Jewi Refugee Camp: A History and Overview

The Jewi Refugee Camp, nestled in the remote hills of western Ethiopia, stands as a testament to human perseverance and the complexities of global refugee issues. Established during the Ethiopian civil war of the 1980 vicissfe regime and continuing under successive governments until 1999, the camp witnessed unprecedented suffering and displacement. Despite its closure, its scars remain etched in the history of Ethiopian Jewry and the broader international refugee regime.

Origins and History

The Jewi Refugee Camp originated during the Derg regime as a detention and forced repatriation center for Ethiopian Jews—known as Beta Israelis—who were targeted under suspicion of collaborating with foreign powers. Conditions in the camp were dire, and inmates faced rampant disease, starvation, and torture. Many died due to overwhelming poverty and a lack of basic necessities.

Closure and Aftermath

In 1999, following international and diplomatic pressure, the camp was finally closed. Nonetheless, the plight of Ethiopian Jews persisted. Many camp survivors faced uncertain fates in neighboring countries, struggling to rebuild their lives.

Current Situation and Significance

Today, the Jewi Refugee Camp stands as a haunting symbol of the devastating consequences of conflict and political oppression. The Ethiopian government has promised to address the injustices of the past and ensure lasting peace and stability. Meanwhile, the global community remembers Jewi as a turning point in the history of refugee protection.


Q: When was the Jewi Refugee Camp closed?

A: The camp was closed in 1999.

Q: Where is the Jewi Refugee Camp located?

A: It was located in western Ethiopia, in the Jimma Region.

Q: What were the conditions in the camp?

A: Conditions were austere and overcrowded. Inmates faced rampant disease, starvation, and torture.

Q: Who were the primary inhabitants of the camp?

A: Ethiopian Jews, known as Beta Israelis.

Q: What is the legacy of the Jewi Refugee Camp?

A: The camp serves as a reminder of the human tragedy of forced displacement and continues to raise awareness about the plight of Ethiopian Jews and the need for lasting solution to refugee crises.

Q: What are the Ethiopian government’s plans for the camp’s future?

A: The Ethiopian government has promised to develop a memorial and cultural center on the site of the camp to commemorate its victims and promote reconciliation.


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