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Ethiopia: second of eight Somali camps to close

Briefing notes

Ethiopia: second of eight Somali camps to close

29 June 2001

UNHCR will close the second of eight Somali refugee camps in Ethiopia tomorrow, June 30, after the final repatriation convoy departs eastern Ethiopia's Teferiber Camp for north-west Somalia. Teferiber was opened in 1991 to accommodate Somali refugees fleeing an outbreak of civil war that followed the collapse of the Siad Barre regime the same year. Teferiber will be the second camp to be shut in 10 days. On 21 June, the nearby Dawarnaje camp was closed down after the last 2,500 residents boarded trucks for their home region in Boroma, north-west Somalia. Since April this year, UNHCR has aided the return of more than 17,000 refugees in Ethiopia back to Somalia.

The camp closures come four years after UNHCR began the voluntary repatriation of Somali refugees from eastern Ethiopia. The 138th return convoy, last Sunday from Teferiber to Borama, pushed the total number of Somalis repatriated since the start of the return operation in 1997 past the 150,000 mark. With tomorrow's repatriation, the 141st, that figure will climb to almost 160,000.

UNHCR expects to close a third camp, Daror (current population over 20,000) by the end of the year and to complete the repatriation of the remaining 80,000 refugees from north-west Somalia by the middle of 2002. This would leave approximately 15,000 Somali refugees from the Juba valley, southern Somalia, in Ethiopia.