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A surge in conflict in mid-2018 between ethnic groups around Regional border areas, primarily between Oromia and neighbouring Regional States, including SNNPR, Somali Region, Dire Dawa and Benishangul Gumuz, has led to displacement of an upwards of 3.19 million. In light of the identified need to provide site management support (SMS) to the newly created collective settings, sectoral programming for Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) was launched in May 2018 with IOM, UNHCR and ANE as the main SMS actors engaged, and their response focused primarily on Gedeo Zone of SNNPR and West Guji of Oromia. IOM later expanded to cover East Hararge in Oromia and the federally administered city of Dire Dawa. The Camp Management and Camp Coordination (CCCM) Cluster has not been activated in Ethiopia. Instead, an SMS Working Group was established under the Protection Cluster, co-chaired by IOM and UNHCR focusing on support to sites (rather than camps, to acknowledge the informal nature of the collective settings).

SMS actors provided interventions in the IDP sites under the four following Pillars:

  1. Site/Area Coordination, including Information Management
  2. Site Maintenance & Upgrading, Decommissioning including Rehabilitation
  3. Community Mobilisation/Self-Governance
  4. Capacity Building of Stakeholders,

Significant changes to the humanitarian and operational context have taken place in Ethiopia during the first two quarters of 2019, primarily due to the government’s initiative to return large numbers IDPs to their places of origin. The abrupt character of returns meant that similar humanitarian needs were present in Kebeles of return as in the IDP sites. Coordinating the needed assistance for the large numbers of returnees at Kebele and Woreda levels also presents an administrative challenge to local authorities. For this reason, SMS actors assessed in May/June 2019 that SMS remains relevant and needed in the context of returns, as well as in locations of continued, or fresh, displacement. SMS partners’ approach is consistent, in both displacement and return contexts; applying the SMS Pillars and using an area‐based approach (at the Kebele and/or Woreda administrative level), the approaches of SMS partners are the same for both displacement and return locations. An exception to this is site maintenance and site decommissioning, which may not apply in the return context. Furthermore, while SMS will remain engaged in IDP sites as long as they remain populated and the Site Management requires support, in the return context, SMS will seek to support local authorities in the initial 6‐9 months only, during which time phase‐out is anticipated, as return locations stabilise and hand‐overs can be made to other actors for longer‐term follow‐up.

Further to the Global COVID-19 Pandemic reaching Ethiopia from March 2020, the SMS WG reviewed and modified its 2020 Humanitarian Response Plan activities targets in line with new emerging needs, as well as with movement and gathering restrictions, etc. COVID-19-related activities by SMS actors include decongesting of IDP sites, Risk Communication and Community Engagement, and support to Government bodies on mitigation measures in IDP Sites.