EVN, Oct. 3–The ban on road travel from the Amhara region to the capital city of Addis Ababa has been reinstated, causing concern and inconvenience for residents of the Amhara region. This prohibition, in place for over a year, was previously lifted in response to public outcry and pressure from human rights advocates.

The ban comes amid escalating conflict between the Fano militia and government forces in the Amhara region, resulting in travelers being turned away at checkpoints, as reported by Wazema.

Wazema quoted its correspondent, who witnessed ethnic Amhara travelers attempting to cross the Debre Brehan Addis Ababa road, a vital route connecting northern Ethiopia with the capital, being compelled to halt their journeys at Sheno and return to their places of origin. Security forces and armed militias, dressed in uniforms reminiscent of the former Oromia region special forces, enforce this ban. They intercept vehicles and identify travelers with Amhara region identification cards, instructing them to turn back.

Witnesses observed some individuals stranded at the scene, while others reluctantly made their way back to Debre Berhan, near Sheno. Some travelers, unable to afford the return trip due to financial constraints, shared their plight. Despite their pleas, the on-site security forces refused to allow them to continue.

A Wazema reporter conducted interviews with affected individuals. One young man from Dese, residing in Addis Ababa, recounted his experience of being denied passage, citing his sister’s illness as the reason for his journey. He described how, despite presenting both his driver’s license and a valid, renewed Amhara region ID, he and his companions were denied entry.

Another individual, facing a similar ordeal while accompanying his ailing sister to a medical appointment in Addis Ababa, expressed frustration at being turned away. Insiders allege that government security forces arbitrarily enforce travel restrictions, affecting various travelers.

An anonymous individual from Addis Ababa, whose university student sibling has been affected by the travel ban, stated that even students traveling to their respective universities encounter these restrictions. They explained that the student’s route to their university, passing through Addis Ababa, led them to arrange air transportation instead.

The Gojam-Addis Ababa travel route, previously subject to limitations, has also been disrupted following the outbreak of conflict in the Amhara region. Reports indicate that intermediaries have emerged to facilitate travel between Addis Ababa and the Amhara region, charging exorbitant fees for passengers traveling between Goha Tsion and Dejen.

Critics argue that the government’s repeated bans infringe upon citizens’ constitutional right to freedom of movement, as outlined in Article 32 of the Ethiopian Constitution. This constitutionally granted right allows all Ethiopians to move freely and acquire property in any part of the country of their choosing. Human rights organizations, including the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission and the Ethiopian Human Rights Council, have called on the government to respect citizens’ freedom of movement.

Despite multiple requests for comment, both the Oromia State Government Communications and the Oromia Police have not responded to the matter. In previous explanations for the bans, security concerns were cited as the primary justification. However, it is essential to note that human rights organizations have confirmed that these bans have resulted in widespread restrictions on travelers, including those with medical conditions, raising significant concerns about human rights violations.