(Oromcentre, Melboure, 20 May 2012) At least half of the more than 2.5 million refugees fleeing Ethiopia are Oromo.
According to Cultural Survival, contrary to the received impression, many Ethiopian refugees are not direct victims of the border dispute between Ethiopia and Somalia, but rather of internal ethnic conflict.Oromo refugees are beginning to arrive in the United States.
From August 14 to 21, the 7th Congress of the Union of Oromo Students in North America met in Washington, D.C. About 50 Oromo attended the meeting, some ten percent of all Oromo in the United States.
Through interviews with recently arrived refugees, about a third of the Congress’ participants, information was gathered about why they left, the particular problems with host governments and international relief agencies given their unrecognized status as an ethnic majority fleeing political persecution.
The roots of the present Oromo-Amhara conflict lie in the late 1800s when the independent Oromo nation was conquered by Abyssinians who were creating an empire. The Oromo have always viewed the Amhara Emperor Menelik and his successors, backed by European powers, as colonizers. His retainers acquired rights over the most productive Oromo lands and were allowed to exact tribute from even greater areas. Written Oromo texts were destroyed and education of Oromos was conducted in Amharic.