By BETH MWAI @mwaikaruana and REUTERS @reutersafrica
Thursday March 15, 2018
Protesters chant slogans during a demonstration, over what they say is unfair distribution of wealth in the country, at Meskel Square in Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa, August 6, 2016. /REUTERS
The number of Ethiopians who have crossed into Kenya for refuge since March 10 has risen to at least 8,500, Red Cross has reported.
This is an increment of 6,500 from figures reported on Tuesday, as Ethiopia deals with the killing of several civilians in what the military said was a botched security operation targeting militants.
In a statement on Thursday, Red Cross Secretary General Abbas Gullet said the number may keep increasing.
"Reports indicate that more families are on the way to Moyale," he said, adding displaced persons are currently concentrated in Sessi (3,080 people).
Others are in Sololo (2,300), Somare (1,830), Cifa/Butiye (890), Maeyi (300), Kukub (91), Gatta Korma (51) and Dambala Fachana (50).
Some have integrated with host communities.
The aid organisation said it will distributing food and non-food items and provide integrated medical outreaches, health education and other support.
These interventions target families that have already settled in Moyale and Sololo areas, as well as the newcomers.
On Tuesday, the society said most of those crossing into Kenya are women and children, including "pregnant and lactating mothers, chronically ill persons, those abled differently and the elderly".
Some of those fleeing had moved with their livestock, compounding pressure on struggling relief agencies, the Red Cross said.
A state official in the Oromiya region told Reuters on condition of anonymity that tens of thousands of people have also been internally displaced.
Ethiopian state media reported on Sunday that soldiers had been deployed to an area near the town of Moyale in Oromiya, a region that borders Kenya, in pursuit of Oromo Liberation Front fighters who had crossed into the country from Kenya.
The Front is a secessionist group which the Ethiopian government describes as terrorist.
But faulty intelligence led soldiers to launch an attack that killed nine civilians and injured 12 others, the Ethiopian News Agency said.
Ethiopia has said that five soldiers who took part in the attack near Moyale have been "disarmed" and are under investigation, while a high-level military delegation has been dispatched to the area to inquire further into the incident.
Outbreaks of violence have continued in Oromiya province even after Ethiopia declared a six-month, nationwide state of emergency last month following the resignation of Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn.
Desalegn said his unprecedented February 15 resignation was intended to smooth the way for reforms, following years of violent unrest that threatened the ruling EPRDF coalition's hold on Africa's second most populous nation.
His successor as premier and EPRDF chairperson is expected to be named before the end of this month.