ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia, March 12, 2019/ — Ethiopia’s reformist government is demonstrating that establishing sustainable peace is a long-term process. It needs constant nurturing – more so as the country has one of Africa’s largest populations of internally displaced persons (IDPs).

Since Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed assumed office in April 2018, much has changed in the country. This includes restoring relations with neighbouring Eritrea, inviting exiled opposition party leaders to return, releasing jailed journalists and reaching out to the Ethiopian Diaspora to gain exiles’ trust, in the hope that they will contribute to the country’s development needs.

Last week, the newly established Ministry of Peace collaborated with United Nations (UN) agencies to launch a national process for the development of an inclusive peacebuilding strategy.

The strategy is funded by the UN Peacebuilding Fund, the International Organization for Migration (IOM), UN Women, UNDP and UNSCO. It is targeted at resolving conflicts in the cluster zones of Oromia and Somali Regions, two zones most affected by conflict.

The IOM Displacement Tracking Matrix shows that from a total of 2,271,899 IDPs in 2018, conflict was reported as the primary driver (accounting for 1,773,482 IDPs), followed by displacement due to climate induced factors (498,417 IDPs). However, the report says the figures of IDPs are likely to be higher as studies have excluded sites in Benishangul Gumuz region due to the security situation.

The large numbers of IDPs also feed into emigration, as Ethiopia is the largest migration sending country in the Horn of Africa.

The Minister of Peace, Muferiat Kamil along the UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator Aeneas Chapinga Chuma spoke at the launch of the peace strategy entitled Inclusive Governance and Conflict Management Support to Ethiopia.

As part of the strategy, IOM is responsible for interventions contributing to the resolution of displacements driven by inter-ethnic and inter-regional conflicts in Oromia-Somali and Oromia-SNNPR clusters.

IOM will implement activities that support local initiatives, including training and capacity building for community representatives and regional leaders in order to facilitate peace dialogues. IOM will also map existing humanitarian and development actions that will further contribute to the national peacebuilding strategy.

Both Kamil and Chuma highlighted the timelines of the planned work, noting that Ethiopia is going through major reform.

“The Prime Minister’s reform agenda is anchored on sustainable peace, reconciliation, inclusion and social cohesion and, in furtherance of this vision, he created a powerful Ministry of Peace as the centre piece of the vision with an appropriately overarching and expansive mandate around prevention and peacebuilding,” said Chuma.

Kamil added: “I am glad that we do not stand alone in the face of these challenges; UNDP and other UN agencies have striven to work hand in hand with the government of Ethiopia to help it achieve its endeavours aimed at promoting sustainable peace, reconciliation and improvement of democratic institutions to ensure that it accommodates the diverse range of peoples, beliefs and views that are found in Ethiopia.”

“The Ministry of Peace will also be working with IOM to foster cohesive co-existence of internationally displaced people and host communities through inter-regional and inter-communal dialogue,” Kamil said.

She also recognized IOM’s role, saying the Ministry of Peace will be working with IOM “to foster the cohesive co-existence of internationally displaced people and host communities through inter-regional and inter-communal dialogue.”