The violence erupting in Western Ethiopia has been a result of disparities within the country. The summer of 2020 has caused the citizens to be trapped in an increasing state of separation and civil unrest, leaving approximately 239 people dead and 3500 arrested. This eruption of violence sparked following the death of Hachalu Hundessa, an Ethiopian musician and activist. The event that took place on June 29, 2020, has further divided the country and increased conflict between the country’s two largest ethnic groups: Oromos and Amharas, pan-Ethiopians, and ethnic nationalists. This emergence can be correlated to the government crackdown on Oromo protesters grieving the death of Hundessa. Another factor that can be taken into account is the targeted attacks by Oromo youth against both ethnic and religious minorities. However, the social and political framework that is present within the state is a result of the political struggle between the oppressive government and the Oromos who are being marginalized.
The ongoing conflict is taking place through a period of democratic transition, as Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed was inaugurated in 2018. Abiy, a member of the Oromo party had promised a democratic state for all. In doing so, he wanted to take action to improve the lives of oppressed Oromo citizens. However, this, unfortunately, was not the case. This drastic increase in violence has put the security of Ethiopians in jeopardy. The opening of the state by Abiy after decades of authoritarian rule has given room for tension between various ethnic groups to develop into violence.
Not only is their sense of security at stake, but internal displacement is occurring as a result of the continued violence. Homes, factories, and businesses have been vandalized across the Western region, more specifically in the areas of Ziway, Addis Ababa, and in the Oromia region. In many cases, troops have been deployed to restore the order that has been lost amongst severely polarized areas. As a result, approximately 10,000 people have been displaced in shelters that are deemed relatively safe. The reoccurrence of ethnic violence is not the only area of concern, but religious violence also poses a problem for the area. Various casualties have also been subjects to church burnings and attacks on Christians, as well as specific attacks to the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Churches across Western Ethiopia.
Although the outbreak of violence has rapidly increased, there has been a shortfall in relief efforts. Both Ethiopian Red Cross and the government’s Disaster Management commission have made leeway in aiding those who have been displaced, but not nearly all the needs have been met in terms of food and shelter.
The danger that is taking place within the Ethiopian country is not only due to the oppressive government but also through violent ethnonationalism. Order within the country needs to be restored, so the livelihoods of the citizens can be returned.
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