Rising Kidnapping Crisis in Ethiopia’s Oromia Region: A Growing Threat to Civilians and Foreign Workers

fighting Kidnapping

In Ethiopia, particularly in the Oromia region, kidnapping for ransom has escalated dramatically, affecting civilians and even posing threats near Addis Ababa.

A significant case involved  a pregnant woman kidnapped by the Oromo Liberation Army (OLA) and released only after her family paid a substantial ransom.

This incident reflects the shift in Oromia’s kidnappings from politically motivated to financially driven crimes, now targeting a wider range of individuals, including police, government officials, and foreigners.

The rise in kidnappings is negatively impacting foreign investments and posing risks to both local and foreign workers, leading the British embassy to issue travel warnings.

The Ethiopian Human Rights Council has reported severe torture and inhumane treatment of abductees. These kidnappings have become complex, with various actors motivated by different goals, and are occurring amidst increasing regional conflicts under Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s administration.

Cross-border abductions and the involvement of financial institutions in facilitating kidnappings have further complicated the issue. For instance, Ethiopian Electric Power reported the kidnapping of six employees with a ransom demand of 10 million birr each.

Additionally, public officials and employees of international companies have been targeted, with outcomes ranging from ransom payments to murder.

Despite efforts to prosecute these crimes under anti-terrorism and criminal laws, effective investigations and strategies to combat these crimes remain insufficient.

The fear of police collusion also hinders reporting, highlighting the need for comprehensive investigations and a focused strategy to address these crimes.

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