Filippo Grandi, UN High Commissioner for Refugees, meets with some of the Eritrean refugees recently relocated to the Alemwach refugee site.

UNHCR Chief Urges Support for Refugees and Displaced People in Ethiopia

ADDIS ABABA – UN refugee agency chief said he was “very encouraged” to see the progress in the north Ethiopia peace process, urging for the recovery efforts to step up in war-hit regions.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grand concluded his three-day visit to Ethiopia today during which he met with senior government officials and displaced communities including Eritrean refugees.

After an “incredibly difficult” few years, Grand said, “I was very encouraged to see the progress made towards peace in northern Ethiopia.”

Since the peace agreement in Nov last year, aid agencies including the UN Refugee Agency, have been able to step up the delivery of aid such as medicines.

“The progress is visible on the ground. People are now getting assistance,” Grandi said.

“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,” he continued.

“This will be critical to improve their living conditions and work towards lasting solutions, including voluntary returns to their communities.”

Among the displaced are refugees from other countries who had sought safety in Ethiopia before the conflict began.

UN High Commissioner for Refugees visited Eritrean refugees relocated to Alemwach, a settlement some 70km from Gondar in the Amhara region.

While offering safer conditions, Alemwach, home to over 22,000 refugees, still requires further investments to ensure refugees can rebuild their lives and enable host communities to thrive.

This, the UNHCR says, is in line with the Global Compact on Refugees – a global framework aimed at strengthening solidarity with refugees and their host countries, to make refugees self-reliant and get durable solutions.

The model has been embraced by Ethiopia.

“Creating an integrated assistance program 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.

The High Commissioner also thanked Ethiopia’ for its 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,” he said.

“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.”

The UN refugees agency seeks US$370 million to assist, protect and find solutions for refugees and forcibly displaced families in Ethiopia.

Featured Image: Filippo Grandi, UN High Commissioner for Refugees, meets with some of the Eritrean refugees recently relocated to the Alemwach refugee site. [Photo © UNHCR/Samuel Otieno]