Sudan: the terrible living conditions of Ethiopian refugees

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In a large reception center in Sudan, Ethiopians who fled the conflict in Tigray wait in front of a school transformed into a humanitarian aid structure in order to obtain food, water or clothing.

Many escaped bombardment, gunfire and knife attacks in northern Ethiopia with only clothes on those they wore, abandoning their peaceful farming lives and losing traces of loved ones in their flight .

The UN on Tuesday deplored a “large-scale humanitarian crisis” on the border between Sudan and Ethiopia, which hundreds of people flee every day because of the military operation launched by the authorities in Tigray on November 4.

“I ran away with these clothes and have been wearing them since I arrived in Sudan almost two weeks ago,” Babosh Alamshed, 21, told AFP, showing his stained red T-shirt and worn black pants .

“Look what the war has done to us. We are starving and what we receive is almost nothing, ”adds the young man, who arrived in Sudan after three days of grueling walking.

He is part of the mass of refugees waiting outside the distribution point of “Village 8”, a transit center near the border, to receive clothing, soap and other essentials.

In the oppressive heat, people stir and jostle to enter the building. At the entrance, Sudanese soldiers try to keep control by pushing back the crowd with sticks.

But after several hours of waiting on Friday, refugees smashed the metal doors of the depot and rushed inside to help themselves.

” Lack of resources ”

Sudan, which is suffering from a severe economic crisis, has been caught off guard. Despite their poverty, the eastern regions of the country close to the border are looking to help.

Some 36,000 Ethiopians have already reached Sudan, according to the Sudanese Refugee Commission. The UN expects 200,000 people to flee in the next six months.

“Village 8” accommodates between 14,000 and 15,000 refugees, assures Fouad Tesfay, member of the Tigray development association, based in Khartoum. “And every day the number is increasing”.

Large bags of sorghum, bottles of oil and salt arrived at the distribution center. With these few ingredients, the refugees prepare a kind of porridge.

This food “is barely enough for 2,000 or 3,000 people, certainly not enough for everyone here. We lack resources, ”laments an aid worker while unloading the goods from a truck.

The World Food Program on Friday launched an appeal to raise $ 24.6 million to “meet the immediate needs of refugees arriving in Sudan.”


In the rescue center, mothers carrying their babies on their backs push their way through the crowd to get warm clothes for their children.

“We are looking for food, water, clothes for our children. Have you seen how cold it gets here at night? It’s unbearably cold, ”says Abrash Harago, mother of five children.

A little further on, three young men suddenly fight over pants as a disabled refugee who moves on crutches falls to the ground trying to grab clothes.

Away from this chaos, many refugees sleep on ragged rugs or on the floor in brick shelters. These miserable dwellings, with makeshift roofs and muddy soil, can accommodate a maximum of ten people.

Toilets and water for washing are sorely lacking, and refugees relieve themselves in the surrounding meadows.

“It’s as if we were animals here,” says Adam Mahmoud.

Women and children pierced a water pipe supplying a mosque to quench their thirst, wash and fill bottles.

“There are no words to describe the scenes we are witnessing,” laments Fouad Tesfay, showing children separated from their own during the long march through Ethiopia.

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