Ethiopia - a country that unites different ethnic groups but at the same time a country that is plagued by ethnocentric conflicts. While the central government under Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has set itself the goal of bridging the country's competing ethnic nationalisms, there are loud voices from other political forces like the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) in the north of the country, which accuse Abiy Ahmed of wanting to impose an unwanted forced unification. Ongoing tensions escalated last year when the TPLF defied the central government and held regional elections in Tigray, which were originally banned due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Following an attack on national forces, the central government responded by initiating a law enforcement operation, which is alleged to have sparked war atrocities. International human rights organizations are concerned about reports of serious human rights violations and abuses as well as the devastating impact of the conflict on the civilian population. Simultaneously, several other points of conflicts have been reported, the most prominent being between the Oromo and the Amhara, which is said to have claimed hundreds of lives. These ongoing attacks have gained momentum in the recent months and continue to do so as the Elections in June 2021 draw closer. With regular cuts of internet, phone connections and electricity, as well as international media being restricted from reporting on the ground, it has been hard to evaluate the situation.
Is Ethiopia in the middle of a humanitarian crisis fuelled by ethnic tensions? What role does media and the international community play and what should be done to improve the situation? Is there a chance for peaceful and democratic elections in Ethiopia?