hard work to get everything in place,” said Adam Mohammad, one of the workers.

Camp director Abdel Basset Abdel Ghani told AFP that “the most urgent thing today Read More…Heat and hunger: Sudan struggles to shelter 25,000 Ethiopian refugees  Heat and hunger: Sudan struggles to shelter 25,000 Ethiopian refugees  Heat and hunger: Sudan struggles to shelter 25,000 Ethiopian refugees  Heat and hunger: Sudan struggles to shelter 25,000 Ethiopian refugees