By the Numbers: Ethiopia, 14-20 October 20231Some events from this coverage period might be included in the data in subsequent weeks due to reporting delays.
- Total number of political violence events: 35
- Total number of reported fatalities from political violence: 187
- Total number of reported fatalities from civilian targeting: 24
By the Numbers: Ethiopia, 14 October 2022-20 October 2023
- Total number of political violence events: 1,178
- Total number of reported fatalities from political violence: 3,813
- Total number of reported fatalities from civilian targeting: 1,514
Clashes between Fano militias and members of the Ethiopian National Defense Force (ENDF) continued in Amhara region, while kidnapping and clashes were also reported in Oromia region. Violent, ethnic-based clashes were also reported in Central Ethiopia region.
Last week, ethnic-based clashes between Kebena and Gurage ethnic groups in Welkite town in Central Ethiopia region, which erupted on 13 October, continued until 15 October. The conflict is connected to a boundary dispute between the Kebena Special woreda and Welkite town. At least six people have been killed due to these clashes. On 15 October, police fired tear gas to disperse clashing residents.2Gurage Zone Government Communication Affairs Department, ‘Statement from Gurage Zone Command Post,’ 14 October 2023 Additionally, the Gurage zone command post established a curfew to control the clashes. The recently established Central Ethiopia region classified Kebena and Mareko woredas as ‘special’ woredas, and East Gurage woreda as a zone, giving them governing privileges independent of the Gurage zone based on their previous claims to establish their own administrative levels.3Wazema Radio, ‘Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples region no longer exists,’ 19 August 2023 Since the announcement of these new levels of administrations, sporadic clashes over boundaries have been recorded in the region (for more, see the EPO Weekly: 30 September-6 October 2023).
In Amhara region, Fano militias clashed with the ENDF in Bure in West Gojam zone, Debre Markos in East Gojam zone, Meteh Bila in North Shewa zone and Zobel mountains near Kobo town in North Wello zone. Tension throughout many locations of the region have been high due to the presence of ENDF soldiers in all major towns and frequent armed clashes with Fano militias4Mantegafetot Sileshi, ‘The Amhara region has been tense due to defense force and Fano clashes,’ DW Amharic 18 October 2023 (for more on the conflict in Amhara region, see the EPO Monthly: August 2023). Last week, ENDF claimed to have foiled attacks in Dessie town by a group identified by the force as “an extremist group” that reportedly planned to disturb the stability of the town, as well as the ruling party’s training in the town, by planting explosives in various locations of the town.5Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia Defense Force, ‘Infiltrators of the extremist group who were preparing to disturb the peace in Dessie city in South Wollo zone were arrested by the defense forces,’ 21 October 2023 The ruling party, Prosperity Party, has been providing training for its top and mid-level leaders for 12 days in 10 locations across the country, including in the capital city of Amhara, Bahir Dar and Dessie town, under the slogan “from debt to reward.”6Prosperity Party, ‘The 2nd round of the training forum for the senior and middle level leaders of the Prosperity Party began today,’ 10 October 2023; Prosperity Party, ‘The 12-day training for 12,000 leaders of the Prosperity Party in 10 cities with a slogan ‘from debt to reward’ has been successfully completed,’ 22 October 2023 The Amhara regional government has taken these training sessions in its region as a sign to demonstrate the stability of the region.7Amhara Media Corporation, ‘’The training conducted in the Amhara region has a different meaning and implication’ Head of Government Arega Kebede,’ 21 October 2023
Meanwhile, in Oromia region, 13 armed clashes between ENDF forces and the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF)-Shane militants were reported last week, while both the OLF-Shane and government forces were also accused of engaging in violence against civilians (see map below). Much of the armed clashes and violence against civilians reported last week were recorded in North Shewa zone, where violence is common along the A3 highway connecting Amhara region to Addis Ababa. Amidst clashes and violence against civilians, on 20 October, it was reported that at least four Chinese nationals were kidnapped from a cement factory by suspected members of the OLF-Shane in North Shewa zone.8Addis Standard, ‘Unknown number of Chinese nationals abducted by gunmen in North Shoa Zone, Oromia region,’ 20 October 2023 In May 2021, three other Chinese workers were taken hostage by the OLF-Shane forces around Mendi in West Wollega zone for their involvement in mining in the area. They were later released after mediation by the International Committee of Red Cross.9Addis Standard, ‘Three Chinese nationals whose detention was claimed by the Oromo Liberation Army, released and handed over to representatives of ICRC,’ 29 May 2021 Last week, various reports indicated the concerns of residents in Oromia regions over the frequent abductions of civilians in the region.10VOA Amharic, ‘It was stated that residents are leaving their villages due to the worsening of abduction in Oromia region,’ 20 October 2023; BBC Amharic, ‘Days long suffering of a father who was released from an abduction and his worry,’ 20 October 2023; Seyum Getu, Mantegafetot Sileshi and Azeb Tadese, ‘The kidnapping of people in the Oromia region has frustrated residents,’ DW Amharic, 19 October 2023
Lastly, on 13 October, the UN-mandated Commission of Human Rights Experts on Ethiopia released its final report and findings during the UN’s 54th Human Rights Council session. The report, among other things, stated its findings that “the Ethiopian National Defense Forces, Eritrean Defence Forces, regional forces and affiliated militias perpetrated violations and abuses in Tigray…that amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity.”11International Commission of Human Rights Experts on Ethiopia, ‘Comprehensive investigative findings and legal determinations,’ 13 October 2023 The Commission also found that Tigray fighters committed crimes in Amhara and Afar regions that amounted to war crimes, and noted that violence and crimes were ongoing at the time that the report was written, expressing concern over the presence of Amhara and Eritrean forces still within Tigray region’s boundaries. The end of the Commission’s mandate at the 54th Human Rights Council session is significant, and interviews with European Union Diplomats, who had originally supported the Commission, indicated that it was expected that the Ethiopian government would continue investigations into human rights abuses.12Jamey Keaten and Ridney Muhumuza, ‘UN-backed probe into Ethiopia’s abuses is set to end. No one has asked for it to continue,’ Associated Press News, 4 October 2023 The Ethiopian government opposed the establishment of the Commission at its outset, calling for its termination and accusing the Commission of politicizing human rights issues.13Ashenafi Endale, ‘Ethiopia demands termination of mandate for UN rights experts’, Ethiopian Reporter, 17 December 2022