UNHCR helps relocate Somali refugees to new camp in eastern Ethiopia
DOLLO ADO, Ethiopia, August 5 (UNHCR) - The UN refugee agency, in partnership with the Ethiopian government and the International Organization for Migration, on Friday began the relocation of nearly 15,000 Somali refugees who have been living in a crowded transit centre in the eastern region of Dollo Ado.
The refugees will be taken to the new Hilaweyn camp, the fourth in the Dollo Ado area. The International Organization for Migration expects to relocate 1,000 refugees daily to the new camp over the next two weeks.
UNHCR's health partner, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), expects to medically screen the refugees on departure from the transit centre to ensure appropriate care and attention for the sick. There are fears that measles has broken out in the Dollo Ado camps.
On Thursday, community health workers in Kobe camp reported 25 deaths in the camp of 25,000 people. Half are suspected to be from measles. The current priority is to strengthen surveillance to detect new cases and refer them to the health facilities. A measles vaccination for all children under 15 is also planned.
The preparations to open the new Hilaweyn camp include trucking in potable water by Oxfam (UK) for up to 10,000 people and the establishment of a water treatment plant near the camp. MSF-Holland is continuing preparations for a health clinic. UNHCR has already put up more than 550 tents for up to 2,500 people. Up to 200 family tents a day must be erected to keep up with the transfers from the transit centre.
On Sunday, UNHCR and the government are expected to lead a week-long UN/NGO assessment mission to Morodile, a border locality in the Gode area where some 2,000 Somalis have crossed over to south-eastern Ethiopia in the last few weeks. The newly-arrived Somalis are said to be mainly from the Wajid and Hudur districts in the Bay and Bakool regions of Somalia.
According to the non-governmental organization, Merlin, which works in the area and has provided assistance to some of the Somalis, the overall situation there is desperate. There is an urgent need for humanitarian aid. The assessment team will determine the needs of both locals and the Somalis, as well as possible solutions for this isolated group.
In north-east Kenya, the number of daily arrivals of Somali refugees in the three Dadaab camps has increased to an average of almost 1,500 in the first four days of August - up from 1,300 a day in July. Some 116,000 Somali refugees have arrived in Dadaab so far this year. About 76,000 of them arrived in Dadaab in the last two months alone. Since early June, more than 41,000 refugees have been registered by the Kenya government and issued with ration cards.
Refugees who have settled in the outskirts of one of the Dadaab camps, in areas unsuitable for habitation, are currently being moved to a new site, Ifo Extension. In the last 11 days, more than 12,000 refugees have been relocated to the tented site. By the end of November, UNHCR plans to move 180,000 refugees to Ifo Extension and another site which is now being prepared.
Meanwhile, UNHCR's humanitarian airlift to Somalia - a first in more than five years - is scheduled to begin early next week. The first of three planned flights is scheduled to land at Mogadishu international airport on Monday with more than 31 tonnes of shelter material and other aid items. UNHCR estimates that some 100,000 Somalis, driven by drought and famine, have reached the Mogadishu area over the past two months.
UNHCR still faces a critical shortage of funds for its emergency operations in Somalia, Kenya, Ethiopia and Djibouti. Unless new funds are swiftly committed, this shortfall will impact vital humanitarian assistance for tens of thousands of Somali refugees and internally displaced people.