In recent weeks the Sudan has opened its doors to receive another 40,000 refugees. These?
In recent weeks the Sudan has opened its doors to receive another 40,000 refugees. These people came form Ethiopia's northern rebel province, Eritrea, and are adding to the 100,000 refugees form Eritrea and Zaire already in the Sudan.
The refugees' placement has been the result of joint action between the Sudanese Government and the United Nations 'High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR). The United Nations' body has helped in financial and advisory capacities. The initial programme aimed at providing immediate relief for the uprooted people totalled U.S. $170,000 in aid costs.
The Ethiopian refugees are just a fraction of the one million refugees on the African continent. At the invitation of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU), African states are now observing the first Africa Refugee Day on 20 June.
The refugee problem became acute in the 1950s when many African colonies entered their era of decolonisation, working towards independence.
The movement of refugees form Ethiopia was the result of certain internal questions affecting Eritrea. Their first problem on arrival in the Sudan was to find shelter before the rainy season starts. Their next problem -- food and water.
The refugees in this film have settled in areas near the Rahad River, on the eastern border with Ethiopia. While many are new arrivals, some have been there for four years. They have been assisted ny the Sudanese Government to build a reservoir, the water for which comes from the Rahad River. The lives of all the refugees and their cattle -- depend on such reservoirs.
A grain mill has also been installed for their use. A hospital has been built by the UNHCR with a contribution from the Swedish Red Cross. The most serious disease is malaria, especially in the rainy season.
While thousands of refugees from other countries are beginning to return to their original homes following independence agreements, the future for these Ethiopian people remains uncertain.
SYNOPSIS: These people have been forced to leave their homes. They are Ethiopians, from the country's northern province, Eritrea. Recent fighting there has forced them to seek asylum in neighbouring Sudan.
When the forty-thousand refugees arrived, they were in acute need of food and shelter. The Sudanese Government -- which already shelters another one Hundred thousand refugees -- made an urgent request for help. The United Nations High Commission for Refugees responded with an immediate grant of money and technical aid to help the uprooted people.
It's to highlight the plight of these homeless Africans -- and thousands like them -- that the twentieth of June was declared the first Africa Refugee Day.
The decision to set this day aside was made jointly by the United nations agent and the Organisation of African Unity. These Ethiopians form just a fraction of the estimated one million refugees on the African continent. The problem became acute in the nineteen-fifties when Africa started to decolonise. The victims were the thousands of refugees forced into exile. The commission and the Sudanese Government are making desperate efforts to settle these people before the rainy season starts.
This reservoir is near the village of Quala-en-Nahal. The settlement sprung up nearly four years ago when the first of the Ethiopians arrived in the Sudan. Piping water to the people was one of the most urgent projects. The water comes from the Rahad River.
The food problem was partly solved by the building of this flour mill. The refugees previously had to travel 30 kilometres to the nearest mill.
The Swedish Red Cross donated their aid to help the United Nations agent build a hospital. There is much sickness among the refugees. And when the rainy season comes, this increases dramatically. Malaria is the biggest threat to these people. The Commission spongers medical services as part of a large budget it places at the disposal of the Government authorities.
Now that many African colonies have achieved independence, refugees in exile are gradually starting to make their way back to their original homes. Thousands of them are returning to countries such as Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique and Angola. But as their problems are solved, so new group of refugees -- like the Ethiopians -- make their appearance. While the bitter fighting continues in Eritrea the future of these people is uncertain.