Explosive Violence in Ethiopia in 2022

AOAV recorded 1,138 civilian casualties of explosive violence in Ethiopia last year, of which 632 were killed and 506 injured, across 33 incidents. This represents both the highest level of reported incidents and of civilian casualties in the country since AOAV began recording in 2010. The civil war, which began in November 2020 and seemingly drew to a close with a peace deal in November 2022, caused civilian casualties to increase sharply between 2020 and 2021, rising by 1,462% from 34 to 531. The ongoing violence throughout 2022, marked predominantly by air strikes directed at villages, caused a further spike in civilian casualties, which increased by 114% between 2021 and 2022. Civilians represented 99.7% of all 1,141 casualties of explosive violence recorded in Ethiopia last year.

In both 2021 and 2022, air-launched weapons caused most of the civilian casualties in the country. Last year, they accounted for 67% (765) of civilians killed and injured across 23 incidents, while ground-launched weapons accounted for 32% (362) across nine incidents. Both air and ground attacks consequently had a high rate of civilian harm, killing and injuring on average 33.2 and 40.2 civilians per incident respectively. In 2021, air-launched weapons caused 509 civilian casualties, and harmed on average 46.2 civilians per incident, while ground-launched weapons caused 22 civilian casualties with an average of 5.5 civilians harmed per incident. AOAV recorded one IED attack in Ethiopia last year, which resulted in 11 civilian casualties, when an IED was detonated at a market in Desi. 

Echoing the patterns AOAV recorded in 2021, state actors caused 71% (806) of civilian casualties in Ethiopia last year, and were the reported perpetrators of 82% (27) of incidents. Specifically, Ethiopian air-strikes caused 38% (436) of civilian casualties, while air-strikes by unknown state actors caused 28% (323). Eritrean and Ethiopian ground attacks resulted in 41 civilian casualties. Non-state actors caused 28% (322) of civilian casualties across four incidents, with the Oromo Liberation Army (OLA) causing the majority of these, killing and injuring 300 villagers in an artillery and firearm attack on villages in Wollega. 

Tigray remained the most affected region for civilian casualties of explosive violence last year, as 53% (607) of civilian harm occurred there. This is up from the 509 civilian casualties recorded in the region in 2021. AOAV further recorded 300 civilian casualties in Wollega, followed by 213 in Oromia, 17 in Amhara, and one in Bakool. 

2020 was the first year in which AOAV recorded incidents of state-perpetrated explosive violence in Ethiopia. Consequently, following the ending of open hostilities in Tigray it is likely the region will experience decreasing state and non-state explosive violence in 2023, or decreased reporting on such incidents. However, in Oromia, the OLA remains actively opposed to the state, so the region could continue to experience both state and non-state explosive attacks.