Khartoum/Nairobi/Geneva, 23 November 2020 – The Sudanese Red Crescent Society has scaled up its operation at the border with Ethiopia to support the growing number of Ethiopian refugees coming into the country. Since fighting began in Ethiopia’s Tigray region on 5 November, more than 30,000 people have crossed the border into Sudan and the number is increasing by the day.
At the transit centres located in Lukdi in Gedaref and Hamdaiet in Kassala state, there is an urgent and immediate need for food and water, shelter, first aid and medical care as well as psychosocial support. The Red Crescent has distributed emergency relief items to 500 families and is mobilising more support from partners and the Sudanese government.
Dr Afaf Yahya, Sudanese Red Crescent Secretary General, said: “We have completed construction of four communal shelters, seven communal kitchens and four emergency latrine blocks. We have also rehabilitated the road from Doka to Um Rakoba to speed up and ease the transportation of the refugees to settlement camps.”
In Kassala state, the Red Crescent is operating in two clinics where health and nutrition screenings and medical consultations are being conducted. Red Crescent teams are providing psychosocial support and transferring those with complicated medical conditions and in need of surgery to hospitals.
“We are concerned by the rate at which humanitarian needs are growing. Many of the refugees are exhausted and hungry from the long distances they have walked to reach here. They are worried about the families they left behind and from the look on children’s faces, they are evidently deeply affected to by what is happening,” said Dr Yahya.
Mohammed Omer Mukhier, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) Regional Director for Africa, said:
“The needs at the border transit points and settlement camps remain high. There is an urgent need for more emergency shelter for refugees, who are still arriving in big numbers. Distribution centres need to be constructed and existing health centres also need to be rehabilitated.”
The Sudanese Red Crescent Society—which has an expansive network of 400,000 volunteers across the country—has also mobilised volunteers to assist with temperature checks and registration at border transit points. The Red Crescent has responded to previous population movement crises including, the South Sudanese refugee’ emergency.
This influx of refugees comes at a time when Sudan is already in the throes of a major and complex humanitarian emergency. Unprecedented flooding since July has left over 875,000 people in need of humanitarian assistance. Food crops already depleted due to a desert locust invasion, and livestock have been wiped out. Soaring inflation has led to prices skyrocketing, and stagnant and contaminated water continue to pose a serious health risk alongside the threat of COVID-19. Kassala State—an area heavily affected by the flooding—is now hosting incoming refugees, adding further strain to resources and local communities.