Conflict Mapping : Ethiopian Ethnic Tension

by Ayele Addis Ambelu (Istanbul – Turkey) ; Supervised by Alptekin Cihangir İşbilir (Anadolu Ajansı (AA) Haber Akademisi Müdürü, News Academy Manager)

Ethiopia is Africa’s oldest independent country and it’s second largest in terms of population. Ethiopia has never been colonised. It served as a symbol of African independence throughout the continent’s colonial period, and was a founder member of the United Nations and the African base for many international organisations. Similarly, Ethiopia – which has more than 80 ethno-linguistic groups – is divided under the constitution into nine ethnic federal states. Since the current government was come to power in May 1991, the borders between these ethnic regions have experienced multiple deadly clashes. Every year, millions had fled their homes to escape violence within the nation – giving Ethiopia the unenviable distinction of having the highest number of internally displaced people worldwide.

However, the basic type of conflict in Ethiopia is a conflict of ethnic group. Ethnicity and the related ethnic conflicts and tensions are one of the potent political forces tearing up the internal political landscape of states. In the current regime, ethnic conflicts account for more than all wars fought to. An emergence of ethnic conflict in Ethiopia, states with boundaries that do not reflect pre-existing social, political and economic divisions and backgrounds have frequently experienced tremendous conflicts, the end result being the destruction of massive human and material resources. Among these conflicts, ethnic based internal conflicts between two ethnic groups occurred many times. The basis for confrontation may emerge due to the inclusion of two or more ethnic communities within a single or adjacent territory of a state characterized by discriminatory and uneven status and resource allocations. An ethnic contrast has produced an extraordinary amount of conflict in many Ethiopian Ethnics.

This assessment will answer through mapping conflict in a way of answering five “W” and one “H” Questions. This will give a complete picture of the cause, area, the actors, process, consequence and solution of the problem.

AA Haber Akademisi ile @yurtdisiturkler @afam_afrika ve @akem_afrika iş birliğiyle düzenlenen “Afrika Medya Temsilcileri Eğitim Programı”nda (AFMED) katılımcılar Afrika’daki kriz bölgelerini anlatacak. Çalışma ile Afrika’daki kriz ve çatışma bölgeleri hakkında bilgi edinilecek.

Conflict Landscape in Ethiopia   (Where is the conflict taking place in what context)

The ethnic tension is takes place on several areas of Ethiopia. Ethnic Amharas who were evicted and displaced from the Benshangul-Gumuz and Oromia regions are yet to receive government assistance. Most of the ethnic Oromos who were evicted in their hundreds of thousands from Ethiopia’s Somali region in 2019 remain displaced. The ethnic Somalis who were evicted from Oromia in retaliation are also still displaced. Ethnic Gedeos who were evicted from Oromia’s Guji areas are now living in appalling conditions in schools, closed factories and temporary camps. Hundreds of innocent Ethiopians have died in the southern cities of Oromia, Amhara, Somali, Awassa and Sodo because of ethic violence.

And in this year alone, dozens of Ethiopians from the Gamo, Ghuraghe, and Dorze groups around the capital city, Addis Ababa, were targeted and killed by unidentified assailants. A rally that was organized in Addis Ababa to protest the killings was violently dispersed by police. The media reported that some residents were killed by government security forces. More than a-dozen people have been killed and hundreds have fled their homes following ethnic clashes on the outskirts of the capital, Addis Ababa. The worst-affected areas are Burayu and Oromia, Gondar in Amhara, wolayeta in South nation nationalities. The attacks are highly organised, targeting ethnic Amhara, Gamos, Wolayitas, Guraghes and Siltes. The death toll is unclear.

The Actors of Conflict (Who is driving the conflict and who is supporting peace)

The main actors of the conflict drivers are Ethnic activists, political leaders, religious groups, opposition political parties, and tribal media. In Ethiopia’s ethnics, unresolved grievances between the Oromo, the largest ethnic group in the country and ethnic Somalis over land and borders has caused a conflict there to flare up again. The explosion in violence has claimed several dozen lives and displaced hundreds of thousands of people. It’s the worst ethnic violence in decades what is behind the unrest and what can be done to ensure the Ethiopian government restores in to peace.

The Ethiopian ethnic conflict is blowing up hard on ethnic Oromo and Amhara’s and minority groups. The two ethnic groups that are driving these protests the Amhara and the Oromo these have traditionally been rival ethnic groups in this country. The actors of the government are blaming these protestors on what it describes as people with terror links that are stoking violence amongst the ethnic link w. it’s also blaming activists living abroad and that’s why analysts are saying we’ve seen these blockages of the internet in social media as the worst protests have taken place now the government says that it is willing to speak to the protesters about their grievances but the fact remains that the majority of opposition leaders have either been locked up in jail or have fled the country. 

Cause of conflict (Why are the key factors motivate do drive and mitigate conflict)

The specific causes of certain conflicts may not be the responsible causes for the other and /or all spoils of wars. In one way or the other, specific causes also belong to the fundamental causes. Let us see the case  of the Ethiopian ethnic conflicting events of historical character that can be marked as specific causes, which were used to: resource distribution, historical discourse; enslave others; marginalization,   enlarge territory;  Power of dominancy;  sphere of influence; Settle border conflict;  separate from the main historical nation-state;  political struggle, wrong policy and discourse, etc.

The fundamental causes, which are common for all violent conflicts, are grouped into primary and secondary sources. The main primary source of fundamental character comes; human nature – Socio-psychological needs – Economic factors; under secondary source of fundamental character come: – Politics and – Culture (the presence of warrior tradition). 

The assumption in the map of Ethiopian Ethnic tension is that physical proximity to other countries or part of the world sometimes facilitates the creation of conflict and that conflict is a kind of interaction. The negative development of interaction between states or regions, however, can develop into violent armed conflict unless it is handled properly.

Conflict Power in Ethiopian Ethnic clashes (How are the actors using power)

Political factors ensuring ethnic and internal conflicts. According to the evaluation of conflict mapping question, the conflicts in Ethiopia can accrue from the region’s difference to border ethnic idea conflict zone, to the country in general and to foreign aid sponsored conflicts, which are allies of the Egypt and others. This has often resulted in either permanent tension of conflict or in actual conflict between ethnics of Ethiopia. It is “identity ethnic” based type of conflict, which has been leads by armed militia, regional police forces, activists, ethnic based opposition leader, regional media, and right based support groups and it might have been followed by others who made studies on the subject.

Some of the actors agenda of conflict in the Ethiopia include: Competition for the share of state power, Regional ethnic conflicts, Conflicts over resources like cultivable land and land for cattle grazing, Conflicts based on resource benefit grounds, power distribution of the federal system i.e., fragmentation of ethnic groups into separate regions in different regions of Ethiopia

The main solution with mechanisms that can help to restore peace permanently in the area, employing some other methods of resolving conflicts is critical for the settlement and well-being of civilians in the war zones. The following are some of the methods:  Establishing an institution like those which are among neighbouring ethnic for trade, for the control of eruptions of conflict instead of waiting for the action of the UN Security Council and having it authorized,  Isolation of the warring parties from civilians and protecting their rights of obtaining humanitarian aid by using the established institutions, 

Conclusion

Lessons should be taken from the destruction that followed the delay of action that was critically needed in the ethnic conflict of Ethiopia which millions of lives were lost. It is, therefore, necessary to recommend that:

1. Democratisation of governments to share power with rival groups and to limit their stay in power

2. Supporting and strengthening sub-regional institutions established for prevention of conflict

3. Arranging peace education programs in the Horn so that the population would come out of colonial influences

4. Helping states to balance economic disparities that could be causes of conflict between social groups

5. Employing indigenous methods of resolving conflicts to ensure restoration of peace locally and permanently

6. Increasing the role of women in peace restoring activities; they are liable to dangers of war, out of the responsibility for themselves and for their children, who are also victims of conflict in most cases, they can play decisive roles in settling disputes

7. Using traditional elders (opinion leader) negotiators called Shimagles (Opinion leader).  These are elected by the mass of the communities. Wealth, ethical behavior, spiritual education and orator (the ability of influencing people through talking) are the requirements (Assefa,1998). Their decision is binding. The most prominent institution has always been employed to settle serious disagreement in Amhara is known as “yabat hager hig” (law of the land) (Ibid).  They are resolved from simple (the issue of divorce, individual conflict, land conflict and serious (the issue of land ,group conflict and homicide. The Abo-Gereb in Tigray, shimaglle in Amhara, Jarsumma in oromiya, Xeer in Somali , Yajoka in Gurage, seera in Gambella, Mada’a in Afar etc.