UN warns full-fledged humanitarian crisis unfolding in Ethiopia

The United Nations says that thousands of people are fleeing northern Ethiopia’s conflict-torn Tigray region and the border area with Sudan is now facing a full-blown refugee emergency.

“A full-scale humanitarian crisis is unfolding,” UN refugee agency spokesman Babar Baloch tells a virtual press briefing.

Some 4,000 people are fleeing across the border every day, Baloch says.

In all, more than 27,000 people have now streamed into Sudan since the conflict in Tigray erupted there two weeks ago.

“Refugees fleeing the fighting continue to arrive exhausted from the long trek to safety, with few belongings,” Baloch says.

“The pace is very rapid,” he says, stressing that the Sudan was now experiencing “an influx unseen over the last two decades in this part of the country.”

Refugees from the Tigray region of Ethiopia wait to register at the UNCHR center at Hamdayet, Sudan on November. 14, 2020. Ethiopia’s defiant Tigray regional government has fired rockets at two airports in the neighboring Amhara region as a deadly conflict threatens to spread into other parts of Africa’s second-most populous country. (AP Photo/Marwan Ali)

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, last year’s Nobel Peace Prize winner, announced a military campaign in the dissident northern region on November 4.

He said it came in response to attacks by local ruling party, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), on federal military camps.

The TPLF dominated Ethiopian politics for three decades before Abiy came to power in 2018.

A bitter feud has grown as the party became sidelined, growing ever more defiant towards the central government.

Abiy has resisted calls by world leaders to cease hostilities and accept mediation.


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