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Tensions Ease In Ethiopia's Gambella Region Amid Military Presence - 2003-12-19


The security situation in the western Ethiopian town of Gambella is reported to have improved somewhat since last weekend’s ethic violence. More than 30-people were killed. The violence affected operations by the UNHCR, the UN refugee agency.

Peter Kessler is a spokesman for the UNHCR. From Geneva, he spoke to English to Africa reporter Joe De Capua about the situation in Gambella. Mr. Kessler says, “Following the incidents earlier this week when scores were killed, including three workers from our partner agency – the Ethiopian Government Administration for Refugee Returnee Affairs – UNHCR pulled its non-essential staff out of the Gambella region. However, we’re told the situation has stabilized. There’s been a big deployment of Ethiopian government forces to ensure security in that area and some shops and government offices have reopened and people are on the streets in Gambella town.”

The UNHCR has only basic services underway at the moment and precautions have been taken to protect staff members. The Gambella region hosts 85,000 Sudanese refugees in five camps and settlements. The Fugnido camp is the largest with 28,000 people.

Click above links to download or listen to interview with Peter Kessler.

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