Ethiopia not doing enough to curb ethnic violence: Amnesty

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia | AFP | Amnesty International on Friday accused the Ethiopian government of not doing enough to prevent escalating ethnic violence in some of its regions.

Oromia, the country’s biggest region, is home to Ethiopia’s largest ethnic group, the Oromo.

And groups of Oromo youths have been targetting thousands of Amhara, the country’s second-largest ethnic group, in recent months, with 20 people being killed in attacks since last October.

“The Ethiopian government must take action to prevent these brutal attacks on the Amhara community, who have been targeted due to their ethnicity and now face being made homeless,” Joan Nyanyuki, Amnesty International’s East Africa director, said in a statement.

Amnesty said that this week, Oromo youth groups had surrounded Amhara homes, beating residents, and looting property.

“But residents say the authorities have done nothing to stop them,” the statement said.

Ethiopia is divided into ethnically demarcated federal regions. But inter-communal conflicts has become common in recent months, particularly in Oromia.

Last year, a spate of ethnic violence along Oromia’s shared border with neighbouring Somali region left hundreds dead and at least 1.1 million displaced, according to the United Nations.

Fighting has also been ongoing since April between neighbouring communities in Oromia and Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples’ Region, which the UN says has displaced around 427,000 people.

While Ethiopian state media reported in January that the government had allocated 500 million birr ($18.1 million, 15.4 million euros) to help people displaced by conflict, Amnesty accused new Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed of not doing enough.

“Ethiopia’s new government has been making great strides to improve human rights in the country, but the pattern of ethnically motivated violent attacks and displacement is being shamefully ignored,” Nyanyuki said.

After taking office in April, Abiy, an Oromo, called for peace in a visit to the Somali regional capital, saying the fighting between the two peoples was “contrary to the Ethiopian culture and a shameful spot in our history,” according to state media.

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