The UN refugee agency on Tuesday warned that a full-scale humanitarian crisis is unfolding in Ethiopia as thousands of refugees flee an ongoing fighting in the Tigray region each day to safety in eastern Sudan.
In a statement, the UNHCR said the pace of Ethiopian refugee arrivals in Sudan is unseen in the last two decades.
On Nov. 4, Ethiopia launched what it described as a law enforcement operation in Tigray after the forces of Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) attacked the northern command of the federal army stationed across the Tigray region, killing soldiers and looting military assets.
The UNHCR noted that since Nov. 10, thousands of people, including women and children, have crossed into Sudan, overwhelming the humanitarian response capacity on the ground.
“More than 27,000 have now crossed into Sudan through the Hamdayet border in Kassala State, the Lugdi in Gedaref State, and a new location further south at Aderafi border where Ethiopian refugees started crossing over the weekend,” it said.
It said the Sudanese Ministry of Health and the Sudan Red Crescent have set up clinics and are conducting health and nutrition screenings on arriving refugees.
“The humanitarian situation as a result of this crisis is growing rapidly,” the UNHCR said, reiterating its call for peace and urging all parties to respect the safety of all civilians in Tigray.
Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said on Tuesday that as the three-day surrender ultimatum given to the fighting forces of TPLF was over, final law enforcement measures would be taken in the coming days.
In a short Facebook note, Ahmed thanked those who surrendered to the Ethiopian National Defense Forces, saying: “Those special forces and militia acted responsibly in saving their people.”
On Monday, the Ethiopian Air Force bombed suburban Mekele, the capital of Ethiopia’s northernmost Tigray state, in a surgical operation, according to the Ethiopian army generals.
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