Ethiopia

  1. Ethiopia arrests rebel commander on Kenya border

    Ameyu Etana

    BBC News Afaan Oromoo

    A map showing Ehtiopia, Kenya and the border town of Moyale.

    Police say they have arrested a senior member of the banned Oromo Liberation Army (OLA) in the border town of Moyale.

    Mahammed Amme was disguised as a different person at the time, officers say. The OLA has not commented on the arrest.

    The OLA is an ally of the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF) - both of which have been designated terrorist groups by the Ethiopian parliament.

    Mr Mahammed is deputy head of the OLA's southern command and is wanted by law enforcement bodies.

    Kenyan authorities also accuse the OLA group for the fluid security situation in its territory.

    Last year, long-time head of southern command of the group, Gollicha Dhenge, defected to the Ethiopian government.

  2. Tigray rebels rule out talks while 'under blockade'

    BBC Monitoring

    The world through its media

    A spokesman for the rebel Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF) has ruled out talks with the Ethiopian government while people in the beleaguered northern Tigray region are, he says, "under blockade".

    Getachew Red said on Twitter on Saturday that "it is not going to work!"

    "The way I see it, the only precondition they are putting forward is that we join such a circus with our hands tied, our people starving and in the dark and with our entire population under blockade," he said.

    The Ethiopian government has named a seven-member team for the talks which it wants held without pre-conditions.

    The TPLF expressed readiness last month to hold peace talks with the government, but has since demanded that the federal government allow services such as communications, electricity and banking to the troubled region.

    The rebels also want the government to accept that the Tigray state will have its own army.

  3. My generation could use therapy - Ethiopian DJ

    DJ Edu

    Presenter of This Is Africa on BBC World Service

    Rophnan
    Image caption: Rophnan said Ethiopia's civil war had had an impact on him, but his music provides therapy

    A DJ who pioneered electronic music in Ethiopia has told the BBC's DJ Edu that he makes music to "uplift people" because the current turmoil in the country is affecting people's wellbeing.

    "I truly believe that my generation could use the therapy," Rophnan, who is also a singer-songwriter and sound engineer, said.

    There is currently a civil war in Ethiopia, which started in the country's northern Tigray region over tension with the federal government.

    "Not being able to talk with my friends and family from there was very depressing," he said.

    Rophnan - who is the first Ethiopian to be signed to Universal Music and just released his second album, Sidist VI - started making waves on the club scene in Addis Ababa at the age of 16, and combines electro music with the use of traditional instruments and rhythms.

    He said he is happy with Sidist VI's reception and finds it "overwhelming". "It's everywhere in the country. I'm so blessed. We worked really really hard for this, but what we're receiving is crazy."

    At 16 Rophnan put out his first mix tape which got him noticed on the club scene in Addis Ababa.

    "I grabbed a guitar when I was about 17, but I realised that the type of music that I was producing was not something that I could play live. Back in the day, people didn't look at DJs as musicians. DJs were just Disc Jockeys."

    But as time went on he noticed DJs started having their own shows and built their own sounds. Then he realised that DJs were the new musicians.

    "Now we are the pianists or guitarists of one element in music."Rophnan started pushing his music through clubs and worked in radio for three years."I had one of the top shows in the country and I started taking off from there."

    But his fascination with making music started off much earlier - in his childhood. "I started by recording my mother when I was 10 years old. Just the love I have for my mother, and wanting to keep her around me all the time."

    That family love is reflected in the new album, especially on the track Wegahta which he wrote for his mum.

    "If it wasn't for her I probably wouldn't be in this business at all."

    You can hear the full interview with Rophnan this weekend on This Is Africa on BBC World Service radio and partner stations across Africa, and online here.

  4. Ethiopia accuses envoys of appeasing Tigray rebels

    Kalkidan Yibeltal

    BBC News

    Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF) fighters prepare to leave for another field at Tigray Martyr's Memorial Monument Center in Mekele
    Image caption: Embattled Tigray region has been cut off from some basic services

    Ethiopia has accused a team of Western diplomats of "appeasing" Tigrayan forces during a recent trip to Mekelle, the capital of the embattled northern region.

    The European Union’s Special Envoy for the Horn of Africa, Annette Weber, her US counterpart Mike Hammer and ambassadors from five other Western countries travelled earlier in the week to the region and met senior figures, including Debretsion Gebremichael - the leader of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF).

    But Redwan Hussien, the prime minister’s security adviser and a member of a negotiating team set up by Addis Ababa, said in a tweet that the diplomats “failed to press unequivocal commitment for peace talks” during their travel.

    In a joint statement following their trip, the envoys called for the resumption of basic services in Tigray, including banking, electricity and telecommunications.

    Mr Redwan said the government’s position is that “enabling conditions” should be created and the talks should begin ahead of restoration efforts.

    Meanwhile in a statement on Thursday, Tigrayan forces accused the International Commission of Human Rights Experts on Ethiopia, an investigation body set up by the UN, of “intentionally eschewing meaningful communications” with the region.

    They said this could risk its impartiality and “guarantee the entrenchment of impunity”.

    Members of the commission - who are expected to probe allegations of atrocities during the brutal civil war - made their first trip to Addis Ababa at the end of last month but did not travel to Tigray.

    The commission has called on individuals and organisations to submit information on alleged crimes online with a deadline later in August.

    But with most of Tigray cut off from the internet, there are concerns that those in the region with possible evidences might not be able to share them with the investigators.

  5. Tigray fuel crisis hampering food aid supply - US

    Men carrying food aid in Ethiopia
    Image caption: The Afar region (which is a passage way for food bound for Tigray) has also been facing a food shortage, according to the AFP news agency

    The US has urged Ethiopia to allow "unrestricted access to fuel" in Tigray region in order for emergency aid to be distributed to areas low on food.

    It tweeted pictures that showed warehouses full of bags of grain that it says cannot be distributed because of fuel shortages.

    "All this emergency food is ready to be distributed by Catholic Relief to Ethiopians in need in the Tigray region, but humanitarians are waiting for incoming fuel to transport it," the US embassy in Ethiopia said.

    View more on twitter

    The embassy added: "Humanitarians need unrestricted access to fuel, cash and public services to transport it to those in need and continue saving lives."

    Ethiopia has previously termed claims of fuel shortage in Tigray a myth.

    Special envoys from the European Union and US are in the city of Mekelle, capital of Tigray, as part of international efforts to see a peaceful resolution to the 21-month-old civil war.

  6. Ethiopians in Saudi say they're blocked from going home

    Kalkidan Yibeltal

    BBC News, Addis Ababa

    Hundreds of Ethiopian migrants who have been convicted of various crimes in Saudi Arabia have said they are not able to return home despite finishing their sentences.

    The migrants have told the BBC that they were transferred from prison to a squalid detention centre.

    In March the Ethiopian government launched a year-long campaign to repatriate 100,000 migrants from the oil-rich country.

    The migrants - numbering more than 700 - have spent between five and 15 years in prison after they were convicted of crimes including possession of illicit substances.

    Four migrants who talked to the BBC said they hoped they would enjoy their freedom and be able to return to Ethiopia once they had finished their sentences. However, they found themselves in a detention centre where some are facing serious health problems.

    The migrants accused the Ethiopian government of being unwilling to facilitate their freedom and repatriation.

    The authorities in Addis Ababa as well as the Ethiopian consulate in Jeddah have not responded to the BBC’s requests for an interview.

    The Saudi authorities had previously denied mistreating Ethiopian migrants after reports accused them of holding detainees in unsanitary centres.

    Hundreds of thousands of Ethiopian migrants - some of whom are undocumented - are believed to be living in Saudi Arabia.

    Last year, BBC Africa Eye followed the journey of Ethiopian migrants to Saudi Arabia:

    Video content

    Video caption: Migrants face robbery, extortion and starvation
  7. Foreign envoys arrive in Tigray to urge dialogue

    Kalkidan Yibeltal

    BBC News, Addis Ababa

    Special envoys from the European Union and US have travelled to the northern Ethiopian city of Mekelle, capital of the embattled Tigray region, as part of international efforts to see a peaceful resolution to a 21-month-old civil war.

    Pictures released by media outlets affiliated with Tigrayan forces show the EU’s special representative, Annette Weber, and her US counterpart, Mike Hammer, meeting senior officials in the region including its head Debretsion Gebremicheal.

    View more on twitter

    This is the envoys’ first joint mission to the city, and it comes amid encouraging signs of possible peace talks between the federal government and Tigrayan forces.

    "Political dialogue is necessary to resolve the conflict in northern Ethiopia and achieve durable peace," a joint statement by the diplomats released on Tuesday read.

    While the two envoys welcomed "public commitment by both parties to engage in talks" they also called for the immediate restoration of basic services in the region - such as electricity, telecommunications and banking.

    Most of Tigray has been without these services for more than a year.

    Tigrayan forces have been calling for the resumption of the services, but a senior government official said last week that Addis Ababa was ready for the talks "without preconditions".

  8. Ethiopia among worst jailers of journalists - rights group

    Kalkidan Yibeltal

    BBC News, Addis Ababa

    A protester against jailing of Ethiopian journalists
    Image caption: CPJ says dozens of journalists have been arrested since 2020

    The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), a US-based group advocating for the freedom of the press, has called Ethiopia one of the worst jailers of media professionals in sub-Saharan Africa.

    A brutal civil war being fought in the country's northern Tigray region has accelerated hostility towards reporters, it said.

    At least 63 journalists and media professionals have been jailed since November 2020 when the war started - eight of whom remain behind bars, according to the group.

    The arrests were made in the capital, Addis Ababa, and five other regions, including Tigray.

    CPJ said the intent to control the narrative of the war had been a major driver behind the increased hostilities towards the press.

    The war has been fought outside the world's media glare after journalists were denied access to areas affected by the conflict.

    Some tens of thousands of civilians are believed to have been killed in the war, while millions others are in a desperate need of aid.

  9. US envoy in Ethiopia to push for peace efforts

    Will Ross

    Africa editor, BBC World Service

    The new US envoy for the Horn of Africa, Mike Hammer, has arrived in Ethiopia to advance peace efforts between the government and Tigrayan rebels.

    On Thursday a senior official in the capital Addis Ababa said the government was ready to negotiate without pre-conditions.

    View more on twitter

    Fighting has eased in recent months following a truce, to allow much-needed humanitarian aid into Tigray and neighbouring regions.

    The UN says more than five million people are in urgent need of food in northern Ethiopia.

    The US envoy is also trying to help resolve a regional dispute triggered by the construction of a dam on the River Nile in western Ethiopia.

  10. Ethiopia troops clash with al-Shabab fighters

    Will Ross

    Africa editor, BBC World Service

    The Somali Islamist militant group, al-Shabaab, has launched an attack on the town of Aato on the Ethiopian border for the second time in just over a week.

    A senior Ethiopian security official told the BBC that fighting broke out early on Friday between the militants and a combined force of Ethiopian federal soldiers and troops from the Somali region.

    The official said there were casualties on both sides.

    Last week, the al-Qaeda-linked group said it had killed dozens of Ethiopian security forces during cross border raids.

    Officials in Addis Ababa said in response close to 200 al-Shabab fighters were killed.

  11. Ethiopia ready for talks with Tigrayans 'anytime'

    Hanna Temauri

    BBC News, Addis Ababa

    Ethiopia's government said talks should begin with the Tigrayan forces without any pre-conditions to end the 21-month civil war in northern Ethiopia.

    The security advisor to the prime minister, Redwan Hussien, said in a tweet on Thursday that the "government is ready to talks anytime, anywhere".

    View more on twitter

    The government has also allowed diplomats from the US, the EU, the UK and the UN to travel to Tigray, Mr Redwan said.

    Most of Tigray has been largely cut off for more than a year.

    Mr Redwan also added that the African Union should lead the negotiation process and can "solicit logistical support from any source".

    The Tigarayan forces have not commented on this latest statement but their leader, Debretsion Gebremichael, this week said that communication and electricity services should resume before any negotiation begins.

    Read more on the civil war:

  12. Ethiopian athletes return to heroes' welcome

    Ameyu Etana

    BBC Afaan Oromoo

    Athletes greet the crowd during a welcoming ceremony in Addis Ababa
    Image caption: Gudaf Tsegay won gold in the 5000m and silver in the 1500m

    Victorious Ethiopian athletes have received a heroes' welcome in the capital, Addis Ababa, after their performance at the recent World Athletics Championship, where the country came second on the medals table.

    Ethiopia finished behind hosts the US, bagging a total of 10 medals - including four golds, a first for the country in the history of the championships.

    On Thursday morning, the team was received in Addis Ababa by thousands of cheering supporters.

    Athletes greet the crowd during a welcoming ceremony in Addis Ababa

    The team also visited the presidential palace where they met President Sahle-Work Zewde and other notable athletes.

    Head of Ethiopia’s athletics body Derartu Tulu has been praised for her leadership during the championship.

    Gotytom Gebreslase
    Image caption: Gotytom Gebreslase won the women's marathon

    She said she was proud of the athletes' performance, but warned coaches to expect a stiffer challenge in the next competition.

    Deratu also asked the federal authorities and officials in the northern Tigray region - which has witnessed conflict since late 2020 - to try and find a way for the athletes to meet their parents.

    "Athletes from Tigray still did not get the opportunity to meet their families," she told attendees at the palace.

    Three gold medallists, Letesenbet Gidey, Gotytom Gebreslase and Guday Tsegay, are from the Tigray region.

    The region has effectively been cut off since the conflict began.

    Man waving
    Image caption: Tamirat Tola won gold in the men's marathon and broke the championship record
  13. Lavrov blames West for food crisis

    Hanna Temauri

    BBC News

    Lavrov and his Ethiopian counterpart
    Image caption: Mr Lavrov (pictured left) held a press conference with his Ethiopian counterpart, Demeke Mekonnen Hassen

    Russian Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov, has said western countries are to blame for the soaring global food prices and fuel crisis, whilst on a trip to Ethiopia as part of a six-day Africa tour.

    He met Ethiopian officials and representatives of diplomatic corps.

    In his remarks to diplomats on Wednesday, he said the problems with the international food market started at the beginning of the pandemic and pre-date the Ukraine war.

    He said western governments used trillions of dollars to buy food without any substantial reason.

    “Yes, the situation in Ukraine did additionally affect the food market but not because of Russian operation rather due to absolutely inadequate reaction of the west which announced sanctions undermining the availability of food in the market’’ he said.

    Mr Lavrov added that the increase of the price of fertilisers was caused by what he called the reckless western policy of the so-called green transition which he said discriminates the classic energy sources.

    Africa imports 40% of its wheat from Ukraine, however, that was disrupted because of the Russia-Ukraine war.

    However, the signing of a deal to export grains has brought hope that those disruptions could be resolved soon.

  14. Russia's foreign minister lands in Ethiopia

    Hanna Temauri

    BBC News

    Russian Foreign Minster Sergei Lavrov has arrived in Ethiopia's capital, Addis Ababa - which is also seat of the African Union headquarters - on the last leg of his African tour.

    The foreign ministry tweeted photos of his welcome:

    View more on twitter

    His visit aims to strengthen Moscow's ties with the continent, where many countries have been reluctant to take sides and condemn Russia over the invasion of Ukraine.

    Mr Lavrov is expected to meet senior government officials, members of the diplomatic community and officials from the African Union Commission.

    Preparations for the upcoming Africa-Russia Summit scheduled to take place in Addis Ababa later this year are also on the agenda.

  15. Ethiopia kills al-Shabab militants in border battles

    Hanna Temuari

    BBC News, Addis Ababa

    A map of Ethiopia

    The authorities in Ethiopia’s eastern Somali region say the army, working with regional forces, has killed 85 members of the Somali Islamist group al-Shabab.

    The army says they captured many other militants in an operation concentrated on five towns on the border, where the al-Qaeda-linked group has bases.

    The action comes in response to an attack last week on Ethiopian forces near the border with Somalia.

    Witnesses told the BBC they saw the militants in several vehicles crossing into Ethiopian territory and that intense fighting had taken place.

    In that attack al-Shabab said it had killed more than 80 soldiers.

  16. Tigray leader vows 'no disarmament before talks'

    BBC Monitoring

    The world through its media

    Chairman of the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF) Debretsion Gebremichael
    Image caption: Ethiopia's TPLF leader struck a defiant tone

    The leader of Ethiopia's rebel Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF) has said the group will not negotiate on the disarmament of the "Tigray army" as it prepares for peace talks with the federal government.

    The TPLF-run Tigray TV reported that Debretsion Gebremichael made the comments during a briefing to local media.

    He added that "Western Tigray" should be given back to Tigray.

    "According to the constitution, Western Tigray belongs to Tigray. So they [Ethiopian government] should hand it over to Tigray. This benefits the people of Tigray, if at all they hand it over."

    The two sides are preparing to hold peace talks to end the civil war that has killed thousands of people and displaced millions since November 2020.

  17. UN experts in Addis start work to investigate war

    Hanna Temauri

    BBC News

    The UN Commission of Human Rights Experts on Ethiopia is in the country’s capital, Addis Ababa, for the first work visit since its establishment in December last year.

    The commission is an independent entity mandated to conduct investigations to establish the facts and the circumstances surrounding alleged violations and abuses committed by all parties during Ethiopia's current conflict which has been going on since November 2020.

    The Ethiopian government had initially rejected the resolution calling it an alternative way to meddle in its internal affairs and had announced it will not acknowledge or cooperate with any mechanism.

    But it seems relations have since softened, after the commission announced last month it is has initiated the process of dialogue with the government.

    There are hopes that the consultations in Addis Ababa will result in access for the investigators to sites of alleged violations, as well as access to survivors, victims and witnesses.

    But it is not clear when or if that will happen.

    The Tigrayan forces have welcomed the visit but say any unilateral agreement with the Ethiopian government that does not take into account the people of Tigray constitutes reasonable grounds for it withholding cooperation with the commission .

  18. Flag row mars Ethiopia women's 5,000m race win

    Ethiopia's Letesenbet Gidey with a spectator on the track after the women's 5000 metres final

    Ethiopia's Guday Tsegay won the gold medal in the women's 5,000m on Sunday but her triumph was marred by controversy after a fan ran onto the field carrying what appeared to be a Tigray flag.

    The fan lifted up both Ethiopian athletes, Guday Tsegay and Dawit Seyaum - who finished third - before being removed from the track by security.

    Ethiopia's government launched a military offensive in November 2020 against the northern Tigray region. It followed a dispute between Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed's government and the TPLF, Tigray's dominant political party.

    A civil war ensued, which has left a humanitarian crisis in its wake.

    Ethiopias Gudaf Tsegay celebrates after winning the women's 5000 metres final as a spectator invades the track
  19. Amnesty urges probe into Ethiopia mass killings

    Kalkidan Yibeltal

    BBC News

    A woman from the Ethiopian community cries alongside other community members during a demonstration to bring awareness to the mass ethnic cleansing of ethnic Amharas in the Gimby Zone in Western Wollege, Oromia Region
    Image caption: There have been protests against the mass killings in Ethiopia

    Rights watchdog Amnesty International has called on Ethiopian authorities to launch an "impartial" investigation into last month's killing of more than 400 members of an ethnic group that is a minority in the country’s Oromia region.

    The killings showed the attackers’ "utter disregard for human life", a new report by the organisation released on Thursday says.

    The violence in Tole area of Gimbi district saw farming villages populated by ethnic Amharas targeted.

    It has been blamed on the armed group the Oromo Liberation Army (OLA), but authorities have also been criticised for failing to respond fast enough to the violence.

    Government forces arrived hours after the attackers had left despite being told about the attack much earlier, according to witnesses cited in the report.

    The OLA has denied carrying out the attacks, which it said was the work of a militia group set up by the government.

    Amnesty called the Tole killings "a callous massacre" and it was followed - two weeks later - by similar attacks in a different district in the region.

    Officials vowed to take measures in the wake of the two attacks and promised to conduct investigations.

    But there are already some who have raised questions about the independence of a government-led probe.