In early November 2020, a military confrontation began in Ethiopia’s Tigray region between the Ethiopian Federal Defence and forces linked to the Tigray Regional Security Forces (TRSF) leading the Government of Ethiopia to declare a State of Emergency. Since then, a large influx of refugees from Ethiopia’s Tigray region have fled across the border to Eastern Sudan.
As of 13 January 2021, the Government of Sudan’s Commission for Refugees (COR) has registered over 58,044 refugee arrivals. With a tense and volatile humanitarian situation unfolding in Ethiopia and continued daily flows into Sudan, refugee arrivals are reported through main border points in Hamdayet, Wad Alhelw locality in Kassala State, Algazira, Yagolo and Yasbisher sites in Wad Al Mahi locality in Blue Nile State, and Lugdi and Abderafi, Faqsha locality in Gedaref State. Points of Entry (PoE) are located in extremely remote areas, accessible only via sand tracks and other non-paved roads. These sites also act as transit points for transportation and relocation to camp sites and settlements.
The majority of refugees are entering Sudan through Hamdayet in Kassala and in proximity to Village 8, where over 12,000 refugees are being temporarily hosted by host communities in Gedaref State. Smaller points of entry are also increasingly hosting refugees, with 13,374 individuals have sought refuge in Lugdi locality and over 1,000 refugees hosted in Abedrafi locality, Gedaref State, and over 700 refugees hosted between Algazira, Yagolo, Yasbisher localities in Blue Nile state. Since their arrival, 17,800 refugees relocated from Hamdayet, Village 8, and Abdrafi to Um Rakouba refugee camp. As fighting continues in northern Ethiopia, the humanitarian situation is expected to worsen. The United Nations (UN) estimates that 100,000 Ethiopian refugees will require assistance in Sudan between November 2020 and April 2021.
Needs are significantly growing and under-addressed. An IOM rapid assessment noted that the most urgent needs include water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), shelter, health, protection, nutrition, transport, non-food items (NFI), and camp coordination and camp management (CCCM). Risk of disease outbreak and transmission is high, with positive HIV and tuberculosis cases identified and high potential for the spread of COVID-19 and vector disease within overcrowded displacement sites. Prior to this influx of refugees, Sudan was already considered one of the world’s largest and most protracted humanitarian crises. In total, 9.3 million people across the country are in need of humanitarian assistance. This number includes nearly 2.5 million Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), 1.1 million refugees, 324,000 returnees, as well as 5 million in conflict and disaster-affected communities and other vulnerable people in need of assistance. The pre-existing humanitarian situation is coupled with a positive but fragile political transition, ongoing economic crisis and the evolving impacts of COVID-19. Yearly, floods and emergencies related to seasonal climatic shocks amplify needs, damaging crops and infrastructure, and displace thousands and affect the most vulnerable populations.
In response to the evolving situation, IOM is scaling up its operations in eastern Sudan to provide humanitarian and protection assistance to affected refugee populations and their host communities. IOM’s planned interventions are in line with the Inter-Agency Refugee Emergency Response Plan for November 2020 – April 2021, and are designed first and foremost to ensure the most pressing humanitarian needs of refugees are met in conjunction with Refugee Response Coordination mechanisms.
This Flash Appeal is based on a contextual analysis of humanitarian and protection concerns and the impact on the local context, with a planning figure of 100,000 refugees and 50,000 in the host community, recognizing human mobility patterns, cross-border movements and migrant communities already established in the area. The overall objective is to mitigate the impact of the influx of refugees in Gedaref State, reduce human suffering and material losses in the areas of displacement and ensure recovery and community stabilization initiatives are initiated to mitigate potential risks of social strain and tensions, address vulnerabilities, and ensure equitable access to services for all. COVID-19 prevention and mitigation activities have also been considered when planning the interventions included within this Flash Appeal.