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Africa6 min read


Ethiopia — civil war, famine, and a country divided

Chasey Pittsley
Jun 29, 2023


Did you know that, as Africa’s oldest country, Ethiopia is mentioned in the King James Bible 37 times? It’s also the only African nation to never fall under colonial rule. Plus, Ethiopia was the first country to discover coffee. Keep that in mind the next time you turn on your Keurig!

With its rich history and diverse cultures, Ethiopia has worked hard to preserve its heritage and unite its people. But in recent years, the large African nation endured a brutal civil war that left the country divided and starving.

A growing unrest

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Ethiopia, once a united nation, is now bitterly divided

Ethiopia is an incredibly diverse nation with around 77 different ethnic groups. Beginning in 1991, the Tigray people, one of these ethnic groups, assumed control of the government even though they only comprise about 6.1% of Ethiopia’s population. The Tigray People’s Liberation Front, or TPLF, worked hard to ensure that every region of the country had the right to govern itself.

Then, in 2018, following mass protests highlighting alleged human rights abuses committed by the TPLF, Abiy Amed was instituted as Ethiopia’s new prime minister. Following his new role as leader, he addressed the public outcry against the TPLF and took steps to disband the group.

A sudden civil war

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Millions of Ethiopian civilians were caught in the middle of a brutal conflict

In the TPLF’s place, Amed formed a new political party, which the TPLF highly opposed. In 2019, he also ended a long-standing conflict with the neighboring nation of Eritrea. Though his reforms as prime minister earned him a good reputation, many people in the Tigray region of Ethiopia believed he wanted to take governing power away from the different regions and ethnic groups of Ethiopia.

So, in 2020, the Tigray people held regional elections against the orders of Amed and the newly reformed government. In response, the Ethiopian government stopped sending money to Tigray.

Tensions were rising. They finally came to a head when the Tigrayan forces allegedly attacked army bases to steal weapons. Shortly after, in November 2020, fighting began between the Ethiopian government and the TPLF.

The aftermath

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Ethiopian refugees desperately need emergency aid

In 2021 alone, 5.1 million Ethiopians had to flee from their homes. Many of them crossed over into Sudan. Massacres resulted in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians. Accusations of ethnic cleansing in the Tigray region were also brought to light.

Then, after two years of fighting, Ethiopia’s civil war came to a fragile and unstable end in November 2022 when the central government and the TPLF both signed a peace agreement.

Though the war has ended, it left Ethiopia divided, and millions of civilians are in urgent need of humanitarian assistance.

Because of the civil war, over 20 million people don’t have a stable food source, and prolonged drought has only worsened the situation. Plus, an ongoing cholera outbreak has affected much of Ethiopia at a time when many medical facilities have been destroyed.

And in regions like Tigray, where fighting was the most severe, humanitarian workers have been unable to send enough supplies.

Although the fighting is over, the war was only the beginning of the nation’s suffering. Now, Ethiopians must work through the aftermath to heal and restore their country.

What you can do

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The people of Ethiopia need your help as they begin to rebuild their lives

It’s easy to get discouraged in the face of a crisis as big as Ethiopia’s. But we can’t forget that nothing is impossible with God, and He often uses us to accomplish His will.

The first (and most important) thing you can do is pray. Time after time and amid countless hardships, our partners all around the world have asked for your prayers. They know that when we cry out to God, He hears us and answers our prayers.  

Second, you can give financially to help displaced people in places like Ethiopia. Civilians impacted by tragedies like war and natural disasters still need food, water, medical care, and other emergency aid to survive.

Your gift will be a lifeline and a powerful example of God’s love.

To learn more about how you can help Ethiopia and other countries in need, click the button below.

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