The late, legendary artist Hachalu Hundessa’s music still resonates with the pain felt by hundreds of thousands of Oromo civilians who were forced to flee their homes from neighboring regions. Four years ago, the country longed for an end to this mass displacement, but the conflict flared up and expanded, causing much suffering and displacement. The Oromia region of Ethiopia has become one of the worst internally displaced person (IDP) crises in decades, leading to a severe humanitarian crisis. Armed groups from Oromia and neighboring regions, as well as measures taken by the federal and regional forces, have all contributed to this crisis. Natural disasters linked to the climate crisis, like the recent draught, have had a devastating impact on vulnerable communities in Borana zone and surrounding area.
The statistics are alarming. The conflict-induced displacement in the region has reached more than 1.5 million IDPs and 285,865 households distributed across 11 Zones and 96 Woredas. There are more than 142 IDP sites located in the region. The western and southeastern parts of the region are the most heavily affected, with Guji Zone hosting the highest number of IDP sites (31 sites), and East Wollega Zone hosting the highest number of IDPs (282,245).
The security situation has rapidly deteriorated, leading to a humanitarian crisis, particularly in the health care sector. The violence and instability have caused a severe lack of resources and personnel, leading to a lack of basic medical care and access to medications. This has had a devastating effect on the health of the population, with people unable to access the medical care they need and assistance in times of crisis.
Moreover, the insecurity has caused a disruption to the delivery of medical supplies, resulting in a shortage of essential items such as drugs and medical equipment. The destruction and looting of solar panels from health posts has caused a shortage of drugs and medical equipment, as well as the disruption of the supply of electricity for vaccines, resulting in vaccination interruptions in many woredas. In addition, a lack of ambulances to transport critically ill patients, service interruptions at many health facilities, outbreaks of malaria and cholera, and a shortage of shelter, water, and latrines in IDP sites have compounded the health-related challenges in the region. The conflict has also resulted in extensive damage to health facilities in the region. According to the latest findings, 908 health posts, 158 health centers and 6 hospitals have been damaged or looted, with 179 health posts and 12 health centers burned. More than 70 ambulances, 8 other vehicles, and 81 motorcycles have been reported to be damaged or looted in the conflict zones. In addition, 60 motorcycles and 10 other vehicles have been reported to be burned in these zones. This has left thousands of people without access to essential healthcare, leading to a serious deterioration in the health of the population.
The four-year-long war and humanitarian crisis in Oromia has largely been forgotten, with no decisive action taken since its occurrence. This is why the international community must step up and take action. Organizations such as the United Nations and other international organizations must provide aid and assistance to the IDPs in Oromia. It is also essential to reduce the root causes of displacement in Ethiopia, such as conflict and natural disasters. The IDPs in Oromia must not be forgotten and must be remembered. To ensure that they have access to the assistance and protection they need, the international community must take action. Charitable organizations, such as ICRC, World Vision, Save the Children, Churches & Local Associations, International Medical Corps, Mercy Core Ethiopia, Goal Ethiopia, UNICEF, People in Need (PIN), and Action Against Hunger, are already making efforts to help the IDPs, yet their efforts are still inadequate, given the substantial size of the crisis. Therefore, the international community must increase their humanitarian assistance to those who have been displaced, and work to ensure that they can rebuild their lives in safe and secure conditions. Lastly, we call on all disputing parties to seek a diplomatic solution and put an end to this human-made crisis.
Oromia Physicians Association Emergency Response Department/International Oromo Health Professionals Association