Ethiopia: Communal tension high in Jimma zone

Reports from residents of a village in Jima zone, Oromia region, of Ethiopia, indicate a growing risk of communal clash.

The village named Bege Sefera is located in Haro Lagissa kebele, Boter woreda, Jimma zone, in southwestern Ethiopia.

Here is a summary of the information Horn Affairs received from multiple residents of the village. 

The village is populated by Tigrayans, who were resettled in the area by the Derg regime in the 1980s. Currently, the village consists 246 households or 1,196 people.

Last week Friday, a group of locals went to a disputed plot of land and took control.

Last Tuesday, more than a hundred people from various kebeles of the woreda and other unknown individuals marched across the Tigrayan populated village with various types of knives and chanting “go home”, “you had enough”, etc. (inflammatory chants redacted).

Last night (Friday night), arson attacks were conducted on the crops of several plots of land. Four cottages (made from grass and used for watching over farmlands) were set in fire.

Map - Jimma zone, Oromia, Ethiopia
Map – Jimma zone, Oromia, Ethiopia

The local administration has been slow to act on the matter, despite repeated reports by the villagers.
The local officials reportedly gathered the local youth on Saturday and told them that they will give them the disputed plot of land, which is already taken ten days ago anyway.

The local officials didn’t involve anyone from the Tigrayan villagers in the meeting, nor did they ask them to identify the problem makers.

I asked the Tigrayan elders if there is a consultation with Oromo elders on the matter. They told me, “the local administration didn’t arrange such meeting between the two communities”.

The villagers also say, “the problem is not land and the mob is backed by some officials and other people with financial interests. We are spending every night outside to protect the village”.

I have similar reports from Limu-cheleleqa (populated by farmworkers from Amhara and SNNP) and Limu-Dale (populated by Amhara). I will report asap.

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Daniel Berhane

Daniel Berhane