Background: Population Mobility and Internal Displacement in Ethiopia
Ethiopia faces significant internal displacement. In 2018, Ethiopia recorded the third highest number of new displacements worldwide, with 3,191,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs). A significant portion of these displacements are conflict-induced, largely related to ethnic and border-based disputes. Old tensions such as the contestation of the Oromia-Somali regional border which first flared up in 2017 continue to persist, while new conflicts have also emerged.
In April and later in June 2018, conflict which was aggravated by competition for land and resources broke out between Gedeo and Guji Oromo tribes in West Guji. It is estimated that by August 2018, 748,499 IDPs were displaced from the Gedeo-West Guji conflict alone. Following that, inter-communal violence in Jijiga in the same month resulted in the displacement of approximately 141,410 IDPs from the Somali regional capital. Adding to the displacement caseload, more than 90,000 IDPs were displaced in Amhara region in September 2018 due to longstanding tensions and sporadic conflict between the Amhara and Qemant communities. Simultaneously, a localized conflict in Benishangul Gumuz region and the East and West Wellega zones of Oromia displaced an estimated 191,995 IDPs. Ethiopia is also riddled with climate-induced displacement mainly caused by drought and floods.
Beginning in 2015, Ethiopia faced one of the strongest onsets of El Niño, a periodic heating of the eastern tropical Pacific, which reduced the kiremt rainfall and successively resulted in drought inthe southern and southeastern parts of the country. This prolonged drought continues to impact agricultural and pastoralist communities across Ethiopia in 2019 by driving down crop yields of the main meher harvest, reducing pastures for livestock, and drying up water resources.
Floods are another major cause of climate-induced displacement. While certain areas experienced reduced rainfall, others experienced heavy rainfall and floods during the kiremt rainy season in many low laying areas. It is predicted that these heavy rains and flooding will affect up to 1.3 million people, displacing up to 331,000 IDPs in 2019.
Adding to the high mobility landscape of Ethiopia is the number and rate of returns. According to the government, 1.8 million IDPs have returned to their place of origin as of June 2019. This nationwide government-led return operation has been ongoing since April 2019.