UNHCR discloses critical funding shortfall to meet COVID-19 response of refugees in Ethiopia

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The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) on Monday disclosed it only received 9.8 million U.S. dollars out of 34.9 million U.S. dollars it needed to meet the COVID-19 related needs of refugees in Ethiopia in 2020.

“The funding shortfall is limiting UNHCR’s ability to effectively respond to the pandemic as resources are not enough to procure all needed Personal Protective Equipments (PPEs), medicines, and other supplies,” said the UNHCR monthly fact sheet.

UNHCR also said lack of additional space in schools, sanitation infrastructure and lack of masks for school children are also making school reopening challenging.

The UN refugee agency further disclosed its COVID-19 prevention and response plan in four refugee camps in Ethiopia’s northern Tigray regional state has come to a complete halt over the last several weeks due to conflict.

Ethiopia’s federal government has been undertaking military operations in the country’s northernmost Tigray regional state since November 4 against Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), which used to rule over the region, following the TPLF’s reported attack on the Northern Command of the Ethiopian Defense Forces.

The Ethiopian government has been blaming the TPLF, which was one of the four coalition fronts of Ethiopia’s former ruling party the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), for masterminding various treasonous acts across different parts of the country with an overarching goal of destabilizing the East African country.

Three of the former four EPRDF coalition members had in 2019 joined other regional parties in establishing the Prosperity Party, as the TPLF refused to join.

The mounting differences between the federal government and TPLF exacerbated last September when the Tigray regional government decided to go with its planned regional elections, which the Ethiopian parliament had previously postponed due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

As of Dec. 31, 2020, the UNHCR has registered 802,821 refugees and asylum seekers in Ethiopia, most of whom are housed in refugee camps in six regional states.

Ethiopia currently hosts the second-largest refugee population in Africa, next to Uganda.

Refugees in Ethiopia primarily come from Eritrea, South Sudan, Somalia, and Sudan, according to figures from the Ethiopian government.

Ethiopia’s confirmed COVID-19 cases reached 128,316 after 524 new COVID-19 positive cases were confirmed, the Ethiopian Ministry of Health said on Monday morning. Enditem

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