Ethiopia: UN High Commissioner for Refugees Visits Sudan As New Refugee Arrivals Cross 43,000

Emergency relief items from UNHCR’s Dubai stockpile are loaded onto a plane at Dubai airport for airlift to Sudan, where tens of thousands of Ethiopian refugees have fled in recent weeks.

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.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, is visiting Khartoum as the country receives a growing number of refugees from Ethiopia.

Since the start of fighting in Ethiopia’s northern Tigray region in early November, more than 43,000 refugees have crossed into Sudan seeking protection and shelter. Even before this influx the country was hosting nearly one million refugees, mainly from South Sudan.

Grandi will review UNHCR operations in support of the government-led response to the latest influx. He is also scheduled to meet with refugees.

In eastern Sudan, UNHCR continues to ramp up its relief effort together with Sudan’s Commission on Refugees and local authorities amidst complex logistical challenges.

Aid is being mobilized to help refugees almost half of whom are children. Humanitarian agencies continue to provide shelter and other facilities to help refugees but more resources are required and Sudan needs international support urgently.

UNHCR has helped relocate nearly 10,000 refugees to the Um Rakuba site, 70 km further from the border inside Sudan, as work continues to put up shelters and improve services.

Family tracing services have been established and these have already reunited many separated refugees.

This morning, a plane carrying 32 tons of UNHCR emergency aid from our global stockpile in Dubai landed in Khartoum. Another airlift is scheduled to leave Dubai on Monday with 100 tons of additional relief items. UNHCR’s global stockpile is hosted by the International Humanitarian City in Dubai (IHC). In total, we plan to send four airlifts.

Today’s cargo included 5,000 blankets, 4,500 solar lamps, 2,900 mosquito nets, 200 plastic sheets and 200 plastic rolls. A second airlift will carry 1,275 family tents and 10 prefabricated warehouses. This aid will meet the immediate shelter needs of more than 16,000 people. The transportation costs of both flights were generously covered by the Government of United Arab Emirates.

Inside Tigray region concerns are growing for the safety of civilians in the conflict, particularly in its capital of Mekele, home to more than 500,000 people.

UNHCR remains concerned as the humanitarian situation continues to worsen in Tigray, including for those displaced and for some 96,000 Eritrean refugees who will run out of food as soon as Monday if supplies cannot reach them. We join other humanitarian agencies to reiterate our call for the protection of civilians and immediate humanitarian access in order to resume the delivery of life sustaining assistance.

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