Alemayehu Seifeselassie

Ethiopia: New beginnings with help from CERF

Lara Palmisano

“Our houses were burnt down and our cattle was taken away. I was separated from my daughter,” Abebech Deiko recalls. She was 65 years old when intercommunal violence between West Guji and Gedeo has hit her home in Southwestern Ethiopia and forced her to flee. Abebech and her grandchildren found shelter with relatives a few kilometers away. She was scared and never thought she would be going back.

Ethnic-based tensions and communal violence across the country have forced millions of people to flee their homes over the past two years, leading to a complex crisis of population displacement in the country. The government of Ethiopia, in partnership with humanitarian and development partners, has increased its efforts to cultivate long-lasting solutions to the situation of internally displaced persons (IDPs).

As part of this process, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) facilitated a community-based recovery processes, bringing together community leaders from different sides of the conflict to ease tensions, lessen violence and encourage enduring peace.

The involvement of community leaders and the strong commitment from the government have been the key for restoring peace and pursuing reconciliation. Abebech and many others who were displaced had confidence to return home.


Abebech stands next to construction materials she will use to reconstruct her new home. Credits: IOM/ Alemayehu Seifeselassie

To help them return safely and get the support they need to start afresh, CERF allocated USD 6.4 million to IOM for lifesaving services to returnees and host communities in West Guji, East Welleg. Abebech is now one of 900,000 displaced persons that safely returned home. She also reunited with her daughter, who she thought had been killed in the conflict. 


Abebech and her family returned home after being displaced for several years. Credits: IOM/ Alemayehu Seifeselassie

With the rainy season bringing lush green crops in the fields, Abebech and her family are hopeful for prosperity in the years to come and that their communities will not endure tension or violence again.

This funding was part of a CERF allocation of USD 21 million to respond to conflict and drought in 2019 – two crises unfolding in Ethiopia at the same time. IOM was complementary supported also by the Country Based Pooled Fund in Ethiopia, which was established in 2006, to respond to conflict-related crises and disasters triggered by natural hazards, such as droughts, floods and disease outbreaks in the country.