ADDIS ABABA – The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, today reaffirmed his commitment to support the humanitarian response for refugees and internally displaced people in Ethiopia and work towards achieving long-term solutions, including for those displaced by drought and the impact of climate change.
“While the last few years have been incredibly difficult for many of those affected by the conflict, I was very encouraged to see the progress made towards peace in northern Ethiopia and to witness all the efforts made in getting more aid to the people who lost everything,” Grandi said at the conclusion of a three-day visit to Ethiopia, where he met with senior government officials and displaced communities including Eritrean refugees.
Since the peace deal in November last year, the UN Refugee Agency, and other partners have been able to step up the delivery of much-needed aid including medicines, shelter materials, clothes, household items and blankets.
“Progress is visible on the ground. People are now getting assistance. Some have started to go back to their homes, but much more needs to be done to support the reconstruction and recovery efforts in the Afar, Amhara and Tigray regions,” Grandi added. “This will be critical to improve their living conditions and work towards lasting solutions, including voluntary returns to their communities.”
He visited Eritrean refugees relocated to Alemwach, a settlement some 70 kilometres from Gondar in the Amhara region and now home to over 22,000 people. While offering safer conditions, the Alemwach site still requires further investments to ensure refugees can rebuild their lives. Health, education and sanitation services need to be reinforced to enable both refugees and host communities to thrive, in line with the Global Compact on Refugees – a global framework aimed at strengthening solidarity with refugees and their host countries, enhancing refugee self-reliance as well as expanding access to durable solutions.
The model has been embraced by Ethiopia. “Creating an integrated assistance programme that supports both refugees and host communities is what should be done around the world and it is encouraging to see the Government’s efforts to make it happen in Ethiopia,” said Grandi.
During his visit, the High Commissioner met with President Sahle-Work Zewde, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Demeke Mekonnen and other officials, whom he thanked for Ethiopia’s continued hospitality towards refugees.
“Many other countries would have chosen to close their doors while grappling with conflict and climate change, but the Government and people of Ethiopia continued to generously welcome and host thousands of refugees from South Sudan and Somalia,” said Grandi. “I’m calling for the prompt registration of new arrivals and urge the international community to strengthen their financial commitments to accelerate delivery of aid to address critical humanitarian needs.”
In 2022, UNHCR’s programmes in Ethiopia were half-funded, making it one of the 12 most underfunded UNHCR operations globally. In 2023, with continued displacements and the dramatic effects of the drought, UNHCR requires some US$370 million to assist, protect and find solutions for refugees and forcibly displaced families.
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For video B-roll on the HC’s visit to Ethiopia, please visit Refugees Media: https://media.unhcr.org/Share/327asck88d2q0sxgs745go24bira17m5