The International organization for Migration (IOM) is set to begin building the first transitional shelters for South Sudanese refugees in Gambella region, Ethiopia.
The nearly 900 transitional shelters will be built later this month in the new Nguenyyiel camp, which opened in September 2016, to accommodate roughly 4,400 people.
The camp currently hosts 27,620 refugees who fled South Sudan due to a conflict which shows no signs of ending soon. Transitional shelters represent a significant upgrade from the more basic emergency shelters currently being used by refugees in the camp, which are mostly covered by plastic sheeting that makes the interiors unbearably hot during the current dry season.
The transitional shelters will be built using local techniques and materials, with the refugees themselves playing a large part in the building process. The livelihoods of the refugees and the communities hosting them will be supported through the construction phase. The new shelters will be a significant improvement on previous emergency shelters.
“Upgrading the shelters used by refugees in Nguenyyiel camp has been identified as a key need by IOM, our partners, and the refugees themselves. The new transitional shelters and the ongoing relocations are vital in our ongoing efforts in managing the inflow of South Sudanese refugees into Gambella in a way that really responds to the needs of refugees,” said Miriam Mutalu, the Head of IOM Ethiopia’s Sub-Office in
Gambella. “The journey the refugees take to reach Ethiopia is a long and dangerous one, which is why IOM’s assistance on this side of the border is so important,” she added.
Construction of the transitional shelters is part of IOM’s response to the Gambella refugee flow supported by the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DFID). DFID funding also allows IOM to relocate refugees at the South Sudan-Ethiopia border to camps in Gambella by either bus or boat, in a safe and dignified way. The relocations happen after IOM medical teams conduct screening and referrals at the entry points used by refugees.
In 2016, IOM provided pre-departure medical screening and evacuations to 53,240 refugees in Gambella.
IOM’s shelter and relocation efforts are carried out with the invaluable support of the Government of Ethiopia via the Administration for Refugee and Returnee Affairs (ARRA) and the Gambella Regional Disaster Prevention and Food Security Agency (DPFSA).