Refugees and asylum-seekers from Eritrea to Tigray Region in Northern Ethiopia

Refugees and asylum-seekers from Eritrea to Tigray Region in Northern Ethiopia

Objectives

Assessment for each PPG

Current Situation and Achievements to date

The Shire operation has a registered Eritrean refugee population of 94,420 as of 31 January 2015. Majority of the refugees consist of young adult male between the ages of 17 to 45 years of age.

Women constitute 23% of the total population while children make up 17% majority being unaccompanied and separated children (UASC).

The refugees are hosted mostly in four camps with some residing outside under the ‘Out–of-Camp” Policy. Others are suspected to be living outside the camp without authorization.
Over 20 entry points and eight reception facilities are maintained along the Eritrean Ethiopia border/ Endabaguna. Main focus is on the protection, provision of basic services and identification of durable solutions in all refugee camps including responding to the influx of Eritrean refugees.

UNHCR received on average 5,000 persons per month during the last quarter of 2014. The numbers have slightly reduced to less 4,000 in the first three months of 2015. In 2014, UNHCR registered over 33,000 new arrivals. 214 additional refugees received ID cards in Shimelba camp in 2014. Total ID cards issued in Shimelba is 3,967. In Mai-Aini, Adi-Harush and Hitsats camps, no ID cards were issued. The Government of Ethiopia (GoE) suspended the activity pending revalidation exercise.

1,117 Refugee students benefitted from the government scholarships to study at various universities in Ethiopia. While 67 students graduated in 2014 from different universities, 347 new students enrolled at university in 2014. All women and girls in the reproductive ages (Mai-Aini, Adi-Harush, Hitsats and Shimelba) received full package of sanitary materials.

Transfer of over 33,000 asylum seekers from the border entry-points to Endabaguna screening centre and the camps was done in 2014. Reception conditions at Endabaguna were.

Over 700 refugees graduated from the vocational training in 2014. Some were given start up kits while others were hired to construct refugee shelters in the camps. UNHCR submitted 1,070 for resettlement, surpassing the target of 850 individuals (100 unaccompanied children (UAC)). Majority of the cases are survivors of violence and torture, women and girls at risk, children at risk and refugees with medical needs. Of the 1,070 refugees, 120 were UAC. A total of 921 departed for resettlement to the USA, Canada, Australia and France.

Child protection interventions were improved through implementation of a number of care options, including community care, kinship care foster care, independent living etc. Expeditious relocation of the unaccompanied and separated children (UASC) were pursued from Endabaguna reception centre to the camps. Services at the Child Friendly Space and Early Childhood Care and Development (ECCD) centres improved in Mai-Aini, Shimelba, Hitsats and Adi-Harush with additional support received from special funds and UNICEF. Inter-Agency Child Protection Information Management system (CPIMS) was established in Mai-Aini camp and it is being piloted with an aim to further extend the plan to all camps. Community-Based Child Protection and Child Participation mechanisms are established in all camps. More shelters for UASC were constructed in 2014. Additional human resources were deployed to Shire in 2014 from Save the Children and UNICEF Ethiopia to strengthen the child protection monitoring and delivery of services.

Improvements were made to 104 shelters; 482 permanent shelters were constructed (427 in Hitsats, 55 Mai-Aini) in 2014. Water systems were expanded to meet the demand of the increase in the refugee population in Hitsats and Adi-Harush. Refugees in Shimelba, Hitsats and Mai-Aini received 20 litres per person per day. While in Adi-Harush refugees received 16 litres per person per day. UNHCR provided core relief items to all the new arrivals and those who required special attention. 

Strategy for each PPG

Protection and Solutions Strategy (comprehensive)

• UNHCR will continue to provide protection and assistance to the Eritrean refugee and asylum seekers.

• Renovation/Improvement of the facilities (shelter, schools, sanitation, health etc.) in Shimelba and Hitsats will be given priority.

• Continuous registration, including through food distribution monitoring, will be prioritized in 2015 in order to monitoring the trends in population movements. In 2016-17 the “on-site biometric verification the point of distribution” will further facilitate and streamline this process.• The Government of Ethiopia (GoE) and UNHCR will improve on the level of individual documentation by issuing ID cards to all refugees aged 14 and above, and attestation letter as proof of registration if required  for refugees under 14 years of age.

• UNHCR will continue advocating with the GoE for issuance of birth certificates to new born babies. 

• Child protection activities will be enhanced across the operation through strengthening community based child protection mechanisms with direct support from the High Commissioner special project and other donors. 

• UNHCR will dedicate increased resources to awareness-raising, monitoring and tracking of secondary movements, direct assistance to survivors of trafficking, and increased livelihoods to combat the underlying causes of secondary movement. UNHCR has identified four key areas aimed at better understanding and strengthening the protection of refugees at risk of secondary migration, smuggling and trafficking:

  1. Data collection and analysis where initial strengthening of existing mechanisms will include (but not be limited to): Recalibration of camp population data through monthly   food distribution monitoring;
  2. Communication, sensitization campaigns on Secondary migration, smuggling and trafficking where a holistic campaign would be required to successfully target the issue of smuggling and trafficking in the region;
  3. Solutions and Alternatives through support initiatives for increased educational opportunities including primary, secondary and tertiary and develop new proposals for increased income-generation projects, livelihoods initiatives in the camps;
  4. Access to justice and psychosocial care and support for victims where numerous persons of concern are returned to the camps in the Shire region following deportation from second countries or return upon capture in other regions of Ethiopia.
• UNHCR will continue to use resettlement as one of the durable solutions and protection tool to address the protection needs of the most vulnerable refugees.

• UNHCR will continue to advocate for alternative solutions including issuance of humanitarian visas, sponsorship, scholarships and work visas for the highly skilled refugees.

• Building peaceful coexistence with the hosting communities including provision of alternative sources of energy and sustainable livelihoods projects will be pursued both for refugees and host communities.

• UNHCR will work with partners to see livelihoods and income generating activities/opportunities improved in the Shire camps. Efforts are being made to link vocational skills training to livelihood opportunities including small scale income generating activities leading to self-reliance.

• UNHCR will work together with the Government of Ethiopia to improve on the “Out-of-Camp” Policy programme for the Eritrean refugees. UNHCR will strengthen the preparedness and response to any potential emergency from Eritrea. Contingency plans will be updated regularly, early warning systems will be established to monitor the movements at the border and the task force established in late 2014 will coordinate all matters relating to the new arrivals.

• UNHCR will ensure that reception arrangements meet minimum standards and that effective and efficient procedures are in place with the GoE to identify, register document and provide assistance to persons of concern in camps and transit facilities.

• UNHCR will evaluate cash and voucher pilot project in Adi-Harush in 2015 with possibility of expansion in 2016 and 2017.

Prioritized Results

Addressing the lifesaving basic needs and essential services will be given due attention to ensure the life of refugees and asylum seekers in all camps.

Continuous registration and issuance of ID cards in all camps will be conducted.

Ensuring that the reception facilities meet the minimum requirements of humanitarian response starting from the entry to the territory of the country will be also pursued.

UNHCR will incorporate donor earmarking from onset of the planning.

Objectives linked to the Global Strategic Priorities will be prioritized fully or partially for 2016-2017 interventions.

UNHCR will promote more resettlement opportunities by expanding the pool of resettlement countries in 2016 and 2017.

Vocational skills training with linkage to income generation activities will pursued.

Strengthening the protection of refugees at risk of secondary migration, smuggling and trafficking will be pursued.

Provision of sanitary kits, soap and core relief items (blankest and sleeping mats only) for new arrivals will be ensured.

Unmet Needs

Shelter: Shelter remains one of the key challenges in the Shire refugee operation with only 25% of the needs covered within the given resources. The demand is huge, especially for the new arrivals. Rebuilding of shelters in Shimelba camp, which was established in 2004 is the top priority list for the Shire operation where the refugee shelters are on the verge of collapse. UNHCR is unable to provide building materials to refugees to reconstruct their own housing due to lack of funding. Teacher’s house within the school compounds is another unmet need and a cause for high turnover of teachers. The current resources will not be able to fund for the construction of houses for lack of adequate funding.

Child Protection: Children make up 17% of total refugee population in Shire with majority being unaccompanied children (UAC). Housing for the children and adequate care arrangements can only be partially addressed within the given resources.

Secondary Movement: The Shire operation has identified four key areas aimed at better understanding and strengthening the protection of refugees at risk of secondary migration, smuggling and trafficking. The interventions include (1) working towards implementing an improved data collection and analysis system, (2) communication, sensitization campaigns on secondary migration, smuggling and trafficking, (3) increased income-generation projects and livelihoods initiatives in the camps, and (4) access to justice and psychosocial care and support for victims will require a lot of funding which though a priority for the operation can only be partially addressed within the given resources.

Core relief items (CRIs) for new arrivals are only partially met within the current resources. With the estimated 35,000 expected to arrive in 2016 into the Tigray region of Ethiopia, UNHCR has only been able to accommodate some of the CRIs within the given resources (blankets and sleeping mats). All the other CRIs required for the new arrivals including jerry cans, mosquito nets, etc. have all been placed above the current resources.

The Tigray region is known for its poor vegetation with mostly rocky and little arable land. Mai-Aini and Adi-arush camps are connected to the grid but with frequent power interruptions. The refugees find themselves resorting to harvesting fuel wood in the surrounding areas, with consequences of environmental degradation, sexual violence and conflict with the host community. Moreover, in camps like Hitsats and Shimelba, there is no power supply from the national grid. Lack of alternative sources of energy is a big unmet need in the Shire operation.

The majority of the Eritrean refugees are young adults aged between 18 years to 45 years. Many of the refugees have expressed the desire to be engaged in livelihood activities as a means to be usefully occupied as they are not allowed formal employment in Ethiopia. There are also many young women who are subjected to SGVB. Even though there are some efforts to organize graduates to start production through provision of start-up toolkits, this initiative has not gone far due to limited resources coupled with inappropriate market linkages.

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