With the world preoccupied with the U.S. election, little coverage was given to Ethiopia, the second most populous nation in Africa and 12th most populous in the world, being on the verge of a full-fledged civil war. Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has blamed an alleged recent attack against a military facility on the Tigray People’s Liberation Front, or TPLF, a political party and former armed rebellion that dominated the country for years and still controls Tigray State, the northernmost state in the country.  

Prime Minister Abiy (in Ethiopia, an individual is often referred to formally by their first name, with their personal name coming second) has largely sidelined the Tigray ethnic minority that previously ran the country. Now, Abiy 's government has begun military retaliation against the TPLF, with reports that Ethiopian aircraft have bombed targets in the Tigray region. Although news coverage of the fighting has been heavily censored, Reuters has reported that hundreds of people have already died after several days of fighting. Thousands of people have sought refuge in neighboring Sudan, and hundreds of thousands more could end up as refugees of the fighting.

As the conflict in northern Ethiopia continues, it adds to an already unstable situation throughout the country, which is at risk of breaking apart due to unresolved ethnic tensions and inequality. Since most of the world is not familiar with this conflict, we’ve collected six things you need to know to understand what’s going on in Ethiopia and why it is so important: