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March 20, 2018

10,000 Ethiopians seek asylum in Moyale, Kenya

(UNHCR)- Balanish Tadese, an Ethiopian mother of two, walks through a makeshift refugee camp in Moyale, Kenya, with a bundle of personal belongings strapped to her back.
Her 6-year-old son, Abdi, and 9 year old daughter, Sarah, follow close behind, clutching personal belongings in their hands.  They’re looking for something to eat or drink and somewhere to stay.





This family is among around 9,700 asylum seekers that have arrived in Moyale over the last week from the Oromia region of Ethiopia. The refugees allege 13 people were killed when Ethiopian soldiers attacked their villages, in a raid on opposition areas. Oromia has been the scene of protests and violence before.

Tadese explains what she saw.

“One of my neighbours was shot and killed during the day as he came from a school meeting in our village. The following day, another neighbor was strangled as he went to the shops in the evening.  I was really scared, so I decided to cross the border to Kenya for safety”

There are over 600 expectant mothers.

More than 80 per cent of those that fled are women and children, nearly 1500 are under age 5, with one child being just 6 days old. There are over 600 expectant mothers. Some disabled and elderly persons also fled.

The asylum seekers are staying in two makeshift camps in the Somare and Sololo areas of Moyale. They are in urgent need of food, water, sanitation facilities, shelter, and some have medical needs.

Tadese says her and her children have not eaten well for days. She’s worried that her children will become ill if they do not get help.

Tadese and others who fled with her say they are worried about the security situation back home, and fear being situated in camps close to the border with Ethiopia. So it’s not clear how long the asylum seekers might stay in Moyale.



UNHCR’s partner Kenya Red Cross Society responded immediately to provide shelter material, blankets, kitchen utensils as well as medical, water and hygiene services. The County government also provided emergency food assistance to the asylum seekers.

Other UN and humanitarian organisations are also collaborating in the multi-agency emergency response by providing various life-saving services.

The Kenyan Government is looking at reducing the number of makeshift camps, so UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency in Kenya, the Kenya Red Cross, and others can meet the needs of those that have arrived more effectively. UNHCR is also helping the Government of Kenya register the asylum seekers, while ongoing assessments are being made about what to do long term.

One of the challenges is that some of the asylum seekers are staying with relatives and friends in Moyale, so it’s difficult to know precisely how many more have fled and are affected, and what their needs might be.
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