A major humanitarian crisis is unfolding in Ethiopia, the United Nations refugee agency said on Tuesday, with more than 27,000 people now having fled heavy fighting to Sudan.
The pace of the exodus, some 4,000 a day, may also indicate huge uprooting of people within the Tigray region, U.N. agencies said, adding that teams on the ground were overwhelmed. “People are coming out of Ethiopia really scared, afraid, with stories saying they have been fleeing heavy fighting and there’s no sign of the fighting stopping,” Ethiopia’s prime minister warned on Tuesday that a deadline for rebel northern forces to lay down arms had expired, paving the way for a push on the Tigray region’s capital in the two-week conflict destabilising the Horn of Africa.
Sudan already hosts nearly 1 million refugees including those who have fled conflict and poverty in Chad, Eritrea, Central African Republic and South Sudan.
“UNHCR is warning that a full-scale humanitarian crisis is unfolding as thousands of refugees flee ongoing fighting in Ethiopia’s Tigray region each day to seek safety in eastern Sudan,” Baloch said.
“UNHCR is on stand-by to provide assistance in Tigray when access and security allow,” he added.