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Ethiopia says hosting 150,000 refugees from neighboring countries

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June 21, 2010 (ADDIS ABABA) – Ethiopia said on Monday that the nation currently is sheltering more than 150,000 refugees from four neighboring countries.

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Shadows of African immigrants are seen as they cheer during a concert to commemorate World Refugee Day at the Marsa Open Centre for Refugees and Asylum Seekers in Marsa in Valletta’s Grand Harbour June 20, 2010 (Reuters)

A statement released by the Administration for Refugee and Returnee Affairs (ARRA) in connection with this year’s World Refugee Day, said The number of refugees has increased to 150,366 now from 110,000 last year due the massive influx of refugees mainly from Eritrea and Somalia.

According to ARRA, Ethiopia is currently is hosting 70,491 Somalis, 50,718 Eritreans and 24,692 Sudanese refugees in 12 refugee camps.

Accordingly, on average some 2,000 Eritreans and 1,250 Somali refugees are crossing the borders to Ethiopia every month seeking refuge.

In Ethiopia, World refugee day was celebrated on Sunday in Sherkole refugee camp in Benishangul-Gumuz state under the global theme "They took my home but they can’t take my future".

Few years ago, Sherkole refugee camp has been hosting some 25,000 Sudanese refugees. This number has now gone down to some 3,500 after a number of repatriation operation made by UNHCR in collaboration with the Ethiopian government.

In the marking occasion, ARRA deputy director, Ayalew Awoke said the Ethiopian government in collaboration with the UNHCR and the World Food Program is providing the necessary support to the refuges. He added that an additional two camps are opened for Somali and Eritrean refugees this year.

As millions of people around the globe were marking World Refugee Day on Sunday, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon made an appeal on behalf of refugees in a special World Refugee Day (WRD) message.

"Refugees have been deprived of their homes, but they must not be deprived of their futures," he said, while calling for working with host governments to deliver services and for intensified efforts to resolve conflicts so that refugees can return home.

With "Home," as this year’s global theme, UNHCR and its partners, including governments, donors, non-governmental organizations, goodwill ambassadors and refugees themselves, have been taking part over the past week in awareness-raising, cultural, educational, environmental and sport activities, especially football tournaments in this year of the World Cup finals in South Africa.

VOLUNTARY REPATRATION

A recent report by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) noted a decline in the number of refugees who are able to go home.

In 2005, more than a million people returned to their own country on a voluntary basis.

Last year, only 250,000 did so – the lowest number in two decades.
The reasons for this include prolonged instability in Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and southern Sudan.

(ST)

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