Home Disaster More than 70,000 flee ethnic violence in western Ethiopia

More than 70,000 flee ethnic violence in western Ethiopia



More than 70,000 people have fled ethnically-charged violence in western Ethiopia, officials there said on Tuesday – part of an eruption of unrest that has piled pressure on reformist Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed.

Residents in Benishangul-Gumuz region said violence erupted on Friday after four local officials were killed during a visit to neighbouring Oromiya region.

Ethnic Oromos living in Benishangul-Gumuz were attacked by members of other groups, and many fled into Oromiya, said residents, who asked not to be named.

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The Oromiya region’s administration said on Tuesday that the number of people who had fled their homes had “passed beyond 70,000”.

Abiy – the diverse country’s first Oromo leader – came to office in April and turned politics on its head by making peace with long-term foe Eritrea, freeing prisoners and promising a string of sweeping economic and political reforms.

He also promised to ease ethnic tensions and steer the state away from a hardline security policy in place for decades.

But commentators say his easing of restrictions may have led to flare-ups of violence over long-standing rivalries between ethnic groups.

Nearly one million people have been forced from their homes in southern Ethiopia since clashes erupted there in April, according to U.N. agencies.




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