IOM Starts Relocation of Sudanese Refugees to New Camp

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) in Ethiopia has started the relocation of Sudanese refugees from the Al Damazin Transit Center to a new camp called Bambasi.  The first batch of 438 refugees have arrived in Bambasi Camp, the third camp in the Benishangul Gumuz region of Ethiopia, on 11 June 2012.  The Al Damazine Transit Center reached maximum capacity of more than 14,000 refugees as of June 2012. The breakout of conflict at the beginning of September 2011 between the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and the Sudan People Liberation Movement North (SPLM-N) in the Blue Nile state has displaced tens of thousands of refugees into Ethiopia’s Benishangul Gumuz Regional State. Asylum-seekers continue to cross in to Ethiopia looking for safety and security. Since September 2011, IOM has been providing safe and dignified emergency transportation assistance to refugees in close coordination with the government Administration for Refugee and Returnee Affairs (ARRA) and UNHCR Ethiopia. Over 27,000 Sudanese refugees from Blue Nile State have been provided with transportation and pre-departure medical checks to the various refugee camps in the region.

In the Month of May 2012 alone, more than 2500 refugees arrived in Benishnagul Gumuz region thus bringing the total arrivals for the first five months 2012 to over 9,500, according to a UNHCR report.  Unless the situation improves, more refugees are expected to arrive and mount pressure on humanitarian partners. While providing emergency transportation assistance, IOM is also preparing to start a shelter project for Sudanese refugees in Bambasi Refugee Camp.  IOM is set to assist in building 1500 shelters for the refugees.  While UNHCR will provide some seed money to start the operations activities, IOM is looking for donors to fund the project that will build transitional shelters to all refugees in Bambasi Camp.