STORY: Somali Refugees in Ethiopia - UNHCR
SOURCE: UNTV CH
ASPECT RATIO: 16:9
RELEASE DATE: 11 April 2023
HYBRID PRESS BRIEFING
New settlement opens for latest Somali refugees in Ethiopia
As humanitarian needs increase for displaced people at the Somali-Ethiopian border, relocation for the most vulnerable has begun, the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) said on Tuesday.
An uptick in violence in northern Somalia’s Lascanood city has pushed close to 100,000 people to flee to a remote area of Ethiopia’s Somali region in the past two months.
UNHCR spokesperson Olga Sarrado said that “since clashes started in mid-February, thousands of people have arrived in the Somali region of Ethiopia seeking safety. As of last week, 91,000 people had been registered by the Ethiopian authorities”.
Ms. Sarrado added that although pace of the arrivals had slowed, refugees continue to arrive, fleeing ongoing violence in Somalia.
She flagged that most are women, children and older people, including “more than 3,400 unaccompanied and separated children and adolescents”. Ms. Sarrado said that these young refugees had told UNHCR “harrowing stories” of how they became separated from their families when clashes began and have since been unable to re-establish contact.
Now, a relocation of some of the refugees is underway, “with 1,036 of the most vulnerable people transferred from border areas to a new settlement over the past three days”, Ms. Sarrado said.
Transportation to a new site, located some 50 kilometres from the border in Mirqaan, Bokh district, is being organized by the Ethiopian authorities with UNHCR and partners.
Ms. Sarrado said that “the Government of Ethiopia has generously allocated 400 hectares where refugees can settle and access existing services, such as health care, water and education”, adding that “UNHCR continues to engage with local authorities and leaders to assess gaps in basic services, so support benefits both refugees and Ethiopians as well”.
With needs on the rise, the establishment of the new site is designed to help provide newly arrived refugees who have been living in precarious conditions with shelter, core relief items, food and water.
Ms. Sarrado explained that “relocation is taking place because [refugees] were settling at the border with Somalia, they were sleeping outdoors, the areas where they were staying started to be overcrowded, leading to increased protection risks”.
In March, UNHCR and humanitarian partners launched a $116 million inter-agency emergency refugee response plan to respond to critical needs faced by refugees and host communities in the area.
UNHCR underscored that “Ethiopia has welcomed refugees for decades” and currently hosts nearly 990,000 refugees from neighbouring countries like South Sudan, Somalia, Eritrea, and Sudan.
B-roll from UNHCR shot on 7 April 2023 in Lascanood and Mirqaan, Ethiopia, is available here: https://media.unhcr.org/Share/863v5lk55cfg3rg617m0b807vhl0n23v