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UNHCR seeks US$ 23 million to tackle the humanitarian crisis in the Horn of Africa

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UNHCR seeks US$ 23 million to tackle the humanitarian crisis in the Horn of Africa

12 July 2000

The UN refugee agency today said it needed US$ 23 million to deal with the humanitarian cost of the most recent war between Ethiopia and Eritrea, which drove nearly 100,000 Eritreans into Sudan, Djibouti and Yemen, and caused mass displacement within Eritrea.

UNHCR is asking for US$ 13.2 million to care for internally displaced persons (IDPs) inside Eritrea and to help those who may initially return to Eritrea from neighbouring countries over the coming months. The remaining US$ 8.6 million is needed for up to 94,000 Eritreans living in extremely harsh conditions in makeshift camps in neighbouring Sudan since May this year. The US$ 23 million UNHCR appeal also includes US$ 420,000 for more than 1,000 new refugees in Djibouti and US$ 411,000 for new arrivals in Yemen. It incorporates US$ 7.5 million sought under an earlier appeal. However it is underlined that these allocations will need to be flexible so as to adapt to a rapidly changing situation.

"This region, already severely affected by drought, is now facing a new humanitarian crisis as many hundreds of thousands of uprooted people lack sufficient shelter and assistance," said UN High Commissioner for Refugees Sadako Ogata.

UNHCR's mobile emergency teams operating in Eritrea and other relief agencies are braving considerable logistical and operational odds to help internally displaced persons scattered throughout the country.

Broad swathes of southern and south-western Eritrea are occupied by Ethiopian forces which are unlikely to pull back until the deployment of UN/OAU peacekeepers under the joint agreement signed by the two countries on 18 June takes effect. Thousands have fled the occupied regions.

UNHCR has established a stronger presence in the region, particularly in Eritrea, to help all those displaced and prepare the ground for possible returns to Eritrea. UNHCR's operation to assist Eritrea's internally displaced persons marks the first time that the agency has launched such a massive programme for IDPs in the Horn of Africa.

UNHCR is working in close cooperation with other agencies and NGOs in Eritrea. UNHCR has been operating an airlift of relief supplies into Asmara since 9 June to boost the amount of relief aid reaching the internally displaced, with regular flights bringing aid from stocks held in Copenhagen, Nairobi and Tirana. Other relief items are being sent by sea.