ADDIS ABABA: Conflict along the borders of Ethiopia’s Oromia and Somali regions may separate up to 14,000 children from their families, The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said Friday.
Over the past year, clashes between the two bordering communities in the region have left hundreds dead and forced tens of thousands to flee their homes.
“There are an estimated 84,659 conflict-induced IDP (internally displaced) children of primary school age who currently do not have access to any education services in Oromia and Somali regions,” the UN agency said in a statement.
The statement added 120,000 children under the age of 5 and 20,000 pregnant and lactating women are in need of emergency nutrition services.
The agency said $2.9 million was required for the education of children of primary school age. An additional $2.9million was needed for vaccines, emergency drugs, logistics and technical health support for the internally displaced.
Moreover, $2.6 million was required for nutritional needs of the displaced children under 5 and 2,400 pregnant and lactating women.
“As of December 2017, the overall security situation along the border of these two regions remains volatile and unpredictable,” it said.
Over the past two years, Ethiopia has been challenged by deadly anti-government protests in the largest regions of Oromia and Amhara in addition to ethnic clashes that flared up along border areas of Somali and Oromia regions.
People have been demanding larger political freedoms and economic equity in a country where corruption and despotism are rampant.
Two days ago, Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn told the nation that his government will release some politicians and individuals who have either been serving prison terms or standing trials “in a bid to widen the political space.”