“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,” Filippo Grandi said, concluding a three-day visit to the country.
Better services sorely needed
During this time, he met with senior government officials and displaced communities in the Tigray region. He also visited Eritrean refugees relocated to a settlement in the Amhara region, home to more than 22,000 people.
They need better health, education and sanitation services so that refugees and host communities can thrive, the UN refugee agency said, in line with the Global Compact on Refugees.
Progress ‘is visible’
“Progress is visible on the ground,” the High Commissioner said. “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. This will be critical to improve their living conditions and work towards lasting solutions, including voluntary returns to their communities.”
Since the peace deal was signed by the federal government and opposition forces in northern Ethiopia in November, UNHCR and other partners have been able to step up the delivery of such much-needed aid as medicines, shelter materials, clothes, household items, and blankets.
The latest situation report from the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) stated that food deliveries had reached more than 3.8 million people in the Tigray region from mid-November to 26 January.
Food needs persist
UNHCR reports that Ethiopia hosts more than 800,000 refugees and asylum seekers, mainly from South Sudan, Somalia and Eritrea. In addition, 4.2 million Ethiopians are internally displaced, largely resulting from the conflict and ongoing tensions. Many in the Tigray region need food assistance.
Mr. Grandi also said long-term solutions to the current situation on the ground are also needed to assist those displaced by drought and the impact of climate change.
The UN refugee agency stated that its programmes in Ethiopia were half-funded in 2022, making it one of its 12 most underfunded operations globally. In 2023, with continued displacements and the dramatic effects of the drought, UNHCR requires $370 million to assist, protect, and find solutions for refugees and forcibly displaced families.