LasAnod (Caasimada Online) – More than 60,000 Somalis, mostly women and children have fled their homes in the past few weeks to escape the clashes and insecurity in the city of LasAnod in the Sool region.
Over half of them arrived earlier this week, exhausted and traumatized, with only what they could carry. Many of these refugees have lost loved ones during the clashes or have been separated during their flight.
The refugees have temporarily settled across more than 13 locations in the towns of Bookh, Galhamur, and Danot Woredasiin in the Doolo zone in Ethiopia’s Somali region. The area is extremely remote, with limited humanitarian presence.
Local communities in Doolo have generously welcomed the refugees, sharing whatever resources they have. But these are quickly depleting, as an average of 1,000 people cross into Ethiopia daily.
Refugees in dire need
The refugees are hosted in some of the areas worst hit by the drought and the impact of climate change following five consecutive failed rainy seasons, where resources are already overstretched.
With limited options, many newly arrived refugee families have resorted to sheltering in schools and other public buildings, while others have no choice but to sleep outside.
Many urgently need food and nutritional support, water and sanitation facilities, and specialized support for people with specific needs.
UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, is responding to this sudden influx and working with the Ethiopian Government’s Refugees and Returnees Services (RRS) and regional authorities, together with UN and NGO partners, to set up temporary reception centers and provide immediate life-saving aid.
Relief items, including blankets, jerry cans, buckets, kitchen sets, plastic sheets, and mosquito nets, have already been distributed to over 1,000 vulnerable families. UNHCR aims to reach another 9,000 families in the coming days.
Upon arrival, the refugees are medically screened and initially registered before relocation to surrounding communities or designated sites. Formal registration will be conducted at a later stage which will provide more accurate population figures.
Internally displaced people
Inside Somalia, more than 185,000 people have been displaced from LasAnod town and its surrounding areas since early February. Displaced families have settled in 66 sites within Somaliland, while others have crossed into the Puntland region in northern Somalia and other villages bordering Ethiopia.
Through partners, UNHCR will distribute relief items to 3,000 families in targeted locations as an initial response to these internally displaced people. Cash assistance is being mobilized to reach 42,000 people for a period of three months once the security situation allows access to the area.
UNHCR is calling for all parties to respect the safety of civilians and for additional funding support to meet the needs of these newly displaced people. You can also help by donating to UNHCR or any other organizations providing aid to refugees in Ethiopia and Somalia.