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Emergency Feeding and Health Care Program in southern Ethiopia

21 Aug 2018 Galcha area, Vicariate of Hawassa, south central Ethiopia



CRISIS

Since April 2018, interethnic violence has rocked many parts of Ethiopia, especially among the various ethnic groups living in areas of south central and southeastern Ethiopia. In the east, violence has claimed the lives of at least six priests; it has led to the torching of seven churches, and the deaths of many believers, prompting the patriarch of the nation’s preeminent faith community, the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church, to undertake 16 days of fasting, abstinence and prayer.

The recent violence in south central Ethiopia has pitted the Gedeo tribe of the Southern Nations and Nationalities People region against the neighboring Guji Oromo of the Oromia region. Since April, more than 650,000 Gedeo people have been displaced from five Guji-dominated zones, and more than 150,000 Guji people have been displaced from their homes in a Gedeo-dominated area. The majority of both peoples are Protestant; some, however, identify as Ethiopian Orthodox Christian, Muslim or Catholic.

In late June, the government reports that “despite peace and reconciliation efforts led by traditional elders,” and the deployment of the Ethiopian Defense Forces, violence and displacement continues. “The Federal Government has set up a commission to look at the challenges arising from the current regional boundaries and explore better ways of addressing them,” the government report explained.

These border disputes, which some observers attribute to the violence in south central Ethiopia, date to the Transitional Government of Ethiopia (1991-95), which redefined Ethiopia’s regional boundaries after the collapse of the dictatorial government that had toppled Ethiopia’s ancient monarchy in 1974.

IMPACT ON LOCAL CHURCHES

“All of the IDPs [internally displaced peoples] have lost their livelihoods,” reported CNEWA’s regional director for Ethiopia, Argaw Fantu, who visited the Galcha area in early August. “Their houses have been burned to the ground, their livestock killed, their fields and crops — mostly coffee and enset, the staple for both peoples — destroyed.

“And then there is the loss of human life inflicted on the other by both communities these last three months,” he added.





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