Following the July 2018 peace agreement, the Ethiopian and Eritrean governments reopened crossing points on their shared border on September 11. According to the Shire District administration, up to 15 000 Eritreans have crossed into Ethiopia, some to visit relatives or to buy goods, many to stay.
The combination of unchanged conditions inside Eritrea and open borders has led to a stark increase in refugee numbers. According to UNHCR, the average daily arrival rate has increased more than fourfold. Other partners refer to 500 in the last few days. This brings the total number of Eritrean refugees in Ethiopia to 175 000, a large proportion of whom are unaccompanied minors.
The existing refugee population in the Shire zone fear losing their refugee status and of reprisals by Eritrean authorities following the influx, despite reassurances from UNHCR and ARRA. The situation remains fluid but the influx into Ethiopia is likely to continue and even increase. Humanitarian assistance and resources will need to be scaled up to respond to the growing needs across all sectors and to reduce the inherent risks of onward migration.