Government officials in Sudan appealed for international assistance on Monday to deal with surging numbers of Ethiopian refugees fleeing the country’s recent internal conflict.
In Sudan’s southeastern Al-Qadarif state, which borders Ethiopia, Governor Suleiman Ali Muhammad Musa told reporters on November 16 that the response from international aid donors has so far been insufficient to meet the needs of an estimated 25,000 refugees that have flooded the border to cross into neighboring Sudan since early November.
Musa said that the region he governs is currently hosting 15,500 refugees from Ethiopia, “with 2,500 harbored at Umm Rakuba camp and another 13,000 staying in village number Eight al-Fasqa, the controversial area where both Sudan and Ethiopia have haggled on the extent of their boundary,” Kenyan newspaper the Daily Nation reported.
Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed launched an air and ground offensive against the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), a Marxist separatist group, on November 4 after TPLF allegedly attacked a federal military base. The conflict has already killed hundreds of people and displaced tens of thousands, most of whom have fled to Sudan, which has agreed to house Ethiopian refugees. Abiy, a 2019 Nobel Peace Prize recipient, has so far refused international attempts to mediate the conflict.
Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta met with Ethiopian Deputy Prime Minister Demeke Mekonnen on Monday in Nairobi to discuss Ethiopia’s spiraling conflict. According to the Daily Nation, Kenyatta warned Mekonnen, also Ethiopia’s foreign minister, that the fighting has the potential to escalate into a “full-blown war.”
“President Uhuru Kenyatta has urged parties to the internal conflict in Ethiopia to find peaceful means to end the crisis,” the Kenyan presidential office said in a statement on Monday.
“While acknowledging the internal efforts being made to end the conflict, President Kenyatta urged the warring parties to prioritize [the] humanitarian needs of local populations by opening up corridors for essential supplies,” the statement read.
“Kenya and Ethiopia have an existing mutual defense pact … which often sees Nairobi and Addis Ababa work together to resolve regional security problems. President Kenyatta said both countries remain anchor states to regional peace and cautioned that an unstable Ethiopia could affect the entire Horn of Africa,” the Daily Nation noted on Tuesday.
Human rights group Amnesty International reported that “likely hundreds” of people were stabbed or hacked to death in Ethiopia’s Mai-Kadra (May Cadera) town in the Tigray Region’s southwest on the night of November 9. Detailing the incident on November 12, Amnesty International said it had “not yet been able to confirm who was responsible for the killings,” but had spoken to witnesses “who said forces loyal to the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) were responsible for the mass killings, apparently after they suffered defeat from the federal EDF [Ethiopian Defense] forces.”