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In 2018, about 1,340 registered households as well as many unregistered internally displaced persons (IDPs) fled ethnic conflict in the Somali region of Ethiopia to seek safety in Adama, the capital of the Oromia region, approximately 100km southeast of Addis Ababa. The IDPs, who were mainly ethnic Oromo, arrived in Adama over the course of several months. The sudden and huge influx of IDPs put immense pressure on the city’s capacity to provide the necessary support. While most of the focus on internal displacement in Ethiopia remains on the Somali region (which hosts the majority of the country’s approximately three million IDPs), significant lessons can be learned from Adama’s response. In the absence of large-scale international assistance, a little-known campaign to address the needs of IDPs led to a multi-level response from federal, regional and – in particular – local urban actors. Ultimately, under the auspices of the city administration, all 28 sectoral government bureaus, hundreds of private sector actors, 18 kebeles (neighbourhood districts), 243 Idirs (community-based associations) and many local non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and individuals participated in supporting and settling the IDPs. This may be a unique instance of an entirely Ethiopian, collective and largely local effort to operate successfully at this scale and within such a short period of time.

More information


Forced Migration Review


Refugee Studies Centre

Publication Date





58 - 60