ADDIS ABABA, FEBRUARY 1 – The Italian Government has granted one million Euros to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in support of the protection and assistance needs of ethnic Afar Eritrean refugees in Ethiopia. The funds made available through the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation (AICS) will be used in the next 24 months, with a focus on improving the living conditions of Eritrean refugees and the host communities in and around Barahle and Aysaita refugee camps in the Afar Regional State.
The Italian Ambassador to Ethiopia, H.E. Arturo Luzzi, reaffirmed Italy’s commitment to work closely with the Ethiopian Authorities and the UN refugee agency to support and assist the refugees in the Afar Regional State.
The UNHCR Representative in Ethiopia, Ms. Clementine Nkweta-Salami, thanked the Government and people of Italy for their generous and continued support to the refugees in Ethiopia. The funds, she said, would help protect and ensure the dignity of the Eritrean refugees in the two camps, with a focus on women and children who make up 79% of the camps’ population.
The Head of the Addis Ababa Office of the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation, Mr. Tiberio Chiari, stressed that through the Italian contribution, UNHCR will implement strategic activities aimed at facilitating access to energy, supporting the protection of natural resources and environment, and improving sanitation, hygiene, and access to drinkable water for the vulnerable population.
Ethiopia is host to the second largest refugee population in Africa, sheltering more than 900,000 registered refugees and asylum seekers, mainly from South Sudan, Eritrea and Somalia. Thousands of refugees have made their way to eastern Ethiopia across Eritrea’s porous southern borders in recent years. The Afars, a tightly knit Muslim minority that has long made their home in one of the most inhospitable corners of Africa, are determined to keep it and the culture that sustains them. In the 19th century, European colonial powers and a rising Ethiopian empire carved up the parched lands of this proud warrior people, largely for their strategic location on the Red Sea. Now, like the Kurds, they are divided among three countries — Ethiopia, Djibouti, and Eritrea. (@OnuItalia)