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Ethiopia: Somalis reported to be arriving

Briefing notes

Ethiopia: Somalis reported to be arriving

28 July 2006

On Sunday, UNHCR is leading a joint inter-agency assessment mission to remote areas of eastern Ethiopia after recent reports that Somalis fleeing the country following the Islamic Courts taking control of the capital Mogadishu, have crossed the border. No figures are available as reports have been sketchy, but the mission is tasked with determining how many people have crossed, over their immediate needs as well planning for adequate reception arrangements for any future new arrivals. We are concerned that any fighting in Somalia could provoke new influxes.

WFP [World Food Programme], UNICEF [UN Children's Fund] and OCHA [UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs] are planning to take part in the mission along with officials from the Ethiopian Administration of Refugee and Returnee Affairs, ARRA - the government body responsible for refugee issues and UNHCR's main partner in Ethiopia.

In Kenya, some 18,000 Somalis have crossed the border since January saying they were fleeing severe drought and the uncertain security situation in the Mogadishu area. The rate of inflow of refugees has increased recently. The refugees found sanctuary at Dadaab's three camps which now host some 148,000 refugees. We are planning to reinforce our presence in north-eastern Kenya to cope with the higher numbers. There are over 250,000 refugees in Kenya, including some 160,000 registered Somalis, most of whom are in Dadaab.

There are currently 99,000 refugees in Ethiopia, mainly from Sudan with 16,000 from Somalia in Kebribeyah camp, near Jijiga, in the northern-eastern past of Ethiopia. At its peak in the early 1990s, there were 628,000 Somali refugees in eight camps in eastern Ethiopia. Since 1997, when UNHCR began repatriating refugees to north-western Somalia, better known as the self-declared Republic of Somaliland, most of the camps have been consolidated and finally closed.