Severe storms damage shelters of 16,000 Ethiopian refugees in Sudan

UNHCR teams are rushing emergency relief to displaced families as further rains are expected

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©UNHCR / Assadullah Nasrullah


29.06.21. More than 16,000 Ethiopian refugees in Sudan’s eastern refugee settlements of Um Rakuba and Tunaydbah have been impacted after several weeks of storms razed tents, swept away their belongings, and destroyed infrastructure. 

Nearly 4,000 out of 10,000 individual family tents have been damaged by strong winds, heavy rains, and hailstorms. Emergency latrines and other facilities have also been destroyed.

UNHCR and its partners are in a race against time and nature to repair and reinforce shelters and ensure that affected families have access to clean water and safe latrines, with storms expected to intensify further during the rainy season, which continues from June to October.

UK for UNHCR has launched an urgent appeal to help teams on the ground deliver shelter to displaced Ethiopians.

Urgent support is needed to help UNHCR teams replace blankets and sleeping mats for families affected, and replenish food supplies. Distributions of 2,500 emergency shelter kits – ropes, wooden poles, and bamboo sticks – are underway to help those most impacted to reinforce their tents. A total of 10,000 emergency shelters kits are planned for distribution with an additional 5,000 in reserve.

UNHCR and partners are currently finalising construction and rehabilitation of some 60 kilometres of roads to both Um Rakuba and Tunaydbah, which is critical to ensure access to the camps as well as to about 15 host community villages throughout the rainy season. Teams are also digging drainage systems in the two sites to mitigate the risks of further flooding; constructing semi-permanent schools; and building permanent latrines and showers. However, accelerating the work is challenging because of continuing storms.

More permanent shelters called tukuls – small round huts made from mud bricks and thatch, typical of the region – are planned. But we can only start building them after the rainy season is over, when the bricks will be able to dry properly.

The sudden onset of extreme weather is dramatically amplifying the risks for people forced to flee conflict and persecution, as the effects of climate change are felt disproportionately by the most vulnerable.

Last year, heavy seasonal rains caused flash floods and rivers to burst their banks, affecting hundreds of thousands of internally displaced people, refugees and host communities in Sudan.

Did you know UNHCR’s work relies on donations? To support relief efforts, please donate today.

For more information about the ongoing crisis in Ethiopia, please visit our Ethiopia country page.

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