• Alemayehu Seifeselassie | IOM Ethiopia

Gondar, Ethiopia - “I’ve lived my whole life there and never imagined I would become a victim of war. But when the conflict broke out, that is what happened,” says 35-year-old Asmeret Setegn, referring to how she had to flee from her home in Ethiopia’s Tigray Region. 

Asmeret Setegn posing at Debark Internally Displaced Person hosting site– Gondar, Northern Ethiopia. Photo: IOM/Hiyas Bagabaldo

Over 4.2 million people like Asmeret were displaced by the conflict in the north of Ethiopia.  The conflict began in November 2020 and spread from Tigray to Amhara and Afar regions. 

Asmeret lived with her husband and three little children in Shiraro town where she hoped to raise her children in peace, only to find themselves fleeing after conflict broke out. 

“We were hopeful that our children would go to school and have a good life,” she said. 

She says many from her village were evacuated to safety to Gondar City in the neighboring Amhara Region of Ethiopia by an Ethiopian military convoy. 

“Until we arrived here, we were not sure we would even make it out alive. When we left, I hastily made pita bread for my children and left with nothing else,” she says, adding that she and her children endured an agonizing full day walk before encountering the convoy which brought them to safety. 

For Asmeret, leaving behind her home to seek shelter at a newly set up site for the displaced at Kulich Meda, still feels surreal. 

One and a half years later, her living conditions are far from ideal and she yearns for peace to return, so they can get back to living a normal life. 

However, compared to the situation they found themselves upon arrival, Asmeret, and many like her, were provided protection and accommodation services by the host community, regional administrations, and humanitarian agencies. 

“Up on arrival, we did not have the necessary supplies to get by. We had no accommodation, no clothes, no food, nothing. The community provided for us, sharing whatever little they had at the beginning,” she explains. 

Shelter Construction by IOM in Gondar - Northern Ethiopia for Internally Displaced Persons. Photo: IOM/Hiyas Bagabaldo

As displaced community members did not have much to get by, humanitarian organizations like IOM have played a major role in providing the required food and non-food items. 

“The cash and material support we have received is very helpful; all of what we have now is provided to us by IOM,” said Asmeret.

IOM is providing camp coordination and camp management (CCCM) support at the different internally displaced persons (IDP) sites in Gondar, under which different health, water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) and other crucial humanitarian interventions are extended. 

“When we first arrived here, we found ourselves sleeping at a veranda outside a café with my children. We did not have access to a toilet and even a change of clothes and our situation was very dire,” says Asefu Gizme a mother of three who was also displaced.

“We initially received cash support to pay rent. Then we were accommodated at this camp, and have been provided with cooking materials, blankets, clothes and materials necessary to get by,” Asefu highlights. 

Asmeret and Asefu are among the shelter beneficiaries at one of the seven camps, set up by IOM to support displaced people in Amhara Region in northern Ethiopia. 

“At these displacement sites, we provide highly needed shelter to accommodate the IDPs and non-food items (NFIs), which includes cooking utensils, change of clothes, water containers and other necessary materials,” says Mesfin Matiwos, IOM Ethiopia CCCM Clerk at Kebero Meda site, explaining the services IOM is providing for the displaced people at this site. 
IOM is also providing similar camp management and camp coordination support at Kulich Meda Debark, Kebero Meda, Dabat and Zarima sites in Gondar, Northern Ethiopia alone, in addition to interventions in other regions of the country. 

IOM and partners are providing support for Internally Displaced Persons at Kulich Meda, Debark, Dabat and Kebero Meda IDP sites in Gondar - Northern Ethiopia– Photo: IOM Ethiopia - Hiyas Bagabaldo

“We are hosting over 3,200 displaced people in the Kulich Meda IDP site. However, there are many more displaced people who are living with the host community,” explains Mr. Belete Tilaye, a representative from the Northern Gondar Zone National Disaster Risk Management Commission (NDRMC).

“The access road and bridge were constructed by IOM making access to the site more manageable,” Mr. Tilaye adds. Working with NDRMC, partners are supporting the displaced communities in Kulich Meda, Debark, Dabat and Kebero Meda sites with cash for rent, WASH and non-food items.

“In addition to the sites IOM has helped us to set up here, the NDRMC is working on setting up similar sites in another location called Zarima, which is hosting displaced communities from Adirkay,” the representative noted.  

Through generous funding from CERF, EHF, ECHO and BHA IOM is providing support to 7,035 IDP camps in Gondar working in partnership with FDRE, DRMC, UNHCR, UNICEF, WFP, IMC and other agencies.

For more information contact Alemayehu Seifeselassie

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