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UNHCR Global Appeal 1999 - Ethiopia


UNHCR Global Appeal 1999 - Ethiopia

1 December 1998

Basic Facts

What we do

Protect and assist refugees in camps in the east and west of the country; promote voluntary repatriation; and promote international instruments on refugees and asylum-seekers.

Who we help

Nearly 59,000 Sudanese refugees residing in four camps in the west; 210,000 Somali refugees in eight refugee camps in the east; 8,300 Kenyan refugees in the Moyale region and some 3,000 Djiboutian refugees who settled spontaneously in the Afar region of north-eastern Ethiopia.

Our requirements

US$ 27,043,110

Our offices

Addis Ababa, Gambella, Jijiga, Assosa, Mizan.

Our partners

Administration for Refugee and Returnee Affairs (ARRA), CARE International, Save the Children Fund (UK), Handicap International, Radda Barnen, Development Inter-Church Aid Commission (DICAC), Rehabilitation and Development Organization (RADO), Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF-Holland), Opportunities Industrialization Centre - Ethiopia (OICE).


Following the overthrow of the Mengistu regime in 1991, Ethiopia was declared a Federal Democratic Republic with new regional boundaries demarcating states. According to Government sources, more than one million Ethiopian nationals who had sought asylum in other countries during the civil war returned to their country between 1991 and the end of 1997. Since then, others have returned individually.

Neighbouring Somalia has had no central government since the collapse of the Siad Barre regime in 1991. This absense of a central authority in Somalia will undoubtedly influence the decision of many refugees now living in Ethiopia on whether or not to repatriate voluntarily.

The civil war in the Sudan reached the Damazin region of the Blue Nile in late 1996-early 1997, resulting in the displacement of the local population to Assosa, Ethiopia. The Sherkole refugee camp was established in March 1997, with an original camp capacity of 10,000. By mid-1998, the camp was accommodating nearly twice that many refugees. Camps for Sudanese refugee are located in regions that can support agricultural cultivation. Given sufficient arable land, Sudanese refugees could attain a level of self-sufficiency in food production. But until this occurs, refugees continue to be dependent on external assistance.

Protection and Solutions

UNHCR is formulating strategies to ensure that, as the country tightens its control over immigration and asylum policies, refugee protection is not jeopardized. The agency monitors Government decisions on refugees to ensure that protection standards are not compromised and pays close attention to the arrest and detention of refugees and asylum-seekers. UNHCR organizes training sessions for Government officials involved in refugee affairs and is working with the Government to help pass into law draft refugee legislation.

UNHCR monitors the repatriation of Somali refugees from eastern Ethiopia to north-west Somalia.


Refugees in designated camps are given basic support services pending their eventual voluntary repatriation to their countries of origin. Under both care and maintenance and local settlement assistance, refugees are provided with a food package which includes cereals, pulses, edible vegetable oil, and salt. Supplementary food is provided for malnourished children and lactating mothers. Household items, including kitchen sets, blankets, shelter material, jerry cans and bath soap, are also distributed.

Skills-training for refugees in Dimma is organized and run by Opportunities Industrialization Centre for Ethiopia (OICE). Carpentry, bricklaying, sewing, and knitting are among the skills taught. Agriculture and livestock activities are also promoted among Sudanese refugees as a means of encouraging the refugees to become self-reliant. There are some indications that the Government is considering making more agricultural land available in the settlements for refugees' use.

Women and Children

Children make up about 50 per cent of the refugee population and women about 30 per cent. UNHCR provides primary education for refugee children and offers vocational-skills and literacy training for women. Women who are heads of households are targeted for vocational skills training as well as for income-generating activities in an attempt to foster self-sufficiency. Literacy education for women will be expanded to all camps in 1999; and a sanitary-towel project, established in 1997 to meet the hygienic needs of women and girls, will continue through 1999.


Refugee populations that have remained in Ethiopia for long periods have had a detrimental effect on the environment. Local woods have been sacrificed to meet fuel needs and refugees walk long distances in search of more to cut. In 1994, the German Government (BMZ) funded an intervention programme to begin to rehabilitate the environment. Two years later, UNHCR's Environmental Unit began a pilot solar-cooker project in Aisha Camp. In addition, trees are being planted around Haffir Dams in the east, environmental education campaigns were launched among refugee students in Mizan and a reforestation programme was begun in Sherkole camp. These activities will continue in 1999.


UNHCR works closely and effectively with the Administration for Refugee and Returnee Affairs (ARRA) of the Prime Minister's Office. The Regional Liaison Office in Addis Ababa coordinates activities of all Sub- and Field Offices in the country. Where other United Nations agencies are involved, such as the World Food Programme, coordinating meetings are held both in the field and in Addis Ababa. In emergencies, United Nations agency coordination is normally lead by the United Nations Resident Coordinator.

Lessons Learned

Targeting assistance to individual beneficiaries can breed resentment and animosity among members of the local population who do not benefit from such assistance. To the extent possible, attempts must be made to provide assistance that benefits both the refugees and the communities hosting those persons.

Budget US$

ActivitiesGeneral ProgrammesSpecial Programmes
Domestic Needs/Household Support1,810,469795,876
Water Supply2,618,472
Shelter/Other Infrastructures577,87335,455
Community Services259,530117,996
Crop Production125,6009,442
Livestock/Animal Husbandry62,800
Legal Assistance/Protection295,524183,040
Agency Operational Support1,884,784326,237
Programme Delivery Costs*3,768,5001,227,376
Administrative Support573,100236,208
Total GP + SP27,043,110

* Includes costs for protection, monitoring and coordination.