Ethiopian Refugees Driven into Sudan
Thousands of people in need after fleeing conflict in Ethiopia
When torrential rains lashed Sudan in recent months, the Nile River burst its banks. Sudan’s government declared a State of emergency, as the river reached 17.43 meters — the highest level in 100 years. Thousands of people were forced to flee their homes in the middle of the night. The ferocious rains and subsequent floods killed over 100 people, destroyed 175,000 homes, and left almost 900,000 people homeless. The widespread impact wreaked havoc on the local community with families cut off or displaced.
The Islamic Relief (IR), team on the ground provided life-saving assistance to 435 families affected in Wadi Ramli in Sudan’s Khartoum State. They delivered hygiene kits, clean water, shelter and other essential life-saving items.
The IR team described swathes of farmland submerged, entire villages and crops destroyed, and livestock perished. Areas with large bodies of stagnant and filthy water contaminated surrounding local water supplies.
A woman survivor described how the cold, murky brown water was thigh-high and still rising in the middle of the night, when she grabbed her children and fled her home. “Water engulfed my body. I knew the walls of the mud house would soon collapse. I was terrified my small children would drown.” She told an IR team member. She now suffers from post-traumatic stress, and lives with her children in an IDP camp in Wadi Ramli.
As the waters begin to recede, stagnant water and the devastation from the floods remains. Sudan’s people attempted to recover from the floods that washed through the city’s dusty streets. But they already face the next humanitarian crisis. In the past week 25,300 refugees fleeing war in Ethiopia’s Tigray region poured across the border into Sudan.
What lies ahead
As fighting between Ethiopia’s federal government troops and Tigray forces intensifies. The UN reports over half the 25,300 people seeking safety in Sudan are children. Many of whom traveled for days to escape from the conflict. Inside the region there are already two million people in need of humanitarian assistance. The conflict threatens to destabilize the wider Horn of Africa region.
Thousands of refugees are expected to cross into the Afar Region of Ethiopia. The IR team is on the ground ready to respond. The refugees in Sudan are expected to move to Rakuba camp in Sudan’s eastern Gedaref province. This camp has historically hosted refugees from Ethiopia. IR staff recently visited the entry points and camp. Their assessment to reestablish the camp and prepare for the influx of refugees found some old water facilities. But huge improvements are still required to accommodate the refugees arriving.
People are still in urgent need of food, shelter and sanitation. IR warns unless we take immediate life-saving action, a public health crisis will emerge. That includes the proliferation of cholera.