US Assistant Secretary Lauds Ethiopia’s Treatment of Refugees

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Addis Ababa 13 July 2014 (WIC) - The humanitarian assistance Ethiopia has been providing for refugees is admirable, United States Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration said.

According to the Administration for Refugee and Returnee Affairs (ARRA), the number of South Sudanese refugees has now exceeded 200,000.

United State Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration visited on Friday, July 11, 2014 shelters and camps for refugees in Gambella Regional State.

Assistant Secretary of State Anne Richard said on the occasion that the humanitarian assistance and protection Ethiopia has been providing for the refugees is commendable.

The Assistant Secretary said she was able to observe in her visit that the Ethiopian government is providing all the necessary support and protection for the refugees displaced by the conflict in South Sudan.

Richard added that she also had the chance to witness similar treatments given to refugees from Eritrea during her visit to Tigray Regional State.

The Assistant secretary, who noted that the borders of Ethiopia have been open to refugees, thanked the government and the people of Ethiopia for the assistance they are extending to refugees.

The official said she was very much depressed to see that 70 percent of the refugees were children and pledged that her government would continue supporting the refugees.

United Nations High Commission for Refugees Country Representative (UNHCR), Bornwell Katande, on his part said the policy of Ethiopia with regard to refugees is open and unrestricted.

Ethiopia has been accommodating large number of refugees from South Sudan, Somalia, Eritrea and other neighboring countries for the past two decades, he added.

At present, the country is providing the necessary assistance and protection for many South Sudanese refugees who fled the conflict, Katande pointed out, further urging the people and the government of Ethiopia to continue supporting the refugees.

According to Deputy Director of the Administration for Refugee and Returnee Affairs, Ayalew Aweke, more than 166,000 refugees have entered Gambella Regional State since December 15, 2013.

As a result over 200,000 refugees are cramped in the five shelters found in the regional state.

Since more than 1,000 refugees are still crossing over the border daily to Gambella the number could jump over 350,000 unless peace is restored quickly and food made available at the localities, the deputy director warned.

Chief Administrator of Gambella Regional State, Gatlwak Tut, said accommodating refugees is part and parcel of the laws and policy of the country.

The regional government will therefore provide humanitarian assistance and protection to the refugees until they return to their country, he added.

Assistant Secretary Anne Richard, US Ambassador to Ethiopia Patricia M. Haslach and representatives of international organizations visited on Friday, July 11, 2014, Kule 1 and 2 camps, and Fegag temporary shelters. ‏(ENA)