Thousands of Ethiopians cross into Sudan, fleeing conflict

Wednesday July 28 2021
Ethiopian refugees in Sudan

Ethiopian refugees gather to celebrate the 46th anniversary of the Tigray People's Liberation Front at Um Raquba refugee camp in Gedaref, eastern Sudan, on February 19, 2021. photo | HUSSEIN ERY | AFP



Three thousand Ethiopian asylum-seekers crossed into Sudan late Monday, according to a government report seen by AFP, hailing from the Amhara region which borders the conflict-hit Tigray region.

The two regions, which both border Sudan, are locked in a decades-old land dispute that has become central to an eight-month-old war in Tigray.

"Three thousand people from the Qemant tribe crossed the border late today (Monday) into Taya village" in El-Gedaref state, the Sudanese government report said. More asylum-seekers from the war-torn region were pouring in, it added.

Taya lies in the disputed Al-Fashaqa district, where Ethiopian farmers cultivate fertile land claimed by Sudan.

On Sunday, Amhara regional president Agegnehu Teshager called on all armed residents to mobilise for battle against the Tigrayan rebels dubbing it a "survival campaign", state media reported.


Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, winner of the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize, sent troops into Tigray last November to oust the region's ruling party, the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF), a move he said was in response to TPLF attacks on federal army camps.

Ahmed has leaned heavily on security forces from the Amhara region during the fighting in Tigray.

Fighting dragged on for months before the tables turned in late June, with pro-TPLF fighters reclaiming the Tigray capital Mekelle and Abiy declaring a unilateral ceasefire.

The Tigrayan rebels have since pushed on into other areas, including ones claimed by the Amhara region, and the federal government has sought assistance from other regions.

The war has already killed thousands of people and pushed hundreds of thousands more into famine, according to United Nations.