Dr Daryelowm was having a busy day at work in a hospital when he heard the blasts.

“We heard there were civilians wounded by the bombings,” he says.

“People were leaving without anything, rushing away to save their own lives.”

Dr Daryelowm had worked as a specialist for four years at the hospital in western Tigray. When the violence became too much, he fled the region and sought safety in Sudan.

A day after reaching the Sudanese settlement near the border, Dr Daryelowm returned to work.

“People were leaving without anything, rushing away to save their own lives.”

He pulled together a group of doctors, nurses, pharmacists and even a veterinarian to help fellow refugees who had fallen sick with illnesses like malaria, pneumonia and typhoid.

“We started off working out of a house, using scraps of paper as scripts for patients,” he says.

More medicines are needed, especially for those who were taking medication for chronic conditions, such as diabetes and HIV. But Dr Daryelowm isn’t ready to give up.

“We have to fight to the end. We can’t give quality care here, but we can give something, some basic care to the people who are here.”

Dr Daryelowm worked as a specialist at a hospital in western Tigray. © UNHCR/Will Swanson

A day after reaching the Sudanese border Dr Daryelowm went back to work, helping Ethiopian refugees who had fallen ill. © UNHCR/Will Swanson

Around 50,000 Ethiopian refugees have crossed the border into Sudan since violence escalated between the Ethiopian federal government and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front.

Refugees are arriving with nothing but the clothes on their backs. Ariane Maixandeau, Associate Reporting Officer at UNHCR Kassala in East Sudan, says it is the largest influx the region has seen for decades.

“Most refugees have left everything behind, unable to bring any official papers, money or personal belongings,” Ariane says.

“Although most arrived physically healthy, many have seen atrocities and need psychosocial support.”

Ariane is familiar with crisis, having worked on the Syrian refugee emergency in Lebanon.

But she says the sudden stream of new arrivals into Sudan, as well as political transition, economic crisis and a global pandemic, has made the situation very challenging.

“Most refugees have left everything behind, unable to bring any official papers, money or personal belongings.”

Read also: Aid and communication blocked for Eritrean refugees in Ethiopia.

Many refugees have lost contact with family members while fleeing. Most have not had contact since the conflict started in early November.

“It breaks my heart when I talk to refugees who don’t know where their husbands, wives, children and other loved ones are or whether they are safe,” Ariane says.

“They are terrified that anything would have happened to them and hope every day that they can be reunited at the border in Sudan.

“None of them wanted to leave their family, home, or livelihood behind. But the unsafe and threatening situation in Tigray left them no choice.”

UNHCR is on the ground working with local authorities and partners to ensure families receive much-needed services, including food, water, sanitation, health, shelter and family tracing and reunification.

But resources are stretched.

Please donate today to help the thousands of children, women and men who have been forced to flee because of escalating violence in Ethiopia.


Ariane Maixandeau is the Associate Reporting Officer at UNHCR Kassala in East Sudan. © UNHCR/Will Swanson

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