Ethiopia + 1 more

Ethiopia: New camp identified for frightened Sudanese refugees

ADDIS ABABA, 24 February (IRIN)

  • The Ethiopian government has identified a new camp for Sudanese refugees in the country after over 100 Sudanese were killed in violent ethnic attacks over the last five months.
    According to the UN refugee agency UNHCR, the new site at Odier in western Ethiopia can accommodate 24,500 refugees.

"[It] was chosen based on its accessibility, proximity to administrative and security establishments, and the tribal composition of local residents," UNHCR spokesman Ron Redmond said. "Most important, the site was chosen with the consent of the refugees themselves, who want to move from the sprawling, insecure Fugnido camp."

The attacks at the existing Fugnido refugee camp in Ethiopia's Gambella region were sparked by increased tensions between Nuers and Dinkas on the one hand, and Anuaks on the other.

The Ethiopian government has reportedly rounded up those accused of the killings and brought them to court.

Fugnido camp, which was established in 1991, accommodates more than 28,700 refugees and is the largest of five refugee settlements in the Gambella region, where a total of 85,000 Sudanese are sheltered.

UNHCR said the government had promised that adequate security would be provided at the new site. "At present the road leading to the site is a 'no-go' area for UN staff due to clan tensions in the region," Redmond said.

If the Odier site is declared safe, UNHCR estimates it will cost about US $1.8 million to turn it into a camp for 23,000 Nuers and Dinkas.

"There has been a long history of antagonisms between Anuaks and Nuers, both inside the camp and within the Ethiopian host community," UNHCR said in a report. "Given that the history of revenge killings dates back to 1995, all the tribes involved agreed that relocation of the Nuers and Dinkas was the only feasible solution."

Mahmood Syed Hussain, who heads the UNHCR office in Gambella, said terrified Nuer and Dinka refugees have already returned to Sudan, fearing further attacks by the Anuaks.

"They have returned to Pochalla, a border town in southern Sudan, where they will wait to return to Ethiopia once the new camp is established in Odier," he said.

In the worst attack, last November, 42 people were killed when the Anuaks clashed with the Nuers and the Dinkas in Fugnido camp.


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