Ethiopians in Minnesota, watching the war from afar, hope the fragile peace pact will hold


Ethiopian leaders in Minnesota are cautiously optimistic about the recent peace pact in a civil war that has killed hundreds of thousands over the past two years.

The historic truce was concluded on November 4 in South Africa. The Ethiopian government and Tigray leaders agreed to disarmament, but Eritrea, the country that fought alongside Ethiopia, was notably absent from the talks. On Friday, Ethiopia said aid had resumed in the Tigray region.

Although the international community may not have paid much attention to it, the conflict has had a major impact on both those living the daily realities of civil war and on Ethiopian Minnesotans, Bahar Oumer said. , executive director of the nonprofit Oromo Community of Minnesota.

There are about 35,000 Ethiopian immigrants and people of Ethiopian descent in the state, according to Minnesota Compass data.

The people of Ethiopia have experienced mass displacement, starvation and death since the civil war broke out. Community members in the Twin Cities are frustrated and deeply depressed by what Ethiopians are going through, especially in the western region of Oromia, where there have been widespread communication breakdowns, Oumer said.

“We have members who have lost loved ones, close family members. Our members are appalled at the treatment of our people,” Oumer said. “We have members who were unable to attend the funerals of loved ones, who were unable to travel to take sick family members to hospital.”

The situation is so precarious that the federal government recently opened up 18 months of temporary protected status to Ethiopians starting in October. The Minneapolis Bureau of Immigration and Refugee Affairs is now awaiting information from the Department of Homeland Security on how Ethiopian refugees can apply.

The past two years have been filled with bad news one day and then a slight improvement the next, which has made it difficult to know what to expect in the conflict, said Esuendale Gashaw, a senior member of the section of the Minnesota from the American Ethiopian. Public Affairs Committee, a national non-profit organization that works to strengthen relations between the two countries.

Ethiopian media news was highly distorted and did not reflect the realities or truths of events in the region, said Gashaw, who lives in Burnsville.

“Most Ethiopian Americans want this peace deal to be implemented and this opportunity not to be squandered,” Gashaw said. “We would like to see the contribution of the United States to ensure that something like this does not happen again.”

Abdullatif Dire, who works on humanitarian aid, visited the Oromia region just last month, where there was little fighting at the time. Dire, of Minneapolis, said he was particularly hopeful that leaders in the Tigray region had signed the disarmament leg of the deal, but that violent conflict continued elsewhere.

“I believe the peace accord didn’t include all of the warring parties, so that worries me,” Dire said.

Community members said it was commendable that Ethiopians once again had access to humanitarian aid and other essential services. But there is no guarantee that this fragile peace will last.

“There is no guarantee that the parties will honor the terms of the agreement…the proof is in the pudding,” Oumer said.


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