73,000 displaced in Ethiopia ethnic flare-up

Tuesday October 02 2018

Displaced people at a youth centre in Addis Ababa on September 18, 2018 following clashes in Burayu town of Oromia. PHOTO | AFP


At least 73,000 have been displaced in the clashes that followed last week's killing of four people in eastern Ethiopia's Benshangul/ Gumz region, the state broadcaster said Tuesday.

The Ethiopian Broadcasting Corporation (EBC) stated that most of the displaced had escaped to the neighbouring towns of Oromia Regional State.

EBC quoted the Benshangul/ Gumz communications officer, Mr Zelalem Jaleta, saying the four people killed were officials of the local administration in Kamashi Zone.

He said the regional state requested the assistance of the federal government to contain the situation, and reinforcement arrived the following day .

The army

“We need more army presence in different parts of our region,” he said, adding that the additional security was required because the violence perpetrators shifted to other locations as soon as the army stabilised one area.


Information from the Oromia communications office indicated that most of the people displaced were from the Oromo and Amhara ethnic groups.

A Facebook post by AddisuArega, one of the officials of the Oromia Regional State, claimed that those who killed the four people belonged to the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF).

Benishagul/ Gumz, Somali, Afar and Gambella are the four independent states governed by their respective ethnic political parties, often considered partners of the ruling coalition, the Ethiopian Peoples’ Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF).

Many people consider the recent flare-ups as the fruits of the ethnic and language based federal system, that has existed for more than two decades.

Gives rights

Critics of the system have been pushing for a constitutional amendment to do away with the governance that was prone to abuse.

However, its supporters argue that the current constitution gives rights to the different ethnic groups to use their languages in governance.

Some two million people have reportedly been displaced in Ethiopia over the past six months as a result of ethnic tensions. Dozens of others have been killed in different parts, including 50 in Addis Ababa and Burayu town of Oromia, less than 20km from the capital.

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has indicated that a committee of experts would be established to recommend administrative changes.

Amid the crisis, EPRDF was set to hold its general assembly Wednesday in Hawassa City, some 270km south of Addis Ababa.