Implication of the Afar -somali Pastoralist Conflict on the Socio -economic Rights of Residents in Afar Region Zone Three

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Afar and Somali are neighboring communities who predominantly practice pastoralism and share a number of social, economic, spiritual and cultural similarities. As pastoralists they often share the same grazing land and water points. Especially during drought seasons that cause serious scarcity of those natural resources vital for livestock consumption, clashes between herdsmen is inevitable fact. However, Afar – Somali pastoralists have had traditional dispute resolving mechanisms managed under the auspices of elders and clan leaders of both communities. Nonetheless, although Afar respondents relate starting of the serious conflict back to the period when construction of the Addis – Djibouti railway line had been conducted by a French company which they noted that it had militarily trained and recruited Issa/Somali members for security purposes which later helped them to wage serious attack against the Afar communities and similarly entrance of Italy to Ogaden - Ethiopia via Somaliland and its relation with the Issa/Somali again, in the last two decades the trend of the conflict has completely changed its dimensions. After the Derg regime and coming of new federal system, intervention of regional administrations in the Afar – Somali pastoralist conflict has increasingly grown from time to time. The Afar zone three which is a home for Awash and Gewane rivers and pastoralist and non pastoralist communities, holding great potential for water and grazing activities vital for livestock production is the center for the conflict between Afar and Somali pastoralist communities. Afar elders noted that the Somali (Issa and Hawiya) communities not only relentlessly covet to access water and pasture but also to control this resource rich areas and trading route and establish permanent settlements and institutions within the Afar region. Accordingly the perpetual, frequent and destructive nature of the conflict in the study area causes a number of social, economical and psychological impacts on residents. The Afars relentless efforts to expel Somali pastoralist communities from the Afar region on the one hand and the Somalis interest to occupy the Awash River basin water and grazing resources on the other have made the conflict and tension of the study area remain constant. As a result, violent killings, body injury, displacement of residents, livestock raiding and destruction of property are common phenomenon in the study area. Such displacements and injuries further resulted in violation of residents’ right to housing, freedom of movement, right to food, right to education, work, health and other related socioeconomic rights.