UNHCR: Transfer of Eritreans to safer camp begins
This is a summary of what was
said by UNHCR spokesperson Jennifer Pagonis - to whom quoted text may be
attributed - at the press briefing, on 28 May 2004, at the Palais des Nations
UNHCR has started transferring Eritrean refugees
from a makeshift camp in Ethiopia, where they have lived for four years, to a
safer camp further inside the country where we can provide better assistance.
This week, we moved the first 2,400 refugees from the Wa'la Nhibi site to a new
camp at Shimelba. In total, we plan to move all 7,466 Eritreans from the
UNHCR is spending $800,000 USD on the move and on
the new camp, where we are developing water supplies, shelter, health centres
and schools. Eritrean asylum-seekers continue to arrive in Ethiopia at the rate
of 250 per month, and we expect the population of Shimelba to climb to 9,000.
The Eritreans fled to northern Ethiopia after a
border war broke out between Eritrea and Ethiopia in May 2000. The site where
they chose to settle, Wa'la Nhibi in the Tigray Region, is not far from Badme,
a flashpoint in the confrontation between the two countries.
The new camp is safer as it is some 50 kilometres
from the border, as required by UNHCR rules and international agreements.
On an unrelated matter, we have also begun
registering Sudanese refugees at Bamboudie camp in Ethiopia as the first step
towards their possible return home if a comprehensive final peace accord is
signed to end the 21-year-long civil war in South Sudan. UNHCR, 28 May