Grim conditions await refugees in Sudan

GEDAREF, Sudan: At a sprawling refugee reception centre in Sudan, Ethiopians who fled the deadly Tigray conflict queued haphazardly outside a school-turned-relief facility to receive handouts of food, water and clothing.
“I escaped in these clothes and have been in them since I arrived,” Babosh Alamshed said on Friday, pointing to his stained red T-shirt and worn-out black trousers.
“The war did this to us. We are starving. The help we receive is close to nothing,” said the 21-year-old, who arrived in Sudan’s “Village 8” transit camp two weeks ago, after a three-day trek.
Ethiopia’s northern Tigray region has been rocked by bloody fighting since November 4, when Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed announced the launch of military operations there. The ongoing conflict is reported to have killed hundreds of people and forced thousands more to flee into neighbouring Sudan.
On Friday morning, Alamshed took his place in a long queue outside the aid facility to receive clothes, soap and other basic items. Ethiopians frustrated by the wait and the sweltering heat jostled to enter, as a couple of Sudanese security forces standing guard tried to shoo them away with sticks.
Hours later, refugees broke through the metal gates and rushed to compete for handouts.

Neighbouring Sudan, itself suffering from a severe economic crisis, was caught off-guard when the conflict broke out earlier this month.
It now hosts some 36,000 Ethiopians, with many in transit camps near the border, according to Sudan’s refugee commission.
Many at “Village 8” said they had left behind modest lives as farmers with just the clothes on their backs to escape intense bombings, shootings and knife attacks in Tigray. Family members and relatives were left behind, their fate unknown, they said.
“Village 8” alone is estimated to house around 14,000-15,000 refugees, said Fouad Tesfay of the Khartoum-based Tigray Development Association. — AFP