Will the State of Emergency declared in the Amhara Region be lifted?

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The war in Amhara region has devastated property and livelihoods of civilians (Photo : Social Media)

By Staff Reporter

ADDIS ABABA – (BORKENA) – Residents of the Amhara Region have reported that towns in the region are under the control of the national defense forces, while the rural areas have been occupied by Fano forces.

In April of last year, the conflict in the Amhara Region erupted after the federal government decided to reorganize the regional special forces. This conflict gradually escalated and turned into a war. The former head of the regional government has officially written a letter stating that as the “Region could not enforce security and law, the federal government should intervene”.

Following this, from the last days of July 2023, the House of People’s Representatives declared a State of Emergency in the Region. The State of Emergency, supposed to last for six months, will come to an end on February 06, 2024.

A resident of Gondar Town, who wished to remain anonymous, told Al-ain Media that Gondar Town, where he used to move around freely at any hour of the day, “is now different in terms of security.” The daily prayer of the people at this time is to plead with their creator to help them stay alive, according to the resident. He mentioned that people have been killed since last July and August 2023 by stray bullets and fires from heavy weapons, while others who are still alive are depressed and starving.

According to the resident, there is sudden shooting between the security forces and Fano forces every time at the entrance and exit of the city. Due to this unexpected clash, innocent people are killed, and transport and other services are disrupted, he said.

A resident of Bahir Dar City approached by Al-ain said that since the declaration of the State of Emergency in the Amhara Region, people are being killed and arrested en masse. The individual expressed that grief has entered every house. The commenter further said that he saw with his naked eyes when 24 people, killed by government security forces, were buried in a single day at Abune-Hara Church, located in Kebele 14 of Bahir Dar City. This is how people in the city are leading a life of misery, he said.

“The government security forces come at the dead of night in our neighborhood, knock on our doors saying that they are there for checking. They don’t announce who they are! Then, they loot properties, arrest people en masse, and send them to prisons,” he said in a tone of melancholy. This resident said that the State of Emergency has given the soldiers the opportunity to loot properties and conduct “searches” on any houses they desire.

Another resident of Enarj-Enawga Woreda said that the government security forces “are torturing the people” by saying that their children have joined Fano, and Fano, in turn, “say that the militias who were recruited from the people but sided with the government are killing them.” The commenter said that it has become impossible to travel from most areas of Gojjam, including Enarj-Enawga Woreda, to Debre-Markos, Bahirdar, and Addis Ababa.

According to the resident’s opinion, it has been a very long time since the national defense army has been stationed in the towns, while Fano has taken control of the rural areas, including the outskirts of the towns. He also said that 16 innocent citizens were killed in the heavy fighting that occurred between the Defense Forces and Fano militants last October 2023 at the birthplace of the current head of state of the Region, Arga Kebede.

In another fight that took place the other day, innocent people, including mentally ill citizens, were killed while they were going to church. This commenter, who says that if the National Defense Forces get injured in the battle, the army will enter into the villages and take revenge on the innocent people. He also said that currently, the National Defense Force is conducting frequent house-to-house searches in Debrework, the capital of the Woreda, and this paved the way for the soldiers to rob the people of their properties, including weapons.

Other residents who were interviewed by the news source indicate that schools, offices, and service-rendering institutions are deserted. People are not sending their children to schools for fear that the defense forces would enter towns at any time. Al-ain called Minister of the Government Communications Affairs, Legesse Tulu (Dr.), to see if he was ready to give responses regarding the questions raised by the commenters, including other related issues. Unfortunately, the minister said that as he was on an urgent matter, it was not the right time for him to host the questions.

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