[dehai-news] (BBC) Thousands flee Ethiopia clashes

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From: Biniam Tekle (biniamt@dehai.org)
Date: Thu Feb 26 2009 - 09:27:07 EST

* Page last updated at 11:24 GMT, Thursday, 26 February 2009
      Thousands flee Ethiopia clashes
*Tens of thousands of people have reportedly fled their homes as a result of
fighting between rival groups in a remote part of southern Ethiopia.*

The BBC's Elizabeth Blunt says 300 people may have been killed - mostly in a
major battle on 5 February.

People are moving away to safer areas following the clash between the Borana
people and the Gheri, a Somali clan.

While the fighting has now stopped, the area is still tense and some reports
estimate more than 100,000 displaced.

Ethiopia's Minister of State Responsible for Emergency and Disaster Planning
Mitiku Kassa acknowledged the existence of the problem but said the figure
of 100,000 was an exaggeration.

The fighting, which took place near the town of Moyale, was so severe that
for a time the main road to the Kenyan border was closed.

Immediately after the peak of the clashes on 5 February, the Gheri people
began moving away from the area in large numbers.

The BBC's Elizabeth Blunt in Addis Ababa says armed conflicts, particularly
over water, are not unusual in this part of southern Ethiopia.

They have been increasing in recent years because of boundary changes, and
because of drought which has made control over wells and water points even
more critical.

A long term observer of the area told the BBC it was tragic that something
like this happens virtually every year, and is now considered almost normal.

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