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Conflict thwarts aid

UNHCR forced to temporarily halt aid operations in Gambella

Reports of conflict on Gambella-DembiDollo line

The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)was forced to briefly suspend its operation in Gambella Regional State due to security concerns, making it difficult for International aid agencies to perform their operation in Western Ethiopia,The Reporter has learnt.

Due to recent security incidents in Gambella which resulted in some civilian fatalities, including refugees and a humanitarian worker, UNHCR has suspended missions to all the refugee camps since Monday, 29 April, as per the recommendation of the United Nations Department of Safety and Security (UNDSS), reads an earlier statement issued.

In this regard,as the result of movement restrictions in the area, UNHCR was forced to briefly limit its humanitarian assistance.

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“Only limited humanitarian assistance was being provided in the camps by a skeletal humanitarian staff and via existing community structures,” according to the statement.

According to sources from the area, due to security concerns, some of the roads in the region were closed. For instance, the road from Gambella to DembiDollo, Oromia Regional State, was closed for days and the security situation in the area remains fragile.

Moreover, according to eyewitnesses in the area, public transports particularly from Gambella to DembiDollo have stopped. The same witness told The Reporter that a large number of members of the Ethiopian National Defense Force were seen deployed along the way from Gambella to DembiDollo.

“We have seen a well-armed military presence in the area and we were told that they are fighting armed groups hiding and operating in the area which locals say are groups which have been active in Oromia,” said the eyewitness.   

Following a three day suspension of its operation, UNHCR later announced that it has decided to resume it.

After a three-day interruption and following the stabilization of the operational environment, missions to all the refugee camps in Gambella Regional State  have resumed on Thursday, 2 May 2019,” according to its latest statement.

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