The ongoing conflicts in Ethiopia have manufactured one of the world’s most severe and least reported upon humanitarian crisis in recent history. Since his election in 2018, Prime-Minister Abiy Ahmed had made huge strides for the nation in human rights, economic policy and foreign relations, including an official peace treaty signed with Eritrea.
Ongoing Conflict and Seasonal Drought
Despite this, the locally based conflicts in the Federalist regions of Ethiopia have worsened considerably. The nation is home to over 80 officially recognised ethnic groups, living tenuously in 9 ethnic based regions of the country. These local conflicts have caused the displacement of over 2,895,000 people, marking Ethiopia as the country with the highest amount of internally displaced people in the world, putting them above countries such as Syria, Myanmar, and Afghanistan.
Alongside this, many of these communities have suffered catastrophic droughts in recent years and have taken on huge financial debts in order to recover their primarily agrarian industries. In 2018, Ethiopia has seen a further 296,000 lose their homes and forced to seek shelter in refugee communities as a result of devastating seasonal flooding. These figures, provided by the Internal Displacement Monitoring Service, see the total number of displaced Ethiopians at more than three million people.
Ethiopia’s Call for Aid
The Ethiopian government has been administering aid to the people affected by these crises due to a huge influx of international aid, and now 83 humanitarian agencies will be responding to the country’s recent call for humanitarian intervention. These desperate communities, recovering from drought and fleeing a seemingly unceasing ethnic conflict, have extremely limited access to the healthcare they need in order to build a future. As of August 2018, there were 324,459 cases of scabies and 1,500 cases of measles amongst displaced populations, with limited support and after-care facilities. A report written in December later the same year stated that over six million people required urgent access to healthcare, including maternity, sexual health, psychological support and one of the aspects lacking most in Ethiopia; palliative care, that concentrates on pain management and dignified death for the elderly and the terminally ill, namely through hospices in most countries.
As of 1948, the Right to Palliative care has been enshrined in several documents and agreements, officially outlining the appropriate and compassionate response to patients with life threatening illnesses as a human right. In 2011, only 58% of countries were found to have at least one hospice or palliative care facility, including Ethiopia. For a country with a population of 105 million people, Ethiopia has one hospice.
Caring for the elderly and the terminally ill is a role adopted by community members known as the ‘idihr,’ who also take it upon themselves to bear the financial costs. In 2019, Doctors Worldwide aims to work in partnership with a local organisation to promote and build palliative health care access across Ethiopia. To find out how you can support us, please click here. You can also donate towards this project here.
At Doctors Worldwide, we believe that access to quality healthcare is not a privilege, but a human right. Dying alone, suffering and undignified without access to the proper support and facilities is not something that would happen to you, and it should not happen to others. Together, we can provide healthier and happier futures for communities in need around the world.