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Tigray region .. tragedy of children crossing the Ethiopian border to Sudan without their families

Children make up a third of the refugees who have fled the ravages of conflict in the Tigray region in northern Ethiopia, and hundreds of them have traveled long distances to Sudan without their families.

In a report published by the American newspaper “New York Times” (New York Times), writer Abd al-Latif Zuhair says that the Umm Rakuba camp for Ethiopian refugees has been filled with children after the recent wave of displacement from Tigray.

Ashinafi Mulugeta (8 years old) comments on the conditions in the camp, saying, “It is better to live here because there is war in our small village. I am happy to be here.”

A third of the refugees are children

Statistics indicate that more than 51,000 Ethiopians fled their country due to the military conflict in the troubled Tigray region, and more than 19,000 of them are currently in the Umm Rakuba camp, and according to the United Nations refugee agency, nearly a third of the Ethiopian refugees are children. 361 of them were to Sudan without their families.

Many Tigrayans accuse the government of waging a campaign of ethnic cleansing against them, while Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has promised to unify the country under the banner of liberal democratic rule. As the violence continues, around 2.3 million children in the Tigray region are unable to access humanitarian aid, according to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).

Many children who arrived in Sudan say that they were separated from their families while fleeing their homes in the middle of the night, and that they traveled for hours and days without any assistance, and with limited access to food, shelter and care, humanitarian organizations warn of the risks of child abuse and exploitation.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, comments on this ordeal, saying, “It is very heartbreaking, I have not seen such a high number of children separated from their families”, in fact, even as they dream of returning home one day, many refugees say They are determined to remain in the Umm Rakuba camp.

Umm Rakoubeh camp for Ethiopian refugees filled with children after the recent wave of displacement from Tigray (French)

Constant struggle

The writer believes that this desire to remain in the camp is caused by the continuing fighting in Tigray, despite Ethiopian officials confirming the return of electricity and communications to the region, and Abe declaring the end of the attack.

Daniel Yamani, a child under the age of 12, who crossed the border alone after separating from his parents, says that on his way to Sudan he saw the bodies of the dead, and adds, “If things continue as they are now, I will never return.” He wanders around the camp and tries to make some money selling cakes to buy coffee and tea. “We have never seen bad scenes in our lives like this,” he talks about the war in Tigray.

Despite the challenges at Umm Rakuba, the author stresses that the temporary classrooms established by the Norwegian Refugee Council give a sense of hope, as refugee teachers supervise the education of hundreds of students in the morning and evening shifts, and teach them mathematics, science and languages.

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