The Ethiopian government on 21 November deported Crisis Group's Ethiopia Senior Analyst William Davison. No formal reason was immediately given, but his expulsion doubtless relates to the serious conflict in Tigray and increasing sensitivity to non-official points of view.
On 20 November, immigration officials in Addis Ababa summoned Crisis Group's Ethiopia Senior Analyst William Davison and informed him he would need to leave the country immediately. He flew to the UK in the early hours of 21 November. Ethiopian authorities have yet to offer a formal reason for the decision. In an earlier tweet, an official in the Prime Minister's office said Mr. Davison's work permit had been revoked due to labour law breaches.
Crisis Group has been transparent and truthful in all representations it has made regarding Mr. Davison's employment. But, these technicalities aside, there is little doubt that the reason for his deportation relates to the current tense situation in the country and the authorities' increasing sensitivity to points of view that do not hew to its line. It is noteworthy that on the same day Mr. Davison was expelled, authorities also issued warning letters to the news agency Reuters' Ethiopia correspondent and to the BBC and Deutsche Welle stations.
Mr. Davison's expulsion comes at a difficult and painful moment for Ethiopia. On 4 November, Africa's second most populous country plunged into a serious conflict between federal troops and security forces from the Tigray region, one of Ethiopia's ten states. The conflict has already cost hundreds of lives and sent tens of thousands of refugees into neighbouring Sudan.
Crisis Group and its analysts do not take sides. Their responsibility is to present as faithfully as possible the viewpoints of the relevant parties; their mandate is to prevent and resolve deadly conflicts; their duty is to the civilians caught in their midst. Accordingly, and from the outset, Crisis Group has sought to explain the perspectives of the federal authorities and of the Tigrayan leadership, pressed from the outset for an end to hostilities and kept urging the parties to explore a negotiated solution and resolve their differences through political means.
Since joining Crisis Group in April 2019, Mr. Davison has sought to follow this approach. He has been a respected and much sought-after commentator on Ethiopian affairs. He has contributed to 28 reports, briefings, statements and podcasts analysing Ethiopia's contested transition. He has also contributed significantly to Crisis Group's work on the Nile waters dispute.
Crisis Group President & CEO Robert Malley said: "I deeply regret William's deportation from Ethiopia, particularly at this time when we are working so hard to pursue an end to the current conflict. If Ethiopia is to make a success of its once-in-a-generation opportunity to transition into a more open and democratic society, it should welcome, rather than seek to stifle, independent voices analysing its politics".
Crisis Group is an independent organisation that conducts field research, speaks to all parties, and seeks to offer impartial policy recommendations to help prevent and resolve deadly conflicts worldwide. Our Board of Trustees comprises prominent figures from the highest levels of government, business and philanthropic institutions from more than 30 countries, including former heads of state and foreign ministers from Algeria, Australia, Colombia, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Israel, Japan, Liberia, the Netherlands, Norway, and Sweden.