A refugee camp hosting Ethiopian refugees in a remote part of neighboring Sudan is already over capacity, the United Nations refugee agency said.
The Umm Rakouba camp, intended to house 5,000 refugees fleeing violence in Ethiopia’s besieged Tigray region, has now nearly doubled that capacity, Mohammed Rafik Nasri, UNHCR’s field coordinator for emergency response, said on Friday. .
Nasri said serving this number of people has been difficult, a concern aid agencies have been raising since the violence in Tigray forced tens of thousands of people to flee Ethiopia earlier this month.
“This camp is almost two weeks old, you know it is a challenge in Sudan because of the fuel shortage, the economic situation and honestly, the partners, UNHCR and our allies, including WFP and all of us, are challenging us to provide materials of shelter, food, to get it quickly, ”Nasri said.
As he spoke, a convoy of 1,000 people began arriving on buses after a long journey from transit centers on the Ethiopia-Sudan border.
More than 40,000 people have arrived in Sudan since the violence began on November 4, while the UN estimates that the number could reach 200,000 in the next six months.
The organization is working to open another camp soon to help ease the burden on Umm Rakouba and other border sites.
Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said on Thursday that the army was ordered to move to the regional capital of Tigray, Makelle, after it finished its 72-hour ultimatum for Tigray’s leaders to surrender.
He warned the city’s half a million residents to stay indoors and disarm as his forces prepared for a “final phase” of the Tigray offensive.
For the refugees in the camp, news about what is happening at home is scarce. Farmers Hedgay Kahsey and Atsbaha Gtsadik said they only wanted one thing.
“Whatever happens, we just want peace,” said Hedgay Kahsey, who lost all her belongings, including her farm and livestock.
“The country has no peace. It makes me so sad … You see one tribe killing another. It’s very difficult, ”added Atsbaha Gtsadik.