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The Eritrean refugees caught between two crises.

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It is the airport wait from hell.

Paloich Airport, which usually buzzes with the sound of well-heeled workers serving South Sudan's oil fields, has turned into a camp for thousands of people fleeing the conflict in neighbouring Sudan - now more than a month old.

There are no toilet facilities, no running water, no kitchens - just crowds of people living around their bags, resting on luggage trolleys, or sleeping under makeshift tents while waiting to catch a flight.

They have ended up here, four hours from the border with Sudan, in the hope of finding a way out.

But there are few flights and little information about when people may be able to leave.

Among these refugees are Eritreans who have been uprooted for a second time after previously arriving in Sudan to escape the situation at home. And these people are stuck in limbo.

According to the UN, there were over 136,000 Eritrean refugees and asylum seekers in Sudan before this war.

Most Eritreans do not want to give their names to journalists because they are scared of retribution from the Eritrean authorities.

Eritrea is a highly restrictive state that controls almost all aspects of people's lives, and many want to avoid the prospect of compulsory national service.

But Tesfit Girmay agreed to speak to me. He had arrived in Paloich five days earlier.

"The kind of life around here, you wouldn't wish it for animals let alone humans," he said looking at the tents around him.

As a single man he recognised that he was luckier than some.

"Maybe I can stand it. Sleeping outside, eating once a day, maybe I can stand it. But the biggest problem, there are people with children. There are people with four or five children," Mr Tesfit told me.

He fled the deteriorating economy in Eritrea at the end of last year and headed to Sudan, hoping to find work and maybe travel on to another country.


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