The Government of Ethiopia has expressed strong commitment to return and resettle the hundreds of thousands of internally displaced people (IDPs) from inter-communal conflict. So far, the government has successfully taken stands to address the root causes of conflict in the country through setting up a Ministry of Peace and Border Commission to address border related conflicts; this is commendable.
As a step to facilitating returns, the government is discouraging assistance to IDPs in camps and instead facilitation assistance in places of return. Some international humanitarian actors are not happy with this and believe IDPs should only return when they feel like it.
National authorities/governments in Africa and international humanitarian actors are constantly at loggerheads regarding the solutions to the growing IDP crisis in the continent. Governments want to resettle and return IDPs as soon as they are displaced, but international humanitarian actors often challenge this. The conditions of response are never good enough.
We must stop standing in the way of African Governments finding lasting solutions to the continents humanitarian issues. When people are displaced, any Government would want to have then resettled as soon as possible. Humanitarian partners are increasingly challenging Governments’ and national authorities’ efforts to resettle and facilitate the return of displaced people in Africa. Many national authorities working towards returns or resettlement are accused of forced returns.
Humanitarian partners believe that IDPs should be asked if they want to return or stay in IDP camps and on this basis the governments must act. Forced return is being carried out in Europe without international humanitarian actors crying out. Can you imagine that Italy, France, the US, and the UK will ask the migrants shipped off to Libya camps if they would rather stay in Italy France, the US, and the UK or sold as slaves in Libya? Camps are pull factors and can often be used by `IDPs’ to address poverty challenges. Often what these IDPs need are livelihoods, homes, recovery and development support. Not endless stay in temporary deplorable shelters.
Actions taken by African Governments for lasting solutions to humanitarian challenges in the continent, should be supported. We are here as international humanitarian actors to end humanitarian crises and dependencies and not perpetuate it. There is poverty across Africa that will be eventually addressed by economic growth and development, not by packaging rural communities and economic needs/poverty as lifesaving humanitarian needs.