Number of Somali refugees in south-east Ethiopia swells to 170,000

News Stories, 19 October 2012

© UNHCR/L.Padoan
Somali refugee women and children wait to be registered at a transit centre in Dollo Ado.

DOLLO ADO, Ethiopia, October 19 (UNHCR) The number of Somali refugees in a series of camps in an arid, harsh area of south-eastern Ethiopia has passed the 170,000 mark, making Dollo Ado the world's second largest refugee complex.

"Dollo Ado is now the world's biggest refugee camp after Dadaab in Kenya," UNHCR spokesman Andrej Mahecic said, adding that although the rate of arrivals at Dollo Ado has slowed this year, people are continuing to flee conflict and insecurity in southern and central parts of Somalia. Many cite fear of harassment and forced recruitment by armed groups who control large rural areas of the country.

Between January and the end of September this year, some 62,000 Somalis became refugees in the region surrounding their country. More than 25,000 of these fled to Ethiopia making it the largest recipient of Somali refugees in the region so far this year.

By comparison Yemen registered 15,000 Somali refugees, Kenya 13,000, Uganda 6,800 and Djibouti 2,300 over the same period. Overall the number of Somali refugees in the region numbers more than 1 million.

In previous years, Kenya which hosts around half this population was the main destination. With 214,000 Somali refugees, Ethiopia shelters a fifth of this population at Dollo Ado and several hundred kilometres to the north at Jijiga.

In addition to Somalis, who constitute the largest refugee group, the country also hosts more than 91,000 Sudanese refugees, almost 61,000 Eritreans and 4,000 refugees from other countries, bringing the total refugee population in Ethiopia to nearly 368,000. Every month, the country accepts thousands of new arrivals, the majority of whom are Somalis in Dollo Ado followed by Sudanese and Eritreans.

There are currently five camps in Dollo Ado. The newest is Buramino camp, which opened in November last year and is now full with a population of more than 32,000. New arrivals are also being transferred to the Kobe and Hillaweyn camps. "We have increased the accommodation capacity of these two sites to 30,000 people each. The two oldest camps Bokolmanyo and Melkadida each host more than 40,000 people," Mahecic said.

With people still arriving at Dollo Ado, the Ethiopian government has authorized the opening of a sixth site and land for this has been designated between the town of Kole and Kobe camp, some 54 kilometres north of Dollo Ado town.

The cost of opening the new camp, setting up basic services and infrastructure including medical, education and warehousing facilities is more than US$5 million, Mahecic said.

"We are seeking support from donors and partners, including resources for NGO partners who would be working in the camp. For the initial phase, we urgently need US$1.5 million for site preparation, land demarcation and setting up basic infrastructure, including drilling of bore holes, setting up water points, emergency clinic, latrines." This year to date, UNHCR has received US$44 million against needs assessed at over US$112 million.

Refugees typically arrive with a few belongings only. Their most urgent needs are emergency shelter, food and basic aid items. To address these needs, UNHCR sent a convoy from Kenya last week carrying 10,000 plastic sheets, 500 plastic rolls, 20,000 blankets, 15,000 sleeping mats, 15,000 mosquito nets and 10,000 collapsible jerry cans. The aid is being distributed to new arrivals in the camps.

Meanwhile, a long awaited all-weather airstrip opened in Dollo Ado on October 3, significantly easing access for humanitarian staff and transportation of cargo. Funded by the United States government, the airstrip was constructed by a World Food Programme field engineering team working closely with the Ethiopian civil aviation and road authorities.

"This is an important and major improvement for humanitarian organizations working in Dollo Ado as adverse weather conditions often rendered the old airstrip unusable. The only other access involved a three-day trip on poor roads, severely delaying emergency interventions and urgent medical evacuations," Mahecic explained.

Somalia remains one of the world's longest and worst refugee crises. A third of Somalia's estimated 7.5 million population lives in forced displacement either as refugees or internally displaced people.

• DONATE NOW •

 

• GET INVOLVED • • STAY INFORMED •

UNHCR country pages

Crisis in Horn of Africa

Tens of thousands of Somalis are fleeing conflict and drought into Djibouti, Ethiopia and Kenya.

Somalia Emergency: Urgent Appeal

Widespread malnutrition among Somali refugees requires immediate action.

Donate to this crisis

Flood Airdrop in Kenya

Over the weekend, UNHCR with the help of the US military began an emergency airdrop of some 200 tonnes of relief supplies for thousands of refugees badly hit by massive flooding in the Dadaab refugee camps in northern Kenya.

In a spectacular sight, 16 tonnes of plastic sheeting, mosquito nets, tents and blankets, were dropped on each run from the C-130 transport plane onto a site cleared of animals and people. Refugees loaded the supplies on trucks to take to the camps.

Dadaab, a three-camp complex hosting some 160,000 refugees, mainly from Somalia, has been cut off from the world for a month by heavy rains that washed away the road connecting the remote camps to the Kenyan capital, Nairobi. Air transport is the only way to get supplies into the camps.

UNHCR has moved 7,000 refugees from Ifo camp, worst affected by the flooding, to Hagadera camp, some 20 km away. A further 7,000 refugees have been moved to higher ground at a new site, called Ifo 2.

Posted in December 2006

Flood Airdrop in Kenya

New Arrivals in Yemen

During one six-day period at the end of March, more than 1,100 Somalis and Ethiopians arrived on the shores of Yemen after crossing the Gulf of Aden on smuggler's boats from Bosaso, Somalia. At least 28 people died during these recent voyages – from asphyxiation, beating or drowning – and many were badly injured by the smugglers. Others suffered skin problems as a result of prolonged contact with sea water, human waste, diesel oil and other chemicals.

During a recent visit to Yemen, UNHCR Assistant High Commissioner for Protection Erika Feller pledged to further raise the profile of the situation, to appeal for additional funding and international action to help Yemen, and to develop projects that will improve the living conditions and self sufficiency of the refugees in Yemen.

Since January 2006, Yemen has received nearly 30,000 people from Somalia, Ethiopia and other places, while more than 500 people have died during the sea crossing and at least 300 remain missing. UNHCR provides assistance, care and housing to more than 100,000 refugees already in Yemen.

New Arrivals in Yemen

The Gulf of Aden: Sharp Rise in Crossings and Deaths

The number of people arriving on the coast of Yemen after being smuggled across the treacherous Gulf of Aden from the Horn of Africa has more than doubled this year. So far this year, more than 18,000 people have arrived in Yemen across the Gulf of Aden, and nearly 400 have died attempting the journey.

This surge in arrivals is largely due to the continuing conflict in Somalia and the use of new smuggling routes from Somalia to Yemen and across the Red Sea from Djibouti. Many of the new arrivals also tell of crop losses due to drought, which forced them to leave home. This photo set focuses on those people leaving from Djibouti.

UNHCR has been calling for increased action to save lives in the Gulf of Aden and other waters. We have stepped up our work in Yemen under a US$17 million operation that includes extra staff, provision of additional shelter and assistance, and protection for refugees and internally displaced people.

Posted on 20 May 2008

The Gulf of Aden: Sharp Rise in Crossings and Deaths

South Sudan: Here and HelpingPlay video

South Sudan: Here and Helping

The South Sudanese town of Bor was among the worst hit in the latest violence in the country. These newly displaced people found shelter in an Ethiopian refugee camp.
Somalia: UN High Commissioner For Refugees In MogadishuPlay video

Somalia: UN High Commissioner For Refugees In Mogadishu

UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres visits Mogadishu, expresses solidarity with Somali people on eve of Ramadan.
Somalia: Solutions For Somali RefugeesPlay video

Somalia: Solutions For Somali Refugees

In Kenya, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, António Guterres discusses solutions for Somali refugees.