By Tesfa-Alem Tekle
November 25, 2016 (ADDIS ABABA) – The United Nations Higher Commissioner for refugees (UNHCR) said it has constructed thousands of emergency shelters for South Sudan refugees crossing borders to Ethiopia.
Construction of the emergency shelters is as part of the emergency response to cope up high influx of South Sudanese refugees.
Ethiopia is currently experiencing fresh influx of refugees from South Sudan fleeing renewed violence and food shortages in their home country.
Over 40,000 South Sudanese refugees including 8,392 unaccompanied and separated children have arrived in Ethiopia’s Gambella region since September.
According to the UN refugee agency, currently on average, some 547 South Sudanese refugees arrive in Ethiopia on a daily basis.
UNHCR officials here in Addis Ababa said a total of 9,455 emergency shelters have been constructed since late October to accommodate newly arriving South Sudan Refugees.
The emergency shelters are built in a number of South Sudan refugee camps in Gambella region near the borders of South Sudan.
The new arrivals, most originate from the Upper Nile State (94.2%) and Jonglie State (5.6%).
496 hectares of land has also been cleared for the construction of additional shelters and facilities.
Hundreds of UNHCR family tents have also been pitched in a number of areas.
Latrine use and safe hygiene practices continue to be encouraged amongst the newly arrived refugees.
As part of the Latrine use and safe hygiene practices, the UN refugee agency has constructed 844 latrines which are being maintained by latrine and environmental cleaners.
However concerns of health, shelter, and nutrition services remain to be main challenges.
Malnutrition remains a key challenge in the case of new arrivals as well as pre-September refugees in Gambella, owing to inadequate food intake.
A cumulative total of 4,929 children between the age of six and 59 months have been screened for malnutrition, 310 of whom have been identified for enrolment in nutrition programmes since 20 October.
The dissemination of messages on safe hygiene practices continued.
11 water points have been installed, providing 220,000 litres per day. 16 litres of water per person per day are being provided.
UN says the high number of unaccompanied and separated children requires a strengthened approach to child protection to ensure their specific needs are addressed, including family reunification.
The protection helpdesk remains operational, addressing cases related to registration, physical protection, medical referrals and family reunification.
Child and youth friendly spaces are available, with some 285 children and youth participating in cultural and sports activities.
Recently the UN refugee agency along with its main government counterpart, the Administration for Refugee and Returnees Affairs (ARRA) hast a new Camp for south Sudan refugees.
The new camp, Nguenyyiel currently shelters over 6,000 newly arrived South Sudanese refugees.
Currently Ethiopia hosts 324,075 South Sudanese refugees and asylum-seekers.