Floods bring new misery for Eritrean refugees

Eritrean refugees in the Alem-Wach refugee camp in Ethiopia’s Amhara region say their situation has worsened due to the rainy season.

They told the BBC that their camp was flooded and their shelters were under water with no dry land nearby to be found.

“It’s a safety hazard because the area is waterlogged and it’s difficult to move,” Ms Yodit, an Eritrean refugee at the camp, explained.

She said the refugees there had fled camps in the northern Tigray region during the war for their safety and the “majority [of them] paid a lot of money to brokers and smugglers” to reach there.

The refugees say no effective steps have been taken by relevant government agencies and the UN refugee agency to improve the situation in terms of supply, food, medical care and security.

The UNHCR however says it is awaiting funding to improve food supplies and is in discussions with the Ethiopian authorities to improve health and security services at the refugee camp.

More than 10,000 Eritrean refugees are housed at the camp in Amhara region’s Dabat district.

Habteab Eyob, who supports the refugees, said “the camp was built on unfavourable farmland, and the tents cannot withstand heavy rain and wind”.

He describes the environment as inhabitable.

“Children in particular are suffering greatly, they are starving,” he says.

“We left our homeland to give our children a better future,” Ms Yodit said, adding that refugees faced war in Tigray and worse living conditions in the Alem-Wach camp.

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