Humanitarian needs are high for Ethiopians fleeing to Sudan

In one month, tens of thousands of people have crossed the border from Ethiopia into neighbouring Sudan. They arrive tired, hungry, and traumatised, and in need of humanitarian assistance.

Since 4 November, more than 46,000 refugees have entered Sudan in search of safety from the ongoing conflict in neighbouring Ethiopia.

They are primarily arriving in the Gedaref, Kassala and Blue Nile states in eastern Sudan. They come with very few belongings, often traumatised from their experience of displacement, and tired after trekking for days to reach Sudan. The need for humanitarian support is high.

Focus on protection needs

DRC is present in the states of Gedaref and Kassala, where the vast majority of people fleeing the current conflict in Ethiopia are arriving.

Together with the German NGO Welthungerhilfe and in close coordination with the UN, we are currently setting up a broader emergency response in which we focus on protection.

This includes providing safe spaces for women and girls; basic psychosocial support to alleviate the negative consequences of displacement; individually tailored assistance such as providing glasses or wheelchairs; and a community-based service that helps us identify needs and refer people to for example government services, a health provider or who else may be able to provide the needed help.

A welcome help

Before the current developments, Sudan was already hosting more than a million refugees from countries such as South Sudan, Eritrea, the Central African Republic, and Ethiopia. That number is now increasing at a worrying pace as the situation in Ethiopia has rapidly escalated.

Handling this is no easy task for a country that is already hosting a million refugees. Nonetheless, the Sudanese government is keeping its doors open to refugees from Ethiopia.

“Receiving 46,000 refugees in just short of four weeks is a big responsibility to lift,” says Julian Zakrzewski, Country Director for DRC in Sudan.

“I really think that we need to recognise and appreciate that the Sudanese government keeps its borders open and supports people seeking safety from the conflict in Ethiopia through these difficult times.”

DRC has been present in Sudan since 2004 and was present in Gedaref and Kassala states prior to the current displacement crises. The emergency response to the current situation was made possible thanks to support from the British Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office.