18 September 2017
By Sunday Elom
At least 50 people have lost their lives and 50,000 displaced in clashes that took place along the border of Ethiopia’s Oromiya and Somali regions.
President of Oromiya province, Lema Megersa, on Sunday told newsmen that “It is not just deaths that occurred. More than 50,000 people were displaced from their homes. Those responsible should also be held to account,” Megersa said. Meanwhile, Megersa did not give any figures for the death toll.
Report shows that the area has been plagued by sporadic clashes for decades. A referendum held in 2004 to determine the status of disputed settlements did not yield any fruit in easing tensions in the regions.
According to a parliament-mandated investigation, unrest in 2015 and 2016 in Oromiya, and to a lesser extent other regions have claimed the life 669 people.
It is believed that the clashes are likely to engender further fears about security in Ethiopia, the region’s biggest economy and a staunch Western ally.
Each side of the region blames each other, giving contradictory explanations about the cause of the clashes.
According to some officials in Oromiya, the clash was sparked by the killing of a local district head and raids by a paramilitary force from the Somali region.
On the other hand, officials from the Somali region denied those claims. A spokesman for the Somali region said fifty ethnic Somalis were killed in the town of Aweday in Oromiya on Tuesday.
Ethiopia Prime Minister, Hailemariam Desalegn, Sunday said soldiers deployed to the regions to quench the violence would disarm residents and safeguard highways straddling the regions.