An upsurge of inter-communal violence in Ethiopia's West Guji and Gedeo regions has forced an estimated 978,000 people to flee their homes since 13 April, according to the United Nations. "This surge in violence makes Ethiopia one of the fastest growing displacement crises in the world today. Despite this, it is utterly failing to get the attention and funding it deserves," said Nigel Tricks, Regional Director of the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC).
As many as 793,000 people have been displaced in Gedeo zone and at least 185,000 people in West Guji zone. New waves of insecurity have hindered efforts by the government to support displaced people to return home.
The massive influx in a relatively short period has created a grave humanitarian crisis. While the government and host communities have provided the majority of relief to affected communities so far, more support is required as needs rise.
This crisis also adds to millions of people in need of food and other assistance due to successive years of drought.
NRC is working in the affected Oromia and Somali regions. Our teams reported people in dire conditions, who urgently need relief including food, water, shelter and household items. We plan to provide emergency shelter, household items, water and sanitation support to 21,000 people.
Insecurity and localised inter-communal violence continue to displace communities, with a new significant increase in violence in early June, according to the UN. This prevented displaced people from returning home and aid being delivered.
"While the Government is supporting as much as it can, the international community must do more to save lives in Ethiopia. It must step up aid so that immediate food, water and shelter can be provided, and the intense suffering of the displaced people can be relieved, while the government finds longer term political and humanitarian solutions to the conflict," warned Nigel Tricks.
With heavy summer rains forecast to hit between now and August, humanitarian agencies are concerned the situation will worsen, exposing already vulnerable communities to illnesses like malaria and diarrhoea.