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There are children everywhere at the Um Rakuba refugee camp in eastern Sudan. Daniel Yemane, 12, is one of them. He fled the Tigray region of Ethiopia after getting separated from his family in the violence that recently erupted there. He crossed the border into Sudan alone.Daniel is part of a wave of Ethiopians who have fled the northern region of Tigray since fighting broke out there in November. More than 61,000 Ethiopians have fled their country, and more than 20,000 of those refugees are at the Um Rakuba camp. Almost a third of the Ethiopian refugees are children, including hundreds who, like Daniel, are unaccompanied, according to the United Nations refugee agency.
The conflict is essentially a political one between the current government and the group that was defeated in 2018 elections. But because political parties in Ethiopia are based on ethnic identity, there’s an ethnic component to it as well. For most of the past three decades, Tigrayans, an ethnic group that makes up just 7 percent of the population, controlled Ethiopia’s government. During that time, the country became an oasis of stability in a turbulent region. But the Tigrayans in power also repressed all political opposition, which led to broad dissatisfaction.