Authorities in Sudan say at least 3,000 Ethiopian refugees fled into Sudan this week, after the war in Ethiopia's Tigray region spread to the neighboring Amhara region. VOA speaks to a refugee camp director and a political analyst about the significance of the influx in this report from Khartoum.
Sudanese authorities reported thousands of Ethiopian refugees crossing the border this week. In a phone interview with VOA, the head of the Al-Qadarif Emergency Committee handling refugee camps, Alfatih Mogadam, said the registered number of the new asylum seekers is 1,058.
Mogadam says the camps will struggle to absorb so many refugees, and he asked the Sudanese government and aid groups to quickly intervene.
The majority of the new refugees fled from Ethiopia’s Amharic region, bordering war-torn Tigray, and the conflicted Alfashga region between Sudan and Ethiopia.
The war erupted in Ethiopia last November between the federal government in Ethiopia and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front, after Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed accused Tigrayan troops of attacking federal military camps.
The war in Ethiopia has caused a devastating humanitarian crisis mostly in the Tigray region.
Humanitarian aid agencies like the United Nations World Food Program (WFP) say more than 5 million people in the Tigray region are in urgent need of food aid. About 60,000 Ethiopians have fled to Sudan and are camping in the eastern cities bordering Ethiopia.
Sudanese analysts like Ahmed Abdelghani warn the influx from the Amhara region might lead to tension between Amharans and Tigrayans in the camps.
Abdelghani says it is challenging because of the previous disputes between the two ethnic groups, with the Amharic group supporting the federal government of Ethiopia in its war against the Tigrayan people.
He adds that receiving the new refugees in the same camps may cost Sudan a lot if the government did not conduct security procedures to avoid any breakdown between the battling groups.
The conflict in the Tigray region has worsened the already-troubled relationship between Sudan and Ethiopia.
The countries have engaged in a years-long dispute about Ethiopia’s massive hydroelectric GERD dam, which Sudan and Egypt fear will cut off their access to adequate water from the Nile River.
The Ethiopia government announced updated plans Tuesday for electricity generation from the dam, after the second-phase filling of the dam ended this month.