Storms Render Thousands of Ethiopian Refugees in Sudan Homeless

Aid agencies are racing against time to provide temporary shelter for more than 16,000 Ethiopian refugees in Sudan whose tents were swept away during violent storm surges over the past few weeks.

The storms, which began in late May and gathered intensity in June, have demolished nearly 4,000 out of 10,000 individual family tents in Sudan’s eastern refugee settlements of Um Rakuba and Tunaydbah.

Strong winds, heavy rains, and hailstorms have destroyed much of the camps’ infrastructure, emergency latrines and other facilities. U.N. refugee agency spokesman, Boris Cheshirkov says the personal belongings of thousands of Ethiopian refugees have been swept away.

He says the refugees who fled to Sudan to escape the conflict in northern Ethiopia’s Tigray province require emergency assistance.

“What we expect over the coming two or three months, because the rainy season will continue until October, is that these rains will intensify, that the flooding may worsen. And that is why it is essential that we take measures now including to rehabilitate some of the roads and build new ones,” he said.

Cheshirkov says the roads are becoming flooded and soon might become impassible, making it difficult to get humanitarian aid to people in need.

Consequently, he says the UNHCR, and partners are rapidly constructing and rehabilitating some 60 kilometers of roads to the two refugee camps and local host communities. He says they also are digging drainage systems to mitigate the risks of further flooding.

“Partners are constructing semi-permanent schools, as well as permanent latrines and showers… More permanent shelters are also planned but the building can only start once the rainy season stops… A total of 10,000 emergency shelter kits are planned for distribution with an additional 5,000 in reserve,” he said.

The UNHCR along with 31 U.N. and private aid agencies are revising an earlier appeal upwards to reflect the current emergency. They are calling for $182 million, an increase of $33 million.

The additional money will allow the agencies to improve the camps’ infrastructure and meet the protection and basic needs of the Ethiopian refugees until the end of the year.

Source: Voice of America