After 16 months, one of Africa’s deadliest wars has yielded an opportunity to build peace, as Ethiopia’s government and the Tigray Defense Forces have declared a truce to allow for the humanitarian aid needed to prevent mass starvation across the country’s northeast. Ethiopians and their supporters must seize this moment to consolidate a durable cease-fire and end blockages to humanitarian assistance. This effort should open a path to a broad national dialogue to set a shared vision for Ethiopia’s future, growth potential and long-term stability. But the essential first steps are complex and will need to be taken carefully and swiftly.
Since November of 2020, Ethiopia has been suffering from a deadly internal conflict that has claimed an estimated 50,000 lives and displaced over two million. The United States, the African Union and others in the region have attempted to secure a cease-fire between the federal government and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) but have made little headway. In contrast, China has remained mainly on the sidelines of peacebuilding efforts even though Ethiopia — the second most populous country in Africa — is a centerpiece of its Africa policy.
The United States’ top priority is the “unity and integrity of the Ethiopian state” and its “commitment to the Ethiopian people,” U.S. Special Envoy for the Horn of Africa Jeffrey Feltman said at the U.S. Institute of Peace in Washington on November 2. Noting that the average civil war lasts 20 years, Feltman said a war that long would be disastrous for Ethiopia and urged all parties to the conflict to “give peace a chance.”
USIP’s Women Preventing Violent Extremism (WPVE) program aims to shape national policies and community approaches to countering violent extremism in the Horn of Africa and the Sahel. USIP does this by empowering women-led organizations and building local capacity that fosters collaboration between community-level activists and national-level policymakers.