U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi has appealed for more international aid to help Ethiopia’s war-displaced, saying only half of their required funding was met last year.
While visiting Ethiopia this week, the high commissioner said that addressing the needs of Ukrainian people affected by Russia’s invasion must not mean the needs of the rest of the world are neglected.
“Last year, UNCHR’s program in Ethiopia were only half funded,” Grandi said. “This is not acceptable and I hope that this year after the peace agreement, that there will be more attention and more support given to our programs.”
During his first visit to Ethiopia since the November peace deal was reached between Ethiopian federal forces and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front, the high commissioner visited Mekelle, the capital of Tigray region, where he met with people displaced by the two-year war.
“I want to make a strong appeal here, where there is an opening created by the peace process, it is absolutely important that all necessary resources are mobilized to sustain the peace agreement,” he said.
The high commissioner also visited the new refugee site in Alemwach in the Amhara Region, which shelters 22,000 Eritreans.
“I think there’s quite a lot of work that we need to do on that particular site to make living conditions better. We had quite a good discussion with the representative of the refugees. We also have to recognize that Eritreans have gone through a very troubled time,” Grandi said.
Prior to the start of the war in Ethiopia, about 20,000 Eritrean refugees were sheltered in camps in Tigray. Both camps were destroyed when they came under attack during the war.
The high commissioner also raised the importance of supporting the U.N.’s work in Ethiopia in recognition of the country hosting the third largest number of refugees in the world, with 880,000 people. A majority of those refugees are South Sudanese, followed by Somalis and Eritreans.