ADDIS ABEBA – Localized clashes between armed forces in Maiwut County of South Sudan have led to a new influx of refugees into Ethiopia’s Gambella region, said a European humanitarian agency today.
“Since November, over 3600 refugees, including unaccompanied or separated minors, have arrived in Pamdong reception center,” said European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO). The center is now hosting around 4000 refugees.
Ethiopia’s Administration for Refugee & Returnee Affairs (ARRA) reportedly suspended the registration of new refugees, limiting their access to basic services.
ECHO, European Commission’s humanitarian agency, noted that many newcomers do not want to be relocated in Assosa’s Gure Shembole camp.
“This due to the remoteness of the camp, the willingness to remain closer to their places of origin, and the lack of social networks and traditional livelihood opportunities for South Sudanese refugees,” says the agency said.
In addition, it said the current security situation is not conducive for road transfers from Gambella to Assosa.
Aid agencies have scaled up their humanitarian response in Pamdong, said the agency, “but major funding gaps remain across all sectors”.
The South Sudanese remain the largest refugee population in Ethiopia, totaling 320,957 persons as of the end of November 2019. 32% of the refugee population living in Pamdong are children under 4 years old.