Operation: Opération: Ethiopia



By clicking on the icons on the map, additional information is displayed.
The boundaries and names shown and the designations used on this map do not imply official endorsement or acceptance by the United Nations.


Key Figures

2020 year-end results
13,000 best interest assessments were conducted for unaccompanied or separated children
2,120 household latrines were constructed
1,620 refugees were submitted for resettlement
98% of people of concern received >450 grams of soap per person per month to improve their hygiene as part of COVID-19 prevention measures
0.17 under-5 mortality rate per 1,000 population per month amongst Somali refugees
2021 planning figures
884,216 refugees and 2.3 million IDPs will receive assistance
20 litres of potable water per refugee per day will be available on average in refugee camps
100% of asylum-seekers and refugees will be biometrically registered using biometric identity management
90% of targeted refugee households in need will receive basic and domestic items
80% of targeted refugee households’ basic needs will be met through multi-purpose cash grants or vouchers
80% of targeted IDPs will be provided with protection support
75% of primary school-aged refugee children will be enrolled in primary education
20% of IDPs and IDP returnees will be reached through protection monitoring
15% Global acute malnutrition (GAM) levels will be brought below 15% for refugees

People of Concern Personnes relevant de la compétence du HCR

Decrease in
2020 3,536,536
2019 3,772,712
2018 3,521,647


[["Refugees",800464],["Asylum-seekers",1901],["IDPs",2733628],["Returned refugees",89],["Others of concern",454]]
Loading ...


< Back
2020 {"categories":[2016,2017,2018,2019,2020,2021],"budget":[279.32741856,330.54803881099997,327.75467587,346.50985897999993,385.11493858,338.13388353999994],"expenditure":[135.61655247,144.92837149000002,156.75668159,142.00976012,138.97906569999998,null]} {"categories":[2016,2017,2018,2019,2020,2021],"p1":[279.32741856,330.54803881099997,311.12581387,310.80953682999996,346.35774719,244.88501169],"p2":[null,null,null,null,null,null],"p3":[null,null,null,7,7,null],"p4":[null,null,16.628862,28.700322149999998,31.75719139,93.24887185]} {"categories":[2016,2017,2018,2019,2020,2021],"p1":[135.61655247,144.92837149000002,146.27876899,127.07320455,127.93726694,null],"p2":[null,null,null,null,null,null],"p3":[null,null,null,0.55513343,null,null],"p4":[null,null,10.4779126,14.38142214,11.041798759999999,null]}
Loading ...

  • 2014
  • 2015
  • 2016
  • 2017
  • 2018
  • 2019
  • 2020
  • 2021

Operational context

In January 2020, the Government of Ethiopia announced a change in asylum policy, moving away from granting prima facie refugee status for Eritrean nationals. Practical implementation remained challenging, resulting in constrained access to registration and documentation for an unknown number of Eritreans.

In April 2020, the Government declared a State of Emergency due to COVID-19, which included the temporary suspension of registration activities for new arrivals, and the closure of learning institutions, affecting 213,966 refugee children. Schools were re-opened in October after the Ministry of Education introduced new mandatory measures to mitigate the possible spread of the virus in schools.

Unprecedented flooding and new conflicts in the Southern Nations Nationalities and People’s Region, Tigray and Benishangul-Gumuz regions resulted in new internal displacement across the country. Ethiopia recorded 121,399 COVI9-19 infections and 1,937 related deaths amongst the general population. Security incidents between refugees and host communities in Gambella in May 2020 lead to the temporary suspension of humanitarian services.

In November 2020, conflict broke out in the Tigray Region, leading to the declaration of a six-month State of Emergency. Civilians were significantly affected and displaced within and outside the region; 53,819 refugees crossed the border into Sudan. Eritrean refugee camps in Tigray were directly affected. The inter-agency Contingency Plan for the Tigray emergency estimated that 2.1 million IDPs may have been displaced by the conflict. Monitoring in the refugee camps and hosting areas, and timely delivery of humanitarian assistance remained a huge challenge due to access issues and the prevailing insecurity.

Population trends

In 2020, UNHCR and the Administration for Refugee and Returnee Affairs (ARRA) jointly completed the individual comprehensive registration of 67,617 refugees and asylum-seekers.

Refugee flows into Ethiopia continued in 2020, with almost 26,400 people seeking safety and protection within the country’s borders, a majority from South Sudan. By the end of the year, the operation was host to some 802,355 refugees and asylum-seekers countrywide, 51% female and 60% children.
Ethiopia recorded over 1.8 million IDPs at the end of 2020, 68% of whom were displaced by conflict and 32% due to climate change-related events. This represented a 100,000 increase compared to 2019.

Key achievements

  • On 13 February 2020, Ethiopia’s House of Representatives ratified the 2009 Kampala Convention for the Protection and Assistance of Internally Displaced People in Africa.  
  • 26,272 IDP households received core relief items.
  • UNHCR continued to provide technical support to the Government to fulfil its commitments in relation to the Global Compact on Refugees and Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework implementation.
  • The ARRA issued residence and/or work permits to approximately 3,000 refugees in Ethiopia.
  • To improve access to adequate housing for refugees, 4,148 transitional shelters were constructed.
  • UNHCR rolled out the Digital Request and Complaint System, which improved communication between refugees, UNHCR and partners, and facilitated the continued provision of services during the COVID-19 pandemic, with enhanced fraud prevention measures.

Unmet needs

Overall needs of the operation were funded at 39% by the end of 2020. The situation in Gambella, the onset of the Tigray emergency, as well as the COVID-19 pandemic ushered in additional challenges and critical gaps in the response by the end of the year:
  • Only 9.2% of refugee households used alternative/renewable energy sources. This hampered environmental protection initiatives and peaceful co-existence efforts, affected the nutritional status of households and increased the risks of gender-based violence for women.
  • Livelihood interventions remained minimal due to limited funding, constraining refugee self-reliance, and increasing competition for limited opportunities and resources with host communities.
  • Global acute malnutrition amongst Somali refugees stood at 16.9%, a worrying statistic. Inadequate nutrition service outlets and limited staffing contributed to weak community mobilization, case identification and frequent recurrence of malnutrition in treated cases.

Use of flexible funding (unearmarked or softly earmarked funding)

  • Flexible funding enabled UNHCR to roll-out COVID-19 preparedness and prevention measures across the operation, including procurement and distribution of increased soap quantities, establishing 42,695 handwashing facilities in camps, training of over 2,500 health and community outreach workers, enhancing water supply, and procurement of  PPE, medicines and equipment for temporary assessment units.
  • The response to new arrivals from South Sudan at the Pagak Reception Centre in Gambella, including through the provision of life-saving assistance across health, water, sanitation, health, and shelter sectors was also made possible thanks to flexible funding.

Working environment

The political and security environment in Ethiopia remains comparatively stable and should provide a conducive working environment for UNHCR and other humanitarian actors in 2020.    
Ethiopia has a long-standing history of hosting refugees and maintains an open-door policy for refugees seeking protection in its territory. One of the original signatories to the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees, Ethiopia recently updated its existing national refugee proclamation, making it one of the most progressive in Africa. The new law introduces several new provisions that will facilitate refugees’ enjoyment of rights afforded to other foreign nationals residing in the country.
Continued insecurity, caused by conflict or scarcity of natural resources in neighbouring countries, has prompted sustained refugee movements into Ethiopia. Eritreans, South Sudanese, Sudanese and Yemenis, as well as Somalis originating from South and Central Somalia, are recognized as prima facie refugees, while nationals of other countries undergo individual refugee status determination.
During the past decade, Ethiopia has also been affected by internal displacement, with an estimated population of about 2.5 million IDPs, which has resulted in UNHCR gradually increasing its operational presence and response.
Ethiopia has well-established refugee response and coordination processes in place, based on the Refugee Coordination Model and anchored in a solid framework of refugee law and procedure. The refugee response in Ethiopia unites 54 operational partners, including the Government’s Agency for Refugees and Returnees Affairs (ARRA), supported by UNHCR in coordination with UN agencies, as well as international and national NGOs. In addition, UNHCR engages in the interagency Refugee Coordination Group and in various sector working groups.

Key priorities

In 2020, UNHCR will provide protection and assistance to 751,400 refugees and asylum-seekers from Eritrea, Somalia, South Sudan and Sudan, in addition to other nationalities that reside in the urban areas. In addition, UNHCR helps provide protection and assistance to an estimated 2.5 million IDPs in Ethiopia.
A comprehensive protection and solutions strategy has been developed for registered refugees in the country. Under this strategy, UNHCR’s core common objectives in 2020 include: 
  • Preserving and enhancing the protection environment and living conditions for refugees, while promoting the peaceful coexistence of refugees and host communities;
  • Strengthening refugee protection by expanding improved community-based and multi-sectorial child protection and sexual and gender-based violence programmes and strengthening access to basic services.
  • Expanding labour opportunities and supporting implementation of the Government’s Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework pledges to expand refugees’ access to rights, services and self-reliance opportunities in the longer-term. This is in line with the Global Compact on Refugees;
  • Developing links to local and national development interventions and expanding access to solutions and legal migration pathways.
To respond to internal displacement, UNHCR will:
  • Expand protection monitoring to additional areas affected by internal displacement and areas of return.
  • Provide technical protection expertise to support development initiatives, creating conditions conducive to the sustainable reintegration of returning IDPs.
  • Expand and develop community-based, tailored approaches to IDPs’ protection needs.
  • Provide protection leadership within the UN Country Team’s Durable Solutions Working Group and the Federal IDP Durable Solution Working Group.
  • Advocate the ratification of the Kampala Convention and provide the Government with technical support to do so.
  • Distribute core relief items and carry out emergency shelter interventions to IDPs.
Latest contributions
  • 15-OCT-2021

    private donors

  • Germany
  • 14-OCT-2021
  • Qatar

    private donors

  • 12-OCT-2021

    private donors

  • Ireland
  • Italy

    private donors

  • 09-OCT-2021

    private donors

  • 08-OCT-2021
  • Japan

    private donors

  • 06-OCT-2021
    United States of America

    private donors

  • 05-OCT-2021

    private donors

  • Germany
  • 04-OCT-2021

    private donors

  • 01-OCT-2021

    private donors

  • Germany
  • 30-SEP-2021

    private donors

  • Switzerland

    private donors

  • Brazil

    private donors

  • Philippines

    private donors