Over 460,000 Internally Displaced Persons Assisted by IOM, in Northern Ethiopia, But More Help Urgently Needed
Addis Ababa – IOM, the International Organization for Migration, is assisting over 460,000 Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), including vulnerable women and children affected by the conflict in Ethiopia’s Tigray region and neighbouring Afar and Amhara. The IDPs are being provided with water, basic hygiene supplies, shelter, bedding, cooking materials, and mental health and psycho-social support, among other services, to help deal with the physical and psychological impact of displacement.
IOM has been helping IDPs since conflict in the region broke out in November 2020, and tracking and monitoring the needs of the displaced in coordination with Ethiopia’s state National Disaster Risk Management Commission. In total over 1.7 million people have been displaced as of April 2021. Hundreds of thousands of IDPs remain in need of humanitarian assistance. Many of them are living out in the open, exposed to the environment and weather conditions, or in overcrowded schools, buildings and homes of members of the local host community.
At ‘Adi Shudum’ IDP site, a school building in the Tigrayan regional capital, Mekelle, which is just one of hundreds of locations now home to IDPs, over 1,400 people, including over 30 unaccompanied children, and 35 pregnant women are sheltering. Letekiros Egziabhar, a 40-year-old mother of 6 who fled Western Tigray, is one of the displaced living here.
“I fled from the Western part of Tigray to save my life. Here in Mekelle, we are grateful that the community accepted us,” she shares.
Letekiros has been receiving help from IOM since her arrival.
“Since arriving here, we have been receiving support from IOM through hygiene promotion kits. The organization also rehabilitated the latrines in the site and we are also receiving health support through IOM’s Mobile Health and Nutrition Teams.”
But the needs of the IDPs remain vast, including food, water and sanitation, hygiene kits and more adequate and permanent shelter. IOM is responding by planning to relocate over 19,000 IDPs to the Sabacare IDP relocation site, where they will be provided better shelter and latrines, among other items and facilities. IOM is also providing water points, handwashing stations, communal kitchens, embarking on hygiene promotion activities, and providing life-saving emergency health services, through mobile health and nutrition teams, and mental health and psycho-social support.
“The situation facing IDPs in northern Ethiopia is serious. Being here on the ground in Tigray, one is able to see firsthand the high number of men, women, children, the disabled, all in a very vulnerable and precarious situation. Without the generous support of donors so far, including USAID, the European Union, the governments of Germany, Japan and Korea, among others, and the work being done in partnership with the Government of Ethiopia, IOM would not be in a position to respond in the way it is doing so now. But the needs still vastly exceed the current donations received, USD 27 million received, but USD 111 million needed. These funds are needed to save lives,”said Mohammed Abdiker, Regional Director, IOM East and Horn of Africa.
Letekiros reiterates the point in her own words.
“Here in the school, which turned into an IDP site, there are only 22 classrooms. Each room houses more than 30 people. There really is a need for shelter and many other basic needs since all of us left our homes empty-handed. We left all our belongings just to bring ourselves to safety.”
If the appeal funds are received, IOM plans to expand its emergency response to the northern Ethiopia situation to reach more people, with an aim of reaching 1 million of the 1.7 million affected, and provide responses related to recovery and stabilization initiatives for IDPs such as sustainable livelihood and socio-economic empowerment, among others, in partnership and coordination with the Government of Ethiopia.
Read the full IOM Ethiopia Crisis Response Plan here.