Some $150 million is needed to tackle the refugee crisis in Sudan, the UN Refugee Agency boss said Saturday.

Tens of thousands of Ethiopians have fled from the embattled northern Tigray region to seek refuge in Sudan, and UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filipo Grandi appealed for donor support during a visit to a refugee camp in Sudan, AfricaNews reported Sunday.

”Five hundred people per day,” Grandi said. “This is what we got in the last few days. Five, six hundred refugees coming into the country per day. In rich countries, this would bring governments down. In here, the government of Sudan has kept the border open. UNHCR, the UN and humanitarian community need about 150 million dollars for the next six months to help the government of Sudan manage this refugee crisis.”

The Tigray conflict broke out on Nov. 4 between Ethiopia’s federal forces and leaders of the region’s ruling party.

Sudan has since become a refuge for over 43,000 Ethiopian refugees fleeing from the intense fighting. The East African nation is accommodating the mass refugee influx as it struggles with its own economic crisis. The country is also going through a fragile transition since the April 2019 ouster of long-serving leader Omar al-Bashir, after unprecedented mass protests, triggered by economic hardship.

Meanwhile, Ethiopia’s army said Saturday that it had taken control of Mekele, the capital of the embattled northern Tigray region and officials said they were now hunting for the dissident leaders. The announcement came after heavy shelling was reported in Mekele. Ethiopian Chief of General Staff Berhanu Jula told the press that over 7,000 soldiers have been freed.

“We are looking for anti-peace forces hiding in every nook and cranny,” Jula said. “We freed more than 7,000 North division soldiers. We control our North division camp and all tanks and heavy weapons.”

Earlier on Saturday, the local government said that heavy shelling had rocked the center of Mekele.This statement was confirmed by two humanitarian officials with staff in the city, AFP reported.

More than three weeks of fighting in Tigray has left thousands of people dead, with tens of thousands more fleeing to Sudan for refuge.

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, winner of last year’s Nobel Peace Prize, announced Nov. 4 that he had ordered military operations against the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF).

On Thursday, he ordered a “final” offensive against the Tigray military. The TPLF was contacted Saturday after the army’s statement but could not be reached immediately.

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WI Guest Author

This correspondent is a guest contributor to The Washington Informer.

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