River Pollution and Urban Farming in Addis Ababa

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Photos from Addis Ababa

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population pressure adds to pollution

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By Mark Wolde

reporting from Addis Ababa


ADDIS ABABA - Before Addis Ababa, the capital city of Ethiopia was founded 130 years ago, it was an agricultural area cultivated by the Oromo people. More than a century later, there are still people in the city and the surroundings making a living by farming. Presently urban farming is widespread alongside and the vicinities of the rivers in the city using pump irrigation. 

The seasonal and perennial rivers and groundwater reserves of Addis Ababa are polluted by industrial and municipal solid and liquid wastes. The polluted river water is used by downstream residents to grow vegetables, which are sold and consumed by inhabitants of the city. 

An estimated 10,000 households make a living out of cultivating various kinds of vegetables along rivers and their tributaries in Addis Ababa and its environs. According to Walelign, general manager of the city’s rivers, riversides development and climate change adaptation project office, some 4,000 hectares of land have been enclosed for the purpose of farming activities.  

According to Halilu Wolde Eyesus, chairperson of the Mekanissa, Goffa and Sarris Area Vegetable Growers’ Market Service Cooperative Union, urban farming dates back 90 years. Hailu said, commercial farming was introduced to members of the first generation of the cooperative union by the Greeks, and then the Italians. Back then, the rivers of the city were not polluted and contaminated when the practice was introduced.

Hailu admits that the cooperative was formally established 41 years ago with 244 founding members. Transferring ownership to family members, the cooperative is still owned by 244 members of the new generation, Hailu said. Legally registered with the Nifas Silk and Lafto Sub-city, the cooperative union operates in six woredas (districts).

 

Claiming to supply 75 percent of the vegetables cultivated in the city, Hailu and his fellow board members of the cooperative blame the city administration for failing to protect the rivers flowing across the city from pollution and waste disposal.  Originally 54 hectares of land was in possession by the cooperative farmers until the size increasingly diminished as more and more polluting activities has intensified. 

The vegetables that are being consumed every day in Addis Ababa are grown on land potentially contaminated with polluted rivers. There are studies conducted by the Addis Ababa University in collaboration with the Addis Ababa City Government Rivers, Riversides Development and Climate Change Adaptation Project Office. 

 


The studies indicate that all rivers flowing across the city are polluted with industrial and domestic waste. The major industries alone discharge an equivalent to 4,877,362m3 toxic water into rivers in Addis Ababa and its environs. The studies further show textile factories, food and beverages plants, leather and foot wear factories, rubber factories and iron and steel makers to be the major culprits. Especially, textiles, food and beverage, leather and foot wear industries account for 96 percent of the entire industrial waste discharged into river systems. However, the waste disposal systems that factories, hospitals, hotels, printing presses and the like use are either directly connected to the rivers or simply discharge into water bodies. The studies indicate that 80 percent of the clean water originally used by industries is finally discharged as toxic waste.

According to the Swedish Society of Nature Conservation, streams of Addis Ababa are becoming heavily contaminated to cultivate backyard crops that have a significant contribution for food security for urban farmers. The rivers have become increasingly contaminated by household sewage, solid waste, wastewater from car washes and gas stations, storm water, and 

wastewater from factories and hospitals most of which are traditionally located along the river banks. Measurements from the Environmental Protection Agency of Addis Ababa on river water and vegetables shows a high incidence of E-coli bacteria and the vegetables containing elevated levels of some heavy metals, such as zinc, mercury and cadmium. Polluted river water is also used to wash vegetables, the survey indicated.

As the Addis Ababa Water and Sewerage Authority (AAWSA) was unable to keep up with the water demand of city following the expansion of urbanization, high-rise constructions and population growth, drawing water from these rivers, private wells and broken mains for washing, bathing and even cooking are becoming quite common. The Authority also admits that although the basin draining into the rivers and streams of Addis Ababa is well surveyed and understood, it is poorly managed and regulated.

For a city more than 7 million people, sanitation and sewerage deficit has been a great source of pain for its inhabitants. According to the Addis Ababa Environmental Protection  

 

Authority’s (AAEPA) survey, since the city’s sanitation coverage is so low with only 13 percent of the city’s population using flash toilets, 57 percent using pit latrines and more than 30 percent with no sanitation facilities whatsoever, Addis Ababa has been ripe for environmental and health crisis decades ago.

The Addis Ababa city administration under the auspicious of former mayor Driba Kuma, in early months of 2016, had established a five-group committee of scholars with various academic backgrounds including Environmental Science experts drawn out from Addis Ababa University (AAU) to study and deliberate on a project called “Addis Ababa Rivers and Riversides Development Project.” However the project has been stagnant until it was reborn and reinitiated by the current Prime Minister with vigor and a new project name. The project was launched on February 21, 2019, with a controversial budget of 29 billion birr (a little more than USD 1 billion dollars). Many people believe at times like the current country’s situation, many people displaced, the inflation skyrocketed and extreme foreign currency shortage the ambitious project with its astronomical budget is very uncomfortable.

Responding to the peoples inquiry, the Prime Minister said a quarter of the budget is already pledged by the government of China and He said his office is facilitating a fund raising event where I would host a five-million-birr (USD 180,000) per plate fundraiser dinner ceremony at the National Palace, where Addis’s company CEOs, international organization heads and members of the diplomatic community and wealthy businessmen and women have been invited to attend. The PM further said, countries such as Djibouti, Kenya, Somalia and Eritrea showed interest to support the project.

The press statement released by the office of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed giving credit to the Prime Minister as the mastermind behind the “Addis Ababa River Side Project”, which is estimated to cost the federal government and the city administration some 29 billion birr (a little over US$ one billion).

The park covers 23.8kms and 27.5kms along two rivers flowing from Entoto Mountain through Akaki River. “The project essentially aims to lift the image and potential of the capital. With the goal of creating many jobs in the project phase, it also aims to create riverside economies, increase urban tourism, and provide the city’s residents with areas of respite,” the press statement further reads.

The project is expected to be completed within three years, and create job opportunities for lots of people of the city. The public parks that will be developed through this project will have lanes dedicated for bicycle riders, pure water and solar energy supply and recreational areas.

The first phase launches covers the area from Entoto Mountain to National Palace and costing the Addis Ababa City Administration 2.5 billion birr (about $87 million), according to Deputy Mayor Takele Umma. Studies show that Akaki River is one of the most polluted rivers in Ethiopia.

Since the project did not mention any of the urban farming community, there is concern from the cooperative urban farmers that the grand project envisioned would possibly relocate them or displace them from the banks of the rivers for the sake of tourism, recreation and beautification of the city.

More stories from Africa coming soon

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UN Peacekeepers Provide Healthcare in Mali

  

The United Nations Peacekeeping Mission to Mali (MINUSMA) is providing free medical clinics to villagers in remote and predominantly inaccessible parts of Central Mali.

The desert regions of this West African nation have been used as bases by Islamic jihadists with ties to al Qaeda and the Islamic State.

  

A Senegalese medical officer, Lt. Tafsir Gueye, who is part of the MINUSMA team told reporters that their team is focused on helping mostly elderly people suffering, among others, from chronic articular diseases, like arthritis, and ocular problems.

  

“We do not have all the necessary paraphernalia, but we are doing our best even against the recurrent diseases we find”, Lt. Tafsir Gueye is quoted by Reuters news agency as saying.

Peacekeepers deployed to Mali on instructions of the Security Council have been targeted by a guerilla campaign. So many have been killed that it is the world’s deadliest peacekeeping operation to date.

[Children getting healthcare. Photos courtesy of Chaine Espoir and MINUSMA official website]


  


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American Aid to Somalia to Hit $900 Million

 

 The United States is expanding support to Somalia, investing close to $900 million in mostly humanitarian assistance, according to the American Mission to the Horn of Africa country.
The United States embassy reopened in Mogadishu in early December 2018, a month after Ambassador Donald Yamamoto was appointed top American diplomat to the country.
“The United States is meeting life-saving humanitarian assistance needs; expanding education and healthcare; building institutions, good governance, and justice; creating jobs and advancing economic development; and providing stabilization and security for the people of Somalia,” read a statement from Ambassador Yamamoto.
An estimated $420 million will be invested in humanitarian assistance along with $110 million devoted to help establish good governance, improve conflict resolution, and foster justice through judicial reforms.
Washington has indicated its willingness to consider debt relief which it believes is needed in order to attract investors and boost Somalia’s development.
[Ambassador Yamamoto. Photo courtesy of US State Departmen

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Jacob Zuma Supports Radical Land Reforms in South Africa

  South Africa’s former president, Jacob Zuma, has urged the government of his successor, Cyril Ramaphosa, to quickly implement the policy of “expropriation of land without compensation”.

On a tweet, Zuma argues that all the problems faced by South Africa can be traced back to the question of land.

Of all the “ills of the black people in South Africa,” he argued on Twitter, “the bigger portion of it emanates from the land dispossession”.

  

‘‘You solve the problem of the land, you’ll solve the poverty in this country, inequalities and the economic issues,” Zuma wrote.

The ruling ANC (African National Congress) and the opposition Economic Freedom Fighters (
EFF) have teamed up in pressing for a constitutional amendment that, if passed, would make expropriation of land without compensation legal.

As South African president from 2009 until 2018, Zuma decried the “willing-seller, willing-buyer” policy of his own ANC party.

According to Zuma, waiting to sell land to people who do not have any money to buy it merely prolongs the problem and the pain of the poorest people. He says he is in favor of those who lave large stretches of land sharing it with indigenous blacks who owned the land before.

Zuma has also declared his support for the Freedom Charter, a grouping of farmers who have called for nationalization of land.

Observers who have not forgotten the huge negative impact of a similar policy in neighboring Zimbabwe under former president Robert Mugabe worry over South Africa suffering the same negative impact as did Zimbabwe when it launched a similar radical land reform program.

[Jacob Zuma, Picture courtesy of Zuma’s Twitter account]

Gunned down

Moments Before Death

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This is a screen shot grab of the last moments of life of a 10 year old girl that was summarily executed by Cameroonian soldiers.  

Death Squad kills

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A mother is led to her execution by death squad in northern Cameroon.  

Bullets fly

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A mother and her child, along with another mother and her baby (which was still on her back) were murdered by a Camaroonian death squad

Slain baby and mother

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A mother dies from a hail of gunfire along with her infant baby after a Cameroonian death squad opens fire

Death of the innocent

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Two mothers and their children lying dead after another day of executions. 

Another Tragedy for Ethiopians

  
 

By Mark Wolde

reporters@compassfreepress.com

Engineer Simegew Bekele, the Chief Engineer and project manager of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), was found dead in his car on Thursday, July 27, 2018, in Addis Ababa’s main square, in Ethiopia. Ethiopia. Federal Police Commissioner Zeinu Jemal confirmed the prominent Engineer was found in his car with a bullet wound behind his right ear. 

Many Ethiopians were shocked with the early morning news of the death of their beloved hero, a symbol, and pride of the country. Those who knew and heard about his death expressed their profound sandiness and deep sorrow. 

According to information from the Police Commissioner, Jemal Zeinu, Engineer Simegnew was found dead behind the wheel of his V 8 Toyota around 8:20 a. m. local time just off Meskel Square Avenue, a place frequently inundated by early morning joggers, soccer players, and sports lovers. Yet, no one seems to have seen what actually transpired. 

The federal police chief added that a handgun was found on his right hand. "Forensic evidence and information from eyewitnesses was collected to determine the causes of his death, and that result of the investigation will be made public once it is completed." added, Jemal Zeinu.

It is not clear whether Simegnew's death was suicide or murder. His body has been sent to St. Paul, a local hospital, for autopsy examination. Burial was to take place on Friday, following his death, however, because the autopsy examination was not completed the date was postponed to Saturday, July 28, 2018. Simegnew's wife and three children survive the 54-year-old engineer.

The Ethiopian government has embarked on massive energy projects across the country intending to succeed in its vision to make the East African nation a power industry hub in Africa and a middle-income economy by 2025.

GERD construction began in April 2011 with the supervision and managing of Engineer Simegnew Bekele and is being built at the cost of 4.7 billion U.S. dollars. Entirely financed by domestic resources and the people of Ethiopia, at home and abroad, it is expected to have a reservoir with a total of 74 billion cubic meters of water upon completion. The project is set to become Africa’s largest hydro dam with a capacity of 6,450 MW when completed.

GERD has, however, been the center of a dragging diplomatic standoff between Ethiopia and Sudan on the one hand and Egypt on the other. Egypt fears the hydro dam, that Ethiopia is building on the Nile, will reduce a water supply vital for its 84 million people, who mostly live in the Nile valley and delta.

The government of Egypt has been trying to stop the GERD project from the very beginning using different tactics and methods. 

However, talks with Egypt – whose primary source of water is the Nile – and Sudan on disagreements over its impact on the river have been deadlocked for months.

A disagreement for both Ethiopia and Egypt is the speed at which the dam’s reservoir would be filled.

In June, the leaders of Ethiopia and Egypt vowed to put aside their differences peacefully. They also agreed to take steps to put into effect an agreement – which also includes Sudan – to set up a fund for investing in infrastructure in the three countries.

The engineer who was born in the Gonder region, western Ethiopia, in 1964 has served for more than 32 years in the Ethiopian Electric Power Corporation, according to a report by Ethiopian Broadcasting Corporation.

Apart from this lead role in Ethiopia's GERD flagship project, he was in charge of Gilgel Gibe I and Gilgel Gibe II hydroelectric power generation projects which were both completed in recent years.

News of his death has shocked the country and has left many Ethiopians wondering how it could happen in the city’s main square.

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed was informed about the news soon after his arrival in the United States where he met Ethiopians in three cities in late July. 

"PM Abiy is saddened & utterly shocked to hear the death of Eng. Simegnew Bekele. PM Abiy received this heart-wrenching news with great sorrow as he arrives in the US. He offers his condolences to his family & the Ethiopian people…” tweeted his chief of staff, Fitsum Arega.

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Eritrean Delegation Arrives at Addis Ababa

  

  

by Mark Wolde

reporters@compassfreepress.com

The Eritrean delegation arrived at Addis Ababa Bole International Airport on June 26th to discuss peace talks, breaking the 18-year hostility between the two countries, following the invitation from Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed of Ethiopia.

Prime Minister Ahmed welcomed Osman Saleh, Foreign Affairs Minister of Eritrea, and Yemane Gebreab, political advisor to President Isaias Afewerki, the delegation spent several hours at the Addis Ababa Bole International Airport VIP lounge before heading to the PM’s office.

Almost twenty years under a "no war, no peace" situation, the governments of Ethiopia and Eritrea are finally coming to the negotiation table to resolve their differences and implement the longstanding Algiers Agreement that ended the 1998-2000 boarder clash.

The Ethiopian Peoples' Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) has decided to fully implement the Algiers accord and the decision of the boundary commission established to demarcate the border between Ethiopia and Eritrea; the announcement made in a communique the party issued after its first Executive Committee meeting since the new prime minister's election.

The Algiers accord which was signed on December 12, 2000, between Ethiopia and Eritrea nearly two decades ago to put an end to the bloody two-year conflict that claimed the lives of tens of thousands soldiers on both sides. Subsequently, the boundary commission had awarded the desolate town of Badme, that source of dispute, to Eritrea.

During the Martyr’s day of celebration, President Isaias said, "We will send a delegation to Addis Ababa to gauge current developments directly, and in-depth and to chart out a plan for continuous future action.” He stated further, “The events and developments that have unfolded in our region in general and in Ethiopia in particular in the recent period warrant appropriate attention.”

There is tremendous support for the peace discussions among many Ethiopians. Prime Minister Abiy is seen by many as the "Moses" of Ethiopia and deliverer of his people from the tyranny and oppression of the crumbling revolutionary democracy of one ethnic rule.


U.S. Withdraws from U.N. Human Rights Council

  


WASHINGTON, DC, USA, 19 JUNE 2018 – The United States is withdrawing from the United Nations Human Rights Council slamming the Council as “hypocritical and self-serving” and blaming it for what Washington calls its “chronic bias against Israel.”

U.S. Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo and U.S. Ambassador to the U.N., Nikki Haley made the announcement Tuesday, explaining that the Council has not implemented “essential reforms” that were required were the U.S. to maintain membership of the 47-member body. 

“Every individual has rights,” said Pompeo in a statement. “They are given by God and no government should take them away.” He accused the Council of “shameless hypocrisy… saying one thing, and doing the other.”

“The only thing worse than a Council that does almost nothing to defend human rights is a Council that covers for human rights abusers,” Pompeo said. He cited China, Cuba, and Venezuela as some of the countries with egregious human rights records which, according to him, should not hold a seat on the Council. 

Ambassador Haley added DR Congo as one of the countries that do not deserve a seat on the Council, citing the ongoing discovery of mass graves in the country even as it was being admitted into the Council. Haley said such nations had sought a seat on the Council in order to prevent the Council from scrutinizing their human rights violations.

According to Pompeo and Haley, the Council has preferred to scapegoat countries. They cited Israel, pointing out that the Council has adopted more resolutions condemning Israel than all other nations of the world combined. 

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tweeted his thanks to U.S. President Donald Trump.

Council Denied Access to Investigate Rights Violations in the Cameroons

One proof that the Council barks but cannot bite was provided Monday by Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein himself, who explained Monday during the Council’s session in Geneva, Switzerland, how the Council is prevented from doing its job by a country like Cameroon.

The regime of Paul Biya of the Republic of Cameroun (independent on 1st January 1960) has denied the Council access to investigate abuses by the occupation forces of Cameroun in the Republic of Ambazonia, formerly Southern Cameroons (independent on 1st October 1961).

Haley and Pompeo said the U.S. would continue to promote human rights around the world. Should the Council reform, Haley said, the U.S. will be happy to rejoin, stressing that Washington is withdrawing because, according to her, the Council “is not worthy of its name.”

The withdrawal of the U.S comes a day after the U.N. human rights officials criticized the Trump Administration’s “zero tolerance” immigration policy. Implementation of that policy has led to the separation of nearly 2,000 children from their parents at some U.S. border crossings. 

“The thought that any State would seek to deter parents by inflicting such abuse on children is unconscionable,” said Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Monday in an address.

Several previous U.S. administrations have been critical of the Council. Some have threatened to quit without ever following through with action. It is during President Barack Obama’s tenure that the U.S. was first elected as a member of the Council in 2009.

Since January 2018, the Trump Administration has withdrawn the U.S. from the Paris Climate Accord; it has left the U.N. Educational and Cultural Organization; and has pulled out of the Iran Nuclear Deal.

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Another Ebola Outbreak

 By Jean Pierre Kayembe


KINSHASA, DR CONGO, 22 MAY 2018 - More cases of the deadly disease Ebola are being reported in the Democratic Republic Congo (DR Congo) as Wealth Health Organization (WHO) officials and authorities in the central African country administer an experimental Ebola vaccine.

As of today (May 22), the death toll in the new outbreak is at 26 out of a total 46 cases of the hemorrhagic fever. The victims include 21 confirmed cases of Ebola, 21 probably cases and four suspected cases, according to the health minister of DR Congo, Oly Illunga.

The first cases were reported in a small, rural area. The spread to an urban area like Mbandaka has health officials alarmed. Mbandaka is situated on the banks of the Congo River, merely an hour’s flight from the Congolese capital of Kinshasa.

Our biggest goal is to prevent the disease from spreading beyond the city of Mbandaka, Oly Illunga told reporters.

“We are preparing for all scenarios, including the worst case scenarios,” said Peter Salama, Director of WHO.

Health staff - the most exposed to the disease from taking care of patients – are prioritized. An estimated 600 people were targeted in the first phase, with more to be included during the subsequently rounds of trial vaccinations. By mid-May, WHO said more than 4,000 doses of the vaccine are already in the country and more are on the way. Yet, administering all 4,000 doses of the vaccine would still be grossly inadequate for Mbandaka – the city of 1.2 million inhabitants that health officials are calling “Ground Zero” for this outbreak.

DR Congo has contained eight previous outbreaks of Ebola since 1976, but all of those eight occurred in rural areas and affected a relatively small population. This is one of the first to have spread to a major town.

To increase the chances of stemming the outbreak from spreading, DR Congo’s President, Joseph Kabila, and his cabinet agreed Sunday, 20 May to raise funding for the Ebola emergency to more than $4 million. The government also decided to offer free health care in the affected region, including special care for Ebola victims and their families.

The disease was named after a river in DR Congo near where the first ever outbreak in 1976 was reported.

About 11,300 people were killed during the 2014-2016 outbreak – 99% of them in the three worst-hit countries: Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

Migrant Boat Capsizes at the Coast of Yemen Killing Many

 

By Mark Wolde

June 12, 2018

A smuggler’s boat that left the port of Bossaso, Somalia on 5 June 2018, carrying   83 men and 17 women, a total of 100 Ethiopian migrants capsized at the coast of Yemen. According to International Organization for Migration (IOM), 46 migrants had drowned, 37 men and nine women. A further 16 remain missing, presumed dead. It is a sorrowful time for the families of the deceased and all Ethiopians. The government of Ethiopia made arrangements with IOM through its embassy in Yemen to give the survivors medical attention and necessary treatments.

Both en route and once in Yemen, many migrants suffer at the hands of cruel smugglers and other criminals, including physical and sexual abuse, torture for ransom, arbitrary detention, forced labor for no pay, and even death.

IOM's director of operations and emergencies, Mohammad Abdiker, said the Gulf of Aden's migration tragedy was shameful.

[caption id="attachment_881" align="alignnone" width="300"]https://compassfreepress.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/illegal-imigrants-Mark-Wolde-300x176.jpg" width="300"/> Illegal migrants walking aimlessly and exhausted. Photo courtesy of Ethiopian Press.[/caption]

“Over 7,000 poor migrants take this perilous journey every month; some 100,000 took it just last year. They are treated appallingly and go through horrendous conditions. This has to end,” he added.

The drowning accident happened just days after IOM helped 101 Ethiopians, including 51 women and 33 children, to leave Yemen for Djibouti, as fighting closed in around Yemen's key port of Hodeidah. It is confirmed that through the cooperation of IOM and the government of Ethiopia,  more than 300 stranded migrants in route to Ethiopia via Djibouti have been repatriated to their home country, as of June 12, 2018.

Just in August of Last Year, The world was shocked to witness scores of Ethiopian and Somali migrants forcibly thrown into the sea by smugglers off the coast of Yemen and drowned. The perpetrators have not been brought to justice due to the lawlessness, war, and chaos in Yemen which made it very difficult for investigation.

According to IOM National Program Officer in Ethiopia, Leyunet Demsis, illegal migration has already become the modern-times slavery where people are ruthlessly sold. They are exposed to prostitution and forced to lose their priceless organs, as well.

Despite all the pressures by governments and other stakeholders about the daunting aspect of illegal migration, the youth are still sacrificing themselves to illicit brokers. Leyunet said that due to the awareness programs created in the society and the particular attention given by the government and international community illegal migration is on the decline.

According to the census bureau, 47% of the population of Ethiopia is under 15 years of age, and more than half of the population are youth. In a country with state-sponsored economic growth and where you must be loyal to the ruling party to receive any benefit, employment is very scarce to the restless and ambitious youth population. Hence, they are very prone to the human trafficker’s false promise and fall victims to their trap.

It was in 2013 that Ethiopia imposed a prohibition on immigration to keep its citizens from physical and psychological injuries while they travel for overseas employment. The ban was lifted starting from January 30, 2018.

These shortcomings have been opening doors for smugglers to take advantage of citizens who were seeking overseas employment. Immigrants are exposed to unanticipated physical and psychological injuries, and they are also deported from destination countries barehanded.

A national committee was established to fight the crime of human trafficking as well as enhance the legal migration. The committee incorporates the Ministry of Education, Women, and Children, Youths and Sport, and Foreign Affairs, Immigration and General Attorney, among others.

The country has been working to strengthen its diplomatic relation with nations where many Ethiopians travel for overseas employment. Bilateral agreements were signed with Kuwait, Qatar, and Jordan.

Additional agreements with United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain and Lebanon are also in the pipeline. The agreements mainly focused on protecting the rights and occupational safety and health of Ethiopians working overseas in line with International Labor Laws according to Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs (MOLSA) in Ethiopia.

The ministry also considered sending Labor Attachés to hosting countries and is working closely with stakeholders to tackle illegal immigration.

Reports by the regional branches of the national task force in 2013 indicate that thousands of young Ethiopians from rural parts of the country, as they happen to be the easy targets of human traffickers, have continued falling victims of the systematic web of human trafficking run by none other than Ethiopians themselves. According to a report presented to the national task force, 12, 735 Ethiopians through Amhara region in the north, 785 through Afar, and 7,579 through Somali in the east, as well as 400 through Benishangul regions in the west were caught trying to cross borders within six months only.

While the figure above represents those who were intercepted, the national task force says a staggering 14,866 Ethiopians, only from two areas in Southern Nations, Nationalities, and People's Region (SNNPR),  are believed to have crossed the Ethiopian border and gone to South Africa. An unaccounted number of young men and women from Gambella region are also believed to have crossed to South Sudan, after the latter's referendum in January 2011, in search of a new identity in the new state and a better job opportunity. The town of Dire Dawa in the East is the gateway to neighboring Djibouti and is believed to see 20,000 Ethiopians crossing through it every year.

Human Trafficking is an organized crime which has many roots and networks from tiny rural villages to international borders in the neighboring countries and destination countries. Currently, it ranks at number three in the world's major crimes following illegal drug and weapon trafficking. Among the extended network it has, traffickers (illicit brokers) are the primary participants and take the central role.

Information released by Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs (MoLSA) in 2017, suggests that the other networks with a crucial role in trafficking potential migrants are recruiters, buyers, sellers, transporters,  financers, brothel keepers, pimps, clienteles, spotters and so on.

Amhara, Oromia, Southern Nations Nationalities and Peoples Region (SNNPR) and Tigray are categorized as “migration-prone regions” in the country, and almost all of the illegal migrants are from these regions. Many of them use Kenya and Tanzania as transition countries to go to South Africa.

Data from MOLSA shows that at least 2,650 Ethiopians from SNNPR, Hadiya zone, alone, lost their lives as a result of human trafficking since 2013. The data further indicate that thousands more are unaccounted for or have a physical disability. Neighboring zones are also thought to have similar conditions regarding human trafficking with the youth primarily set on their way to South Africa. To make matters worse, those who made it to South Africa are not immune to the dangers as 1,134 of them died there during the same time.

It is ironic that Ethiopian migrants reportedly pay from 90-120 thousand birr (3300 to 4400 dollars) for traffickers to get to South Africa. On their journeys, migrants are often forced to pay additional money or have their relatives send money at the price of their lives; otherwise they are left in no man's land.

A news report that surfaced in June 2012 from Malawi has shuddered Ethiopians in the country and abroad:  "At least 45 Ethiopian illegal immigrants have died, and 72 others are in critical condition from lack of clean air in a container they were in, apparently on their way to Malawi via Tanzania," reported  IPP media. The bodies were found inside a container tossed in a forest after the truck driver abandoned them when he realized that many of the people loaded inside the containers had died, possibly of suffocation, hunger and dehydration.

In this particular case, the government in Malawi has blamed Tanzanian human traffickers who it said were helping illegal immigrants from Nairobi, Kenya, to come to South Africa via Arusha, Tanzania, using illegal routes.

Despite these grim realities, thousands of Ethiopians make irrational decisions to take the perilous journey of illegally migrating; being swindled by human traffickers every month. So many returnees are planning to go back while others are planning to go abroad for the first time, legally or illegally.

Curbing illegal migration is not an issue that should only be left only to the government or international organization. In this regard, the roles of religious leaders, media, and the civil society, families and all Ethiopians who are concerned in general must be involved for a successful outcome.

Congress Urged to Stop Cameroon’s Genocidal Violence

  

  By Herbert Y. Boh📷WASHINGTON, DC – The Congress of the United States of America (USA) will hold a hearing in the coming weeks on the genocidal violence that is unfolding in the troubled English-speaking regions of Cameroon.Last November 19, Paul Biya, the president of this predominantly French-speaking central African nation, declared war on activists campaigning for the restoration of the independence of the English-speaking part renamed the Republic of Ambazonia, calling the campaigners "secessionists" and "terrorists."The United Nations says 40,000 people have been driven into refugee camps in neighboring Nigeria and another 160,000 have been internally displaced. Over 74 villages have been razed to the ground in a scorched earth strategy that has left hundreds of civilians killed – many burnt alive in their homes. Armed combatants of pro-independence movements are blamed for the deaths of three-dozen members of Cameroon’s armed and security forces.“We are very concerned about the violence and are hoping to hold a hearing within a month,” said Piero Tozzi, staff director and counsel on the U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights, and International Organizations.Flanked by senior advisor, Thierry Dongala, Tozzi spoke Friday, May 19, during a meeting in the O’Neil Building with a delegation of the Ambazonia Recognition Collaborative Council (ARCC). Representatives of ARCC, a coalition of six frontline pro-independence movements, were on Capitol Hill to, “Lobby Congress to uphold and reaffirm the 21st April 1961 YES vote by the United States of America and 63 other nations before the United Nations General Assembly, granting independence to the former British United Nations Trusteeship Territory of Southern Cameroons,” said Jude Ozughen, Secretary General of ARCC. Southern Cameroons was renamed the Republic of Ambazonia on October 1, 2017, during the symbolic restoration of its independence.“We have had enough of being used as guinea pigs of a 160-year-old colonial experiment,” protested Elsie Awantoh, a girl's and women's rights activists, referencing Ambazonia’s domination by foreign powers which started when England “discovered” and colonized the territory in 1888, naming it Victoria, after the then Queen of England. “We are also here to appeal to Congress to revoke visas and freeze the assets of members of Cameroon’s political and economic elite who are ordering the blind repression, as well as to call for the expulsion of Cameroon from the partnership with the U.S. on counterterrorism,” said Barrister Syh Ambe, Secretary-General of the Movement for the Restoration of the Independence of Southern Cameroons (MoRISC).“We appeal to Congress to grant Temporary Protective Status (TPS) to Ambazonians visiting the United States, allowing them to stay temporarily to avoid returning to and facing certain political persecution in the occupied territory,” said Ebenezer Akwanga, chair of the pro-independence Southern Cameroons Youth League (SCYL).“Congress should cut funding to Cameroon’s armed and security forces,” said Vyvian Mbanwie, chair of the Southern Cameroons Women’s Movement (SCWM). “America should, notably, end the supply of military gear such as two fighter jets delivered early in May 2018, as well as put an end to training Cameroon’s anti-terror elite squad known as BIR,” said Alfred Viyuoh, an activist whose initial contacts with a fellow parishioner in a church in the Commonwealth of Virginia put ARCC’s diplomatic offensive on steroids. “The Israeli- and American-trained BIR has committed war crimes, atrocity crimes and acts bordering on genocide that are bound to drag America’s good name into disrepute in much the same way as France’s reputation was ruined by its perceived or actual funding of the regime that presided over the 1994 Genocide in Rwanda,” said Dr. Ngnawong Lebongmo Morfaw, who represented Cameroon's main opposition, Social Democratic Front (SDF), in the delegation.Only two days after the ARCC delegation reiterated on Capitol Hill that English-speaking Ambazonians owe no allegiance to the French-speaking Republic of Cameroon, the celebrations (on 20th May) of Cameroon’s controversial National Day were heavily boycotted across Ambazonia and marred by violent gun battles. Two policemen were killed, and a dozen other members of the armed and security forces were injured. A mayor and his deputy were taken hostage by fighters from pro-independence groups, according to hostage video posted on social media. The ARCC delegation urged Congress to reaffirm the inalienable right of Ambazonians to self-determination and to self-defense, including the right to keep and bear arms and use same to defend their freedom and uphold their independence as laid out in the Second Amendment of the American Constitution.The date for a hearing is yet to be announced, but the expectations are that it will hold before the end of June 2018 or early in July 2018. The expectations are that the hearing will also touch on other hot topics such as Cameroon’s partnership with the United States in the fight against the Islamic sect, Boko Haram; excessive use of force and rights violations by Cameroonian armed and security forces; and the upcoming general elections.Ahead of those crucial elections, the U.S. Ambassador to Cameroon, Peter Henry Barlerin, told reporters that he encouraged Mr. Biya during an audience in the presidential palace to preserve his legacy by emulating the example set by former South African president, Nelson Mandela. Observers say that the statement by the American diplomat, who has blamed “both sides for the violence," is a polite invitation to Mr. Biya, who has been in power for 36 years already, to drop out of seeking another seven-year presidential term when elections hold next October.Friday’s outing to Capitol Hill ended several weeks of aggressive diplomatic outreach by ARCC. Delegates from the pro-independence coalition of six frontline Ambazonian liberation movements made oral presentations and submitted a detailed report (Tears, Joy and Carnage) to congressional staffers of several U.S. senators and representatives. They also met with staffers from the House Sub-Committee on Africa and the U.S. Department of State.📷Before leaving Capitol Hill Friday, ARCC delegates assembled on the third floor of the Senate Russell Building to be photographed (in a group picture) mingled into an exhibit of bird and animal species that are in danger of extinction. The Ambazonians declared themselves a part of the display, using their picture to highlight the new reality of all citizens of Ambazonia, who have become an endangered species under colonial domination by Cameroon.Along with the outreach by ARCC, human rights activist, Emmanuel Neba Fuh, took his globe-trotting Barefoot on Pentecost Sunday to the Vatican. Neba Fuh and 50 campaigners under the hashtags #BareFoot and #NeverAgain campaigns campaigned before and after the Pontifical High Mass of Sunday, 20 May, said by Pope Francis, leader of the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics.Background“Discovered” and first colonized by England in 1858, Ambazonia (then named Victoria) was recolonized by Germany beginning in 1888. Ambazonia then became part of the German empire at the heart of Africa, known as "Neue Kamerun", which included all of present-day Central African Republic, Congo Republic, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, French-speaking Cameroon and some parts of Nigeria. After World War I, Germany lost control of Ambazonia to the League of Nations and then to the United Nations. The Trusteeship Territory was then administered by England as part of Nigeria for the 44 years until 1953. Ambazonia became a self-governing territory under England from 1954 to 1961. From 1961 until 1972, under United Nations-sanctioned arrangements, Ambazonia became “one of two states, equal in status” (the other state being French-speaking Cameroon) known as the Federal Republic of the Cameroons – with an “S”. In 1972, the French-speaking majority was instrumentalized to revoke the right of the minority English-speaking Ambazonians to autonomy in violation of Article 47 of the then Constitution which banned any infringement on the status of the federation. With its elected prime minister sacked by a presidential decree issued by the dictator of the French-speaking part and its government, parliament, police force and other institutions dissolved, Ambazonia became an unwilling party to what was called the “United Republic of Cameroon.” This lasted until 1984 when, using another decree, Biya unilaterally reverted to the name of the French-speaking part at independence: Republic of Cameroon.📷ngress Urged to Stop Cameroon’s Genocidal ViolenceBy Herbert Y. Boh

DSC_7336mccoy-RGB web ready.jpg

WASHINGTON, DC – The Congress of the United States of America (USA) will hold a hearing in the coming weeks on the genocidal violence that is unfolding in the troubled English-speaking regions of Cameroon.

Last November 19, Paul Biya, the president of this predominantly French-speaking central African nation, declared war on activists campaigning for the restoration of the independence of the English-speaking part renamed the Republic of Ambazonia, calling the campaigners "secessionists" and "terrorists."

The United Nations says 40,000 people have been driven into refugee camps in neighboring Nigeria and another 160,000 have been internally displaced. Over 74 villages have been razed to the ground in a scorched earth strategy that has left hundreds of civilians killed – many burnt alive in their homes. Armed combatants of pro-independence movements are blamed for the deaths of three-dozen members of Cameroon’s armed and security forces.

“We are very concerned about the violence and are hoping to hold a hearing within a month,” said Piero Tozzi, staff director and counsel on the U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights, and International Organizations.

Flanked by senior advisor, Thierry Dongala, Tozzi spoke Friday, May 19, during a meeting in the O’Neil Building with a delegation of the Ambazonia Recognition Collaborative Council (ARCC). 

Representatives of ARCC, a coalition of six frontline pro-independence movements, were on Capitol Hill to, “Lobby Congress to uphold and reaffirm the 21st April 1961 YES vote by the United States of America and 63 other nations before the United Nations General Assembly, granting independence to the former British United Nations Trusteeship Territory of Southern Cameroons,” said Jude Ozughen, Secretary General of ARCC. 

Southern Cameroons was renamed the Republic of Ambazonia on October 1, 2017, during the symbolic restoration of its independence.

“We have had enough of being used as guinea pigs of a 160-year-old colonial experiment,” protested Elsie Awantoh, a girl's and women's rights activists, referencing Ambazonia’s domination by foreign powers which started when England “discovered” and colonized the territory in 1888, naming it Victoria, after the then Queen of England. 

“We are also here to appeal to Congress to revoke visas and freeze the assets of members of Cameroon’s political and economic elite who are ordering the blind repression, as well as to call for the expulsion of Cameroon from the partnership with the U.S. on counterterrorism,” said Barrister Syh Ambe, Secretary-General of the Movement for the Restoration of the Independence of Southern Cameroons (MoRISC).

“We appeal to Congress to grant Temporary Protective Status (TPS) to Ambazonians visiting the United States, allowing them to stay temporarily to avoid returning to and facing certain political persecution in the occupied territory,” said Ebenezer Akwanga, chair of the pro-independence Southern Cameroons Youth League (SCYL).

“Congress should cut funding to Cameroon’s armed and security forces,” said Vyvian Mbanwie, chair of the Southern Cameroons Women’s Movement (SCWM). 

“America should, notably, end the supply of military gear such as two fighter jets delivered early in May 2018, as well as put an end to training Cameroon’s anti-terror elite squad known as BIR,” said Alfred Viyuoh, an activist whose initial contacts with a fellow parishioner in a church in the Commonwealth of Virginia put ARCC’s diplomatic offensive on steroids. 

“The Israeli- and American-trained BIR has committed war crimes, atrocity crimes and acts bordering on genocide that are bound to drag America’s good name into disrepute in much the same way as France’s reputation was ruined by its perceived or actual funding of the regime that presided over the 1994 Genocide in Rwanda,” said Dr. Ngnawong Lebongmo Morfaw, who represented Cameroon's main opposition, Social Democratic Front (SDF), in the delegation.

Only two days after the ARCC delegation reiterated on Capitol Hill that English-speaking Ambazonians owe no allegiance to the French-speaking Republic of Cameroon, the celebrations (on 20th May) of Cameroon’s controversial National Day were heavily boycotted across Ambazonia and marred by violent gun battles. Two policemen were killed, and a dozen other members of the armed and security forces were injured. A mayor and his deputy were taken hostage by fighters from pro-independence groups, according to hostage video posted on social media. 

The ARCC delegation urged Congress to reaffirm the inalienable right of Ambazonians to self-determination and to self-defense, including the right to keep and bear arms and use same to defend their freedom and uphold their independence as laid out in the Second Amendment of the American Constitution.

The date for a hearing is yet to be announced, but the expectations are that it will hold before the end of June 2018 or early in July 2018. The expectations are that the hearing will also touch on other hot topics such as Cameroon’s partnership with the United States in the fight against the Islamic sect, Boko Haram; excessive use of force and rights violations by Cameroonian armed and security forces; and the upcoming general elections.

Ahead of those crucial elections, the U.S. Ambassador to Cameroon, Peter Henry Barlerin, told reporters that he encouraged Mr. Biya during an audience in the presidential palace to preserve his legacy by emulating the example set by former South African president, Nelson Mandela. Observers say that the statement by the American diplomat, who has blamed “both sides for the violence," is a polite invitation to Mr. Biya, who has been in power for 36 years already, to drop out of seeking another seven-year presidential term when elections hold next October.

Friday’s outing to Capitol Hill ended several weeks of aggressive diplomatic outreach by ARCC. Delegates from the pro-independence coalition of six frontline Ambazonian liberation movements made oral presentations and submitted a detailed report (Tears, Joy and Carnage) to congressional staffers of several U.S. senators and representatives. They also met with staffers from the House Sub-Committee on Africa and the U.S. Department of State.

DSC_7378endangered species-RGB web ready.jpg

Before leaving Capitol Hill Friday, ARCC delegates assembled on the third floor of the Senate Russell Building to be photographed (in a group picture) mingled into an exhibit of bird and animal species that are in danger of extinction. The Ambazonians declared themselves a part of the display, using their picture to highlight the new reality of all citizens of Ambazonia, who have become an endangered species under colonial domination by Cameroon.

Along with the outreach by ARCC, human rights activist, Emmanuel Neba Fuh, took his globe-trotting Barefoot on Pentecost Sunday to the Vatican. Neba Fuh and 50 campaigners under the hashtags #BareFoot and #NeverAgain campaigns campaigned before and after the Pontifical High Mass of Sunday, 20 May, said by Pope Francis, leader of the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics.

Background

“Discovered” and first colonized by England in 1858, Ambazonia (then named Victoria) was recolonized by Germany beginning in 1888. Ambazonia then became part of the German empire at the heart of Africa, known as "Neue Kamerun", which included all of present-day Central African Republic, Congo Republic, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, French-speaking Cameroon and some parts of Nigeria. After World War I, Germany lost control of Ambazonia to the League of Nations and then to the United Nations. The Trusteeship Territory was then administered by England as part of Nigeria for the 44 years until 1953. Ambazonia became a self-governing territory under England from 1954 to 1961. 

From 1961 until 1972, under United Nations-sanctioned arrangements, Ambazonia became “one of two states, equal in status” (the other state being French-speaking Cameroon) known as the Federal Republic of the Cameroons – with an “S”. In 1972, the French-speaking majority was instrumentalized to revoke the right of the minority English-speaking Ambazonians to autonomy in violation of Article 47 of the then Constitution which banned any infringement on the status of the federation. With its elected prime minister sacked by a presidential decree issued by the dictator of the French-speaking part and its government, parliament, police force and other institutions dissolved, Ambazonia became an unwilling party to what was called the “United Republic of Cameroon.” This lasted until 1984 when, using another decree, Biya unilaterally reverted to the name of the French-speaking part at independence: Republic of Cameroon.


International News

Pro-Life victory at US Supreme Court

  

By Jeff McCoy

mccoy@themissionstribune.com

In a 5-4 ruling on June 26, the U.S. Supreme Court decided that a California law which placed pro-choice information requirements on crisis pregnancy centers that oppose abortion violates the First Amendment. That decision affirms the pregnancy centers First Amendment rights to free speech.

In 2015 the state of California passed the FACT Act into law that required licensed pregnancy centers to notify expectant mothers about abortion options. In a loss to the Pro-Life movement, FACT Act was challenged but upheld in the lower courts including the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit.

Justice Clarence Thomas wrote the majority opinion that backed the counseling centers. Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Kennedy, Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch also supported the rights of the centers.

Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan opposed the decision. Breyer wrote the dissenting opinion.

Pro-life supporters hope that the decision will provide a precedent for protecting the right of churches, and religious institutions, to preach and teach messages that clash with government policies.

Pro-Life groups have been very concerned about the make-up of the Supreme Court bench and waded into the polling booths to elect Donald Trump as president knowing that a vacancy was open in the nation’s highest court. With President Trump’s selection of Neil Gorsuch, it appears their efforts have paid off well.

Justice Kennedy wrote, "The serious threat presented when government seeks to impose its own message in the place of individual speech, thought, and expression. For here the state requires primarily pro-life pregnancy centers to promote the state's own preferred message advertising abortions. This compels individuals to contradict their most deeply held beliefs; beliefs grounded in basic philosophical, ethical or religious precepts, or all of these. And the history of the Act's passage and its underinclusive application suggest a real possibility that these individuals were targeted because of their beliefs.”

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and several other groups filed a friend-of-the-court brief before the Supreme Court. Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York, chair of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' (USCCB) Committee on Pro-Life Activities, issued the following statement after the ruling:

"In an important victory for the free speech rights of pro-life organizations, the Supreme Court today has affirmed that the First Amendment protects the right of all organizations to choose for themselves not only what to say, but what not to say. This includes allowing pro-life pregnancy care centers to continue providing life-affirming support to both mother and child without being forced by governments to provide free advertising for the violent act of abortion in direct violation of the center's pro-life convictions.  The decision is an important development in protecting pro-life pregnancy centers from future efforts to compel speech in violation of their deeply held beliefs."

Staff reporter Jeff McCoy can be reached at mccoy@themissionstribune.com.

CAPTION: 

MT Photo by Jeff McCoy ---The US Supreme Court

Bill in Congress threatens foreign aid for those who vote against USA

  

By Jeff McCoy

mccoy@themissionstribune.com

Should America send billions of dollars in foreign aid to countries that vote against the USA at the U.N.? Of the top 14 countries that receive aid from the United States only one, Israel, voted with America more than half of the time.

The United Nations Voting Accountability Act, H.R. 4237, would stop aid to countries that vote against America at the U.N more than 50% of the time. The bill was introduced in February 2017 by Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX1).

It wasn't an entirely new idea. Gohmert has introduced similar legislation in the past. President Trump spoke of it in his State of the Union Address in January of this year. "Last month, I also took an action endorsed unanimously by the Senate just months before: I recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Shortly afterward, dozens of countries voted in the United Nations General Assembly against America's sovereign right to make this recognition. American taxpayers generously send those same countries billions of dollars in aid every year. 

That is why, tonight, I am asking the Congress to pass legislation to help ensure American foreign-assistance dollars always serve American interests, and only go to America’s friends. As we strengthen friendships around the world, we are also restoring clarity about our adversaries.” Trump said.

How much aid does the U.S. send to other countries? In 2016, the last year that a complete report is available, $49.4 billion. Iraq received $9.53 billion and $9.28 billion went to Afghanistan. Both countries only voted with the United States 21% of the time. Syria took $1.56 billion and then voted with the U.S. just 15% of the time. Israel had the best support record supporting the U.S 94% of the time. They received 6.22 billion in aid.

When first introducing the idea to Congress, Gohmert said, "It is critical that some of these nations receiving vast amounts of U.S. tax dollars realize some of us are tired of their working so hard against us. By introducing this legislation, I am continuing to encourage a deep look at our role as benefactor to countries who work so hard against us. Throwing money at our enemies has made them more contemptuous, not less. It is the role of government to protect its people, not pay others to hate us."

The plan seems to have the support of U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley. She played a crucial part in the decision to cut millions of dollars to Palestinian refugees in response to Palestine’s sponsorship of U.N. resolutions denouncing U.S. President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

Not everyone agrees with the cuts. The leaders of 21 leading organizations involved in international humanitarian outreach sent a letter to the Trump Administration listing their opposition to the U.S. decision to withhold $65 million in U.S. contributions to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). The letter was sent to the United States Ambassador Haley, then Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster, and Secretary of Defense James Mattis.

Eric Schwartz, president of Refugees International and former U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees and Migration wrote  “As reflected in comments by Ambassador Nikki Haley, this decision is aimed at punishing Palestinian political leaders and forcing them to make political concessions. But it is wrong to punish political leaders by denying life-sustaining aid to civilians. This is a dangerous and striking departure from U.S. policy on international humanitarian assistance which conflicts starkly with values that U.S. administrations and the American people have embraced. ”

The chances of passage are thin. Gohmert has introduced the bill no fewer than four times in the past. It awaits a possible vote in the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

Staff reporter Jeff McCoy can be reached at mccoy@themissionstribune.com

Ethiopia Announces Sweeping Reforms


ADDIS ABABA, ETHIOPIA, 21 JUNE 2018 - Ethiopia announced sweeping political and economic reforms Tuesday night, accepting the terms of a peace deal concluded in 2000 with neighboring Eritrea and opening up major sectors of the heavily state-planned economy to private investors.

It is Ethiopia’s first public commitment to do more to “win the peace” after a United Nations-supervised boundary commission ruled that Badme, a disputed territory at the heart of an armed conflict between the two countries (from May 1998 to June 2000) was Eritrean. The Ethiopia continued to occupy the territory, including the town of Badme.

The two Horn of Africa nations have been at each other’s throats for many decades. A former Italian colony until the Fascist regime in Rome was defeated in World War II, Eritrea became a United Nations Trusteeship Territory, administered by Britain as a self-governing territory. In 1952, Britain claimed to have led the territory to independence by integrating Eritrea as an autonomous region of the Ethiopian Empire.

In 1961, Ethiopia – one of only two African countries, along with Liberia not to have been colonized - revoked the autonomy granted Eritrea and annexed the territory. Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie named Eritrea the 14th province of the Ethiopia Empire. The move triggered a war from 1961 to 1991. An estimated 1.5 million people were killed in that war and the border dispute over Badme.

Ethiopia equally announced Tuesday night that it will allow private investors to buy a stake in the country’s most important economic sectors and state-owned corporations. The sectors being opened up for business are energy, telecoms and aviation. Companies in these three sectors currently operate as strict public monopolies.

Ethiopia is emerging as a regional energy superpower. Its exports of electricity are expected to double by 2019 to $250 million in value. They are expected to skyrocket to $1 billion in value by 2023, according to the World Bank. 

The country’s aviation company, Ethiopian Airlines, is a giant in the African skies. Passenger traffic and cargo services on Ethiopian Airlines expanded by 15.4% and 27.2% respectively in 2017. 

Ethiopia was the world’s fastest growing economy with a 10.9 percent GDP growth rate in fiscal year 2017 (July 2016 to June 2017). It will post a real GDP growth of 9.6% in fiscal year 2018.

Just hours ahead of the announcement, Ethiopia’s new Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed announced the lifting of a two-year-long state of emergency which was imposed following deadly clashes in which hundreds of anti-government protesters clamoring peacefully for reforms were killed.