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Somali refugees in Ethiopia's Dollo Ado exceed 150,000 as rains hit camps

© UNHCR/L.Padoan. A young Somali refugee in Dollo Ado’s Hilaweyn camp.

In late April UNHCR reported that heavy rains had hit Somali refugee camps in Ethiopia and Kenya, damaging tents, flooding roads and affecting aid delivery. This came as the refugee population in southern Ethiopia has swelled to more than 150,000.

In recent weeks, Dollo Ado in southern Ethiopia has been receiving a weekly average of 450 new Somali refugees. More than 8,500 have been registered so far this year, pushing the refugee population in the area's five camps past the 150,000 mark.

New arrivals continue to cite insecurity inside Somalia as their reason for flight, fearing possible forced military conscription or potential revenge killings in the wake of renewed fighting. These circumstances, combined with last year's famine in Somalia, eroded many people's traditional coping mechanisms and forced them to seek asylum across the border.

The heavy rains have damaged an estimated 700 tents in Dollo Ado and in north-eastern Kenya, the Dadaab refugee complex has also been affected, with many tents damaged due to the rains. Staff are distributing more tarpaulins and core relief items, prioritizing the most vulnerable refugees and those whose homes have been affected by the rains

Decades of conflict and drought have driven more than 980,000 Somali refugees into the region, most of them hosted in Kenya, Yemen and Ethiopia. Another 1.36 million Somalis are internally displaced within the country.