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Aid organizations urge swift measures to support displaced Ethiopians

Saturday July 14, 2018

Various international aid organizations have called for swift measures to support internally displaced people in Ethiopia, mainly due to inter-communal clashes over the past few months.

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) is the latest international organ to express its concern on Friday, saying that over 800,000 internally displaced people are living without adequate shelter and safe sanitation in Ethiopia.

According to IOM, the situation has resulted in "a worsening humanitarian situation further exacerbated by cold, wet weather brought on by the rainy season."

Clashes last month between communities along the border of two Ethiopian regions, the Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples' Region (SNNPR) and Oromia Region, forced hundreds of thousands of people to flee their homes.

According to data collected through IOM's Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM), there were already 1.7 million people displaced throughout Ethiopia mostly due to drought and subsequent floods before the latest movements.

Thousands of people are crammed into overcrowded collective centers unfit for human habitation, according to IOM's statement.

Others sleep outside on dirt floors with nothing more than a tarpaulin to shield them from the cold and rain, and open fire cooking in congested buildings, poor sanitation and cold weather are all contributing to a worsening environment, according to the statement.

The United Nations and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) also on Thursday indicated their concern over the condition of IDPs in the East African country.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said Thursday that while new measures to bring unity and reconciliation under the leadership of Ethiopia's Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed have spurred great enthusiasm, the impact of inter-communal tensions presents a challenge for the new leadership.

Nearly 1 million people are displaced and require urgent help, especially during this rainy season, the secretary-general added.

The UN's Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) also on Thursday released 15 million U.S. dollars to urgently scale up humanitarian assistance to people affected by escalating inter-communal violence in Ethiopia.

CERF's allocation is said to enable humanitarian partners to scale up life-saving assistance in support of the government-led response.

ICRC's assessment team leader, Shirin Hanafieh, also on Thursday said that "people are struggling to live in anything resembling basic dignity."

"This crisis is completely off the radar of the international community and the consequences of this neglect could be dire," Hanafieh said. "If humanitarian assistance is not scaled up quickly, people will be at risk of malnutrition and disease outbreaks, especially as the rainy season sets in."


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