Roughly 3,350 of Ethiopian refugees have found at least temporary security by registering with the United Nations as refugees at Dambala Fachana refugee camp in Kenya.
By Dawit Gelmo & Sora Halake (VOA News) |
NAIROBI—Two months ago, Kote Adi fled Moyale, Ethiopia, after government soldiers there opened fire on civilians, killing at least nine. Kote and his pregnant wife found shelter in a tent in northeastern Kenya’s Dambala Fachana refugee camp, but weeks of heavy rain have displaced them again.
“Our plastic shelters were flooded with water,” said Kote Adi, who is settling into a new tent site on higher ground.
Hardship and uncertainty haunt him and thousands of others who’ve left Moyale, a market town straddling the border between Ethiopia and Kenya, and its surroundings in Ethiopia’s Oromia region for safety in Kenya. Some are staying with relatives and friends, or in makeshift camps scattered across the normally arid Marsabit County.
Roughly 3,350 of them, including Kote Adi, have found at least temporary security by registering with the United Nations as refugees at Dambala Fachana. Lacking most of their belongings and normal routines, vulnerable to food shortages and illness, they have no idea when they might be able to safely go home.
Political and ethnic rifts keep them away. Ethiopia’s government blamed the March 10 civilian deaths on faulty intelligence, saying soldiers had been deployed to subdue militants from the nationalist Oromo Liberation Front. The Oromia region has been a hotbed of unrest, with ethnic Oromos long complaining of underrepresentation in government and lack of economic opportunities. Nearly three years of their mass anti-government protests led Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn to step down in mid-February.
With Oromia native Abiy Ahmed’s April 2 installation as prime minister, some of the displaced ethnic Oromos made their way home to Moyale.
Some discovered their dwellings had been looted.
“When I went back, the door was broken. … None of my stuff was there,” Abdiya Gelma told VOA in a phone interview, ticking off missing items including her bed, kitchen utensils and a rug. Now she and her child are staying with relatives.
Returnees also found an intensified military presence, Abdiya Gelma and several others told VOA. She said she saw security troops beating a youth who displayed the Oromo Liberation Front’s red-and-green flag.
Continue reading this story at VOA News
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