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News Alert: Mercy Corps Rushes Aid to Ethiopian Refugees in Sudan

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Mercy Corps is ramping up operations in Sudan to help the more than 30,000 refugees who have already fled conflict in neighboring Ethiopia, with some 4,000 more arriving each day. Our Country Director recently visited the Um Raquba camp where we are establishing a health post in partnership with Sudan’s Ministry of Health.

Dr. Arif Noor, Mercy Corps Country Director for Sudan, says:

“The number of refugees is growing by the day. Families left most of their possessions behind, bringing only what little they could carry as they crossed the river into Sudan. We’re deeply concerned about their welfare.

“Um Raquba camp hasn’t been in operation for 20 years. It’s in urgent need of repair as well as supplies, and has a maximum capacity of 20,000. That pales in comparison to the number of Ethiopians who may seek refuge here in the coming weeks.

“The building we identified to use for the health clinic is in bad shape, but it is the only place available. When we started we were treating patients on the floor as the facility didn’t even have basic furniture; the walls are crumbling and there is no roof so we are undertaking repairs while expanding our response.

“Sudan has already begun seeing a second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic in recent weeks and if unchecked, this already vulnerable population could see rapid community spread. We are quickly hiring health workers, including female health care providers as many women prefer a female provider. Nearly half of the arriving refugees are children.

“This region of Sudan has experienced extreme flooding in the past few months and the local communities are still recovering and need support themselves. We urgently need resources to prepare now for the likely scenario of a full-blown and long-lasting humanitarian crisis, particularly as the United Nations is now predicting that as many as 200,000 people may flee to Sudan by the end of 2020.”

Last year, Mercy Corps reached more than 600,000 people in Ethiopia and more than 350,000 in Sudan with humanitarian and development assistance. The Sudan country team opened an office in Gederaf state, Sudan, this year to support public health and COVID-19 prevention measures. The United Nations reports that the evolving situation in Ethiopia could push an additional 1.1 million people into humanitarian need. Prior to this crisis, more than 7.7 million people in Ethiopia struggled with acute food insecurity, malnutrition and water shortages.