Ethiopia: UNHCR Ethiopia: Fact Sheet (May 2019)

Source: UN High Commissioner for Refugees
Country: Ethiopia

Ethiopia is host to the second largest refugee population in Africa, sheltering 905,831 registered refugees and asylum seekers as of 31 August 2018.

More than 557,000, individuals, have undergone comprehensive (L3) registration, helping to develop a system to better manage and support refugee inclusion.

As the Protection Cluster lead, UNHCR continues to be actively participating in the humanitarian response to the IDP situation in Gedeo West Guji, East and West Wollega supporting site management and the co-ordination of responses to protection needs, as well as the provision of emergency kits. UNHCR also coordinates protection response to the IDP response in the Somali Region.

Working with Partners

UNHCR’s main government counterpart to ensure the protection of refugees in Ethiopia is the Agency for Refugees and Returnees Affairs (ARRA). In addition, UNHCR works in close coordination with 54 humanitarian partners and is part of the Humanitarian Country Team in Ethiopia where refugee programmes are discussed strategically to ensure the needs of refugees are adequately presented and addressed across the UN System. UNHCR is also building on a well-established coordination fora, including the inter-sector Refugee Coordination Group, together with national and regional sector working groups. As part of the CRRF, UNHCR is furthering partnerships with line ministries, regional and local authorities, as well as development partners and the private sector.


■ As part of the IDP response, UNHCR is working with UNFPA, UNICEF and OHCHR in the implementation of a protection monitoring project in West Guji zone. The project involves the collecting, verifying and analysing of information in order to identify violations of rights as well as protection threats and risks encountered by IDPs and returnees for the purpose of informing effective responses. UNHCR also supports site management and protection monitoring activities in Gedeo zone and distribution of emergency aid items in East Wollega zone.


■ Preliminary data for the 2018/19 academic year show a total of 196,350 refugee students enrolled in the different levels of education; Early Childhood Care and Education 55,735, primary 126,383, secondary 11,123, and tertiary 3,109, including 809 fresh entrants. As part of the Humanitarian Corridor, the University of Bologna in Italy granted MA degree scholarships to five refugees through the University Corridor for Refugees programme 2019-2021. Gaps in the provision of education include inadequate school infrastructure at all levels within camps and host community, high number of untrained teachers and inadequate teaching and learning materials.


■ All components of primary health care services including referral to higher healthcare facilities were provided in all camps. The crude and under-five child mortality rates have remained within the expected range in all camps.
Diseases with epidemic potential are kept below the epidemic threshold level and no outbreak was reported.
Resources including vaccines have been secured to carry out a measles vaccination campaign in all 5 Melkadida camps covering all children below 15 years of age.

Food Security and Nutrition

■ The amount of general ration provided to refugees remained less than the minimum requirement of 2,100 Kcal per person per day, ranging from 1,803 Kcal in Gambella, Melkadida, Assosa and Jijiga to 1,920 Kcal in camps in the Afar and Tigray regions. The global acute malnutrition (GAM) rate in 21 refugee camps is below the emergency threshold of 15%, with 12 camps achieving the UNHCR target of 10%.

Water and Sanitation

■ 12.5 million litres of water were supplied across the regions in Ethiopia hosting refugees, with eight of the 26 refugee camps meeting the minimum standard of 20 litres of water per person per person per day (lppd). 11 camps are between 15 and 20 lppd while seven camps are still below the 15 lppd threshold. 19 of the 26 refugee camps have met the minimum standard of ‘maximum of 20 persons per latrine’ while eight camps are still below the minimum standards.


■ UNHCR and its partners are working with a target to construct 40,000 transitional shelters in different refugee camps in 2019, covering 30.5% of the identified 131,185 shelter gaps. Shelter prototypes are being produced in line with the relevant guidelines which form part of the implementation modalities of the 2017-2020 National Shelter Strategy.

Cash-Based Interventions

■ Following the successful piloting and subsequent positive assessment results of the cash based interventions (CBI) in camps around Jijiga, UNHCR is working to scale up the use of cash to the other locations. Cash will be used in lieu of a range of in-kind aid supplies including, non-food aid items, shelter materials, livelihoods, cooking energy, education and nutritional support. Cash shall also be used to respond to the ongoing IDP situation as well as reintegration support for Ethiopian refugees who may voluntarily return to their country.

Camp Coordination and Camp Management

■ UNHCR and ARRA work in close coordination with partners to ensure efficient and coordinated delivery of protection and assistance to refugees. Camp coordination meetings and technical working groups take place both at the zonal and camp levels.

Access to Energy

■ UNHCR continues to seek solutions to ensure refugees’ access to energy while strengthening environmental protection. Work is ongoing to raise over one million seedlings for planting in and around the refugee camps this year. To date, more than 55,000 pcs of charcoal briquettes have been distributed to 1,222 targeted households in camps in the Afar and Benishangul-Gumuz regions. Together with the distribution of over 8,000kg of firewood, this forms part of the effort to provide refugees with alternative cooking fuel solutions. As part of the commitment to provide light in family dwellings, streets and community centres within the refugee camps, two solar mini-grids were installed at the ‘Bokolmanyo market and ‘Bokolmanyo Energy Service Centre’, in the Somali region while 12,141 solar lanterns were distributed along with installation of 59 solar street lights in the Benishangul-Gumuz region.

Community Empowerment and Self-Reliance

■ UNHCR has developed a multi-year Livelihoods and Economic Inclusion Strategy (2019-2021) in line with the principles of UNHCR’s Global Livelihoods Strategy (2019-2023) and the objectives of the Global Compact on Refugees (GCR). This strategy outlines UNHCR’s role in the economic inclusion of refugees and host communities in Ethiopia, which entails taking the lead on protection and coordination; establishing joint projects with strategic partners; improving data and information management; and engaging the private sector in refugee hosting areas. In 2019, UNHCR is contextualize this strategy to align and respond to the development priorities of refugee hosting areas across Ethiopia’s six regions.

Durable Solutions

■ Providing resettlement opportunities to refugees remains a top priority, as conditions for voluntary repatriation are unfavourable for most refugees in Ethiopia and local integration programs are yet to be put in place. In 2019, UNHCR plans to refer 3,000 refugees to the UNHCR Regional Service Centre (RSC) in Nairobi for onward submission to resettlement countries. As of 31 May 2019, 1,348 individuals have been submitted and 513 departed for different resettlement countries. In addition, 41 individuals have been processed for Family Reunification. As part of the ‘Humanitarian Corridor’ program which started in late 2017, a total of 476 refugees left for Italy.