Ethiopia – Update 1 on Sudanese Refugee situation in Assosa

Sudanese Refugees, LWF/Ethiopia, Update I

June 22, 2012

General:

Given the on-going violence and in the absence of a concrete solution to the conflict, large numbers of Sudanese continue to cross into Ethiopia from Blue Nile State. According to UNHCR source, about 12,900 people crossed into Ethiopia between January and the beginning of June 2012, bringing the total to 36,500 refugees registered and hosted in the camps until recently. In addition, some 10,000 to 15,000 are reported to be staying with host communities at the border areas and are reluctant to relocate to the camps. The new arrivals informed UNHCR that they had been walking for three weeks to reach Ethiopia because the Sudanese Armed Forces were closely monitoring the border between Blue Nile State and Benishangul-Gumuz, Ethiopia. There are speculations that more people could be on their way.

Relocation:
The relocation of refugees from Adamazine transit center to Bambasi camp, which was scheduled to begin on May 22, 2012, was delayed due to reluctance of refugees to move to the new location. According to UNHCR, after several weeks of negotiations, with the Refugee Leaders by UNHCR Representative and Administration for Refugees and Returnees Affairs (ARRA) Deputy Director, who travelled to the site, as well as, a “Go and see visit’ by the Refugee Leaders on June 5, 2012, the relocation exercise began on June 11.  Relocations are now occurring three times a week at 800-1000 individuals per day.

Over the past one week, more than 4000 refugees have arrived in the camp. LWF Ethiopia is implementing water, hygiene and sanitation, environment and livelihood. The Water sources (5 boreholes), reservoirs and water points were ready before the arrival of the refugees. However, buster pumps and generators are yet to be installed to provide direct water to the refugees.  Meanwhile, LWF is providing purified water through water trucking (45,000 liters per day). The water is offloaded into elevated reservoirs for gravity distribution close to refugee homesteads. The installation of the permanent water system will be ready in the next few days.

Semi -permanent toilets (81) and waste collection half drums (200) were in place for up to 5000 refugees before their arrival.   LWF is moving ahead of the relocation exercise, to avoid any pressure of congestion on facilities. 59 latrines are in the process of completion in Zone B. Further excavation has also begun in Zone C to facilitate smooth relocation process.

All indications are that the flow of refugees from Sudan will continue. Intensive military air and ground operations coupled with the total depletion of food resources as the conflict persists, preventing them from cultivating crops for themselves, are cited as the main reasons for flight. Bambasi Refugee Camp is expected to hold up to 20,000 refugees. If the current camp size is extended, the holding capacity can double the current estimated number.

Aneni Assefa
Program and Communication Officer
Lutheran World Federation
Department for World Service
Ethiopia Program
Direct: +251-11-1556224
Cell:  + 251-911-614684
E-mail: anenia@luthworld-et.org

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