Addis Abeba – Internally displaced people (IDPs) in western Oromia, who were forcibly returned to their homes, are facing severe vulnerability with regards to food shortages and shelter.
Since May 2023, IDPs specifically residing in the East Wollega, West Wollega, Kelam Wollega, and Horroo Guduru Wollega zones have been compelled to abandon their shelters. However, their return home has brought them into a grave predicament as a scarcity of sustenance and a mounting health crisis loom over them.
According to sources close to the issue, many IDPs in western Oromia who were forced to leave their shelters now find themselves vulnerable. “Some went to other parts of Oromia, while a small percentage have resorted to living on the streets,” disclosed Biyansa Deso, an aid worker for the local NGO Akimoon Development Initiative.
Biyansa emphasized that initially, the displaced people were supported by the army to settle in their hometowns. However, when the army left, they fled their homes due to fear for their lives. A health professional working for an international humanitarian organization in the area told Addis Standard that the displaced people are being compelled to return to their homes before the source of instability and violence in their area is resolved. In many parts of Oromia, frequent fighting occurs between the Oromo Liberation Army (OLA) and government forces.
Getu Saketa, the head of the Gender and Human Rights Branch of the Gurmuu Development Association, revealed that some of the people who were forced to leave the shelters sought refuge with their relatives residing in other parts of the Oromia region. However, this has led to an exacerbation of the existing food shortage problem, as too many internally displaced people are heavily reliant on very few relatives.
The displaced people in the Horro Guduru Wollega Zone, who have settled in the bus terminal, the Wollega University campus-Shambu branch, and the football field in Shambu city, as well as those in various camps in the East Wollega zone, are also facing numerous challenges, according to Getu.
Last month, Addis Standard reported on the severe humanitarian crisis faced by the residents of Horro Guduru and East Wollega zones in Western Oromia. These individuals have been displaced due to multiple attacks in the past month and are currently enduring great suffering. The IDPs have expressed their lament over the lack of humanitarian assistance, leading to hunger and heightened security risks.
Based on a recent assessment conducted by a humanitarian organization and obtained by Addis Standard, there are 753,674 displaced people in four zones of western Oromia—East Wollega, West Wollega, Kelam Wollega, and Horroo Guduru Wollega—who are in urgent need of assistance. According to the assessment, there are 141 camps in 11 zones and 96 districts, with 1.4 million internally displaced people settled in the Oromia region.
The majority of these areas are located in the western part of Oromia, where fighting between the Oromo Liberation Army (OLA) and Ethiopian federal government forces is ongoing. Out of the total IDPs in Oromia, 1.2 million people are in urgent need of emergency food aid, according to the assessment. AS