Ethiopia opens new camp for Somali refugees

Briefing Notes, 2 December 2011

This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesperson Andrej Mahečić to whom quoted text may be attributed at the press briefing, on 2 December 2011, at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

Hundreds of Somali refugees in southern Ethiopia's Dollo Ado region have been relocated from an overcrowded transit centre to a new camp, Bur Amino.

The camp was opened on Wednesday and became the fifth one in the Dollo Ado region. The first group of some 400 refugees has been moved by bus from the transit centre to Bur Amino, 26 kilometres away. On arrival, the visibly relieved refugees underwent health and nutrition screening before being shown to their tents and given hot meals.

The relocation to Bur Amino will decongest the transit centre. For weeks, 7,500 recent arrivals from Somalia had been living in the centre, built to host one-third of that population for a few days only. Rain and poor shelter conditions exacerbated the already low nutritional and health status of the refugees there, especially the children.

UNHCR and Ethiopian authorities are continuing with the gradual relocation, moving 500 refugees every four days as parts of Bur Amino camp are still being developed. Construction has been delayed primarily because the site's rocky soil hampered the building of sanitation facilities.

Refugees at Bur Amino will benefit from food distribution, supplementary feeding for malnourished children, water, health and sanitation facilities.

Since the beginning of the year, Ethiopia has received more than 98,000 Somali refugees fleeing conflict and drought in their homeland, adding to an existing refugee population of some 41,000 in older camps. Another 163,000 Somalis have arrived in Kenya, and over 4,800 in Djibouti. In all, there are now more than 950,000 Somali refugees in the region.

For more information on this topic, please contact:

  • In Ethiopia: Kisut Gebre Egziabher on mobile +251 911 208 901
  • In Nairobi, Kenya (Regional office): Vivian Tan on mobile +254 735 337 608,
  • In Geneva: Andrej Mahecic on mobile: +41 79 200 76 17
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UNHCR country pages

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

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