Kelsey Lilley

  • Gambella Attack Exposes Ethnic Tensions between Ethiopia, South Sudan

    On Friday, April 15, South Sudanese raiders crossed the border into Ethiopia to attack thirteen villages in the country’s Gambella region. Violence and carnage ensued, and the assailants escaped with 108 women and children and nearly 2,000 stolen cattle, according to Ethiopian government estimates. On Monday, the government announced that the death toll rose to 208 civilians and sixty attackers; the UN High Commissioner for Refugees reported that more than 21,000 people fled their homes in the raid’s aftermath.

    Gambella, one of Ethiopia’s nine official regions that is approximately the size of Belgium, is located in the western part of the country, jutting into South Sudanese territory. It has...

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  • Urban Africa’s Big Chance

    In popular imagination of Africa, the continent is more famous for its savannahs than its skyscrapers. Sub-Saharan Africa’s total urbanized population is just 37 percent, compared to nearly 75 percent of European Union citizens who live in cities.

    Africa’s rural population has always been larger than its urban population. But that is changing, and in 2030, the number of urban and rural Africans will be roughly the same: nearly 1.6 billion people altogether. By 2050, nearly two-thirds of all Africans will live in cities. By the same year, nearly a quarter of the world’s workforce will be African—and these workers will be overwhelmingly young.

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  • Africa’s ‘Perfect Storm’

    Opportunity seen to embrace reforms in period of slow growth

    A combination of rapidly declining commodity prices and an economic downturn in the world’s emerging markets has created a “perfect storm” of economic troubles for African countries, said panelists at an event hosted by the Atlantic Council’s Africa Center on April 14.

    J. Peter Pham, Director of the Africa Center, and Aubrey Hruby, a Nonresident Senior Fellow in the Center, spoke on the panel. Uche Orji, CEO and Managing Director of the Nigerian Sovereign Investment Agency, also joined the panel.

    Orji spoke on how African countries can weather this “perfect storm”—and maybe even emerge better off after it subsides.

    “We see it as an opportunity for a lot of African countries to embrace this period of slow growth in order to make the kind of reforms necessary for medium- and long-term sustainable growth,” Hruby said. She and Pham authored an Atlantic Council report...

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  • Lilley: Book Review: Boko Haram: Nigeria’s Islamist Insurgency by Virginia Comolli

    Africa Center Associate Director Kelsey Lilley writes a book review for The Journal of the Middle East and Africa on Boko Haram: Nigeria’s Islamist Insurgency by Virginia Comolli:

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  • 3,000 Miles from Paris Climate Talks, Drought Threatens to Overshadow Progress in Ethiopia

    World leaders met this week for the Paris Climate Conference (COP21) with an ambitious agenda to tackle warming global temperatures and reduce carbon emissions.

    At the same time, Ethiopian officials revised their predictions of the number of people affected by the ongoing drought upward by nearly two million. They now estimate that more than 10 million people—over 10 percent of the country’s population—need emergency food aid. The successive failure of two seasonal rains due to the El Niño weather phenomenon caused massive crop failure, and drought is now straining farmers who depend on the land for their livelihoods.

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  • Lilley on Obama's Visit to Kenya and Ethiopia

    Africa Center Assistant Director Kelsey Lilley joins CCTV News to discuss the strategic significance of President Obama's visit to Kenya and Ethiopia:

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  • Lilley on Obama Address to African Union

    Africa Center Assistant Director Kelsey Lilley joins CTV News to discuss President Obama's address to the African Union in light of the controversy regarding his visit to Ethiopia:

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  • Presidential Election in Burundi Underscores International Community’s Failure to Engage

    Residents of the small, central African nation of Burundi are voting July 21 to elect their next President. The election takes place after nearly three months of sometimes-violent protests and clashes both between rival groups and between demonstrators and Burundian police, sparked by current President Pierre Nkurunziza’s controversial third-term bid. In mid-May, an attempted coup d’état failed to dislodge Nkurunziza.

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  • Burundi: Dust Settles after Parliamentary Elections

    Burundi, the central African nation entering its third month of political crisis, held parliamentary elections last week. Seventeen opposition parties formally boycotted the polls (though several others appeared on the ballot); preliminary results suggest that the ruling party of incumbent President Pierre Nkurunziza—whose announcement that he would seek a third term sparked widespread protests—won a large majority of parliamentary seats.

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  • Boko Haram and Escalating Regional Terror

    Bottom Line Up Front:

    • A multinational joint task force consisting of Nigeria, Chad, Cameroon, and Niger has driven Boko Haram from key territorial strongholds in northeastern Nigeria; on June 18, the Chadian military conducted airstrikes against six Boko Haram bases in Nigeria

    • But the terror group continues to launch deadly, near-daily attacks throughout the region—including on June 15 with twin suicide bombings in Chad—using guerrilla tactics rather than conventional warfare• Nigeria’s newly-inaugurated president, Muhammadu Buhari, has moved quickly to support regional counter-Boko Haram efforts, insisting on Nigerian leadership in the task force and pledging $100 million in financial support

    • Despite the nascent successes of the joint task force, Islamic State gains in North Africa and, in particular, Libya, could impact the flow of weapons and fighters into Nigeria; Boko Haram pledged allegiance to the Islamic State in March...

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