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Ethiopia Grapples with Soaring Internal Displacement Crisis, UN Report Reveals

ADDIS ABABA — Ethiopia faces an unprecedented internal displacement crisis, as highlighted in a recent report by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

The report disclosed that an estimated 4.5 million people are currently displaced within the country, predominantly in the regions of Somali, Oromia, and Tigray.

The findings underscore a stark escalation from 500,000 displaced persons in 2016 to a staggering 5.8 million by 2021, reflecting the profound impact of ongoing conflicts and environmental challenges.

Despite the return of 3.3 million IDPs to their places of origin since the beginning of 2022, persistent instability has maintained the IDP population at 4.5 million.

Detailing the demographics of displacement, the report noted that 56% of IDPs have endured displacement for over a year, with 23% displaced for two to four years, and 11% for five years or more. Conflict emerged as the primary driver of displacement, affecting 73% of IDPs, while climate-related factors accounted for 12%.

The Somali region bears the heaviest burden with 1.2 million IDPs, closely followed by Oromia and Tigray, each hosting 1.1 million displaced individuals. The Amhara region, too, grapples with significant displacement, sheltering over 400,000 IDPs. Of the total displaced population, 55% are housed in IDP camps, with the remaining 45% integrated within host communities.

The UN OCHA emphasized opportunities for intervention, stating that many IDPs, particularly those in prolonged displacement, could be supported through return, relocation, or local integration initiatives.

In response to the crisis, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed acknowledged ongoing efforts during a recent address to lawmakers. He highlighted initial returns to Tigray and significant repatriations from Amhara to Oromia as signs of progress amidst persistent challenges.

Recent agreements between the federal government and regional authorities in Amhara and Tigray have facilitated the return of IDPs to villages across southern and northwestern Tigray, marking a tentative step towards stabilization in affected regions.

The unfolding crisis underscores the urgent need for sustained humanitarian efforts and coordinated strategies to alleviate the plight of millions facing displacement within Ethiopia.

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