The conflict in Ethiopia is sparking a lot of discussion among the country’s diaspora, and those who share their views online have noticed they often get strong pushback from people who hold opposing opinions.
In some cases, the division is ruining friendships. More than 2.5 million Ethiopians live abroad. Besides sending home billions of dollars in remittances, the diaspora has for years been actively involved in organizing and leading online campaigns.
Azeb Madebo is a PhD candidate at the University of Southern California focusing on Ethiopia diaspora and media. Madebo says the diaspora can bring awareness to problems, but that these social media campaigns often rely on simplified narratives misrepresenting complex realities. Tensions between the central government and the northern region escalated two weeks ago after forces from the TPLF attacked an army base in what it called an act of self-defense.
Neighboring countries are now also involved after the TPLF fired missiles on Eritrea’s capital city, Asmara. More than 20,000 people have fled to Sudan seeking safety.
Meanwhile, the Prime Minister has said a military operation against rebel forces in the northern Tigray region is entering its “final phase”.
BBC reports that Abiy Ahmed said a three-day deadline given for Tigray’s forces to surrender had now expired.
Hundreds of people have reportedly died in nearly two weeks of clashes between the rebels and the federal army. At least 27,000 people have fled to Sudan.
The UN has said a “full-scale humanitarian crisis” is unfolding.