By Barry Malone, ADDIS ABABA, May 12 (Reuters) – Ethiopia said on Wednesday it expects another 25,000 refugees fleeing fighting in Somalia to cross its border by the end of the year and appealed for $13 million dollars to feed its refugee population.
U.N. food agency, WFP, which provides all food aid to refugees in Ethiopia, warned that without the extra funding it would have to reduce food rations by June this year.
“With the growing number of refugees, we call upon the donor community to support us to address this humanitarian crisis,” Ayalew Aweke, of Ethiopian refugee agency, ARRA, said in a joint statement with U.N refugee agency, UNHCR.
Ethiopia — one of the world’s poorest countries — is home to more than 68,000 Somali refugees as well 42,000 from Eritrea and 24,000 from Sudan.
“The rapid influx of refugees from southern Somalia and Eritrea has put immense strains on the limited available food resources,” WFP Ethiopia deputy director Lynne Miller said.
“Without additional resources, WFP will be obliged to start reducing food rations of refugees as of June 2010.”
Somalia has not had a functioning central government since the 1991 overthrow of a dictator, since when it has been mired in violence and awash with weapons.
The Western-backed interim government controls just a few blocks of the capital Mogadishu, with much of the country carved up between the rebel militias of Al Shabaa and Hizbul Islam and pro-government group Ahlu Sunna Waljamaca.
Somalia already has 1.4 million internally displaced people, and another 575,000 have so far fled to neighbouring countries. (Reporting by Barry Malone; Editing by Richard Lough and Louise Ireland)