ABSTRACT

There is an increasing need to study war-related disasters in Ethiopia and other least developed countries, for at least three reasons. First, the present peace process emerging world-wide, encouraged by the dismantling of communist regimes and reduced military spending in the West is resulting in reduced military presence of the superpowers in developing countries. These countries, including Ethiopia, thus have greater opportunities to pursue their own development strategies, including greater emphasis on human development. Second, in the least developed countries health is not only a basic human right but also an urgent prerequisite for broad socioeconomic development. Clearly, health levels in these poor countries are the lowest world-wide but may be significantly raised if resources currently used for the military are reallocated for socioeconomic development, including the upgrading of health services and the control of the major killing diseases. 1 Third, morbidity, mortality, and displacement of populations and economic hardship due to war have increased in the developing world in recent decades, partly because of the use of more lethal weapons, increased military spending, and an increase in the number of military controlled governments from 26% in 1960 to 57% in 1988–89. 2 In fact, all wars taking place in the 1970s and 1980s have been fought in developing countries. Another disturbing trend has been the sharp increase in civilian war-related deaths, with nearly 90% of all casualties in the wars fought in 1990 being unarmed civilians, particularly children, women, and the aged. Some of the highest child mortality rates have been reported from Afghanistan, Mozambique, Angola, Somalia, and Ethiopia, all with a war economy. 2 5