AnalysisArmed conflict in Amhara and Afar stateSocial Affairs

Analysis: Afar region says aid delivery by fed. government not enough as IDP crisis worsens

Photo: UN Ethiopia

By Mahlet Fasil @MahletFasil

Addis Abeba – More than 300,000 IDPs are sheltered in 14 makeshift camps in the Afar region, but according to the region’s head of disaster prevention and risk management Mohamed Hussein who spoke with Addis Standard, support from the federal government is not enough.

He said between 200 and 300 IDPs enter the camps per day, adding that the number of IDPs has increased significantly as the fighting continues. “There are a lot of children and women in shelters right now. 

Although the regional government is providing assistance to the best of its capacity, the support provided by the federal government is not enough. Residents of 5 woredas are completely displaced.’’ he said. Adding on detail, he informed Addis Standard the figure only includes IDPs that are registered. He said it was impossible to return the displaced to their homes in the midst of the fighting; adding that the aid provided by the United Nations and humanitarian agencies is insufficient. 

The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said that the humanitarian situation in the region continues to be dire with a high number of IDPs in need of support while the response is still insufficient to meet the amounting needs in the region.

Sultan Yassin, a resident of Berhale Woreda in the Afar Region, walked 100 kilometers (62 miles) with his family and is now living in a shelter. “It is very unfortunate. We were forced into this war. The government is not providing us with food and material aid. Everyone who used to say that they were with us is no longer with us.’’ he said.  “We are Ethiopians. When all this abuse took place, government officials and aid workers disappeared for unknown reasons,” he adds. 

“Everyone who used to say that they were with us is no longer with us .”

Sultan Yassin, a resident of Berhale Woreda

Fatuma, another displaced woman sheltered in Buti Woreda, began her speech by saying, “Allah will judge us, in a country where there is a government, we are evicted from our homes and we live in shelters. We pay for the medical treatment of our children. I want to go home and start my life again. I am a woman and I want to live in peace with my mother and my children. When I see children of officials in power, eating, and my children are starving, I cry and tell Allah.’’

When asked how many IDPs there were, Fatuma said, the government only knew of those registered in the camps, many are scattered in the desert. “My neighbors are not here now. They refused to flee and abandon their camels and goats. I don’t even know where they are.”

On the contrary, Debebe Zewde, Public Relations Officer of the National Disaster Management Commission said that several aid organizations including World Food Program (WFP) are providing aid in the Afar region, in addition to the government and individuals. He insisted that humanitarian assistance is being provided and said, “We need t take into account the current situation in Ethiopia. Regional governments should use the assistance provided wisely.”

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According to the region’s head of disaster prevention and risk management, infrastructure worth more than ten billion ETB had been destroyed in the war. Mohammed called upon the international organizations to put pressure on Tigrayan forces to leave the areas they occupied in the region. 

IDPs in the Afar region have repeatedly stated that the assistance is insufficient.  Afar People’s Party Executive Committee said that Aid is not reaching hundreds of thousands of people while supplies, especially food items remain stocked in warehouses. 

The party accused the government of monopolization of aid delivery for political consumption. “We are receiving many complaints that the supports that are being made are not reaching the real victims beyond political image building,” the party said. AS

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