HotSpots H2O, August 13: Intercommunal Violence Escalates in Ethiopia, Displacing One Million People

The Rundown

Since April, intercommunal violence — which includes burning houses, killing, rape, and livestock slaughter — has flared in Ethiopia’s Gedeo and West Guji zones, displacing an estimated one million people. The cause of the violence is unclear, but long-time regional tensions over land and water may be partially to blame. Many internally displaced people report fleeing brutal village raids “with nothing but their lives.”

Host communities and the Ethiopian government are scrambling to meet the needs of the displaced, but thousands of people have little or no access to clean water, food, shelter, or medicine. Aid workers fear that the lack of water and sanitation could spark disease outbreaks, particularly the spread of acute watery diarrhea.  

“People are in desperate need for help. The region has been suffering from hunger for years. With the current violence, massive displacements and starting rainy season the situation is deteriorating by the day. We urgently need funding to scale up our humanitarian response. People are without food, clean water and safe shelter.” — Fred McCray, Ethiopia’s acting country director for CARE International, an aid group. According to McCray, people are desperate for sleeping mats, blankets, food, and jerry cans for gathering water. In one area, he reported seeing 25 people sharing one 10-liter jerry can.

By The Numbers

1,000,000 Roughly the number of Ethiopians who have been internally displaced since the beginning of the year due to intercommunal violence. The situation has escalated in the past 4 months.

200 Ethiopians who died this year amid the violence.

$170 million Amount of humanitarian aid that the United States will send to Ethiopia, according to a recent announcement. The U.S., which has given $802 million to Ethiopia since October 2016, is the largest humanitarian donor to the crisis.

920,262 Refugees who were residing in Ethiopia as of May 2018. Ethiopia has welcomed many refugees fleeing conflicts in other countries in recent years, but is now struggling to meet the needs of both the IDPs and refugees.

2.5 million People in Ethiopia who are likely to be affected by seasonal flooding between July and September, including many IDPs and refugees.

On The Radar

Last week, the Ethiopian government negotiated a peace deal with the Oromo Liberation Front, which will likely bring a decline in violence. Tensions in the region remain high, though, and many people are unable to return home to their devastated villages. Aid groups are calling for more assistance from international donors to continue meeting the needs of the IDPs.

Resources and Further Reading

Ethiopia: A Massive Crisis Off the International Radar (Relief Web)
Ethiopia: Africa’s Hidden Crisis – Conflict, Drought and Displacement in Ethiopia (All Africa/Thomas Reuters Foundation)
Ethiopia: humanitarians scale up life-saving aid to over 1 million forcibly displaced by violence in the south-west (UN News)
Nearly One Million Ethiopians Displaced by Conflict Since April (VOA)
UNICEF Ethiopia Humanitarian Situation Report #6 – Reporting Period January-June 2018 (Relief Web)
United States announces $170 million in humanitarian assistance to help vulnerable people in Ethiopia who are facing displacement and food insecurity (Relief Web)

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