Fighting in northern Ethiopia displaces almost 1 million people, strains local humanitarian services to breaking point
Tens of thousands of those fleeing the conflict between Tigrayan and Ethiopian federal forces have crossed into neighboring Sudan, where countrywide virus numbers are also rising rapidly.
More than 45,000 refugees from the Tigray conflict are now living in remote parts of Sudan, where they have taken shelter in crowded camps that have no coronavirus testing or treatment capabilities.
“With COVID-19, it’s not comfortable in these buses,” said one refugee, Hailem, who said over 60 people were crammed onto the transport that took them from Hamdayet, on the Sudanese side of a main border crossing, to the camps.
Many staying in the camps are forced to share shelters and crowd together in lines for food, cash and registration with different aid agencies. There are few face masks to be seen — or available for distribution.
At the Umm Rakouba camp, Javanshir Hajiyev with aid group Mercy Corps told The Associated Press that the number of chest infections was high, but that humanitarian workers had no materials to test for the coronavirus.
Few of the refugees see the pandemic as their first concern, having witnessed deadly attacks as they fled Ethiopia, and now living in fear for family members left behind.
“I just escaped from war,” said one, Gebre Meten. “I think the war is worse.”