By Sisay Sahlu
ADDIS ABEBA – Members of parliament has released their investigative report on the status of internally displaced people in Ethiopia.
The investigative team – formed by the parliament – presented their 25-page report that looked into the status of the 2.5 million homeless people.
The team has visited Internally displaced persons or IDPs sheltered in four regional states – Tigray, Amhara, Oromia and SNNP region – to write up their final report.
The report also failed to estimate the cost of displacement in the country.
This has been a source of discontent among members of parliament as many MPs believe that it has left many displaced people unaccounted for.
The report, however, managed to give the number of displaced people in each of the four regions.
Accordingly, there are 111,465 in Tigray, 873 272 in SNNPR, 1,477,720 in Oromia and 107,097 in Amhara living in IDP shelters.
Majority of them have lost their confidence over government’s ability to repatriate them to their home and help them start their normal life, the report found out.
The displaced people said often heard giving various reasons not to go back to their home.
Absence of compensation for burned houses, animals and other farming materials were given as reason by farmer IDPs not interested to go back to their home, said the report, adding other people such as traders, see reparation for their demolished properties as key for them to restart their normal lives.
Above all, they said, the IDPs said they want the government to guarantee their security.
“We have seen government and security forces being silent while we were displacing from our villages,” they told to the investigative team as a reason for not trusting the security apparatus.
IDPs also expressed their frustration with the federal government over its lack of commitment, saying “criminals and suspects are not yet brought to justice”.
The report was tabled for discussion on the 5th parliamentary special meeting, in the presence of Deputy Prime Minister Demeke Mekonen and other higher government officials.
After hearing the report, members of parliament have criticized government for its inaction towards the situation for a long time.
Mazengia Ayato, MP, slammed government by saying it’s not respecting “promise to keep and protect the safety of people”.
“It is really shocking to hear such a news,” he said.
The government has already formed a national coordination committee to follow up the situation of IDPs in Ethiopia.
But these members of the committee too are frustrated with the level of IDPs and with the work to relocate the people to their home.
Deputy prime minister and chairman of the committee Demeke criticized those who are involved in illegal acts of displacing people.
“While we are saying we are in a reform,” he said, “people are doing very cruel act against innocent people”.
He also said “displacement is becoming our culture and also manifestation of our people in the last few years”.
Mitku Kassa, commissioner of national disaster and risk management Commission, said transporting aids for IDPs has become very challenging.
Limited cooperation by regional states, the closure of roads and many more challenges too are aggravating the problem in the ground, he added.
Mitiku said close to 700 million USD is needed to repatriate the IDPs in the country.
Muferiat Kemil, Minster of Peace and a member of the committee, too said it started in thousands but now reached in millions.
“The situation looks calm now but things still may change to worst,” said Mufriat.
The minister is frustrated with regional officials over their lack of cooperation.
She said, in some cases, they are holding IDPs hostage in a bid to get federal government’s attention.
The basic problem, she said, have taken a political dimension. “Regional officials are not cooperating enough,” she said, “they are hiding criminals and suspects who are behind in displacing people from their home”.
So far, Police managed to apprehend over 400 suspects while they are on the look out over 880 suspects.
“We need the cooperation of many to apprehend these suspects,” she added.
Muferiat said her ministry will also table another report security condition of the country to the members of parliament next week.