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UN: 45% of South Sudanese refugee live in Ethiopia

By Timothy Sibasi, timothy.sibasi@alleastafrica.com

KAMPALA- The United Nation High Commission latest report on the refugees situation in one of the world’s poorest nation of Ethiopia indicates that 45% of South Sudan refugees are concentrated in refugee camps in Ethiopia.

The situation analysis of the report discloses that  Ethiopia is hosting over 838 722 refugees from neighbouring Eritrea, Somalia, Sudan and South Sudan.

UNHCR official cross examines South Sudan refugee in a refugee camp in Ethiopia.

However, the 45% of South Sudan refugees living in Ethiopia fled South Sudan because of the raging internal conflicts and violence that has claimed over a million people in the last 10 years.

The refugees dilemma in Ethiopia comes as Ethiopia itself struggles to provide for its population.

Despite the huge economic progress the country has made over the past decade, it is still one of the poorest globally, ranking 174th in the 2016 Human Development Index. The World Food Programme reported in May that 7.8 million Ethiopians need emergency food aid.

Based on Ethiopia’s Central Statistical Agency’s 2016 report, the urban unemployment rate is 16.5%. Limited job options drive hundreds of thousands of young Ethiopians to migrate within and outside of Africa, including an estimated 750 000 irregular migrants in Saudi Arabia.

South Sudan refugees in Ethiopia assemble for food rations

Since the Ethiopian government’s temporary ban on labour migration in 2013, many Ethiopians have resorted to irregular migration channels. They follow three major routes: the southern route (via Kenya and route to South Africa), eastern route (via Somaliland headed towards Saudi Arabia), and northern route (Sudan to Europe).

The Ethiopian government introduced the ban in response to repeated reports of abuses including loss of lives of Ethiopian migrants in the Arab world but nonetheless, these struggles have not changed Ethiopia’s generous policies towards refugees.

Ethiopian government makes attempts to relocate South Sudan refugees to another camp to avoid congestion.

The UNHCR indicates that the country continues to receive on average 10 821 refugees a month so far in 2017.

Ethiopia’s commitment to protect refugees was further strengthened by its pledges made at the September 2016 Leaders’ Summit on Refugees. These focus on facilitating job and education opportunities and expanding social services. The list includes expanding the Out of Camp Policy, which currently applies only to Eritrean refugees.

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