ADDIS ABABA– The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) announced Friday that more than 100,000 South Sudanese refugees were relocated to camps in Ethiopia since September 2016.
Since the eruption of civil conflict in South Sudan in December 2013, Ethiopia has received some 330,000 refugees, of whom more than 115,000 have fled renewed violence since September 2016, UNHCR and IOM revealed in a joint statement on Friday.
Some 30,000 refugees arrived in July fleeing the escalation of conflict in Maiwut, Mathiang and Pagak in Upper Nile Region bordering Ethiopia’s Gambella regional state, according to the joint statement.
The increasing scale of the refugee influx that started in September 2016 quickly filled the existing camps in the Gambella region and forced the Ethiopian government and UNHCR to open a new camp at Nguenyyiel in October 2016.
Ngunyyiel was again full with nearly 60,000 refugees in just 6 months and a new refugee camp was opened in the adjacent region of Benishangul-Gumuz. The new camp, Gure-Shembola, now shelters 3,122 refugees transported from Gambella.
According to the UNHCR, the majority of the new arrivals are women and children, including 20,510 children who have either been separated from their parents or travelled alone.
Sheltering more than 852,000 refugees, including more than 388,000 from South Sudan, Ethiopia hosts the second largest refugee population in Africa, next to Uganda.
Ethiopia has maintained its open-door policy towards refugees and continues to receive new arrivals from several of its neighbors, notably from South Sudan, Somalia, Eritrea, Sudan and Yemen.