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Ethiopia Expels Crisis Group Senior Analyst
Ethiopia Expels Crisis Group Senior Analyst
Can a “Humanitarian Truce” Help End Ethiopia’s Civil War?
Can a “Humanitarian Truce” Help End Ethiopia’s Civil War?
Media Release / Africa

Ethiopia Expels Crisis Group Senior Analyst

The Ethiopian government on 21 November deported Crisis Group’s Ethiopia Senior Analyst William Davison. No formal reason was immediately given, but his expulsion doubtless relates to the serious conflict in Tigray and increasing sensitivity to non-official points of view.

On 20 November, immigration officials in Addis Ababa summoned Crisis Group’s Ethiopia Senior Analyst William Davison and informed him he would need to leave the country immediately. He flew to the UK in the early hours of 21 November. Ethiopian authorities have yet to offer a formal reason for the decision. In an earlier tweet, an official in the Prime Minister’s office said Mr. Davison’s work permit had been revoked, citing alleged labour law breaches.

Crisis Group has been transparent and truthful in all representations it has made regarding Mr. Davison’s employment. Ultimately, there is little doubt that the reason for his deportation relates to the current tense situation in the country and the authorities’ increasing sensitivity to points of view that do not hew to its line. It is noteworthy that around the time Mr. Davison was expelled, authorities also warned the news agency Reuters’ Ethiopia correspondent and the BBC and Deutsche Welle stations.

Mr. Davison’s expulsion comes at a difficult and painful moment for Ethiopia. On 4 November, Africa’s second most populous country plunged into a serious conflict between federal troops and security forces from the Tigray region, one of Ethiopia’s ten states. The conflict has already cost hundreds of lives and sent tens of thousands of refugees into neighbouring Sudan.

Crisis Group and its analysts do not take sides. Their responsibility is to present as faithfully as possible the viewpoints of the relevant parties; their mandate is to prevent and resolve deadly conflicts; their duty is to the civilians caught in their midst. Accordingly, and from the outset, Crisis Group has sought to explain the perspectives of the federal authorities and of the Tigrayan leadership, pressed for an end to hostilities and kept urging the parties to explore a negotiated solution and resolve their differences through political means. 

Since joining Crisis Group in April 2019, Mr. Davison has sought to follow this approach. He has been a respected and much sought-after commentator on Ethiopian affairs. He has contributed to 28 reports, briefings, statements and podcasts analysing Ethiopia’s contested transition. He has also contributed significantly to Crisis Group’s work on the Nile waters dispute.      

Crisis Group President & CEO Robert Malley said: “I deeply regret William’s deportation from Ethiopia, particularly at this time when we are working so hard to pursue an end to the current conflict. If Ethiopia is to make a success of its once-in-a-generation opportunity to transition into a more open and democratic society, it should welcome, rather than seek to stifle, independent voices analysing its politics”.

Crisis Group is an independent organisation that conducts field research, speaks to all parties, and seeks to offer impartial policy recommendations to help prevent and resolve deadly conflicts worldwide. Our Board of Trustees comprises prominent figures from the highest levels of government, business and philanthropic institutions from more than 30 countries, including former heads of state and foreign ministers from Algeria, Australia, Colombia, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Israel, Japan, Liberia, the Netherlands, Norway, and Sweden. 

We continue to seek information on Mr. Davison’s expulsion and will post updates as necessary.

Reporters can reach Crisis Group at media@crisisgroup.org. 

Podcast / Africa

Can a “Humanitarian Truce” Help End Ethiopia’s Civil War?

This week on Hold Your Fire!, Richard Atwood and Naz Modirzadeh are joined by Crisis Group expert William Davison to discuss the Ethiopian federal government's offer of a humanitarian truce in its seventeen-month war against forces from Ethiopia’s northern Tigray region. 

After almost seventeen months of devastating civil war in Ethiopia, the federal government on 24 March announced what it called a humanitarian truce. The offer would ostensibly allow aid into Ethiopia’s northern Tigray region, which has, in effect, been under a blockade for months and where millions face what the UN describes as a serious lack of food. The government’s unilateral truce declaration comes after its offensive in late 2021 pushed back Tigrayan forces, who had advanced to within striking distance of the capital Addis Ababa – the latest about-face in a war that has seen the balance of force between federal troops and Tigrayan rebels swing back and forth. It also comes alongside other signals that Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed may have tempered his initial goal of crushing Tigray’s leadership. 

This week on Hold Your Fire!, Richard Atwood, Naz Modirzadeh and William Davison, Crisis Group’s senior analyst for Ethiopia, discuss the causes and significance of the government's proposal. They map out the military dynamics on the ground and the evolving calculations of Tigrayan leaders, Prime Minister Abiy, other Ethiopian protagonists in the conflict and Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki, whose forces were also fighting alongside the federal troops against the Tigrayans. They talk about the role of foreign powers in supporting President Abiy Ahmed and in pushing for peace and break down how regional relations are shaping the conflict. They ask how optimistic we should be that the truce eases Tigray’s humanitarian disaster or even serves as a foundation for peace talks and how such talks might surmount the thorniest obstacles – notably resolving a territorial dispute in Western Tigray – to a political settlement.  

Click here to listen on Apple Podcasts or Spotify.

For more information, explore Crisis Group’s analysis on our Ethiopia page.

Contributors

Executive Vice President
atwoodr
Naz Modirzadeh
Board Member and Harvard Professor of International Law and Armed Conflicts
Senior Analyst, Ethiopia
wdavison10