An Ethiopian refugee and her child collect mats at a transit site in Sudan.

An Ethiopian refugee and her child collect mats at a transit site in Hamdayet, Sudan. © UNHCR/Olivier Jobard

This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesperson Babar Baloch  to whom quoted text may be attributed  at today’s press briefing at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

The number of Ethiopian refugees streaming into eastern Sudan has now surpassed 40,000 since the crisis began, with more than 5,000 women, children and men fleeing the ongoing fighting in the Tigray region over the weekend.

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, and its partners have been able to deliver and distribute life-saving aid, including food, to more people. But the humanitarian response continues to face logistical challenges and remains overstretched. There is not enough shelter capacity to meet the growing needs.

Supplemental and therapeutic feeding is now being provided to some 300 malnourished children and pregnant and lactating mothers. We have been able to identify particularly vulnerable people and refer them to relevant services. Hot meals are still being provided and more water points and latrines constructed.

We continue to move refugees away from the border – with logistics and distances limiting the number of people we can transfer to Um Rakuba – 70 kilometres further inside Sudan. As of Monday, just over 8,000 had been relocated.

Inside Ethiopia, UNHCR remains concerned about civilians, including displaced populations and aid workers in Tigray. We join our UN partners in calling on all parties of the conflict to comply with their international obligations to protect civilians. We reiterate our call for free, safe and unhindered humanitarian access so that humanitarian assistance can reach people that rely on it.

Amid the ongoing conflict in Ethiopia, our concern for the 100,000 Eritrean refugees is growing. Without humanitarian access, there is great concern about the delivery of the most basic services including water, essential medicines and food supplies, which will run out in one week for the refugee population.

We echo the call for all parties to the conflict to enable the free and safe movement of affected people in search of safety and assistance, including across international and within national borders, regardless of their ethnic background.

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Originally published by UNHCR on 24 November 2020.

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