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Minorities At Risk Project: Home    

Chronology for Afars in Eritrea

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Date(s) Item
1881 - 1890 Italy expanded its colonial sphere to include most of what is now Eritrea.
1941 - 1952 Eritrea was a British protectorate.
1952 By the United Nations, Eritrea became federated with Ethiopia. Muslim Eritrean resistance began. Christians living in the Eritrean highlands (who have historically been closer to Ethiopian groups than to the Muslims in the Eritrean lowlands) supported full integration with Ethiopia.
1958 The Eritrean Liberation Front (ELF), mostly consisting of Muslim separatists, was formed in Cairo by students and workers.
1960 The Ethiopian government assumed full control of education in Eritrea.
Nov 1961 The ELF launched an open rebellion in western Eritrea, armed with weapons brought in from Sudan.
1962 Haile Selassie had the Eritrean Assembly dissolve the federal executive and formally annexed Eritrea as an Ethiopian province.
Feb 1972 Three groups split away from the ELF and established the Eritrean Peoples Liberation Front (EPLF, headed by Issaias Afewerki).
Jan 1989 The EPLF cooperated with the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), a coalition of rebel forces against the Mengistu regime in Ethiopia.
May 1991 Following the defeat of Mengistu, Eritrea functioned as an autonomous region with the EPLF establishing a provisional government The UN Programme for Refugee Reintegration and Rehabilitation of Resettlement Areas of Eritrea was established to resolve the problem of Eritrean refugees and displaced persons.
Jul 1991 The EPLF denied reports that Mengistu's soldiers in Eritrea had been mistreated and, along with Amharas and Tigrean resident in Eritrea, forcibly expelled.
Dec 1992 The significance of the Eritrean Liberation Front (ELF) has diminished greatly. Three ELF factions (the ELF-Central Command, the ELF-Unified Organization and the ELF-Revolutionary Council) joined with the Eritrean Democratic Liberation Movement to form the anti-EPLF National Pact Alliance.
Apr 1993 Eritrean minorities, including Afars and Kunamas, opposed the independence of Eritrea, but the EPLF managed to dismiss its conservative Islamic rivals from office and declare independence following the referendum with 99.8 percent of the population in favor of independence from Ethiopia.
May 24, 1993 The Republic of Eritrea, headed by Issaias Afewerki, was declared. A transitional government, known as the government of Eritrea, was established. Multi-party elections were expected to take place within four years of independence. President Afewerki assumed Chairmanship of the State Council and the National Assembly. The EPLF became the ruling party.
Jun 8, 1993 Afewerki appointed a State Council under which all EPLF elite retained their posts.
Jul 1993 A cooperation agreement was signed between Eritrea and Ethiopia. The two countries agreed to utilize their resources jointly, cooperate in the energy, education, transport, defense and security sectors, and allow the free movement of people. Afewerki visited Saudi Arabia (which supported the ELF during the liberation war) to seek good relations.
Nov 1993 80 percent of the year's harvest in Eritrea was reported to have been destroyed by locusts and other pests as well as untimely rain throughout the country.
Feb 10 - 17, 1994 Delegates to the EPLF's Third Congress adopted a new name for the organization, the People's Front for Democracy and Justice (PFDJ) in order to embrace all "compatriots" rather than just EPLF members and to strengthen national unity and establish a permanent government. The party remained under the chairmanship of President Afewerki.
Mar 4, 1994 The National Assembly approved the formation of a new State Council (cabinet) in order to separate the government and PFDJ executive.
Dec 1994 Eritrea severed diplomatic ties with Sudan, accusing Khartoum of training Muslim fundamentalist rebels and Eritrean insurgents.
1995 Amnesty International reported continued opposition in Western border areas by the Eritrean Islamic Jihad, formed in 1993 and based in Sudan. The U.S. State Department reported the Eritrea had no constitution in 1995 and no provision for holding elections. The National Constitution Commission created in 1994 was scheduled to complete a draft constitution in early 1996, promulgate the document soon afterwards and hold elections by the end of 1997.
Mar 30, 1995 Eritrea accused Sudan of forcing Eritrean young men in refugee camps to join the Sudanese army or leave the country. About 15,000-19,000 Eritrean refugees in Sudan had returned home since repatriation started in November 1994 and harassment was prompting many other young refugees to leave. Khartoum had denied previous Eritrean accusations of mistreating refugees. Nine Italian tourists on a camel trek on the Eritrean border with Ethiopia, where nomadic Afar people resided, were kidnapped by desert tribesmen. They were said to be seized for ransom by Afar tribesmen in the Dankalia region.
Apr 6, 1995 Missing Italian tourists were released and arrived in Addis Ababa. No ransom was paid to secure their freedom. Claudio Pozzati, leader of the tourist group, thanked the Afar tribesmen who eventually handed them over the Ethiopian military.
Apr 6, 1995 Missing Italian tourists were released and arrived in Addis Ababa. No ransom was paid to secure their freedom. They were allegedly kidnapped by members of Ugugumo, an Afar militia in Ethiopia linked to ARDUF. Claudio Pozzati, leader of the tourist group, thanked the Afar tribesmen who eventually handed them over the Ethiopian military.
Apr 13, 1995 Sudanese officials said some 19,000 Eritrean refugees have returned home in the past year and another 6000 would be returning by the end of the month.
Jun 3, 1995 Three Afar movements have co-existed on the Ethiopian-Eritrean border since the Ethiopian Peoples’ Revolutionary Democratic Front took power in Addis Ababa in 1991. They are the Afar Liberation Front, which is headed by Sultan Ali Mirah but split by dissention between the Sultan and his son, the Afar People’s Democratic Organization, a movement set up in Tigre during the 1990s which is close to the government party EPRDF, and the Afar Revolutionary Democratic Union (ARDUF), which is headed by Mahamooda Gaas and is calling for the autonomy of the Danakil region from the Asmara government. ARDUF’s military wing, Ugugumo, also operates in the region. (ABECOR Country Reports)
Jul 1, 1995 Opposition movements from Sudan met in Eritrea’s capital Asmara at the end of June. The conference achieved1 the revival of the National Democratic Alliance, which was joined by new ethnic movements Beja, Four and Nouba. It also led to the creation of a committee which was to prepare the overthrow of the al-Bechir regime and the reorganization of the country. Yet, differences remained among factions within the opposition. Sudanese officials denounced the meeting. The relationship between Sudan and Eritrea remained strained with each country accusing the other of infractions. (Indian Ocean Newsletter)
Dec 1995 Ethiopian forces of the Tigre Region were believed to have operated in collaboration with Eritrean forces to invade the Afar region on the border between the two states. The objective of the operation was reportedly to push the Afar people and Ugugumo militia towards the desert area beyond the demarcation line defining the regions. Major battles reportedly occurred at Aala, Abaala, Awu, Bure, Garmooyta and Magaale. Tigrean forces gained control of a large area, but by February had reportedly been defeated by the rebels.
Dec 15 - 18, 1995 Eritrea fought a three day war with Yemen over possession of disputed islands. It ended with Eritrean forces seizing Hanish Alkabir Island. Neither country had the military capabilities for a prolonged encounter.
Dec 16, 1995 Ethiopia has appealed to Western donors for emergency food aid in order to help feed about 3.2 million people who will face hunger in the upcoming year. The Commissioner for Disaster Prevention, Simon Mechale, said most of the affected people were displaced persons from Eritrea who fled after Eritrean independence. (Reuters)
Apr 17, 1996 Eritrean troops reportedly pushed up to 7 km into Djibouti territory. Approximately 600 Djiboutian troops and tanks were sent north to reinforce the border. Eritrea claims the sultanate of Raheita as its territory. It is an area home to Ahmed Dini, a leader of Afar rebels (FRUD-Dini) that has fought the Djibouti government since 1991. A peace agreement was agreed to by another FRUD faction in 1994.
Apr 26, 1996 Tigrean forces (Ethiopia) have reportedly started employing regular army units in the Afar zone near the Ethiopian-Eritrean border in military operations against Afars and especially ARDUF. Several groups of armed opponents remain active in both Ethiopia and Eritrea. (Arab Press Service Organization)
Apr 27, 1996 Eritrea allegedly shelled an unmanned frontier post in Djibouti at Ras Dumeira. Eritrea is demanding the return of naval vessels belonging to Ethiopia’s fleet which took refuge in Djibouti harbor in 1991 after the collapse of Mengistu Mariam’s regime. Eritrea feels it should get the vessels since Ethiopia no longer has a port. Djibouti used the ships against Afar rebels in its war against FRUD and refuses to return them arguing that its membership in the Arab League and the Eritrean-Yemeni conflict forbids it to supply arms or equipment to either side. (ION)
May 4, 1996 Islamic fundamentalists claimed several attacks against the Eritrean armed forces in recent months. The attacks consisted of ambushes on government vehicles and the placing of land mines. Some injuries and deaths were reported.
May 18, 1996 ARDUF claimed that armed clashes have taken place within recent months between Ethiopian security forces of the Tigre Region and Afar militias and civilians in the border zone. ARDUF also claimed responsibility for armed operations by Ugugumo militia against Eritrean security forces last year. Tigrean forces are thought to have operated with Eritrean forces to invade the Afar regions of each state in December 1995.
May 21, 1996 Eritrea and Yemen signed an agreement to put their dispute over Red Sea islands to arbitration. The agreement was negotiated by France. A court to hear the dispute was later set up in October 1996. Each country is to appoint two judges who will in turn appoint a fifth judge.
Sep 14, 1996 The UNHCR is trying to decide how best to hurdle and impasse over the repatriation of Eritrean refugees in Sudan. There are 120,000 Eritrean refugees in Sudan of whom about 50% want to return to Eritrea. Eritrea refuses to negotiate directly with Sudan while Sudan insists that Eritrea, Sudan and the UNHCR must come to an agreement. The refugees in Sudan provide a living for 2500 Sudanese and have brought in $8-10 million dollars in aid.
Dec 1996 President Afewerki opened a national workshop on a project that has been studying the causes and effects of war in Eritrea. The Eritrean National Coalition, an umbrella organization for several fundamental Islamic opposition movements, claimed responsibility for a number of anti-government operations in the Filfil region.
Jan 1997 Small terrorist groups, Islamic Jihad and ELF-Abdullah Idris, are said to operate in Eritrea from bases in Sudan. Asmara fears the groups may find allies in the Afars in eastern Eritrea.
Mar 14, 1997 Bereket Abte Selassie, chairman of the constitutional commission, said Eritrea’s first constitution is in its final draft form and should be approved by May. It will go to President Afewerki before being ratified by the National Assembly. It was approved by the National Assembly 23 May 1997.
Jun 3, 1997 Eritrea’s single-party transitional assembly held a meeting to prepare the country for elections. Electoral laws should be presented at the 150-seat assembly’s next meeting in five months, but elections will take more than a year to organize.
Jul 1997 Ethiopian troops entered the Eritrean city of Adi Merug, near Badda, in the Afar Administrative Zone. They dismantled the Eritrean administrative establishment in the city and replaced it with their own administration. They continued to occupy Adi Merug until 12 June 1998.
Aug 31, 1997 A new Islamic group, the Oromo-Somali-Afar Liberation Alliance, formed in Somalia. It is seeking to topple the Judeo-Christian hegemony in Ethiopia and Eritrea, and sees Eritrea as a renegade province. OSALA is a coalition of several groups: United Oromo People’s Liberation Front, Oromo Abbo Liberation Front, Somali People’s Liberation Front, Oromo People’s Liberation Organization, Afar People’s Liberation Army, and Islamic Union of Western Somalia.
May 6, 1998 A border war between Eritrea and Ethiopia began. Ethiopia claimed Eritrea started the war by bombing the town of Budie, 20 miles from the border. They are fighting over a 160 square mile stretch of land that Eritrea claims was not definitely settled as belonging to Ethiopia when Eritrea gained its independence in 1993.
Jun 6, 1998 ARDUF (Afar Revolutionary Democratic Union) has been respecting a unilateral cease-fire and has appealed to the Ethiopian and Eritrean governments to negotiate an end to their border dispute. The Afar Liberation Front has warned the Eritrean government to withdraw from Ehtiopian territories.
Jun 11, 1998 Eritrea bombed civilian targets, including a hospital, at Adigrat as both sides fought with tanks and heavy artillery close to Asab. Several hundred people, mainly soldiers, are believed to have been killed in a month of fighting between Ethiopia and Eritrea.
Jun 17, 1998 Eritrea and Ethiopia agreed to peace talks to settle their dispute over territory.
Oct 31, 2004 The chairman of the Red Sea Afar Democratic Organization (RSADO) survives an assassination attempt by the intelligence unit of Eritrea's ruling party. (BBC Monitoring Africa -- Political. 10/31/2004. “Eritrean opposition leader reportedly survives assassination attempt.”)


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Information current as of July 16, 2010