Refugees Update from UNHCR Regional Liaison Office Addis Ababa, March '95

Refugees Update from UNHCR Regional Liaison Office Addis Ababa, March '95

Refugees Update is a monthly publication from the UNHCR Regional Liaison Office (UNHCR RLO)in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on current refugee, returnee activities in Ethiopia.

For more information, please contact Marwan Elkhoury, Information
Officer, UNHCR RLO
Tel. no. 251-1-612822
Fax. no. 251-1-611666
Fido Address: 5:751/1.237
Internet Address:


Vol.2, No. 3
March 1995

In this issue:

* Agreement reached between UNHCR and the Transitional Government of Ethiopia to resume repatriation of Ethiopians from Sudan as Phase III of repatriation of Ethiopian refugees from Djibouti is being planed and Repatriation from Kenya continues

* Focus on: Repatriation - Journey form Djibouti to Dire Dawa

Agreement reached between UNHCR and the Transitional Government of Ethiopia to resume repatriation of Ethiopians from Sudan

An estimated 60,000 Ethiopian refugees are still in Sudan, awaiting to be repatriated back home. Missions from both Sudan and Ethiopia have been undertaken to discuss issues of mutual concern with respect to location of reception centres, logistical arrangements and assistance to be provided.

An agreement has been reached between UNHCR and the Governments of Ethiopia and Sudan to resume the repatriation operation of Ethiopians from the Sudan. Logistic arrangements on the ground, such as trucking capacity both in Sudan and Ethiopia have to be finalized before moving refugees form camps to home areas. Transit centres on both sides of the border in Showak and Quaja have also been established.

Despite the constraints on the ground, UNHCR and the Administration for Refugee/Returnee Affairs (ARRA) are still planning for the completion of the repatriation of at leat 10,000 people before the onset of the rains which will hamper road movements.

Assistance to returnees from Sudan includes nine months food rations provided by the World Food Programme (WFP), EB. 1,500/family as income-generating grant and EB. 180/person as a transportation grant to pay for travel costs from dispersal centres to the returnees' final destinations. Non-food items such as plastic tarpaulin, blankets, kitchen utensils are being distributed to all returnees.

Most of the returnees come originally from Regions 1 and 3. However, exact locations will be known once the registration for voluntary repatriation has been completed.

The information campaign for the promotion of voluntary repatriation of Ethiopia has begun in Port-Sudan and will be followed by the formal "volrep" registration. 2,600 Ethiopians have already registered for repatriation. The first convoy is expected to depart from Port-Sudan in early April and arrive in Quaja, western Ethiopia, by 10 April 1995.

Representatives from the Ethiopian Relief Organization (ERO) and the Oromo Self-Help Organization (OSHO) have recently travelled to Sudan to join in the information campaign and hold informal talks with refugee representative to assist refugees in their registration of voluntary repatriation.

Meanwhile, preparations are under way for the final phase of the repatriation of Ethiopian refugees from Djibouti. Phase III of the repatriation is expected to start early April. The mainly urban caseload will be registered on a weekly basis, prepared for movement at a nearby transit centre and transported by train to Dire Dawa twice a week.

An estimated 15,000 refugees are expected to be repatriated by train to Dire Dawa for onward destinations to mainly Region 4 and 5. When completed, by June 1995, this will effectively bring the process of large scale repatriation from Djibouti to Ethiopia to and end.

Since the beginning of the operation, which started last September, 16,880 Ethiopians, who were residing in camps, were repatriated from Djibouti to mainly Jijiga, Fik, Gursum and Babile.

Phase II on the on-going operation was completed on 20 March 1995, enabling UNHCR to close down Aour-Aoussa camp in Djibouti.

Prior to departure from Djibouti, returnees received non-food items and US$30 for their onward transportation from the transit centre in Dire Dawa to their home areas.

In the meantime, the airlift repatriation from Kenya continues. So far, 363 refugees have been airlifted to Addis Ababa, Dire Dawa and Jijiga.

The first road convoy from Dadaab in north-east Kenya arrived with 432 returnees on 22 March in Moyale, Southern Ethiopia. Another 255 Ethiopian refuges are expected to return by road to Moyale on 31 March.

In 1994, some 35,000 Ethiopian refugees were voluntary repatriated from mainly Kenya, Sudan and Djibouti. Since 1991, some 860,000 Ethiopian refugees voluntarily returned home.

Since 1992, over EB. 62.5 million were disbursed for rehabilitation projects in northern eastern and southern Ethiopia.

In 1993 and 1994, UNHCR and ARRA, in cooperation with UNICEF, WFP, UN-EUE, MSF, SCF-USA, SERP, SORDU, LIRDA, OADB, RRC, WSSA and the Ministries of Health and Education have rehabilitated clinics, schools, water systems, distributed seeds, tools, goats and oxen and strengthened veterinary and agriculture extension services in returnee-impacted areas.

Given the fact that most returnees in Ethiopia originate from economically- disadvantaged communities prone to food deficit and recurrent drought, it has been recognized, within the framework of the cross-mandate approach, that rehabilitation assistance should be extended to returnees on a community basis in order to benefit both returnees and the host community. The provision of social services - education, health services - are particularly crucial in order to sustain the stabilisation of the returnee population.


A Journey from Djibouti to Dire Dawa

Fatima has finally decide to make the journey home to Gursum, in Eastern Ethiopia, after four years spent in exile in Djibouti in a refugee camp.

Last Sunday, Fatima, together with her four children, was transferred from Aour Aoussa camp to Ali-Sabieh, near the Djibouti-Ethiopian border. There, she spent the night in a reception centre before embarking on her last journey by tain to Dire Dawa. Upon departure, each refugee would receive a blanket, a plastic bucket, plastic sheeting and a set of hand tools.

Until now, Fatima was living with her family in Aour Aoussa refugee camp, located some 100 kms south-west of Djibouti-vile. Fatima, like tens of thousands of her compatriots, had fled the war in 1991 and sought asylum in neighbouring Djibouti. But now, Fatima felt that the situation was secure enough in Ethiopia and that it was time for her to return and settle in her home village near Gursum.

Fatima completed a 'volrep' form (Voluntary Repatriation Form) in the camp, stating all relevant information concerning her family, number of dependents, date, place of birth and, most crucially, the intended destination of return or home village. The registration for 'volrep' is jointly carried out by UNHCR, ONARS (the Djibouti Government Agency for Refugees) and ARRA (the Ethiopian Administration for Refugee/Returnee Affairs).

The sun had not yet risen on Monday morning when the train, specially chartered by UNHCR once a week for the repatriation operation, arrived from Djibouti-ville. All refugees boarded the train accompanied by representatives form UNHCR and ONARS who travelled with them on the train. A travel allowance of US$30 was given to each refugee to pay for the transport from Dire Dawa to their final destination.

The train then started its journey at 08:00 hours. An hour later, it reached the Ethiopian border town of Dewele where police formalities were being processed. For the 300 kms-trip to Dire Dawa, the train takes, in the best of times, 9 to 10 hours or even more.

Upon arrival at Dire Dawa railway station, UNHCR and ARRA are there present to quickly transfer the returnees by trucks or buses from the station to a transit centre, 1 km away. There, the returnees take a well deserved rest for the night before their final journey to their village.

The next day, ARRA checks the validity of the 'volrep' forms against the manifest prepared in Djibouti by UNHCR representatives, a procedure which can take up to three days. Each family receives then a 'transit' allowance to pay for food and other expenses until they are able to leave the centre and travel to their home villages. It takes more than one day to travel 300 kms and return home!

When refugees finally reach their homes, they will be able to collect a 2- month food package - cereals, pulses, oil, sugar and salt-provided by the World Food Programme (WFP) in the nearest town.

In addition to the individual assistance provided to each returnee, UNHCR and ARRA are planning micro-projects in the sectors of health, education and water, to be carried out on a community basis in areas of reintegration. Provision of livestock and veterinary services are also included for the agro- pastoralists.

Since September 1994, the start of the weekly train repatriation operation, some 17,000 Ethiopian refugees have returned home, enabling UNHCR to close Aour Aoussa camp in Djibouti. Another 15,000 Ethiopian refugees from Djibouti- ville are expected to repatriate starting early April and make the 300-km journey back to Dire dawa.

From: (Ben Parker)
Date: 11 Apr 95 17:08:12 +0300
Subject: Refugee Update from UNHCR Regional Liaison Office Addis Ababa
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