El Gedaref — The number of Ethiopian refugees who fled the civil war in Tigray to eastern Sudan's El Gedaref and Kassala has risen to about 40,000, reported Amira El Gaddal, Director of the El Gedaref Ministry of Health and Social Development yesterday.
There are cases of suspected COVID-19, HIV/AIDS, hepatitis, and tuberculosis, as well as people with health conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure, she said.
There are not enough delivery rooms for the large number of pregnant Ethiopian women in refugee camps in El Gedaref. Some of them require caesarean sections.
El Gaddal called for health centres to be upgraded to deal with the crisis, along with "broader interventions" including establishing COVID-19 isolation centres in the refugee camps to contain its spread.
She added that residents of El Gedaref are already suffering from many diseases, the most prominent of which is malaria, and from a severe shortage of medicine.
The current crisis requires a joint intervention plan of Sudanese authorities and relief organisations, said El Gaddal.
Farmers from El Gedaref say that the high number of Ethiopian refugees entering El Fashaga threaten the harvest of more than 500,000 acres of cultivated areas in the locality.
Refugee response coordination
The National Commission for Ethiopian Refugees, headed by the Commissioner for Refugees in Sudan, Abdallah Suleiman, held its first meeting at the Council of Ministers on Tuesday. The committee was formed in response to the influx of refugees crossing the eastern Sudan border to flee the Tigray conflict in Ethiopia.
Representatives of UN aid agencies and Sudanese civil society organisations participated in the planning of relief to Ethiopian refugees.
Suleiman explained that the quantities of food, health, water and shelter needs of the Ethiopian refugees has been determined, indicating the readiness of donors to provide aid for the newcomers.
The meeting took place after the United Nations warned of an increase in the flow of refugees beyond its capabilities, in a briefing by Stéphane Dujarric, Spokesman for the UN Secretary‑General, during an online call on Monday to the organization's headquarters in New York.
He said that the humanitarian response is expanding, but the flow of new arrivals exceeds the capacity on the ground, and additional funding is urgently needed. It is urgent that all parties to the conflict enable the free and safe movement of those affected in search of safety and assistance, including across international borders and within national borders, regardless of their ethnic identity.
He expressed the United Nations is "extremely concerned" about the safety of more than half a million people, and more than 200 aid workers, who remain in Mekkele, the capital of Tigray, after receiving information that the fighting could spread to the town within hours.
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