ADDIS ABEBA – More than 7, 800 Somali refugees have sought refuge in Ethiopia so far this year, a government official said on Saturday.
The latest figure is seven times higher than the same period of the previous year, revealed government’s agency, Administration for Refugee and Returnee Affairs (ARRA).
The data from the agency indicates that the number of Somalis that sought refugees in Ethiopia has increased from 1,101 in 2018 to 7831 in 2019.
They are crossing the border into Ethiopia mainly due to prolonged droughts and conflicts in the neighboring nation, Yasin Aliey, spokesperson of the agency, told state-run Ethiopian News Agency.
The Ethiopian government, in collaboration with international aid organizations, is providing the necessary facilities and support for the refugees, Yasin added.
Last September, the UN refugee agency projected more families “are expected to flee to southern Ethiopia in the coming months,” as the Horn of Africa country faces its worst harvest since the 2011 famine.
The fragile situation is being aggravated still further by militant group Al-Shabab, which determines what crops farmers can grow and levies “taxes” – extortion payments — on already struggling rural communities, UNHCR claims.
Ethiopia currently hosts over 263,000 Somali refugees who are sheltered in different camps.
Caption: A Somali refugee woman feeds her children at a World Vision’s school used as a temporary shelter in Bur Amino, Ethiopia. Photo UNHCR/Eduardo Soteras Jalil