Home | News    Sunday 3 February 2013

UNHCR to improve situation of Sudanese refugees in Ethiopia


By Tesfa-Alem Tekle

February 1, 2013 (ADDIS ABABA) – The United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR) said on Friday that they will be working to stabilise the emergency phase of its response to the Sudanese and Somali refugee influxes in Ethiopia this year.

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Sudanese refugees from Blue Nile state line up to collect water in a camp (Photo: UNHCR/V.Tan)

“UNHCR will improve conditions in the camps and will make the transition from emergency responses to more sustainable activities, thereby also reducing costs and encouraging self-reliance” UNHCR representative in Ethiopia, Kisut Gebregzabhir, told Sudan Tribune.

The program, he said, includes the phasing out of water trucking in favour of more permanent piping systems, and construction of transitional shelters to replace tents.

The UN refugee agency also says it committed to ensuring the timely provision of core relief items to refugees, and is currently building buffer stocks to cope with any new refugee influx.

With regard to refugee issues, UNHCR says emergency preparedness and response mechanisms are its hallmark leadership and coordination role support for host communities around refugee camps is another important element to the agency’s strategy.

Another crucial component of the UN refugee agency is to improve relations between refugee and local communities there to bolster the protection environment, making refugee-hosting areas safer for all, while encouraging both communities to share common services such as education and health facilities.


Since heavy fighting erupted between the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N) in South Kordofan and Blue Nile States in July 2011, tens of thousands of Sudanese refugees have been forced to flee into neighboring Ethiopia and South Sudan.

Most of these fleeing usually arrive at remote areas of Ethiopia’s Benishangul-Gumuz state and in South Sudan’s Unity and Upper Nile states.

Ethiopia witnessed high influx of refugees in April and May last year, with an average rate of 200 to 300 people a day.

However Kisut told Sudan Tribune that the current level of new arrivals from Sudan can be considered as modest, rather than an influx.

“This however does not in any way suggest the end of the displacement situation,” he said adding, “UNHCR and its partners remain seized with making the necessary preparations to be able to effectively respond to any further displacements that may occur”.

At the end of December 2012, Ethiopia hosted over 86,000 refugees from Sudan in the three camps (Sherkole, Tongo & Bambasi) in the Benishangul-Gumuz State as well as in one camp (Pugnido) in the Gambella State.

The figure includes an estimated 20,000 displaced people from South Sudan’s Jonglei State, who are staying with the host communities along the border in Wantawo woreda, Gambella State.


Currently there is no active repatriation operation to the thousands of Sudanese refugees.

There has been a huge repatriation operation to Sudan between 2006 and 2009, helping over 36,000 refugees who volunteer to return.

The series of repatriation operations resulted in closing of three refugee camps, which used to shelter them.

There has never been an organized repatriation operation afterwards.


Ethiopia has increasingly been very welcoming to refugees crossing to its territory from neighboring African countries.

Every month, Ethiopia generously receives thousands of new refugees’ who flee conflicts at their home country. The country, for instance, currently hosts more than 91,000 Sudanese refugees.

In addition to the Sudanese refugees, the horn of Africa’s nation also shelters more than 214,000 Somali refugees, 61,000 Eritreans and over 4,000 refugees from other African countries.

Last year, Ethiopia received more than 25,000 Somalis – making it the largest recipient of Somali refugees in the region after Kenya.


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Kind regards,

The Sudan Tribune editorial team.
  • 3 February 2013 03:07, by LL Reuben

    Somebody please explain this situation of refugees from Sudan seeking refuge in other countries - what is their problem while eggheads from Sudan are claiming that their government is building roads and constructing dams and installing new factories to better their folks’ lives. It seemed like Sudan is breaking into pieces which we all know. I need a response from a NIF mouthpiece!

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    • 3 February 2013 04:54, by PT92
      Brother LL Reuben, those NCP terrorists don’t reply to this kind of stuff. All they do is terrorize people with everything they get including absurd debates on this web. Sooner or later we will have more than two Sudan.

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    • 3 February 2013 04:59, by Mohammed Ali 2

      It is very simple ! It is business and politics.The rebells will push them out of the country and threaten them to come back.The NGOs to promote their business will give them better facilities for example they are giving them pipe water and permenant houses instead of temporary tents. Something which you dont get even in Juba!The NGOS now....

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      • 3 February 2013 05:04, by Mohammed Ali 2

        ..will continue their business as usual and continue parking about the political situation and interfer in Sudan internal problems. There at least 2 million Ethiopians working in Sudan. There is no need for any Sudanese to go to Ethiopia as Ethiopian are " smuggling" themselves into Sudan in hundreds everyday.

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        • 3 February 2013 05:41, by LL Reuben

          Mohammed ALi 2,
          That kind of Sudan you’re talking about doesn’t considers folks from South Khordofan and greater Durfur as Sudanese or should I state the obvious. The whole world knows that there is chaos in Sudan but for whatever reason you people come here regularly and claim that problems don’t exist in Sudan.

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          • 3 February 2013 05:50, by LL Reuben

            And what on Earth are you talking about by saying Sudanese don’t have to go to Ethiopia? Your criminal is killing them day and night for god sake. Do you want them to parish in cages? One day you’ll find yourself on the recieving end and that’s when you’ll understand the suffering of those folks in those regions.

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          • 3 February 2013 06:29, by Mohammed Ali 2

            Reubin, is it the like the genocide of the Murle where more than 3000 took refugees in the UN compound, the rest ran to the bush and more than half the town was burned, and the world kept silence reporting only 5 were killed? Tell me about another world, please!

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            • 3 February 2013 07:06, by LL Reuben

              Mohammed Ali 2,
              NIF bombing of civilians has displaced thousands of people from your country - NIF then block humantarian organization to deliver food aid to those who are too frail to cross into RoSS and Ethoipia, could you be human enought and explain what those actions are supposed to accomplish for your government? There is a UN compound in Pibor and the conflicts was between two ethnics.

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            • 3 February 2013 07:13, by Nuer Empire

              Murhamed Aliel2:Tell us the situations and reason why large lump of refugees are fleeing their homes to neighbouring it is not ill treatment from the government.300-400 refugees arrive and registered everyday in Ethiopia.I know you are waving your dirty tails for killing innocent Africans in their own land without shame.
              The Nuer Empire

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            • 3 February 2013 23:17, by mohamed mahgoub

              AHA come ooone r u talking of a genocide in south Sudan! Iwould like to help u alittle ,u have a big hole in the back of ur jalabia u can’t see it ,better pacth it before start looking to others,in the modern history there is only two cases of genocide commited by state govnts & the head of the govnt wanted by int justice : the Nazi in1945 and the NCP

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