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Ethiopia: UNHCR deplores violence in Gambella, applauds Ethiopia’s continued protection of refugees

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The Gambella region of Ethiopia has a long history of hosting refugees from South Sudan. Currently there are more than 272,000 of whom over 221,000 have arrived there since conflict broke out in their home country in December 2013. © UNHCR/Sulaiman Momodu

ADDIS ABABA, 26 April 2016 (UNHCR) - The UN Refugee Agency, is concerned about the recent violent incidents in and around Gambella town, western Ethiopia, and is calling for calm in this difficult situation.

It is regrettable that lives have been lost during these violent incidents and UNHCR extends its deepest sympathies to all individuals and families who have lost their loved ones and urges all concerned groups to exercise restraint to prevent further escalation of the situation.

The UN Refugee Agency expresses profound gratitude to the Ethiopian government for reinforcing security in Gambella town and in the refugee camps, which has significantly helped to prevent further tragedy.

The Gambella region has a long history of hosting refugees from South Sudan. Currently there are more than 272,000 of whom over 221,000 have arrived there since conflict broke out in their home country in December 2013.

While investigations are still ongoing, initial reports suggest violent riots in Jewi camp since 21 April 2016 may have resulted in some casualties. The riots were sparked by the regrettable killing of two refugee children in the camp due to traffic accident.

This came on the heels of the violent cross-border attack earlier in the month which reportedly claimed more than 200 lives, with more than 100 children abducted. UNHCR deplores the killings and abductions and would like to express its solidarity with the people and government of Ethiopia during these difficult times. Refugees were not directly affected by this attack.

Reports indicate that the violent cross-border attacks also caused the displacement of some 21,000 Ethiopians away from their villages.

UNHCR hails the positive role of host communities in sharing their meagre resources with refugees and would like to appeal for the continuation of the peaceful co-existence between refugees and host communities.

While hoping for the restoration of peace and stability in South Sudan, which will ultimately pave the way for refugees to return home, UNHCR would like to appeal to the international community for additional support and resources for both refugees and host communities in Ethiopia.

UNHCR continues to work in Gambella region in support of the Ethiopian government’s efforts to guarantee the basic needs and protection of South Sudanese refugees while also addressing the needs of host communities.

For more information, please contact:
GAMBELLA: Sulaiman Momodu| momodu@unhcr.org | +251935978519
ADDIS ABABA: Kisut Gebreegziabher | gegziabk@unhcr.org | +251911208901