Somalilandsun-This week, the UN Migration Agency (IOM) assisted 80 newly arrived Somali refugees with emergency transportation from the Ethiopia-Somalia border entry point to Kobe refugee camp in Dolo Ado, in the Somali region of Ethiopia. This latest assistance brings the total number of Somali refugees helped in the border region to 5,397 thus far in 2017. Over 50 per cent of the new arrivals are female while over 90 per cent are under the age of 18.
The latest movement is part of IOM’s emergency transportation assistance provided to newly arriving refugees across Ethiopia, including Somali, South Sudanese and Eritrean nationals. Since September 2016, over 95,000 refugees have been assisted with safe and dignified emergency transport in the Somali, Gambella and Tigray Regions of Ethiopia.
In addition to the severe drought impacting Somalia, the continuing conflict in the country contributed to a surge in new refugee arrivals to Ethiopia in 2017.
Some 2,855 individuals arrived in January alone, with arrivals surpassing the 2017 planning figure of 3,000 individuals by mid-February.
While new arrivals have declined since March, humanitarian agencies anticipate a likely increase in new arrivals during the coming months, given the forecast of significantly below-average April to June rains and the ongoing conflict in Somalia.
Sixty-year-old Kula Ali arrived on the Ethiopian border with his wife and seven children. “We left Somalia and crossed the border because of the drought,” he explained. “It took us two days by minibus to get to the border. We had to pay a big amount and the vehicle was full of people and we only brought a small amount of food and water with us,” Kula Ali said of the exhausting journey.
IOM’s transportation and relocation assistance ensures refugees can access life-saving services in the camps including food, WASH, health, and protection assistance. IOM, in coordination with ARRA, UNHCR and humanitarian partners, is engaged in logistical planning on routing, safety, security, and ensuring the protection needs of refugees are considered during transport. Prior to travel, IOM conducts pre-departure medical screening (PDMS) to ensure refugees are fit for the journey to the camps.
Medical escort assistance is provided to pregnant/lactating women, unaccompanied children, people with disabilities, the elderly and those with chronic medical conditions.
Joséph Nyangaga, IOM Dolo Ado Sub-Office Head, stated that “IOM is scaling up its efforts alongside the drought-stricken Ethiopia-Somalia border to continue transporting Somali refugees in a safe and humane way to refugee camps, where they are provided with lifesaving services.”
IOM’s transportation service for refugees in Ethiopia is funded by the UK Department for International Development (DFID) and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).