China’s President Xi Jinping speaks at the “Senior Chinese Leader Event” held by the National Committee on US-China Relations and the US-China Business Council on the sidelines of the APEC summit in San Francisco, California, U.S., November 15, 2023. REUTERS/Carlos Barria/Pool

Can we stop things falling apart? 2024 begins with wars burning in Gaza, Sudan and Ukraine and peacemaking in crisis. Worldwide, diplomatic efforts to end fighting are failing. More leaders are pursuing their ends militarily. More believe they can get away with it.

War has been on the rise since about 2012, after a decline in the 1990s and early 2000s. First came conflicts in Libya, Syria and Yemen, triggered by the 2011 Arab uprisings. Libya’s instability spilled south, helping set off a protracted crisis in the Sahel region. A fresh wave of major combat followed: the 2020 Azerbaijani-Armenian war over the Nagorno-Karabakh enclave, horrific fighting in Ethiopia’s northern Tigray region that began weeks later, the conflict prompted by the Myanmar army’s 2021 power grab and Russia’s 2022 assault on Ukraine.…  Seguir leyendo »

Internally displaced people, Tigray Region, Ethiopia, June 2023. Tiksa Negeri / Reuters

In November 2022, the Ethiopian government signed a cease-fire with the Tigray People’s Liberation Front. The international community hailed the agreement as a possible turning point: the TPLF and Addis Ababa, along with smaller militias and Eritrean forces, had been fighting outright for two years; during this time, up to 600,000 people died—some directly from violence and others after losing access to clean water, food, and medical care. More than two million people were displaced from their homes, and every actor in the conflict was accused of war crimes, including mass killings, sexual violence, enforced starvation, and the destruction of educational and medical facilities.…  Seguir leyendo »

Financiando la planificación familiar en los países de bajos ingresos

Como una ocupada madre de cuatro niños que vive en una remota aldea en Etiopía, Amina no siempre podía asistir a sus citas en la clínica de salud para recibir su anticonceptivo inyectable. Por eso, cuando Selam, una trabajadora sanitaria de la clínica, le hizo ver las opciones disponibles, Amina se entusiasmó al saber que existía un implante reversible de larga duración que haría innecesarias las visitas periódicas al centro de salud.

Selam observó que más mujeres estaban escogiendo el implante por razones similares, pero le preocupaba que la clínica quedara sin suministros de los métodos de planificación familiar de los que dependen pacientes como Amina.…  Seguir leyendo »

A party from the village of Kambo, led by Elfinesh Tegene, approaching the cave of Ametsegna Washa, Menz Keya Gebreal district, Ethiopia, November 2022. Frederic Wehrey

In the fall of 2021, as military forces from the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) swept south toward Addis Ababa, Ethiopia’s capital, they encroached upon a swathe of highland territory known as Menz. A blue-green land of deep ravines, terraced hills, and imposing flood basalts, Menz is sometimes seen as a place apart. In his classic midcentury ethnography of the area, Wax and Gold, the University of Chicago scholar Donald Levine observed among its inhabitants—most of them farmers of barley, sorghum, and teff—a potent mix of martial prowess and piety. This “land of fighting and fasting”, as he called it, served as the cradle for a dynastic line of Amharic rulers that included Menelik II, the founder of the modern Ethiopian state who dealt a shattering blow to the Italian colonial army at the battle of Adwa in 1896, and also Haile Selassie.…  Seguir leyendo »

Kenyan lawyer Mercy Mutemi (C) speaks to the media at Milimani Law Courts in Nairobi after filing a lawsuit against Meta for fanning violence and hate speech in Africa, including in Ethiopia during the country’s Tigray War. December 14, 2022. AFP / Yasuyoshi Chiba

In December 2022, the son of slain Ethiopian professor Meareg Amare Abrha was among those who filed a lawsuit against Meta, the owner of Facebook. The constitutional petition, which was filed in Kenya – home to a Meta moderating hub – alleged that the company had evinced a “woeful failure to address violence on the platform” and held it responsible for the November 2021 murder of Meareg, an ethnic Tigrayan living in Bahir Dar, the capital of Amhara region. His son, Abrham, said Facebook users had incited violence against his father, which led to his murder. Abrham and his fellow plaintiffs want Meta to apologise for failing to remove offending posts; contribute around $2.4 billion to funds for victims of hate on Facebook; alter its algorithm so the platform does not spread harmful content; and make its content moderation equitable across languages.…  Seguir leyendo »

The supply chain of a seemingly innocuous cash crop – sesame – has intersected with transnational conflict dynamics, exacerbating tensions between Ethiopia and Sudan.

Late 2020 saw the beginning of the devastating war in Tigray and the occupation of a disputed region on the Ethiopia–Sudan border – Al Fashaga – by the Sudanese army. These shocks disrupted settled patterns of land ownership and control in both Ethiopia’s volatile north and Sudan’s borderlands, historically the heart of the sesame and oilseed production that is economically vital to both countries.

These seemingly harmless cash crops are now embedded in local, subnational and national political contestations in both countries. Sesame value chains are being reshaped, with power and profits being used to entrench the grip of political and armed actors who are reinforcing new patterns of land control and driving informal and illicit trade – impacting the coping mechanisms of local communities and threatening to fuel further conflict.…  Seguir leyendo »

Officials signing an agreement to resolve the conflict in northern Ethiopia, in Pretoria, South Africa, November 2022. Siphiwe Sibeko / Reuters.

Nearly three months after it was signed, the tentative peace deal between the Ethiopian government and leaders of the country’s northern Tigray region appears to be holding. Tigrayan forces have begun to disarm, basic services such as banking and telecommunications are being restored, and desperately needed humanitarian relief is making its way to Tigrayan civilians. Although thorny questions remain about the presence of Eritrean forces in Ethiopia, the status of contested territory, and accountability for the severe human rights abuses that characterized the two-year conflict, the momentum is toward a reduction in violence. For the United States, the top priority is supporting the implementation of the agreement and ending the suffering of civilians who have been denied access to food and medical care for much of the conflict.…  Seguir leyendo »

Passengers arriving from Tigray are greeted by relatives at the Addis Ababa Bole International Airport in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on Dec. 28, 2022. AFP via Getty Images

After two years of genocidal war, a fragile peace is settling on the northern Ethiopian region of Tigray. Local forces, led by the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), have handed tanks and rockets over to the federal army as a gesture of goodwill. Meanwhile, rival Amhara fighters are withdrawing from the region. But it is a fraught recovery—one that now needs the central government to act to guarantee the safety of returning refugees.

In November 2022, the International Committee of the Red Cross delivered 40 tons of medical supplies to Tigray’s capital, Mekelle, yet around 11,000 tons are needed, according to the World Food Program.…  Seguir leyendo »

Ethiopian refugees who fled Tigray region, queue to receive food aid within the Um-Rakoba camp in Al-Qadarif state, on the border, in Sudan. December 11, 2020. REUTERS / Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah

One of 2022’s deadliest wars, in and around Ethiopia’s Tigray region, has for now ground to a halt. Two of the main belligerents – Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s government and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), which dominated Ethiopian politics for decades before Abiy assumed power in 2018 and then fell out with him – signed a deal on 2 November in Pretoria, South Africa, and, 10 days later, a follow-up agreement in Nairobi. But the calm is fragile. Key questions remain unsettled, notably whether Tigray’s forces will disarm and whether Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki, whose army has been fighting alongside Ethiopian troops, will withdraw his troops to the internationally recognised border.…  Seguir leyendo »

A militia member in Kasagita, Ethiopia, February 2022

Rape, extrajudicial killing, manmade famine, denial of medical aid and services, and expulsions described by U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken as “ethnic cleansing” are among the horrors of the brutal war that exploded in Ethiopia’s northern highlands in November 2020. Up to 600,000 people, mostly ethnic Tigrayans, are estimated to have died, the majority from starvation and disease. For close to two years, Western and regional powers wrung their hands but did little to halt the violence or prevent Africa’s second most populous state from disintegrating.

Then in November 2022, the African Union made an unexpected breakthrough, facilitating a cease-fire agreement between the Ethiopian government and the rebel Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front.…  Seguir leyendo »

An Ethiopian Muslim stands inside a damaged mausoleum at the al-Nejashi Mosque, one of the oldest in Africa, in the Tigray Region’s village of Negash, Ethiopia, on March 1, 2021.EDUARDO SOTERAS/AFP via Getty Images

An ancient Christian imperialism is resurging in Ethiopia today under Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed. This archaic vision promises to unify Ethiopia and restore its divine glory. But it appears to be shattering Ethiopia and fueling catastrophic suffering.

Its core belief is that Ethiopia is a Christian nation created and destined by God for greatness under Christian leadership. Today it is supercharging enmity and silencing critical voices calling for the end of war, genuine dialogue, and an inclusive Ethiopia where diverse people can belong together.

Understanding Ethiopia’s religious history is crucial for understanding the complexity of Ethiopia’s conflicts and prospects for peace today.…  Seguir leyendo »

Tigrayan fighters traveling outside Mekelle, Ethiopia, June 2021. Finbarr O'Reilly / New York Times / Redux

For more than a year and a half, a largely invisible campaign of ethnic cleansing has played out in Ethiopia’s northern region of Tigray. Older people, women, and children have been loaded onto trucks and forced out of their villages and hometowns. Men have been herded into overcrowded detention sites, where many have died of disease, starvation, or torture. In total, several hundred thousand Tigrayans have been forcibly uprooted because of their ethnicity.

These crimes are an outgrowth of a war that began in November 2020, pitting Ethiopian federal forces and their allies, including troops from Eritrea and the neighboring Ethiopian region of Amhara, against forces linked to the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), which once led Ethiopia’s coalition government.…  Seguir leyendo »

More than a year has passed since I first uncovered evidence of war crimes in the continuing conflict in the Tigray region of northern Ethiopia. Civilians have endured atrocities including sexual violence, ethnic cleansing, systematic massacres, unspeakable torture and starvation. The horror stories are endless. Yet Ethiopia’s government denies them.

All sides of the conflict have committed war crimes. A mound of evidence gathered by investigative journalists and rights groups suggests that Ethiopian government troops, allied soldiers from Eritrea and local Amhara forces have committed terrible atrocities against ethnic Tigrayans. These acts could potentially amount to genocide, as defined in international law.…  Seguir leyendo »

The wall of victims at the Red Terror Martyrs' Memorial Museum in Addis-Ababa. © Thijs Bouwknegt

“I had a lot of pain last night”, Eshetu Alemu coughed, “but I will try to be present during the entire day”. The 68-year-old Ethiopian-Dutchman has terminal lung cancer and he attended his trial via video link from prison. A convicted war criminal, he wants his entire 2017 life sentence– for 75 murders, 6 cases of torture and 320 arbitrary detentions in cruel and degrading circumstances between February and December 1978 in the cities of Debre Markos and Metekel – quashed. He “regrets” that all these things happened. But he maintains he was never at any crime scene.

On 19 April, Alemu heard his Dutch lawyer plead his case.…  Seguir leyendo »

Watch List 2022. Africa. Ethiopia: Giving Talks a Chance

Crisis Group’s Watch List identifies ten countries facing deadly conflict, humanitarian emergency or other crises in 2022. In these places, early action, driven or supported by the EU and its member states, could save lives and enhance prospects for stability.

Ethiopia: Giving Talks a Chance

Ethiopia enters 2022 at an impasse in its civil war that opens a narrow window for peace. The conflict between the federal authorities and Tigray regional government has devastated the country’s north, leaving tens of thousands dead. In November 2020, political discord led to armed confrontation, with federal units, allied forces from Amhara region, which neighbours Tigray, and Eritrean troops moving into Tigray.…  Seguir leyendo »

Women wait during a food distribution organized by the Amhara government near the village of Baker, 50 km southeast of Humera, in the Tigray Region of Ethiopia, on July 11, 2021. EDUARDO SOTERAS / AFP

On 19 December, the leader of Ethiopia’s northern Tigray region announced that Tigray’s forces would pull back to their home region, marking yet another significant turnabout in Ethiopia’s brutal thirteen-month civil war. Tigray’s leadership said they had taken the decision to open space for negotiations. Addis Ababa, meanwhile, asserted that its counter-offensives had succeeded in pushing Tigray’s forces back. The latest shifts – and particularly the Tigray leader’s call for talks – afford a rare chance for a cessation of hostilities that all parties must seize. All should stop shooting immediately. In a welcome move, the federal government responded on 22 December by saying it will not push further into Tigray to try to completely defeat the resistance.…  Seguir leyendo »

A boy sits on the barrel of a military tank destroyed during fighting between the Ethiopia's National Defense Force and the Tigray People's Liberation Front in Ethiopia's Amhara region on Dec. 7. (Reuters)

Ethiopia’s year-long civil war between the federal government and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) is affecting civilians across the country. Members of the Qemant community, a minority ethnic group in the Amhara region, have experienced violence, arbitrary arrests and destruction at the hands of government security forces and militia.

Over 2,000 Qemant refugees have fled into Sudan since July, according to U.N. reports, and thousands more are believed to be displaced. In October, Al Jazeera documented the destruction of hundreds of buildings in Qemant communities along the Shinfa River, near the Sudanese border.

In the town of Aykel, attacks by Amhara regional security forces and Fano militia since April resulted in the deaths and displacement of many Qemant civilians.…  Seguir leyendo »

A police officer talks to new volunteers who registered to conduct night patrols during the ceremony for new military recruits who are joining the Ethiopian National Defence Force in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on November 24, 2021. Amanuel Sileshi / AFP

Ethiopia’s civil war has taken another turn. After months on the back foot, federal troops and allied militias launched a counteroffensive in late November, retaking several towns in Amhara and Afar regions. Tigray forces, which had come within a few hundred kilometres of the capital, halted their advance and withdrew north. Tigray leaders say the setback is temporary. For his part, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, having staked so much on the Tigray resistance’s defeat, is also committed to keep fighting. But given the popular support and mobilisation on both sides, neither is likely to deliver a mortal blow to the other.…  Seguir leyendo »

Members of the Ethiopian National Defense Force transport a 100mm antiaircraft gun in Shewa Robit on Dec. 5. (Amanuel Sileshi/AFP)

The war in Ethiopia has entered a crucial but uncertain stage. The Tigray Defense Force took control of the strategic towns of Dessie and Kombolcha in early November, but it’s unclear whether it will be able to advance on Addis Ababa or even hold onto these towns after a late November counteroffensive by government forces.

Regional and international diplomats continue to try to negotiate a cease-fire to prevent further violence. My research suggests one big lesson from past mediation efforts will probably be key: Successful mediators use smart pressure.

What does this mean, exactly? Smart pressure in cease-fire negotiations first entails pushing for a comprehensive and precise cease-fire agreement rather than getting the parties to just sign a document.…  Seguir leyendo »

Memorial service for the victims of the Tigray conflict organized by the city administration in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Photo by EDUARDO SOTERAS/AFP via Getty Images.

The conflict between the federal government and the Tigray Defence Forces (TDF) has spread beyond Tigray, intensified old animosities between Tigray and Amhara, and drawn in armed groups from Oromia, Benishangul, and Afar, deepening identity-based contestations across Ethiopia.

These days fighting is moving ever closer to the capital, Addis Ababa, threatening a catastrophic escalation. Ethiopia’s cabinet declared a nationwide state of emergency and there are widespread reports of Tigrayan civilians being arrested without reasonable grounds. Governments around the world, from the US to Turkey, are advising their citizens to leave the country immediately.

Meanwhile, northern Ethiopia is facing a worsening humanitarian crisis, with more than eight million people in urgent need of assistance.…  Seguir leyendo »