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
WASH
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.

Livelihood
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.

Challenges
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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Mauritania – Sitrep no. 23 on LWF’s response to the crisis in the Sahel (drought and refugees)

Lutheran World Federation – Program of Mauritania

Situation Report # 23

From July 21 – 27, 2012

_______________________________________________________________________

Drought crisis in the Sahel Region

A joint nutritional screening was conducted in Nouakchott by the MOH, WFP and CSA (national service in charge of food security). 15,684 children, pregnant and lactating women were screened and 4,932 people or 31% were found to be malnourished. As a result, WFP has opened 9 new nutritional centres in the city of Nouakchott.

WFP has planned to add 2,000 vulnerable households from Nouakchott for cash transfer project. The second round of cash transfer has started in rural areas. Moreover, WFP has planned to begin a general food distribution for 30,000 host community people around Mbera Malian Refugees Camp.

Actions by LWF/DWS and ELS (its implementing partner in Senegal)

  • Started the vulnerability survey for the 975 additional households from Nouakchott under the LWF/DWS portfolio for the cash transfer project
  • LWF/DWS provided first round of cash transfer to 1,823 vulnerable households from Nouakchott (WFP-funded project)
  • LWF/DWS provided first round cash transfer to 1,260 vulnerable households from Hodh (ACT Project)
  • ELS completed the first cash transfer and has reached 1,447 households from 3 rural communities [Diouroup (377 households), Tattaguine (539 households), Diarére (531 households)] from the Fatick Region, Senegal
  • ELS has started the procurement process of cereals and other food stuff to be used for making enriched food

Malian Refugees Camps in Mauritania

UNHCR and LWF/DWS have finalized the plan and budget for the period from July to December 2012. LWF/DWS will continue with the camp management and the construction of shelters. The implementation of AGOR, the new Malian Refugees Camp, has been suspended.

There is no new development in terms of security in the south-eastern Mauritania. At present, the total population of Malian refugees is estimated at more than 94,000. It is worth noting that it is now raining in the camp.

Actions by LWF/DWS

  • Carried out rehabilitation of shelters for 74 households of people with specific needs and for other 140 households. These households were sensitized also regarding the maintenance of shelters
  • Attended inter-agency meeting in the camp. The focus of this meeting was on hygiene and sanitation throughout the rainy season in order to order to prevent ill-sanitation diseases (cholera, diarrhoea, etc.) among the refugees
  • Completed negotiation with UNHCR on the plan and budget for the second phase of the project (from July to December 2012)
  • Trained 120 women from Mbera camp on the distribution of NFI. The trained women will be involved in the distribution processes (checking identities and arranging people at the distribution centres), and in the post distribution surveys.

Kasongo Mutshaila
Fédération Luthérienne Mondiale (FLM)/Entraide Mondiale
Représentant Résident – Mauritanie

Posted in Crisis in the Sahel, Emergencies | Leave a comment

Kenya / Djibouti – Program Update July 2012

LWF Kenya – Djibouti Program

Program Update

July 2012

472,000 people live in five refugee camps in Dadaab. This is 472,000 ordinary people who are just like most of us. Many of them had ordinary lives in various parts of Somalia not so long ago. They might have had a piece of land, some livestock or a small shop. Maybe they were running a café or were employed. They were ordinary people with, in their country, ordinary lives. Now they are refugees. There are 221,000 school aged children in Dadaab. About 160,000 of them do not go to school. Those who do go attended classes with up to 100 children. A lot has been and can be said about Dadaab, but one year after the announcement of the emergency, which was done on 20th of July 2011, the most important thing to remember is that the people living there are ordinary people, who want, desire, like and need ordinary things. Thank you for your continued support, commitment, dedication, thoughts and prayers!

Main issues in the Country

Security is a concern all over Kenya, not only in the or near the refugee camps. There has been several small attacks on places were Kenyans come together. Two churches were attacked in Garissa, killing about 17 worshipers, many of them children. There have been attacks with small arms in Wajir and Mandera, and in Northern Kenya, along the border with Ethiopia there has been violent clashes between people about access to scarce resources. Displacements has been reported over the weekend.

The “Famine Early Warning System Network” (FEWSNET) warns that the overall population that will not have enough food in Kenya is likely to increase from the current 2.2 million to at least 2.4 million people during August. The situation is expected to continuously worsen until mid- to late October until the start of the October to December “short rains” season.

Main issues for the Program

Also for the program the main issue and concern is related to the lack of security. The situation is very complex and it is literally on a day-to-day basis that we can plan activities in Dadaab. For Djibouti and Kakuma the security concerns are far less acute.

Funding levels is an increasing concern, we are extremely grateful for all support from related agencies, members and donors. But the UNHCR has serious funding shortfalls, much to – it seems – their surprise. This means that what they communicated at the beginning of the year and what has been the overarching planning framework, is no longer certain. UNHCR is usually expected to cover core running costs, like core security costs (not all security costs, but heavy investment in police equipment, fences, etc), core and basic infrastructure etc. When they don’t have funds they cannot do that, and an increasing share of UNHCRs funding is also directed to security. UNHCR spends more than 20% of their total budget for Dadaab on security this year, and it could well go up to 25%. Therefore as much as we believe that Governments and back donors should support UNHCR more, we as LWF and all other partners need to take on more duties, and try to raise more funds. There have even been some indications that the UNHCR may need to reduce already signed agreements, in order to cover more cost for heavy investments in security. I do not, personally, always share the same view as UNHCR on these issues, priorities or solutions. But I do believe that all of us who are operating in Dadaab and Kakuma share the same overall main concerns; security and funding levels. A lot is focused on Dadaab, but  – apart from the security – the same is true for Kakuma.

Dadaab

The work does move forward, but due to the unstable situation we don’t know form one day to the next what we will be able to do, or where we will be able to go. This may cause delays in some implementation, like right now we have been forced to stop all shelter work. Hopefully this will be up again next week, but behind schedule and with a start up time for the production of Interlocking Stabilized Soil Bricks (ISSB). 512 tents have been pitched in Kambioos and people have moved in. Shelters are badly needed, as the tents distributed during the emergency are now old and dilapidated. The Education sector moves on well – a new school is under construction and more children will be able to get an education. The teacher training program is also moving ahead well. The problem of course is that 29,000 school aged children in the two camps, Hagadera and Kambioos, where the LWF is implementing primary education does not go to school. There is simply no room – even as we use all facilities in two shifts; a morning shift and an afternoon shift. Teachers, desks, classroom, exercise books, etcetera just aren’t enough.

The CPPT system is being expanded and upgraded with refresher trainings for “old” CPPTs and replacement of old equipment. With additional support received lately, we believe we will be able to reach 1,100 CPPT members by the end of this year – up from 350 a year ago. However, we see that the violence and especially Sexual and Gender Based Violence (SGBV) is on the increase and we are now discussing the possibility to do something complimentary to the CPPT system, addressing specifically SGBV and protection for women and girls.

From Somalia there are reports that the political process towards the August 20 deadline, when the Transitional Federal Government in Mogadishu must be replaced by something else, has been delayed. July 23 a council of 185 elders representing all clans in Somalia was supposed to endorse a draft new constitution, but they failed to do so. There are also reports of population movements towards the borders – towards Ethiopia (Dollo Addo) and towards Kenya (Dadaab). But there are no reports of people actually crossing the border yet.

Djibouti

About 5,000 refugees have moved to Hol Hol from the older camp at Ali Addeh. This is good, the Ali Addeh camp has had serious water problems and this is a good move to decongest the old camp and stabilize the water provision. In Hol Hol the LWF continues with Education and Livelihood, being our two sectors in Djibouti. We have also discussed with UNHCR the possibility to work in Child Protection, as there is very little work done on this and we see major needs.

Installation of solar panels for light and fans is ongoing. The funds that were o be provided by the Japanese Embassy has delayed, why we have requested other partners to allow re-allocation of funds for the resource center to other activities. The training of refugee teachers in cooperation with the French Government is going on very well now during the school break. All trainers and students have been very eager and motivated!

Kakuma

The LWF has received a grant from a private donor via UNHCR for construction of a girls boarding secondary school, for 170 girls. The construction of this will soon start, and this is very positive news for the refugee children in Kakuma. Also, we are about to finish the construction of a school outside the camps, for host community children. When this is finished, one school inside the camp that is currently used by children from the host community, will move out and the school in the camp will be used for refugee children.

The inflow of new refugees to Kakuma has continued, but at a slower pace. The chart below shows the weekly inflow of new refugees during 2012 (week 1 – week 28). The red thick line is the trend line, indicating a peak around week 15. One reason for the reduced inflow is probably that the rain in South Sudan makes movement very difficult. There are also talks between the two sides, South Sudan and Sudan, which is a good sign.

Urban

The LWF is not working with refugees in urban centers, at least not yet. But we have started a discussion with UNHCR, some donors and partners about this. We see that more and more refugees are not in camps, but in urban centers, and there are many needs and gaps – especially on legal support, livelihoods and on supporting children e.g. to access education. This work is different,  in many ways, but we see needs and we believe has a role to play.

What we have done so far is to provide some little support to refugees who have been forced to leave Dadaab due to threats and insecurity. These people have very little support and few opportunities, we have provided some material support and since most of them are also in a resettlement process (resettlement in a third country) we also try to follow up on their cases and assist them to move the process forward quicker.

 

Lennart Hernander
LWF Kenya/Djibouti
Country Representative

Posted in Emergencies, Somali Refugee Crisis 2011, Sudanese Refugee Crisis 2011 | 1 Comment

Uganda – Progress on Sanitation as Disease Spreads near Refugee Site

Refugees from the DRC smile with their water collection vessels near their new borehole in Mahani village. Image courtesy Alison Thurston / LWF Uganda

Kampala, 31 July 2012
LWF Uganda Program

1. Brief description of the emergency
Conflict continues to drag on in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where M23 rebels are still inflicting violence on civilians. M23 forces are wrestling with the Congolese army for control of the country. On July 30th, The Guardian reported that army forces and M23 fighters are currently battling in East Congo, near the Ugandan border. The UN has deployed over 17,000 peacekeeping troops to the Congo thus far, but rebel forces have been able to take several new towns in the past week. Though the UN reports that over a quarter million of Congolese people have already been forced to leave their homes, the fighters are now demanding that Rwandan president Joseph Kabila step down before any negotiations can occur. President Kabila began official talks with Ugandan president Yoweri Museveni on the security situation on July 30th , as the war is drastically affecting both countries.

At the Rwamwanja Resettlement Site in Kamwenge District, the latest count of refugees from the Democratic Republic of Congo is now 18,110, with many more new arrivals expected in August. With such large numbers of people in a very small space, sanitation continues to be of the utmost importance in the camp.

Recent reports have emerged about disease in Western Uganda that has caused concern among LWF and camp officials. A recent outbreak of Ebola virus has occurred in Kibaale District, just 95 kilometers away from Kamwenge District, home of the Rwamwanja site. With such a close outbreak of disease, organizations working in the area of currently considering evacuating their staff to a different region, to protect them from unnecessary risk of infection. Ebola virus has killed 14 people in Kagadi Hospital in Kibaale. There is no treatment or vaccine for Ebola, which is passed along by the kind of close personal contact that is unavoidable in a place as densely populated as a refugee camp. Ebola kills up to 90% of those infected, though its fatality depends of the strain contracted. The virus killed 425 Ugandans during an outbreak in 2000. Residents of Kibaale are currently fleeing the area to avoid infection, which potentially exposes more people to the virus.

In addition, a cholera outbreak occurred in July among refugees from the Congo, though no deaths have been reported. Cholera is an infectious disease that spreads through food and liquids exposed to faeces from an affected individual. It is especially strong in areas with poor sanitation, much like Ebola.

2. Impact
With malnutrition affecting 38% of children in the Rwamwanja camp and 11% of children in the transit center at Kisoro, this population is especially vulnerable to disease. The number of water sources in the site has increased, but refugees continue to have inadequate access to water. LWF, with this support from ACT alliance will continue to contribute to remedy this situation.

Furthermore, due to scarcity of resources and the poverty of those living in the camps and around the villages, there continues to be an acute lack of adequate sanitation practices and competition over some water sources in the area. LWF has mobilized water and sanitation committees and will continue to train individuals and groups in sanitation and in group mediation.

3. National and international response
UNHCR and the Office of the Prime Minister continue to be the main actors in coordinating the response to the refugee crisis. UNHCR and OPM operate in both the transit center and settlement site while OPM is the direct implementing partner at the resettlement site. Some new agencies have begun working in the sites in the last week of July. Other agencies involved include:

Rwamwanja Refugee Settlement
• FIDA—staffing support at reception center and non-food items
• AHA—support health activities at reception center and HC III
• WFP through Samaritan’s Purse—food distribution
• MSF—water at reception center and nutritional support for children
• Ugandan Red Cross—staffing support
• ACT Alliance— Via LWF RRF Water and Sanitation
• UNICEF—water
• IOM—support for sanitation

The Uganda police and the army continue to be heavily deployed to avert any security threats.

4. ACT Alliance response

Water:
The Lutheran World Federation (LWF) Uganda Programme with Rapid Response Fund drilled eight (8) boreholes in the refugee settlement. Four (4) wells were operationalized in July, in four (4) communities. The remaining 4 are currently being fitted with handpumps. LWF will be drilling two (2) more wells in August, bringing the total number of wells created by the organization to ten (10). The averaged drilled depth is 96 meters and with an average yield over 1000lts/hr.

LWF Field Extension Worker James facilitating a sanitation seminar with Congolese refugee families. Image courtesy of Alison Thurston / LWF Uganda

Sanitation:
LWF previously distributed latrine digging kits, and is now conducting follow ups with those who received tools. Its priority in sanitation is currently fencing and creating soak pits for boreholes, though latrine follow ups will begin in earnest in August. LWF is also encouraging the water and sanitation committees of various villages in the site to manage and maintain boreholes. Committees are currently fencing some boreholes and will be mobilized to take other actions to maintain the sanitary conditions of their boreholes. LWF will conduct an official training in August on the best practices for maintaining wells. IOM will be distributing plastic slabs for latrines, and LWF will be identifying families ready to receive and utilize them.

5. Planned activities
LWF’s continuation of the following activities depends on its financial support. Its top priority is operationalizing its ten (10) boreholes, with sanitation and livelihoods being secondary priorities. In collaboration with the Uganda ACT alliance Forum and the implementation partners in the refugee resettlement, LWF will continue to implement its proposal geared towards supporting the refugees through the following activities:
• Increase the availability of water (drilling for new source)
• Support of incentives for water and sanitation promoters
• Hygiene and sanitation education sessions and campaigns
• Construction of drainable pit latrines
• Livelihoods and food security support for refugee households
• Peace building and conflict resolution (Uganda Joint Christian council and Church of Uganda
• Community dialogues and inter-cultural events (Uganda Joint Christian council and Church of Uganda)

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Colombia – Impressions of Chocó

Impressions of Chocó

By Ralston Deffenbaugh
LWF Assistant General Secretary for International Affairs and Human Rights

“Chocó Magicó” – “Magical Chocó” – reads the beautifully photographed poster for the LWF World Service program.  Yes, Chocó – the northwestern department of Colombia, situated along the Pacific coast – is magical.  But it is also in pain.  More than 40% of Chocó’s half million people have been forcibly displaced as a result of Colombia’s violent conflicts.  At least a thousand have been killed.  The violence continues.

In June 2012, I had the chance to spend three days in Chocó, part of an LWF World Service study visit following the LWF Council meeting in Bogota.  As we landed in the capital, Quibdó, and started to travel around, I felt I was in West Africa.  The tropical humidity and heat, the lush foliage, the red soil, the modest houses with corrugated metal roofs and peeling paint, the sudden heavy downpours, all reminded me of visits to Liberia and Guinea.  So did the population, for three quarters of Chocó’s people are Afro-Colombians, descendants of slaves.  One of our delegation, Elijah Zina from Liberia, exclaimed, “I’ve come home!”

What makes Chocó magical can be both good and bad, and sometimes at the same time.  Vast stretches of the land are covered in thick jungle. The bio-diversity is among the greatest on Earth.  With most of Chocó inaccessible by road, rivers are traditionally the major way of transport.  This remoteness made it possible for Afro-Colombian communities of escaped slaves to establish themselves and survive.  It also allowed for the survival of small communities of indigenous people – one tenth of Chocó’s people – who were able to stay out of the way of the Spanish colonists and their descendants, the majority of Colombia’s people.  In today’s Colombia, however, Chocó’s remoteness makes it an attractive refuge for various illegal armed groups, some of whom are revolutionaries, some drug traffickers, some both.

Isolation and lack of equal participation in the broader society are a recipe for poverty.  Four fifths of the population have unmet basic needs.  Half the population lives on less than one U.S. dollar per day.  A third of adults cannot read.  One out of every four children is not in school.  Only a quarter of the people have access to clean water.  Colombia’s violence contributes to poverty as well.  Imagine what your community would be like if two out of every five people had been forcibly uprooted from their homes and had to start over again somewhere else.

With a dedicated local staff of people from Chocó and support from the country office in Bogota, LWF World Service is making important contributions in three main areas.  One is in helping indigenous and Afro-Colombian communities organize themselves, so that they can better assert their human rights and regain and protect their land.  This is especially important as large mining companies try to set up operations that will dispossess people of their land and have dramatic environmental consequences.  Another LWF activity is in helping internally displaced people – mostly households headed by women – restart their lives through training and income-generating programs.  Lastly, LWF plays an important role in disaster relief and preparation.  Because of changing weather patterns, Chocó suffered from extraordinarily heavy flooding in the past two years.

As we met with representatives of indigenous and Afro-Colombian communities, it was inspiring to see their bravery and determination.  They told how they have protected and regained land, how they have suffered from displacement but worked to reestablish themselves.  And it was encouraging to hear how appreciative they are of the accompaniment and support from the LWF.  They had hope.

On our last morning in Chocó came an impression that captures that determination and hope of the people.  One of the internally displaced women with whom we met, a woman whose village had suffered a massacre and who had survived things that I can only begin to imagine, wore a T-shirt with this message in Spanish:  “We don’t bear children for war.  My body is the first land of peace!”

Yes, Chocó is magical.  And we Lutherans are connected to it.

Ralston Deffenbaugh
LWF Assistant General Secretary for International Affairs and Human Rights

2012.7.3

 

You can view some photos from the visit to Choco by some of the LWF staff and Council delegates at the following link:

https://www.facebook.com/pages/LWF-Department-for-World-Service/103706399696416

https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.459777430701669.109308.145211085491640&type=1

 

Posted in Climate Change, Development, Human Rights | Leave a comment

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

Posted in Emergencies, Sudanese Refugee Crisis 2011 | Leave a comment

World Refugee Day – Bhutanese Refugee Champa finds happiness while serving the community

Bhutanese Refugee Champa finds happiness while serving the community

Champa Singh Rai interacting with representatives of Bhutanese Refugee Women Forum at Sanischare Refugee Camp of Morang District of Eastern Nepal. © LWF Nepal / P. Baidya

Morang Nepal / June 20, 2012

Champa Singh Rai holds a diary and visits camp based offices of different agencies, which have been providing humanitarian support to Bhutanese refugees in Nepal, frequently to resolve the problems being faced by refugees. Though he is miles away from his birthplace and taking refuge in an alien land, he has been serving his community since 1991, after his expulsion from Bhutan.

Rai had a very happy family life and worked as an employee of the Department of Power and had never imagined that he could face such fate but he and other Bhutanese of Nepali Origin were forced to leave the country following ethnic tension during the early 1990s.

“I was happy with the job and did not have any aspiration for becoming engaged in politics. When I used to hear the news about unrest in other parts of the globe, I used to feel lucky as our country was so peaceful but later we were forced to leave the country,” says Rai.

When Rai reached Nepal after walking for days, he started spending days in the refugee camp of Eastern Nepal with humanitarian support provided by humanitarian agencies like the Lutheran World Federation Nepal (LWF Nepal).  LWF Nepal has been providing maintenance and care support to Bhutanese Refugees since 1990. “We could not imagine our life without the support being provided by humanitarian agencies like LWF Nepal,” says Champa.

Rai, who served the community as a government employee back in the country, felt very bad to find Bhutanese People in a very poor situation after their expulsion and started voluntary work to ease the life of refugees in the camps as most of the refugees were illiterate and they even did not have information why they were expelled and what sort of support they can get from the humanitarian agencies.

When agencies formed Camp Management Committee and started to ensure representation of refugees in camp management, he started to serve in the committee. Initially he served as member of the committee and got elected as the chair in 2009 and also got re-elected for a third consecutive term. The officials of the committee are elected through a democratic process and they serve as a bridge between humanitarian agencies and the refugee community. Various sub committees formed under the Camp Management Committee ensures that the right quantity and quality of assistance is being provided to the refugees.

He keeps himself busy from dawn to dusk resolving the problems of the community. Though this is a voluntary job and he has to depend on the support provided by his family to fulfill his daily needs, he could not leave the work because of the satisfaction he gets from serving the community. His wife is running a small shop in the camp, which is the main source of pocket money for Rai.

“I have served the community for almost two decades and if people feel that I can still continue in the position and serve the community, I am ready for doing that,” Rai said, adding, “I do not have any regret for being engaged in the voluntary work as serving the community is better than earning some money while being engaged in some work outside the camp.” Rai’s land and house was captured by the Bhutanese Authorities and later given to an official of Dukpa Community.

Over 65,000 thousand Bhutanese Refugees have departed for resettlement (to 3rd countries mainly USA) and the population of the camp has decreased to 48,000 but the duty of the representatives of Bhutanese refugees has not declined and they have played an active role for consolidation of the three refugee camps. He has to coordinate with the different agencies to resolve problems and ensure the smooth functioning of the camp. “We have good coordination with the agencies as they listen to our problems and try to address them immediately inthe best possible way.”

His parents and brothers have already been resettled to the US but Champa does not have the passion to join them rather he wants to serve the community and wants to go back to his country. He hopes that one day he will be able to return to his homeland. There are many refugees like Champa, who are still waiting on the green signal from the Bhutanese Authorities to return home to their country.

LWF Nepal
Pratibedan Baidya
Communications Manager

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