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XINHUA NEWS SERVICE REPORTS FROM THE AFRICAN CONTINENT

 

United Nations refugee agency calling for urgent
support to Ethiopia’s internal displacement crisis

ADDIS ABABA Ethiopia (Xinhua) -- The UN refugee agency, UNHCR, on Friday urged for more humanitarian support for the nearly one million people displaced by recent violence in south-western Ethiopia.

The UN migration agency, IOM, said last month that since April some 970,000 people have fled their homes due to fighting between communities along the border of Ethiopia’s Gedeo Zone in the Southern region and West Guji Zone in Ethiopia’s largest Oromia region.

"Displaced people, host communities and returnees are in dire need of assistance for basic necessities like food, water, blankets and cooking supplies.

"Shelter materials, especially plastic sheeting, are urgently needed before the heavy seasonal rains," the UN refugee agency said in a statement on Friday.

"We and our partners urgently need resources to continue providing life-saving assistance.

"For the coming 12 months, we need USD 21.5 million for the IDP response," it added.

Amid UNHCR’s call for urgent support, the Ethiopian government has on Thursday stressed that almost all of the internally displaced people in south-western Ethiopia will return home soon as government rehabilitation efforts kick in.

More than 359,000 of the displaced have already returned to their respective localities as inter-communal clashes are contained and security situations improved, Ethiopia’s state press agency quoted regional officials as saying.

Local government officials further affirmed that communities involved in the conflict have settled the conflict through traditional mechanisms.

UNHCR, however, stressed for strong support for the returnees, saying that "UNHCR and partners are calling for all returns to be voluntary and conducted in safety and dignity."

"Our teams observed many of the IDPs being hosted in schools, hospitals and other public buildings.

"Those who have returned home to their plots of land or farms often find that there is nothing left," it added.

According to UNHCR, the recent violence that followed more than a year of drought and tension over resources has brought various challenges on the displaced people.

UNHCR, which deployed two Emergency Response Teams on the ground in Gedeo and West Guji areas, said it is presently responding to the urgent needs of the displaced persons and returnees after requests by the Ethiopian government for humanitarian assistance.

UNHCR also revealed the provision of 50,000 emergency kits comprised of kitchen sets, sleeping mats, blankets, plastic sheets and jerry cans, with funding from the UN’s Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF).

UNHCR’s current support to Ethiopia’s inter-communal crisis is in addition to providing assistance to some 854,000 refugees in the east African country, it was noted.
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EARLIER REPORT:

Ethiopian government vows to fully rehabilitate inter-communal violence victims

ADDIS ABABA Ethiopia (Xinhua) -- Almost all of the internally displaced people in south-western Ethiopia will return home soon as government rehabilitation efforts kick in, authorities have said.

The UN migration agency said last month that since April some 970,000 people have fled their homes due to fighting between communities along the border of Ethiopia’s Gedeo Zone in the Southern region and West Guji Zone in Ethiopia’s largest Oromia region.

More than 359,000 of the displaced have already returned to their respective localities as inter-communal clashes are contained and security situations improved, Ethiopia’s state press agency quoted regional officials as saying.

Communities involved in the conflict have settled the conflict through traditional mechanisms, they said.

Following the escalation of conflicts and the eventual displacement of hundreds of thousands of people, various international aid organizations have been calling for concerted efforts to provide basic humanitarian support to those affected.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said last month that while aid has increased in recent weeks, "it is still insufficient to meet the needs of the displaced.

"With schools being used as shelters and so many children still displaced, it could also be difficult for students to return to school when the new academic year starts in September."

"Schools, factories, and courthouses are just a few of the buildings that now act as shelters for displaced families in southern Ethiopia after a wave of inter-communal clashes along the border areas of Gedeo and West Guji zones drove nearly one million people from their homes," the ICRC said in a statement.

According to a report published last month by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the number of internally displaced people (IDPs) in Ethiopia stood at 2.8 million, up from 1.6 million at the beginning of the year.

UNICEF also said that the east African country also hosts more than 920,000 refugees, mainly from neighboring Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan and Eritrea.

             

 

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