News Alert: Latest report by inter-agency mission, including four UN agencies, describes humanitarian, security situation in Guji zone as “grave”

Secondary displacement site near Yirgacheffe, Gedeo Zone, the Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples’ (SNNP) Region, Ethiopia. (Photo by Refugees International -2018 archive)

Addis Abeba, October 22/2020 – A report compiled after a recent inter-agency mission from 7 to 11 October 2020 to Guji zone in Oromia regional state, said the humanitarian and security situation in Guji zone is “grave.”

“An inter-agency mission composed of one INGO and four UN agencies visited Guji zone following successive reports of grave humanitarian concerns amongst the IDP population in the area,” the latest humanitarian bulletin published by UNOCHA said.

The mission confirmed the concerning humanitarian and security situation in the area and identified several humanitarian needs that need urgent attention, the report said. “The security situation in parts of Guji zone, Oromia region has worsened since April 2020 with increased scale and scope of security operations by Government defense forces against Unidentified Armed Groups [UAG],” it said.

The insecurity has impacted humanitarian operations and is causing protection and other concerns. Guji zone is home to some 120,000 internally displaced people, including 40,000 displaced in 2017 as a result of the conflict between Oromia and Somali regions, and an additional 80,000 displaced by re-newed insecurity since mid-2019.

“There is still no agreed IDP data between local authorities and federal authorities. An ongoing verification exercise in March 2020 with federal counterparts was interrupted as a result of COVID-19,” the UN report said, adding that the area is also highly drought-affected where food insecurity is prevalent. COVID-19, floods and desert locust continue to compound humanitarian concerns in the area since recent months.

Meanwhile, ongoing insecurity continues to displace communities. “It is believed that there are an estimated 15,000 people (unverified) secondarily displaced people since May 2020, including those asked to move by security forces to safer grounds on very short notice,” the report said.

While the old caseload of 40,000 IDPs is in the regular government relief food assistance system and has been receiving support, this was interrupted three months ago due to increased insecurity. “As a result, the IDPs are opting to negative coping mechanisms such as sale of livestock at a significantly low price, which will have lasting impact on their livelihood.

Meanwhile, the 80,000 IDPs have only received a one-off assistance in March and have not received any support ever since.

The displaced community have no access to water and have to travel up to 2 hours to a “nearby” pond. Inadequate shelter is also another concern raised by the visited IDPs, which has health and protection implication primarily for women, children and the elderly. There are visible signs of health concerns, including skin diseases, sickly children and a couple of householders who reported that their elders are suffering from health conditions due to lack of proper nutrition.

Overall, food, shelter, water, WaSH, NFIs and health (both for human and livestock) are primary humanitarian needs, the report noted. AS

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