As a party to the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees, its 1967 Protocol and the 1969 Refugee Convention of the Organization of African Unity, the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia maintains an open-door policy for refugees into the country and allows humanitarian access and protection to those seeking asylum on its territory.1 Ethiopia recognizes prima facie refugees from South Sudan, Eritrea, Yemen, and Somalia (those originating from South and Central Somalia). 2 For others, the Government’s Eligibility Committee, on which UNHCR sits as an observer, undertakes individual refugee status determination.
Following the border conflict between Eritrea and Ethiopia, there have been high influx of refugees from Eritrea to Ethiopia. At the request of the Ethiopian Government, a UNHCR led joint UN/ARRA/Regional Government assessment mission was undertaken in June 2006. This mission identified the presence of Eritrean Afar refugees but due to their unique settlement which is still being dispersed and scattered throughout the woredas, it was not possible to access them for protection and response, it was only in September 2006 that ARRA and the Regional Government was able to provide UNHCR with a list of 6,130 potential beneficiaries. Further to negotiations with the Government, a more formal registration process, carried out in January-February 2007, allowed a UNHCR led joint mission with ARRA to carry out refugee screening and register 4,573 refugees (1,927 households).
Refugees are living together with the local community in 24 very remote and isolated locations, some of them as far away as 375 Km from the temporary assistance delivery points ARRA established at Barahle, Aba’ala, Dalool, Dubti Bure and Logiya. Under these circumstances, a significant number of refugees had to travel 1-4 days on foot and camel to be registered and collect food and NFI assistance. This region is known by its harsh climate with absence of rain most of the year and with temperatures above 40 to 45 °C.
Even if initially UNHCR strongly opposed the concentration of refugees in designated areas, further to discussions held on 28 February 2007 with the Regional Authorities,
ARRA, and WFP, it was concluded that it would be logistically simpler to assist, identify and administer and provide the refugees with better living conditions if they were requested to voluntarily relocate to two assistance distribution sites near Dubti and Barahle. UNHCR will open small offices in these two locations.3 The Afar Regional State (Afar: Qafar; Amharic: አፋር ክልል) is one of the nine regional states (kililoch) of Ethiopia, and is the homeland of the Afar people. Formerly known as Region 2, its new capital as of 2007 is the recently constructed city of Samara, which lies on the paved Awash–Assab highway. The Afar Triangle, the northern part of which is the Danakil Depression, is part of the Great Rift Valley of Ethiopia, and is located in the north of the region. It has the lowest point in Ethiopia and one of the lowest in Africa. The southern part of the region consists of the valley of the Awash River, which empties into a string of lakes along the Ethiopian-Djibouti border. Other notable landmarks include the Awash and Yangudi Rassa National Parks.Based on the 2017 projections by the Central Statistical Agency of Ethiopia (CSA), the Afar Regional State has a population of 1,812,002, consisting of 991,000 men and 821,002 women; urban inhabitants number 346,000 of the population, a further 1,466,000 were pastoralists. Based on the 2007 Census conducted by the Central Statistical Agency of Ethiopia (CSA), the Afar Regional State has a population of 1,390,273, consisting of 775,117 men and 615,156 women; urban inhabitants number 185,135 or 13.32% of the population, a further 409,123 or 29.43% were pastoralists. With an estimated area of 96,707 square kilometers, this region has an estimated density of 14.38 people per square kilometer. For the entire region 247,255 households were counted, which results in an average for the Region of 5.6 persons to a household, with urban households having on average 4 and rural households 6 people.5 Dalool is one of the woredas in the Afar Region of Ethiopia. This woreda is named for the former mining settlement of Dalool, which set the record for the hottest inhabited place on Earth, with an average temperature of 34° C. Located at the northernmost point of the Administrative Zone 2, Dalool's territory includes part of the Afar Depression. This woreda is bordered on the south by Koneba, on the west by the Tigray Region, on the north by Eritrea, and on the east and south by Barahle. Detailed information is not available for the settlements in this woreda.The average elevation in this woreda is 660 meters above sea level; high points include Mount Hayle and Mount Dabshado, which are part of the Ethiopian highlands. Rivers include the Ragali. As of 2008, Afambo has 150 kilometers of all-weather gravel road; about 22.33% of the total population has access to drinking water.6 To-date, Ethiopia is a host to, among others, 64,512 registered refugees of Eritrean Afar ethnic origin as at 30 September 2019. Out of this figure,14,291 are living with the host community in Dalool and Erebti woredas and the remaining refugees are hosted in two refugee camps of Aysaita and Barahle. 14,291 figures, reflects the refugee population a subject of just completed food assessment mission. It is worth noting that refugees and asylum seekers keep coming from Eritrea especially from last year following the opening of Ethio -Eritrean border hitherto.