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Gov’t pledges to address safety concerns at refugee sites following incident in Amhara region

Sudanese refugees residing in Kumer have reported encountering pervasive insecurity within the camp situated in Ethiopia’s Amhara region (Photo: Getty Images)

Addis Abeba – In response to a recent incident at the Awlala and Kumer refugee sites in the Amhara region, the Ethiopian Refugees and Returnees Service (RRS) has unveiled plans to tackle safety concerns and enhance essential services.

Despite facing resource limitations, the RRS says it remains committed to prioritizing the well-being of refugees in the affected areas.

The announcement follows the release of a United Nations report on 03 May, 2024, disclosing the exodus of approximately 1,000 Sudanese refugees from the Kumer camp under United Nations administration.

As per the report, the refugees fled in response to a string of shootings and robberies, prompting around 7,000 out of the 8,000 camp inhabitants to depart on foot after being subjected to attacks and theft by local militia forces.

Subsequently, the refugees were reportedly apprehended by law enforcement shortly after leaving the camp, situated 70 kilometers from the Sudanese border within Ethiopia’s Amhara region.

In its statement, the RRS acknowledged the challenges faced by refugees regarding service provision and safety at the camps. “The government of Ethiopia remains committed to addressing these gaps in close cooperation with domestic, regional, and international humanitarian partners,” reads the statement.

According to the announcement, efforts are underway by the RRS, regional authorities, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), and other partners to engage with the refugees. The aim is to address their safety concerns and improve basic services, despite the limited resources available.

Ethiopia currently hosts over 1.1 million refugees, making it the second-largest refugee-hosting country in Africa. However, according to the RRS statement, the overall refugee response in the country faces serious constraints due to resource limitations, hindering service provision, including at the Awlala and Kumer sites, as mentioned in the statement.

The statement noted that the required international support for emergency refugee sites in Ethiopia has not been adequately secured in 2024, following a challenging resource mobilization effort in 2023. AS

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