IRC meets urgent water needs in Ethiopia’s refugee camps
Drought and continuing unrest in Somalia are driving thousands of refugees across the border into Ethiopia. In early May, the IRC met with partners including the U.N. refugee agency (UNHCR), the Ethiopian Administration for Refugee and Returnee Affairs (ARRA) and local officials, to discuss site selection for a camp to accommodate the continuous influx of refugees. Ethiopia already hosts nearly 60,000 refugees in two camps—Bokolmayo and Melkadida—in its southern Somali Region.
The new camp, expected to open in June with capacity for 20,000 refugees, will be located at Kobe, 6.5 kilometers from the Melkadida camp, where the IRC has built a permanent water system with 25 water points for the refugee community and three for the adjacent host community. The IRC also runs eight water-tank trucks to and from Bokolmayo camp daily, providing nine liters of water per person per day.
The IRC plans to run water trucks to the new Kobe camp until permanent water systems are established there and in Bokolmayo.
“A third camp in this region is urgently needed,” said David Murphy, the IRC’s country director in Ethiopia. “In April, the number of refugees from Somalia was up a staggering 280 percent from the same month last year.”
ARRA and regional government representatives have expressed great satisfaction with the IRC’s work thus far in Melkadida and Bokolmayo. “The IRC will work in partnership with the Ethiopian government and other nongovernmental organizations to ensure that the needs of the new arrivals are met,” Murphy said.