Some Tigrayans in Ethiopia have described to the BBC how they have been harassed, detained or discriminated against since fighting began in their home region on 4 November.
Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has emphasised that the conflict in the northern Tigray region is against a “criminal clique” within the dominant party there, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), but reports from elsewhere in the country suggest there is an ethnic dimension to the crisis.
Tigrayans make up around 6% of the Ethiopia’s more than 110 million people and many live outside their regional state.
The government has denied that there has been ethnic profiling and said any action carried out against individuals was for justified security reasons.
challenge to unity
If the conflict is short-lived then concerns about ethnic tensions may go away but if it proves to be protracted then there are fears that life for Tigrayans outside Tigray may become more difficult.
Despite seeing the TPLF as a blockage in the plan to achieve national unity, the impact of the conflict could prove to be a major challenge to the prime minister’s vision of bringing the country together.
“If there is anything that the government is doing, it’s to create a society that emphasises the ties that bind all of us,” his adviser Mr Mamo told the BBC.
But the conflict in Tigray could threaten that goal.