News: Five countries express concern about violence in Amhara, Oromia regions; call for protection of civilians, respect for human rights

Civilians displaced by conflict in Oromia regional state. Photo: VOA

Addis Abeba – In a joint statement issued this morning, the governments of Australia, Japan, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States of America said they are concerned about the recent violence in the Amhara and Oromia regions, “which has resulted in civilian deaths and instability.”  

The countries also said they “encourage all parties to protect civilians, respect human rights, and to work together to address complex issues in a peaceful manner. The international community continues to support the goal of long-term stability for all Ethiopians.”

The joint statement adds up to growing calls from Ethiopia’s international partners over recent militarized violence that engulfed the Amhara regional state and the continued conflict in the Oromia regional state that have caused immense civilian deaths and destruction of civilian infrastructure including health and education facilities in two of Ethiopia’s largest regional states.

The International Commission of Human Rights Experts on Ethiopia said yesterday that it was “deeply concerned about the reported deteriorating security situation in the north-west region of Ethiopia, particularly in the Amhara regional state, and called “on all sides to respect human rights and take steps to de-escalate the situation and prioritize processes for the peaceful resolution of differences.”

A relative calm has returned to several cities and towns in the Amhara region after five-days of intense fighting between the non-state local armed group Fano and government forces that has led to the imposition of curfews in major cities and towns by the Military Command Post overseeing the six-months state of emergency. However, reports show that there are significant civilian casualties especially in the two major cities Bahir Dar and Gonder.

In a phone call with Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has already “expressed concern regarding the situations in the Amhara and Oromia Regions.”

Although it is overshadowed by the recent fighting in the Amhara region, the five-year conflict in the Oromia regional state involving government forces and the armed Oromo Liberation Army (OLA) is still ongoing with no prospect for peaceful resolution.

Recent attempts to reach at a negotiated settlement through talks held in Zanzibar, Tanzania, ended without a concert outcome. Calls for peaceful resolution of the conflict, including from lawmakers representing Oromia regional state and the US government have so far yielded no result .AS

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