The Vicious Circle of War, Illiteracy and Poverty in Ethiopia

Adapted from St John’s Church

The current situation in my home country is troubling to me personally as I have a firsthand experience of war atrocities during my childhood. I was in elementary school when the radical nationalist group had controlled our village. At that time, all services including schools were closed for the government administration moved to the nearby towns where the federal government had control. So, we were given three options: leave, joined the rebels or drop from school permanently. I was lucky enough to go to the nearby town where my uncle was living and pursued my education. However, most of the kids who had not that chance had been forced to join the rebels or dropped from school for good.

Psychologists and economist could study the factors that drove youths to sign up for the rebels which is very costly endeavor , but in my personal opinion, hopelessness (poverty) and false nationality sentiment used by the the rebels to recruit kids . In Ethiopia civil war the rebels came to power after a prolonged 17 years war and thousands of lives lost in both sides.

However, the majority of Ethiopians have opposed the rebels from the outset for they’ve divided the country in to 9 States (regions) based on ethnic lines a very dangerous politics for country like Ethiopia which has 84 different ethnic groups. The rebels were not able create a stable county because they constituted only only 6 percent of the Ethiopia population. Thus they were ousted by the popular movement in 2018 after they had ruled Ethiopia for 27 years. Unlike most revolutions in Africa, it was the smoothest and bloodless revolution.  However, having an upper hand of the economic and financial resources of the country for 27 years, it was not acceptable by these group , so they started a new war against the federal government in November 2020. Hence, the federal government has won the war in three weeks for over 94 percent of the population supported the government. Like many civil wars in Africa was compounded with atrocities of sexual and human rights violations .

Currently, the fight has still continued and so many lives have been lost in both sides because schools are closed . The rebels have started controlling new villages in recent days and the vicio circles of poverty, lack of education and immigration continues . Schools are completely shutdown for almost a year now in the whole region that the rebels have control.  Many years have passed since I have witnessed the civil war, but my memory is still fresh about the impact of civil war.

Shocking reports are coming out showing rebels are recruiting child soldiers to continue the war.  Given schools are closed, and no services are given to the region, I believe hopelessness and frustration made kids join the rebels. As a result, influx of people have migrated into the neighboring countries.  Ethiopia being home for 115 million people which is equivalent to the population of Kenya (53 million), Sudan (43 million), Somalia (16 million), Eritrea (4 million) and Djibouti (1 million) combined, the international community need to carefully intervene to restore peace and stability for a failed Ethiopia’s could be costly and reversing the situation may not easy in a country like Ethiopia which are divided by ethnic groups.

Worse yet, the farmers in the war area are not able to plow their lands during this critical harvest season. This will lead not another circle of poverty in Ethiopia Specifically, the Tigray region, which is the main base of the rebels has been hit by several recurrent droughts including the one in 1984.

 In summary, the recurrent circle of war and illiteracy have been feeding each other to causes a vicious circle of poverty in Ethiopia for a half-century. One of the primary sources of these problems are the political elites and the primitive political system, which is based on ethnic lines, but its impact is not limited only to those elites who crafted this system, rather passes to the innocent public who have no role at all and to the international community. And I believe the international community could play a positive role by discoursing political parties that recruit their members based on ethnicity.

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