UNHCR Mobilizes Emergency Response for New Somali Refugees in Ethiopia

Boxes of humanitarian aid are loaded to trucks to be delivered to Mogadishu in Somalia. Photo by: S. Modola / UNHCR

More refugees are crossing Somalia’s border into Ethiopia and Kenya to escape the fighting, famine and drought in the country, as well as to seek assistance from the United Nations and its partner aid agencies.

In Ethiopia, the office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees said at least 18,000 new refugees have arrived in southeastern Ethiopia from Somalia, which is hardest-hit by the drought and where the U.N. has already declared a famine in five areas. The UNHCR has sent an emergency response team to address the needs of the new refugees, who arrived in Ethiopia’s Gode area, located north of the U.N.-managed refugee camp in Dollo Ado.

“Ensuring that new arrivals get food, water and medical attention is critically important,” UNHCR spokesperson Adrian Edwards said in an Aug. 23 news briefing. “Our team includes experts in health, nutrition, protection, field coordination and registration.”

UNHCR is also set to airlift blankets, jerry cans, mosquito nets, sleeping mats, kitchen sets, plastic sheets and other relief supplies to Gode. The agency said its partner non-governmental organizations have also started providing health and nutrition services to the Somali refugees.

Meanwhile, in Kenya, UNHCR said it is relocating refugees from the overcrowded Dadaab refugee camp to new resettlement sites. Within Somalia itself, the office is providing emergency aid packages containing shelter materials and other relief items to famine victims in Mogadishu and parts of southern Somalia.

Read more news on the East African crisis.

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    Ivy Mungcal

    As former senior staff writer, Ivy Mungcal contributed to several Devex publications. Her focus is on breaking news, and in particular on global aid reform and trends in the United States, Europe, the Caribbean, and the Americas. Before joining Devex in 2009, Ivy produced specialized content for U.S. and U.K.-based business websites.