Addis Ababa/Geneva – The Ethiopian government and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) on Wednesday called for an additional 13 million dollars to support refugees from Somalia and Eritrea living in the eastern African country.
Almost 25,000 more refugees from Somalia, where Islamist insurgents are battling the weak Western-backed government, are expected to enter Ethiopia in the next few months.
UNHCR’s representative in Ethiopia, Moses Okello, told journalists in Addis Ababa that the money was needed to provide shelter, water, health care and sanitation for the refugees.
The World Food Programme (WFP) also warned that its resources were being strained.
“The rapid influx of refugees from Southern Somalia and Eritrea has put immense strains on the limited available food resources,” WFP’s Ethiopia Deputy Country Director Lynne Miller said. “Without additional resources, WFP will be obliged to start reducing food rations of refugees as of June 2010.”
The nation on the Horn of Africa already shelters 140,000 refugees, more than 68,000 of whom are Somalis.
On average, 2,300 refugees from Southern Somalia and 1,350 refugees from Eritrea come to Ethiopia every month.
According to UNHCR spokesman Kisut Gebre Egziabher, those fleeing from Eritrea say they do so because of “severe human rights violations, religious prosecution and very long military services.”