Ethiopia: Government must protect victims of escalating ethnic attacks
The Ethiopian government must intervene to protect thousands of ethnic Amharas who are on the verge of displacement due to violent attacks on their homes by ethnically-motivated youth groups in Oromia Regional State, Amnesty International said.
Oromo youth groups this week surrounded Amhara homes, beating residents, and looting property in the Siyo District of Qellem Wollega Zone, Oromia State. At least 20 Amharas have been killed in such attacks since October 2017 but residents say the authorities have done nothing to stop them.
“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,” said Joan Nyanyuki, Amnesty International’s Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes.
An estimated 1,400 Amhara families remain in the besieged Siyo District, but residents told Amnesty International they would soon be forced to flee their homes of more than three decades after being repeatedly targeted by the Qerro and Folle Oromo youth groups.
“It is no longer tenable to continue living here; we are afraid for the lives of our children. We have packed our belongings and are ready to run away unless the government intervenes,” one villager told Amnesty International.
He added that, despite the community filing numerous reports and complaints to District and Zonal authorities in Oromia State about the ongoing attacks, the authorities had not addressed the violence.
The attacks on Amharas living in Qellem Wollega and Illu-Ababora Zones of Oromia Regional State begun in October 2017. Also affected are Amharas in Shinasha Zone of Beninshangul Regional State. At least 20 Amharas had been killed in these attacks by April 2018.
Thousands have fled to Bahir Dar, the capital of the neighbouring Amhara Regional State, but some have been forced to live on the streets due to a lack of proper accommodation facilities for displaced people.
“Every citizen has the right to choose where they want to establish their homes, and no one should be allowed to restrict this freedom on the basis of ethnicity,” said Joan Nyanyuki.
“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. They must be protected from further attacks, and those already displaced must be provided with adequate alternative accommodation.”
These ethnically motivated attacks in Ethiopia have caused the displacement of more than 200,000 people from the West Guji Zone of Oromia Regional State and Gedeo Zone of Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples (SNNPR) Regional State, according to UN data. At least another 20 people were killed in the violence between the Gedeo and Guji communities.
Amnesty International is monitoring and documenting the impacts of these ethnically motivated attacks in other parts of Oromia, and the country in general.