120 Ethiopian peacekeepers have applied for asylum in Sudan, according to the Sudanese Commission of Refugees (COR). The COR claimed in a statement released in Khartoum that Sudan is sheltering around 80,000 Ethiopians who fled to eastern Sudan when fighting broke out in the Tigray region in November 2020. “There are 120 Ethiopian officers who were part of the United Nations peacekeeping forces in Sudan” among the refugees, according to the refugee’s body.
The Umm Gargour camp in eastern Sudan houses all of the military refugees, including 14 women and 106 men. The COD had earlier announced the defection of 120 Ethiopian troops from the Tigray ethnic group who were members of the UN operation in Darfur, UNAMID, in May 2021. This second declaration comes a week after reports that Ethiopian refugees in Sudan are battling Ethiopian government forces alongside the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF).
The Ethiopian National Defence Forces (ENDF) announced on September 3 that 50 TPLF militants were killed while attempting to cross into Ethiopia from Sudan in order to assault the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD). Following this statement, the UNHCR made a statement on September 7 stating that they continue to monitor and verify the continuous presence of registered refugees in the camps on a regular basis.
“Refugee status is incompatible with active participation in armed conflict,” the UNHCR said, adding that “any registered refugees who may have returned to Ethiopia and joined the fighting are no longer considered refugees.” The UNHCR also stated that they are continuing to engage with Sudanese authorities to “separate identifiable combatants from civilians seeking protection.”