Ethiopia stampede deaths

This item appears on page 16 of the December 2016 issue.

In the city of Bishoftu, Oromia, Ethiopia, about 25 miles south of Addis Ababa, hundreds of thousands of people gathered for a religious festival on Oct. 2. When protests broke out, with some people throwing stones and bottles, preventing community leaders from speaking, security forces responded with tear gas. This caused panic in the crowd, resulting in a stampede and the deaths of at least 52 people, many of whom suffocated after being driven into a ravine.

Protests against the Ethiopian government by the Oromo and Amharic groups have taken place since November 2015, primarily in the Oromia, Amhara and Gondar regions. In that time, more than 400 people have been killed and thousands more have been detained.

The US Department of State cautions travelers to defer all nonessential travel to Ethiopia due to ongoing unrest and warns that the Ethiopian government has declared a State of Emergency. Under the decree, individuals may be arrested, without a court order, for violating curfew or for activities that otherwise may be considered routine, such as accessing or communicating on certain media, attending gatherings or engaging with certain foreign governments or organizations.