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Humanitarian organization condemns unplanned repatriation

With the Government of Ethiopia yet to approve a new plan on how to repatriate internally displaced persons (IDPs) to their original homes and rehabilitates them; a new report by International Refugees – a humanitarian organization based in the US – disclosed the recent efforts by the government to repatriate (IDPs) was unplanned, lacking in coordination and was also involuntarily imposed on IDPs, The Reporter has learnt.

 The filed report entitled “The crisis below the headlines: Conflict Displacement in Ethiopia,” said some of the repatriation process of IDPs were involuntary exposing IDPs to more risks and danger.

It took the case of Gedio and West Guji of which; returnees face lack of opportunities for local integration or resettlement to other places.

“By late September, the government had already moved to return most of the IDPs in Gedeo and West Guji, the majority of whom are now in secondary displacement sites near their home areas,” according to the report. However, there are reports of continuing clashes in those aforementioned places and of people fleeing from these secondary displacement sites than being “returned” again.

Furthermore, the report reads, because of those clashes there is now a circulation of returning IDPs moving back and forth from one location to another.

“The government must cease carrying out repatriation unless they are truly voluntary,” reads the report.

According to the same report, there were also cases after an unplanned and uncoordinated relocation took place, it became difficult to know if the returnees are getting enough assistance as well as tracking their well-being.

In this regard the report disclosed that from around 2,000 unaccompanied minors who had been identified in the Gedeo zone and were chosen to get a special protection support, some went missing after took place.

 

Moreover, the same report lambasts the repatriation and relocation process stating, it lacks accountability. The report indicated that it is not clear who is giving the orders when it comes to returning the IDPs.

The report further advices the government to resolve its shortcomings to secure the safety of its population.

“It must be done in a planned, thoughtful way that offers choice and prevents causing additional harm. Returning to unsafe, unsuitable locations cannot be an option.

Further, any relocation and repatriation efforts must be done in transparency in collaboration with humanitarian organizations,” reads the report.

“The government has already drafted a document on how to return and rehabilitate those IDPs,” said a government official whose name withheld upon request.

“A technical team from Ministry of Peace and other concerned agencies have discussed on the draft document,” he added.

Acknowledging the shortcomings, the official said “we were overstretched with spontaneous internal displacements here and there.”

It is to be recalled that the IDP in Ethiopia has surpassed countries with major conflicts such as Syria, Yemen and the Republic of Congo.