NRC staff load trucks with essential materials that will be transported and distributed to quarantine/isolation centres where several migrants and returnees are located. Photo: Tinbit Amare/NRC

15,000 Ethiopian returnees receive emergency Covid-19 assistance at quarantine sites

Published 06. Aug 2020
Over 15,000 Ethiopian returnees, many of whom are vulnerable women and children languishing at quarantine sites, have received critical emergency assistance as the country continues to curb the spread of Covid-19. The Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) in partnership with the International Organization for Migration (IOM) is working alongside the Ethiopian government to provide hygiene kits and other essential items to returning migrants.

“It is pivotal that all actors forge collaboration and partnerships to support the government in dealing with the pandemic. NRC in partnership with IOM is making its contribution to support returning migrants that need health services to protect and prevent themselves as well as others in the country from the spread of Covid-19,” said Sumananjali Mohanty, Country Director of NRC Ethiopia.

In the past four months, more than 22,500 migrants have returned to the country due to a lack of opportunities brought on by Covid-19. Close to 16,600 have returned mainly via land crossings from transit countries such as Somalia, Djibouti, and Sudan, where many stay looking for work before making the perilous journey east to the Arab Peninsula, or north to Europe via North Africa.

“The situation at the regional quarantine centres is dire and the need for essential items such as clothes, sanitary items, and bedding, was immediate,” says Eyob Yisfawossen, NRC’s Area Manager in Jigjiga.

So far, 62,000 bars and bottles of soap, 10,000 blankets, 5,000 sleeping mats, 5,000 washing basins and 50,000 cooking items have been provided to desperate people including mothers, pregnant women and unaccompanied minors. Most of them have been sheltering in over 30 quarantines sites in Shire, Metema, Dire Dawa, Jigjiga, and Semera - five regional towns, where many of the migrants enter the country by foot or by bus.

“We had several challenges with provision of services in the quarantine centre at the start of the pandemic,” explains the Dire Dawa University quarantine centre manager, Addis Alem. “With the supplies we’re receiving from NRC, IOM and others, the quarantine centre is now fully operational and able to meet the needs of vulnerable groups.”

NRC is working to prevent the spread of coronavirus to areas with vulnerable refugees, displaced and host communities across Ethiopia. We are providing sanitary materials, constructing emergency latrines and establishing hand washing facilities in health, quarantine/isolation and case management centres. We are also providing emergency shelter kits to displaced people and refugees who are living in overcrowded conditions.