News: Displaced for more than seven years, IDPs in Afar region seek meaningful support

From left, Fatuma Mohammed, Dana Kasin Mohammed and Saida Mohammed

Addis Abeba, February 18/2020 – Some 400 people remain displaced in the outskirts of Manda town, Elidaar woreda, zone 1, Afar region for more than 7 years now. They fled Akule, their areas of origin, along the Eritrean border mainly due to a recurrent drought but also to some extent due to sporadic tensions within the pastoralist communities along the border. The Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) who live in Bora site of Elidaar woreda had always hoped that they would go back to their areas of origin one day, but the opportunity had not yet come to everyone.

Elidaar woreda is one of the most challenging places in the region as the terrain is mostly rocky and at times sandy. Though some areas of rangeland were witnessed, the weak rains have not been sufficient to regenerate viable pasture for livestock, mostly of Goat and camels although no livestock carcasses were observed yet. For the past 7 years or so, Bora IDPs depend entirely on humanitarian assistance they receive from Government and partners. However, the response was neither timely nor sufficient except limited access to some water, health and educational services.

The regional Government, in collaboration with Vétérinaires sans Frontìeres Germany (VSF-Germany) and Afar Pastoralist Development Association (APDA), helped the return of 2,100 IDPs to their original places by providing goats and camels. Fatuma Mohammed, 35, is one of those IDPs who want to get similar opportunity of return. “I want to return to Akule, my place of origin, with my 5 children if we get re-stocking of livestock, ES/NFIs, a more diverse food basket, water, and education,” Fatuma says. “We had lost all our livelihoods during the drought and conflict back in 2013 and reached here empty-handed. We want to return but resuming life there would be extremely difficult unless we get some recovery support like livestock, animal feed and some basic services.” She also said that she and the remaining IDPs receive very minimal assistance.

Dana Kasin Mohammed, 55, is an elder from the IDP community. He is visually impaired ever since he was born. He had to travel 80 km with his relatives to reach the Bora IDP site. He lives alone in the IDP site because he doesn’t have a wife and children. “The biggest problem is the lack of adequate nutrition and food.There are also issues with water. We have to travel 7 kilometres to bring water from Manda town, because there is no water source in the IDPs site,” Dana Kasin said. There is only one watertruck that is deployed by the Government which provides water for the Manda town community and IDPs around. Dana Kasin also mentions there is a problem with health and education facilities. IDPs have to travel to the Manda town to get health and education services. He asks the government and humanitarian partners to support them with regular food and nutrition assistance and to provide them with basic services as soon as possible. Likewise, he requested for livelihood intervention to IDPs so that they can return to their original places.

Saida Mohammed, 50, is a mother of three children in Bora IDP site. She is also visually impaired from birth. There is lack of nutrition and Emergency Shelter/Non-food Items (ES/NFI food), and there is no adequate specific assistance for children. “The food that we receive is maize and oil with no pulse,” says Saida. She said they don’t get enough food and, where there is it is usually delayed. The last food distribution was three months ago, and it was maize and oil. Saida added, “We appreciate the support given by the government, VSF-Germany and APDA to return IDPs and we appeal the government and partners to provide similar support for those of us who are still suffering from deplorable IDPs’ life here at Bora site.” AS/UNOCHA

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