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Horn of Africa Update

Horn of Africa Update

29 May 2000


UNHCR has registered 29,948 Eritrean refugees in encampments along the Sudanese border since the fighting between Eritrea and Ethiopia intensified three weeks ago.

The total figure as of Monday morning included 630 Eritreans who arrived over the weekend at Gerghef and Omsafir crossings, east of the border town of Kassala. Many of the arrivals, mostly women and children, looked exhausted and needed food, UNHCR staff said. Some refugees said they had been on the road for three days.They said many men chose to remain behind in Eritrea.

As UNHCR staff prepared Sunday to provide relief to the arrivals at Gerghef, around 10 truckloads of refugees came. More vehicles were seen arriving carrying Eritreans, apparently from the Omhajer area, which Ethiopia said its troops overran last week.

Most of the arrivals in Sudan said they fled ahead of the advancing Ethiopian forces and most said they preferred to stay in new border encampments to await news from their villages.

In Geneva, UNHCR announced Monday it had approved an allocation of $1.4 million from its emergency fund and expected approval of an additional $800,000 for the relief operation in Sudan.

UNHCR has so far delivered more than 1,700 tents to the Sudanese Commission on Refugees (COR) for distribution to the arrivals in the extremely hot and arid region. The government commission is UNHCR's main implementing partner in Sudan. UNHCR has been in Sudan for three decades and still runs a dozen camps for 160,000 Eritreans despite the end of the Eritrean liberation war in 1991.

UNHCR is flying additional relief items into Khartoum beginning this week from Copenhagen, in addition to 2,000 tents being transported from warehouses in the FYR of Macedonia, and Kosovo.

ICRC also is contributing to UNHCR's relief effort, including two water tankers, 1,200 litres of diesel, four water bladders, 24,000 bars of soap, 2,500 tarpaulins, and 5,000 water containers.


Around 350 mostly Eritrean refugees have arrived by boat in Yemen, according to reports from the government and relief agencies.

The Yemen Ministry of Foreign Affairs told UNHCR that 276 people came in small boats on Saturday from Eritrea's Asab region. Among the arrivals were several groups of Ethiopians and Sudanese.

The ministry said the arrivals were sheltered in a school in Mokha and were being provided food by a local charity.

The Swedish NGO Rädda Barnen said the number of arrivals in the area had reached 350 by Sunday.