UNHCR Ethiopia: Fact Sheet (February 2019)

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Ethiopia is host to the second largest refugee population in Africa, sheltering 905,831 registered refugees and asylum seekers as of 31 August 2018.

More than 300,000, individuals, representing 35% of the current refugee population in Ethiopia, have gone through the comprehensive (L3) registration, helping to develop a system to better manage and support refugees through the new Comprehensive Refugee Response approach.

As a Cluster lead for Protection, CCCM and co-lead for Shelter, UNHCR continues to be actively participating in the humanitarian response to the IDPs situation in Gedeo and West Guji, supporting the authorities with site management and the co-ordination of responses to protection needs. UNHCR is also providing emergency kits to the displaced people.

UNHCR PRESENCE Staff: 389 national staff, 133 international staff (including JPOs) 244 individual contractors; 37 deployees & IUNVs

Offices: 1 Branch Office in (Addis Ababa), 5 Sub-Offices - Melkadida, Gambella, Shire, Assosa and Jijiga, 3 Field Offices -Tongo, Pugnido and Mekelle.

FUNDING (AS OF 25 FEBRUAR 2019): USD 346.5 M requested for Ethiopia

Working with Partners

  • UNHCR's main government counterpart to ensure the protection of refugees in Ethiopia is the Agency for Refugees and Returnees Affairs (ARRA). In addition, UNHCR works in close coordination with 54 humanitarian partners and is part of the Humanitarian Country Team in Ethiopia, where refugee programmes are discussed strategically to ensure the needs of refugees are adequately presented and addressed across the UN System. UNHCR is also building on a well-established coordination fora, including the inter-sector Refugee Coordination Group, together with national and regional sector working groups. As part of the Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework (CRRF),
    UNHCR is furthering partnerships with line ministries, regional and local authorities, as well as development partners.

Main Activities


  • UNHCR has become a member of the National Anti-Trafficking Task Force, which is chaired by the Attorney General’s Office and reports to the Anti-Trafficking Council under the auspices of the Office of the Prime Minister.

  • The SGBV e-learning Level 1 online course has been introduced as a mandatory course to all UNHCR staff in Ethiopia.


  • Preliminary data for the 2018/19 academic year show total of 196,350 refugee students have been enrolled in Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) (55,735), primary (126,383), secondary (11,123) and tertiary (3,109) levels of education. Gaps in the provision of education include a lack of available classroom space and trained teachers, and scholastic materials, including books, libraries, ICT centres and laboratory facilities and supplies. Over 300 refugee teachers are currently enrolled in teachers’ training colleges and are expected to help address the shortage of qualified teachers upon graduation.


  • The crude and under-five child mortality rates in all camps stand at 0.10 deaths/1000/month which in both cases are within the expected range. The health service utilization is 1.10 new visits/refugee/year which is again within the standard range of 1 – 4. Child birth with the help of skilled healthcare professionals was kept at 97% against the standard of greater than 90%. There is 100% coverage of Prevention of Mother to Child transmission of HIV (PMTCT) in the refugee operation. During the reporting period, an outbreak of measles have been declared in Bokolmanyo Wereda of Somali region with 45 suspected cases reported from Bokolmanyo, Kobe and Melkadida towns and two suspected cases from Bokolmanyo camp. The Woreda outbreak response team has been activated and UNHCR is actively participating in the coordination and response mechanisms.

Food Security and Nutrition

  • The amount of general ration provided to refugees remained less than the minimum requirement of 2,100 Kcal per person per day, ranging from 1,737 Kcal in Gambella, Melkadida, Assosa and Jijiga to 1,920 Kcal in camps in the Afar and Tigray regions. The global acute malnutrition (GAM) rate in 21 refugee camps is below the emergency threshold of 15%, with 12 camps achieving the UNHCR target of 10%. Nutrition products for the treatment of severe acute malnutrition have been prepositioned in all hosting locations in the country.

Water and Sanitation

  • 12 million litres of water were supplied across the regions in Ethiopia hosting refugees, with eight of the 26 refugee camps meeting the minimum standard of 20 litres of water per person per day (lppd). This is down from 12 camps previously as the quantity of water supplied to camps under Sub-Office Melkadida dropped significantly due to reduction in the water level of the nearby river owing to the dry season. 18 of the 26 refugee camps have met the minimum standard of ‘maximum of 20 persons per latrine’ while seven camps are still below the minimum standards.


  • UNHCR and its partners are working with a target to construct 40,000 transitional shelters in different refugee camps in 2019, covering 30.5% of the identified 131,185 shelter gaps. Shelter prototypes are being produced in line with the relevant guidelines which form part of the implementation modalities of the 2017-2020 National Shelter Strategy.

Cash-Based Interventions

  • Following the successful piloting and subsequent positive assessment results of the cash based interventions (CBI) in camps around Jijiga, UNHCR is working to scale up the use of cash to the other locations. Cash will be used in lieu of a range of in-kind aid supplies including, non-food aid items, shelter materials, livelihoods, cooking energy Education and nutritional support. Cash shall also be used to respond to the ongoing Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) situation as well as reintegration support for Ethiopian refugees who may voluntarily return to their country.

Camp Coordination and Camp Management

  • UNHCR and ARRA work in close coordination with partners to ensure efficient and coordinated delivery of protection and assistance to refugees. Camp coordination meetings and technical working groups take place both at the zonal and camp levels.

Access to Energy

  • UNHCR continues to seek solutions to ensure refugees’ access to energy while strengthening environmental protection activities in and around the refugee camps. The target for 2019 is to improve access to cooking energy from 13% to 20% of the households while street lights coverage will grow to 50% from 44% of the camps presently. 90% of the refugee households have access to domestic lighting. Two additional camps will be connected to the national electricity grid (5 are already connected) and four more solar mini-grids installed, making a total of 12 solar mini-grids servicing the health centers and water schemes. Over 1 million trees will be raised and planted as part of the environmental rehabilitation effort.

Community Empowerment and Self-Reliance

  • UNHCR held the first livelihoods sector coordination meeting with the participation of strategic partners including the WB, WFP, FAO, GIZ, DRC, LWF and ZOA. Both development and humanitarian partners have recognized the importance and urgency of establishing a sector coordination mechanism at national level, taking into consideration the compendium of existing and pipeline investments for economic inclusion activities in refugee hosting areas. UNHCR is currently supporting the Government of Ethiopia with the review and development of secondary legislations that will operationalize the rights enshrined in the revised refugee proclamation.

Durable Solutions

  • Providing resettlement opportunities remains a top priority, as conditions for voluntary repatriation are unfavourable for most refugees in Ethiopia and local integration programs are yet to be put in place. In 2019, UNHCR plans to submit 3,000 refugees for resettlement. As of 28 February, 177 individuals have been submitted to the Regional Service Centre in Nairobi, Kenya, for onward submission to resettlement countries. In addition, 15 persons have been processed for Family Reunification while 487 have gone to Italy as part of the ‘Humanitarian Corridor’ since the programme started in late 2017.