Sudanese refugees stranded in Ethiopian forest after attacks

Thousands of Sudanese refugees, fleeing civil war, are stranded in Ethiopian forests after gunmen repeatedly attacked their camps in the Amhara region, leaving tents riddled with bullet holes.

Around 8,000 refugees left the Kumer and Awlala camps last month due to these assaults, mainly by bandits, according to camp representatives.

Originally, they had escaped fighting between the Sudanese army and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), which started in April 2023, causing severe hunger and ethnic cleansing in Darfur.

“We left our country because we were scared of the stray bullets from the army and RSF,” one young man told media by phone.

Images show makeshift shelters and many refugees, including children, along roadsides. The Ethiopian Refugee and Returnee Service did not respond to comments, but in May mentioned efforts to address safety concerns despite limited resources.

The UNHCR acknowledged security incidents and stated Ethiopian police have increased patrols. Sudan’s war has caused the world’s largest displacement crisis, with over 8.9 million displaced and 2.1 million fleeing abroad, including 122,000 to Ethiopia.

Refugees outside the camps report regular violence and kidnappings. Cholera has spread in Kumer, with limited medical aid. Monthly food supplies are insufficient, and thousands of refugees attempted to walk to UNHCR’s headquarters to protest conditions but were stopped by police.

Aid workers cite insecurity and funding shortages as major obstacles, with only $400,000 received out of a $175 million appeal.

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