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Ethiopia: Over 4 Million Children Out of School in Amhara Region – Unocha

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Armed conflict, drought, and other compounding factors are keeping more than 4.1 million children out of school in the Amhara region, according to a United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) situation report released on April 26, 2024.

It is equivalent to more than 35 percent of all students registered in the region this academic year. More than 1.5 million children desperately need school feeding services, while another 1.7 million need scholastic materials, according to the report. It also says more than 56,000 teachers and educational personnel need psycho-social support.

School feeding programs support over 156,000 students in eight districts, but a significant increase in food and education support is still needed. Regional authorities are planning a six-month curriculum to recover lost learning.

Several other regions in the country are also enduring serious impediments due to protracted conflicts, drought, flood and other challenges, according to the report.

Since February 2024 renewed clashes between Afar and Somali-Issa communities in Garani and Madane sites in the Siti Zone of the Somali Region have resulted in heavy casualties and displacement of several thousand people. The series of communal clashes, often over territory and resources, has been ongoing since 2018, displacing more than 200,000 people from both communities and disrupting livelihoods.

  • Advertisement -A reported close to 30,000 IDPs remain currently displaced in Afar due to the Afar-Somali Issa clashes. An IOM assessment from September 2023 reveals over 83,000 IDPs are settled in the Somali region’s Siti Zone.

Peace talks mediated by the federal government and the national Islamic Sharia Council started in March 2024 to resolve the territorial disputes, which are worsened by seasonal floods, drought, and lack of food assistance and basic services in IDP sites. A cholera outbreak adds to the troubles, according to the assessment report.

It states that humanitarian presence is limited in the affected villages due to insecurity, while areas where IDPs have relocated to are hard to reach. I

In Oromia’s East Wollega Zone, more than 24,000 IDPs who fled hostilities in the neighboring Benishangul-Gumuz Region in 2018 face dire conditions, including in health and education. The problems include limited access to educational materials and overcrowding at schools.

Last month, the Amhara region, home to approximately 670,000 IDPs, witnessed the displacement of a reported 18,000 individuals due to alleged attacks by armed groups in Kewot, Efratana Gidim, and Antsokia woredas of the North Shewa Zone, according to the report.

It indicates that close to 300 houses were burned down, and over 2,000 livestock were looted, leaving families in need of life-saving assistance.

Recurrent attacks in recent years have caused repeated displacements and significant psychosocial distress on communities. However, the humanitarian response to affected communities, including returning IDPs, has been sluggish or non-existent due to insufficient funds.

In the Oromia Special Zone of the Amhara region, close to 37,000 individuals affected by hostilities require urgent humanitarian assistance, according to the Amhara Disaster Risk Management Office.

As of early April, according to the Education Cluster in the Amhara region, 4,178 schools (41 per cent of the total in the region) have been closed due to the ongoing insecurity and impact of the northern Ethiopia conflict that ended in late 2022. Approximately 300 schools in various zones are damaged and around 350 schools are non-functional. Close to 90 percent of the schools in East Gojjam, West Gojjam, and South Gondar zones are currently closed.

In South Gondar alone, as of 12 March, approximately 26,000 students have dropped out of school, mainly due to persistent drought and insecurity since hostilities began in parts of Amhara in August 2023, according to the Zonal Disaster Risk Management Office. Some districts, like Tsagbeji and Abergele in Wag Hemra Zone, have closed schools due to lack of school supplies.

The UN estimates at least 15.5 million people will require urgent assistance in Ethiopia this year, including 4.5 million IDPs. But the desperately needed assistance requires heavy financing, which is growing harder to come by.

A High-level Pledging Event for the Humanitarian Situation in Ethiopia (HLPE) took place on 16 April 2024 in Geneva, under the auspices of the governments of Ethiopia, the UK, and the UN. Donors committed to a sum of USD 600 million for humanitarian needs in Ethiopia.

By Reporter.

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