Sudan opens borders to Ethiopian refugees

Sitting in front of a rough concrete building, without a door or window, four Ethiopian doctors face some thirty women and men gathered around the table behind which they are standing. One by oneimplores Doctor Daryelowm Guedj.

With his colleagues, he himself fled a few days earlier, in an ambulance, their hospital, located a few kilometers away, on the other side of the border, to escape the aerial bombardments of November 7.

Skin diseases and onset of malnutrition

All four, like more than 13,000 refugees, hurriedly left the Ethiopian region of Tigray, to land here, in neighboring Sudan, in the “Village Eight” camp. In less than ten days, the offensive launched by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed to regain control of this province, located in the far north of the country, threw more than 25,000 Ethiopians across the border. The first damage of this war can already be seen here.

On a piece of cardboard, Doctor Daryelowm Guedj prescribed a medicine to relieve little Nobil’s cough. Accompanied by his father, the six-year-old then goes to the makeshift pharmacy set up opposite the open-air medical practice. A few meters away, a room accommodates children and pregnant women requiring care. Many, on the spot, suffer from skin diseases or the onset of malnutrition.

The “Village Eight” came out of the ground fourteen years ago, to relocate the villagers whose properties were swallowed up by the double dams of Atbara and Setit. But to cope with the recent influx of Ethiopian survivors, who arrive every day, an entire residential area under construction has turned into a temporary reception center: for the time being, gray houses are lined up. , all identical.

→ EXPLANATION. Ethiopia on the brink of civil war

We form a éfull teamèyou with médecins, nursesères, midwives, nutritionists and laboratory technicians. But we lack mémedicines to treat patients with HIV, high blood pressure and diabetesèyou. We also do not have hygienic protections.énics, deplores Doctor Brhane Tsehaye, who has to be satisfied with drugs delivered by the regional office of the Sudanese Minister of Health.

→ ANALYSIS. The Nobel Peace Prize winner Abiy Ahmed, craftsman of reconciliation in Ethiopia

Eight days after the arrival of the first of these refugees, the local authorities and Sudanese residents are making up for the lack of drinking water, food and medicine. International aid is slow to be channeled.

Risks for the local population

The réfugiés are welcome, says despite everything Mariam Mohammed, a villager who carries a bag of sesame leaves on her head. She contributed to the collective effort by bringing kisras (fermented bread pancakes).

The traditional Sudanese hospitality cannot make us forget that the sustainability of the camp poses real risks to the local community. Wassir Abubakar, director general of the Institute for Endemic Diseases in Gedaref, the nearest town, believes that “Émake a planisolation for éavoid transmission ofinfections in the population. In addition, the increase in demand generates a surge in prices. A bread coûyou dénow 20 Sudanese pounds against two a week ago, notes Ismail Ahmad, administrative director of the south of the locality hosting the camp.

Blamed for his absence the first days, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) finally supported the transfer, Sunday, November 15, of three women about to give birth and Beniam Ahmad, a disabled man , injured in the head and in the eye. Arrived a few hours later, Jens Hesemann, in charge of emergency management within this UN body, argues difficultiesélogistics “. This camp éso supposedé êbe transient, [lUNHCR] notis not supposedé do therefacilities, he pleads.

Colonel Abubakr Abass, who oversaw the operations and led the refugees who came on foot to the camp, fears that if the humanitarian aid does not materialize, the inhabitants end up protesting. Both against the abandonment of their Frères éEthiopians and the deterioration of their own living conditions.


The causes of the civil war in Ethiopia

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed ousted majority of Tigrayans after his election in 2018 of the ruling coalition, accused of human rights violations and corruption. Before excluding them from the Prosperity Party which he founded in December 2019.

On September 11, 2020, Tigray holds its own elections, despite the official postponement. But it is the attack on a base of the Northern Command, a government military unit in the heart of this province, which sinks the country into war. The Amharas militias join the federal army while massacres targeting the Amharas were allegedly committed by the Front for the Liberation of the People of Tigray.


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