Tsiga and her family enjoyed a quiet, idyllic life, farming their land in Ethiopia’s Tigray region, but when conflict broke out, she knew that it was no longer safe to stay in their farm.
“I told my family we have to leave. I told my husband, you go with our son and I will follow with our daughter. If I get caught, it’s fine. God willing, we will make it,” said Tsiga.
Her husband and other men in their village were held by armed men for seven days then released, but the experience left them with an ominous feeling.
The family fled in various directions to Sudan, knowing they may not see each other again. Fortunately, they reunited in Hamdayet – a reception center hosting thousands of refugees from Ethiopia fleeing to Sudan. Although safe, they are struggling to cope.
“Since this conflict started, we have not slept. We had a lot of hope. I educated my children so they can have a better life. I was waiting for my son’s university graduation,” said Tsiga.
Nearly 50,000 Ethiopians have fled to Sudan, following the conflict in Tigray. UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, together with Sudanese authorities, have moved some 12,000 refugees from Hamdayet and
Abderafi border points to Um Rakuba camp, located about 70 kilometres away from the Ethiopian border.
Humanitarian agencies are struggling to help. Many of the refugees in the camp and those crossing into Sudan are women and children.
They need food, shelter, clean water, sanitation and health care. There is also a real concern of outbreaks of waterborne diseases.