Ethiopia: Dozens Killed in Attacks in Ethiopia's Oromia Region

25 September 2021

The Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC) on Friday said that 29 civilians have been killed after an armed group carried out attacks in Ethiopia's Oromia region.

The commission further said more than 40,000 people have been displaced as a result of the three separate attacks that had been carried out in Kiramu and Wolmai locality, East Wolega Zone of Oromia State.

"More than 40,000 people in the Kiramu district have fled to neighboring areas to escape the deadly attacks," the rights group said in a statement seen by nation.africa.

EHRC expressed concern that the security situation in the district was deteriorating as a result of continued attacks by militants operating in the region.

Due to security concerns in the area, the commission said the main roads connecting Kiramu district to Bure and Nekemte towns are currently closed to traffic.

The Ethiopian rights commission didn't disclose who the attacks had been carried out by but Addis Ababa has repeatedly accused OLF-Shene, a self-proclaimed Oromo Liberation Army, of being responsible for the attacks in many parts of the vast Oromia region.

The commission said those displaced from various parts of the district are currently sheltering in Nole and Bohere towns.

Previously displaced IDPs had been living in shelters of these towns for months but remain in dire need of humanitarian assistance.

In the statement, EHRC called on the federal government and regional security forces to take the necessary steps to stop the attacks in Kiramu and areas in the Western Wollega at large.

It urged authorities to "take concrete steps to address the security threat in the western Wollega zone and to bring to justice those who repeatedly attack residents."

It also called for the reopening of closed roads to allow the provision of necessary humanitarian assistance to those in need.

OLF is the main rebel group in Ethiopia's Oromoa region.

The group, which is a designated terrorist entity by Addis Ababa has recently warned that it could cut off a major highway that links Ethiopia to Kenya, in what could directly affect Ethiopia's trade with Nairobi.

In recent weeks, OLA allied with the proscribed Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF) had mounted an offensive that could block the main highway from Moyale, the only modern border post between Kenya and Ethiopia, which was only launched last December.

If fully taken over, it will be the first time the conflict in Ethiopia would directly affect Kenya, Ethiopia's neighbor to the south.

OLA news sources claim that its fighters are rapidly advancing on the western and southern fronts of the Oromia region.

In the southern front where the Ethiopia-Kenya highway passes through, the rebel group claimed to have controlled the entire Gujji zone and parts of the Borena zone bordering Kenya.

OLA is using blockage of key roads, including those leading to the Amhara region, as its military strategy in the fight against the Ethiopian government forces.

OLA and TPLF were designated last June as terrorist organizations by the Ethiopian government.

The two rebel groups recently announced inking a military alliance to overthrow a sitting government in Addis Ababa.

The Ethiopia-Kenya road has allowed landlocked Ethiopia additional access to ports.

Ethiopia has for decades been highly dependent on neighboring Djibouti for its maritime trade.

Ethiopia, Africa's second-most populous country with a population of about 115 million people became landlocked after its former province, Eritrea, gained independence in 1993. The Horn of Africa nation has been using the ports of Djibouti for about 95 percent of its imports and exports.

To ease the huge dependency on Djibouti, Addis Ababa has been looking for other options including Kenya which eventually enabled the country to be in a better negotiating position on port services in terms of port tariffs.

The construction of the major road corridor was also intended to bring an economic integration between the two neighbors and the region at large.

According to Ethiopian officials, the road further would serve as a crucial outlet for Ethiopia to use the Lamu Port, South Sudan-Ethiopia-Transport (LAPSSET) Corridor.

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