Refugee population from Eritrea
Eritrean population, along with the Syrian and Afghan, represent the widest groups of refugees arriving in Europe in the last months. Thus, Ethiopia has become a transit county for Eritreans trying to reach Europe.
Thousand of Eritreans, many of which are unaccompanied minors, fled away from their countries due to continuous violations of human rights. On the other hand, Eritrea is one of the most hermetic countries globally, thus reliable information might be difficult to obtain.
On July 2018, peace was signed between Ethiopia and Eritrea, after almost 20 years of a constant war and conflict status.
In addition, in September 2018, the border between both countries was opened.
Refugee camps in Shire
Up to date, around 72.000 people are registered in refugee camps in Shire, northern Ethiopia in the border with eritrea (UNHCR, December 2018), but this data is in continuous change. The increase is constant and the profile of the newly arrived population changes periodically.
So far, the arriving population had been young men who were fleeing away from mandatory and indefinite military service. Nowadays, the number of arriving women and children has increased, seeking for family reunification.
Due to the lack of opportunities in the camps, many of them wander towards Europe, exposing themselves to dangers like the brutality of human traffickers, the intense heat of the desert, and the conflict in Lybia during their transit through this country.
On the other hand, Ethiopia is continuously exposed to severe droughts that affect the Horn of Africa, and might also affect the camps significantly.
The Host Communities.
The refugee population is of great relevance for the economic dynamics and has a great potential for making significant socioeconomic contributions in the host communities.
Thus, we are working with both populations to use their resources in the best possible way, in order to improve their access to basic services and their quality of life.
The inclusion of the refugee population in their host communities allows the contribution to the local economy, as well as the promotion of the host communities' development.
If refugees are given opportunities to sustain themselves / support themselves and their families, they can contribute positively to the communities that host them, achieving mutual empowerment, both socially and economically.
Refugee camps in Shire, with the exception of the Hitsats camp, are connected to the national electricity grid.
UNHCR is responsible, through the Agency for Refugees and Returnees Affair of Ethiopia (ARRA),of covering the costs of electricity in the fields through payment to the Ethiopian Electricity Company (EEU).
Nevertheless, badly installed electrical wiring and irregular power supply jeopardize service availability and cause power outages, leading to only six hours of electricity per day.
In addition, there is a high risk of electric shock due to the lack of protection devices, neither for facilities nor for people.
On the other hand, the use of wood for cooking is progressively causing deforestation in the peripheral areas of the fields.
Women and girls, in charge of firewood collection, must walk long distances each time, exposed to security risks.
The pilot project of Alianza Shire in the field of Adi-Harush has managed to extend the public lighting along five kilometers, and provide training to 19 people in installation, management, and maintenance of the electrical network and public lighting.
In addition, several common services such as markets, schools, a health center, community kitchens, etc. have been connected to the electricity network.
In the second phase, between 2018 and 2021, we are extending the project to three new refugee camps.
In addition to the installation of the electrical network and public lighting, we incorporate home photovoltaic systems, both in these refugee camps and in the host communities.