On 6th December 2017, OYSU members in the UK presented at the UK House of Lords at the invitation of Lord Ahmed in an exchange of views on the Human rights situation in Ethiopia. Participants also included Amnesty International and representatives of other nations and peoples impacted by the brutality of the Ethiopian government. The event focused specifically on the recent clashes between Somalis and Oromos instigated by the Ethiopian government.
Members of the liyu police security forces have been used to carry out attacks, at times masquerading as civilians, resulting in conflict between various ethnic groups; particularly ethnic Somalis from the Ogaden region and people in Oromia, as well as between other ethnic groups. The border between Oromia and the Ogaden region is the longest in the country and has been the subject of increasing tensions over the years, tensions that have made it possible to fuel conflict between the two groups. The Liyu Police , a para-paramilitary group that has systematically carried out grave atrocities against civilians in the Ogaden (such as extrajudicial killings, arbitrary arrests, rape and torture) within the Ogaden region for years, were sent into neighboring Oromia towns (dressed as civilians) in order to attack Oromo people resulting in the death of civilians. The Liyu Police take their orders from the Ethiopian military in the Ogaden region, and the Regional president Abdi Mohamoud Omar controls the military. What followed was The retaliation by armed Oromos on ethnic Somalis, and those most vulnerable to such retaliation are the ethnic Somalis living in Oromo regions who remain under constant threat. Displacement is another huge problem borne out of these clashes, according to the BBC at least 55,000 people have been displaced, some of whom have taken refuge in makeshift camps. People are reportedly trying to escape the violence by even fleeing to the Kenyan side of the southern border town of Moyale, which also has a history of Oromo-Somali conflict. According to sources on the ground Somalis are unable to travel between jijiga and dire dawa out of fear of retaliation. According to the Economist , in the area around Harar, nearly 70,000 have sought shelter just ‘east of the city and Several thousand more are huddling in a makeshift camp in the West’ including both Oromos and Somalis.
Following the event we have submitted the following two questions to Lord Ahmed for him to table in the House of Lords:
1. Since 2007, the Ethiopian government has been being engaged in a major military crackdown against the Ogaden National Liberation Front in the Ogaden region causing much hardship for the population. A peaceful resolution to the current conflict in Ogaden region of Ethiopia would save thousands of lives and put an end to the century-long conflict which has caused mass displacement and impoverished the lives of millions. What role, if any, can the British government take in supporting peace talks between the Ethiopian Government and the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF)?
2. Is the UK’s Conflict, Stability and Security Fund (CSSF) still funding a MSc in Security Sector Management for security officials in Ethiopia when there are continuing deep concerns about the number of human rights violations committed by the Ethiopian security services? Can we know who is monitoring this project and when a report will be made available?