Humanitarian assistance for the victims of conflicts, internal tensions and acute humanitarian needs in Ethiopia

Situation Report
Originally published


Location of operation: ETHIOPIA
Amount of Decision: EUR 2,000,000
Decision reference number: ECHO/ETH/EDF/2006/01000

Explanatory Memorandum

1 - Rationale, needs and target population

1.1 - Rationale:

Internal situation

The aftermath of the disputed May 2005 national elections has led to polarisation of the political landscape, intransigence of the government, violent demonstrations, arrests, and imprisonments, firstly in the capital and subsequently throughout the country. The situation since the beginning of 2006 is both unstable and dangerous. Since the elections, the government found it necessary to use massive levels of security and military force, often against civilians.

The troubled situation and political disarray the government is facing was seized upon rapidly by armed opposition groups such as the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF), the Oromya Liberation Front (OLF) and by new regional groups, either ethnic or religious based (Somali and Amhara regions) operating throughout the country, with or without external support.

The on-going tense stand off is most likely to culminate in a situation of further retrenchment by the government.

Inter-ethnic conflicts worsened in late 2005 and into 2006. Beside the usual tense areas, such as the border between Afar and Somali regions, South Oromya, Somali and Gambella regions, where no durable solutions were found, new conflict areas have appeared in the post election period. Many issues dominate the political landscape varying from the redrawing of regional borders to consequences of drought, political alliances and proxy instrumentalization. The prevailing insecurity in these regions and the instability in the Gambella and Somali border regions, with South Sudan and Somalia respectively, have led to an ever increasing Ethiopian military presence in these areas.

Regional situation with direct consequences for Ethiopian population

Concurrent with the escalating internal crisis two other issues of concern are further compounding the situation, with direct consequences for the civilian population:

- The stalemate along Ethiopia's border with Eritrea still has the potential to erupt into major warfare, especially with the UN struggling to save its peace observation mission.

- The latest developments in Somalia, which reached new heights in mid June 2006, could propel neighbouring states such as Ethiopia into a downward spiral of conflict.

The alleged Ethiopian incursions into South Sudan in "search and destroy" military operations and into Somalia in support of the existing pro-Ethiopian government might be the first signs of military regional involvement likely to generate retaliatory action detrimental to local communities.