EU reports stark increase in refugees
Following the opening up of the borders between Ethiopia and Eritrea, close to 15,000 Eritreans have crossed into Ethiopia contributing to the existing refugee pressure in the country, EU said this week.
From the 15,000, most came to stay in Ethiopia whereas the rest are either visiting relatives or are there to buy goods, according to a new report by the European Commission.
The EU report citing United Nation High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR’s) figures said that the daily arrival rate of Eritreans increased by more than four folds since the official opening up of the borders between the two countries on the first week of September. Conservative estimates also indicate that at least 500 Eritreans are crossing into Ethiopia, daily.
The combination of unchanged conditions inside Eritrea and the opening up of the border has led to a stark increase in refugee numbers, reads the statement. This brings the total number of Eritrean refugees in Ethiopia to 175,000–a large proportion of which is unaccompanied minors.
The situation remains fluid but the influx into Ethiopia is likely to continue and even increase. Humanitarian assistance and resources will need to be scaled-up to respond to the growing needs across all sectors and to reduce the inherent risks of onward migration, reads the statement.
In related news, following the opening up of the border between the two nations, towns along the two countries are seeing vibrant economic trade activities. For weeks, roads crossing into the two countries have been crowded with cars carrying goods.
Though formal trading activities between the two countries are still conducted in a small-scale level, the impact is affecting thousands.
A number of construction materials such as cement, precast concrete are now being exported to Eritrea. In addition, agricultural outputs including teff and red peppers are also a hot commodity. In return, electronic materials as well as clothes are being imported from Eritrea.
In relation to this, even though a formal currency exchange rate is yet to be set, traders are using their own parities. Currently, 1 Nakfa is said to be exchanged for 1.4 birr.