Ethiopia: The situation of different ethnic groups in Addis Ababa, including access to housing, employment, education, and healthcare; particularly the Amhara [Amara], Oromo, Tigrayan, Gurage, and Gedeo people, and their treatment by Oromo nationalists and by the Qeerroo [Qerro]; state protection (2019–September 2021) [ETH200765.E]

Research Directorate, Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada

1. Ethnic Groups in Ethiopia and Addis Ababa

Sources report that Ethiopia's population consists of "more than 80" ethnic groups (AP 23 Dec. 2020; Australia 12 Aug. 2020, para. 2.7) or "more than 90 ethnicities and nationalities" (Reuters 7 May 2021). According to sources, the Oromo are the "largest" ethnic group (Al Jazeera 31 Mar. 2021; Mail & Guardian 14 July 2020) or the "most[ ]populous," with "around" 40 million people (Ethiopia Insight 5 Jan. 2021) or "just over a third" of the population (MRG June 2019). Sources indicate that the Amhara are Ethiopia's "second largest" ethnic group (Al Jazeera 31 Mar. 2021; Australia 12 Aug. 2020, para. 3.9). According to sources, the Amhara represent 26.9 (Australia 12 Aug. 2020, para. 3.9) or 27.9 percent (US 9 Aug. 2021) of the country's population. The 2007 Population and Housing Census of Ethiopia, the most recent national census, indicates that there are 975,506 Gedeo [1.3 percent of the population (MRG Jan. 2018)] and 1,859,831 Gurage people in Ethiopia [2.5 percent of the population (MRG Jan. 2018)] (Ethiopia [2007], 73). According to sources, Tigrayans represent approximately 6 percent of the country's total population (Reuters 7 May 2021; SomTribune 1 Nov. 2019; Australia 12 Aug. 2020, para. 311).

According to 2021 estimates by the US CIA World Factbook, the population of Addis Ababa is 5.006 million (US 9 Aug. 2021). Sources note that Addis Ababa is a "multi-ethnic" city (International Crisis Group 19 July 2019, 3) or a city with a "lot" of ethnic groups (Senior Fellow 23 Aug. 2021). In correspondence with the Research Directorate, a professor of anthropology and African studies at Leiden University in the Netherlands, who specializes in the history and culture of Northeast Africa, particularly Ethiopia, indicated that "all" ethnic groups are present in Addis Ababa and it does not have a "clear 'ethnic profile'" and "cannot be neatly divided into a collection of distinct ethnic groups or ethnic quarters" (Professor of anthropology 24 Aug. 2021). The 2007 Population and Housing Census of Ethiopia lists the population numbers for Addis Ababa by ethnic groups as follows:

Addis Ababa City Administration – All Groups Amhara Gedeo Gurage Oromo Tigrayan
2,739,551 1,288,895 774 447,777 534,547 169,182

(Ethiopia [2007], 86-87)

2. Treatment of Ethnic Groups in Addis Ababa

The information in the following paragraph was provided by the Professor of anthropology:

Addis Ababa is a "predominantly" safe city for all ethnic groups and a "dynamic place of opportunity" for an increasing influx of rural migrants. Many people are of "'mixed'" descent and "[i]n general, no systematic 'ethnic' discrimination is practiced in the capital." "Ethnic identification is not a dominant and exclusivist practice in public spaces," except for 'ethno-nationalist' party members who "pursue a particularist agenda." However, there are ethnic and linguistic solidarity networks that "may privilege one person over another in certain domains" such as jobs and political functions. "Usually, the longer people and their ancestors are settled in the city, the more entrenched and successful they are" (Professor of anthropology 24 Aug. 2021).

In correspondence with the Research Directorate, a research fellow at the Brookings Institution, a non-profit and public policy organization based in Washington, DC (Brookings Institution n.d.), stated that activists and politicians that "have positions that clash" with the government "face risk of imprisonment" in Addis Ababa, or "elsewhere" in Ethiopia, regardless of ethnic group (Research Fellow 29 Aug. 2021). The same source noted that for "non-political civilians, however, there is little likelihood of being targeted merely based on ethnic identity, especially in Addis Ababa" (Research Fellow 29 Aug. 2021).

In a telephone interview with the Research Directorate, an associate professor at a university in the US who specializes in comparative politics, migration, and African politics stated that an Ethiopian cannot [generally] differentiate between an Amhara, a Tigrayan, an Oromo, a Gedeo, or a Gurage (Associate Professor 2 Sept. 2021). The same source noted that names are "a partial indicator, but it is imperfect" and due to a history of intermarriage and "assimilation" of ethnic groups to become Amharas "there are plenty of Oromo, some Tigrayans, and plenty of Gurage and Gedeo who have Amharic names" (Associate Professor 2 Sept. 2021). The Associate Professor also stated that language is primarily used to identify an individual, but that "this is also imperfect because people speak multiple languages due to intermarriage" (Associate Professor 2 Sept. 2021). Corroborating information could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate within the time constraints of this Response.

2.1 Amhara

According to the Research Fellow at the Brookings Institution, Oromos in Addis Ababa are "considered to favor their own ethnic group and discriminate against Amharas" (Research Fellow 29 Aug. 2021). The same source stated that while conflicts are "limited" in Addis Ababa, Amharas have been "targeted, killed and displaced in other parts of Oromia, where security is lax" (Research Fellow 29 Aug. 2021). In a telephone interview with the Research Directorate, another researcher at the Brookings Institution, a senior fellow at its Center for Security, Strategy, and Technology in its Foreign Policy program, added that there have been "various ethnic flare ups" between Amharas and Oromos in "various parts" of Oromia, including Addis Ababa (Senior Fellow 23 Aug. 2021). Amnesty International reports that there has been a "surge of deadly ethnic violence targeting Amharas in various parts of the country," including Oromia (Amnesty International 27 Oct. 2020). SomTribune, a daily news website reporting on the Horn of Africa, states that towns in Oromia that have "large Amharic-speaking populations," including Addis Ababa, are "especially volatile" (SomTribune 1 Nov. 2019). According to sources, the term neftegna is used to refer to "Amharic-speakers" (SomTribune 1 Nov. 2019) or Amharas/orthodox Christians (Ethiopia Insight 5 Jan. 2021).

According to Minority Rights Group International (MRG), an "organised and large group of predominantly young people from the Oromo community … burned down hotels, schools, business centres and [the] residential homes" of Amharas after Hachalu Hundessa, a "renowned Oromo singer and activist" was killed in June 2020 (MRG 22 July 2020). Vice, a magazine and online news publication, reports that Hundessa's death triggered "a wave of violence" in Addis Ababa and Oromia and that "[h]undreds of people were killed, with minorities including Christian Amharas … suffering the biggest losses" (Vice 14 Sept. 2020). The same source notes that the attacks that followed the murder of Hundessa were "primarily focused" on Amharas (Vice 14 Sept. 2020). MRG states that media outlets were "actively propagating the attacks live and giving guidance to the attackers," and that Oromo Media Network (OMN), which operates from the US, "broadcasted a series of inflammatory hate-filled messages, including calls to lock and burn the homes of Amhara people" (MRG 22 July 2020). The same source reports that "[a]ttackers carried a list with the names of individuals and households to target" and went from home-to-home verifying identity cards, "specifically targeting Amhara" (MRG 22 July 2020).

2.2 Tigrayan

According to the Professor of anthropology, reported arrests and dismissals of Tigrayans "appl[y] largely" to individuals who are connected to "political schemes and businesses caught in criminal-illegal activities," "usually under the auspices" of the Tigray Peoples Liberation Front (TPLF) (Professor of anthropology 24 Aug. 2021). The same source states that while these arrests "may look ethnic[ally motivated]," they can "be explained by the fact that the TPLF … was largely composed of people from a Tigrayan background" who "according to government investigations were involved in a disproportionate number of dubious and illegal activities" (Professor of anthropology 24 Aug. 2021).

However, in correspondence with the Research Directorate, the executive director at the Oromo Legacy Leadership & Advocacy Association (OLLAA), a non-profit organization based in the US that "seeks to serve the socio-cultural needs of the Oromo people in Ethiopia and around the world" (OLLAA n.d.), stated that Addis Ababa "is not safe" for Tigrayans (Executive Director 24 Aug. 2021). According to the Senior Fellow, Tigrayans are targeted in Addis Ababa due to their ethnicity and the war in the Tigray region (Senior Fellow 23 Aug. 2021). In correspondence with the Research Directorate, a professor of political science and international relations at Bjorknes University College in Norway who specializes in politics, conflict, and human rights in Africa, indicated that Tigrayans are "ethnic[ally] profiled by the city and federal authorities" in Addis Ababa (Professor of political science 18 Aug. 2021a). Sources noted that Tigrayans are "currently the most targeted people" (Researcher 27 Aug. 2021) or the "only group" that is "persecuted and harassed" in Addis Ababa (Professor of political science 18 Aug. 2021a). According to the Professor of political science, "the general impression is that Tigrayans are losing their 'citizenship' rights" across Ethiopia (Professor of political science 18 Aug. 2021b).

According to the New Humanitarian, an online news source that reports on humanitarian crises (The New Humanitarian n.d.), interviews between the New Humanitarian and "half a dozen" Tigrayans who live in Addis Ababa "described ethnic profiling and growing harassment" from "neighbours, strangers, and government officials" (The New Humanitarian 16 Dec. 2020). The same source reports that "[s]everal" of the Tigrayans who were interviewed said police officers have "harassed them on the streets of Addis Ababa after checking their identity cards, which indicate their region of birth" (The New Humanitarian 16 Dec. 2020). Reuters reports that a Tigrayan street trader was arrested by police in Addis Ababa and accused him of "planning a bombing, trying to overturn the constitution and working with Tigrayan rebel fighters" (Reuters 7 May 2021). The same source reports that according to the street trader, he was speaking on the phone in Tigrinya when he was arrested (Reuters 7 May 2021). An article by Al Jazeera reports that according to a letter from Tigrayan lawyers to the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC), "hundreds" of businesses in Addis patronized by Tigrayans have been closed "without any reason, under the pretext of an unwritten informal excuse that they are a security threat" (Al Jazeera 14 July 2021). According to the Professor of political science, Tigrayan businesses and bank accounts have been closed, business licenses "withdrawn," and "many" individuals detained "without court orders"; this "policy" is the same for "long-term" Tigrayan residents and "newcomers" to Addis Ababa (Professor of political science 18 Aug. 2021b).

Sources state that "serious human rights violations by government security forces" against Tigrayans have "escalated" (HRW 18 Aug. 2021) or police "arbitrarily arrested and detained dozens of Tigrayans without due process" (Amnesty International 16 July 2021) in Addis Ababa following the "recapture" of the Tigray region's capital, Mekelle (Amnesty International 16 July 2021; HRW 18 Aug. 2021). The Executive Director noted that "any" Tigrayan who relocates to Addis is suspected of opposing Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed's political party (Executive Director 24 Aug. 2021). According to Al Jazeera, a lawyer who "closely monitors the situation" said he has "identified the enforced disappearances of at least 41 ethnic Tigrayans in Addis Ababa" and noted that individuals who are arrested are "not taken to court within 48 hours of their arrest, in violation of their rights to due process" (Al Jazeera 14 July 2021). An article by the Associated Press (AP) reports that a lawyer has "compiled a list of 103 Tigrayans detained in the capital," "many" of whom were "taken at shops, cafes and bus stations because their IDs showed their ethnicity or because they were speaking Tigrinya" (AP 13 July 2021).

2.3 Oromo

MRG notes that the Oromo have "long faced marginalisation and exclusion at the hands of the central government" (MRG 22 July 2020). According to the Executive Director, Oromos in Addis Ababa are "considered outsiders" and are "not welcome" (Executive Director 24 Aug. 2021). For example, the same source stated that "any" Oromo who speaks the Oromo language or is "proud to be an Oromo is automatically suspected and accused" of supporting the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) [1] (Executive Director 24 Aug. 2021). The same source noted that Oromos "struggle with language" in Addis Ababa, as the "majority" of residents speak Amharic (Executive Director 24 Aug. 2021).

According to the Professor of anthropology, the situation of the Oromo in Addis Ababa has "improved substantially" since 2018, as the city's administration is "largely dominated" by Oromos (Professor of anthropology 24 Aug. 2021). The Executive Director similarly stated that the situation "improved" in 2018; however, they have "hear[d]" that Addis Ababa "is back to being anti-Oromo" and noted that were "several incidents" in 2020 in which Oromo youth were "beaten and in one case killed by a group of Amhara-speaking youth" (Executive Director 24 Aug. 2021). An article by France 24, a French international broadcaster, reports that according to an "Ethiopia specialist," "'Oromo are fighting against other Oromo; there are those who support [Prime Minister] Ahmed and those who have taken up arms against the government'" (France 24 12 July 2020). The same source quotes an Oromo protester, at a July 2020 Oromo protest in Paris organised in response to Hundessa's death, as follows: "'[w]e thought that Abiy Ahmed supported our cause because he is Oromo, but over the past year Ethiopia has bec[o]me a dangerous country for us'" (France 24 12 July 2020).

2.4 Gurage

Information on the treatment of the Gurage in Addis Ababa was scarce among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate within the time constraints of this Response. According to the Associate Professor, the Gurage "face very similar situations to the Amhara" in Addis Ababa and both groups are almost "indistinguishable" from one another given that the Gurage also speak Amharic (Associate Professor 2 Sept. 2021). Vice states that Gurages were included in the "hundreds of people" killed in Addis following the death of Hundessa (Vice 14 Sept. 2020). According to MRG, following Hundessa's death a "large group of predominantly young people from the Oromo community killed members of ethnic minorities in the region" and burned down schools, houses, and businesses belonging to Gurage people (MRG 22 July 2020). The same source reports that they "were going home-to-home [in Oromia] checking identity cards" and "carried a list with the names of individuals and households to target," "specifically targeting" Gurages (MRG 22 July 2020). The same source states that the "murders" of Gurages were "celebrated by attackers, with reports indicating that victims' bodies were displayed in the streets" (MRG 22 July 2020).

2.5 Gedeo

Information on the treatment of the Gedeo in Addis Ababa was scarce among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate within the time constraints of this Response. The Associate Professor stated that Gedeos "would not face any particular discrimination" in Addis Ababa (Associate Professor 2 Sept. 2021). An article by the Guardian reports that the "vast majority" of Gedeos who "fled" the West Guji district in Oromia in 2018 due to ethnic violence and "took refuge in Gedeo zone of the neighbouring southern region" are afraid to return, as they fear that rebels from the OLF will "terrorise" them (The Guardian 14 Mar. 2019). An article by Deutsche Welle (DW), an international media outlet based in Germany, reports that "[a]uthorities insist [that] the tension between the Oromos and Gedeos has calmed down" and that it is safe to return; however, "many" Gedeos "are still fearful" as the "armed groups responsible" for the attacks "are still at large" (DW 1 July 2019). According to the Reporter Ethiopia, an Ethiopian newspaper, the government has begun a "voluntary repatriation" of displaced Gedeos; however, the same source states that, according to "testimonies" they received from humanitarian workers and internally displaced persons, "the repatriation activities might not be as voluntary" as "claimed by authorities" and "in some instances" "appear to be forced" (The Reporter Ethiopia 8 June 2019). The Guardian notes that despite "self-evident risks," the government has "repeatedly pushed" Gedeos "back into Oromia," even though it "denies" supporting "involuntary returns" (The Guardian 14 Mar. 2019).

3. Oromo Nationalists and the Qeerroo

Information on the Qeerroo and Oromo nationalists in Addis Ababa was scarce among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate within the time constraints of this Response. The Professor of anthropology indicated that the Qeerroo [2] are "at present not an active organized political force" in Addis Ababa; however, "many of them" exist informally, "but their public presence in Addis Ababa and elsewhere these days is less prominent" (Professor of anthropology 24 Aug. 2021). The OLLAA Executive Director stated that there are "hardly any" Oromo nationalists in Addis Ababa (Executive Director 24 Aug. 2021). According to the Associate Professor, there are "very few" OLF [members] in Addis Ababa (Associate Professor 2 Sept. 2021). The same source also indicated that "most Oromos do not think that the use of [ethnic] violence is correct" (Associate Professor 2 Sept. 2021).

The Senior Fellow indicated that the "most violent actions" by the Qeerroo and Oromo nationalists are targeted towards Amharas in Addis Ababa (Senior Fellow 23 Aug. 2021). According to Ethiopia Insight, an EU-registered news website that reports on Ethiopia (Ethiopia Insight n.d.), the National Movement of Amara (NaMA), an opposition party in Ethiopia, states that Amhara "minorities" who live outside of the Amhara region are "particularly threatened" by the Qeerroo and Oromo nationalists (Ethiopia Insight 5 Jan. 2021). The Senior Fellow stated that Oromo nationalists and the Qeerroo also target Oromo politicians and civil society; however, they are not the "primary focus," and "anti-Oromo [violent] actions are much less common than anti-Tigray" (Senior Fellow 23 Aug. 2021).

4. Access to Housing, Employment, Education, and Healthcare in Addis Ababa

The Research Fellow provided the following information:

In theory, anyone can move to Addis Ababa, as long as [they] can afford the high and rapidly rising cost of living in the city. In practice, official residential status depends on securing a kebele ID (the kebele is the lowest administrative unit in the country). A kebele ID is needed for accessing public services such as health, education, and housing. Securing a kebele ID is perceived to be difficult. (Research Fellow 29 Aug. 2021)

In follow up correspondence, the same source indicated that

[t]he perception that access to [kebele] IDs is discriminatory is related to the contest between the Amharas and Oromos for control over Addis Ababa. Since the current administration is dominated by the Oromos, the complaint is that the process favors the Oromos at the expense of Amharas. (Research Fellow 7 Sept. 2021)

The same source noted that "education and health are not known to be biased in favor of one ethnic group or [an]other in Addis Ababa" (Research Fellow 29 Aug. 2021). The Associate Professor stated that the Gurage and Gedeo "speak very good Amharic" and it would be "easy" for them to "blend in," live in Addis Ababa, and access housing, employment, education, and healthcare (Associate Professor 2 Sept. 2021).

According to the Professor of anthropology, members of Amhara, Tigrayan, Oromo, Gurage, and Gedeo, and other ethnic groups have "as much access to housing, employment, education, and healthcare in Addis Ababa as anyone else," although "rumours are that the Oromo [are more privileged]" (Professor of anthropology 24 Aug. 2021). The Research Fellow stated that due to a "far greater demand than supply" of housing in Ethiopia, housing units are awarded to registered individuals by the federal government through a lottery and there is a "widespread perception that Oromos have disproportionately favorable access" (Research Fellow 29 Aug. 2021). The OLLAA Executive Director stated that individuals must have good connections with city employees to access housing; however, they indicated that Oromos "might have a hard time" accessing support or information, as most city employees and/or business owners are "non-Oromos or anti-Oromos" (Executive Director 24 Aug. 2021). Al Jazeera reports that Oromos who were displaced in 2017 from Ethiopia's Somali region, in Eastern Ethiopia, "following clashes between ethnic Oromos and ethnic Somalis" were "promised resettlement" in Oromia and in "satellite towns" near Addis Ababa; however, "two years on," Oromos "feel that they have been abandoned by a government [that] promised to support them" (Al Jazeera 5 Oct. 2019).

According to the Senior Fellow, access to housing, employment, education, and healthcare is "much more available" for the Amhara as they are "economically and politically powerful" in Addis Ababa and because of "their historical dominance" (Senior Fellow 23 Aug. 2021). The OLLAA Executive Director similarly noted that according to "several" media outlets, "many" Amharas who relocate to Addis Ababa are provided with housing and employment (Executive Director 24 Aug. 2021). Further information could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate within the time constraints of this Response.

The Senior Fellow stated that while Tigrayans face "great risks of being arrested or of violent attacks" in the capital city, they do not think that this would prevent them from accessing housing or healthcare (Senior Fellow 23 Aug. 2021). The Professor of anthropology noted that if individuals are denied access to any of these services, "they can usually contest this in court" (Professor of anthropology 24 Aug. 2021). Further and corroborating information could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate within the time constraints of this Response.

5. State Protection

Reuters indicates that according to his spokesperson the Prime Minister "'spearheads a vision of a united Ethiopia with zero tolerance for discrimination'" based on ethnicity (Reuters 7 May 2021). BBC notes that the Prime Minister "has tried to emphasise national unity while also respecting the identities and rights of the different groups" (BBC 25 Nov. 2020).

According to the Professor of anthropology, the federal government offers "legal and other protection" to individuals of Amhara, Oromo, Tigrayan, Gurage, Gedeo, or any other ethnicity in Addis Ababa, and "open" discrimination based on ethnicity is not "tolerated" (Professor of anthropology 24 Aug. 2021). Further and corroborating information could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate within the time constraints of this Response.

The Associate Professor indicated that while state protection exists "on paper," in practice, it does not (Associate Professor 2 Sept. 2021). The Senior Fellow indicated that state capacity to provide protection is limited and that the state is "very partial and limited" in terms of how it provides protection to citizens (Senior Fellow 23 Aug. 2021). According to Ethiopia Insight, the government has stated on a "number of occasions that ineffective security responses are partly because it is trying to avoid the heavy-handed tactics routinely applied before the Prime Minister came to power" (Ethiopia Insight 5 Jan. 2021). However, the Senior Fellow stated that the Ethiopian National Defense Forces (ENDF) has participated in "heavy handed repressions" to arrest political opponents and dissidents (Senior Fellow 23 Aug. 2021). The same source notes that the "state is also repressive of political dissent irrespective of ethnic group, although it is most intensive with the Tigrayans" (Senior Fellow 23 Aug. 2021). According to the Associate Professor, the federal police that are "brought in when there is violence in the city" are "inefficient or corrupt" (Associate Professor 2 Sept. 2021). The Associate Professor noted that the police are "not well-trained" on ethnic conflicts (Associate Professor 2 Sept. 2021).

MRG notes that in "many areas" of Oromia, the federal and regional governments were not "willing to deploy security forces in time to protect minorities" from the Oromo attacks on ethnic minorities that occurred following Hundessa's death (MRG 22 July 2020). The same source indicates that in one case in the town of Dera,

a father was murdered in front of his son, who himself sustained serious injury in the attack. Moments before his father’s death, his son called law enforcement personnel for support, but they responded by saying they were not authorised to intervene. Instead, reports indicate that when victims tried to defend themselves, Oromia region Special Forces attacked them. (MRG 22 July 2020)

According to Mail & Guardian, a newspaper and online news publication from South Africa (Mail & Guardian n.d.), residents of Dera stated that the regional Oromia Special Police Force did not intervene to stop the violence after Hundessa's murder (Mail & Guardian 14 July 2020). The same source noted that law enforcement in Dera stated that "'without orders, they couldn't get involved'" and "did not intervene to stop the violence" (Mail & Guardian 14 July 2020).

The Senior Fellow noted that "out of all of the ethnic groups, the most intense protection" is given to Amharas; however, police "may or may not intervene or come to their defense" (Senior Fellow 23 Aug. 2021). A report by NaMA states that Ethiopia's federal government has "frequently neglected its obligations to enforce peace and order" in Oromia, and "to defend the Amhara and other ethnic groups from repeated violence, bring transgressors to the court of law," or "properly acknowledge and communicate … violations" (NaMA [2020], 1). The same source notes that the state of Oromia has been "an active and passive accomplice to the genocidal attacks perpetrated by radical Oromo nationalist groups [and the Qeerroo]" (NaMA [2020], 1).

According to sources, the government has "rejected reports of ethnic profiling" against Tigrayans (Al Jazeera 14 July 2021) or "denied that there has been ethnic profiling [against Tigrayans] and said any action carried out against individuals was for justified security reasons" (BBC 25 Nov. 2020). However, sources state that Tigrayans are the "number one target" (Executive Director 24 Aug. 2021) or "specially targeted" (Researcher 27 Aug. 2021). According to the Senior Fellow, there is no state protection for the Tigrayan people as the government is "actively agitating violence and ethnic cleansing" against Tigrayans (Senior Fellow 23 Aug. 2021). The New Humanitarian quotes an analyst at International Crisis Group as follows: "'despite the government's stated intention to target only the TPLF leadership, this conflict is also having a much broader negative impact on Tigrayans outside of Tigray'" (The New Humanitarian 16 Dec. 2020). The same source states that according to the Horn of Africa director at HRW, "Tigrayans outside of the northern region [are] being harassed … and having their homes arbitrarily searched by Ethiopian security forces" (The New Humanitarian 16 Dec. 2020).

According to Amnesty International, politicians have been

stirring up ethnic and religious animosities, sparking inter-communal violence and armed attacks in five of the country's nine regional states: Amhara, Benishangul-Gumuz, Harari, Oromia and the Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples Region (SNNPR), and in the Dire Dawa administrative state. (Amnesty International 29 May 2020)

The same source states that in response, the government "set up security [c]ommand [p]osts" in 2018 to coordinate the operations of the ENDF, "regular and special (Liyu) police units in regions, and local administration security officers called kebele militia" (Amnesty International 29 May 2020). However, another report by the same source indicates that there were

arbitrary arrests and detention of thousands of people suspected of supporting [the] OLA [Oromo Liberation Army] and opposition political parties by kebele militia, Oromia Police and the E[N]DF. In the absence of criminal charges against many of the former detainees, the security forces told all of them they were suspected of supporting, sharing information with and feeding the OLA. Suspects were held in detention in local police stations for more than five months on average without charge, while thousands were transported to unofficial places of detention.

… There were also cases of torture and other ill-treatment of detainees, including through sexual exploitation and abuse. (Amnesty International 2020, 45)

The Senior Fellow indicated that "many" Oromos feel that the Prime Minister is "more closely aligned" with Amharas and is not providing "sufficient protection" to the political and economic interests of the Oromo people (Senior Fellow 23 Aug. 2021).

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim for refugee protection. Please find below the list of sources consulted in researching this Information Request.

Notes

[1] According to the website of the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF), the OLF is a "political organization established in 1973 by Oromo nationalists to lead the national liberation struggle of the Oromo people against the Abyssinian colonial rule" (OLF n.d.). For further information on the OLF, see Response to Information Request ETH200764 of September 2021.

[2] A report by the National Movement of Amara (NaMA) states that the Qeerroo are "youth armies organized under the[] auspices" of Oromo "nationalist groups" (NaMA [2020], 1).

References

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Additional Sources Consulted

Oral sources: Assistant professor at an American university who specializes in Ethiopian history; assistant professor at an American university who specializes in ethnic identity, religion, and politics in Ethiopia; associate professor at an American university who specializes in security studies and armed conflict in the Horn of Africa; associate professor at an American university who specializes in citizenship, migration, and political institutions in East Africa and the Horn of Africa; associate researcher at a university in France who specializes in state-formation, opposition parties, and political opponents in Ethiopia; Ethiopia – Ethiopian Human Rights Commission; Ethiopian Advocacy Network; Ethiopian Association Toronto; Human Rights Watch researchers (6); International Crisis Group; The New Humanitarian; Oromia Foundation; Oromo Studies Association; professor at a Canadian university that specializes in revolutions, nationalist movements, peace, conflict and security studies in the Horn of Africa; professor at an American university who specializes in African history and politics; professor at an American University who specializes in the politics and societies of Oromia, state formation, and ethnonational conflict; research associate at a university in the UK who specializes in peace and security issues, cultural and economic linkages, and shifts in regional multilateralism in the Horn of Africa; research professor at a Canadian university who specializes in gender and African politics; School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London – Centre of African Studies.

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