Ethiopia. In January, over 900,000 refugees in Ethiopia were given the right to leave the camps and settle down and apply for jobs anywhere in the country. They had escaped war, drought and persecution in neighboring countries such as South Sudan and Somalia. The new law was hailed by aid workers, who said that Ethiopia was a role model for the world at a time when, for example, some Western countries were pursuing xenophobic policies.
In January, the army launched an offensive in western Ethiopia against members of the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF). A group within the guerrillas had taken up arms since it was claimed that the government broke the peace agreement of 2018. The government accused the rebels of armed attacks, rapes, bank robberies and roadblocks in the Oromia region. Several hundred OLF members were reported to have been arrested.
In eastern Ethiopia there were ethnic strife between Afars and Somalis. The violence caused problems for the transport between Djibouti and Addis Ababa, which was hit by fuel shortages.
- ABBREVIATIONFINDER.ORG: Click to see the meanings of 3-letter acronym and abbreviation of ETH in general and in geography as Ethiopia in particular.
In February, the Ethiopian army received more than 1,740 former rebel soldiers from the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF). It was a result of ONLF’s peace settlement with the government in 2018. Those who want to remain in the army must undergo rehabilitation training, and those who want to return to civilian life must do so.
All 157 people on board were killed when a plane from Ethiopian Airlines crashed in March after taking off from Addis Ababa. On board, many UN employees were on their way to an environmental conference in Nairobi. Those killed were from some 30 countries, including Sweden.
Ethiopia hosted peace talks between the Central African government and militia groups from the country. In March, the parties signed a peace agreement in Addis Ababa following conflicts with thousands of dead and over a million in flight.
In Reporters Without Borders Press Freedom Index, Ethiopia had improved most of all countries in the world. Ethiopia was previously near the bottom of the list, but had climbed a total of 40 rankings to place 110 due to the change of government in 2018. Imprisoned journalists had been released, hundreds of banned websites and other media had been allowed, and press legislation was under review. For the first time in over a decade, no journalist was in prison in Ethiopia.
Ethiopia’s Human Rights Commission received a new head, human rights activist and former political prisoner Daniel Bekele during the year.
But the country was haunted by ethnic strife. Many people were killed in northwestern Ethiopia, where gumuz and amhara collapsed in violence. Housing was burned down, military was sent to the area but the violence continued. The government had difficulty controlling the state of Amhara, and in June a coup attempt was made against the local government when, among other things, the governor was killed. In Addis Ababa, the country’s army chief was murdered. The coup failed and security forces arrested more than 250 people, many from Amharas national movement.
Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed traveled to Sudan’s capital Khartoum to mediate between the ruling military and the protesting opposition. According to doctors, more than 100 peaceful protesters had been killed in military violence. In July, the military junta and the protest movement signed an agreement on the transition to civilian rule. In July, at least 25 people in the Sida region of southern Ethiopia were killed in violence between security forces and activists, who demanded autonomy for their area.
Ethiopia broke records in tree planting in July, when 350 million trees were reported to have been planted in one day. The goal is a billion new trees to meet climate change and give the country more forest raw material. More than a third of the country was covered by forests a century ago, now that area is only 4%.
Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2019 for his work to make peace with Eritrea and for the democratic reforms he has implemented in Ethiopia.
In October, however, violent protests erupted against the Prime Minister of Addis Ababa and in parts of the Oromia region. By then, an opposition activist had accused security forces of attacking his home. The protests turned into violence between ethnic and religious groups, security forces opened fire, but the violence continued. At least 86 people were killed.
According to Countryaah, the population of Ethiopia in 2019 was 112,078,619, ranking number 12 in the world. The population growth rate was 2.610% yearly, and the population density was 112.0787 people per km2.