Ethiopia: Access Snapshot - Gedeo and West Guji (As of 15 July 2019)

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The humanitarian landscape in Gedeo – West Guji remains complex, marked by unaddressed long-standing poverty issues and the most urgent needs of IDPs. In Gedeo, according to official data, some 145,500 IDPs have returned, some 146,600 IDPs in West Guji (some 112,000 from Gedeo).

The main access constraint is active hostilities between Ethiopian Defense Forces (EDF) and Unidentified Armed Groups (UAG) in West Guji, with 20 of such incidents, most of them concentrated in Bule Hora, Gelana and Kercha woredas. In Kercha woreda, authorities allowed returned IDPs in three kebeles (Galesa Bilida, Galesa Soke, Galesa burka) not to return to their houses due to insecurity. In addition, partners have reported hostilities in Suro Bergueda, Dugda Dawa, and Malke Soda woredas, where there are important humanitarian needs - mostly related to failed rains. The limited partner presence in these woredas could explain the fewer number of incidents reported. Further, there has been a spike in security incidents in Guji and Borena zones (Southern Oromia) mirroring the dynamics in West Guji.

Partners report that tensions at the community level between ethnic groups have noticeably scaled down, with improved security associated with the presence of EDF and local militias. This notwithstanding, the events of 2018 were the fourth in a series of major ethnic confrontations that occurred since 1991, which is why there still remains a risk of further violence while peace and reconciliation process continues.

The IDP return operation has constrained IDPs rights and access to assistance. The situation in some return areas is dire, with insufficient aid provided (particularly food). Coordination challenges and limited information sharing by government counterparts, coupled by bureaucratic delays by authorities in getting partners’ MoUs changed from areas of displacement to those of return, have slowed the response.

During the return process, in Gedeo zone, partners reported restrictions by authorities to access IDP sites, six of which remained as of end of June (i.e. Kella Dila, Chinuku, and Bedassa, Mumerso, Gedeb Youth centre, and Shihone). In West Guji, all IDP collective sites are now closed and only two “spontaneous sites” remain (i.e. Ela Ferda and Galessa Dibisa kebeles, Kercha woreda) hosting IDPs unable to return due to security concerns. Partners noticed that there remain IDPs “displaced” within host communities.

The situation of the IDPs who chose not to return to areas of origin during the IDP return operation is concerning as authorities have denied partners’ access arguing that they are no longer IDPs. During the “joint targeting exercise” in Gedeo zone, authorities have not allowed partners to register the estimated 40,000 IDPs who did not return, i.e. 21,000 in Gedeb (mainly from West Guji’s Kercha woreda), Kochere (No breakdown data), 6,000 in Wonago (4,200 from West Guji’s Abaya, Hambella womena, and Kercha woredas; and some 1,800 from Guji’s Shakiso woredas), and 13,100 in Yirgachefe (11,000 from West Guji’s Kercha woreda, and few from Birbisa Kojowa, Hambala Womena, Bule Hora, and Abaya woredas; and 2,100 IDPs from Guji’s Shakiso woredas).
Another issue of concern is the denial of assistance to IDPs who after being returned have moved again to previous areas of displacement (e.g. 30 households from West Guji to Gedeo’s Yirgachefe woreda) due to safety and security concerns and/ or limited assistance in areas of return.
In terms of physical access constraints, partners report difficulties related to roads damaged by rains hampering the delivery of health and nutrition supplies in Gotiti (2 kebeles), Bako Tatatu (2 kebeles) and Moralyu (3 kebeles) in Gedeb woreda, as well in the road to access Chiriku kebelle,
Yirgachefe woreda. The issue has been discussed with local authorities but no solution has been found yet.

In June, the Ethiopia IDP Advisory Group commissioned a Risk Analysis in IDP return areas. In Gedeo – West Guji many areas are highly sensitive from a “protection & conflict-analysis” perspective (33 kebeles in West Guji), with insufficient level of services available to IDPs, while many access constraints are limiting the level of assistance delivered to IDPs and the sustainability of returns.

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