Sudanese refugees flee UN camp in Ethiopia after attacks

At least 1,000 Sudanese refugees have fled a United Nations-run camp in northern Ethiopia following a series of shootings and robberies, three of the refugees and the United Nations said.

Refugees said around 7,000 of the Kumer camp’s 8,000 residents left on foot early Wednesday morning after being attacked and robbed by local militiamen. They said they were detained by police shortly after leaving the camp, which is 70 kilometers (43 miles) from the border with Sudan in Ethiopia’s Amhara region. They asked not to be identified for fear of reprisals.

The United Nations refugee agency, UNHCR, said it was aware that 1,000 people had left Kumer on Wednesday because they felt unsafe after a series of security incidents. Spokespeople for the Ethiopian government, the Amhara regional administration, the federal police and the national refugee agency did not respond to requests for comment.

More than 1.6 million Sudanese have fled their country since civil war broke out in April 2023 between the army and a rival paramilitary unit. According to UNHCR, around 33,000 have crossed into Ethiopia. Sudanese refugees in Kumer told UNHCR in a recent letter that they have been facing rampant insecurity for months, including kidnappings for ransom, murder and armed robbery.

Amhara militias have been fighting federal forces for nearly a year across the region in a conflict that left more than 200 dead last year, according to the United Nations. “We can’t stay here anymore,” one of the refugees told Reuters by phone. “We have been kidnapped, killed and attacked repeatedly since we arrived here in June. We have decided to return to Sudan, despite the war.”

UNHCR described the situation in the camp as “very difficult.” “The reasons they gave for leaving were mainly because they did not feel safe in the settlement,” the agency said in a statement to Reuters.

“This follows several reports of security incidents, including crimes, robberies, armed robberies, shootings and suspected kidnappings.”

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)