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UN rushing relief supplies for Somali refugees in Ethiopia

UN rushing relief supplies for Somali refugees in Ethiopia

Makeshift shelters and new tents at Ifo Camp in Dadaab late last year.
The United Nations refugee agency and its partners are sending staff and vital relief supplies to assist some 10,000 new asylum-seekers who have arrived in the Somali Region of south-east Ethiopia since the beginning of the year after fleeing insecurity in neighbouring Somalia.

“About 150 people are now crossing the border each day and it is likely that [the] number of new arrivals will increase further over the next few weeks,” Ron Redmond, spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) told reporters in Geneva today.

UNHCR sent three trucks earlier this week from Addis Ababa to the border area of Dolo-Ado, carrying an assortment of relief items, including 3,000 mosquito nets, 5,000 blankets, 5,000 jerry cans and 3,000 kitchen sets.

More trucks are being loaded with 3,000 plastic sheets, registration materials for 10,000 refugees, two generators, 10 water tanks, a water pump and 3,000 mats, all of which are expected to reach Dolo Ado today.

For its part, the World Food Programme (WFP) has sent food rations for two weeks and is airlifting high-nutrition biscuits from its emergency stock in Tanzania.

Also, the World Health Organization (WHO) is pre-positioning vaccines, medicines and other medical supplies based on their emergency check-list, while the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) is looking at supporting the water sector and eventually the primary education sector.

Mr. Redmond said UNHCR has received permission to establish a camp around Dolo-Ado, and has identified structures for use as offices and as a compound.

He added that the influx has increased after Ethiopian forces withdrew from Somalia last month, ending their two-year presence in the strife-torn nation which just elected a new president last week.

In a related development, UNHCR has received a commitment from Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga that his Government will provide land to set up a new refugee camp in north-eastern Kenya to take the pressure off the overcrowded Dadaab complex and accommodate the growing number of Somalis fleeing to Kenya.

The Dadaab complex was originally designed for 90,000 people but now has about a quarter of a million people, making it one of the world's largest and most congested refugee sites.