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Tigray refugee families could run out of food within days, Islamic Relief warns

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More aid is urgently needed to help people affected by the growing crisis in the Tigray region of Ethiopia, Islamic Relief said today as thousands more refugees flee into Sudan and face running out of food within days.

An average of more than 120 refugees an hour have been crossing the border in recent days. There are now well over 40,000 refugees, leaving services overwhelmed as the needs increase by the day.

Islamic Relief yesterday distributed emergency food packs and hygiene kits to around 4,000 people in Um Rakuba camp in eastern Sudan.

Elsadig Elnour, Islamic Relief’s Country Director in Sudan, said:

“There are thousands more who urgently need assistance. Many of the new arrivals only have enough food to last a few more days. They have no money to buy more and no fuel, stoves or pots to cook anything.

“Families are cutting the amount of food they eat and skipping meals to try and make their meagre supplies last as long as possible. But we are seeing many people with malnutrition, including pregnant women and malnourished new mothers who are trying to breastfeed their infants. Children in the camp don’t have any fruit or protein to eat.

“Many of the new arrivals are still in a state of panic. They have been separated from their relatives in the chaos as they fled, and don’t know if their loved ones are alive or dead. Now they have found relative safety but are worried about finding food.

“We are extremely worried about the threat of Covid-19. Refugees are living in very basic and overcrowded conditions – it’s very difficult to socially distance, they have no face masks, sanitizer or even soap for washing their hands. There are not enough latrines so people have to defecate outside and we are seeing children with diarrhea in the camp.”

Islamic Relief has this week distributed food packs to 784 households and distributed hygiene kits including soap and other sanitary items to 1,088 households. We have focused our distributions so far on the most vulnerable, such as pregnant women, the elderly and people with disabilities – who are particularly struggling to access water and healthcare, as the services are far away.