The first group of Oromo arrived in the Twin Cities in the early 1970s to study
at area colleges and universities. Before many could return to their homeland, a
military junta took power in Ethiopia and embarked on violations of human rights
including extra-judicial killings, mass arrests, executions and detention without
trial. Under these circumstances, those Oromo who did not want to put their life
in jeopardy sought political asylum in the United States.
In the mid-1980s, as the Oromo liberation struggle gained momentum, the Ethiopian
regime intensified the killing, imprisonment and persecution of the Oromo civilian
population. Thousands of innocent people were forced to flee their homes and became
refugees in the neighboring countries of Djibouti, Kenya, Somalia, and Sudan.
After years in refugee camps many Oromo refugees were finally able to reach the
United States through the assistance of the United Nations High Commission for Refugees
(UNHCR) and the United States government.
In 1991, a new minority government came to power in Ethiopia. Initially promising
to work for democracy, peace and stability in the country, the government changed
course and unleashed a vicious campaign of terror on the Oromo. This persecution
forced thousands of Oromo to flee their country and to lead refugee lives all over
the world. A large number of Oromo arrived in the Twin Cities during this period.
The Oromo feel at home in Minnesota, whose people are welcoming and compassionate
for immigrants. Minnesota has the largest Oromo community in the United States,
possibly the largest Oromo community in the world outside of Oromia. The Oromo residents
in Minnesota are hard-working, law-abiding and productive citizens.