Funding shortages are aggravating the plight of over 100,000 refugees from Somaliland who have sought shelter in eastern Ethiopia, a region already grappling with drought and displacement, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
The UNHCR’s 2023 program to assist refugees in the Somali region of Ethiopia was estimated to require at least USD 116 million in funding two months ago. However, donors have only raised two percent of that amount so far.
Since fighting broke out between Somaliland security forces and armed groups in Laascaanood city in February, over 100,000 residents have fled the area to Ethiopia’s Somali region.
The urgency of providing life-saving supplies like medicine, water and food to the displaced people has been hampered by a lack of funding for the responsible refugee agencies.
“More people are arriving in the country every day, and funding shortfalls are seriously impeding our response on the ground,” the statement by the UNHCR reads. The Agency added that it is diverting funds from other areas as the situation deteriorates, and insufficient resources are hampering humanitarian efforts.
In Mirqaan camp in Doolo Zone, which is sheltering refugees, 20,000 displaced people have been relocated by the Refugees and Returnees Service (RRS) and UNHCR. According to the Agency’s statement, refugees at the site are now receiving services for water distribution and sanitation.
Host communities in the zone are sheltering about 80 percent of the refugees, with some staying with Ethiopian families. “Others are sheltering under trees, facing risks from animals, robbery and gender-based violence,” the UNHCR said, highlighting their precarious situation.
Despite a small percentage of shelters being available, several people are reportedly crowded into prepared facilities and sleeping in open areas.
“Ethiopia is facing multiple emergencies amid critical funding shortfalls. The East African country is struggling to keep up with the ever-growing needs of displaced people across the country,” the UNHCR says.