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Ethiopian Crisis: Conflict and Climate Change Drive Millions from Their Homes

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Displaced families in Dubuluk IDP Camp. Photo: IOM/ Ethiopia.
Displaced families in Dubuluk IDP Camp. Photo: IOM/ Ethiopia.

A recent report by the International Organization for Migration’s (IOM) Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM) has revealed a staggering displacement crisis in Ethiopia, with over 3 million people internally displaced by the end of last year.

The National Displacement Report sheds light on the primary causes of displacement, the regions most affected, and the ongoing challenges facing internally displaced persons (IDPs) in the country.

The Root Causes of Displacement

According to the report, conflict remains the dominant driver of displacement, accounting for 69% of the internally displaced population. Ethiopia has been grappling with severe internal conflicts, particularly in the Tigray region, which has significantly contributed to the mass displacement of people. In addition to conflict, climate-induced events have also played a critical role in the displacement crisis. Drought, exacerbated by climate change, has displaced 17% of the population, while floods, landslides, and fires have contributed to 9% of the displacement.

“These findings will help IOM and its partners, including UN agencies, NGOs, government officials, embassies, and donors, to make data-driven interventions and solutions for displaced persons in Ethiopia,” said Abibatou Wane, Chief of Mission for IOM Ethiopia. She emphasized the importance of expanding assessment coverage across the country to address the needs of more IDPs effectively.

Regional Impact

The Tigray region in the north is the hardest hit by conflict-induced displacement, hosting the highest number of IDPs. The Somali region in the east, on the other hand, bears the brunt of climate-induced displacement, particularly due to the severe drought that has plagued Ethiopia and other parts of the Horn of Africa. The recent drought is the worst in four decades, further compounding the displacement crisis.

Return and Rehabilitation

The National Displacement Report also includes a Village Assessment Survey (VAS) to monitor the movement of IDPs returning to their places of origin. The survey identified approximately 2.54 million returning IDPs across more than 2,500 villages in 10 regions. This represents an increase of over 18,500 returnees since the last data collection between August and September 2023. Most returnees are heading back to the Tigray (38%), Amhara (37%), and Afar (9%) regions.

The report’s findings highlight the significant number of IDPs who, despite the ongoing challenges, are attempting to return to their homes. This underscores the resilience of the displaced populations and the critical need for sustained support to facilitate their reintegration and rehabilitation.

Moving Forward

The IOM report underscores the urgent need for coordinated efforts to address the complex displacement crisis in Ethiopia. The data provided will guide IOM and its partners in developing targeted interventions to support displaced persons. Ensuring the provision of basic services, enhancing socio-economic stability, and promoting the self-reliance of IDPs are crucial steps in mitigating the impacts of displacement.

As Ethiopia continues to navigate this crisis, the international community’s role in providing sustained support and resources cannot be overstated. Collaborative efforts involving UN agencies, NGOs, government officials, and donors are essential to creating long-term solutions for displaced populations and fostering a stable and resilient environment for all Ethiopians.

Conclusion

The displacement crisis in Ethiopia, driven by conflict and climate change, presents a formidable challenge. With over 3 million people displaced, primarily due to conflict, and millions more affected by climate-induced events, the need for effective, data-driven interventions is critical. The IOM’s National Displacement Report provides a comprehensive overview of the situation, offering valuable insights to inform ongoing and future efforts to support Ethiopia’s displaced populations and ensure their safe and sustainable return to their communities.

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