GAMBELLA, ETHIOPIA, March 19– Representatives of the United Nation s High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and other international relief agencies have visited South Sudanese refugees being hosted in Ethiopia’s Gambella State.

The UNHCR Representative in Ethiopia, Moses Okello, said after the visit that Ethiopia was hosting a large number of South Sudanese refugees, who are continuing to enter this country to flee the current crisis in their country.

It is difficult for Ethiopia to accommodate the increased number of South Sudanese refugees unless the international community increased its support.

Ethiopia’s Administration for Refugees and Returnees Affairs (ARRA) and the UNHCR, in collaboration with various international organizations, are providing basic services, such as shelter, food, healthcare and clean water, among others, for the refugees.

ARRA Deputy Director Ayalew Aweke said the number of South Sudanese nationals seeking refuge in Ethiopia was increasing. The country had received more than 85,000 refugees since fighting broke out between warring factions in South Sudan on Dec 15 last year until March 12, 2014.

The government of Ethiopia, in collaboration with the UNHCR, is providing basic services for the refugees in the existing and the newly established refugee camps in Gambella State in western Ethiopia.

Ethiopia received more than 44,000 new arrivals seeking refuge from various countries in the first eight months of 2013, leading to a total population of concern of more than 400,000 people, who are mainly accommodated in camps throughout the country.

As a result of its geographical position, as well as environmental and geo-political developments in the region, Ethiopia is likely to continue to receive asylum-seekers from neighbouring countries in 2014 and 2015, according to the UNHCR.

The country has a history of receiving people displaced by cross-border movements, droughts, conflicts, political events and civil wars in neighbouring countries, including Eritrea, Somalia, South Sudan and Sudan.
The government of Ethiopia maintains an open-door-policy and has continuously allowed humanitarian access and protection to those seeking refuge on its territory.


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