Ethiopia has opened a new camp for Somali refugees in hopes of relieving the overcrowded conditions at the Dollo Ado camp.
The United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) says the new camp, Bur Amino, is the fifth one in the region.
“We will be moving people stage by stage. The first relocation of 384 people took place on November 30th,” said UNHCR spokesperson Stiofainin Nic Iomhaird, who is in Dollo Ado.
Another group of about 500 was to moved Monday, December 5th, followed yet another on Thursday, December 8th.
“The reason is to keep the numbers manageable and to make sure the camp, which is still under development, keeps up with the number as they arrive.”
Nic Iomahaird also said the number of Somali refugees moving into Dollo Ado has dropped significantly in the past two to three weeks.
“October was the fourth highest month in 2011 in terms of new arrivals, after having had a peak of new arrivals in the summer time, during drought and famine,” said Nic Iomahaird.
She said the peak in October is more related to conflict inside Somalia but the reason for the recent decrease in the number of refugees is hard to determine.
“We believe it’s the rain that we’ve seen. It’s been raining a lot both in Somalia and Ethiopia. That may be contributing to people’s lack of mobility,” said Nic Iomahaird.
She said the UNHCR plans to house 60,000 refugees at the Bur Amino camp, but it’s always a challenge.
“The main obstacle that we tend to encounter in developing refugee camps is digging of latrines,” said Nic Iomahaird.
She said there have been a number of areas that are unsuitable for development because of the rocky ground, and installing sanitation facilities for tens of thousands of people is a real challenge.