October 28, 2011 (KHARTOUM) – Aerial bombardment in Sudan’s war-hit state of Blue Nile has sent nearly 2000 refugees into Ethiopia amid a volatile security situation, with reports of rape, according to the UN.
- Sudanese refugees from Blue Nile state cross into western Ethiopia through the Kurmuk border crossing (UNHCR/P.Rulashe)
This month, the UN opened a camp in Ethiopia’s western town of Tango in order to accommodate More than 27,500 refugees it said had fled the neighboring Sudanese state of Blue Nile since violent clashes erupted there as of 1 September between Sudan’s army (SAF) and rebels of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement North (SPLM-N).
According to the spokesman of the UNHCR, who was addressing a press briefing in Geneva on Friday, nearly 2,000 Sudanese refugees have arrived in western Ethiopia amid tightening security at the border area of Kurmuk.
The UNHCR spokesman said that the new arrivals are mostly women, children and elderly, saying they told the UN they fled bombings and fear of bombings by Antonov planes in areas including Bau, Sali and Dinduro, all located between Kurmuk and the Blue Nile capital, Damazine.
“Some of the new arrivals said they had been walking for up to three weeks. One man arrived with shrapnel wounds and was taken to a hospital in nearby Assosa. Other refugees said they lived for several weeks in the bushes in Dinduro, which had been occupied by armed groups, before making the 64-km journey to Kurmuk. Refugees from an area called Derring reported abductions of women and girls six weeks ago by armed militia, and that two girls died after being raped repeatedly,” the UNHCR spokesman said.
He also cited reports that “armed militia on the Sudanese side of the Kurmuk border have warned the community to leave the area, possibly in preparation for a ground offensive.”
Al-Kurmuk town is the bastion of SPLM-N rebels and Sudan recently said its army is closing in on the town.
The UNHCR said it expects more refugees to arrive into Ethiopia in view of the current situation in Blue Nile, urging refugees to relocate to Tango camp which lies about 200km from Kurmuk.