22/04/02 Afar-Issa Clash Causes Fuel Shortage Panis Extrait d’Addis Tribune (Addis Ababa)

April 19, 2002

Posted to the web April 19, 2002

Fighting between
Afar and Issa communities along the main Djibouti highway, from Gadamaitu
up to Giwane resulted in fuel shortage panic in the capital last week
and early this week. Long queues were observed in the capital until
early this week. Fuel truck drivers that shuttle between Addis and
Djibouti last week refused to go beyond Awash without army protection
after one driver was killed in the shoot-out between the two communities.
In areas like Awash, fuel attendants said they had no fuel to sell
for three days last week.

The Ethiopian
petroleum Enterprise, however, said there is no shortage of fuel and
there is enough stock at its depots. Trucks are now shuttling between
Addis and Djibouti, according to the Enterprise.

For the last decade
the Issas with their herds of livestock have encroached further and
further into Afar territory, and have allegedly been responsible for
several robberies on vehicles along the main road. The Afars say the
government has generally been sympathetic to the Issas, with an eye
to maintaining good relations with the government in Djibouti, which
is dominated by ethnic Issas.

The various peace
committees set up to deal with the problem of the Issa incursions
have generally ruled in the Issas’ favour, and year by year have allowed
the Issas to move further and further into Afar territory. The Afar
now regard themselves at war, with Sultan Ali Mirah and others last
week contributing food for the fighters defending Afar land, sources
told Addis Tribune. Meetings were held recently in Awash town between
Afars and elders from the pastoralist Oromo communities, the Kireyou
and Ito, to establish a common defense line, to prevent the Issas
from encroaching further, the same sources said.

"We the Afar
have responded to every call for Ethiopia’s defense, but when we are
invaded we have been left to deal with the invaders by ourselves.
The Djibouti government very well armed them, with heavy and modern
weapons against our Klashinkovs. The government is making a very big
mistake to take the side of the Issas, and to allow them to move further
and further into our land. Next year they will be in Addis Ababa,
and maybe that’s when people will wake up," said an Afar in Awash
town explaining why they feel let down.