MOGADISHU, March 22 (Xinhua) -- The United Nations (UN) agencies and partner organizations on Wednesday appealed for 116 million U.S. dollars to scale up life-saving assistance to Somali refugees seeking safety in Ethiopia's Somali region.
Clementine Nkweta-Salami, UNHCR's Regional Director for the East and Horn of Africa and Great Lakes Region, said the UN agencies need additional funding to ramp up the delivery of aid and address the acute and growing humanitarian needs.
"The Ethiopian government and local communities have generously welcomed the refugees, extending any help they can, but with the continuing arrivals, resources are already severely overstretched," Nkweta-Salami said in a joint statement.
According to the UN agencies, since clashes erupted between security forces and clan leaders in the city of Las Anod in northern Somalia on Feb. 6, hundreds of thousands of people have been displaced within Somalia and an estimated 100,000 people have crossed the border into Ethiopia to escape violence.
The agencies said most of the new arrivals in Ethiopia are women, children, older people, and people with specific needs, who arrive with nothing, scared and hungry, as well as a high number of unaccompanied and separated children.
The funds will help provide urgently needed shelter and relief items, such as blankets, mats, and mosquito nets. Food will also be provided to all families in need through monthly general food distributions, the agencies said.
Michael Dunford, WFP's Regional Director for East Africa, said funding is required to save the lives of the fleeing Somalis.
"This influx of refugees is happening at the worst time possible, in an extremely remote area of Ethiopia's Somali region, which is also one of the most severely hit by the worst drought in 60 years," Dunford said.
Ethiopia already hosted 884,000 refugees and asylum-seekers -- predominantly from South Sudan, Somalia, and Eritrea -- before the most recent arrivals, according to the UN. ■