Ethnic Violence in Ethiopia Stoked by Social Media from U.S.

Displaced Somali at a camp on the outskirts of the city of Dire Dawa in eastern Ethiopia. Credit: James Jeffrey/IPS

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia, Feb 11 2018 (IPS) – In Ethiopia social media is a double-edged sword: capable of filling a sore need for more information but also of pushing the country toward even greater calamity.

Thousands of Ethiopians remain displaced after ethnic violence last September drove an estimated 200,000 to 400,000 from their homes in the neighbouring Oromia and Somali regions.

From many of the displaced and those assisting them came accusations of the ethnic unrest being leveraged for political ends, suspected perpetrators ranging from powerbrokers at the regional and federal government levels, all the way to the likes of Ethiopian cab drivers coming off shifts in Washington, D.C., in the United States to Tweet ethnic-laced vitriol on their smartphones.

“It’s political and is hidden—this violence is all man-made,” says Abdishakar Adam, a Somali regional zone vice administrator, at a camp housing ethnic Somali who had to flee Oromia. “Federalism isn’t the problem—people are doing what they are being told to do on social media.”

Read more at IPS

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