Ogaden Crisis in Ethiopia: Forgotten crises to watch in 2010
Tuesday, 12 January 2010 18:02
An Ethiopian woman holds her malnourished child in a hospital in the eastern region of Ogaden which borders Somalia, Jan. 16, 2006. REUTERS/Andrew Heavens
The humanitarian crisis in Ethiopia’s Ogaden region is worsening, yet the Ethiopian government continues to deny aid agencies access. Ogaden is mainly populated by Muslim Somali-speakers. The area does most of its trade with Somaliland, Somalia and the Middle East, rather than the rest of Ethiopia.
Formed in 1984 amid a resurgence of separatist sentiment in the Ogaden region, the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) is rebelling against the central government in a sporadic armed conflict. The true picture of the humanitarian crisis in Ogaden is faint but according to Amnesty International’s 2009 report, both government forces and ONLF fighters perpetrated human rights abuses against civilians.
An Ethiopian woman holds her malnourished child in a hospital in the eastern region of Ogaden which borders Somalia, Jan. 16, 2006. REUTERS/Andrew Heavens
Last year’s drought destroyed crops and pastures, and water became scarce for the mainly pastoral communities there.
“The aid community in Ethiopia is deeply concerned (by) the denial of access to the people affected by the conflict and the worst drought in the region,” said an aid worker who declined to be named. The aid worker said the Ogaden crisis is not only forgotten but “hidden by the government”.
Analysts say Ogaden’s fate is tied with the situation in neighbouring Somalia, largely controlled by Islamist and extremist rebels, and Eritrea’s border dispute with Ethiopia – both crises that seem far from over.
The Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) has been fighting a long-running insurgency against the
Ethiopian government, seeking more autonom Ogaden Mapy for the
underdeveloped, ethnically Somali Ogaden region.
Troops accused of burning homes, displacing thousands
Rebels accused of rights abuses
Government restricts media and aid agency access to the region
Ethiopian forces launched a major assault against the ONLF rebels – who have been fighting since 1994 – after they killed 74 people in an attack on a Chinese-run oil exploration field in April 2007. The government says the ONLF has been defeated, but its fighters continue to launch sporadic attacks.
U.S.-based advocacy group Human Rights Watch has accused the government of human rights abuses in its response to the insurgency, claiming it has burnt homes, confiscated livestock and arbitrarily detained civilians. Officials deny rights abuses in the Ogaden region, saying the rebels are the ones perpetrating crimes against civilians.
The government expelled aid workers from the region in the latter part of 2007, amid growing concerns about the scale of the humanitarian crisis facing its people. Although some have since been allowed to return, the army continues to impose severe restrictions on both media and aid agencies.
Ethiopia Delayed election in Ogaden due to ONLF Military Control.
Electoral registration to begin Saturday in Ethiopia
Saturday 9 January 2010 03:00. Printer-Friendly version Comments…
January 8, 2010 (ADDIS ABABA) – voter registration for the upcoming Ethiopian elections will begin tomorrow Saturday across the country, the Office of the National Electoral Board of Ethiopia (NEBE) announced today.
The general election in the Horn of Africa nation is scheduled for May 2010. The Ethiopian government has repeatedly guaranteed its commitment to conduct a fair and democratic election, but the opposition speaks about intimidation and harassment against them.
The head of the electoral board, Tesfaye Mengesha, said on Friday that 41,361 polling stations are prepared to register voters however he underlined that the registration in the troubled Ogaden will not begin now, the official ENA reported today.
Tesfaye said NEBE directed to open the polling stations for voter registration on Saturday adding they are provided with the necessary materials and the staffs are trained to accomplish their job.
It has further called on political parties taking part in the elections to assign their representatives at polling stations as of Saturday.
Tesfaye also urged to inform public observers and party representatives to be on duty at polling stations to observe the registration process. He also called to notify the voters about the registration day and time.
ETHIOPIA-Meles Zenawi’s latest “Intellectual for Hire” Exposes Himself
by Ogaden Info on 26/12/09 at 3:39 pm
On my flight back from London, UK, I decided to catch up on my reading and began by going through some articles that were compiled for me by a friend. It was amongst the pile that I found the piece on Somalia by J. Peter Pham; it turned out to be yet another lazy analysis. I say lazy because his entire piece was a patching together of “cut and paste” paragraphs collected from various dubious self-serving sources. Pham´s incoherent piece was an elaborate apologia for Meles Zenawi, the only terrorist lurking in the Horn of Africa, who bears full responsibility for the carnage in Somalia. Pham has become one of the most vocal apologists for the minority regime in Ethiopia and his latest “cut and paste” piece is a regurgitation of the regime´s often heard narration (tantrums), as it scrambles to get itself out of yet another self-created quagmire.
Those of us who have been observing development in the Horn region know Meles Zenawi´s modus operandi. This latest piece by Pham is a desperate and transparent attempt to divert attention away from the ill-advised, illegal and immoral US-backed Ethiopian invasion and 2-year occupation of Somalia, and international crimes committed by Meles Zenawi´s regime in Somalia. Sanctioning Eritrea (for not toeing Washington´s line on Somalia) is supposed to give Meles Zenawi a respite from his self created quagmire. For Pham and his cohorts, blaming Eritrea is somehow supposed to absolve Meles and those responsible for the crimes committed in Somalia. It may take time, but sooner or later, Meles Zenawi and his handlers will pay for the destruction of Somalia and the deaths of thousands of innocent Somalis. It is Meles Zenawi´s hands that are drenched with the blood of Somalis, not Eritrea´s. Pham is barking up the wrong tree.
My first instinct was to ignore the dishonest individual and his “cut and paste” propaganda piece, which he attempts to pass of for an intellectual analysis on Somalia. But since there may be some lawmakers who might take his statements for fact and believe his misinformation, once in a while, as we have done in the past, it’s important that Eritreans, Ethiopians and Somalis, as citizens of the Horn, call him out and expose his hypocrisy and intellectual dishonesty. This ordained Catholic priest (a credential rarely mentioned in his articles) has traded his priestly collar for a “falfalina” (bow tie), and replaced the morals and teachings of the Catholic Church, with lies and deceptions in his new found (much more lucrative) vocation as a hired gun (or is it hired pen). This embedded priest exposes the ugly side of academia and how much US Foreign Policy is damaged by self serving, morally bankrupt operatives such as Pham who have no qualms about deceiving the US public and lawmakers in order to advance their own illicit (often illegal) agendas.
Horn residents are not surprised by J. Peter Pham’s latest piece in defense of Meles Zenawi and the minority regime in Ethiopia. One of the “intellectuals for hire” that has provided the minority regime political shield in Washington with “testimonies in Congress”, Pham has deliberately lied to, and misled, lawmakers and the American public with is faulty analysis on Somalia, Somaliland, the UIC and more. Pham´s thinking is not just beyond the pale, it´s willfully dangerous and evil. This self appointed “expert” on Africa believes his brief stint as a “Vatican envoy to East Africa” gives him the credentials to write at will, without providing a single shred of evidence to support his far fetched assertions. “Cut and paste” paragraphs fit together to fit Meles Zenawi´s narratives will not cut it. Distorting the facts, omitting the truth and fabricating lies is not a Christian thing to do…as a former priest, he ought to know better.
It is no secret that Pham is closely associated with the conservative neocolonialist cartel; a dubious alliance of fundamentally different and even ideologically opposed religious and political factions such as the coalition of evangelical Christians (also known as the New Christian Right) and the aggressive political ideologues commonly known as the Neoconservatives who have launched an unprecedented evil campaign against Eritrea for the last 10 years in order to advance their hegemonic agendas in the region. Pham is also closely associated with Joseph Greibosky, the author of several erroneous reports on Eritrea and Iran and whose organization, the Institute for Religion and Public Policy, enjoyed a lucrative arrangement-to the tune of a quarter of a million dollars –with the Bush Administration´s State Department.
As a consultant for U.S. intelligence agencies who has helped place former students in intelligence positions, Pham knows a thing or two about that industry and its connections in Somalia. Pham, more than anybody else, knows that Eritrea has no interest in destabilizing Somalia. Despite what Jendayi E. Frazer and her cohorts purport, neither she, nor her hired guns have been able to provide any evidence to back up their evil allegations against Eritrea. It has been almost three years since Frazer and her accomplices fabricated the outlandish UN reports on Somalia, and to this day, neither Frazer nor her accomplices(Ethiopia, Kenya and the illegitimate TNGs), or any other independent party has been able to substantiate its contents-none. Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, the UN Envoy for Somalia for Somalia, has admitted as much.
Pham, who in a recent Washington Post article had the audacity to preach to President Barack Obama about the law, continues to justify Meles Zenawi’s lawlessness and belligerence in Somalia and numerous violations of international law and over two dozen UN Security Council resolutions. Exposing his bias and pro-Ethiopia stance, distorting the facts and deliberately omitting from his latest piece, the Final and Binding decision of the Eritrea Ethiopia Boundary Commission (EEBC) which was delivered on 13 April 2002, which unequivocally awarded Badme, the casus belli for the 1998-2000 border conflict to Eritrea, Pham attempts to divert the issue by mentioning the Eritrea Ethiopia Claims Commission (EECC), a body that chose to address an issue in 2005 that was outside of its Algiers Agreement mandate.
Had Pham done his homework, instead of parroting Meles Zenawi’s tantrums, he would have known that the Algiers Agreement, in addition to the EEBC and EECC, also called for the establishment of a Commission by the African Union and the Secretary General of the United Nations, whose mandate was to investigate the origins of the conflict. The African Union, now an appendage of Menelik Palace has yet to fulfill its obligations under the Algiers Agreements-ditto for the UN. Ethiopia continues to occupy sovereign Eritrean territories, including Badme, in violation of international law.
Citing harassment by the ruling party, the opposition decided to boycott local elections in 2008. Also during the year, revised draft and actual laws regulating the press and civil society provided a reinforced legal basis for government oversight and control. The political climate was further polarized by ongoing tension in several restive provinces, relations with Eritrea, and Ethiopia’s military engagement in Somalia. A drought and rising food prices proved to be complicating factors.
One of the few African countries to avoid European colonization during the 19th and early 20th centuries, Ethiopia ended a long tradition of monarchy in 1974, when Emperor Haile Selassie was overthrown in a Marxist military coup. Colonel Mengistu Haile Mariam subsequently established a brutal dictatorship that lasted more than 15 years. He was overthrown in 1991 by a coalition of guerrilla groups led by forces from the northern Tigray region. The main rebel group, the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), formed a new regime, and EPRDF leader Meles Zenawi became interim president.
During the ensuing transitional period, the EPRDF government fostered the emergence of democratic institutions, and a new constitution took effect in 1995. The EPRDF dominated that year’s elections, which were boycotted by most of the opposition, and Meles became prime minister. He began a second five-year term after the May 2000 elections, which the EPRDF won in a landslide victory over the weak and divided opposition. Opposition parties and some observers criticized the government’s conduct of the vote.
A dispute over the border with neighboring Eritrea, which had gained formal independence from Ethiopia in 1993 after a long guerrilla conflict, resulted in open warfare from 1998 until 2000. The Eritrea-Ethiopia Boundary Commission (EEBC) was established in the wake of the bloody fighting to draw a new border. It announced its decision in April 2002, laying out a boundary that assigned the town of Badme to Eritrea. The commission’s judgments were supposed to be binding on both sides, but Ethiopia rejected the EEBC decision.
The May 2005 elections for the powerful lower house of Parliament resulted in a major increase in opposition representation. The EPRDF and its allies won 327 seats, while the two main opposition parties took 161 seats, up from 12 in the previous Parliament. The governing coalition also won elections for eight of nine regional parliaments. Notwithstanding their significant gains, opposition parties argued that interference and fraud in the electoral process had deprived them of outright victory. Street demonstrations led to violence, excessive use of force by the authorities, and widespread arrests. At least 193 people were killed and more than 4,000 were arrested, including leading opposition figures who were later charged with capital offenses. Under considerable pressure from human rights groups, the government ultimately pardoned and released those defendants in 2007.
At the end of 2006, Ethiopia sent troops into Somalia, routing Islamist groups that had taken control of Mogadishu and the southern parts of the country. The offensive enabled Somalia’s fragile Transitional Federal Government to establish a presence in Mogadishu, but clashes between Ethiopian forces and Somali militias continued through 2007 and 2008. The prospect of renewed violence in the border dispute with Eritrea presented another area of concern. In November 2007, the EEBC demarcated the boundary by map coordinates in a ruling accepted by Eritrea but rejected by Ethiopia. The UN Security Council voted to end its peacekeeping mission in July 2008. Meanwhile, the Ethiopian military also sought to quell ongoing unrest in the eastern Ogaden region.
The government maintained its tight control over the country’s officially pluralist political institutions in 2008. Citing harassment by the ruling party, the opposition decided to boycott local elections during the year. Revised draft and actual laws regulating the press and civil society created the potential for expanded government interference, and there was violence and repression in several provinces with a significant opposition presence. These problems were exacerbated by rising food prices and a drought that threatened as many as eight million people, according to the United Nations.
Political Rights and Civil Liberties
Ethiopia is not an electoral democracy. However, the presence of a significant elected opposition at the national level since 2005 does mark a possible step forward in the development of the country’s democratic political culture. Prior national elections had resulted in allegations from opposition parties and civil society groups of major irregularities, including unequal access to media, lack of transparent procedures, a flawed election law, and a partisan National Electoral Board.
The opposition claimed fraud again in 2005, and European Union and other observers stated that the elections did not meet international standards, citing problems including faulty voter-registration lists and significant administrative irregularities. However, observers led by former U.S. president Jimmy Carter concluded that despite its serious problems, the balloting essentially represented the will of the Ethiopian people.
The country’s legislature is bicameral, consisting of a 108-seat upper house, the House of Federation, and a 547-seat lower house, the House of People’s Representatives. The lower house is filled through popular elections, while the upper chamber is selected by the state legislatures. Lawmakers in both houses serve five-year terms. Executive power is vested in a prime minister, who is chosen by the House of People’s Representatives. The 1995 constitution has a number of unique features, including a federal structure that grants certain powers and the right of secession to ethnically based states. However, in 2003, the central government acquired additional powers to intervene in states’ affairs when public security is deemed to be at risk.
More than 60 legally recognized political parties are active in Ethiopia, but the political scene continues to be dominated by the EPRDF. Citing intimidation and arrests of its candidates, opposition parties boycotted local elections in April 2008, which predictably resulted in a large margin of victory for government supporters. Opposition parties have long argued that their ability to function is seriously impeded by government harassment, although observers also note that some opposition parties have at times used rhetoric that could be interpreted as advocating violence or otherwise failed to comport themselves in a manner consistent with a democratic political culture.
The government has taken a number of steps to limit corruption, but it has also been accused of participating in corrupt practices. In 2007, former prime minister Tamrat Layne and former defense minister Seye Abreha were convicted on corruption charges. Ethiopia was ranked 126 out of 180 countries surveyed in Transparency International’s 2008 Corruption Perceptions Index.
The news media are dominated by state-owned broadcasters and government-oriented newspapers. Opposition and civic organizations have criticized slanted news coverage. The Committee to Protect Journalists in 2007 cited the Ethiopian government for backtracking on press freedom issues. It noted increased imprisonment of journalists, with many reporters going into exile by choice or coercion. This trend continued in 2008, as the government forced two more magazines out of circulation using laws against the disturbance of public order. Also during the year, Parliament adopted a new media law after years of debate. The measure barred government censorship of private media and the detention of journalists, but it allowed prosecutors to seize material before publication in the name of national security. Furthermore, it gave the government broader powers to pursue defamation cases against the media.
A number of privately owned newspapers exist, but they struggle to remain financially viable and face intermittent government harassment. In 2006, licenses were awarded to two private FM stations in the capital. Internet usage is confined mainly to major urban areas.
Constitutionally mandated religious freedom is generally respected, although religious tensions have risen in recent years. The Ethiopian Orthodox Church is influential, particularly in the north. In the south, there is a large Muslim community, made up mainly of Somalis, Oromo, and Afari.
Academic freedom is restricted. In recent years, student strikes to protest police brutality and various government policies have led to scores of deaths and injuries as well as hundreds of arrests. Student grievances include perceived government repression of the Oromo ethnic group. Many students were killed, injured, or arrested during protests against the May 2005 election results.
Freedoms of assembly and association are limited. A number of nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) are active, but they are generally reluctant to discuss issues and advocate policies that may bring them into conflict with the government. The government closely regulates NGO activities and has introduced draft legislation that it claims would provide heightened financial transparency among NGOs and enhance their accountability to stakeholders. This legislation was under final consideration by parliament at the end of 2008. Both Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have severely criticized the proposed law, arguing that it would codify provisions designed to control and monitor civil society groups while punishing those that do not have the government’s favor.
According to the Workers’ Group of the International Labor Organization (ILO), there are severe restrictions on the rights of trade unions in Ethiopia. The labor laws authorize only one trade union in companies employing more than 20 workers. Government workers in “essential industries,” a term that is broadly defined, are not allowed to strike. The Confederation of Ethiopian Unions is under government control. The law governing trade unions states that a trade organization may not act in an overtly political manner, and some union leaders have been removed from their elected offices or forced to leave the country. All unions must be registered, and the government retains the authority to cancel union registration.
The judiciary is officially independent, although there have been few significant examples of decisions at variance with government policy. The efficacy of police, judicial, and administrative systems at the local level is highly uneven. Some progress has been made in reducing a significant backlog of court cases. Human Rights Watch in 2006 reported that the government used intimidation, arbitrary detentions, and excessive force in rural areas in the wake of the 2005 election-related protests.
The government has tended to favor Tigrayan ethnic interests in economic and political matters. Politics within the EPRDF have been dominated by the Tigrayan People’s Democratic Front. Discrimination against and repression of other groups, especially the Oromo, have been widespread.
The government recently established a women’s affairs ministry, and Parliament has passed legislation designed to protect women’s rights in a number of areas. In practice, however, women’s rights are routinely violated. Women have traditionally had few land or property rights, especially in rural areas, where there is little opportunity for female employment beyond agricultural labor. Violence against women and social discrimination are reportedly common. Societal norms and limited infrastructure prevent many women from seeking legal redress for their grievances. While illegal, the kidnapping of women and girls for marriage continues in parts of the country. General deficiencies in education exacerbate the problems of rural poverty and gender inequality. According to the NGO Save the Children, Ethiopia has one of the lowest rates of school enrollment in sub-Saharan Africa.
2009 Annual Report for Ethiopia
Restrictions on humanitarian assistance to the Somali Region (known as the Ogaden) continued. The government engaged in sporadic armed conflict against the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) and both forces perpetrated human rights abuses against civilians. Ethiopian troops fighting insurgents in Somalia in support of the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) committed human rights abuses and were reported to have committed war crimes. Security forces arrested members of the Oromo ethnic group in Addis Ababa and in the Oromo Region towards the end of the year. Independent journalists continued to face harassment and arrest. A number of political prisoners were believed to remain in detention and opposition party leader Birtukan Mideksa, who was pardoned in 2007, was rearrested. A draft law restricting the activities of Ethiopian and international organizations working on human rights was expected to be passed by parliament in 2009. Ethiopia remained one of the world’s poorest countries with some 6.4million people suffering acute food insecurity, including 1.9 millionin the Somali Region.
The Eritrea-Ethiopia Boundary Commission completed its mandate in October, despite Ethiopia failing to implement its ruling, and the UN Security Council withdrew the UN Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE) in the wake of Eritrean obstruction of its operations along the Eritrea/Ethiopia border.
Thousands of Ethiopian armed forces remained in Somalia to support the TFG in armed conflict against insurgents throughout most of the year. Accusations of human rights violations committed by Ethiopian forces continued in 2008. Insurgent factions stated that they were fighting to force Ethiopia’s withdrawal from Somalia. A phased plan for Ethiopian withdrawal was included in a peace agreement signed by the Alliance for the Re-Liberation of Somalia-Djibouti and TFG representatives in late October. Ethiopian forces began to withdraw late in the year, but had not withdrawn from Somalia completely by the end of the year.
The government faced sporadic armed conflict in the Oromo and Somali regions, with ONLF members also implicated in human rights abuses against civilians. Ethiopian opposition parties in exile remained active in Eritrea and in other countries in Africa and Europe.
“Ethiopian forces attacked the al-Hidya mosque in Mogadishu killing 21 men…”
Divisions split the opposition Coalition for Unity and Democracy (CUD) party, leading to the emergence of new opposition parties, including the Unity for Democracy and Justice Party (UDJP) led by former judge Birtukan Mideksa. She was one of more than 70 CUD leaders, journalists and civil society activists convicted, then pardoned and released in 2007.
Suicide bombers attacked Ethiopia’s trade mission in Hargeisa, Somaliland, on 29 October killing several Ethiopian and Somali civilians.
Prisoners of conscience and other political prisoners
A number of political prisoners, detained in previous years in the context of internal armed conflicts or following contested elections in 2005, remained in detention.
Bekele Jirata, General Secretary of the Oromo Federalist Democratic Movement party, Asefa Tefera Dibaba, a lecturer at Addis Ababa University and dozens of others from the Oromo ethnic group were arrested in Addis Ababa and parts of the Oromo Region from 30 October onwards. Some of those detained were accused of financially supporting the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF).
Sultan Fowsi Mohamed Ali, an independent mediator, who was arrested in Jijiga in August 2007 reportedly to prevent him from giving evidence to a UN fact-finding mission, remained in detention. Tried for alleged involvement in two hand grenade attacks in 2007, he was sentenced to 22 years’ imprisonment in May 2008.
On 15 January Birtukan Mideksa, Gizachew Shiferaw and Alemayehu Yeneneh, then senior members of the CUD, were briefly detained by police after holding party meetings in southern Ethiopia. Birtukan Mideksa was rearrested on 28 December after she issued a public statement regarding the negotiations that led to her 2007 pardon. Her pardon was revoked and the sentence of life imprisonment reinstated.
Many released prisoners faced harassment and intimidation, with some choosing to leave the country.
Human rights defenders and lawyers Daniel Bekele and Netsanet Demissie were released on 28 March. They had been detained since November 2005 together with hundreds of opposition parliamentarians, CUD members and journalists. Unlike their co-defendants in the trial who were pardoned and released in 2007, Daniel Bekele and Netsanet Demissie remained in detention, having refused to sign a document negotiated by local elders. They mounted a defence and were convicted by the Federal High Court of criminal incitement (although the presiding judge dissented) and sentenced to 30 months’ imprisonment. When it became evident they would not be released, even after they appealed, they chose to sign the negotiated document, and were subsequently pardoned and released after serving 29 months of their sentence.
Charges of conspiring to commit “outrages against the Constitution” faced by Yalemzewd Bekele, a human rights lawyer who had been working for the European Commission in Addis Ababa, were dropped, without prejudice, before trial.
Abdirahman Mohamed Qani, chief of the Tolomoge sub-clan of the Ogaden clan in the Somali Region, was detained on 13 July after receiving a large public welcome when he returned from two years abroad. He was released on 7 October, and his relatives who had also been detained were reportedly released several days later.
CUD activist Alemayehu Mesele, who had suffered harassment since his release from prison in 2007, fled Ethiopia in early May after he was severely beaten by unknown assailants.
The editor of the Reporter newspaper Amare Aregawi was severely beaten by unknown assailants on 31 October in Addis Ababa. He had previously been detained by security officers in August.
In September, the government announced that it had released 394 prisoners and commuted one death sentence to life imprisonment to mark the Ethiopian New Year.
Freedom of expression
Independent journalists continued to face harassment and arrest.
At least 13 newspapers shut down by the government in 2005 were still closed. Independent journalists were reportedly denied licences to operate, although others did receive licences. Serkalem Fasil, Eskinder Nega and Sisay Agena, former publishers of Ethiopia’s largest circulation independent newspapers, who had been detained with CUD members, were denied licences to open two new newspapers.
In February the Supreme Court upheld a decision to dissolve the Ethiopian Teachers Association (ETA) and hand over its assets to a rival union formed by the government, also known as the Ethiopian Teachers Association. This action followed years of harassment and detention of union members. In December the union, under its new name, the National Teachers’ Association, had its application for registration as a professional organization rejected.
On World Press Freedom Day (3 May) Alemayehu Mahtemework, publisher of the monthly Enku, was detained and 10,000 copies of his publication impounded. He was released after five days without charge and copies of the magazine were later returned to him.
In November a Federal High Court judge convicted editor-in chief of the weekly Enbilta, Tsion Girma, of “inciting the public through false rumours” after a reporting mistake. She reportedly paid a fine and was released.
Human rights defenders
A draft Charities and Societies Proclamation was revised several times by the government in 2008, but remained threatening to the rights of freedom of assembly, association and expression.
Its provisions included severe restrictions on the amount of foreign funding Ethiopian civil society organizations working on human rights-related issues could receive from abroad (no more than 10 per cent of total revenues). It would also establish a Civil Societies Agency with sweeping authority over organizations carrying out work on human rights and conflict resolution in Ethiopia. It was expected to be passed into law by Parliament in early 2009.
Ethiopian troops in Somalia
Ethiopia maintained a significant troop presence in Somalia which supported the TFG until the end of the year. Ethiopian forces committed human rights abuses and were reported to have committed war crimes. Ethiopian forces attacked the al-Hidya mosque in Mogadishu killing 21 men, some inside the mosque, on 19 April. More than 40 children were held for some days after the mosque raid before being released .
Many attacks by Ethiopian forces in response to armed insurgents were reported to have been indiscriminate and disproportionate, often occurring in densely civilian-populated areas.
Internal armed conflict
The government continued counter-insurgency operations in the Somali Region, which increased after attacks by the ONLF on an oil installation in Obole in April 2007. These included restrictions on humanitarian aid which have had a serious impact on conflict-affected districts of the region. The government did not allow unhindered independent access for human rights monitoring.
Reports, dating back to 2007, of beatings, rape and other forms of torture, forcible conscription and extrajudicial executions in the Somali Region were investigated by a government-contracted body but not by an independent international body.
Torture and other ill-treatment
Reports of torture made by defendants in the trial of elected parliamentarian Kifle Tigeneh and others, one of several CUD trials, were not investigated.
Conditions in Kaliti prison and other detention facilities were harsh – overcrowded, unhygienic and lacking adequate medical care. Among those detained in such conditions were long-term political prisoners held without charge or trial, particularly those accused of links to the OLF.
Mulatu Aberra, a trader of the Oromo ethnic group accused of supporting the OLF, was released on 1 July on bail and fled the country. He had been arrested in November 2007 and reportedly tortured and denied medical treatment for resulting injuries while in detention.
While a number of death sentences were imposed by courts in 2008, no executions were reported.
In May the Federal Supreme Court overturned earlier rulings and sentenced to death former President Mengistu Haile Mariam (in exile in Zimbabwe) and 18 senior officials of his Dergue government. The prosecution had appealed against life imprisonment sentences passed in 2007, after they were convicted by the Federal High Court of genocide and crimes against humanity perpetrated between 1974 and 1991.
On 6 April a court sentenced to death five military officers in absentia. They served under Mengistu Haile Mariam, and were held responsible for air raids in Hawzen, in the Tigray Region, which killed hundreds in a market in June 1980.
On 8 May a court in Tigray Region found six people guilty of a bus bombing in northern Ethiopia between Humora and Shira on 13 March and sentenced three of them to death.
On 21 May the Federal Supreme Court sentenced eight men to death for a 28 May 2007 bombing in Jijiga in the Somali Region.
On 22 May a military tribunal sentenced to death in absentia four Ethiopian pilots , who sought asylum while training in Israel.
Freedom of the Press 2009 – Ethiopia
Status: Not Free
Legal Environment: 25 (of 30)
Political Environment: 33 (of 40)
Economic Environment: 18 (of 30)
Total Score: 76 (of 100)
(Lower scores = freer)
Covers events that took place between January 1, 2008, and December 31, 2008.
Conditions for press freedom improved slightly in 2008, following the government’s November 2005 crackdown on opposition political parties and the civil society groups and media outlets that were perceived to support them. A controversial draft law to regulate civil society was introduced during the year, and while it did not directly affect the press, it had a chilling effect on all nongovernmental actors and increased concerns about government persecution. Separately, the government reversed an earlier decision and granted licenses to two of the publishers arrested in 2005. While many Ethiopian journalists have gone into exile, arguably the most important figures remain in the country, providing some hope for a reinvigorated press. Currently, however, the critical perspectives held by many newspapers before the 2005 crackdown have yet to resurface.
The constitution guarantees freedom of the press, but this right is often restricted in practice. The Freedom of the Mass Media and Access to Information Proclamation was passed into law in December 2008 after years of consultation and debate. The legislation is not exceptionally restrictive, but it has been criticized by the private media and press freedom groups for imposing constraints on the practice of journalism and harsh sanctions for violations. The most controversial provisions were included in the penal code that took effect in May 2005. Of greater concern are the selective approach the government takes in implementing laws and the lack of an independent judiciary. Journalists have few guarantees that they will receive a fair trial, and charges are often issued arbitrarily in response to personal disputes.Court cases can continue for years, and many journalists have multiple charges pending against them. Laws provide for freedom of information, although access to public information is largely restricted in practice, and the government has traditionally limited coverage of official events to state-owned media outlets, albeit with slight openings that began in 2006. In late October 2008, the prime minister abruptly announced a major cabinet reshuffle, including the closure of the Ministry of Information. The precise effects of this move were still unclear at the end of the year.
The broad political crackdown that began in November 2005, in which several dozen journalists and politicians were arrested on charges ranging from treason to subverting the constitution, continued to have negative implications for the media during 2008. Of the 15 journalists released during 2007, seven subsequently sought asylum abroad, and others such as Sisay Agena, Eskinder Nega and Serkalem Fasil have found it difficult to obtain licenses to resume their work. In August 2008, Amare Aregawi, editor of the English- and Amharic-language weekly Reporter, was imprisoned for an article on a labor dispute at a government-run brewery in Gonder. He also received anonymous threats after running a series of articles alleging that associates of billionaire businessman Sheikh Mohammed Hussein al-Amoudi had mismanaged his investments. On October 31, Aregawi was severely beaten outside his son’s school. There were several incidents of harassment and arrests related to media coverage of the politically charged hit-and-run trial of pop singer Teddy Afro, a government critic whose songs were seen as opposition anthems during the 2005 postelection period. The government continued to crack down on political reporting, especially involving the Ginbot 7 opposition movement. Several journalists remained imprisoned at year’s end, and reporters continued to be arrested on charges dating back several years. Two Eritrean journalists from Eri-TV who were reportedly arrested by Ethiopian forces in the Somali capital of Mogadishu in 2006 continue to be held at an undisclosed location in Ethiopia. Foreign journalists and those working for international news organizations have generally operated with fewer restrictions than their local counterparts; however, they regularly practice self-censorship and face harassment and threats from authorities.
The state controls all broadcast media and operates the only television station. In 2007, a new broadcasting authority was created, and the first licenses were finally awarded to two private FM stations in the capital, Addis Ababa. In June 2008, the first private, foreign-language FM station, Afro FM, was granted a license; it will broadcast in English, French, and Arabic. Dozens of print outlets publish regularly and offer diverse views, although following the November 2005 crackdown only a limited number of newspapers – none of which challenge the federalist constitution or ethnic makeup of the government – were allowed to continue publishing without interruption. Since 2005, the most important new entrant in the print market has been the private paper Addis Neger. This paper now enjoys the highest circulation. Publishers Dawit Kebede and Wosonseged Gebrekidan were authorized to start two newsweeklies, the Awramba Times and Harambe, in 2008. However, both papers faced regular government intimidation, and the government brought up old charges against Dawit. In 2005, authorities had largely targeted the Amharic-language private press, banning or shutting down more than a dozen opposition-inclined papers that together accounted for more than 80 percent of Amharic circulation. Most newspapers struggle to remain financially viable and to meet the minimum bank balance that is required to renew their annual publishing licenses.
In past years, access to foreign broadcasts has occasionally been restricted. This pattern continued into 2008 with the jamming of Deutsche Welle and Voice of America (VOA) signals, though the government denies blocking the stations. The U.S. State Department reported that the sustained jamming of VOA’s Amharic and Afan Oromo services largely ended in March. Diplomatic ties with Qatar were broken over the Qatar-based satellite station Al-Jazeera’s coverage of the insurgency by the Ogaden Liberation Front in southern Ethiopia.
Owing to an extremely poor telecommunications infrastructure, internet access is limited primarily to the major urban areas; less than 0.5 percent of the population could make use of this medium in 2008, but its popularity is growing with the proliferation of internet cafes. As more citizens, faced with an increasingly restricted traditional media environment, turned to the internet for information, the government responded accordingly. There are reports that the government monitored e-mail, and starting in 2006, blocked access to opposition websites and blogs, including news websites run by Ethiopians living abroad. Since 2004 the government has been using a unique e-government platform. Known as WoredaNet, meaning a network of local districts, it connects different nodes of the government, from the central to the local level, and has been used extensively by political cadres to instruct local administrators through videoconferencing. The Ethiopian Telecommunications Corporation remained the only internet service provider during 2008.
Resulted 100 thousnds died and the Imperial Regime Fall from power by hungered Ethiopians in early days of the 1974 Wollo Famine,
2. The Biblical Famine of 1984-1991 of the Derg
The Derg regime fall provoked by famine of Tigre starting 1984, and killed over 2 million lives
3. The Armageddon Famine 2005-2012 of Woyane
Today the we are witnessing for the third time the coming fall of Woyane regime due to all Ethiopian famine. This is due to total nationalization of all the land of Ethiopia. It has been sold today to Land Grabbers 1.5 usd per hectare per year for 48 years, while in India the same is leased for 350 per hectare per year… but in difference to Ethiopia in India the money goes to the people not to the regime. The Woyane government has been deliberately instigating famine which reached in the end of 2009 over 15 million. Like the communist regime of the Derg, Woyane manipulate the aid as a main source of income the last 18 years.
“affluent people have a strong obligation to relieve famine. If they fail, they allow others to die, and makes them murderers”
Prof. Peter Singer in Famine, Affluence, and Morality in The Journal of The Royal Institute of Philosophy 2002.
Cursed with chronically oppressive and incompetent governments, Ethiopians have endured
mass starvation almost as a matter of course.81 During the early 1970s, the country suffered a series of droughts that put tremendous strain on its food supply. Emperor Haile Selassie and his government by and large ignored the resulting hunger.82 They paid a price for this indifference; by exploiting national unrest fueled in part by starvation, a Communist-led uprising overthrew Haile Selassie and, after a few years of internecine fighting, the Dergue, an extreme left-wing faction, took over. The Dergue, led by Col. Mengistu Haile Meriam, embarked in the late 1970s on a radical Marxist redistribution of property and collectivization of agriculture, echoing Stalin’s “reforms.”83 True to the Soviet model, the state levied large grain quotas on farmers, subjected them to heavy taxation, and forced them to sell grain to the government at greatly undervalued prices.84 These policies destroyed incentives and led to dramatic falls in productivity.85 It was not so clear as in Stalin’s case that the government had declared war on its own citizens. However, the misguided adherence to Communist dogma by an inept regime eviscerated individuals’ preexisting abilities to feed themselves while the government took no corresponding action to provide an alternative.86 This government-manufactured food shortage, however inadvertent, left Ethiopians increasingly vulnerable to exogenous faminogenic shocks by the early 1980s. Such a shock came in the form of severe drought. It is tempting, but incorrect, to hold this natural disaster liable for the famine that ensued.87 Other parts of sub-Saharan Africa were hit at the same time— neighboring Kenya suffered the same drought as Ethiopia—without an outbreak of famine.88 The Dergue’s disastrous macroeconomic policies made Ethiopia particularly susceptible. The forcible expropriation of property in the form of high grain quotas and excessive taxation, combined with artificially low market prices due to government constraints, prevented farmers from either keeping their grain for themselves or selling it for enough to buy food. Faced with poor weather, peasants were defenseless, unable to exercise their traditional “coping” mechanisms to mitigate the effects of drought.89 A report on the famine labels these as longterm causes, finding that hunger was due to the deterioration in the productive capacity of the peasant populations and the elimination of traditional methods of coping with predictable fluctuations in climatic and environmental factors. “Foremost among these factors were government programs, redistribution of land, confiscation of grain and livestock through excessive taxes and obligations, and coercive labor programs and a decline in available labor force.”90 As Clay and Holcomb observe, “Famine . . . resulted primarily from government policies . . . implemented in order to accomplish massive collectivization of agricultural production and to secure central government control over productive regions of the country where indigenous peoples have developed strong anti-government resistance.”91 These government policies, while perhaps not intentionally faminogenic, were pursued in spite of significant evidence that they were leading to disaster. After years of such malpractice, the consequences were made clearer and clearer to the government.92 Still, in 1985, after the famine was already in full swing, the Dergue authorities persisted with their disastrous policies.93 But the Dergue was not just recklessly indifferent. The famine did not strike all of Ethiopia equally but, rather, was targeted at Wollo and Tigray, with a sharp, but brief, episode in Eritrea.94 Not coincidentally, these three areas were homes to separatist rebellions that were assailed in accordance with a withering counterinsurgency strategy. The fierceness of the famine in these combat zones arose out of the Dergue’s deliberate use of starvation as a weapon.
“there has never been a famine in a functioning multiparty
democracy,”40 constitutes the backdrop for the argument connecting famine to human agency. Sen and Drèze observe that it is not exogenous faminogenic shocks like drought but
“negligence or smugness or callousness on the part of the non-responding authorities” rèze and Sen argue that “it has to be recognized that even when the prime mover in a famine is a natural occurrence such as a flood or a drought, what its impact will be on the population would depend on how society is organized.”
JEAN DRÈZE & AMARTYA SEN, HUNGER AND PUBLIC ACTION 46 (1989).
From famines to philosophy: Sen and the art of humanistic economics
============== ================= The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences on its award of the Nobel Prize for economics to Amartya Sen. The Prize will be presented to Dr Sen in Stockholm on Thursday. Amartya Sen has made several key contributions to the research on fundamental problems in welfare economics. His contributions range from axiomatic theory of social choice, over definitions of welfare and poverty indexes, to empirical studies of famine. They are tied closely together by a general interest in distributional issues and a particular interest in the most impoverished members of society. Sen has clarified the conditions which permit aggregation of individual values into collective decisions, and the conditions which permit rules for collective decision-making that are consistent with a sphere of rights for the individual. By analysing the available information about different individuals’ welfare when collective decisions are made, he has improved the theoretical foundation for comparing different distributions of society’s welfare and defined new, and more satisfactory, indexes of poverty. In empirical studies, Sen’s applications of his theoretical approach have enhanced our understanding of the economic mechanisms underlying famines. Can the values which individual members of society attach to different alternatives be aggregated into values for society as a whole, in a way that is both fair and theoretically sound? Is the majority principle a workable decision rule? How should income inequality be measured? When and who can we compare the distribution of welfare in different societies? How should we best determine whether poverty is on the decline? What are the factors that trigger famines? By answering questions such as these, Amartya Sen has made a number of noteworthy contributions to central fields of economic science and opened up new fields of study for subsequent generations of researchers. By combining tools from economics and philosophy, he has restored an ethical dimension to the discussion of vital economic problems.
Individual values and collective decisions
_____________________ _____________________ When there is general agreement, the choices made by society are uncontroversial. When opinions differ, the problem is to find methods for bringing together different opinions in decisions which concern everyone. The theory of social choice is preoccupied precisely with this link between individual values and collective choice. Fundamental questions are whether — and, if so, in what way — preferences for society as a whole can be consistently derived from the preferences of its members. The answers are crucial for the feasibility of ranking, or otherwise evaluating, different social states and thereby constructing meaningful measures of social welfare. Majority rule ————- ————– Majority voting is perhaps the most common rule for making collective decisions. A long time ago, this rule was found to have serious deficiencies, in addition to the fact that it may allow a majority to suppress a minority. In some situations it may pay off to vote strategically (that is by not voting for the preferred alternative), or to manipulate the order in which different alternatives are voted upon. Voting between pairs of alternatives sometimes fails to produce a clear result in a group. A majority may thus prefer alternative ‘A’ to alternative ‘B’ whereas a (second) majority prefers ‘B’ to ‘C’; meanwhile, a (third) majority prefers ‘C’ to ‘A’. In the wake of this kind of “intransitivity”, the decision rule cannot select an alternative that is unambiguously best for any majority. In collaboration with Prasanta Pattanaik, Amartya Sen has specified the general conditions that eliminate intransitivities of majority rule. In the early fifties, such problems associated with rules for collective choice motivated economics laureate Kenneth Arrow (1972) to examine possible rules for aggregating individual preferences (values, votes), where majority rule was only one of many alternatives. His surprising but fundamental result was that no aggregation (decision) rule exists that fulfils five conditions (axioms), each of which appears very reasonable on its own. This so-called impossibility theorem seemed to be an insurmountable obstacle to progress in the normative branch of economics for a long time. How could individual preferences be aggregated and different social states evaluated in a theoretically satisfactory way? Sen’s contributions from the mid-sixties onwards were instrumental in alleviating this pessimism. His work not only enriched the principles of social choice theory; it also opened up new and important fields of study. Sen’s monograph, Collective Choice and Social Welfare, from 1970 was particularly influential and inspired many researchers to renew their interest in basic welfare issues. Its style, interspersing formally and philosophically oriented chapters, gave the economic analysis of normative problems a new dimension. In the book as well as many separate articles, Sen treated problems such as: majority rule, individual rights, and the availability of information about individual welfare. Individual rights A self-evident prerequisite for a collective decision-making rule is that it should be “non-dictatorial”; that is, it should not reflect the values of any single individual. A minimal requirements for protecting individual rights is that the rule should respect the individual preferences of at least some people in at least some dimension, for instance regarding their personal sphere. Sen pointed to a fundamental dilemma by showing that no collective decision rule can fulfil such a minimal requirement on individual rights and the other axioms in Arrow’s impossibility theorem. This finding initiated an extensive scientific discussion about the extent to which a collective decision rule can be made consistent with a sphere of individual rights. Information about the welfare of individuals Traditionally, the theory of social choice had only assumed that every individual can rank different alternatives, without assuming anything about interpersonal comparability. This assumption certainly avoided the difficult question of whether the utility individuals attach to different alternatives can really be compared. Unfortunately, it also precluded saying anything worthwhile about inequality. Sen initiated an entirely new field in the theory of social choice, by showing how different assumptions regarding interpersonal comparability affect the possibility of finding a consistent, non-dictatorial rule for collective decisions. He also demonstrated the implicit assumptions made when applying principles proposed by moral philosophy to evaluate different alternatives for society. The utilitarian principle, for instance, appeals to the sum of all individuals’ utility when evaluating a specific social state; this assumes that differences in the utility of alternative social states can be compared across individuals. The principle formulated by the American philosopher John Rawls — that the social state should be evaluated only with reference to the individual who is worst off — assumes that the utility level of each individual can be compared to the utility of every other individual. Later developments in social choice rely, to a large extent on Sen’s analysis of the information about, and interpersonal comparability of, individual utilities. Indexes of welfare and poverty In order to compare distributions of welfare in different countries, or to study changes in the distribution within a given country, some kind of index is required that measures differences in welfare or income. The construction of such indexes is an important application of the theory of social choice, in the sense that inequality indexes are closely linked to welfare functions representing the values of society. Serge Kolm, Anthony Atkinson and — somewhat later — Amartya Sen were the first to derive substantial results in this area. Around 1970, they clarified the relation between the so-called Lorentz curve (that describes the income distribution), the so-called Gini coefficient (that measures the degree of income inequality), and society’s ordering of different income distributions. Sen has later made valuable contributions by defining poverty indexes and other welfare indicators. Poverty indexes A common measure of poverty in a society is the share of the population, H, with incomes below a certain, predetermined, poverty line. But the theoretical foundation for this kind of measure was unclear. It also ignored the degree of poverty among the poor; even a significant boost in the income of the poorest groups in society does not affect H as long as their incomes do not cross the poverty line. To remedy these deficiencies, Sen postulated five reasonable axioms from which he derived a poverty index: P=H.[I+(1-I). G]. Here, G is the Gini coefficient, and I is a measure (between 0 and 1) of the distribution of income, both computed only for the individuals below the poverty line. Relying on his earlier analysis of information about the welfare of single individuals, Sen clarified when the index can and should be applied; comparisons can, for example, be made even when data are problematic, which is often the case in poor countries where poverty indexes have their most intrinsic application. Sen’s poverty index has subsequently been applied extensively by others. Three of the axioms he postulated have been used by those researchers, who have proposed alternative indexes. Welfare indicators A problem when comparing the welfare of different societies is that many commonly used indicators, such as income per capita, only take average conditions into account. Sen has developed alternatives, which also encompass the income distribution. A specific alternative — which, like the poverty index, he derived from a number of axioms — is to use the measure y.(1-G), where y is income per capita and G is the Gini coefficient. Sen has emphasised that what creates welfare is not goods as such, but the activity for which they are acquired. According to this view, income is significant because of the opportunities it creates. But the actual opportunities — or capabilities, as Sen calls them — also depend on a number of other factors, such as health; these factors should also be considered when measuring welfare. Alternative welfare indicators, such as the United Nations Human Development Index, are constructed precisely in this spirit. Amartya Sen has pointed out that all well-founded ethical principles presuppose equality among individuals in some respect. But as the ability to exploit equal opportunity varies across individuals, the distribution problem can never be fully solved; equality in some dimension necessarily implies inequality in others. In which dimension we advocate equality and in which dimensions we have to accept inequality obviously depends on how we evaluate the different dimensions of welfare. In analogy with his approach to welfare measurement, Sen maintains that capabilities of individuals constitute the principal dimension in which we should strive for equality. At the same time, he observes a problem with this ethical principle, namely that individuals make decisions which determine their capabilities at a later stage. Welfare of the poorest In his very first articles, Sen analysed the choice of production technology in developing countries. Indeed, almost all of Sen’s works deal with development economics, as they are often devoted to the welfare of the poorest people in society. He has also studied actual famines, in a way quite in line with his theoretical approach to welfare measurement. Analysis of famine Sen’s best known work in this area is his book from 1981: Poverty and Famines: An Essay on Entitlement and Deprivation. Here, he challenges the common view that a shortage of food is the most important (sometimes the only) explanation for famine. On the basis of a careful study of a number of such catastrophes in India, Bangladesh, and Saharan counties, from the Forties onwards, he found other explanatory factors. He argues that several observed phenomena cannot in fact be explained by a shortage of food alone, for example that famines have occurred even when the supply of food was not significantly lower than during previous years (without famines), or that famine stricken areas have sometime exported food. Sen shows that a profound understanding of famine requires a thorough analysis of how various social and economic factors influence different groups in society and determine their actual opportunities. For example, part of his explanation for the Bangladesh famine of 1974 is that flooding throughout the country that year significantly raised food prices, while work opportunities for agricultural workers declined drastically as one of the crops could not be harvested. Due to these factors, the real incomes of agricultural workers declined so much that this group was disproportionately stricken by starvation. Later works by Sen (summarised in a book from 1989 with Jean Dreze) discuss — in a similar spirit — how to prevent famine, or how to limit the effects of famine once it has occurred. Even though a few critics have questioned the validity of some empirical results in Poverty and Famine, the book is undoubtedly a key contribution to development economics. With its emphasis on distributional issues and poverty, the book rhymes well with the common theme in Amartya Sen’s research. __________________________________________
The Real Causes of Famine
By Jeffrey Sachs Amartya Sen, this year’s Nobel prizewinner in economics, has helped give voice to the world’s poor. And that is no small matter, for the very lives of the world’s poor may depend on having their voices heard. In a lifetime of careful scholarship, Sen has repeatedly returned to a basic theme: even impoverished societies can improve the well-being of their least advantaged members. Societies that attend to the poorest of the poor can save their lives, promote their longevity and increase their opportunities through education and productive work. Societies that neglect the poor, on the other hand, may inadvertently allow millions to die of famine–even in the middle of an economic boom, as occurred during the great famine in Bengal, India, in 1943, the subject of Sen’s most famous case study. Sen demonstrated that the Bengal famine was caused by an urban economic boom that raised food prices, thereby causing millions of rural workers to starve to death when their wages did not keep up. And why didn’t the government react by dispensing emergency food relief? Sen’s answer was enlightening. Because colonial India was not a democracy, he said, the British rulers had little interest in listening to the poor, even in the midst of famine. This political observation gave rise to what might be called Sen’s Law: shortfalls in food supply do not cause widespread deaths in a democracy because vote-seeking politicians will undertake relief efforts; but even modest food shortfalls can create deadly famines in authoritarian societies. Sen has placed great emphasis on poor societies that have achieved high standards in health and education. Costa Rica, for example, which has an average annual income that is only about one-fourth the U.S. level, boasts a life expectancy of 76 years–almost identical to the U.S.’s. Reason: Costa Rica disbanded its army in 1949 and focused public spending on basic health and education. Brazil, by contrast, has almost the same average income as Costa Rica, but a life expectancy that is 10 years lower. Brazil has greater social inequalities, and much of the population lives in deep poverty. Sen’s observations have been taken to heart in the valuable Human Development Report issued annually by the United Nations Development Program. That document features a Human Development Index that ranks countries by a combination of three factors: average income, educational attainment and life expectancy. Thus, Costa Rica ranks 62nd from the top in average income but much better, at 39th, in the Human Development Index. These rankings convey Sen’s powerful message: annual income growth is not enough to achieve development. Societies must pay attention to social goals as well, always leaning toward their most vulnerable citizens, and overcoming deep-rooted biases to invest in the health and well-being of girls as well as boys. In a world in which 1.5 billion people subsist on less than $1 a day, this Nobel Prize can be not just a celebration of a wonderful scholar but also a clarion call to attend to the urgent needs and hopes of the world’s poor. Jeffrey Sachs is director of the Harvard Institute for International Development
In 1984 and 1985, famine struck East Africa. More than one million people died. Millions more went hungry. Crops turned to dust, livestock were decimated. Ethiopia has experienced other food crises, but the magnitude of the 1984 famine captured the attention of the world. Why was it so severe, and what lessons have been learned since then? Background: The 1984 Crisis ———————– ————————- In the radio reports below, recorded 25 years ago, VOA’s Dan Robinson describes the development of the famine and the world’s response. Lessons Learned Some lessons have been learned in the past 25 years, as highlighted in the videos below. For instance, the Ethiopian government has implemented a safety net program to address the chronic need for food and anticipate emergencies. A national grain reserve can now provide a cushion in times of crisis until emergency food aid arrives. VOA has also reported on the U.S. Agency for International Development’s Famine Early Warning System Network (FEWS NET), developed to improve communication in humanitarian aid response. Some programs, such as an ACDI/VOCA program aimed at increasing sustainability among small farmers, have enhanced agricultural productivity. The Ethiopia Commodities Exchange, profiled in a PBS documentary, aims to improve food access and intranational trade. But while there has been progress, some necessary changes have still not taken root. Some critics charge that the international community has not done enough to prioritize long-term agricultural development, and agricultural productivity is hampered by the lack of private land ownership. In addition, although the ability to transport food aid has improved, access to vulnerable populations is still hampered by road quality and armed conflict. Food Security Today Although a lot has been done to improve food security, millions of people in East Africa are again going hungry as a result of prolonged drought, conflict or a combination of both. FEWS NET rates Somalia, much of Kenya and parts of Ethiopia and Sudan as highly or extremely food insecure. In Somalia, one in five children is suffering from malnutrition and 3.6 million people are in need of aid. (Oxfam) Ethiopia’s government has appealed for nearly 160,000 tons of food aid to feed more than six million needy people. (DPPC) Over 500,000 animals in Kenya are estimated to have died in the drought, at a cost of over $260 million to the local economy. (Oxfam) The price of maize in Uganda in October this year is 171 percent higher than two years ago. (VOA) Climate change seems to be exacerbating the cycle of drought; rains have been insufficient for three years in a row. Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, leading the African delegation to the U.N. Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, appealed to attendees, “Africa is going to be hit hardest and it’s going to be hit first.” The following video reports provide additional information on the ongoing drought and its effects. ———————– ——————————
Hunger Stalks Ethiopia Once Again
16 December 2009
It’s been decades since Ethiopia experienced a major famine. But food shortages remain a familiar reality to millions. The last major famine in Ethiopia took place in 1985-86. At first it affected the northern part of the country, but it eventually spread to parts of the southern highlands. The famine claimed the lives of nearly one million Ethiopians. Almost six million were dependent on food aid – and many remain so today. Twenty-five years later, Ethiopia is in the midst of yet another round of food shortages. The government has appealed for nearly 160,000 tons of food aid to feed more than six million needy people. Lack of rain Ethiopia’s Communications Minister Bereket Simon said insufficient rain is the main cause of the latest food crisis. “The cause for the recent shortage in food in some places is first the normal rain that we get around end of May and June has come late. And then in some places it has withdrawn early. So these are the main reasons,” Simon said. Critics accuse the government of underestimating and under-reporting the extent of the food shortages. Bereket said such finger-pointing lacks merit. “We don’t understand why we should hide anything. That’s simply an allegation. This is a country which has big capability to avoid famine. We’ve had droughts several times, but we have never had famine in 18 years. So this is the capacity that the government has. It has been telling the exact numbers of people facing food shortages. So there is no reason why we hide,” Simon said. Lack of political will Wall Street Journal reporter Roger Thurow co-authored a recent book titled: “Enough – Why the World’s Poor Starve in Age of Plenty.” The author devotes much of his book to Ethiopia. Thurow said more than anything else, the recurrence of food shortages points to a lack of political will on the part of Ethiopia’s leaders and Western donors. “Not only the Ethiopian government, but the Western governments and development agencies, the World Bank, the development agencies of many of the countries in the developed world for their agricultural development assistance for the small farmers of Africa. And in the famine of 2003 one saw this whole manifestation of this neglect, this lack of political will come to bear,” Thurow said. Land tenure Under the government’s land tenure policy, the state owns all land. The Wall Street Journal reporter said the policy discourages initiative and hurts agricultural productivity. “The lack of a private ownership of land hinders the accumulation of wealth by smaller farmers. Using land as collateral to secure loans or to secure credit is really important, and credit is the life blood of small farmers the world over. Outright ownership would also give farmers the confidence to make improvements to their properties,” Thurow said. Not so, said communications minister Bereket Simon. He said the government’s land policy has already benefitted millions of rural Ethiopians. “Drought has nothing to do with government policies. On the contrary our policies enable the farmer to re resilient and they are improving a lot of things because they are the main beneficiaries of the land policy. You know this criticism comes whenever there is a shortage of rain or water,” he said. International donors Bereket expressed gratitude to international donors and aid agencies that provide emergency relief. But he said the amount of food aid delivered has been much less than reported in the media. The British aid agency Oxfam has called for an end to what it calls “knee-jerk” reactions to food crises. It said sending food aid is only a temporary fix and should be coupled with longer-term solutions – a view endorsed by Roger Thurow. “One does need to have kind of an emergency response capability out there. But at the same time, and I think this is what Oxfam is talking about, we need to have the emergency aid goes out, we need to have this longer term view of agricultural development aid and practices that will put, particularly in Africa or Ethiopia, the farmers in better position to keep on producing and hopefully prevent these recurrent hunger crises,” Thurow said. Ethiopia’s communications minister Bereket Simon said his government has actually been taking steps in that regard. He said a review of the past several years demonstrates the effectiveness of its land policy – and said the government will continue to work on areas that need improvement. “In the last 18 years, about 20-25 million people have been added to Ethiopia, and most of these years government and the country itself have been able to feed most of these additional numbers of people. We have a very good agricultural product where we help our 13 million small-scale farmers…and in some places we are showing quite very encouraging results. But in some drought-prone areas we know that we need to do more, and we are committed to that type of agricultural development,” Simon said. Lessons learned Agricultural experts say feeding a population of over 80 million will remain a major challenge for Ethiopia. Author Thurow said both the government and donors should take stock of lessons learned from past food crises as it plans agricultural policies for the future. “One of the lessons to be drawn from past hunger crises in Ethiopia is the crucial importance of the agriculture development aid and creating the conditions for the Ethiopian farmers to have the incentive to produce as much food as possible… so they wouldn’t be in need of food aid to begin with. Those numbers need to be reversed,” Thurow said. The World Food Program said because of lower funding, it will run out of food for more than a million mothers and their children. The U.N. agency said it’s also working to help poor Ethiopians reach a point where they no longer need food assistance. ——————————– 16 December 2009
In the study of molecular evolution, a haplogroup (from the Greek: ἁπλοῦς, haploûs, “onefold, single, simple”) is a group of similar haplotypes that share a common ancestor.
DNA Haplgoups are an indication of “Deep Ancestry”. That is an attempt to identify the very early ancestral group from which one is descended 12,000 to 70,000 years ago. This can give one an indication of where his/her ancestors originated.
In human genetics, the haplogroups most commonly studied are Y-chromosome (Y-DNA) haplogroups and mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) haplogroups, both of which can be used to define genetic populations. Y-DNA is passed solely along the patrilineal line, from father to son, while mtDNA is passed down the matrilineal line, from mother to daughter. Neither recombines, and thus Y-DNA and mtDNA change only by chance mutation at each generation with no intermixture between parents’ genetic material.
J1 (M267) Typical of populations of the Arabian peninsula, Dagestan, Mesopotamia, the Levant and Semitic-speaking populations of North Africa and Northeast Africa, with a moderate distribution throughout Western Asia. They are the people originated from Ethiopia.
-Eritrea Ruler Reports Deadly Border Clash With Ethiopia
2 January 2010
Eritrea ruler’s propaganda website, www.shabait.com , today reported of a deadly border clash with Ethiopian troops in the early hours of the first day of the new year 2010. The incident reportedly took place in the border town of Zalambesa.
“Zalambesa, 2 January 2010: In the early morning hours of January 1st 2010, TPLF soldiers launched successive attacks in the Zalambesa front and were swiftly driven back with 10 of their soldiers killed and two captured, leaving six AK-47 automatic rifles, a machinegun and communication equipments” said the report posted on the front page of the website.
Eritrea claims Ethiopia attack
Addis Ababa – Eritrea accused arch-foe Ethiopia on Sunday of launching attacks along their disputed border but said its troops had driven off the assault, killing 10 Ethiopian soldiers and capturing two.
The Eritrean foreign affairs ministry said soldiers from Ethiopia’s ruling Tigrai People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) had attacked on Friday in the Zalambesa area. Ethiopian officials were not immediately available for comment.
“In the early morning hours of January 1st 2010, TPLF soldiers launched successive attacks in the Zalambesa front and were swiftly driven back,” the ministry said in a statement on its website.
Zalambesa lies in the centre of the contested frontier, over which neighbours fought a brutal war in the late 1990s.
80 000 die in war
“Ten of their soldiers (were) killed and two captured, leaving six AK-47 automatic rifles, a machine gun and communication equipment,” the statement said.
Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi’s TPLF party is the main member of the ruling coalition and was a close ally of the Eritrean government before they fell out prior to the border war.
About 80 000 people died in the 1998-2000 border conflict, many in brutal World War I-style trench warfare.
A UN-backed boundary commission charged with demarcating the border has handed the disputed town of Badme to Eritrea but Addis Ababa has refused to recognise the ruling.
In August the Hague-based Eritrea-Ethiopia Claims Commission ordered Asmara to pay $10m in damages sustained during the conflict, a decision Asmara has pledged to comply with.
Eritrea opposition to fight
Addis Ababa – An Eritrean opposition group told AFP on Tuesday it was “prepared to launch attacks” on government troops after the United Nations last week imposed tough sanctions on Asmara.
“This is a good opportunity for us,” Cornelios Osman, head of the Democratic Movement for the Liberation of the Eritrean Kunama (DMLEK) said in a phone interview.
“We are preparing our military forces to launch more attacks,” he added. “We are inside Eritrea and will hit selected targets and institutions.”
The UN Security Council last week voted for an arms embargo and targeted sanctions against Eritrea, which has been accused of trying to destablise the Western-backed government in neighbouring Somalia.
Asmara condemned the decision as “a shameful day” for the United Nations.
But Cornelios said the travel ban imposed on senior officials would “further isolate the regime” and “deter it from receiving the hundreds of millions of dollars it gets” annually from the Eritrean diaspora.
DMLEK is a member of the Ethiopia based coalition Eritrean Democratic Alliance, of which two other groups have also waged a nascent armed struggle often staging hit-and-run attacks.
Eritrean President Issaias Afeworki has often dismissed his country’s foreign-based opposition as “puppets” linked with arch-foe Ethiopia, with whom Eritrea recently fought a border war.
Some 80 000 people died in a 1998-2000 border conflict between the two neighbours, many in brutal World War I style trench warfare.
A UN-backed boundary commission charged with demarcating the border handed the disputed town of Badme to Eritrea but Ethiopia has refused to implement the ruling so far.
Thursday 31 December 2009 03:32.
Ethiopia: Eritrea to use Sudanese territories for terrorist actions
December 30, 2009 (MEKELLE, ETHIOPIA) – Ethiopia on Wednesday told Sudan that arch-foe Eritrea is being prepared to use Sudanese territories for “terrorism” missions.
Speaking at the ongoing 12th Ethio-Sudan border development commission meeting in the northern Mekelle town, director for National Security and Intelligence Service, Getachew Assefa urged the joint commission to seriously look into Eritrea’s intention.
“According to our latest intelligence sources, the Eritrean government is making all the necessary preparations to use the long Ethiopia-Sudan common border to smuggle ‘terrorists’ and anti-Ethiopian forces into to our soil” said the director, also the representative of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia to the joint commission.
“It is imperative, therefore, for the joint border commission and the respective bordering states of both countries to clearly understand the intentions of the Eritrean government.” He added.
The Ethiopian official further said that his government is closely watching into what he said was “Asmara’s systematic gamble aimed to disrupt the existing excellent ties between Ethiopia and Sudan”.
Last week, Ethiopian authorities said that they have apprehended four individuals with “Eritrean accent” who are suspected of carrying out a recent deadly grenade attack at a packed café in the restive Ogaden region where terrorist-designated Ogaden Rebels (ONLF) are active.
Sudanese presidential advisor and head of the Sudanese delegation General Salah Abdalla to his part said that securing peace and stability in either of the neighbours does mean securing peace to both countries and expressed his country’s readiness to fully cooperate with Ethiopia for regional peace and security.
“It is difficult to ensure sustainable peace and development in Sudan without securing them in Ethiopia and vice versa” The General’s Arabic translation said adding
“Sudan won’t allow any of its territories to be a save heaven for anti-Ethiopia forces considered as threats to the Ethiopian people and to country’s peace and development.”
General Salah Abdalla hailed Ethiopia’s relentless efforts to bring peace and stability in Sudan. The Ethiopia-Sudan border development commission meeting is expected to end tomorrow passing important cooperation agreements based on evaluations commission studied on past implementation performance.
The four-day joint meeting deliberates on matters of security, education, trade, health, culture, control of illegal border trade and also on ways of preventing communicable diseases among others.
The republic of Sudan has sent a 135-member Sudanese delegation including a musical team from Upper Nile, Blue Nile, Sener, and Geddarrif states.On the Ethiopian side, Tigray, Benishangul-Gumuz, Amhara and Gambella are the States representing Ethiopia.
Afrique en ligne
Ethiopia, Sudan vow to resist Eritrean aggression in Horn of Africa
Ethiopia and Sudan will fight against Eritrea’s attempts to arm insurgents to destabilize the two East African nations heading for elections in 2010 around their common borders, a senior Ethiopian security official said on Wednesday.
Ethiopia’s top spymaster, Getachew Assefa, the Director-General of the National Intelligence and Security Services, said the border security was of utmost importance for the two countries as they prepare for presidential and parliamentary elections in 2010.
He said the elections in the two countries provided a ‘golden opportunity’ to the Eritrean government to stage attacks against Ethiopia.
The Ethiopian diplomats and security experts have been holding talks with their Sudanese counterparts in Mekelle town, some 900 kms north of capital Addis Ababa, on matters of mutual interest, covering border security and political stability.
The 12th session of the Ethiopian-Sudanese Development and Boundary Commission resolved to step up border security, warning that the next-door neighbour, Eritrea, was likely to use the border areas to cause political tensions in the two countries.
Sudan and Ethiopia, which have been holding the Joint Commission meeting in the region near Eritrea since 28 December, said the fight against terrorism would top their agenda as the two states head towards elections in 2010.
Sudan’s electoral process is underway with Presidential nominations expected to take place on 22 January, while Ethiopia’s parliamentary polls are due to be held on 23 May, 2010, in which the party with the majority seats in parliament forms the government.
Eritrea has been put under strict UN Security Council sanctions for allegedly supplying arms to insurgents battling to overthrow the western-backed Somali interim government and for its military aggression against neighbouring Djibouti.
Assefa warned that the Eritrean government was preparing to use the Sudanese territory as a base to arm insurgents and launch terrorist attacks against Eritrea, according to state media reports, which quoted the Ethiopian official, urging joint security operations.
Sudan’s Presidential Advisor General Salah Abdella said the two states were working together to scatter any terrorist attempts in the region.
Abdella said the two states would work closely in monitoring the border and fighting terrorism.
Eritrea has denied the accusations levelled against it by the Ethiopian government, saying the UN sanctions were based on falsified reports.
Addis Ababa – Pana 30/12/200
TPLF Troops Launch An Attack In The Zalambesa Front
Saturday, 02 January 2010 05:53 |
Zalambesa, 2 January 2010: In the early morning hours of January 1st 2010, TPLF soldiers launched successive attacks in the Zalambesa front and were swiftly driven back with 10 of their soldiers killed and two captured, leaving six AK-47 automatic rifles, a machinegun and communication equipment
Published: January 1, 2010
ZALAM BESA, Ethiopia (Reuters) – Two Eritrean rebel groups said on Friday they have killed 25 government soldiers and wounded at least 38 others, in ambushes on two military camps.
There was no immediate comment from the Eritrean government and the report could not be independently confirmed.
Rebel spokesman Yasin Mohamed said the attacks by the Red Sea Afar Democratic Organisation (RSADO) and the Eritrean Salvation Front (ESF) rebels were in retaliation for the repression of the Afar minority and others by the government.
“The joint forces earlier today, made a surprise attack at the camp of 13 sub-division of the 2nd brigade at the vicinity of Kokobay, killed 13 and wounded 20 others,” Yasin said.
He said a separate attack killed 12 members of an intelligence unit and wounded 18 others in Kermeti area. The United Nations Security Council imposed sanctions on Eritrea last week for arming and supporting Islamist insurgents in Somalia.