Ethiopia: Land clashes displace tens of thousands in south of the country

Violent conflict between neighbouring clans over land ownership has resulted in the death of around 150 people and forced tens of thousands of people to leave their villages in the Borena area of southern Ethiopia over the past few weeks, according to local officials and aid workers. The clashes erupted mainly between the Guji and Borena clans as a result of unclear land ownership after changes in administrative boundaries.
While some food aid and non-food items are being distributed by various national and international agencies, more assistance is urgently needed. And while efforts by local authorities and clan elders to settle the dispute may have calmed the situation in the short-term, tensions between pastoralist clans need to be addressed in a more sustainable way. To this end, clan elders in southern Ethiopia and adjacent regions, including in neighbouring countries, will gather in mid-July to discuss various issues including traditional conflict resolution mechanisms. Clan-based violence in the Borena area displaced over 40,000 people in 2005, many of whom have still not returned and do not receive adequate humanitarian assistance. In total, there are an estimated 150,000-200,000 conflict-related IDPs in Ethiopia.