The absence of an institution and a legal framework to administer internally displaced people (IDPs) is debilitating coordination and support for IDPs, a new report indicates.
Currently, there is no clear legal framework and public institution that is mandated with IDPs’ support, security, and providing lasting solutions, according to a new report compiled on IDPs by the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC).
Previously, the mandate was given to the Ministry of Peace (MoP). However, since the re-establishment of the ministry this year, the IDPs have been left in a vacuum since the amended establishment proclamation does not include IDPs.
“After the ministry was re-established this year and its mandate on IDPs lapsed, returnees and IDP projects previously started under the MoP were suspended. In particular, the ‘Ethiopia Durable Solutions Initiative’, which was kicked off in 2019-20 by the ministry and international partners, has stopped,” the report by the EHRC revealed.
Since the MoP currently has no department or directorate on IDPs, Ethiopia has no institution that implements the Kampala Convention, according to the report. The Kampala Conventio3n is an African Union treaty that addresses internal displacement caused by armed conflict, natural disasters, and large-scale development projects in Africa.
A number of IDP sites lack security protection and are exposed to various security threats. Rape, unaccounted crimes, and lack of support are rampant in IDP sites, according to the report. Facilitation of support and human rights protection is also nascent in IDP sites.
Currently, there are 2.7 million IDPs in Ethiopia, according to the IOM’s report for October 2022. This figure does not include IDPs in Tigray. The report is compiled based on assessments conducted at 2,120 accessible points covered between June and July 2022. Out of the 2.72 million IDPs, one million are in Somali, while 662,000 are in Oromia, and 560,000 are in the Amhara region.
Conflict, drought, and social tension are said to have been the three main reasons for the displacements. While 66.7 percent of the IDPs are displaced due to conflict, 19.7 percent are displaced due to drought, while the rest are displaced due to social tensions.
There is a huge IDP caseload remaining unaddressed in Ethiopia. “The total IDP figure in Ethiopia is huge, especially due to the conflict in Tigray. IDP figures are huge, especially after the proposed referendum in southern Ethiopia this year. More IDPs are expected,” Tarikua Getachew, Directer for legal & policy department at EHRC, told The Reporter.
She stresses that a new institution is needed to oversee IDPs in a bid to bridge the institutional vacuum. “Even a department could suffice. However, there is a lack of budget to establish a new institution or department that can be mandated specifically for IDP administration.
Despite the fact that the government planned to establish a new institution to handle IDP issues based on the EHRC’s recommendation, no budget was allocated for this year.
In a bid to bridge the institutional gap, some regional states are handling IDPs’ cases under different offices. For instance, Somali and Oromia regional states are handling IDP cases through regional administration offices, while Amhara regional state placed IDP issues under the regional agriculture and food security bureau.
“We are pleading with the IOM and other organizations to allocate funds and resources,” said Tarikua.
Tarikua said that since the government did not allocate a budget for the establishment of new IDP institutions for the current fiscal year, it is difficult to establish a long-term IDP institution as of now.
“Therefore, we have to establish a tentative task force that can fill the institutional void. The long-term institution can be established next year, but until then, a short-term institution, which could be a task force or even a focal point, must be established. The task force will be established soon if IOM and other stakeholders provide the resources,” added Tarikua.
A committee formed under the Inter-ministrial Taskforce has prepared a “national migration policy” and tabled the draft for the Council of Ministers. The National Disaster Risk Management Commission also recently finalized drafting the “national disaster risk management policy and strategy” and tabled it for the councils’ approval.