Ethiopia to form self-defense militia force to stem communal violence: official

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Tsore Refugee camp, Homosha woreda, Assosa Zone, Benishangul Gumuz Region, 11 July 2018. (Creative Commons / Mulugeta Ayene)
Tsore refugee camp in the Benishangul Gumuz Region, 11 July 2018. The UN estimates that over 100,000 people have been displaced in the region due to intercommunal violence in recent months. (Creative Commons / Mulugeta Ayene)

The Ethiopian Deputy Prime Minister Demeke Mekonen on Monday announced plans to form self-defense militia force to stem communal violence in the country’s western Benishangul-Gumuz regional state.

Speaking during a meeting with displaced people from the Metekel zone of Benishangul-Gumuz regional state, Mekonen said the plan to create a self-defense force militia to be formed from local civilians aims to sustainably prevent locals from being victims of violence.

The Ethiopia Deputy Prime Minister also pledged to rehabilitate displaced by persistent violence in the Metekel zone of Benishangul Gumuz regional state.

In recent months, hundreds of civilians have been killed in inter-communal violence and massacres in the area.

In one deadly incident, at least 207 people were killed in a massacre in Bekoji village, Metekel zone.

Earlier this month, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) disclosed that more than 101,000 people have been displaced by violence in Benishangul-Gumuz regional state since July 2020.

In recent years, deadly inter-communal violence has taken place in the Metekel zone, eventually killing thousands of civilians.

The clashes are mainly over access to power and land resources.

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