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Fresh conflict erupts in border areas of Afar and Somali regions; rights group expresses concern about civilian harm, suffering

In its latest statement, the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC) reported receiving numerous complaints and accounts of casualties, damage to both private and public civilian property, and other forms of harm. These incidents have occurred amid escalating tensions in the border areas between the Afar and Somali regions, leading to armed clashes since 06 June, 2024 (Photo: Social Media)

Addis Abeba – A conflict erupted on Wednesday in the Adda Ado district, Yangudi zone of the Afar region, resulting in several deaths, dozens of displaced individuals, and multiple kidnappings, according to residents who spoke to Addis Standard.

An anonymous resident of the area reported that at 4:00 PM, militias from the Sitti zone of the neighboring Somali region entered the area and attacked civilians. The resident from Adda Ado claimed that the attack resulted in more than 30 deaths among the local population.

“The militants kidnapped several residents and took control of the area,” the resident further alleged.

The resident emphasized the unusual nature of the attack, stating, “We don’t share borders with the Somali region, but they traveled here to attack us.” They acknowledged that while pastoralist conflicts are common in the region, “this incident is different due to the level of weaponry possessed by the militants.”

The resident also mentioned that several areas bordering the Afar and Somali regions have experienced a resurgence of conflict in the past week and called for government intervention.

A resident from the Somali region confirmed the increase in conflicts in the bordering areas, alleging that “militants from the Afar region have pushed 50 kilometers into Somali territory in Asbuli.”

The Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC), in a statement issued on 14 June, 2024, expressed deep concern regarding reports of renewed armed clashes, civilian casualties, and displacement within the border areas of Afar and Somali.

The EHRC emphasized its ongoing monitoring efforts and grave concern surrounding reports of armed conflict, civilian casualties, and population displacement arising in areas bordering the Afar and Somali regions. 

The Commission elaborated on receiving complaints and reports of casualties, damage to both private and public civilian property, and other forms of harm amidst escalating tensions that have resulted in armed clashes within the region since 06 June, 2024.

“Administrative and security regional authorities with whom the EHRC has communicated in both Afar and Somali regions have confirmed that armed clashes between the regional security forces have sporadically occurred during this period, causing civilian harm and suffering, including the displacement of residents,” the statement reads.

The EHRC also acknowledged the constructive efforts of both regions to address some of the persistent and recurring issues through dialogue led by the Islamic Affairs Supreme Council, culminating in a ceasefire agreement in April 2024.

Emphasizing the encouraging willingness of both regional authorities to pursue a peaceful and sustainable resolution to the conflict, EHRC Deputy Chief Commissioner Rakeb Messele called for further efforts and support by federal authorities to achieve an immediate cessation of hostilities.

Rakeb also remarked, “EHRC calls upon all stakeholders to be inspired by the spirit of Eid al-Adha festivities to prevent further escalation and harm to civilians in the areas.” AS

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