Operation: Opération: Ethiopia



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Key Figures

2018 year-end results
230,990 out of 905,830 refugees underwent Level 3 registration and 170,930 were enrolled in UNHCR’s BIMS
203,900 refugee children were enrolled in refugee schools across all camps - a gross enrollment rate of 50.7%
1,120 refugee children were integrated into host community schools
52% of newly arrived Eritrean unaccompanied and separated children were placed in family-based alternative care
13.49% The Global Acute Malnutrition (GAM) prevalence rate was reduced amongst the South Sudanese refugee population to 13.49% below the emergency threshold of 15% compared to 23.5% in 2017
2019 planning figures
100% of households will have their basic and domestic items needs met
100% of people of concern registered at individual basis
80% of South Sudanese refugee households living in adequate dwellings 
400 IDP monitoring missions will be conducted

People of Concern Personnes relevant de la compétence du HCR

Increase in
2018 3,521,647
2017 1,970,983
2016 794,133


[["Refugees",903226],["Asylum-seekers",2153],["IDPs",2615800],["Returned refugees",16],["Others of concern",452]]
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2018 {"categories":[2014,2015,2016,2017,2018,2019],"budget":[283.71879953,311.641954085,279.32741856,330.548038811,327.75467587,346.50985898],"expenditure":[175.31367849,152.1095677,135.61655247,144.92837149,156.75668159,null]} {"categories":[2014,2015,2016,2017,2018,2019],"p1":[283.71879953,311.641954085,279.32741856,330.548038811,311.12581387,319.31354583],"p2":[null,null,null,null,null,null],"p3":[null,null,null,null,null,null],"p4":[null,null,null,null,16.628862,27.19631315]} {"categories":[2014,2015,2016,2017,2018,2019],"p1":[175.31367849,152.1095677,135.61655247,144.92837149,146.27876899,null],"p2":[null,null,null,null,null,null],"p3":[null,null,null,null,null,null],"p4":[null,null,null,null,10.4779126,null]}
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  • 2014
  • 2015
  • 2016
  • 2017
  • 2018
  • 2019

Operational context

The Government of Ethiopia maintained an open-door policy for refugees and asylum-seekers throughout 2018. Support was provided in drafting a revised Refugee Proclamation, which remained with Parliament for adoption at the end of the year. UNHCR also worked closely with the Government, as well as humanitarian and development partners to make progress towards the goals established by the Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework (CRRF).
The conditions that drove people in Eritrea, Somalia and South Sudan to claim asylum in Ethiopia persisted, leading to a continuous flow of refugees into the country throughout the year. More specifically, the historic re-opening of the border between Eritrea and Ethiopia, in September 2018, generated increased refugee movements.
Within Ethiopia, refugees are often located in some of the most severely drought-affected areas. In 2018, the country continued to grapple with adverse weather conditions, with competition over scarce resources and food insecurity resulting in the movement of people.
In addition to the refugee influx into the country, increased ethnic tensions and conflict resulted in an escalating situation of internal displacement inside the country. While humanitarian actors were generally able to operate freely, the operation did experience restricted access to IDPs in several locations, which hindered the provision of much needed humanitarian assistance. While some IDPs returned to their areas of origin, under less than optimal conditions, security incidents continued to hinder IDPs’ ability to return, as well as humanitarian access to existing IDP sites.

Population trends

At the end of 2018, Ethiopia hosted some 905,800 refugees and asylum-seekers, primarily from Eritrea, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan and Yemen. Refugees continued to arrive throughout the year, with some 36,100 new arrivals seeking safety and protection within the country’s borders.
During the course of the year, Ethiopia’s IDP population increased drastically from 1.7 million to 2.6 million people. As a result, UNHCR increased its engagement in the IDP response, establishing a field presence in IDP hosting areas, distributing core relief items, conducting protection monitoring and establishing additional regional protection clusters to reinforce the inter-agency response.

Key achievements

  • More than 10,600 vital events were registered, including some 8,750 births, 170 deaths, 1,460 marriages and 220 divorces. This follows the adoption of the Documentation Pledge in November 2017, one of the nine pledges made by the Government in line with the Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework (CRRF), which has enabled the inclusion of refugees within the national civil registration system; a key milestone in enhancing the protection environment in the country, that will help refugees gain access to basic services and opportunities for skills training and employment.
  • Progress in the rollout of Level 3 and the biometric identity management system (BIMS) registration provided increasingly reliable data on population variations and profiles, supporting an increasingly targeted approach to refugee assistance.
  • The refugee education management information system (REMIS) was successfully mainstreamed into the national system. An additional 800 refugees were enrolled in university education, bringing the total number of refugees in tertiary education to over 3,100.
  • The reduction of GAM prevalence amongst South Sudanese refugees was a result of improved immunization against preventable diseases, early diagnosis and treatment of childhood illness, and an integrated approach to the management of childhood diseases.
  • The operation continued to develop its strategic partnerships, with operational partnerships contributing some $97 million to address priority refugee needs. Partnerships with UNICEF, UNDP and UN Women were expanded in the context of the CRRF, with joint programming in WASH, education, community security and access to justice.

Unmet needs

  • Due largely to financial constraints and lack of access to affected locations, the most critical unmet needs in 2018 were related to the sudden increase in the IDP population. In spite of initial investments undertaken by UNHCR and partners, gaps remained in the response, including the establishment of referral pathways, site management support, shelter provision and replenishment of core-relief items.
  • Women and girls continued to be at risk of different types of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV), including physical violence and early marriages. More efforts are needed to enhance community-based protection for prevention and response to SGBV, while ensuring that men and boys play an active role in that respect.
  • Access to sustainable energy and furthering environmental protection remains an unmet priority. Access to clean and reliable domestic energy for cooking and lighting remains limited, requiring refugees to collect firewood and increasing protection risks. Only 4% of refugee households country-wide have access to fuel saving stoves, while only 34% of refugee households are provided with alternative domestic fuel.
  • Complementary feeding programmes for diabetic patients and supplementary foods and milk for vulnerable groups including those living with HIV and orphans were limited due to resource constraints.
  • The construction of additional transitional and permanent shelter in all camps remained limited, with some 131,200 households (54% of the total refugee population) in need of transitional shelter solutions.
  • While 19 of the 26 camps in Ethiopia met the minimum WASH standard of a maximum of 20 people per latrine, seven camps remained below this standard due to resource constraints.

Working environment

The Government of Ethiopia maintains its strong commitment to the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees and a favourable protection environment, which is characterized by many years of implementing an open-door policy towards refugees. With 27 refugee camps and a large number of refugees living in urban or settlement areas, Ethiopia is the second largest refugee operation in Africa with over 855,000 refugees from Eritrea, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan and Yemen, amongst others.
The commitments the Government of Ethiopia made at the Leader’s Summit in September 2016 present an unprecedented and unique opportunity for UNHCR and its partners to implement hitherto unchartered initiatives, such as the expansion of the policies on alternatives to camps and refugees in urban areas, local integration and access to work permits for refugees.
UNHCR's main Government counterpart and implementing partner to ensure protection of refugees in Ethiopia is the Administration for Refugee and Returnee Affairs (ARRA). ARRA has increased, and will further pursue, collaborative initiatives with other agencies, ministries and donors to ensure the complementary resources being received by the government, such as the Development Response to Displacement Impacts Project (DRDIP) and the World Bank’s International Development Associations 2018 sub-window, which will be effectively coordinated to improve the wellbeing of refugees as well as host communities. In addition, UNHCR works with some 40 partners, and is fully engaged in the Humanitarian Country Team. The Office will continue building on the well-established coordination fora such as the Refugee Task Force, and donor, NGO and inter-agency meetings at the field and in the camps.
In line with UNHCR Ethiopia’s multi-year and multi-partner planning strategy, the operation builds on current initiatives to rationalize existing partnerships and pursues new and more sustainable ones. On-going demarches with non-traditional partners in development such as the World Bank, are redoubled. Opportunities presented by the government of Ethiopia’s pledges, opportunities drawing from Ethiopia as one of the Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework (CRRF) roll-out countries and the related positive response from donors and development actors allow for the prioritization of interventions and allocation of resources within the framework of protection programming in 2018 and beyond.

Key priorities

UNHCR has developed comprehensive protection and solutions strategies for urban refugees and refugees from Eritrea, Somalia, South Sudan and Sudan. The strategic objectives are adapted to suit the specific situations and needs of each population group. Common priorities for 2018 are:
  • Preserving and enhancing the protection environment and living conditions for refugees and promotion of peaceful coexistence;
  • Strengthening refugee protection through the expansion of improved community-based and multi-sectorial child protection and SGBV programmes;
  • Strengthening access to basic services;
  • Expanding livelihoods opportunities;
  • Supporting the implementation of the Government’s commitments to expand long-term access to rights, services, and self-reliance opportunities, in line with the CRRF;
  • Contributing to building stronger linkages to local and national development related interventions;
  • Expanding access to solutions and legal pathways to protection and solutions, where feasible.
 In this respect, priorities include improving nutrition and food security, primary health care, alternative sources of household energy, livelihood opportunities and self-reliance and improvement of service delivery in the camps. The provision of cash-based interventions instead of certain core relief items is being expanded in the short term, and the delivery of targeted assistance is being piloted. Continuous registration and  collection of data pertaining to refugees is ongoing and expected to have been rolled out before 2018. The establishment of a legal framework for the implementation of the pledges through incorporation into a Refugee Regulation and possible amendment to the 2004 Refugee Proclamation is moving ahead in 2017.
Latest contributions
  • 17-JUL-2019
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  • 05-JUL-2019
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