IOM has started to provide transport for Eritrean refugees registered at Ethiopia’s Endabaguna screening center to camps provided by the country’s Administration for Refugee and Returnee Affairs (ARRA) and UNHCR in Tigray region.
Since the border dispute between Ethiopia and Eritrea in 1998, which subsequently escalated into full-scale conflict in 2000, Ethiopia has continued to host and receive Eritrean refugees. Currently Ethiopia is hosting more than 76,000 Eritreans in four camps – Hitsatse, Adiharush, Mai Aini and Shimelbain in Tigray region.
In the last quarter of 2014 Eritrean refugee arrivals shot up to an average of 5,000 per month. This represented a dramatic increase from an average of 800 to 1,000 a month between 2010 and 2012 and 2,000 to 2,500 a month since March 2013.
In December 2014, ARRA and UNHCR asked IOM to urgently provide transport for the new arrivals from Endabaguna to the Tigray camps. The IOM Shire sub-office, which has been providing transport from the four camps since 2007 for refugee resettlement, immediately deployed buses, operations and medical staff to Endabaguna.
By January 15th, IOM had provided transport for 2,491 adults and 379 unaccompanied and separated children. IOM medical staff provided pre-departure medical screening and “fitness to travel” health assessments. It also provided water, high energy biscuits and operational escorts for all the refugees, as well as medical escorts for the most vulnerable, including pregnant/lactating women, children, the disabled and the elderly.