News: Ethiopian Rights Commission says restrictions on free movement of people, trade impede recovery efforts of IDP returnees in Afar region 

Situation of IDPs in Afar region, Photo: EHRC

Addis Abeba – Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC) has said IDP returnees in war-affected zones in Afar regional state unable to get back to their normal lives due to hindrances and restriction on free movement of people and trade activities across regional states, in addition to lack of adequate and timely humanitarian support.

In a statement it released yesterday, EHRC said, “IDPs and returnees are not being provided with adequate, timely and accessible humanitarian assistance including food, water, shelter, health, education and other social services”.

According to the statement undue economic pressure the IDP returnees are experiencing due to restrictions on free movement of people and business activities have become serious impediment in creating enabling conditions for the permanent establishment of returnees.

The ban on the entry of various basic consumer goods, including fuel, which were transported to Tigray region through Afar regions’ zone two and zone four has not been lifted, the statement said

Furthermore, the work of cleaning the areas which were war zones like the Fokisa kebele, Gulina district from mines and explosives has not been done properly, and has created a security threat for the returnees the statement underscored.

The commission urged the federal and regional governments to properly discharge their responsibilities in resolving war aftermath problems in the region that have restricted the economic and commercial activities of the IDPs and the returnees.

These problems should be addressed in order to prevent additional internal displacements and help the returnees settle in a sustainable manner in their respective villages, the commission said, adding that, “the government must also fulfill its responsibility of providing adequate, timely and accessible humanitarian support to IDPs and returnees in Zone Two, Zone Four and Samara City,” it stated.

EHRC also said it has realized through its observation that the IDPs who need special protection and support like nursing mothers, pregnant women, children, the disabled, the elderly and IDPs with co-morbidities, are not receiving humanitarian support based on their vulnerability and special needs.

The commission expressed dismay that previous recommendations forwarded to both federal and regional governments on the need to improve the precarious conditions of the IDPs have not been heeded.

UN OCHA in its most recent report issued on 02 February also said, “a gap remains around the provision of basic services, shelters, and durable solutions in return areas” in the Afar region, adding that, “the delivery of humanitarian assistance to IDPs in the Megale woreda remains a challenge as three kebeles remain hard to reach”.

As of April last year more than 300,000 IDPs were sheltered in 14 makeshift camps in the Afar region, and since August 2022, 8,533 IDPs living in Semera IDP sites and in host communities have been assisted by UNHCR to return to their areas of origin such as Abala, Barhale, Mekelle and Koneba. AS

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