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News: 138 killed, 113 injured in Gambella region over nine months: EHRC report

The recently released report from the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission delineates that a minimum of 138 individuals have lost their lives, while 113 others have sustained injuries since May 2023 within Ethiopia’s Gambella region (Photo: Social Media)

Addis Abeba –The Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC) released a report on Wednesday detailing that at least 138 people have been killed and 113 injured since May 2023 due to clashes between communities and attacks on refugees in Ethiopia’s Gambella region.

EHRC’s latest report details the human rights violations that occurred in several districts of the region, including Itang Special District, Gambella District, Gog District, and the region’s capital, Gambella City.

Investigators visited the attacked areas, interviewed victims and witnesses, and met with officials to gather evidence and assess the government’s response.

The initial conflict broke out in May 2023 following the disappearance of a resident in Itang district. This led to deadly clashes between the residents of Pinwa and the neighboring Ler Kebele. Revenge attacks and cattle raids fueled more violence.

“Following the disappearance, several people died, were injured, and the property of individuals and institutions was damaged and looted in the conflict,” the report states.

Further conflicts and attacks continued over the next eight months in various parts of Gambella, including violence perpetrated by and against South Sudanese refugees living in shelters across the region. Some refugees were also involved in the clashes at times, according to the EHRC findings.

In total, the commission confirmed at least 138 deaths and 113 injuries resulting from the unrest. Significant property damage to homes, businesses, and government facilities also occurred across the affected districts.

The report states, “The Gambella regional government has undertaken peace talks with local communities and deployed additional security forces to stabilize the situation.” However, the EHRC urged regional authorities to continue pursuing accountability for those involved and provide compensation for victims.

“Complete justice is ensured when the guilty are held accountable, the wronged are compensated, and necessary measures are implemented to prevent similar incidents from happening in the future,” said EHRC Chief Commissioner Daniel Bekele.

The Gambella region has witnessed an uptick in communal violence since May last year after nine people were killed and 17 others suffered heavy and light injuries in a violence that erupted in Itang special woreda and the capital Gambella city. Umod Ujulu, President of the region blamed the clashes on a dispute between individuals residing in the Pingwa and Ler kebeles of Itang Special Woreda, which later on escalated into communal violence.

In July 2023, Addis Standard reported that three people were killed and 23 more sustained injuries in an armed assault directed at two public buses near Gambella city.

Likewise, in the same month, accounts from residents indicate that an armed militia launched an attack on a Nuer village within Gambella city, resulting in a minimum of 31 fatalities and 20 injuries.

More recently, in February 2024, Addis Standard reported about attacks perpetrated by armed militias across Gambella, resulting in the killing of two people and injuries sustained by many. AS

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