UNHCR faces funding shortfall to meet COVID-19 related needs of refugees in Ethiopia

Ethiopia, Afar Regional State: sign indicating the Barahle refugee camp of the UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency. Camp for refugees and Eritrea asylum seekers (Photo by: Andia/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)
UNHCR Special Envoy Angelina Jolie dancing with young refugees who have just pursuaded her to join a performance put on by the young refugees at Heshima Kenya Girl Empowerment Project.
Heshima Kenya is the first organization in Kenya devoted to protecting unaccompanied minors and separated children and youth between the ages of 13 to 23 from Somalia, Ethiopia, DR Congo, Sudan, Rwanda, and Burundi, as they experience the highest rates of exploitation and abuse. Nearly 70% of the young women supported by Heshima Kenya report having experienced some form of sexual and gender-based violence, though this percentage is believed to be closer to 80% as most do not report these incidents.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) on Thursday said it’s facing a critical funding gap to meet the COVID-19 related needs of refugees in Ethiopia.

A monthly fact sheet published by UNHCR said it has only received 3.4 million U.S. dollars out of 34.7 million U.S. dollars required to meet the basic health, medical supplies as well as general COVID-19 preventive and response needs of refugees in Ethiopia.

“The funding shortfall coupled with delayed delivery of international procurement orders for Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs), medicines and medical supplies are among the key challenges hampering the response efforts,” said the UNHCR monthly fact sheet.

As of June 2020, the UNHCR has registered 766,563 refugees and asylum seekers in Ethiopia, most of whom are housed in refugee camps in six regional states.

Ethiopia currently hosts the second-largest refugee population in Africa, next to Uganda. Refugees in Ethiopia primarily come from Eritrea, South Sudan, Somalia, and Sudan, according to figures from the Ethiopian government.

Conflict and drought in neighboring countries continue to force people to seek refuge in Ethiopia, which has a long tradition of hosting refugees.

Ethiopia has also in recent years hosted an increasing number of refugees fleeing conflicts in Yemen and Syria.

Ethiopia’s confirmed COVID-19 cases reached 8,475 after 294 new COVID-19 positive cases were confirmed, the Ethiopian Ministry of Health (MoH) said on Wednesday evening.