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Internal Displacement in Ethiopia: Towards a New Policy and Legal Framework for Durable Solutions

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Ethiopia has experienced an unprecedented increase in forced displacement within its borders over the last four decades, with the highest number being recorded in 2021, when over 5.38 million people were displaced. This displacement has been triggered by diverse factors, including conflict and natural disasters. Many of those uprooted display significant vulnerabilities. As such, the need for protection and durable solutions has grown acute.

This analysis reviews and identifies gaps within the existing legal and policy frameworks related to internally displaced persons (IDPs), and provides some recommendations on the protection of these groups from attacks, pervasive human rights abuses and re-displacement. The paper contributes to the consolidation of a durable solution and legal ecosystem by embracing a proactive policy and institutional framework centred on human security and the concerted efforts of multiple actors.

Paramount among its recommendations is a call for a new legal framework and national security strategy centred on peaceful negotiation and reconciliation that empowers IDPs and host communities. This must be developed to ensure preventative security and protection.

In terms of policy, the authors argue that IDP-focused interventions should be linked to the realities of local, regional and federal economic development policies. They explore how a single IDP durable solution instrument can create positive multiplier effects: synergies towards the establishment of a long-term, sustainable economic ecosystem.

Finally, the paper recognises the particular needs of women and girls who have faced violence and sexual abuse in Ethiopia’s recent conflicts. The recovery and rehabilitation of these groups requires specific interventions. In designing and implementing development packages, it is fundamental to take gender into account to ensure women’s active participation. So too youth, who are at the centre of these conflicts as protagonists – as part of the regional government special forces in Amhara, Tigray or Somali, unidentified armed groups in the Benishangul-Gumuz (BSG), armed groups in Oromia, and as part of mobs involved in violence.


Bereket Tsegay (PhD) is a Research Associate at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London, where he was awarded a PhD in Development Studies; and Non-Resident Fellow of the African Studies Centre, Leiden, the Netherlands. His research has focused on the intersection of migration and displacement, conflict, pastoralism, social security, policy analysis, natural resource governance, dynamics of institutions in development, risk management, green economy and climate change. His latest co-edited book is Social Protection, Pastoralism and Resilience in Ethiopia: Lessons for Sub-Saharan Africa.

Kiya Gezahegne (PhD) is an Assistant Professor of Social Anthropology at Addis Ababa University and has worked on a range of migration-related projects, including the experiences of Ethiopian migrants to and from the Middle East, migration management and livelihoods on the Ethiopia-Sudan border, the interlinkages between migration and poverty in Ethiopia, and understanding migration and the labour market in Ethiopia. She has also researched on forced displacement focusing on refugees and IDPs in Ethiopia, including a legal and policy analysis on issues related to forced displacement.


Product details
Date of Publication
June 2023
Heinrich-Boll-Stiftung e.V.
Number of Pages
All rights reserved
Language of publication