Refugee accompaniment and support in Ethiopia
Dollo Ado in southeast Ethiopia is an arid, rocky and isolated place. Despite its desert-like characteristics, this region across the border from Somalia has become a destination for refugees fleeing famine in that war-torn country. In 2011, tens of thousands of people left southern Somalia, mostly in June and July, walking for days in a desperate search for food. As of 24 January 2012, there were 143,587 Somali refugees in the Dollo Ado refugee camps and transit centre.
Jesuit Refugee Services (JRS) was quick to go to Dollo Ado to see how best to serve the refugees. While basic needs like shelter and food are being met by other humanitarian agencies, the fact that most of the refugees are under 18 immediately suggested educational and recreational activities. After assessment and planning, a JRS Eastern Africa team launched a project in Melkadida camp on 1 November 2011.
Adult literacy classes and skills training are being organized as well as recreational activities such as sports, drama and music, to create a sense of “normality” in the camp. Another project component is counselling, to help the refugees cope with the trauma of displacement, of loss of livelihood and years of insecurity and war. This psychosocial intervention will be based on another JRS project that has been under way for years in Kakuma camp in Kenya.
JRS Eastern Africa Director: Fr Endashaw Debrework SJ
Visit the JRS Eastern Africa website: http://jrsea.org
News and articles:
• The importance of education for refugees by Uju Umenyi