Ethiopia hosted nearly 330,000 refugees at the end of 1996: an estimated 240,000 from Somalia, some 70,000 from Sudan, about 10,000 from Djibouti, and 8,000 from Kenya. More than 55,000 Ethiopians were refugees in neighboring countries, including some 50,000 in Sudan, about 5,000 in Kenya, and about 2,000 in Djibouti. As many as 800,000 Ethiopian refugees have repatriated since 1991, including several thousand in 1996. Nearly 15,000 new refugees from Sudan arrived in Ethiopia during the year. Somali Refugees Ethiopia continued to host a large refugee population from Somalia, most of whom arrived during 1988-91 at the height of Somalia's civil war. Estimates of the actual number of Somali refugees in Ethiopia have varied considerably over the years due to difficulties in conducting an accurate census, and poor controls on the use of food ration cards. A census scheduled for 1996 was postponed. An estimated 350,000 or more Somalis have repatriated in recent years, leaving some 230,000 still in Ethiopia at eight camps along the border between the two countries, plus an estimated 10,000 living in urban areas. The largest camp, Hartisheik, reportedly contained approximately 60,000 refugees in 1996, compared to an estimated 220,000 occupants in 1991. UNHCR has prepared numerous repatriation plans for the remaining refugee population, most of whom originate from northwest Somalia, known as Somaliland. Many refugees have visited their home areas temporarily, by bus or on foot, to conduct business and assess conditions. Refugees have been reluctant to repatriate permanently, according to aid workers, due to sporadic violence in their home areas, ongoing food deliveries in the refugee camps, and economic opportunities in Ethiopia that are superior to war-devastated Somaliland. In addition, many Somali refugees share a clan affiliation with local Ethiopians. Relatively few refugees repatriated during 1996, and UNHCR's organized return program encountered regular delays. Refugee shelters and other camp services have gradually deteriorated in recent years as aid workers and international funders have attempted to encourage a final round of repatriation. Sudanese Refugees Civil war in Sudan has pushed waves of refugees into Ethiopia since the 1980s, reaching a peak of more than 300,000 in 1991. Although the majority of those refugees eventually returned home, continued warfare in Sudan has produced new refugee flows into Ethiopia since 1993. An estimated 15,000 new Sudanese refugees arrived during 1996, and thousands more were poised on the border as the year ended. Ethiopian authorities provided four main camps in western Ethiopia where Sudanese received assistance. USCR conducted a site visit to determine the needs of the refugee population. About 42,000 refugees inhabited the largest camp, Fugnido, located some 35 miles from the Ethiopia-Sudan border. About three quarters of the Fugnido camp occupants were ethnic Nuer; the remainder were primarily ethnic Dinka. USCR found that 55 percent of the refugees were male; about half of the camp population were children. Some 7,000 new refugees arrived in the camp in the first half of 1996. A second camp, Bonga, contained 17,000 refugees, primarily ethnic Uduks. The camp population was evenly split along gender lines. Nearly three fourths of the refugees were younger than age 17; nearly one third were under age 5. The third camp, Dimma, was located close to the Sudanese border and contained 12,000 refugees, predominantly Nuer males. The camp received about 1,500 new arrivals during the first half of the year. A temporary fourth camp, Kunche, contained a relatively small number of occupants. WFP cut food deliveries by one fourth late in the year in an effort to encourage self-sufficiency among the refugees. USCR found that the food reduction prompted more deforestation, as refugees sought to supplement their incomes by cutting more firewood for sale to the local population. USCR concluded that the land set aside for refugee agriculture was insufficient: about 250 hectares available near Dimma camp would provide 10 percent of the food needs of that camp's population; 250 to 300 hectares for refugee farming near Bonga camp would provide about 15 percent of the nutritional needs of that population; the 500 hectares available for farming near Fugnido camp were largely under-utilized. USCR concluded that the Ethiopian government should clarify its policy on land allocations for refugee agriculture, in order to facilitate greater self-sufficiency among the refugee population. The refugee sites visited by USCR contained schools and vocational training programs. About 2,400 children attended pre-school programs. Dimma camp offered vocational education for 250 refugees in masonry, carpentry, pottery, leather works, metal works, and other skills. Similar vocational training programs began in the other two camps during the year. Djiboutian and Kenyan Refugees The number of Djiboutian refugees in Ethiopia remained uncertain during the year. Estimates varied from 5,000 to 18,000. The most credible estimate appeared to be about 10,000. About 5,000 Djiboutians lived in villages. Additional Djiboutians were said to be nomadic ethnic Afars, who roamed remote areas of northeast Ethiopia and were indistinguishable from Ethiopian Afars. The refugees reportedly viewed their home areas of Djibouti as unsafe, despite two years of relative calm under a 1994 peace accord. UNHCR was "unable to verify" reports that some refugees repatriated from Ethiopia to Djibouti during the year. An estimated 8,000 Kenyan refugees, who sought asylum in Ethiopia in 1993 because of ethnic conflict, remained in southern Ethiopia. Many of them expressed an interest in repatriating but had not done so by year's end, according to UN officials. Uprooted Ethiopians and Returnees Ethiopians who were forced to flee civil war and other conflicts during the 1980s and early 1990s continued to return gradually to their home areas in 1996. An estimated 800,000 Ethiopians have repatriated since the 1991 end to their country's bloody civil war, including some 30,000 in 1996. About 55,000 remained refugees at year's end. Many returnees since 1991 apparently have opted not to return to their original homes. They instead have settled into special camps or integrated into new communities. UN officials have gradually stopped food aid to most returnees, targeting instead the smaller numbers who returned recently. About 5,000 persons who repatriated in 1995 continued to receive UNHCR assistance during 1996. Typical repatriation benefits included a six- to nine-month food ration, transportation assistance, and a reintegration grant of up to $230. About 60,000 Ethiopians have officially repatriated from Sudan in the past four years, including some 25,000 in 1996. UNHCR originally expected three times more returnees from Sudan during the year, but financial difficulties, bureaucratic problems, and diplomatic tensions between Ethiopia and Sudan stalled the repatriation program. The region's heavy rainy season also slowed repatriation by making returns virtually impossible during one third of the year. Some 36,000 Ethiopians repatriated from Djibouti during 1994-96, including some 4,000 in 1996. Nearly 1,000 repatriated from Kenya. More than half of the returnees from Sudan settled in north-central Ethiopia. They received food, blankets, kitchen utensils, plastic sheeting, and financial grants. Returnees from Kenya received food, seeds, fertilizer, and farming tools. Pastoralist families were given goats to rebuild their herds. UNHCR asked international donors for nearly $20 million to complete the repatriation and reintegration of remaining Ethiopian refugees.

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