The international community is not doing enough to guarantee an equitable distribution of humanitarian assistance throughout the country, regional state officials in charge of disaster risk management said.
The Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC) organized a high-level consultative conference called “Pursuit of a Sustainable Solution for Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in Ethiopia” to generate political will and resources and ensure that a solution is found for IDPs and the host community.
During the conference, federal and regional disaster risk management commissioners, UN agencies, relief groups, human rights authorities, and government officials discussed how to deal with the growing number of displaced persons who require long term humanitarian aid.
Mohammed Hussien, who is in charge of disaster risk management in Afar, claimed that the region has been struck by disasters such as floods, desert locust infestations, droughts, and intricate wars such as the one in northern Ethiopia for decades.
“Our community lost everything as a result of the recent conflict; livelihoods were completely halted, and thousands of IDPs were left without a home, despite unwavering efforts by the Ethiopian government and the entire community to resolve this chronic issue.”
Even though the need on the ground is clear and strong, aid agencies do not give out resources in a fair and transparent way, according to the commissioner. Mohammed says that though the community’s needs are critical and complicated, the region is not receiving its fair share of humanitarian financing as well as resources from the international community.
“Our message is not reaching Geneva or Rome because some parts of the country are extraordinarily well reached by the international community,” Mohammed said.
Similarly, Etagegne Ademe, Amhara region’s disaster risk management deputy commissioner, echoed the same, lamenting the international community’s lack of concern for the Amhara people as they do in the neighboring Tigray region.
The Amhara region was an epicenter of the recent northern Ethiopian war, Etagegne says.
Over 2.3 million IDPs and 6.1 million people have been unable to work or harvest, requiring immediate assistance until they are rehabilitated and can resume production, as a result of the recent war in northern Ethiopia and conflict in other regional states.
Major infrastructures in seven zonal administrations have been damaged by the war, and the region is regressing from its previous position, Etagegne says. “However, we are confronted with a problem that is not ours: thousands of IDPs are in 37 camps, and over 650 IDPs live in shelters provided by relatives, families, and households throughout the region.”
Despite the support from the national disaster risk and risk management aid agencies, Etagegne stated that “IDPs are getting 15 kilograms of wheat in merely two months; the burden is huge and mounting; we need the international community to help us and rescue the catastrophe; there is a lack of attention to this region.”
Abdullahi Haji, the Somali Region representative, noted the existence of nearly one million prolonged IDPs over the previous four years, dating back to the major displacement that happened in 2017 due to an intra-conflict. “Because of this, the IDP community needs more money and resources, and the international community needs to open its eyes.”
Tarekegne Tasisa is the commissioner for disaster risk management in the Benishangul Gumz region. He claims that some aid organizations and even locals are unaware of the region’s existence.
“Our region is one of Ethiopia’s 11 regional states, located in western Ethiopia, with 1.5 million people,” he said, adding that of the entire population in this region, 450,000 are IDPs, 112,000 pupils are out of school, 44,000 houses were destroyed, and the region accommodates 75,000 Sudanese and South Sudanese IDPs, as well as many more from Oromia and Amhara.
Tarekegne pleaded for humanitarian aid and support to help these IDPs.
1.3 million IDPs live in the four Wollega Zones owing to armed conflict, and 300,000 live in the Borena Zone due to drought, according to Malcha Loja, deputy commissioner of the Oromia Regional State disaster risk management. Likewise, he believes that the international community has forgotten about the IDPs in western Oromia.
Addressing the need and issue of displacement requires long-term and sustainable leadership at the national and UN country levels, Manuel Bessle, deputy director of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) and head of the Humanitarian Aid and SHA division, said.
Robert Piper, who is the special adviser to the secretary general on solutions to internal displacement, said that the main issue concerning finance should be prevention instead of spending on response mechanisms. “We strongly urge all stakeholders to become outspoken advocates for prevention mechanisms by developing climate-adaptive strategies and to recognize that humanitarian financing is becoming a poorly funded and difficult issue globally.”
As a result, a shift from humanitarian assistance to other forms of preventive mechanisms and approaches is required, as financing does not always fit, according to Piper.
The Ethiopian Human Rights Commissioner, Daniel Bekele (PhD) mentioned in his part that throughout the 14 million IDPs in sub-Saharan Africa, close to five million are in Ethiopia. However, the country lacks sufficient data on IDPs to adequately address their needs.