The non-profit Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO) released a report on Thursday indicating that the war in Ethiopia, which was already the third deadliest conflict in 2021 with more than 100,000 fatalities, escalated to become the most deadly conflict in the world in 2022. The year witnessed the highest number of battle-related deaths from state-based conflicts since 1984, with over 204,000 fatalities recorded worldwide.
The report emphasized that the wars in Ethiopia and Ukraine accounted for a staggering 89% of the battle-related deaths during 2022. While the war in Ukraine garnered significant international attention, the parallel conflict between the Ethiopian government and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) proved to be even more lethal. According to estimates from the Uppsala Conflict Data Program (UCDP), about 81,500 battle-related deaths occurred in Ukraine, but an alarming 100,200 deaths resulted from the Ethiopian conflict.
The PRIO report highlighted the difficulty in documenting war crimes and casualties in Ethiopia, stating that the figures provided should be considered a conservative baseline. The total number of casualties during the two-year war has not been officially disclosed by either the Ethiopian government or the TPLF. However, former Nigerian president, Olusegun Obasanjo, who served as the chief mediator of the conflict, asserted in January of this year that the war may have claimed as many as 600,000 lives.
PRIO also shed light on another conflict within Ethiopia, between the government and the Oromo Liberation Army (OLA). This particular conflict was one of seven worldwide that increased in severity in 2022, according to the top ten list. A total of 55 conflicts were recorded during the year, with eight crossing the threshold of 1,000 battle-related deaths, thereby being classified as wars. Both Ukraine and Ethiopia featured prominently in this alarming list.
Moreover, the year 2022 marked a significant shift in the global conflict landscape, with a dramatic change in the location and intensity of hostilities. Countries like Yemen, Afghanistan, and Syria, which had previously been associated with high numbers of battle-related deaths, were overshadowed. In 2021, for the third consecutive year, Afghanistan’s conflict between the Government and the Taliban had the most battle-related deaths, while Yemen’s conflict between the Government and the Forces of Hadi ranked as the second deadliest.
As the world grappled with the stark reality of the Ethiopian war’s devastating consequences, a ray of hope emerged on November 2, 2022, when the conflict finally came to an end. The warring parties, the Government of Ethiopia and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), signed a crucial cessation of hostilities deal in Pretoria, South Africa. The peace agreement marked a turning point in the conflict, with both sides committing to stop the war and embrace a path of reconciliation.
The signing of the cessation of hostilities deal brought hope for an end to the bloodshed and suffering that had plagued the nation for two long years. The international community lauded the efforts of all parties involved in reaching this milestone and expressed hope for a lasting peace that would ensure the protection and well-being of civilians caught in the crossfire.