Ethnic Wars: Ethiopia

The end of 2017 saw a major clash between the Oromos community in Ethiopia and the Somali Ethiopian community. 29 ethnic Oromos people were killed and then 32 ethnic Somali’s were killed in retaliation. A recent clash has been stirring up again in Ethiopia but now between the Oromos and the Amharas ethnic group. Oromos youth have been waging war on members of the Amharas community, surrounding their homes and beating them and killing them. These attacks have left many Amharas in fear causing them to consider fleeing their homes to prevent any more attacks.

Ethnic Wars: Ethiopia
Oromo woman, Ethiopia | Rod Waddington | flickr


One must ask the question on where government involvement has been while all this has been taking place. Members of the Amharas community have been asking this question as well as Amnesty International. It seems as if the Amharas community is being ignored because they have been suffering at the hands of the Oromos for some time now but have received no justice. Members of the Amharas community have filed complaints to authorities in Oromia state about the ongoing attacks but authorities have yet to address it. There could be a possible bias towards certain groups in Ethiopia because putting aside a matter such as this does look as if the Ethiopian government does not hold all member of the society as equal.

Joan Nyanyuki who is Amnesty International’s national director for East Africa made a statement recently in which he states that the government of Ethiopia needs to make efforts to stop these attacks as the attacks are leaving the Amharas homeless due to displacement. The governments choice of not thoroughly addressing these attacks further influences the Oromos to continue their assaults on the Amharas community as they know that there will be no severe consequences for their actions. The attacks that have been taking place both recently and in the past few months clearly shows that there is a major ethnic wedge within Ethiopia.  Their needs to be more efforts put into bringing peace among the different groups as these conflicts will continue to lead Ethiopia on a downward spiral.

The united nations released a statement last month stating that ethnic clashes in Southern Ethiopia has left at least 200,00 people displaced. Many individuals are displaced because the different groups share state borders and when one group invades or attacks another group the attacked must flee in order to stay alive, causing them to be moved from their tribal and ethnic homeland.

Ethnic Wars: Ethiopia
Remnants of Ethiopian civil war | SarahTz | flickr


Ethiopia is a nation that embraces ethnic identity.   This can cause a problem as individuals are more loyal to their ethnicity than to their National identity. There is no promotion of general Ethiopian identity which is why clashes occur because groups see each other as being different rather than being the same. The government should come up with strategies to promote Ethiopian nationalism that will give various ethnic groups some kind of comradery so they can develop a sense of oneness. Yes, they might be from different tribes and ethnic backgrounds, but the notion of being Ethiopian could be a bridge that leads them to walk together in brotherhood.

The Ethiopian government must view these clashes as a national crisis because this is the only way serious efforts will be made to curb the violence. Hopefully the government can make a stronger stance in establishing itself in this matter. This way  a foothold can be put on the issue and Ethiopia can move forward in peace.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Best of Africa.

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