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ETHIOPIA-SOMALIA: New camp opened for Somali refugees
Due to the recent influx of Somali refugees, the UNHCR has reopened Teferi Ber camp
ADDIS ABABA, 26 July 2007 (IRIN) - The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) has started relocating about 4,000 Somali refugees to a reopened refugee camp at Teferi Ber in eastern Ethiopia. The camp was closed in 2001 after its previous population of Somali refugees were repatriated.
Kisut Gebre Egziabher, senior public information assistant at UNHCR, told IRIN that about 2,000 refugees had been moved from an overcrowded camp at Kebribeyah, 120km south, where they had been staying after fleeing fighting between the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) and the Union of Islamic Courts (UIC) in central and southern Somalia last year.
"It will take another 15 days to relocate the other 2,000 refugees from Kebribeyah," he said.
According to UNHCR, there has been a steady influx of Somalis since April 2006 into eastern Ethiopia. Kisut said another 7,000 Somalis were waiting in other sites for screening and those recognised as refugees would be accommodated in Teferi Ber.
There are 16,000 refugees in Kebribeyah, the last of nine refugee camps in eastern Ethiopia that gradually closed down from 1997 to 2005. The camp’s history dates back to 1989, when Somali refugees began to arrive in Ethiopia. More followed the fall of Siyad Barre’s regime in 1991. The refugee population peaked at over 600,000.
"Those staying in Kebribeyah, who came from central and southern Somalia, did not want to return to their country due to issues of security," he said.
Kebribeyah camp has received thousands of refugees fleeing fighting between TFG and UIC forces, resulting in severe overcrowding, Kisut said.
"We could not expand the Kebribeyah camp further, so we identified another camp site, which had a sufficient water resource," he added.
According to the UNHCR, Teferi Ber, 12km from the border of Somaliland, can accommodate 20,000 refugees.
The refugees in Teferi Ber are provided with food, water, plastic sheeting, jerry cans, kitchen sets and kerosene stoves, Kisut said.