Organized Violence in the Horn of Africa

Human Wrongs Watch

For decades, the countries in the Horn of Africa—Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia—have been plagued by organized violence, says the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).

*A mass grave for children in Dadaab. Photo credit: Oxfam East Africa.

While all these countries experienced state-based armed conflict, non-state conflict or one-sided violence against civilians during the decade 2001–10, non-state conflicts were by far the most common, SIPRI says in its Yearbook 2012.

There were 77 non-state conflicts (35 per cent of the global total) in the Horn of Africa. State-based armed conflict was less common: only 5 were recorded in 2001–10. Acts of one-sided violence were committed by 6 actors, the report adds.

Growing Tendency To Become Military Engaged

“States in the region have demonstrated a growing tendency to become militarily engaged in neighboring countries.”

For instance, both Ethiopia and Kenya have at times sent troops in support of the Somali Transitional Federal Government (TFG) in its conflict with al-Shabab, which has in turn received arms and training from Eritrea.

Patterns of Organized Violence, 2001–2010

In previous editions of the SIPRI Yearbook, the Uppsala Conflict Data Program (UCDP) presented information on patterns of ‘major armed conflicts’.

To provide a broader perspective on organized violence, the focus has now expanded to include three types of organized violence: (state-based) armed conflicts, non-state conflicts and one-sided violence (against civilians).

Over the period 2001–10 there were 69 armed conflicts and 221 non-state conflicts and 127 actors were involved in one-sided violence, says the report, and adds “Thus, in total, there were more than 400 violent actions that each resulted in the deaths of more than 25 people in a particular year.”

No Dramatic Decline

The extent of organized violence at the end of the decade was lower than at its beginning, although the decline was not dramatic.

Moreover, while in the 1990s there were wide fluctuations in the number of conflicts, this pattern was not repeated in the 2000s, indicating that the downward trend may be a promising sign of future developments.

*A mass grave for children in Dadaab. Photo credit: Oxfam East Africa | Wikimedia Commons.

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2012 Human Wrongs Watch

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