Welcome to Africanews

Please select your experience

Watch Live



Tigray refugees in cramped Sudanese camps fear coronavirus outbreak

Copyright © africanews
Nariman El-Mofty/Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.


Refugees fleeing the Tigray conflict in Ethiopia are sheltering in crowded camps in neighbouring Sudan, where a coronavirus outbreak is feared.

Tens of thousands of refugees are living in makeshift homes in the Umm Rakouba camp. But it has no facilities to test people for the deadly virus.

Dr. Ali Mohammed, from Doctors without Borders says the only preventative measures are surgical masks.

"The problem becomes bigger because the person that comes here will go back to their camp or where he lives surrounded by people, so they could spread it very easily," he says, adding the problem is exacerbated as there are old refugees and those with immune compromising diseases living in the shelter.

"This is all a risk that COVID could spread more and more if it is found."

More than 45,000 refugees from the Tigray conflict are now living in remote parts of neighbouring Sudan and cases are rising sharply in the country.

About 20% of the people who come to see DR Mohammed have chest-related infections, he says. But there is no way to test them for COVID.

Many refugees are forced to share shelters and queue together for food, cash and registration with aid agencies.

Burhana Tesfay, a 24-year-old Ethiopian refugee has been at the camp for a week.

"The matter is scary. When you see people together, they may be infected with coronavirus," he says.

"People sit together and do not wear masks; of course it is scary. You see people always move collectively without masks. "

View more