top of page

Overlooked Conflicts: Ongoing Violence at the End of 2023

Although the Ukraine-Russia war and the Gaza war have dominated the news, other countries have been suffering violent conflicts recently. In several pieces this year, I highlighted contemporary wars and other conflicts that are too often overlooked. As 2023 ends, here is an update of the status of these conflicts.

NOTE: This piece discusses sexual violence and other human rights violations.


Ethiopia’s bloody civil war between the central government and rebel forces in the northern Tigray region ended in a government victory in November 2022. This resolution came after violence that may have claimed more than half a million lives. The war’s end has not brought peace, though.

Ethnic conflict has been an ongoing problem in Ethiopia. The civil war pitted the Tigrayan ethnic group against the Amhara and the Oromos, the country’s two largest ethnic groups and the key supporters of the central government led by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed

The war’s end sparked a new conflict between Abiy’s government and the Amhara, many of whom felt the civil war ended on terms unfavorable to them. Violence broke out this year when Amhara militias that had fought in the war refused to disarm. The government responded with a military crackdown and the violence escalated over the summer, threatening several major cities. While the conflict has not become a new civil war, Ethiopia’s stability remains shaky.

To restore national unity, Abiy might resort to war against an external enemy. He has publicly expressed a desire for landlocked Ethiopia to have access to the Red Sea, raising tensions with neighboring Eritrea. Abiy denies plans to invade another country, but both Ethiopia and Eritrea have reportedly moved troops closer to their shared border. (Adding to the hostility is the fact that the Eritrean government supported Abiy’s government during the civil war and was disappointed by being excluded from the war’s settlement.)

Hunger and deprivation are major problems, especially in post-war Tigray. Earlier in 2023, local researchers identified hunger as the leading cause of death in Tigray. Over 5 million Tigrayans and roughly 20 million Ethiopians nationwide need humanitarian aid.

Access to humanitarian aid is uncertain, however. The UN World Food Programme suspended aid to Ethiopia for part of 2023 because of concerns over food aid being stolen. The United States similarly has suspended food aid to Ethiopia over theft concerns, although American food aid goes to Ethiopian refugees in other countries.


Haiti continues to suffer from the collapse of its national government. Violent criminal gangs now dominate the country, especially the capital of Port-au-Prince. The gangs have grown, expanded the areas under their control, and formed alliances: seven major gang coalitions compete for control of Haiti.

Gang violence against Haitians includes extortion, kidnapping, and punishing those suspected of cooperating with rival gangs. The United Nations reports that thousands have been killed and hundreds kidnapped in 2023. Gangs use murder and sexual violence to assert their control; women, girls and LGBTQI+ people are particularly targeted for sexual violence. 

Gang violence has disrupted vital aspects of Haitian life. Criminal control of roads as well as violence in a key farming region have interfered with access to food and increased food prices. Almost half of Haitians are estimated to be food insecure. Other gang activity has disrupted fuel supplies.

Haiti’s corrupt and understaffed police forces usually cannot cope with the violence: dozens of officers have been killed and police stations sacked by gangs. Informal citizen militias have arisen to combat gangs and may have had limited success in curbing gang violence. A more official response is a plan for UN peacekeepers to deploy to Haiti. A long-term solution to Haiti’s chaos remains elusive, though.


Since April, Sudan has been wracked by violent conflict between two factions of the military, which has ruled the country since 2021. Fighting has centered around the capital, Khartoum, and the western Darfur region. One faction, a paramilitary group known as the RSF, has a strong presence in both these areas, while the traditional military dominates the rest of Sudan. 

Thousands have been killed and millions displaced by the conflict. The United Nations estimates about 4.8 million people have been internally displaced and another 1.2 million have fled the country. About 18 million urgently need food aid.  

RSF violence in Darfur threatens to repeat the terrible crisis that occurred there in the early 2000s. The RSF has reportedly targeted the Masalit ethnic group in Darfur. A November RSF attack on a displaced persons camp reportedly led to the killing of six Masalit leaders and their families as well as hundreds of others. As one survivor recounted, “They went house to house to search for men and killed each one they found.” The discovery of mass graves in Darfur points to similar killings in the region.

The African Union, Saudi Arabia, and the United States have coordinated talks between the warring factions to facilitate the delivery of humanitarian aid. A resolution of the conflict is not in sight, though. 

Ways Forward

These conflicts require concerted diplomatic efforts to broker ceasefires among the different factions. They also require extensive humanitarian aid. 

The United States can play a role in both these efforts, as well as in providing a haven for refugees from the conflicts. The Biden administration should expand the number of Haitians allowed into the United States under the current parole program.

American citizens should contact President Biden by phone and email and contact their representatives in the House and Senate to urge them to take the above steps.

Those wishing to financially help people affected by these conflicts can donate to Action against Hunger, Catholic Relief Services, Hope for Haiti, Islamic Relief USA, and the Mennonite Central Committee, all of which work in one or more of these countries.



Disclaimer: The views presented in the Rehumanize Blog do not necessarily represent the views of all members, contributors, or donors. We exist to present a forum for discussion within the Consistent Life Ethic, to promote discourse and present an opportunity for peer review and dialogue.

bottom of page