The security crisis in Ethiopia

Unpacking an ongoing issue that is under reported in Western media

The ongoing security crisis in Ethiopia is not often discussed on the news or other forms of media. The news often shows content that they feel is necessary to share. The outcome is that the news shared is often subjective. The topic of the security crisis in Ethiopia has been suppressed, and because of this, it is hard to determine where to find accurate information on the topic. There are many consequences of suppressing information on a crisis that is characterized by violence, terrorism, food insecurity, poverty, and political instability. Many tactics are in place to conceal knowledge about the crisis in Ethiopia, and other wars globally that involve countries that are primarily racialized or that are considered “less developed.” The conflict in Ethiopia involves other countries, including Eritrea, Sudan, South Sudan, Kenya and Somalia, which are all populated primarily by Black people. To bring more attention to this topic we must spread information on what is happening in Ethiopia and continue to critically discuss the subjectivity and bias in our news and media sources.

The suppression of information on the security crisis in Ethiopia is extremely obvious due to the lack of information available online. When looking for information on this topic, it is difficult to find current and accurate information, especially from databases. Ethiopia has undergone many different forms of political leadership, which is important to acknowledge when discussing the current conflict. As my knowledge mobilization project is only addressing the ongoing crisis in 2023, I will only discuss information from the fall of the communist government in 1991. Tolera (2023) acknowledges how Ethiopia is not only undergoing civil unrest but also facing conflict at neighbouring borders such as Somalia and Eritrea. 

When looking at the Canadian Travel Advisories from the Government of Canada, Ethiopia is assessed in the orange category, which entails avoiding all non-essential travel. It notes this is because of “civil unrest, violence, and armed conflict”. Some areas of Ethiopia fall under the red category, which asks to avoid all travel. This includes the Northern areas Tigray, Benishangul-Gumuz, and Amhara; central regions Oromia and Gambella, and 30 km from these regions. The bordering countries that it notes to stay clear 50km of include Eritrea, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan and Sudan. The red categories state that these areas have risks of terrorism, kidnapping, landmines, violence, airstrikes, armed conflict and more, according to Global Affairs Canada. How is it that with such strict travel advisories in place for Ethiopia, there is no discussion of the events happening?

The consequences of not knowing the full story are plentiful. For one, family members who have loved ones living in Ethiopia will not know the true quantity of crime and violation of human rights that is occurring. My grandmother keeps in touch with many of her family and friends in Ethiopia and she is still ill informed on the topic. Additionally, the concealment of this topic gives further false narratives to the public. With the privilege of living in a “developed country” like Canada, we can fall into a state of ignorance and can carry on without knowing about crises like these. Another consequence of concealing the full story is that the people who are suffering are not receiving the awareness and support to help relieve them from the situation. If more people were aware of the ongoing conflict in Ethiopia, they could share information, and rally for relief for the country. 

Ethiopia is the second most populous country in Africa, which further makes us question the silence involving this issue. I found a news article from November 28, 2020, stating, “in June, the Biden administration informed Congress that Ethiopia is no longer engaging in a pattern of ‘gross violations of human rights’” (Tenugu, 2023). The article also notes how the Ethiopian Prime Minister received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2019 for his efforts in addressing the border conflicts with Eritrea. This recognition applauds him, despite the civil conflict he has caused between government troops and civilians. The civilians of the Amhara region have been arrested or even killed by government drone strikes (Tenugu, 2023). This news article is the most recent one listed on Google from a North American source that outlines the concealment of information on this topic. The dominant discourses associated with this situation neglect the consequences and realities for people involved (both directly and indirectly). Silence is the main mechanism being used to hide the reality of the situation. This tactic alone can be categorized as propaganda. It could also be considered denialism as much of the information that is broadcasted does not elaborate on the extent of the conflict. Tolera (2023) states, “the government’s response to protests and civil unrest has been characterized by political repression, with opposition leaders, journalists, and activists arrested and detained”. This emphasizes how it is not only the Western world that is avoiding the discussion of Ethiopia’s civil unrest, but it is also the people in power in Ethiopia that are suppressing knowledge by detaining people who stand up against the violence happening.

To begin bringing more attention to this topic, the Western world needs to share information on the topic on every platform possible including the news, social media, radio and wherever it can get attention. Ethiopians are being silenced within Ethiopia; however, Canada and the United States have the political power to create a paradigm shift. Infographics such as the one I created could be the start to bringing awareness to the ongoing crisis in Ethiopia. The infographic can be shared as a poster in public spaces, on social media, or broadcasted elsewhere. The distribution of the information alone is the starting point for analyzing why this type of coverage is being discouraged in our media. The infographic can also be used as a reference to guide people to more accurate information on the topic.

Although we may never be able to piece together all the information of the conflict in Ethiopia because of how much misinformation and propaganda is being distributed, we can at the very least address the fact that a crisis is happening. Having a critical lens on the type of media we see is important to be able to distinguish the racism and western-centricsm that is happening on a regular basis. Although it may be a bold statement, our news is whitewashed, and it can be clearly demonstrated by the lack of coverage of the Ethiopian conflict, and African countries in general. Informing the public of the harms of suppressing this type of knowledge is the first step in facilitating change for the individuals affected. By disseminating knowledge regarding the conflict in Ethiopia, there can be more awareness and support for those who are living through the ongoing violence in their country.



Global Affairs Canada. (2023, November 15). Travel advice and advisories for Ethiopia. 

Tegenu, M. (2023, November 28). The US can no longer ignore Ethiopia’s human rights crisis. The Hill. 

Tolera, M. (2023). Security-Development Nexus: A review of Ethiopia’s security challenges since 2018. Sprin Multidisciplinary Journal in Pashto, Persian and English1(01), 40–47.

Article submitted by Beyoncé Gibbons

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Related Articles