Genocidal Warfare in North‐east Africa

Alex de Waal

in The Oxford Handbook of Genocide Studies

Published in print April 2010 | ISBN: 9780199232116
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in History

Genocidal Warfare in North‐east Africa

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  • History
  • Genocide and Ethnic Cleansing
  • African History



The modern history of the Horn of Africa is marked by protracted violence. The two powerful states of the region, Ethiopia and Sudan, are hybrid imperial creations from African and European colonialisms. For centuries, the dominant states of the Ethiopian highlands and the Nile Valley have been predators on the peoples of their peripheries, inflicting slavery, subjugation, and massacre upon them. The other states of the Horn, Eritrea and Somalia were forged out of resistance to the centres of state power, and each exists insofar as it can dispense violence. This article consists of four sections. The first outlines the key themes. A second part briefly surveys the position of the Horn of Africa within scholarly and legal approaches to genocide. The major part outlines twenty-two episodes of extreme violence, including mass killing and group-targeted repression, over the past half century. The final section draws some general conclusions.

Keywords: genocide; mass killing; group-targeted repression; Somalia; Horn of Africa; Ethiopia; Sudan; colonialism

Article.  9068 words. 

Subjects: History ; Genocide and Ethnic Cleansing ; African History

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