Following the outbreak of conflict in Ethiopia’s Tigray region in early November 2020 eastern Sudan has welcomed more than 60,000 refugees who are seeking safety and protection.
Around one third of these are located in Um Raquba Camp in the eastern Sudanese state of Gadaref. An additional 40,000 refugees currently either stay in transit sites at the border awaiting transfer to better-served camps or have been transferred to camps elsewhere.
This has resulted in the fragmentation of family units and community support networks from which people would normally draw support. All the while, men, women, girls and boys in Um Raquba face the daily challenge of adjusting to life in a new land while struggling with the trauma of their experience of conflict and displacement.
Almost three months after their initial displacement, needs remain high and conditions are extremely challenging.
Elderly people, people with disabilities, the chronically ill, expectant mothers, unaccompanied children and single young people all live together in the crowded camp. While humanitarian organisations are working to help people meet their basic needs, needs still far outweigh the support available. In addition, the most vulnerable refugees such as the elderly and disabled face difficulties in accessing basic services including food and water. Others do not have safe shelter and have to live with strangers in cramped, uncomfortable conditions.
The Danish Refugee Council (DRC) has been present in Um Raquba since early December and is striving to ensure that refugees have their essential needs met and that they are able to live in safety and dignity.
As a large portion of the refugees have specific and underserved needs, DRC is prioritizing targeted assistance to particularly vulnerable individuals, including provision of assistive devices to people with mobility issues, or accompanying survivors of gender-based violence to access emergency medical care and safe accommodation.
Looming ahead is the rainy season, which is due to start in just a few months. Being situated in a very remote location, the roads into Um Raquba Camp will become impassable, and conditions are such that tents are likely to flood or wash away, and standing water and flooded latrines will bring added risk of disease. As a result, people in the camp face an uncertain future.
DRC, therefore, urges humanitarian stakeholders, including the international donor community, to provide urgent support in addressing unmet humanitarian and protection needs for vulnerable Ethiopian refugees.