Aid agencies resume operation in Ethiopia’s Somalia region

For the first time in eleven years aid agencies resumes their operations in Somali region of Ethiopia.

Resuming their operation last month ICRC and the Ethiopian Red Cross Society (ERCS) jointly distributed emergency relief assistance to people displaced by ethnic violence in Eastern Ethiopia. The government banned aid agencies and journalists from visiting the Somali region mainly the Ogaden area where the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) was operating.

Human rights reports show that Ethiopia banned aid agencies and journalists from visiting the area to hide the grave human rights violations reportedly committed by the militia of the former Somali region president Abdi Mohamed Omer (Abdi Illey).

Some 690 families displaced from different areas of East Hararghe Zone, Oromia region, and sheltered in Kore and Ali-Ethiopia localities in Somali region received the assistance, according to the press statement from ICRC.

“It is the first time for the ICRC to make such delivery to conflict-affected communities in Somali Regional State after it was forced to suspend its operation 11 years ago,” highlighted Julien Lerisson, the Head of the ICRC delegation in Ethiopia.

The ICRC could resume its operation in the region as of November 2018 after it was invited by the Somali regional government.

Plastic shelters, blankets, mats, jerry cans, kitchen sets, and soaps were the items provided to the displaced people, according to Fowziya Kasim, an ICRC staff in charge of facilitating the assistance. Most of the recipients expressed their happiness over the support they were provided

Musa Ibrahim, 32, is one of the displaced who got the assistance. He is a father of five children, “My father was killed during the violence. Everything I had back at home, my camels and goats, were looted,” says Musa who still doesn’t seem to recover from the pain of losing his father. He, however, said, “the support he got from the Red Cross was important to start his family life anew.”

“The delivery is the first of its kind for me to receive, and I am happy to get it,” remarked Feriha Abdi, who shoulders the responsibility of raising her one child after her husband was killed during the conflict.

The violence between ethnic Somalis and Oromos which occurred along the borders of Somali-Oromia regions had claimed the lives of dozens of people and left hundreds of thousands of others displaced.

The two ethnic groups usually clash with each other over the control of water and grazing lands. The ICRC provides assistance to both Somali and Oromo communities affected by ethnic conflict.