Hawa A. Yassin, a refugees from Sudan, sits with her four children in a Shelter at Kurmuk transit centre near Ethiopia's western border with Sudan. (Image © NHCR/Tiksa Negeri)

UNHCR Calls for More Support for People fleeing Sudan

The UN Refugees Agency (UNHCR) has called for “urgent and additional support” to respond to Sudanese refugees in Ethiopia as the conflict in the neighboring nation displaced nearly 8 million people.

The appeal was made by UNHCR Chief Filippo Grandi at the end of his three-day visit to Ethiopia where he observed efforts to assist Sudanese refugees amid significant funding challenges.

Since April 2023, over 100,000 people have crossed into Ethiopia from Sudan, including close to 47,000 refugees and asylum-seekers. Some 50,000 Sudanese refugees were already in the country.

UN High Commissioner for Refugees Grandi spoke with some of over 20,000 newly arrived refugees at the Kurmuk transit center in the Benishangul-Gumuz region.

Their stories, Grandi said, were “heartbreaking loss of family, friends, homes and livelihoods.”

“Yet, in the midst of this despair, I also saw refugees’ determination to move forward, if given the support and opportunity.”

Grandi also expressed appreciation for the Ethiopian Government as well as local communities for allocating land and welcoming those forced to flee.

He said, “Ethiopia’s continued generosity to the displaced, including those who have recently arrived from Sudan, is commendable and should be matched with even greater support from the international community.”

“Without further donor support, it will be extremely difficult to deliver much-needed help to those who need it most.”

Sudan plunged into chaos following the long-simmering tensions between the military, led by Gen Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces, headed by Gen Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, broke out in April, 2023.

Apart from Ethiopia, five other neighboring countries have also received huge numbers of Sudanese refugees. More than half a million people have fled to Chad since April. On average, 1,500 people cross daily into South Sudan, per the UN.

Acute Funding Shortage

In Ethiopia, the newly arrived refugees are being relocated away from the border areas to new settlements, say government and UNHCR officials, while, simultaneously, pushing for their inclusion into national systems.

Ethiopia is the third largest refugee-hosting country in Africa hosting nearly a million displaced people mainly from South Sudan, Somalia, Eritrea, and Sudan.

However, the recent influx of refugees, including from Somalia, is taking a toll on the country which is dealing with an estimated 3.5 displaced people of its own as the UNHCR grapples with funding shortages.

At the end of last year, UNHCR’s programs in the country were significantly less than half-funded, with just 36 percent of the $431m needed.

In 2024, the overall requirements for UNHCR’s response in Ethiopia totals $426m.