January 26, 2023

Fresh conflict escalates in Shewa Robit, residents forced to flee the area

City: Addis AbabaNewsCurrent Affairs

It has been weeks since the war broke out in and around Shewa Robit, according to sources.

Avatar: Kalayou Hagose
By Kalayou Hagose

Kalayou Hagose is a law graduate and reporter at Addis Zeybe.

Fresh conflict escalates in Shewa Robit, residents forced to flee the area
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Credit: The Reporter

Eyewitnesses in Shewa Robit told Addis Zeybe that they were forced to leave their homes due to the escalation of fighting in and around Shewa Robit. 

Shewa Robit is a town in the Amhara region 221 km from the capital Addis Ababa.

“Despite the deployment of  Ethiopian Defense Forces, the Federal Police, and the Amhara Special Forces, there is still heavy fighting around Yfat, 10 km from Shewa Robit, and properties are being burned and destroyed.”

It has been weeks since the war broke out in and around Shewa Robit, a town in the northern Shewa zone of the Amhara Regional State, according to sources.

The Amhara Regional State said in a statement, “The attack on our Amhara Special Forces and federal police members in Jewha Kebele, Efratana, and Gdim districts on January 21, 2023, proves the devastation that the warlike forces have inflicted on the people of the region.”

Eyewitnesses claim that the OLF/Shane militants opened attacks in the area which is growing into an intensified war.

On January 24, 2023, the city administration of Shewa Robit declared a curfew banning movements. The declaration of emergency came after clashes broke out in Ataye, Jewha, Senbetie, Shewa Robit, and surrounding areas. 

“Ataye, which faced huge destruction and attacks last year during the Tigray conflict has also become the main target of what’s happening now,” said an eyewitness, adding that.

“Prisoners in Ataye are breaking out of detention centers; crops were burned into ashes; the network in the town is also disconnected, and we weren't able to connect with our family, who are left behind while we flee the area.”

Passengers who were heading from Addis Ababa to Desie and its surrounding areas were also forced to incur unnecessary costs and suffer abuses due to road blockades, sources disclosed to Addis Zeybe. 

“if the conflict that erupted in Jewha, Ataye, Yfat, Senbetie, and Shewa Robit areas can’t be halted soon, the conflict will be turning towards ethnic and faith-based complication,” said residents. 

"What these anti-peace forces committed, especially in Efratana Gidm, Ataye, Senbetie, Jewha, and in the kebeles around Shewa Robit, was intended to incite ethnic-based conflict between residents,” reads a statement of the regional state. 

“In order to ensure peace, security, and unity of the people of the region, the government will discharge its duty by enforcing the rule of law against these anti-peace groups and their allies.”

Ataye, only 168 miles from Addis Ababa, has experienced various violations and conflicts for the last two consecutive years.  

In relation to the war in Tigray, conflict broke out in the Northern Shewa zone in Shewa Robit, Ataye city, and in the border areas of the Oromia Special Zone in April 2022.  Addis Zeybe reported on April 21, 2021, that Ataye experienced an ethnic-based attack.  

Reports at the time revealed that at least 30 civilians were killed, 25 were injured, and an unspecified number of families were displaced as a result of their burned-out homes. To overcome the situation, the Amhara region’s forces were deployed to the areas in April 2021. 

The Ethiopian Human Rights Commission also denounced the attack at the time saying, “The ethnic-based attacks and counter-attacks against civilians in Amhara and Oromia regions, particularly in Northern Shoa and Oromia Special Zones, have claimed numerous lives and should be condemned”.