Hajara, 19, and her children await their first hot meal in over two months. They arrived at the Dosseye refugee camp in Chad the previous day after fleeing violence in Central African Republic. UNHCR/C.Fohlen
Hajara, 19, and her children await their first hot meal in over two months. They arrived at the Dosseye refugee camp in Chad the previous day after fleeing violence in Central African Republic. UNHCR/C.Fohlen

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) on Tuesday said more than 200,000 refugee children are out of school in Ethiopia due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

“The Ethiopian Ministry of Education has initiated consultations with education and health partners on possible reopening of schools during the new academic year. Schools have been closed since March due to COVID-19, leaving over 200,000 refugee children out of school,” the UN refugee agency said in its situation update issued on Tuesday.

The East African country is one of the largest refugee-hosting countries in Africa, sheltering about 779,261 registered refugees and asylum seekers as of the beginning of this month, according to the latest figures from the UN refugee agency.

According to the agency, essential primary healthcare activities are maintained in all refugee camps, which are currently part of the ongoing national campaign to enhance awareness and testing for COVID-19.

It also noted that an additional 200,000 face masks have been delivered to the refugee camps to improve the protection of frontline responders, while infrared thermometers, disposable gloves and surgical masks have been procured for distribution.

The UNHCR, however, stressed that refugees continue to receive only about 84 percent of the minimum standard food ration of 2,100 kcal per person per day. “This has kept the global acute malnutrition rate in most camps higher than the acceptable standards.”

It also said that it has received 1.8 million U.S. dollars from Education Cannot Wait (ECW) to strengthen its COVID-19 response in education.

The Ethiopia Ministry of Education is also working with partners to develop guidelines on how to mitigate COVID-19 and ensure a safe learning environment.

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