ADDIS ABABA– The number of internally displaced people (IDPs) in East Africa and the Horn of Africa has dropped considerably in the past six months, says the UN Migration Agency today.
A new report from the International Organization for Migration (IOM) says the reason is largely due to one development: 1.3 million Ethiopians displaced by communal violence in 2019 went home.
Moreover, another 200,000 former IDPs were able to return to their homes in South Sudan and other countries.
At the midpoint of 2019, the East and Horn of Africa region was home to 8.1 million IDPs and 3.5 million refugees and asylum-seekers.
Today, the 3.5 million refugees and asylum seekers remain, but there are only 6.3 million IDPs, reports IOM.
This represents almost a 22 per cent fall in IDPs in the region in just six months, according to the report, Region on the Move, which provides an overview of migration patterns in the region.
“The overall drop in the number of internally displaced persons in East & Horn of Africa means peace and security has returned and migrants feel safe to return home,” said Mohammed Abdiker, Regional Director, IOM, East & Horn of Africa.
Published by IOM’s Nairobi-based Regional Data Hub (RDH), the report explains that intercommunal violence in Ethiopia at the beginning of 2019 is estimated to have forced more than three million people to flee their homes.
Yet by the end of the year, of the 6.3 million IDPs spread across the region.
Only 1.7 million remained in displacement across 1,199 sites in Ethiopia.
Sixty-six per cent of those IDPs were affected by conflict, 22 per cent by drought and six per cent by seasonal flooding, reports IOM.
In contrast, the report also found in Somalia and South Sudan that intercommunal conflict-driven displacement fueled by instability and insecurity persisted.
The report also noted that inter-communal clashes linked to ethnic tensions and cattle raiding were still prominent in Ethiopia and South Sudan, respectively.
Despite the overall reduction in the number of regional IDPs, Region on the Move found that new displacements in 2019 continued to be triggered largely by climate and environmental hazards.
Such hazards included a prolonged, severe drought in the Horn of Africa region which impacted food security for the most part on areas in Somalia, northern Kenya, southeastern Ethiopia, northern Uganda and Djibouti.
“We are concerned about new displacement in Somalia and South Sudan, and climate-induced displacement, particularly as it affects some of the poorest and most vulnerable communities who risk their lives on dangerous journeys,” IOM’s Abdiker added.
Image: The region remains in flux, with movements resulting from catastrophe and for personal reasons. [Photo: IOM/Alexander]