Ethiopia – Update 3 on Sudanese Refugee situation in Assosa

General Information
• The 40,000 plus refugees that were reportedly stranded at the border in the last update have still not managed to cross the border into Ethiopia for reasons that are unclear. A massive influx is still a possibility, but it has not materialized as yet.

• The transit centre at Ad‐Damazine has been officially closed. From the 8,000 or so refugees that were formerly hosted at the transit centre, over 5,000 were hastily moved to Bambasi in the past month. The number of refugees that are currently hosted in Bambasi camp is over 12,000.

• The whereabouts of over 3,000 refugees that were not relocated to Bambasi from the transit centre is unknown. The Ethiopian government and UNHCR believe that the 3,000 plus refugees may have moved to the border or intermingled with the host community around the center as they share similar ethnicity. Efforts are being made to locate the refugees and move them to the camps.

LWF’s Activities in Assosa
Bambasi camp: 68 toilets and showers were constructed in Zone C to serve the newly relocated 5,000 plus refugees. This brings the total number of latrines and showers that were constructed to 218.

Additionally, 148 hand washing kits were fixed near latrines in Zones A and B. 68 will be fixed in Zone C in the coming week. For dry waste management, 76 half barrels were installed and 4 pits dug for Zones A and B. Donkey carts were hired to transport waste from the barrels to the pits. The pits were fenced to protect children and cattle from falling in. Similar arrangements will be set up for Zone C in the coming weeks.

Knowledge, Attitude and Practice (KAP) baseline survey was conducted to determine the benchmark of sanitation and hygiene practices of refugees prior to LWF’s intervention. Additionally, LWF hasstarted to distribute 2 soaps for each individual on a monthly basis, one for bathing and one for washing clothes in collaboration with Dan Church Aid (DCA). The first soap distribution was conducted last week and messages on personal and environmental sanitation and hygiene were disseminated.

Two awareness creation sessions were conducted on personal and environmental hygiene to over 260 refugees. Furthermore, 10 refugee hygiene promoters were recruited and trained. As a result of all the hygiene promotion activities undertaken, there are observable changes in the practices of the refugees. Open defecation is no longer observed in the camp, hand washing kits are being utilized and the refugees are cleaning their compounds and their surroundings.

With regards to water provision, pipe laying for Zone C was completed in the past month. Currently, water is provided to all refugees using an emergency water supply system that uses a nearby stream as its source. The system involves pumping water from treatment sites to 9 elevated tanks. The water then flows to water distribution points in all three Zones through pipes. Hence, water trucking is no longer the primary method of water provision and is now solely used for back up.

For the permanent water supply system, design work has been completed. A topographic survey was also undertaken in the past month. One generator and one submersible pump were received from DCA as part of its material aid to the project. Furthermore, site identification for reservoir installation has been undertaken. The permanent water supply system is planned to be completed before the end of the year, ready to provide 20 liters/person/day for as many as 20,000 refugees.

Bambasi camp: 34 refugees were given training on multi‐storey gardening. Hand tools and sacks were given to 12 of the trainees who subsequently set up Multi Storey Gardens (or MSGs) in their compounds. Additionally, 42 refugee households that were most vulnerable and that had properly fenced their compound were trained on backyard gardening. LWF provided carrot, chard and okra seeds to 20 of them and provided them with other technical support. The 20 refugees have started planting theseeds in their ‘backyard’.
Sherkole Camp: 180 households have received various types of vegetable seeds. Additionally, refugees have started to put MSG in their compounds.

Environmental Protection
Bambasi camp: 4,000 seedlings were planted in the past month in degraded land around the camp and 1,550 were planted inside the refugee camp.
Additionally, 40m³ of soil and water conservation structures including check dams and soil bund were constructed.
Sherkole camp: Sites that may potentially form gulley were identified.

Psychosocial work
Bambasi camp: Among the new arrivals, refugees that needed medical assistance including malnourished children were referred to clinics. LWF psychosocial staff went from tent to tent to give psychosocial first aid to refugees that needed assistance.
Additionally, 20 youth were trained on Community Based Psychosocial Support (CBPS) and good communication skills. Moreover, 12 psychosocial assistants were trained on basic CBPS, Psychological First Aid (PFA), mental illness and its symptoms and communication skills.

Sherkole camp: 24 youth association leaders and 24 women association leaders were trained on CBPS (Community Based Psychosocial Support) and leadership skills. Psychosocial and psychological assistance was given to individual cases referred
to LWF’s Psychosocial Field Officer by UNHCR.

The main challenge was shortage of funds. Already by June 30, the project had spent over USD 55,000 more than what was received as indicated in the first interim report sent to the ACT Alliance Secretariat on July 13, 2012. That was over a month ago, and as can be seen from the activity update above, more assistance has been given since. As there are other partners providing financial support for the WASH component of the intervention, it has not been affected by the shortage of funds to a significant degree. However, the livelihoods, environmental protection and psychosocial interventions all depend 100% on contributions from members of the ACT Alliance. The interventions could not
therefore fully meet the needs of refugees. There is therefore an urgent need for funds in order to render meaningful assistance to the Sudanese refugees in the Assosa camps.

To a lesser extent, the sudden relocation of over 5,000 refugees to Zone C of Bambasi camp proved to be challenging. However, LWF staff in the field, in collaboration with UNHCR and the Ethiopian government, rose to the challenge, meeting the needs of the refugees. The situation is now stable.

Land right issues raised by the hosting community on spots chosen for setting up reservoirs were solved by the Ethiopian government.

Finally, the livestock of the refugees created problems when transplanting seedlings in the refugee camp as part of the environment protection intervention. Goats started feeding on the transplanted seedlings. Consequently, LWF staff mobilized the refugee community to fence the seedlings and, along the way, raised their awareness on environmental protection.

Hiruy Gossaye Teka
Programme Officer – Humanitarian and Emergency Response
Lutheran World Federation
Department for World Service
Ethiopia Program

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