Tracking Conflict Worldwide

CrisisWatch is our global conflict tracker, an early warning tool designed to help decision-makers prevent deadly violence by keeping them up-to-date with developments in over 70 conflicts and crises, identifying trends and alerting them to risks of escalation and opportunities to advance peace. Entries dating back to 2003 provide easily searchable conflict histories.

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August 2023



Amhara region witnessed worsening violence as nationalist militia clashed with security forces, prompting Addis Ababa to declare state of emergency; federal minister vowed to end Amhara’s “illegal administration” in Western and Southern Tigray.

Violence in Amhara region reached new heights. Fighting between Amhara nationalist militia known as Fano and federal and regional forces dramatically escalated, with Fano early Aug seizing control of several towns and cities. Addis Ababa 3 Aug blocked internet access to region, next day declared six-month state of emergency. In following weeks, authorities arrested hundreds of people allegedly linked to militants, including politician and outspoken govt critic Christian Tadelle. By 9 Aug, federal forces had recaptured major towns, pushing Fano militants to rural areas where fighting continued. Clashes late Aug flared in large towns, such as Debre Tabor and Debre Markos. UN 29 Aug said at least 183 killed in clashes since July.

Minister vowed to return IDPs to Western and Southern Tigray. Defence Minister Abraham Belay 22 Aug announced on Facebook govt plans to return people displaced during Tigray conflict from Western and parts of Southern Tigray (under Amhara’s administration since Nov 2020) to their homes; Abraham added that govt will dissolve Amhara’s “illegal administration” in these areas as per Nov 2022 peace deal with Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF). Remarks risk enflaming perceptions among Amhara that federal govt betrayed them when it struck deal with TPLF, and could empower Fano rebellion and draw Eritrea into conflict (see Eritrea).

Govt-insurgent fighting persisted in Oromia region. Heavy clashes between govt and Oromo Liberation Army (OLA) continued in Oromia, with civilians again targeted. Notably, residents in West Shewa Zone’s Chobi district 16 Aug accused govt troops of killing at least 12 civilians during anti-insurgent operations; OLA fighters 17 Aug attacked police station in West Guji, killing local official. Fano continued to mount attacks and abduct residents.

In other important developments. World Food Programme 8 Aug resumed food aid deliveries, suspended in June. BRICS bloc of emerging economies 24 Aug invited Ethiopia to join from Jan 2024. Talks with Egypt and Sudan over Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam 28 Aug concluded without breakthrough (see Nile Waters). 

July 2023



Violence in Oromia continued unabated, Amhara Fano militia stepped up attacks on govt forces, and Tigray's top commander announced demobilisation of over 50,000 troops.

Clashes between insurgents and govt forces persisted in Oromia region. Fighting raged in Oromia between govt forces and Oromo Liberation Army (OLA) following failed talks in May, with sides stepping up operations in bid to strengthen their respective negotiating positions should talks resume. Hostilities notably occurred in West Hararghe and Arsi zones, where OLA operations have been rare. Month also saw OLA, as well as unaffiliated bandits, increase kidnappings for ransom.

Violence intensified in Amhara region. Discontent with federal govt in Amhara simmered as clashes between, on one side, Fano militia and defected Amhara paramilitaries and, on the other, federal and regional forces late July escalated in North Shewa, North Wollo and Gondar zones; notably, Fano gunmen 26 July ambushed army in Gondar. Month saw spike in assassinations of local officials, likely perpetrated by Fano: notably, gunmen 3 July shot police chief and his deputy in Dejen District (East Gojam Zone); gunmen 14 July killed police commander of Debre Berhan town (North Shewa).

Tigray-Amhara tensions persisted over territorial dispute, Tigray demobilised over 50,000 troops. PM Abiy 6 July pressed Tigray and Amhara to resolve territorial disputes through peaceful consultations (Western and parts of Southern Tigray have been under Amhara’s administration since Nov 2020); Amhara regional authorities next day announced plans for referendum to settle issue but offered few details, such as who would organise vote or be eligible to cast a ballot. Tigray official 13 July reportedly said holding referendum while parts of region remain under Amhara’s control would be illegal. Meanwhile, Tigray’s top commander Tadesse Worede 26 July announced demobilisation of over 50,000 Tigray forces and urged federal govt to ensure withdrawal of Amhara and Eritrean forces.

In other important developments. Authorities in Gambella region 20 July imposed curfew after ethnic Anuak militias killed scores, mostly Nuer community members, in Gambella city. Ethiopia and Egypt 13 July agreed to seek final deal on Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam within four months (see Nile Waters).

June 2023



Deadly violence persisted in Oromia region, Tigray peace process remained on track despite challenges, and unrest simmered in Amhara region amid rising opposition to federal govt.

Insecurity remained rampant in Oromia, exacting heavy toll on civilians. Hostilities between Oromo Liberation Army (OLA) and military continued at high intensity; month also saw clashes between Amhara Fano militia and govt forces. Meanwhile, armed groups stepped up attacks on civilians. Notably, OLA 6 June attacked bus near Bule Hora town (West Guji Zone), killing two; Fano militia 8-9 June killed at least three in Agemsa town (East Wollega); UN humanitarian agency 14 June reported deteriorating humanitarian situation following attacks on civilians in parts of Horo Guduru Wollega and East Wollega zones. Kidnappings also continued; notably, gunmen 24 June abducted around 50 people in Ali Doro area (North Shewa Zone), demanding ransom.

Tigray peace process saw mixed progress. NGO Human Rights Watch 1 June reported Amhara forces in disputed Western Tigray continued ethnic cleansing of Tigrayans after Nov 2022 truce. Amhara residents of Western Tigray 4 June demonstrated, demanding govt address status of ethnic Amharas living there. U.S. Horn of Africa envoy 7 June met with federal and Tigray leaders, and African Union (AU) officials, later confirmed parties agreed to extend AU ceasefire monitoring and verification team’s mandate until Dec 2023. Tigray Interim President Getachew Reda 11 June visited Amhara’s capital Bahir Dar for first time since Tigray war ended, pledged to continue work toward “sustainable peace” during talks with Amhara’s president.

Fano militia clashed with federal forces in Amhara. Amid rising discontent with federal govt in Amhara region, sporadic fighting occurred during month between federal forces and Amhara nationalist Fano militia, notably leaving six dead on 10 June in Awi Zone. Other Amhara nationalist factions feeling isolated as federal govt strengthens relations with Tigray may resort to low-grade armed rebellion.

In other important developments. U.S. development agency 8 June suspended food aid to Ethiopia after uncovering “widespread and coordinated campaign” to divert assistance; World Food Program next day followed suit. Addis Ababa 29 June requested to join BRICS bloc of emerging economies that includes Russia, Brazil, China, India and South Africa.

May 2023



Violence in Oromia intensified after govt-OLA talks failed to produce agreement, federal-Tigray relations faced setback, and security operations in Amhara drew criticism from human rights body.

Govt-OLA talks ended without agreement amid uncompromising stances. Peace talks between govt and Oromo Liberation Army (OLA) that began 25 April in Tanzania ended 3 May without agreement as sides failed to reach consensus on key political issues: OLA demanded greater political role in Oromia region, proposing power-sharing arrangement via transitional administration until next election; govt rejected proposition, which would threaten power of Oromo ruling elites, instead insisting on rebels’ disarmament. OLA 17 May accused govt of launching “all-out offensive” after talks concluded, with fighting reported in East and West Shewa Zones (centre), Horo Guduru, East and West Wollega Zones (west), and parts of southern Oromia.

Authorities refused to restore TPLF’s political party status. National Electoral Board of Ethiopia (NEBE) 13 May denied Tigray People’s Liberation Front’s (TPLF) request to restore its political party status, cancelled Jan 2021 after outbreak of war, citing lack of legal provision for status restoration; NEBE said TPLF can submit re-registration request, meaning legally it would become new political party. TPLF and Tigray’s Interim Regional Administration that TPLF controls said board’s decision endangers peace and urged authorities to reinstate TPLF’s “pre-war status”. Thousands of displaced Tigrayans 23 May protested in major cities in Tigray, demanding withdrawal of outside (Eritrea, Amhara) forces to allow their return home. Meanwhile, World Food Programme and U.S. international development agency 3 May said food aid to Tigray was being diverted and sold on local market, suspended deliveries.

Security forces accused of abuses during operations in Amhara. Tensions eased in Amhara region following April violence, which broke out over govt plans to integrate regional paramilitaries into federal security structures, though suspicion of federal govt as it improves relations with TPLF and engages with OLA persisted. Meanwhile, concerns emerged about “law enforcement campaign” launched late April in Amhara after assassination of key figure from ruling Prosperity Party; notably, Ethiopian Human Rights Commission 9 May accused security forces of “arbitrary arrests, inappropriate treatments of people in custody [and] disproportionate use of force”.

April 2023



Violence spiked in Amhara over federal decision to dissolve regional paramilitaries, govt and Oromo Liberation Army (OLA) held peace talks, and Tigray-federal relations continued to improve.

Plans to disband regional paramilitary sparked deadly violence in Amhara region. Federal govt 6 April announced decision to dissolve regional special forces and integrate them into national army and police. Many in Amhara viewed move as threat to region amid concerns that PM Abiy allying with Oromo nationalists and strengthening ties with Tigray is isolating Amhara. Some special forces refused to comply with order, instead allying with Amhara nationalist militia known as Fano and clashing with federal soldiers in number of zones. Demonstrations also erupted, spreading throughout region, as protesters blocked roads, burned tires and chanted slogans against Abiy and ruling Prosperity Party. Abiy 9 April vowed to press ahead with plan as govt deployed troops, imposed curfew and cut off mobile internet services in parts of Amhara. Dozens were killed in unrest, which began to subside mid-April. Unidentified gunmen 27 April assassinated Girma Yeshitila, head of Prosperity Party’s Amhara branch, together with his entourage in North Shewa Zone; federal govt next day launched “decisive measures” to counter “extremist forces”.

Govt-OLA peace talks got under way in Tanzania. In positive step toward ending long-running OLA insurgency, PM Abiy 23 April announced peace talks with group starting 25 April in Tanzania; OLA same day confirmed news, saying federal govt had accepted its demands for third-party mediator. Fighting between security forces and OLA continued, however, and OLA continued kidnapping civilians.

Tigray’s leader named new cabinet as federal-Tigray relations improved further. Newly appointed leader of Tigray region’s Interim Regional Administration, Getachew Reda, 5 April unveiled 27-member cabinet to lead political transition. Cabinet is dominated by TPLF members, while military controls four posts; opposition Baytona for Greater Tigray Party took two positions amid frustration among Tigray opposition parties with excessive TPLF control. Meanwhile, Federal Ministry of Education delegation 6-7 April visited Tigray to discuss reopening region’s universities. National Rehabilitation Commission head Teshome Toga 14 April visited regional capital, Mekelle, to evaluate progress on disarmament. Prosperity Party VP Adem Farah 27 April led delegation to Mekelle.

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