Sudanese Refugees, including Unaccompanied Children, Cross into Ethiopia

Ongoing combat between Sudanese troops and a militia from South Sudan has forced some 20,000 people to flee into the neighbouring Ethiopia, which is also playing host to Somali famine refugees in the southeast.
The conflict between the Sudan Armed Forces and some members of the Sudan People's Liberation Movement (North) is happening in the Blue Nile State, which is part of (north) Sudan. The violence has added thousands more people to the 245,000 Ethiopia is already sheltering (not including new arrivals from Somalia to the Gode area or from Sudan to Benishangul-Gumuz).
Some of the refugees brought their livestock and personal property with them in case the fighting became protracted, preventing an early return to their homes. However, though the situation remains volatile, many refugees, says the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), have chosen to remain near the border so as to be able to quickly return and harvest crops or tend to animals when possible. Others wish to remain near the border and not transfer to camps further away until they are reunited with the families.
UNHCR spokesperson, Fatoumata Lejeune-Kaba spoke at a press conference at the Palais des Nations in Geneva yesterday.  Some of what she said was further reported on UN Radio. According to Ms. Lejeune-Kaba, Tuesday of this week brought to light a report that fighting in Blue Nile had recommenced.
On Tuesday, "4,000 people, and the largest number on a single day, crossed the border into Kurmuk, western Ethiopia," she said. Most of these were women and children, including some 200 unaccompanied minors. Some of these children may have become separated from their parents during the flight, but some may have set out completely alone.
Children separated from their parents during humanitarian crises are among the most vulnerable groups. They lack the care of their parents, who are usually their first line of protection. As such, they face the danger of abuse and other types of exploitation. Many of them will lose their childhoods, taking on responsibilities far beyond their years to care for their younger children or even fight for their own survival.
According to the Inter-agency Guiding Principles on Unaccompanied and Separated Children, "The breakdown of social structures and services accompanying major crises means that communities and States themselves may not be in a position to provide the necessary protection and care for children without families. It is therefore imperative that humanitarian organizations ensure that the most vulnerable children are protected."
The UNHCR's relief efforts, for which an appeal of $14 million is in the works, are being supported by the government, non-governmental organizations and UN sister agencies including the International Organization for Migration (IOM), World Food Programme (WFP) and the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF). Refugees arriving at reception centres in Kurmuk, Bamza, Gizen and Teibe are receiving dry food rations. The UNHCR has also procured 5,000 family sleeping tens, kitchen sets and plastic sheeting in addition to 10,000 blankets and 7,500 sleeping mats.
In an effort to provide emergency shelter to incoming refugees, the UNHCR and its partners are constructing a new camp in Tongo at one of three sites allotted by Ethiopia's government. Like the other two camps, Tongo will have the capacity to house 10,000 people.
There are also 35,000 families who have been internally displaced in Sudan itself from the Blue Nile State's capital of Damazin.(


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