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IDPs number rise as violence hits Benishangul, Oromia

IDPs number rise as violence hits Benishangul, Oromia

Following a series of ethnic induced conflicts in Western Ethiopia, more than 100,000 Ethiopians are internally displaced and close to 60 people killed, The Reporter has learnt. 

The fresh displacement began after the killing of officials of Benishangul Gumuz Regional State. Four security officials of the region were killed by an armed group which was said to be active in border weredas of Oromia and Benishangul Gumuz regional states.

The officials were ambushed by the group when they were on their way to Kamash Zone, Benishangul region.  They were in a meeting which was held in Assosa and was attended by security officials from Oromia region, particularly West Wellega. The meeting mainly focused on solving security problems in the area.

Unfortunately, after concluding the security meeting, the deceased officials were attacked on September 25, 2018 at a place called Mekabila, Oromia Region. The attackers also burned down two vehicles.

Day after the attack, tensions were high in both regions which finally led to an ethnic related attacks and large scale displacements.

In this regard, close to thousands of people were displaced from Beinshangul and periphery weredas of Oromia which border Benishangul.

According to Negeri Lencho (PhD), communication bureau head of Oromia region, close to 85,000 people were displaced from the aforementioned places over the past ten days. He also said that at least 30 people were killed in Benishangul.

On the other hand, more than 20,000 people were also displaced from Oromia region and are now sheltered in different locations across Benishangul.

The figures might increase due to people who are not yet counted and are in hiding, Zelalem Jaleta, communication head for Benishangul, said.

He also added that following the crisis, 28 people were killed in Sasiaga wereda, East Wellega at a place called Lomita.

The head indicated that there is an armed group which claims it represents the Oromo Liberation Front.

“The officials were killed by this group,” Zelalem said. The armed group was also active in Mao Komo wereda of Benishangul for the past six months and has control over more than 30 kebeles.

Following the humanitarian crisis, the Oromia region and the federal government is providing support for those displaced from Benishangul and are now located in different locations in Oromia.

On the other hand, those who are displaced from Oromia and located in Benishangul region are getting little support.

“The road to the affected areas is closed by the armed groups and we couldn’t reach those who are in need of support,” Zelalem said.

“We are thinking of using a helicopter to deliver support,” he said.

In a related news, the Benishangul region asked for extra-deployment of military to ease the security tensions in those areas.

In this regard, it is to be recalled that the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC) commissioner, Addisu Gebreigzabhier (PhD), accused government officials of failing to enforce the rule of law which led to human rights crisis in those regions. The commissioner asked for the intervention of the government.