Violence in southern Ethiopia


Violence in southern Ethiopia since June forced more than 800,000 people to flee their homes and they need food and other aid, a report by the United Nations and government said.

Inter-ethnic violence erupted in April south of the capital and in all more than 1.2 million people have been forced to flee, said the report with no details of casualties.
“Renewed violence along the border areas of Gedeo and West Guji zones since early June has led to the displacement of over 642,152 IDP’s (internally displaced persons) in Gedeo zone and 176,098 IDP’s in West Guji zone of Oromia region.” the report said.

Traditional leaders encouraged movement of people back to their homes after initial fighting in April but many fled again in June, the report said.
“The security situation has been challenging despite deployment of the Ethiopian Defence Force in the area, with reports of continued destruction of houses, other assets and service infrastructure,” it read.

Ethiopia is an ethnically diverse country of 100 million people and ethnic discontent helped fuel protests leading to the resignation of Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn in February.

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed took office in April and pledged political and economic reforms to address complaints of marginalisation by a number of ethnic groups including his own group, the Oromos.

Diplomats told Reuters more than 200 people were killed last month but said the figure was an estimate because a lack of security made confirmation impossible.

The fighting is one of several ethnic conflicts fuelled by grievances over land in Ethiopia, Africa’s second largest country by population.

Last year, dozens died in violence between people from the Somali and Oromo ethnic groups. Hundreds of thousands of people fled their homes and are yet to return.

Ethiopia’s ruling coalition took power in 1991 and created regional states based on ethnicity in a federal republic.