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Ethiopia making displacement crisis worse with forced returns – Refugee Int.

Ethiopia making displacement crisis worse with forced returns – Refugee Int.


The Ethiopian government is worsening an already bad situation with respect to an internal displacement crisis that has made the country a global leader in the area of displacements relative to insecurity.

This is the view of Refugee International, RI, a Washington-based group that “advocates for lifesaving assistance and protection for displaced people.”

In a May 18, 2019 statement titled, Ethiopia’s treatment of its own IDPs making crisis worse, RI said it was deeply alarmed by new efforts aimed at forcibly returning displaced people.

Their statement is premised on recent reports especially by the UK Guardian that said authorities were destroying temporary structures in southern Ethiopia, Gedeo Zone, as a means of getting displaced people to return to their places of origin.

“The government’s actions are making an ongoing humanitarian crisis even worse,” said RI Senior Advocate Mark Yarnell, who traveled to southern Ethiopia in September 2018.

“I met displaced people who described horrific levels violence, including entire villages burned to the ground. The government pushing people to return to their home communities prematurely will only add to the ongoing suffering.”

RI said the government was reversing positive gains in the mode of a recent draft IDP startegic plan which promised humane returns. They averred that officials were not learning from the problems of earlier return efforts.

“This is in no way voluntary and a major breach of basic rights,” said Yarnell. “The irony is that the Ethiopian government has been receiving international praise—deservedly so—for its increasingly progressive policies toward refugees, including promoting their right to work and access national services. But the way it’s treating its own displaced citizens is not only shameful, it’s inhumane.”

The statement concluded with a call to the government to pause the current return effort until its Strategic Plan can be carried out in a manner that is truly voluntary, sustainable, and in collaboration with displaced people themselves.

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