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News: Residents displaced by recent attacks in Western Oromia face hunger, malaria exacerbates already dire humanitarian situation

IDPs living in temporary shelter in Sasiga district East Wollega zone (Photo:ICRC)

By Getahun Legesse @Birmaduu2

Addis Abeba – Residents of Horro Guduru and East Wollega zones in Western Oromia who were displaced by multiple attacks allegedly perpetrated by Fano militants over the past month are suffering from a severe humanitarian crisis. The IDPs said they have not received any humanitarian assistance and are facing hunger, and exposed to further security threats in the absence of shelter and health services.

In June, Addis Standard reported two incidents where the Fano armed militants killed at least five in Amuru district of Horro Guduru, and eight in Kiremu district of East Wollega zones resulting in the displacement of thousands of civilians.

A farmer from Sidan Barkale village of Amuru district who spoke to Addis Standard on conditions of anonymity said he lost his wife and son during the June attack in Amuru. The farmer who is currently in Gida town, in East Wollega zone said neither the government nor NGOs provided him with assistance since he was displaced.

“I beg around the town and feed myself,” he said, adding that the militants looted his cattle and other properties before burning his house. 

Dhaba, another IDP who fled Bute Gudina village in Gida Ayana district of East Wollega zone to Gida town said he and his family are in “heavy misery”. “We are in a terrible situation as we cannot go back to our villages and do our farming. The Amhara insurgents have set fire to our houses and crops,” Dhaba, who asked to be identified only by his first name, said.

He noted that the assistance provided to him and his 11 family members by the government is not enough even for one person. “We are in trouble that is difficult to speak about unless God brings us a year,” Dhaba said.

Local officials as well as officials from the Busa Gonofa Oromia, a regional relief commission were unavailable to comment on the dire situation in the two zones making it impossible to get data on how many people are displaced following the recent attacks.

In February, Addis Standard reported that nearly 30,000 people who were internally displaced following deadly attacks in Kiremu and Gida Ayana districts of East Wollega zone in November last year and have since been living in IDP shelters in the small Gida town were hesitant to return home citing lingering insecurity despite officials urging them otherwise.

The UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) have repeatedly reported that the humanitarian situation in Western Oromia continued to worsen since 2020, and said in May this year, about 859,000 displaced people are in need of protection and other multi-sectoral support.

In its latest situation report released on 03 July, the OCHA said malaria is wreaking havoc in the four Wellega zones in Western Oromia worsening the humanitarian situation that is already on the edge. 

“Across West, East and Kellem Wollega zones, an estimated 272,400 people are reportedly affected, and at least 45 per cent of health centers and 63 per cent of total health posts across West, East, Horro Guduru, and Kellem Wollega zones are non-functional according to zonal authorities”. 

The OCHA said distribution of anti-malaria drugs in East, West and Horo Guduru zones beyond the zonal capitals, as well as humanitarian partners’ operations including the delivery of supplies to zones are constrained by sporadic hostilities or roadblocks.

“Besides access challenges, there remains a shortage in anti-malarial drugs and rapid diagnostic tests (RDTs), long lasting insecticide-treated nets (LLIN), and lack of insecticides to manage permanent breeding sites, and for which resources need to be mobilized,” the OCHA said.

The spread of malaria amid ongoing rainfall and waterlogging, is exacerbated by the weak health systems due to hostilities, OCHA’s report added.

On 22 June, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said critical infrastructures including health facilities and water systems have been seriously affected in the Oromia region due the ongoing violence. AS

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