A UN refugee agency official said the number of refugees pouring over the border has now exceeded agency preparations by 11,000 individuals. Battle has also left more than 2 million children in the Tigray region in desperate need of care, with thousands more at risk in Sudanese refugee camps, Unicef said.
“Inside the Tigray region, restricted access and the ongoing communication blackout have left an estimated 2.3 million children in need of humanitarian assistance and out of reach,” Unicef executive director Henrietta Fore said.
In particular, the organization is concerned about the potential spread of illness among refugees, almost half of whom are children.
An additional 12,000 children – some of them are without parents or relatives – are “among those sheltering in camps and registration centers and are at risk”, Fore added.
Earlier this month, the Ethiopian government declared a six-month state of emergency in Tigray, where humanitarian access has been disrupted by a blackout of telecommunications and electricity, combined with insufficient fuel and currency.
UN agencies have cautioned that instability in northern Ethiopia is likely to force 200,000 refugees into neighboring Sudan in the coming months, where food, shelter, and medicine are desperately needed.
“Together with all the agencies, we built a response plan for about 20,000 people, and currently we are at about 31,000, so it has already surpassed that figure,” Axel Bisschop told a Geneva briefing. “The new planning figure is around 200,000.”
In particular, the organization is concerned about the potential transmission of disease among refugees, almost half of whom are children. A six-month state of emergency was declared earlier this month by the Ethiopian government in Tigray, where a shutdown of telecommunications and electricity, combined with insufficient fuel and currency, effectively blocked humanitarian access.
Open hostilities are the result of months, perhaps years, of increasing tensions in Addis Ababa, the national capital, between the TPLF’s leadership and the ruling coalition.
Few analysts expect that hostilities will end soon, and senior US diplomats said on Thursday night that they were not involved in mediation by either side.