Close sites icon close
Search form

Search for the country site.

Country profile

Country website

Ethiopia: transfer of Eritreans to safer camp begins

Briefing notes

Ethiopia: transfer of Eritreans to safer camp begins

28 May 2004

UNHCR has started transferring Eritrean refugees from a makeshift camp in Ethiopia, where they have lived for four years, to a safer camp further inside the country where we can provide better assistance. This week, we moved the first 2,400 refugees from the Wa'la Nhibi site to a new camp at Shimelba. In total, we plan to move all 7,466 Eritreans from the makeshift camp.

UNHCR is spending $800,000 US$ on the move and on the new camp, where we are developing water supplies, shelter, health centres and schools. Eritrean asylum-seekers continue to arrive in Ethiopia at the rate of 250 per month, and we expect the population of Shimelba to climb to 9,000.

The Eritreans fled to northern Ethiopia after a border war broke out between Eritrea and Ethiopia in May 2000. The site where they chose to settle, Wa'la Nhibi in the Tigray Region, is not far from Badme, a flashpoint in the confrontation between the two countries.

The new camp is safer as it is some 50 kilometres from the border, as required by UNHCR rules and international agreements.

On an unrelated matter, we have also begun registering Sudanese refugees at Bamboudie camp in Ethiopia as the first step towards their possible return home if a comprehensive final peace accord is signed to end the 21-year-long civil war in South Sudan.