Coronavirus could lead to civil unrest in Ethiopia’s Oromia region with a potential to turn into a civil war!

Coronavirus could lead to civil unrest in Ethiopia’s Oromia region with a potential to turn into a civil war!

By Aba Orma, Ph.D., March 26, 2020

As the world is grappling with the spread of coronavirus and the human and economic cost is sky rocketing, Dr. Abiy Ahmed’s administration in Ethiopia is resisting international calls to restore Internet, phone, and electricity services it shutdown for more than two months in the Southern and Western Oromia region. Approximately 20 million people, mostly farmers, live in these areas.

The average household size observed in Ethiopia is about five persons and higher in the farming community. Most farmers live in a single room house. That makes social distancing almost impractical. It is reported that the coronavirus is already spreading and people who have shown symptoms of the virus are being turned back to their houses by hospitals. Ethiopia does not have adequate health system capacity at ordinary time let alone a possible influx of coronavirus patients.

Competition for scarce resource and political favoritism will aggravate the problem and some part of the society, the Oromo people, already feel that they are marginalized. When push comes to shove, the Oromo people, the majority people in the country will be forced to take actions that will lead to a civil unrest that could easily spill over to a civil war.

One thing we have learned from the coronavirus is, we cannot contain in one part of the world and go home. It must be contained everywhere. It is in the interest of the United States and other governments who are pouring resources into Abiy administration to use their political and economic leverages and pressure the government of Ethiopia to restore communication to the Southern and Western Oromia and stop using the virus to harm people who do not agree with their political view; to heed to the call by the World Health Organization to stop the hidden war in Oromia and instead fight the coronavirus.

Not giving people a fighting chance against the coronavirus by shutting down communications is a genocide against humanity. One lesson that Dr. Ahmed’s government should learn from past governments of Ethiopia is that in the end the Oromo people will come together as one family and fight back. The Oromo people will not sit and die.