UN appeals funds for Somali refugees

May 13, 2010 12:00 am

, ADDIS ABABA, May 13 – The United Nations and Ethiopia appealed Wednesday for 13 million dollars to help the increasing number of Somali refugees entering the country each day.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said some 25,000 Somalis were expected to cross the border over the next few months to escape the violence that has wracked the Horn of Africa nation.

"The money will be used to respond to the protection and assistance needs," Moses Okello, UNHCR\’s representative in Ethiopia, told reporters. "This includes meeting international standards for water, shelter, health care and sanitation."

Some 2,300 Somalis are now reaching Ethiopia every month, according to a government agency in charge of refugee affairs, in addition to the 67,000 already present as of April.

The World Food Programme meanwhile said it had a shortfall of more than 20,000 metric tonnes to cater for the rising number of refugees in Ethiopia, including the more than 1,300 arriving every month from neighbouring Eritrea.

"We have enough to cover for the months of May, June and July. Without additional resources, WFP will be obliged to start reducing food rations," said Lynne Miller, the agency\’s deputy country director.

There are now over 42,000 Eritrean refugees in Ethiopia, according to the government agency, all of whom say they fled "human rights violations and military service."

Rights groups say Eritrea has turned into a "giant prison" where detentions, torture and prolonged military conscription have become rife since a 2001 crackdown on perceived political opponents, including senior officials.


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