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'Forgotten crisis' as drought displaces hundreds of thousands of Ethiopians

by Emeline Wuibercq | @EmWuilbercq | Thomson Reuters Foundation
Friday, 13 December 2019 18:40 GMT

ARCHIVE PHOTO: An internally displaced child carries his sibling within their camp in Chelelektu town of Southern Nations, Nationalities, and People's region in Ethiopia August 15, 2018. Picture taken August 15, 2018. REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri

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Worsening drought is leaving pastoralists saying they have no hope for the future

By Emeline Wuilbercq

LONDON, Dec 13 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Hundreds of thousands of Ethiopians are living in camps up to four years after being displaced by drought, researchers said on Friday, warning climate change could exacerbate the problem.

Ethiopia is home to millions of pastoralists who are particularly vulnerable to climate change as they depend on their livestock to survive.

A new study by the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC), which compiles global data, found pastoralists in the Somali region of southeast Ethiopia lost up to 80% of their cattle in a 2015-2017 drought.

It said 425,000 were still displaced, many living in camps.

"The most important problem that they (pastoralists) are facing is that the droughts in the last years are more intense and more frequent," the report's author Pablo Ferrandez told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

The researchers interviewed 219 people in July 2019 for the study.

Pastoralists told them they had no hope for the future, Ferrandez said, adding that the impact of the drought had become overshadowed by recent fighting and calling it a "forgotten crisis".

Most of those displaced preferred to remain in their new locations than go home, the study found. Many said that as they had lost their animals in the drought, they had no reason to return.

"Displacement has many drivers. Drought is a factor, and one that will be exacerbated by climate," said Daniel Yeo, an independent expert on climate and water issues.

"Climate change may change key seasonal rainfall which will have the most impact on people's lives."

The report comes a week after Ethiopia launched the Durable Solutions Initiative, which aims to find long-lasting solutions for people forced to leave their homes.

(Reporting by Emeline Wuilbercq; Editing by Claire Cozens. Please credit Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women's and LGBT+ rights, human trafficking, property rights, and climate change. Visit www.trust.org )

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