Despite what Sudan is suffering from after the army commander dismissed the transitional government headed by Abdullah Hamdok and imposed a state of emergency and the economic situation deteriorated, another crisis is knocking the doors of the country violently on its eastern borders.

It is true that the echo of this crisis has been heard for nearly a year - especially after more than 80,000 Ethiopians crossed into Sudan to escape the fighting in the Ethiopian regions of Tigray and Amhara, adjacent to its eastern borders - but developments in the new field situation after the "Tigray People's Liberation Front" seized cities and towns in Amhara And its progress with its allies towards the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, raises Sudan’s concern about the repercussions of this conflict on its security and stability, and on the humanitarian situation in it.

A tank damaged during the fighting between the Ethiopian National Defense Forces and the Tigray Forces in July 2021 (Reuters)

Troubles along the border

The border between the two countries extends at a distance of 800 km, from the triangle of the Sudanese-Ethiopian border to a similar triangle between Sudan, South Sudan and Ethiopia.

On this stretch, the troubled Tigray region has been living for at least a year, and the Amhara, which has intensified the fighting since last October.

There is also the Benishangul region (Al-Qamuz), to which the party to which he belongs signed an alliance with groups opposed to the government of Ethiopian Prime Minister Abi Ahmed, whose coalition aims to overthrow his government and bring its officials to legal accountability.

The population of the three regions is equivalent to the population of Sudan combined: Tigray 7 million, Amhara 28 million, and Benishangul 4 million, compared to about 40 million who represent the population of the Republic of Sudan combined.

On the Sudanese side, we find the states of Kassala, Gedaref, Sennar and Blue Nile, all of which have borders with the warring Ethiopian regions.

These borders are flat lands with no geographical barriers that limit the movement of asylum seekers.

Al-Fashqa area on the Sudanese-Ethiopian border (Al-Jazeera)

previous crises

Prior to the development of the crisis inside Ethiopia, border areas with Sudan witnessed disturbances such as Fashaqa, from which the Sudanese state of Gedaref overlooks the Ethiopian Tigray and Amhara regions.

The Ethiopians continued from 1995 until November 2020 to cultivate the land of Al-Fashqa until the Sudanese army expelled them, and it turned into an area of ​​intermittent clashes between militias affiliated with the Amhara and the Sudanese forces, and this led to a strained relationship between the two countries.

As well as the Sudanese Blue Nile State, which included the Sudan People's Liberation Movement (Abdul Aziz Al-Hilu's wing), which has not yet signed a peace agreement with the transitional government.

The scene is also complicated by the presence of the Benishangul and Qumuz tribes divided between Sudan and Ethiopia.

Tigrayan refugees in Umm Rakoba camp in the Sudanese state of Gedaref (Al Jazeera)

Asylum waves

As fighting intensifies in the Amhara region, new groups of residents will be forced to search for safe areas, with only Sudanese territory in front of them.

The waves of refugees from this region actually began last August when forces from the Amhara attacked the villages of the Kaymant tribes (north of the Ethiopian city of Gondar). As a result, 5,000 of these tribes - mostly women and children - fled to the Sudanese state of Gedaref.

Asylum camps in Gedaref are full, while the Sudanese authorities are looking to establish other camps, whether in Al-Jazira state in the west or in Kassala in the east.

The Sudanese Refugee Commission is preparing for these influxes by establishing reception centers on the border with the Amhara region.


humanitarian conditions

In light of the deteriorating security situation, the United Nations announced that it is now providing food aid to about 20 million Ethiopians, 7 million of whom are directly affected by the war.

This need is also increasing after the Amhara region lost this year about 400,000 acres in the Al-Fashqa area, which was recaptured by the Sudanese army, which was planted with food crops.

Reports by humanitarian organizations working in Ethiopia confirm that farmers in the regions of Tigray and Amhara did not plant their seasonal crops during the rainy season that ended last October.

The Sudanese-Ethiopian border and the fear of an increase in human and arms trafficking (Al-Jazeera)

cross-border crimes

In light of the turbulent situation, criminal groups are active in the border area, taking advantage of the conditions to organize human smuggling and trafficking, especially that crossing into Sudan takes place in remote areas that are not controlled by the government and the security spread is less due to its vastness and the weak possibilities of movement and communication.

For decades, the border between the two countries has been a hotbed for arms smuggling. Since the beginning of this year, the Sudanese authorities have announced about 7 seizures of weapons and ammunition smuggled across the border.

The Amhara region has also announced during the past ten months 10 seizures of smuggled ammunition and weapons, an average of one per month, amid expectations of an increase in smuggling operations, especially with the presence of groups on both sides of the border supplying the combatants with weapons, and asylum seekers are seeking to get rid of their weapons.


AlNahda dam

The crisis of the Renaissance Dam - which Addis Ababa is building on the Blue Nile, about 15 km from its border with Sudan - remains one of the most prominent crisis issues between the two countries.

Despite the negotiations taking place between the two countries and with them Egypt, the three countries did not reach an agreement on filling and operating the dam, which threatens the safety of Sudan’s dams, the largest of which is located 100 km from the Renaissance Dam, and raises Sudan’s concern about supplementing its projects that depend on the waters of the Nile. blue.

Ethiopia had previously carried out two filling operations without an agreement with Sudan during the 2020 and 2021 rainy seasons, which caused damage to it.

In the event that Ethiopia's unrest continues, it will be difficult to reach an agreement until the date of the third filling of the dam in June 2022.

It is certain that Sudan will pay a heavy security and humanitarian price as a result of the worsening situation in its neighbour, and that it will be the most affected outside its territory.

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