Thousands of people have shuttled back and forth between Southern Ethiopia’s Gedeo and Guji areas over the past 15 months following an outbreak of ethnic violence in April 2018 and repeated efforts by authorities to relocate them. The camps where they were staying have now been closed, but many people remain displaced, sheltering either in host communities or in their areas of origin. The majority live in precarious conditions with little humanitarian assistance, struggling to protect their children from malnutrition and other diseases.
Over the past 15 months, Desalegn, his wife, and their five children have lived in a dozen different places. After their own home in western Guji, in Ethiopia’s Oromia region, was burned to the ground, they sought shelter with a neighbor. When that neighbor asked them to leave, they went to stay with Desalegn’s in-laws, but it was not long before they had to move on again.
They went to a site for displaced people, then a ruined building, then a school, never staying in one place for more than a few days. Finally, they made the difficult decision to leave western Guji for Gedeo, in the Southern Nations, Nationalities, and People´s Region (SNNPR), where Desalegn’s ancestral family came from. Once there, they continued to move from place to place, trying to find somewhere suitable to settle.