Almost one million Ethiopians uprooted by ethnic violence after Gedeos were accused by their Oromo neighbours of trying to annex land and resources.
Tens of thousands of ethnic Gedeos are trapped in dire conditions in makeshift shelters across a part of southern Ethiopia. An estimated 20,000 to 30,000 internally displaced people living in overcrowded shelters without roofs and sanitation as the rainy season approaches. Those that arrived in Gedeo reported tales of castration, the cutting off of limbs, and gang rape by local youth and armed rebels, as well as general intimidation and extortion.
The Ethiopian government has not formally acknowledged Gotiti's inhabitants as IDPs eligible for humanitarian aid. Aid workers say food assistance for IDPs in several areas near the border with West Guji, including Gotiti, has been blocked in order to encourage inhabitants to return to Oromia. Several previous attempts to send Gedeos back to Oromia – sometimes by simply putting them on trucks and buses – have backfired. For example, mass displacement occurred in June last year shortly after the return of many of those evicted two months earlier.
“This is an enormous problem for the government,” said a senior official with an international organisation working in the area. “But what is tragic is they are not accepting the support we are offering. They are forbidding us from operating.”