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News: Thousands of IDPs in Amhara region grapple with forced return to unstable areas

Recently, IDPs taking shelter in the Farta district held a meeting with regional officials to voice their apprehensions regarding the proposed plan to relocate them to their home villages in the Oromia region (Photo: South Gondar Zone Communication/Facebook)

Addis Abeba – Amidst ongoing conflict and violence, thousands of internally displaced persons (IDPs) who currently reside in the Amhara region face forced return to their native villages in the Oromia region.

Recently, regional authorities announced plans to facilitate the return of over 1,725 individuals who were displaced from their homes in the Oromia region and are currently seeking refuge in the Farta district of the South Gondar Zone in the Amhara region.

According to officials, the effort to repatriate IDPs to their home villages is a key component of an agreement forged between the administrations of Amhara and Oromia.

Yirga Sisay, the head of the Prosperity Party office in Amhara, recently affirmed that IDPs residing in the region will gradually be resettled in their places of origin in accordance with the agreement between officials from the Amhara and Oromia regional administrations.

However, the displaced population is uncertain about potential relocation to areas that may still encounter problems, as expressed by affected individuals.

IDPs sheltered in the Farta district, who shared their concerns in a recent discussion, emphasized that they fled the Oromia region, forsaking their assets and homes to avoid the strife. They also articulated a strong preference to only consider returning to their native homes once stability and security in the region are reliably reestablished.

Madnew Berhan, head of the Farta district agriculture office and co-chair of the recent discussion, stated that government support for IDPs in the district falls short of needs. To address this issue, a dedicated committee has been established, led by the zonal chief administrator, to develop a comprehensive plan for the IDPs, according to him.

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Currently, the Farta district is home to approximately 345 displaced households.

During the discussion, Belay Asrade, head of the South Gondar Zone Disaster Prevention and Food Security Office, disclosed that the zone currently hosts over 54,000 IDPs from various parts of the Oromia region.

Belay highlighted that ongoing conflict in the Amhara region has complicated the distribution of food aid to IDPs in the South Gondar Zone. Additionally, he pointed out the increased strain on government resources, with 198,000 residents in the zone now reliant on aid due to a persistent drought.

The dire situation extends beyond the South Gondar Zone.

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A recent article by Addis Standard has highlighted the plight of those at the Jara IDP center in the Northern Wollo Zone of the Amhara region, where a directive from local authorities has compounded the distress of thousands of individuals seeking refuge there. These IDPs, already fleeing the persistent conflict in the Oromia region, are now confronted with an urgent order to vacate the center, plunging them back into a state of precariousness.

Since 2018, the Jara camp has become a sanctuary for over 10,000 individuals escaping conflict in various parts of Oromia, notably from the East Welega Zone.

In January 2023, the Disaster Prevention and Food Security Commission of the region reported a staggering influx of evacuees, with the number of people displaced from four zones in the Oromia region and seeking refuge in the Amhara region surpassing one million. AS

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