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Tigrayan refugees: The impossible return?

Sudan, December 2020

Since the start of the war in Tigray on 4 November 2020, more than 55,000 Ethiopians have taken refuge in Sudan. One month later, although arrivals are becoming less frequent, border crossings to Hamdayet and Ashaba camps continue. In the camps, queues are organised everywhere. Under a blazing sun, families spend most of their time waiting. Waiting to register, to eat, to fill water containers, to get shelter, to have access to healthcare. But above all, many are also waiting for a loved one who has stayed on the other side, or for the announcement of the end of the fighting that would mean a return home.

But the Sudanese government sees things differently and invites the refugees to move away from the border to camps in the middle of the desert where the humanitarian situation is deteriorating. Overwhelmed by the ever-increasing numbers, history is repeating itself. Some cannot even register and access shelter and services in the camps. Far from the border, the camps take on the appearance of villages and leave the uncertainty, even the impossibility of a return to the country, to settle in people's minds for months, even years.

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