Ethiopia’s Federal Security Council announced on Tuesday, July 23, that federal security forces will temporarily be deployed into Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples' region (SNNPR) following recent violence in the area. Federal forces will be responsible for providing security in the city of Hawassa as well as Melga and Yirgalem districts, where violent protests were held on Thursday, July 18, and Friday, July 19. Local officials and activists have issued conflicting casualty figures, with between 17 and 34 people reportedly killed in the fighting.
Heightened security measures are expected in SNNPR in the coming days and additional related protests are possible. Further violence between demonstrators and security forces cannot be ruled out.
Members of the Sidama ethnic group were planning a meeting on Thursday, July 18, to declare the formation of a new region in Ethiopia out of current SNNPR territory when police prevented the meeting from taking place. Protests were then held on July 18 and Friday, July 19, with some resulting in violence.
SNNPR is made up of numerous ethnic groups, including the Sidama who make up the largest group. Concerns have risen that if the Sidama are granted their own federal state, other ethnic groups will also try to do so, as an increase in ethnic-based unrest have been reported throughout the country in the past months.
Individuals in Ethiopia, and particularly those in Hawassa, are advised to monitor the situation, avoid all protests and demonstrations due to potential violence, anticipate heightened security measures and transportation disruptions near large public gatherings, and adhere to instructions issued by local authorities and their home governments.
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