The Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC) has expressed concern over the casualties suffered by internally displaced persons (IDPs) and residents in the recent clash between Somali and Oromia regional security forces near the border town of Babile on September 18, 2023. EHRC has interviewed victims, members of the Somali and Oromia regional security forces, employees of Qoloji IDPs Camp, and hospital staff regarding the exchange of fire.
The clashes are reported to have ceased since, but at least six IDPs residing in Qoloji camp and several civilians in the border area were killed, with several others injured.
The two regions bear the primary responsibility to jointly find peaceful solutions to recurring conflicts in the area and ensure lasting peace and security for residents and IDPs, provide redress for victims, and hold accountable members of the security forces for failure to take the necessary precautionary measures to prevent loss of civilian life and injury to civilians.
Rakeb Messele, Deputy Chief Commissioner of EHRC, emphasized the utmost importance of safeguarding civilian lives and stressed that government security forces should have taken every possible precaution to prevent casualties in the recent clash. She added that “it is particularly concerning that IDPs, who had already been enduring challenging conditions in the camp for an extended period, lost their lives and sustained physical injuries.” Rakeb further noted that “in accordance with the African Union Convention for the Protection and Assistance of Internally Displaced Persons in Africa (Kampala Convention), government security forces must refrain from acts that jeopardize the safety and security of IDP camps.”