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News: UN says 4.5 million people currently displaced internally in Ethiopia

IDPs sheltered in a bus station in Shambu town, Horro Guduru Wollega zone of the Oromia region (Photo: Addis Standard)

Addis Abeba – A recent report by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) revealed that an estimated 4.5 million people are currently displaced within Ethiopia, mainly Somali, Oromia and Tigray regions.

The report indicated that the number of IDPs in Ethiopia which stood at 500,000 in 2016, spiked to 5.8 in 2021. Despite 3.3 million IDPs returning to their areas of origin since January 2022, the report stated, due to ongoing displacement in several regions, the number of IDPs today stands at 4.5 million. 

“About 56% of IDPs have been displaced for more than one year, 23% for two to four years and 11 per cent for five or more years,” the report highlighted, adding that 73% of the IDPs were displaced due to conflict whereas 12% by climate.

The Somali region leads with having the highest number of IDPs, 1.2 million, followed by Oromia and Tigray, 1.1 million each. The restive Amhara region follows with over 400,000 IDPs. Out of the total 4.5 million, 55% are sheltered in IDP camps, whereas the remaining 45% live within host communities.

According to the  UN OCHA, assessments indicated that “many IDPs, especially those living in protracted displacement, can be assisted to return, relocate or locally integrate.”

Addressing lawmakers on Thursday, PM Abiy Ahmed hinted at ongoing efforts to return IDPs to their places of origin. “…we have seen the beginning of returns to Tigray, albeit in small numbers. Additionally, hundreds of thousands have returned from Amhara to Oromia,” he said.

Following an agreement reached between the federal government, Amhara and Tigray regional states, IDPs in Tigray have started to return to their villages in Southern and Northwestern parts of the region.

Last week saw the successful return of the first batch of 1,500 IDPs to their homes in the Tselemti district. Following days of stalemate caused by concerns about the disarmament of returning militia members, additional 2,200 internally displaced persons (IDPs) arrived in the district on Wednesday this week.

In March, Addis Standard reported apprehensions among individuals displaced from the Oromia region who had sought refuge in Amhara region regarding repatriation to areas still contending with instability. AS

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