Surpassing countries with a longstanding civil strife such as Syria, Yemen and, the Democratic Republic of the Congo; Ethiopia’s latest figures on internally displaced people for the first half of 2018 has reached new heights.
Recent ethnic clashes in the southern regions of Gedeo and West Guji, along with internal border disputes at the southeastern Somali border has forced 1.4 million people to flee their homes since the start of 2018, making it the world’s highest level of violence-related internal displacement so far this year.
“It beggars belief that 1.4 million people fleeing violence isn’t making global headlines. The world has turned a blind eye to Ethiopia,” warned Nigel Tricks, Regional Director of the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC). “Families we have met who have fled fighting are living in dire conditions, and dismal international funding is being channeled to help them.”
According to NRC, the Ethiopian government and aid agencies are working hard to respond to the situation; but with around one million newly displaced people in Gedeo and West Guji. Overcrowded communal shelters, food provisions, water and health services are stretched beyond capacity.
The affected areas was one of the most densely populated parts of Ethiopia, with the influx of people now doubling the population in some areas; it said that “the current rainy season is also worsening peoples’ living conditions and hindering the humanitarian response.”
According to the aid agency, the Ethiopian government is working to bring about peace and security. This process and the support for early return of displaced people are priorities for all. NRC said that while some families have started their return home to Gedeo and West Guji; but many houses have been destroyed.
“People tell us they are keen to return home, but they fled with nothing and need to know they can access support to rebuild their lives. It’s important that any returnees are voluntary and sustainable. Families must also be confident of the safety of the areas before moving back,” said Tricks.
Violence also continued to flare in the Oromia-Somali border region, with 200,000 people fleeing their homes in the first half of the year. It is to be recalled that 500,000 people have fled clashes in the last quarter of 2017. Nearly all areas along the regional border have been affected. The region has been hard hit by food shortages adding to the crisis.
According to the midyear figures published Wednesday by Internal Displacement Monitoring Center (IDMC), there have been an estimated 5.2 million new IDPs associated with conflict or violence across the 10 most impacted countries.
East Africa has been the hardest-hit region with Somalia and South Sudan also among the top 10 countries for conflict-related internal displacements.
The region also accounts for five of the most significant natural disasters between January and June, with flooding in Kenya, Somalia, Ethiopia, and Uganda, along with drought in Somalia displacing more than 1 million people combined. In total, 700 disaster events in more than 100 countries, has displaced an estimated 3.3 million worldwide in the first half of 2018