More children fleeing Ethiopia's Tigray region — UNICEF

More children fleeing Ethiopia's Tigray region — UNICEF

 Moses Kuwema

Nearly half of the people who have fled Tigray in Ethiopia to Sudan are children according to UNICEF.

Stéphane Dujarric, Spokesman for the Secretary‑General said during a noon briefing Friday that according to UNICEF, the most urgent needs are clean water and sanitation for camps and border points, as well as child protection and gender-based violence services for the most vulnerable and at-risk refugees.  

The agency also said that, as the crisis continues, education services are essential to ensure that children continue to learn and to provide them with a safe space and a semblance of normalcy.  

UNICEF has also identified more than 200 unaccompanied and separated children.  They screened more than 8,000 children under the age of five for malnutrition at border points entry. 

Dujarric said the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) on the other hand has now registered nearly 50,000 Ethiopian refugees who have crossed into eastern Sudan.  

"Since 6 December, the number of people escaping the Tigray region to Sudan has been [decreasing] to under 500 a day.  Some refugees have said they had to evade armed groups to reach safety and have given harrowing accounts of hiding in fields and bushes in an effort to avoid being spotted," he said.

Dujarric said the UN and its partners are continuing to be in the process of operationalizing the humanitarian agreements with the Government of Ethiopia, but that they still have no access to the Tigray region.  

"We are extremely concerned for the safety and humanitarian needs of Eritrean refugees in Ethiopia. 

"Large numbers of refugees have left camps due to insecurity and the lack of basic services and are now in Mekelle and Addis Ababa. 

"We, along with our partners, have also not had access to the four refugee camps, which host nearly 100,000 people, in more than a month.  

"We have conducted two assessment missions to the border of Tigray and Afar, with our humanitarian partners.  In Afar, we found that newly displaced people and people affected by the fighting need water, hygiene services and medical supplies.  Two missions are still to be carried out to the Western and Southern parts of the Tigray region," he said. 

"We also want to extend our condolences to the Danish Refugee Council who sadly confirmed the deaths of three colleagues in Tigray," he added. 

The International Rescue Committee also confirmed the killing of a staff member in Hitsats Refugee Camp in Shire, and we also, of course, extend our condolences to them.

"These are extremely distressing reports and underscore why we need unfettered humanitarian access to the region as soon as possible," concluded Dujarric.