ADDIS ABEBA – Around 425,000 people are estimated to be living in internal displacement in Ethiopia as a result of drought, says a new report, which indicates children and youth make up half of this figure.
The report contradicts the latest Ethiopian government claim which indicates that the country managed to significantly reduce the number of people displaced – due to both conflicts and drought-induced challenges – to less than 100, 000.
Conflict over resources and ethnic violence triggered more displacement in Ethiopia than any other country in the world in 2018, according to the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC).
“More than one million people are still uprooted from their homes while a further 425,000 people have been displaced by drought that occurred between 2015 and 2017,” the report launched in Geneva on Friday.
It claims pastoralists in the eastern region of Somali lost up to 80 percent of their livestock and many still live in camps reliant on aid up to four years later.
“Despite the scale and duration of displacement associated with drought in Ethiopia, it has been overshadowed by the recent fighting and become a ‘forgotten crisis’,” said Pablo Ferrández, IDMC researcher and the report’s author.
He said Pastoralists told the center that “We have no hope for the future.”
“Many of these people have nowhere to return to, so alternative solutions must be found,” said the report’s author.
The report findings show that displacement triggered by drought in Ethiopia is a protracted but short-range issue, and that those displaced prefer to integrate into their new locations rather than to return home.
More than 200 displacement sites that have existed since or before 2017 are still open today, the report claims, adding that around 70 percent of those interviewed did not travel far from their place of origin.
IDMC researchers spoke to pastoralists who rely on livestock to make a living, moving around to find grazing land and water.
Since they lost their animals in the drought, respondents said that they have no reason to return.
Last week, Ethiopia launched a Durable Solutions Initiative (DSI) – a joint endeavor between the government of Ethiopia and its development partners including the UN agencies, to help the remaining displaced people and those who have returned to their homes reintegrate better.
“We commend the Ethiopian Government for taking the lead in investing in long-term, lasting solutions for displaced people and we are proud to be a partner on this crucial issue,” said Bina Desai, IDMC’s head of policy and research.