Ethiopian News, Current Affairs and Opinion Forum
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Shadow falls over Ethiopia reforms as warnings of crisis go unheeded
Having fled violence, a million Ethiopians now face hunger and disease. Yet Abiy Ahmed seems intent only on their return
Tom Gardner in Addis Ababa
https://www.theguardian.com/global-deve ... abiy-ahmed
Thu 14 Mar 2019
A group of displaced Gedeo women
In southern Ethiopia, tens of thousands https://www.irinnews.org/news-feature/2 ... ced-gedeos of people are enduring what aid workers say is a full-blown humanitarian crisis. But the government of the new prime minister, Abiy Ahmed, appears not to be listening.
It is a stain on the record of an administration that, since Abiy’s appointment last April, has been lauded for opening up https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/ ... n-politics Ethiopia’s political space and making peace https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/ ... peacemaker with neighbouring Eritrea. Last month, Abiy was nominated https://www.thereporterethiopia.com/art ... nomination for a Nobel peace prize. His government has also been praised for passing a new refugee policy https://www.unhcr.org/news/press/2019/1 ... ugees.html hailed as a model of compassion and forward-thinking. Yet the dire situation facing millions of people forced from their homes by conflict, and the new regime’s approach to their plight, has invited a more sceptical response from some observers.
One settlement, in the village of Gotiti, hosts 20-30,000 ethnic Gedeos who have been denied humanitarian assistance https://reliefweb.int/sites/reliefweb.i ... _Displ.pdf – above all food aid – since last August.
More than a million https://reliefweb.int/report/ethiopia/e ... ement-2018 Ethiopians were forced from their homes by ethnic violence in 2018 – the highest number of internally displaced persons (IDPs) of any country https://reliefweb.int/report/ethiopia/e ... ement-2018 last year. The worst of it took place in the south, where an estimated 800,000 https://www.reuters.com/article/us-ethi ... SKBN1JU14W mostly ethnic Gedeos fled the district of West Guji in Oromia, the country’s largest region. This is a higher number, and over a shorter period of time, than occurred at the height of Myanmar’s Rohingya crisis in 2017.
The conflict looked, on the surface, like a Malthusian eruption https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfr ... as-malthus – in which population outstrips food supply. Gedeos and Guji Oromos share some of the country’s most densely populated farmland, and both groups are fast growing in number. But gruesome reports of lynchings, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-ethi ... SKCN1L914V rapes and beheadings, and of complicity among local officials, police and militia, makes it seem more like organised ethnic cleansing than an ordinary tribal clash.
The vast majority of Gedeos – who took refuge in Gedeo zone of the neighbouring southern region – are too scared to return. They say they have nothing to return to: https://www.iom.int/ethiopia-displaceme ... d-response homes were burned en masse and crops (mostly coffee) stolen or destroyed. In recent weeks, displaced people have also said they fear rebels from the Oromo Liberation Front, https://www.theguardian.com/global-deve ... -awakening who are active in West Guji and allegedly terrorise those who return.
But despite the self-evident risks, the government has repeatedly pushed Gedeo people back into Oromia. When it did so in June, two months after the first wave of displacement in April, violence escalated. https://reliefweb.int/report/ethiopia/e ... -june-2018 Nonetheless, in August, the government resumed its efforts, in some cases loading people into buses and trucks https://static1.squarespace.com/static/ ... +Final.pdf and driving them over the border. Aid workers say the withdrawal of humanitarian assistance has also been used as a way of putting pressure on people to return. In December, roughly 15,000 https://reliefweb.int/report/ethiopia/e ... tners-echo Gedeos fled West Guji once more.
Gedeo people queue for water at a camp for the displaced in Kercha, in the Ethiopian district of West Guji. Photograph: Maheder Haileselassie Tadese/AFP/Getty Images
Such tactics are still in evidence in pockets of Gedeo zone like Gotiti. In February, aid workers – speaking on condition of anonymity because they fear jeopardising their access in other parts of the country – said they had been forbidden from providing assistance in the area for months (though in the past fortnight some have been given the green light by the local administration to discreetly distribute things like blankets). Because food is scarce, malnutrition is common. Aid https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/aid workers worry about the spread of contagious diseases, especially when the rain comes. Most of the wooden shelters lack even plastic sheets for roofs.
Last month, the government said more than a million displaced people https://fanabc.com/english/2019/02/over ... -of-peace/ had returned to their villages. It has since drawn up a two month “action plan” to return almost all of those yet to come back. This seems to include even Gedeos who firmly believe it is unsafe for them back in Oromia.
Aid workers speak with alarm at the prospect of yet another round of premature returns, especially since it will coincide with the start of the national census https://newbusinessethiopia.com/ethiopi ... -in-april/ in April (possibly triggering more violence). Involuntary returns and the “instrumentalisation” https://newbusinessethiopia.com/ethiopi ... -in-april/ of humanitarian aid are, of course, breaches of humanitarian principles.
People rest at the Dabafayed resettlement facility in Gode, near Kebri Dahar in south-east Ethiopia. Photograph: Yonas Tadesse/AFP/Getty Images
Why and under whose authority such a problematic policy has been pursued is unclear. Ethiopia’s system of decentralised, ethnically organised federalism https://www.theguardian.com/global-deve ... federalism blurs lines of responsibility. Some aid workers, for instance, blame the government of Ethiopia’s Southern region, which has a history of restricting humanitarian access, while others point right to the top. (The federal government denies that it supports involuntary returns or the withdrawal of humanitarian assistance to those in need.)
As for Abiy himself, his gravest sin seems to be one of omission. He has not visited camps housing displaced people in Gedeo or Guji (or, reportedly, https://www.ethiopia-insight.com/2019/0 ... =hootsuite anywhere in the country) since he took office. He has, rightly, turned away from the authoritarianism of his predecessors, but has failed to get to grips with the security crisis that emerged in its stead. The more cynical aid workers I spoke to suggested he and those around him simply want to “erase” the issue of displaced people before it spoils the new administration’s international image.
The precedents set by the response to the Gedeo tragedy are deeply troubling. “We failed Gedeo-Guji,” said one senior aid official. “And I’m afraid we are going to fail again [in Ethiopia], but at an even larger scale.”
Last edited by Zmeselo on 14 Mar 2019, 18:22, edited 1 time in total.
(Ezega.com): Former OLF Rebels Begin Hunger Strike in Rehabilitation Camp
March 14, 2019
https://www.ezega.com/News/NewsDetails/ ... ation-Camp
Former Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) rebels being rehabilitated at the Tolay camp In Ethiopia begun a hunger strike to protest poor living conditions, according to africanews.com.
One of the ex-rebels in the rehab center told the BBC Afaan Oromo Service they were being subjected to inhumane treatment and no one cares about them. “Most of our comrades are now ill due to lack of hygiene and absence of food,” he said.
More than 1,000 members of the OLF gave up arms last year and agreed to undergo rehabilitation. The group comprising of around 1,000 fighters is being rehabilitated at the Tolay camp in south-western Ethiopia. The rehabilitation program came after reformist Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed removed the OLF from a list of designated terror groups.
After peace talks in Eritrea, the group’s exiled leaders made a successful return to Ethiopia. Subsequently, Oromia regional state started experiencing normalcy as OLF fighters surrendered their arms and re-integrated back in the community.
In recent times, the deal between the state and OLF has experienced setbacks, with the government deploying troops against armed members of the group it accuses of attacking residents and robbing banks in the remote western part of the country.
The Oromia regional administration has maintained tough criticism about the OLF after it emerged that some of its members were responsible for the increasing insecurity in the area.
OLF fighters and government troops clashed with claims emerging that the latter launched air strikes in the OLF camps. The OLF denied the accusations and accused the state of failing to honor its promise of integrating its members into the armed forces.
Analysts argue the rehabilitation process might fail to realize its goal as it was done hurriedly without any proper framework. It is not yet clear how or what program is being followed to rehabilitate the ex-rebels. Up to now, what’s known is that the rebels are being rehabilitated in the camp, but what are they doing? What is the goal, and how long are they going to be there?
The answers to these questions remain a mystery. Furthermore, promises of being offered training to start a new life are yet to materialize.
Up to now, it’s not yet known how long the hunger strike will last or the conditions under which it will be called off, but the authorities will have to answer fundamental questions about the latest incident involving the former rebels, which is threatening to derail the progress made since Abiy Ahmed took the oath of office.
After Ethiopia’s current administration agreed on a deal with the group, the Oromia regional government agreed to establish a political alliance with the OLF. However, security disquiets remain.
Notable opposition figure Bekele Gerba---who sat in the committee that negotiated between the rebel outfit and the government ---said he’d heard about the grievances, but he was still trying to get the regional government to allow him visit the camp.
The regional administration is yet to respond.
A live experiment, on how to rip a country apart? Do you think, Ethiopia will start exporting parties soon? I would like buy one, for a friend.
ድል ለተከበሩ አቶ ቶም ጋርድነርና ለስራ ባልደረቦቹ