August at a Glance
- ACLED records 113 organized political violence events and 558 reported fatalities in August.
- Oromia region had the highest number of reported fatalities due to organized political violence, with 387 reported fatalities. Amhara region followed with 95 reported fatalities.
- In August, the most common event type was battles, with 66 events and 274 fatalities reported, followed by violence against civilians, with 40 events and 257 fatalities reported.
- On 24 August, another round of armed clashes between the government forces and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) began in Amhara, Tigray, and Afar regions.
- In August, the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF)-Shane and government forces – Ethiopian National Defense Force (ENDF) and Oromia regional special forces – continued to clash in Oromia region.
- Violence targeting civilians continued in Oromia region, with the highest number of fatalities due to attacks against civilians recorded in Amru woreda in Horo Guduru zone.
- Last month, armed clashes between Somali and Afar ethnic militias reignited in Gadamaitu in Gabi-Zone 3 in Afar region, in Cundhufo, Danlahelay, and other disputed locations in Miesso woreda in Siti zone in Somali region.
In This Report
- August Situation Summary
- Monthly Focus: Humanitarian Needs in Northern Ethiopia
August Situation Summary
On 24 August, the northern Ethiopia conflict reignited again after five months of relative calm. As a result of this, the majority of battle events in August were recorded in the north, between Amhara and Tigray regions. Battle events were also recorded in Oromia, Afar, Benshangul/Gumuz, and Somali regions. Fighting began in areas bordering the Southern Tigray zone of Tigray and North Wello zone of Amhara region. The TPLF forces also shelled three kebeles in Yallo woreda in Fanti Rasu-Zone 2 in Afar region, killing three civilians on 24 August. By the end of the month, armed clashes between TPLF forces and government forces had spread to Wag Hamra zone in Amhara region, and to Western Tigray and North Western Tigray zone in Tigray region (see EPO Weekly: 13 August-9 September 2022 for more details on the specific locations of the armed clashes in northern Ethiopia). From 24 to 31 August, 37 battle events were recorded in Afar, Amhara, and Tigray regions. Most of these battle events – 25 battle events – were recorded in Amhara region, while 11 battle events were recorded in Tigray region.
Amid the fighting, Ethiopian air forces carried out drone-assisted airstrikes in the capital city of Tigray, Mekele. These airstrikes allegedly targeted a children’s playground and a hospital, killing at least four civilians. The federal government did not respond to this allegation. However, on 26 August, the Ethiopian government asked civilians to avoid areas near TPLF military trainings and camps (FDRE Government Communication Service, 26 August 2022).
In addition to the armed clashes, two violence against civilians events involving TPLF forces were recorded in Amhara region following the new round of armed clashes in northern Ethiopia. On 27 August, TPLF forces conducted home-to-home searches for Fano and Amhara militias and shot and killed an unknown number of youths and farmers in Kobo town in North Wello zone after they regained control of the town. The federal government stated that its forces withdrew from Kobo to avoid mass civilian casualties (FDRE Government Communication Service, 27 August 2022). Moreover, around 31 August, TPLF forces shot and killed 25 internally displaced civilians (IDPs), including women, children, and elderly people, in Woleh IDP camp in Woleh Maryam kebele in Sekota woreda in Wag Hamra zone. Hundreds of people were forced to flee from their residents due to the new round of armed conflict (current humanitarian needs in northern Ethiopia are discussed in the section below).
The highest number of battle events outside the northern Ethiopia conflict was recorded in Oromia region – 24 battle events, all of which were between OLF-Shane and government forces, including the ENDF, Oromia regional special forces, and Oromia kebele militias. These battle events occurred in Arsi, East Wollega, Guji, Horo Guduru, Ilu Aba Bora, Kellem Wollega, North Shewa, West Shewa, and West Wollega zones (see map below). The largest number of these armed clashes – eight armed clash events — were recorded in West Shewa zone.
Moreover, various groups continued to perpetrate acts of violence against civilians in Oromia region. In August, ACLED records 35 violence against civilians events in East Shewa, East Wollega, Finfine special, Horo Guduru, Kellem Wollega, North Shewa, South West Shewa, West Arsi, West Guji, West Shewa, and West Wollega zones. These attacks against civilians were conducted by the ENDF, Oromia regional special forces, OLF-Shane, Fano militias, Amhara militias, and an unidentified armed group. Most of these attacks – 17 events – were conducted by the ENDF, with OLF-Shane carrying out the second largest share of attacks – 10 events. Fano militias were involved in four attacks against civilians, three of which were recorded in Horo Guduru zone.
Most victims of attacks by the ENDF were either accused of having links with the OLF-Shane or hiding members of the rebel group. At the beginning of the month, government security forces arrested 35 people in Lelise kebele in Gida Ayana woreda in East Wollega zone over suspicion of having links with the OLF-Shane rebel group. On 21 August, residents of Guder town in West Shewa zone blocked the main road with stones and wood and condemned the arbitrary arrest of youths in the town. The Oromia regional state police and special forces fired live bullets at demonstrators and injured two youths as they tried to disperse the rioters and open the closed road. Meanwhile, on 12 August, residents of Dano woreda gathered in Seyo town in West Shewa zone and protested “atrocities against civilians and lootings and property destruction by OLF-Shane” (OBN Afaan Oromoo, 12 August 2022).
On 30 and 31 August, Amhara militias from Addis Alem kebele in Amru woreda and Bure woreda in Amhara region killed at least 60 ethnic Oromo civilians and injured at least 70 others in Agamsa, Jog Migbar, Tam Eilamu, Jebo Doban, Tombe Danagebe, Jawaj, Gnare, Lege Micha and Lukuma kebeles in Amru woreda (Ethiopia Human Rights Commission, 6 September 2022). These attacks were conducted a day after the OLF-Shane entered Abora town — the administrative center of Amru woreda — in Agamsa kebele, and killed three ethnic Amharas, while trying to capture the town. The group also disarmed 59 people in the kebele. The Oromia regional special forces withdrew from the area on 28 August (DW Amharic, 31 August 2022). Some reports indicate that from 29 to 31 August, OLF-Shane killed 11 people and injured another 11 in Agamsa town. The group also looted branches of the Ethiopian Commercial Bank, Awash Bank, and Cooperative Bank of Oromia in Amuru woreda (Addis Maleda, 3 September 2022). Following these attacks, more than 20,000 people were forced to flee from these areas (Ethiopia Human Rights Commission, 6 September 2022).
OLF-Shane militants were also active in Afar region last month. On 24 August, OLF-Shane shot and killed an unknown number of civilians in Burka town in Dawe woreda in Hari-Zone 5 after entering the town and conducting a home-to-home search.
Moreover, conflict reignited in disputed areas at the border of Somali and Afar last month (for more details on these disputed areas, see EPO’s Afar-Somali Border Conflict). During the week of 17 August, Afar and Somali ethnic militias clashed in Gadamaitu in Gabi-Zone 3. The Somali regional government stated that around 60,000 ethnic Somalis were forced to flee the area due to the fighting (VOA Amharic, 19 August 2022; Addis Standard, 18 August 2022). A week earlier, on 11 August, armed clashes erupted between Afar and Somali ethnic militias in Cundhufo, Danlahelay, and other disputed locations in Miesso woreda in Siti zone in Somali region. On 18 August, demonstrators threw stones at security forces in Biki town in Siti zone while the Somali regional state presidential delegation visited IDPs from Gadamaitu in the town. The demonstrators condemned the regional government’s handling of inter-communal clashes between Afar and Somali militias in Gadamaitu and condemned “the silence of the government to intervene during the conflict” (Hiiraan Online, 18 August 2022; TIKVAH-Ethiopia, 18 August 2022). Security forces – assumed to be regional special forces – fired in the air and dispersed the demonstrators.
In addition, on 28 and 29 August, a Marehan clan militia attacked and clashed with a Maqabul clan militia over a land dispute in Laanta Qurac Shire village near Shilabo town in Korahe zone in Somali region. At least 10 people were killed and several others were injured.
In Benshangul/Gumuz region, federal police and Benshangul/Gumuz regional special forces clashed with Benshangul People’s Liberation Movement (BPLM) militants in unspecified locations in Sherkole woreda in Asosa zone, killing 23 militants and capturing five others. Meanwhile, 246 militants peacefully surrendered to a Metekel zone command post in Dangur woreda in Metekel zone (Ethiopian Broadcasting Corporation, 9 August 2022).
Meanwhile, the Gambela regional government stated that Murle ethnic militiamen from South Sudan crossed the border into Gambela on 8 August and attacked the Ukugu refugee camp near Dimma town in Dimma woreda in Agnewak zone. Two people were reportedly killed, while another person was injured in the attack. The militiamen also reportedly abducted two children.
Last month, tension over a request for self-administration was observed in Gurage zone in Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples region (SNNPR). On 2 August, SNNPR security officials warned that the government “will not tolerate illegal and irregular activities under the guise of the restructuring request of the Gurage zone” (Addis Standard, 5 August 2022). On 5 August, a command post was established in Bui town in Gurage zone and it prohibited anyone from carrying or wearing signs opposing the newly proposed cluster region (Tikvah-Ethiopia, 5 August 2022). Residents of Welkite city expressed their rejection of the proposed restructuring of Gurage zone and the formation of a new cluster region by “boycotting routine activities” and demonstrating in the town, chanting slogans like “no to cluster” (Addis Standard, 9 August 2022). In mid-August, the regional command declared a curfew, restricted the movement of motorbikes, and banned “any protests and public assemblies” in Welkite town and across the Guraghe zone (Addis Maleda, 18 August 2022; for more details on the proposed cluster regions in SNNPR see EPO Monthly: July 2022). Following this declaration, the regional police arrested several youths and zonal officials, including the head of the zone’s security sector, in Welkite town over their alleged opposition to the newly proposed cluster region, demanding self-governed regional state status, and organizing homestay and business closure protests. Later, residents of Wekite town protested the government’s action against the Gurageh zone decision and the government’s failure to respond to their request for self-administration, staying in their homes and boycotting work and business centers (Addis Maleda, 27 August 2022).
Further, at the beginning of the month, government forces, presumably ENDF and SNNP regional special forces, raided homes and reportedly killed eight people in Ataye kebele in Derashe special woreda. The regional police commissioner, however, claimed that security forces exchanged gunfire with an unidentified armed group, killing four gunmen and capturing around 20 others accused of inciting violence (VOA Amharic, 2 August 2022). Since April 2022, Derashe special woreda has been the site of recurring political unrest related to a quest for self-administration, with its local council members having recently voted to restructure the administration as part of a new regional state (Addis Standard, 2 August 2022).
Lastly, in South West Ethiopia Peoples region (SWEPR), non-Oromo students beat Oromo students at the University of Bonga in Bonga town in Kefa zone around 2 August. The reason behind this attack is unknown. Around the same time, 42 militants of an unidentified armed group in SWEPR peacefully laid down their arms and reintegrated into their communities following the calls and mediation efforts by religious leaders and community elders.
Monthly Focus: Humanitarian Needs in Northern Ethiopia
Humanitarian needs in Ethiopia continue to be high due to both conflicts and natural disasters. According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA), more than 20 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance in Ethiopia due to conflicts and natural disasters (OCHA, 2 September 2022). Afar, Amhara, Benshangul/Gumuz, Oromia, and Tigray regions are the regions most affected by violence, whereas Afar, Gambela, Oromia, Somali, SWEPR, and SNNPR regions are mostly affected by natural disasters like drought and flood. Ethiopia — and the overall area of the Horn of Africa — is experiencing one of the most severe droughts in the last 40 years, with the failure of four consecutive rainy seasons since late 2020. Amid the drought, it is estimated that 22 million people are at risk of starvation in the Horn of Africa (The Guardian, 20 August 2022). In Ethiopia’s most affected regions of Afar, Oromia, SNNPR, and SWEPR, over 10 million people — or approximately 45% of the affected population in the Horn of Africa — face severe hunger (DW, 16 August 2022). In positive news, however, 23,000 metric tons of Ukrainian grain arrived in Ethiopia last week (BBC Amharic, 7 September 2022; AP News, 15 August 2022).
It is estimated that more than five million people require humanitarian assistance in the Tigray region. According to UNOCHA, from 1 April to 1 August, 6,105 trucks carrying humanitarian supplies arrived in Mekele through the Afar region, with a further 12 fuel tankers arriving in Mekele on 3 August to distribute supplies across Tigray region (OCHA, 5 August 2022). The restarting of the northern conflict on 24 August has, however, hindered the humanitarian assistance entering Tigray via land and plane (UNOCHA, 7 September 2022). The Ethiopian federal government has requested guarantees from the international community that all humanitarian supplies in Tigray region are used for people in need rather than TPLF forces (FDRE Government Communication Service, 25 August 2022). The ENDF claims that food intended for humanitarian assistance has been taken by TPLF forces (FDRE Defence Force, 6 September 2022; FDRE Defence Force, 5 September 2022; FDRE Defence Force, 2 September 2022). USAID has vowed to investigate such accusations (Twitter @USAIDEthiopia, 6 September 2022). On 24 August, the UN stated that TPLF forces looted 12 fuel truck tankers with 570,000 litters of fuel from the World Food Program (WFP) warehouse in the capital city of Tigray region, Mekele (United Nations, 24 August 2022). The TPLF denied this accusation and stated that it retook fuel that it had previously lent to the WFP (Twitter, @TigrayEAO, 25 August 2022).
In both Afar and Amhara regions, thousands of civilians were forced to flee their residences due to the new rounds of armed clashes between the federal government and TPLF forces, including approximately 150,000 people who were displaced from Kobo and its surrounding area during the first week of the conflict (VOA Amharic, 2 September 2022). More than 200,000 people were displaced from Gulina, Yalo, Ewa, Awra, and Megale woredas in Afar region (DW Amharic, 2 September 2022).
The latest displacement follows earlier mass displacements in 2021. More than 1.4 million people were internally displaced in Amhara region in late 2021 (VOA Amharic, 2 September 2022). While most of those IDPs in Amhara region had since returned, over 250,000 IDPs are still in camps in Wag Hamera, North Wello, and North Shewa zones (the latter mainly hosting over 300,000 IDPs from western Oromia; UNOCHA, 27 June 2022; for more details on violence against civilians in Oromia region, see EPO Monthly: June 2022).
The renewed conflict in August has set back the humanitarian relief effort for over five million Tigrayan recipients and added more than 350,000 people to the total number seeking assistance in Amhara and Afar. This is in addition to the 10 million people requiring aid for other disasters throughout the country. As armed clashes and attacks against civilians continue in various parts of the country, the need for humanitarian assistance and protection will continue to rise.