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Newly displaced Sudanese from the conflict in Blue Nile state continue to arrive in neighboring Ethiopia despite conflicting reports of improved stability and large-scale refugees’ repatriation.
Humanitarian aid commissioner in Blue Nile State Abdel Moneim Abas, on Sunday told Sudanese media 30,000 Sudanese refugees had returned to Blue Nile state after exile in Ethiopia.
However, the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) in Ethiopia said on Friday said the country has continued to receive thousands of new arrivals from the troubled Blue Nile state.
UNHCR public information officer, Natalia Prokopchuk, told Sudan Tribune that fighting in Blue Nile state continues to drive Sudanese into Ethiopia. She said 1,700 refugees arrived in Ethiopia on 22 March alone.
According to the new arrivals, they were forced to flee from their villages because of rising tensions between Sudan People’s Liberation Army/Movement–North (SPLA/M-N) rebels and the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF).
They said they expected more people from their home areas to join them in exile in Ethiopia.
“While UNHCR no longer has a presence in the Blue Nile because of the insecurity there, the continued arrival of refugees and their testimonies seem to indicate deteriorating conditions in their place of origin” Natalia told Sudan Tribune.
Between June 2011 and mid-March 2012, UNHCR and the Ethiopian government have registered 26,899 Sudanese refugees in two camps and one transit centre.
The majority of the refugees are being accommodated in facilities in Tongo, Sherkole and Admazine.
Since fighting between SAF and the SPLA/M-N erupted in 2011, displaced Sudanese have been crossing borders into Ethiopia at an average rate of 200-300 a day.