Ethiopia – update on Sudanese asylum seekers / Sherkole Camp 8th September 2011

Sudanese asylum seekers, new emergencies

Recent UN reports show that at least 50,000 civilians (and possibly many more) have fled their homes in various parts of Blue Nile State due to fighting on Friday, September 2.

The Sudanese Red Crescent Society estimates that some 30,000 to 40,000 people fled from Ed Damazine into the northern part of Blue Nile State. Another group of 20,000-25,000 Sudanese crossed into Ethiopia from Kurmuk, Geissan and Menza.

The UNHCR and the Administration for Refugees and Returnee Affairs (ARRA) found during visits at the weekend that although many have been displaced from Blue Nile and sheltered along the Ethiopia-Sudan border, the majority of them were not willing to move to camps inside Ethiopia.

Traumatization and shock due to the sudden attack in the form of a night bombing raid was observed as the panic and horror lingered. Most of those who fled were anxious about the properties, businesses, cattle and homes they left behind.  Understandably, they want to go back, but are unsure of the security situation.

The UNHCR confirmed that only 2700 people were willingly brought to Sherkole Camp inside Ethiopia.

The next course of action is unclear. For the time being hot meals are served at the border and trucked in water is distributed. There are plans to support the community providing those fleeing with shelter and care.

NGOs and UN agencies, members of the task force, were advised to remain on alert should the situation worsen. The UNHCR and ARRA will continue to monitor the situation and inform the task force.

LWF action on Sudanese emergencies

The challenge of future action has come due to NGOs turning their efforts and resources towards the Dolo Ado Somali refugees. However, the previous commitment (earlier in 2011) expressed to the UNHCR still exists and it has duplicated the matrix and shared copies with the LWF.

Accordingly, the LWF signed in then, to provide assistance in the areas of community services (including psychosocial), and the environment. The UNHCR also added shelter to this list.

After discussion with NCA, on 7 September, there is a possibility, although no commitment yet, to work together on water with NCA’s specialized service.  We hope to formalize these discussions as the situation gets clearer and sectoral divisions are assigned by UNHCR and ARRA.  If this operation becomes real then the LWF Ethiopia Program will need to scale up its capacity on the ground. We hope to get global assistance from Geneva as the situation demands.

(This report received from Dr Lemma Degefa LWF/ Ethiopia Program)

Sept. 8, 2011

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