Sudan PM visits Ethiopia amid rising refugee crisis

Monday, December 14th, 2020 00:00 |
Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok. Photo/Courtesy

  Khartoum, Sunday

Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok has arrived in Ethiopia, his office says, amid a growing refugee crisis that has seen more than 50,000 Ethiopians flee conflict in the Tigray region into neighbouring Sudan.

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed greeted his Sudanese counterpart at Addis Ababa’s airport, where Hamdok arrived with the acting Sudanese Foreign Minister Omar Qamar al-Din and top intelligence and military officials on Sunday.

The visit came two weeks after the Ethiopian leader declared victory in the fight against the regional government in Tigray.

However, clashes between federal forces and the regional fighters continue more than a month after the fighting began on November 4.

The conflict threatens to destabilise Ethiopia and other countries in the Horn of Africa region.

It has also alarmed the international humanitarian community since the eruption in violence has largely cut the Tigray region of 6 million people off from the world.

On Saturday, the first international aid convoy carrying medicines and relief supplies arrived in the Tigrayan capital of Mekelle, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said, but more is still needed.

Aid trucks managed to enter the region amid international calls for more transparency into the month-long fighting.

The UN refugee agency said more than 50,000 Ethiopians have fled into remote areas of Sudan, first straining the generosity of local communities and then challenging the capacity of humanitarian groups that have hurried to set up a system to feed, shelter and care for the refugees.

The influx of refugees adds to Sudan’s economic and security burdens. Its transitional government has already been struggling under the weight of decades of sanctions imposed by the United States and mismanagement under former ruler Omar al-Bashir, who was removed from power last year.

With communications gradually being restored to parts of Ethiopia’s war-hit Tigray region, survivors and residents in the town of Mai Kadra have been able to share harrowing accounts of the slaughter of civilians more than a month ago, the worst confirmed atrocity in a weeks-long conflict between government forces and the now-fugitive regional government.

On November 12, nearly two weeks after the start of the fighting in the northern region, an Amnesty International investigation cited witnesses as saying that forces linked to the embattled Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) had gone on a rampage in the small town three days earlier.

Armed with weapons including machetes and knives, the attackers hacked and stabbed residents to death, the witnesses told Amnesty, which said it could confirm “the massacre of a very large number of civilians” after examining and verifying gruesome photographs and videos from the scene.

Days later, a preliminary investigation by a government-appointed rights watchdog stated that there may be as many as 600 victims. - Agencies

More on World