Ethiopia: Increase humanitarian assistance for African refugees
14 July 2011

Refugee children at the JRS Refugee Community Centre in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Developing countries, such as Ethiopia, host 80 percent of the world's refugees. (Peter Balleis SJ/JRS)
Ethiopia currently hosts approximately 200,000 refugees from neighbouring countries of Somalia, Eritrea, Sudan, the Great Lakes region and further afield.
Addis Ababa, 14 July 2011 – According to the programme coordinator of Administration for Refugee and Returnee Affairs (ARRA), Mekonnen Shewarega, the protracted nature of displacement in the region and the increasing flows of refugees are devouring the limited financial and material resources allocated to the country by developed nations.

Speaking at an event organised last month by the Jesuit Refugee Service country office in Ethiopia, Mr Shewarega said, this shortfall has affected the quality and quantity of services the authorities are able to offer to refugees.

Rising food and accommodation prices have further aggravated the economic and social conditions of refugees particularly in urban areas. Mr Mekonnen urged the international community, particularly donor nations, to increase and extend the humanitarian assistance to African refugees.

"The world is not yet a safe place for millions of mothers and children fleeing their homes. This is particularly of high concern for JRS operating in the eastern Africa region – the most populous region in terms of refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs)”, said JRS Ethiopia Director, Seyoum Asfaw, in his welcoming speech to the guests of the event organised to commemorate World Refugee Day 2011.

JRS celebrates World Refugee Day every year to highlight the achievements of, as well as the challenges facing, refugees in Addis Ababa.

Developing countries are hosting majority of refugees

"JRS Ethiopia strives to walk with the victims every inch of their way – providing them with the support, care, and love they have been denied”, added Mr Asfaw.

Ethiopia currently hosts approximately 200,000 refugees from neighbouring countries of Somalia, Eritrea, Sudan, the Great Lakes region and further afield.

"In a world where the forces of food insecurity, climate change and conflict combine to push people to migrate, it is developing countries which are disproportionately shouldering the weight. These countries should be applauded and supported,” said the representative to the UN refugee agency in Ethiopia, Moses Okello.

On 17 June, JRS, in cooperation with the Ethiopian Orthodox Church-Development and Interchurch Aid Commission (DICAC), carried out an awareness raising event under the UNHCR theme One Refugee without Hope is Too Many.

According to JRS Ethiopia Education Coordinator and Counsellor, Neway Alemayehu, the team believed hope was especially important for refugees, many of whom have been living in urban areas for decades without any possibility of returning home, integrating into their host communities or being resettled in another country.

More than 800 refugees and their children gathered to commemorate the day. Government officials, personnel from UNHCR, NGOs and representatives of refugee groups all attended the event. The event received ample coverage in the national press and TV.

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