Qoloji site is one of the largest IDP sites in the Somali region. Photo: EHRC
Addis Abeba -The Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC) has confirmed that six civilians were killed in the Qoloji site for Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), one of the largest IDP sites in the Somali region, and several others injured in the recent clashes involving security forces of the Oromia and Somali regional states. near Babile on the 15th of September 2023.
In the last week of September, clashes flared up between local militias from the two regional states in Babile district/woreda which exists as an administrative unit both in Fafan zone of the Somali region and East Hararghe zone of Oromia region.
Eye witnesses from the Somali side told Addis Standard that Oromia regional state forces launched an attack in Qoloji camp for IDPs which hosts more than 20,000 Somalis displaced from Oromia during the 2017 border conflict between the two regions that killed hundreds and displaced more than a million civilians.
Subsequent local reports indicated that the clashes were ignited over disagreement on checkpoints for taxes of Khat products in the area after Somali region local forces moved their Khat tax checkpoint located in the Karamara area of Somali region to the Babile district, and Oromia region local forces did the same by moving checkpoints closer to the border where both sides ended setting up checkpoints at central locations for both regions.
In a statement issued yesterday, EHRC confirmed the clashes, which it said have subsided since; but through engaging in talks with victims, security forces of both regions, and workers at Qoloji IDP site, as well as medical professional, EHRC confirmed the death of six people in the clashes, which also left everal injured.
EHRC urged concerned authorities to observe the principles the Kampala agreement to prevent or mitigate, prohibit and eliminate root causes of internal displacement and provide respective obligations, responsibilities and roles of armed groups, non-state actors and other relevant factors, including civil society organizations, with respect to the prevention of internal displacement and protection and assistance to IDPS, they were persistently subjected to recurring conflicts in the area.
The commission also urged government security forces to refrain from actions that endanger the saftey and security of displaced civilians in accordance to the Kampala agreement signed to protect IDPs from being victims of any conflict.
The two regions have to provide a lasting solution to the problem through appropriate investigations to the damage caused to civilians, EHRC stated, adding that authorities should also look for the causes of the conflict to ensure accountability for the killings at Qoloji shelter and injuries both at the camp and on residents in the area.
The residents in those areas have been repeatedly complaining about the federal government’s failure to resolve recurring conflicts in the area involving the security forces of the two regional state governments. AS
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