Ethiopia refugee camp submerged by floods

Doctors Without Borders says camp housing about 40,000 refugees from South Sudan is uninhabitable and must be evacuated.

Heavy rains and storms caused damage and flooding to the Lietchuor camp in Ethiopia's Gambella region [AP]

Ethiopia’s Lietchuor camp, home to almost 40,000 refugees from South Sudan, has been made uninhabitable by flooding, Doctors without Borders (MSF) said.

The medical charity said in a statement on Friday that the camp in Ethiopia’s Gambella region resembled “a lake dotted with islands’.’

“The road built on a strip of elevated land is the only remaining habitable area, and some of the refugees have set up their tents there. Others have left the camp, with hundreds sheltering with host communities in nearby villages or in churches,” MSF said.

Ethiopia’s Administration for Refugee and Returnee Affairs and the UNHCR have decided to close the camp and are searching for suitable ways to relocate the refugees.

Several other camps such as Pagak and Pamdong, which are transit camps also in Gambella, have also been seriously damaged as rainstorms and strong winds destroyed mud huts, the group said. 

The charity said a 120-bed hospital in Itang was also affected by storms. A water-stopping dam reinforced by the Doctors without Borders team to protect the hospital collapsed, and the clinic, which served patients from both the refugee and host communities, is no longer functional.

The UN says an estimated 180,000 refugees have arrived in Ethiopia from South Sudan since violence there erupted in late 2013. It has warned that numbers could reach 300,000-350,000 by the end of this year.

Thousands of people have been killed and more than 1.8 million have fled a conflict sparked by a power struggle between President Salva Kiir and sacked Vice President Riek Machar, who recently signed a ceasefire deal.

Source: Al Jazeera