Humanitarian access in Southern Oromia has deteriorated significantly in 2021 as a result of increased insecurity hindering access to people in need. The armed group “Oromo Liberation Army, OLA “Shane” which was declared a terrorist organization by the Federal Government in May 2021, has scaled-up attacks against government officials and security forces. Hostilities have come close to some major towns such as Bule Hora (West Guji) or Negele (Guji).
In 2021, humanitarian operations have either completely stopped or temporarily suspended multiple times, prompting high levels of vulnerability and pushing the population to resort to negative copying mechanisms. Furthermore, interlocutors have not facilitated access to partners to operate in areas outside their control due to security concerns. Lack of access is compounded by weak government structures and service availability, and limited presence of partners.
In Guji, according to the zonal government, there are some 103,000 conflict induced IDPs, of whom 20,000 have been displaced in 2021. This number is expected to rise as armed confrontations linger. Most of the IDPs are located in areas that are ‘hard-to-reach’ for aid partners, far from main roads. These IDPs have not received any food aid for more than a year due to disagreements on the IDP numbers as well as concerns over aid diversion.
In West Guji, according to zonal authorities, the conflict has displaced 72,000 people in 2021. Reportedly, most IDPs are residing with host communities and have not received any meaningful humanitarian assistance. The road between Bule Hora and Moyale, through Yabelo, has been cut multiple times due to hostilities, while previously accessible woredas such as Bule Hora, Kercha, Duga Dawa or Melka Soda are out of reach to aid partners.
According to a recent inter-agency mission, most public services in rural areas are not functional with many public officials having vacated their positions, including local officials, health workers and teachers. Dozens of health facilities have been vandalized by armed groups, at least 18 in Liban woreda (Guji) and nine in Bule Hora woreda (West Guji) alone. Moreover, parties to the conflict have occupied schools and other public and community facilities, disrupting educational activities.
The population’s access to livelihoods is also negatively impacted. Security restrictions, coupled with insecurity related to the presence of armed groups and clashes have limited population movements, access to services, farmland, and pastures. Many markets in rural areas are not functional and communities are polarized between those supporting the government or the armed groups.
Aid workers – mostly Ethiopian nationals – are working in a dangerous environment, with a high risk of being personally affected by the situation. Partners report cases of intimidation and harassment at checkpoints, including accusations of supporting armed groups through their activities. In some instances, parties to the conflict have commandeered partners’ vehicles further compromising the security of aid workers.
- UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
- To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit https://www.unocha.org/.