Khartoum, 27 November (efe-epa) – The High Commissioner of the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR), Filippo Grandi, arrived in Sudan on Friday to visit the Ethiopian border where there are more than 43,000 refugees from war-torn Tigray, and to discuss this humanitarian crisis with Sudanese authorities.
“I am in Sudan and visiting areas near the Ethiopian border, where 43,000 refugees from Ethiopia’s Tigray region have arrived so far,” Grandi announced Friday on his Twitter account, accompanying the post with a photo of the Sudanese desert taken from a small plane.
The UNHCR High Commissioner thanked the Sudanese authorities for upholding “its traditional hospitality to people in need,” and said that Sudan, a country ravaged by a severe economic crisis, “urgently requires international assistance to support its efforts.”
So far the United Nations has not given details of Grandi’s visit which is the first since the conflict broke out in Tigray at the beginning of November, causing a wave of displaced people that UNHCR now estimates at more than 43,000 and is expected to reach 200,000 in the coming months.
However, the Sudanese state agency SUNA revealed Thursday that Grandi would arrive in Kassala State (East) at the head of a UN delegation to ascertain the conditions of Ethiopian refugees in Sudan and determine the extent of humanitarian needs.
According to SUNA, the Italian will also visit Gedaref State, where a large number of the refugees have arrived, as well as Kassala and the Blue Nile, in addition to meeting the Sudanese authorities and other international and local organisations.
The Ethiopian prime minister, Abiy Ahmed, announced the third and final phase of the Ethiopian army’s offensive to take the capital of Tigray, Mekele, and overthrow the rebel Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF).
Tigray, a region bordering Eritrea and Sudan, remains isolated and has had its telecommunications cut off by the central government in retaliation for an attack by the TPLF on an Ethiopian army base in the region.
To date, the Prime Minister, winner of the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize, has ignored international calls for a halt of hostilities and rejected a negotiation with the TPLF to resolve the crisis, which has also caused hundreds of deaths. EFE-EPA