November 8, 2021 – In recent weeks, the year-long conflict in Ethiopia has escalated. Opposition forces are nearing the country’s capital and Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has declared a state of emergency and called on citizens to take up arms to block the advance. The conflict has been marked by abuses by all parties to the conflict and a massive humanitarian crisis; however, these recent developments could spark even broader violence across Ethiopia, posing a more severe risk to the safety of civilians. Center for Civilians in Conflict (CIVIC) urges all parties to take proactive steps to end harm to civilians and agree to an immediate ceasefire.
The conflict between Ethiopia’s federal government and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) quickly expanded to involve additional forces, first with Eritrean troops and more recently the Oromo Liberation Army (OLA) and other ethnic militias from regions bordering Tigray. Developments in the past weeks, including advancements by the TPLF coupled with the Prime Minister’s call to arms in Addis, have raised international concern about the risk of widespread violence against civilians and the destabilization of Ethiopia, which would have serious implications for the broader region. A recent joint investigation by the United Nations (UN) and Ethiopian Human Rights Commission reported that all sides have committed abuses marked by “extreme brutality” toward civilians throughout the course of the conflict, which has left thousands dead and millions displaced. To make matters worse, an estimated six million people in Tigray face extreme hunger, malnutrition, and famine-like conditions, as well as limited access to medical care resulting from the federal government’s ongoing blockade.
“It is devastating to see the impact the protracted conflict has had on Ethiopian civilians, including the targeting of civilians by all sides,” said CIVIC Executive Director Federico Borello. “All parties to the conflict must take immediate actions to prevent further civilian casualties and make progress towards a ceasefire.”
CIVIC is encouraged by recent calls among African heads of state for ceasefires and high-level political discussions to put an end to the fighting. With the conflict in Ethiopia evolving by the day, it is vital the protection of civilians is prioritized and all parties to the conflict immediately halt all harm to civilians.