BBC launches services in Amharic, Afaan Oromo and Tigrinya

The new sites have already generated a lot of interes

The BBC World Service has launched three websites for Ethiopia and neighbouring Eritrea as part of its biggest expansion since the 1940s.

The sites would be a “source of truth” in a region with limited independent media, said BBC editor Will Ross.

The Amharic, Afaan Oromo and Tigrinya sites’ launch will be followed in a few months by the launch of radio programmes in the three languages.

The UK government announced a funding boost for the World Service in 2015.

It paved the way for the expansion drive in Africa and Asia.

“We know that there is a great deal of hunger for audiences in Ethiopia and Eritrea to access a broad range of high quality content in Amharic, Afaan Oromo and Tigrinya,” said Ross, head of the new services.

Eritrea won independence from Ethiopia in 1993 after a 30-year war.

Tensions with Ethiopia remain high across a closed and heavily fortified border.

An estimated 80,000 people died during a 1998-2000 border war between the two states.

Ross said he believed that the potential audience in the two countries – which have a combined population of more than 100 million – was huge, and social media would play a key role in helping to target a younger audience.

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