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News: Ethiopian authorities to relocate Sudanese refugees who fled shelters due to escalating security concerns, inadequate services

Refugees from Sudan who crossed into Ethiopia took shelter in Metema on 05 May, 2023. (Photo: AFP)

Addis Abeba – The Ethiopian Refugees and Returnees Service (RRS) has announced efforts to relocate Sudanese refugees who have fled their shelters in the Amhara region.

Tamirat Demisse, coordinator of the Kumar, Awlala, and Alemwach refugee centers, told Voice of America that the process of relocating Sudanese refugees to a new site called “Aftet” in the West Gondar Zone has begun.

“Site selection has already been completed,” Tamrat confirmed.

On 06 May 2024, the UNHCR issued a statement that close to 1,000 Sudanese refugees left the Kumar and Awlala refugee sites located in the Amhara region due to security concerns and inadequate services.

Following their departure, these refugees have been stationed along a roadside near the former camps.

The UNHCR has reported that the refugees recently initiated a hunger strike, exacerbating the already tense security situation in the area. The UN agency also warned that the roadside protest and resulting unsanitary conditions pose significant risks to the refugees.

In addition, an estimated 7,000 additional refugees were compelled to depart the camps due to attacks and thefts perpetrated by local militias.

These refugees, who were reportedly apprehended by law enforcement shortly after leaving the camp, are now residing in a forest 70 kilometers from the Sudanese border within Ethiopia’s Amhara region.

According to reports, this group includes 2,133 children and 1,017 women, all of whom are currently deprived of any form of aid.

Tamrat indicated that the government is working to address the security issues in the area.

However, the refugees have expressed ongoing concerns about their safety and the lack of services. Many have indicated a desire to relocate to a third country outside of Ethiopia.

In its latest report, the UNHCR emphasized that Sudanese refugees living in camps in the Amhara and Benishangul-Gumuz regions near the Sudanese border confront severe challenges, including insufficient security, significant food shortages, and inadequate medical care. AS

Editor’s Note: The previous version of this news erroneously attributed the information that 7000 refugees have left the Kumar and Awlala refugee sites to UNHCR. UNCHR reported only 1000 refugees leaving the sites, while The New Arab reported, quoting refugees as a source, a total of 8000 refugees have left the camps siting security issues.

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