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Crisis Deepens for Sudanese Refugees in Ethiopia

ADDIS ABABA – Thousands of Sudanese refugees are facing dire conditions in a forest near Ethiopia’s border, following attacks by local militias on United Nations-run camps.

Since May, these refugees have endured assaults by gunmen and bandits who plunder supplies, commit sexual violence, and abduct individuals for ransom, forcing many to flee their already precarious shelters.

According to testimonies from refugees reported by Al Jazeera, approximately 7,000 people initially fled the UN camps, with around 3,000 now sheltering in the forest alongside wildlife such as hyenas, scorpions, and snakes.

The situation remains critical as these vulnerable populations lack adequate shelter, food, and protection.

Montasser*, a prominent community leader among the refugees, expressed their desperate plea:

“We want to get out of the borderlands of Ethiopia and we want to leave Ethiopia altogether.” This sentiment underscores the profound desperation and insecurity faced by these displaced individuals.

The conflict in Sudan has resulted in one of the world’s largest displacement crises, with over 10 million people forced to flee since clashes erupted between the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) in April 2023.

Ethiopia has provided refuge to more than 53,000 Sudanese, with approximately 8,500 accommodated in UN-administered camps in the Amhara region, including Awlala and Kumer.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) continues to monitor the situation closely but faces significant challenges in providing adequate assistance and protection to the displaced population.

Immediate international attention and intervention are urgently needed to alleviate the suffering of these vulnerable refugees and prevent further humanitarian catastrophe.

*Names changed for anonymity.

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