Established in April 2018, UNHCR’s direct implementation Urban Cash Programme has historically served, on average, 2,000 refugee households per month. Generally, these refugees were previously living in rural camps but due to their special circumstances, related to health, protection concerns or security risks were relocated to Addis Ababa. The programme also included Yemeni, Iraqi and Syrian refugees, who don’t have designated refugee camps in Ethiopia.
In 2021, however, as conditions in the Tigray region rapidly deteriorated for Eritrean refugees, thousands made the decision to self-relocate to Addis Ababa. At first, around 7,000 refugees arrived from Hitasts and Shimelba camps in the North that were eventually destroyed, followed by another 15,000 refugees from the camps of Mai Aini and Adi Harush. In response, from August 2021 to November 2021, the Refugees and Returnees Service (RRS) and UNHCR registered and temporarily enrolled 20,000 self-relocated Eritrean refugees into the Urban Cash Programme.
The first wave of self-relocated refugees was provided a cash-grant equivalent to 6 months, while the second wave, due to limited resources, was provided with a cash-grant equivalent to 3 months of assistance.