Targets zero conflict casualties
A draft program published by the Ministry of Peace estimates over 400,000 lives have been lost in Ethiopia as a consequence of armed conflicts.
The “Sustainable and Universal Peace Building Program (2023-2032)” document has been open for public comment for the last two months. It is the aim of this document that no lives will have been lost in war by the time the program concludes.
The research does not go into depth on the methodologies used to estimate casualties or the ways in which such information is collected. In addition, it doesn’t say which conflicts caused the fatalities. Data includes fatalities up to the Ethiopian fiscal year 2022-2023, therefore it encompasses the period of fighting in North Ethiopia.
If the document is approved, the peacebuilding program will be implemented throughout Ethiopia in accordance with the country’s development objectives as outlined in the 10-Year Perspective Plan.
The draft document was created with input from the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC). “The right to life has been in severe danger. Several violations have been committed by government security forces and informally armed forces,” states the document.
The Reporter’s efforts to obtain further explanations from officials at the Ministry bore no fruit.
The exact number of war victims during the previous two years is debatable. The two years of conflict in northern Ethiopia and the continued instability in areas of Oromia and other parts of the nation have led many to speculate that the 400,000 deaths listed in the text might be exceeded.
The official death toll from the violence in northern Ethiopia has been withheld until now. Olusegun Obasanjo, the High Representative of the African Union (AU) to the Horn of Africa and the chairman of the AU-led peace negotiations for the Pretoria accord, has previously disclosed controversial statistics.
“The number of people killed was about 600,000,” Obasanjo said during an interview with the Financial Times.
Obasanjo’s estimation is based on the statement Ethiopian officials made during the Pretoria peace agreement signed on November 2, 2022, which resulted in the cessation of hostilities, exactly two years after the war broke out on November 4, 2020.
“We have stopped 1,000 deaths every day,” Ethiopian officials said during the peace deal in Pretoria, according to Obasanjo. According to this estimate, the two-year war in North Ethiopia has resulted in the deaths over 700,000 people.
On the other hand, US Ambassador to the UN, Linda-Thomas Greenfield, said that “over 500,000 people” had died during the two-year conflict. EU officials also disclosed figures estimating between 600,000 and 800,000 casualties.
The MoP’s draft document gave an in-depth look at the factors that have led to continued conflict and instability over the past few years. It also discussed about ways to change the situation and make sure there are no more conflict deaths in the next ten years.
Absence of traditional mechanisms to resolve conflicts peacefully, distortion between national and local identities, absence of conflict management mechanisms, gaps in the government’s acceptance among the public, and lack of responsiveness to cross-border conflicts related to ethnic groups, among others, are analyzed as factors for the rise of conflict and casualties in the country.
As a result, the use of power by informally armed groups, identity-based divisions and attacks, a lack of morals and ethics among the generation, lawlessness, and mistrust have increased, the document says. The political environment has deteriorated as a result, increasing chaos, anarchy, conflict, death, displacement, casualties, and property damage, according to the same source.
The document also analyzes the key strategic interventions required to solve all these problems. Creating a strong state, achieving permanent peace and stability, and forming a single political and economic nation are the ultimate objectives of the program.
Experts, on the other hand, say that a goal of zero conflict deaths is not possible, given all the work the government needs to do to make Ethiopia stable.
“Conflict causalities can never be zeroed out, and 10 years is a short time to do so. The major source of the conflicts in Ethiopia is the constitution,” Wassihun Belay, a political economy analyst, said.
He says that even if the constitution is amended and addresses everything, it will still take time to internalize and implement it fully. “The shocks and tensions in the country cannot be stabilized in ten years.”
The first step to ending conflict and achieving lasting peace is resolving the issues related to the constitution, according to Wassihun. “The second step should be realizing institutional strength in a bid to ensure peace as per the constitutional consensus. Integrating cross-border communities through common development agendas is also important.”