ARRA, UNHCR launch relocation of South Sudanese refugees to new camp
UNHCR, 11 May 2015
GAMBELLA, Ethiopia, 11 May 2015 (UNHCR): The Administration for Refugee and Returnee Affairs (ARRA) and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) have launched the relocation of thousands of South Sudanese refugees from flood-prone areas in the Gambella region to a new refugee camp located about 18 kilometres from Gambella, western Ethiopia.
The relocation exercise to Jewi Refugee Camp was launched on Friday, 8 May with the first convoy of 1,376 refugees arriving in the new camp. Over the weekend, more than 4,200 refugees had been relocated from flood-prone Leitchuor and Nip Nip camps. More than 1600 have departed from Leitchuor this morning and are on their way to Jewi camp
The UNHCR Head of Sub-Office Ms. Angele Djohossou and the ARRA Zonal Coordinator Ato Teferi Bekele welcomed the first batch of refugees to Jewi camp and assured them of protection and better humanitarian services. Madam Djohossou commended all partners for ensuring that protection and essential services such as shelter, medical care, water and sanitation were in place for the relocating refugees. “We are sincerely thankful to the Government of Ethiopia and to all donors for making the launch of relocation to Jewi camp a reality,” she said.
The refugees who were transported by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) were happy to relocate. They received WFP-provided high energy biscuits and water during the journey that lasted about five hours. Relocating refugees from flood-prone areas had been fraught with challenges key of which was identifying a suitable site.
Jewi camp has a capacity of about 50,000 refugees. It will accommodate about 48,000 refugees from Leitchuor camp, which was established in January 2014, but became flooded last August together with Nip Nip camp, which was being established when it was flooded.
Interacting with relocated refugees who expressed gratitude to the Government of Ethiopia and various humanitarian actors for assisting them, the UNHCR Acting Representative Mr. Bornwell Kantande described the exercise as “a milestone” in ensuring that refugees were moved out from the floodplain as another rainy season begins. He also urged the refugees to remain law abiding.
Relocation of nearly 3,000 refugees from Nip Nip camp officially ended on Saturday, 9 May as some of them were relocated to Pugnido Refugee Camp in mid-March when the relocation exercise initially started. IOM is facilitating convoy movement which will now focus on relocating refugees from Leitchuor camp.
For further information, please contact: Kisut Gebre Egziabher in Addis Ababa, + 251 911 208 901; and Sulaiman Momodu in Gambella, mobile +251 935 978519