Ethiopian troops hunt down Oromo refugees in Somalia

Ethiopian occupation troops in Somalia are reportedly hunting down Ethiopian Oromo refugees living in the country. Allied Somali militias are also said to be abducting Oromos and handing them over to Ethiopian troops for reward money. Ethiopian forces in Somalia are reportedly claiming that the refugees are all members of the Oromo rebel forces fighting the Ethiopian government.

Oromo leaders in Mogadishu say that up to 40 refugees have been taken away under various circumstances, with the bulk of them handed over to Ethiopian troops. The latest incident occurred in Jowhar, where three Oromo men were forced out of a vehicle and brought Ethiopian troops stationed at the town airport. One of them was shot and killed when he attempted to escape. (Somaaljecel via BBC Monitoring, Jan. 8)

Oromo in Mogadishu are apparently also being swept up in house-to-house searches ostensibly being carried out to seize weapons in restive areas of the city. At least four Oromo were arrested by Ethiopian troops in the Bulo-Hubey area Jan. 13 and taken to unknown location in the capital.

Mohamud Sheik Hassan, the chairman of the Oromo refugees in Somalia condemned the action. “I am asserting that the arrested Oromo men were innocents and refugees in Somalia for long a time. They were not involved in criminal action so it is surprise that the Ethiopians together with Somalia forces are hunting down the name of Oromo people,” said Sheik Hassan. “I see no reason to arrest them in any way, they are refugees.”

Sheik Hassan appealed to the transitional Somali government to stop the targeting of Oromo people. “Your responsibility is not to kill us but to help us since we are under you refuge,” he said. At least 40 Oromo men are now being held in Mogadishu by the Ethiopian forces, Hassan said. (SomaliNet, Jan. 14)

A Jan. 13 statement by the Oromo Relief Association read: “Over the last four decades thousands of Oromos who fled from successive repressive regimes in Ethiopia have sought refugee in Somalia. Some of them have settled successfully among the Somali population and many others continue to live in refugee camps. After the collapse of the central Somali state and the subsequent withdrawal of the diplomatic community and UN agencies, the security and wellbeing of these refugees as well as the Somali people have been in grave danger. Many were killed, robbed and displaced by armed groups. Several were caught in the crossfire and lost their lives and livelihood… The Tigrean-led minority government of Ethiopia is persecuting these same refugees who had fled from the gruesome atrocities committed under its administration. Refugees have become target of a witch-hunt by the invading Ethiopian army as well as some warlords. Last week a young Oromo refugee was lynched in Jowhar by gangs of soldiers affiliated with the warlord Mohamed Dheere. To make matters worse, over 40 Oromo refugees have been detained, a few in Puntland, and delivered to the occupying TPLF [Tigray People’s Liberation Front, i.e. Ethiopian government] troops.” (Sudan Tribune, Jan. 14)

See our last posts on Somalia and the Oromo.