September 1, 2017



Photo credit:

Why are individuals fleeing from Ethiopia?

Refugees from many nations live in Ethiopia before being resettled to a third country, like the United States.  Currently, Ethiopia is hosting 838,722 refugees and asylum-seekers in refugee camps. The largest groups in Ethiopia are South Sudanese (378,285), Somalis (249,903), and Eritreans (161,398), according to (a website run by the UNHCR). Children less than 18 years old make up 58% of the refugees and asylum-seekers hosted by Ethiopia.

Primary language(s) in Ethiopia

(Statistics from “The World Factbook” on CIA website)

33.8% Oromo

29.3%  Amharic

6.2% Somali

5.9% Tigrinya

Religions in Ethiopia

(Statistics from

62.8% Christian

34.6% Muslim

2.6% Folk Religions

Guidelines for Interacting with Ethiopian Refugees

What are some cultural differences?

  • Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Christians do not eat meat and dairy products on Wednesdays and Fridays, except for special occasions or holidays.
  • Ethiopian Tewahedo Christians, Jews, and Muslims all do not eat pork.
  • Traditionally, parents arrange marriages.

What are some resettlement considerations?

  • The entire community helps in raising a child, so formal childcare may seem strange to new arrivals.  Additionally, they might not be used to having strangers as neighbors.
  • Refugees from multiple countries come from Ethiopia, so be prepared for arrivals from other origin countries.

Common Phrases (Amharic)


Hello: Salam

Welcome: Enkwan dahna mattah(m)/mattas(f)

How are you?: Endamen allah(m)/allas(f)?

Response: Dahna nan

Thank you: Amasagganallahw

Yes: Awo

No: Ayi

Also – a video of greetings in Amharic.

*This collection of information is neither perfect nor comprehensive.  Each culture is unique and cultural norms are diverse even among individuals from the same culture.  Additionally, the refugees from the following places are diverse, as is easy to see in the guidelines in this report.

Translate »