World Video | Defence | Foreign Affairs | Natural Events | Trade | NZ in World News | NZ National News Video | NZ Regional News | Search


Over 80 Per Cent of Somali Refugees in Ethiopia Are Children

New York, Sep 6 2011 1:10PM

Children are bearing the brunt of the Horn of Africa crisis and constitute the majority of all Somali refugees in neighbouring Ethiopia, the United Nations reported today.

The latest demographic data shows that people under the age of 18 account for 80 per cent of the 121,000 refugees in four camps in the Dollo Ado area of south-eastern Ethiopia, according to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

In Kobe camp, children comprise 88.6 per cent of the estimated refugee population of more than 25,000. Most families are female-headed households with large numbers of children, including young relatives or orphans, Adrian Edwards, a spokesperson for UNHCR, told reporters in Geneva.

“We remain concerned about the high mortality rates due to severe acute malnutrition and diseases,” he said. “Also worrying is the number of separated or unaccompanied children.”

The number of unaccompanied children could be as high as 2,500 in the four camps in Ethiopia. “We are carrying out a screening this week in refugee camps in Dollo Ado to better understand the scope of the problem and determine what may be in the best interest of these children,” Mr. Edwards added.

Women in the camps have told UNHCR staff that it is not safe for Somali men to travel because they feared that armed group might forcibly conscript them. Men have also been opting to remain in their villages in Somalia to protect whatever property their families may have, care for those too sick to travel and to tend to any remaining livestock.

“Some families simply have no means for everyone to travel together, so women and children are sent first. However, over the past few weeks our staff have observed that there are more single men arriving from Somalia to join their families,” said Mr. Edwards.

Meanwhile, UNHCR continues to provide other relief items to people receiving food aid from other agencies in the famine-stricken areas of southern Somalia.

“We are preparing to distribute 7,500 emergency assistance packages consisting of plastic sheets, sleeping mats, blankets, jerry cans and kitchen utensils for nearly 50,000 people in the Bay region, where famine has just been declared,” said Mr. Edwards.

An estimated 70,000 people will be assisted in Lower Shabelle, which is also in a state of famine, while more than 50,000 people will be reached through distributions in Mogadishu and 30,000 in the Gedo and Lower Juba areas.

By the end of August, UNHCR had reached almost 220,000 people with emergency relief and aims to assist an additional 180,000 by the end of this month.

According to UNHCR Somalia representative, Bruno Geddo, it is crucial that aid be distributed in large amounts and as quickly as possible inside Somalia to maintain the recent downward trend in the number of refugees arriving in Ethiopia and Kenya.

Mr. Geddo, who recently visited Dollow on the Somalia-Ethiopian border and Mogadishu, said that internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Somalia had expressed to him their desire to remain in their own country rather than cross the border in search of assistance.

Sep 6 2011 1:10PM

For more details go to UN News Centre at

Follow us on Facebook ( and Twitter (

© Scoop Media

World Headlines


UN News: Landmark G7 Agreement Pledges 870 Million COVID-19 Vaccine Doses, Half By End-2021

A senior UN official welcomed on Sunday, the Group of Seven (G7) leading industrialized nations’ commitment to immediately share at least 870 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines, supporting global access and helping to end the acute phase of the pandemic... More>>

OECD: G20 GDP Returns To Pre-pandemic Level In The First Quarter Of 2021, But With Large Differences Across Countries

Gross domestic product (GDP) of the G20 area returned to pre-pandemic level in the first quarter of 2021, growing by 0.8% compared with the fourth quarter of 2020. However, this figure conceals large differences across countries... More>>

Myanmar: ‘Mass Deaths’ Alert As 100,000 Flee Junta’s Heavy Weapons

In Myanmar, international action is needed urgently to prevent “mass deaths” there, after civilians fled attacks by so-called “junta bombs”, a top independent UN rights expert has warned... More>>

Focus On: UN SDGs

UN: Tackling Biodiversity & Climate Crises Together And Their Combined Social Impacts

Unprecedented changes in climate and biodiversity, driven by human activities, have combined and increasingly threaten nature, human lives, livelihoods and well-being around the world... More>>

G7: No Major G7 Stock Index Aligned With Paris Climate Goals

New research by CDP and the United Nations Global Compact on behalf of the Science Based Targets initiative calls on the largest G7 companies to take ambitious climate action... More>>

Report: Universal Access To Sustainable Energy Will Remain Elusive Without Addressing Inequalities

During the last decade, a greater share of the global population gained access to electricity than ever before, but the number of people without electricity in Sub-Saharan Africa actually increased... More>>