Harsh realities for IDPs
The Government of Ethiopia, together with development partners is saying the rehabilitating citizens displaced due to the conflict between the bordering areas of Oromia and Ethiopian Somali regional states is progressing. And one of these areas is Medda Wolabu, reports Samuel Getachew.
The narrative of Ethiopia is changing having graduated its once doomed economy to one that is worthy of recognition. According to the World Bank 2018 forecast, the nation is East Africa’s fastest growing economy. While this remains a humbling milestone and something to behold, what has not tickled down is on millions of people who are displaced around the country for a variety of reasons.
The experience of Ethiopia is not unique across the region and it follows a uniform like occurrences that are experienced by many people in the horn of Africa. The current pressing conflict between Ethiopian Somalis and Oromos has also affected many people. The two ethnic groups seem to compete for internal border that they have used as grazing land and as a means of survival.
While the causes of the conflicts of Ethiopia are an open debate, it is having real impact on the ground even though conflicts in Ethiopia are generational.
In Medda Wolabu district within the Bale Zone in South-East Ethiopia about 500 KM out of the capital, inside the Oromia Regional State, there are now thousands of people displaced and living with the support of charitable organizations as well as the government because of what has become the reality of the village.
All of the affected people in Medda are one of the two ethnic groups and they describe the horrors they have lived and the
lives they are living in the midst of poverty and challenging circumstances that are beyond their control. There have also been experiences reported by many media outlets of similar experiences from the other side.
But in Medda, where The Reporter visited earlier this week, many have reflected on experiences that have taken a hefty toll, especially on their children that are no longer in school.
Their future looks bleak and most are struggling to stay afloat with basic necessities of life. Most are quick to reflect about that life they have left behind in a faraway life yet a walking distance of only few kilometers away that is now guarded by the military to bring peace in the area.
Housed in an aging make shift plastic huts and donated mattresses, thousands of people live in this village mirroring the experiences of many thousands nearby.
“We are not refugees, we are productive people whose lives have suddenly been interrupted”, an elderly man told The Reporter. “We have little documentation to show it, little support to provide our family as we were suddenly pushed to a place that was foreign to all of us”
The sentiment is universal here. This is a prime example of lives interruption that is human made, not the natural disasters that have provided the narrative for Ethiopia to reach out to international humanitarian organizations in the past.
“I am not a poor man and I was a farmer adequate enough to feed my family and earn a living”, Abdi Abdullah told The Reporter while his children sprung all over him. “I never was a recipient of handouts by any agency or government and now I can barely support my own family. I am lost and I feel defeated”.
“This is the not the life I envisioned for myself and my children and it almost looks like a bad dream where I am no longer able to be productive and feel safe”, Osman Saliman said. “I miss home, where I had a home and rather than a makeshift home where it does not feel like home for me and my children”.
Like Abdi and Osman, there are thousands of people who have come to this village in need of safety, moved here from an area that is not far, but no longer safe and no longer a home. Most owned properties, lands and bank accounts and had a future but now are supported by humanitarian agencies such as ChildFund who has partnered with government agencies and others to offer emergency aid. This is after the organization was requested by the government of Ethiopia to support these vulnerable populations.
ChildFund and its Oromia implementing partners estimate to reach close to 7000 people within the next month with food and non-food items.
“This is an emergency response to stabilize displaced communities through providing a one-off package of basic necessities such as food and non-food items to the IDP’s in Medda Wolabu district”, Chege Ngugi, the Country Director of ChildFund Ethiopia told The Reporter. “In addition, the support includes outdoor play materials aimed at meeting some psychosocial needs of the displaced children and other items such as nutritious food for those under the age of five, and other packages such as sanitary pads, blankets, sleeping mats, cooking wares and kettle”.
According to Bale Zone Woreda administrator, Ato Aliyi, there are close to 1400 households in need of immediate food assistance, including nutritious food for vulnerable children. ChildFund and its four implementing partners in Oromia are pumping two million Birr for the efforts here, but there is evidently big need.
Founded in 1938, ChildFund is a child-focused international development organization with its headquarters in the United States and has many ongoing projects within Ethiopia. It specializes in the areas of vulnerable children and helps transform their communities become a society where they can prospers and live normal lives.