Bloomberg News

UN Unable to Deal With Refugees on Somali-Ethiopia Border

July 08, 2011

(Updates with comments from High Commissioner for Refugees starting in the third paragraph.)

    July 8 (Bloomberg) -- The United Nations is unable to deal with the number of refugees fleeing to Ethiopia from Somalia because of conflict and drought, the High Commissioner for Refugees said.

“We are looking for better international support,” Antonio Guterres told reporters today in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa. “There are more people arriving than there’s capacity to register.”

The mortality rate at the refugee camps is about three times the norm for emergency situations, Guterres said, without providing details. Around half of the children arriving at the camps are suffering from severe malnutrition, UN High Commissioner for Refugees spokesman Adrian Edwards told the same press conference.

Somalia is suffering from a regional drought that could affect as many as 10 million people in the Horn of Africa, the UN World Food Programme said in an e-mailed statement today.

Camps run by the UN around Dolo Ado on Ethiopia’s southern border have seen 54,000 Somalis arrive this year, with a surge since the start of a government offensive against rebels in February, Edwards said.

Somalia, which has not had a functioning government since 1991, is experiencing ongoing conflict between the Western- backed Transitional Federal Government and insurgents including the al-Qaeda-affiliated al-Shabaab.

The fighting is exacerbating the drought, Guterres said. “If there is conflict there is no way to address the problem.”

--Editors: Philip Sanders, Karl Maier

To contact the reporter on this story: William Davison in Addis Ababa at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Paul Richardson at

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