'I feel great shame': Swedish police chief express concern about 17 years old girl Ethiopian asylum seeker.Thursday, 13 July 2017 16:22
A Swedish police chief's Facebook post slamming the country's asylum policy has struck a chord, provoking more than 13,000 reactions and over 7,000 shares in two days.
Lena Matthijs, police chief in Älvsborg, western Sweden, published the lengthy post on July 11th after she had to tell a teenager from Ethiopia that she was to be deported to her homeland after four years living in the Nordic nation.
"I feel great shame. Shame for belonging to the state establishment that decided to deport a 17-year-old girl to Ethiopia after four years in Sweden because her homeland is judged not to be sufficiently dangerous or miserable. I gave her the decision in my role as her legal guardian. All doors are now closed. She will be out of the country before the school term starts in the autumn," her post begins.
"She has finished her first year of upper secondary school and speaks fluent Swedish. She asked me what will happen to her grades? What will happen with her studies? No one will take her in in her old homeland. The summer job she’s doing here in Sweden will be her only source of funds. Now she has to fend for herself, as best as possible," it continues.
Matthijs goes on to say that she questioned whether it was right to speak about the case and similar ones in her position as a chief of police, but seeing the girl crying made it impossible to keep quiet.
"We deport kids who have integrated into Swedish society at the same time as we take in people who come back from fighting in Syria who have no other plan than to destroy our safety. We also fail to enforce the deportation of major criminals, who instead are allowed to stay because their lives are at risk if they’re sent back. The lives of young people are also in danger. No one can guarantee their safety after they land in Addis Ababa, Mogadishu or Kabul," the Swede elaborates.
The cost is not only emotional, according to the police chief, but also financial if the money spent on the asylum process including legal fees, education and housing are taken into account.
As a solution she suggests speeding up the processing time for asylum requests, in particular when a child is involved, and that if a final decision cannot be made within two years the child should be given a permanent residence permit, provided they have no criminal history. At the same time, the enforcement of deportation orders for criminals should be stricter, she adds.
"The girl is well integrated, has lived at a Swedish family home, reads a lot of books in Swedish, has Swedish friends, a huge amount of dreams for her life and wants to study at any cost. The Swedish Migration Agency has judged that she does not have grounds for asylum. She has no adult relatives who can take her in her homeland," Matthijs explained to The Local about the subject of her Facebook post.
"The point is that each case should be assessed individually. Asylum is one thing, but there should be other routes to a residence permit, especially for groups comprised of kids and young people without known family in their homeland and without a network in Sweden. I think we fail to enforce when it comes to those who have been sentenced to deportation in connection with crime and I think we can be tougher towards those who pose a danger for security and order in our country, for example with suspected terrorists or those who promote violence and lack Swedish citizenship but have residence permits, for example," she elaborated.
The post has led to more than 1,600 comments in response, most of which seemed to sympathize with Matthijs.
"The best I’ve ever read about how our society works," Monica Svenningsson wrote in response.
"So good! This is really just common sense. If our politicians were equally reasonable our lives would be easier. Maybe you should be a politician Lena. You’d get my vote!" Lisa Chemnitz said in her own reply.
"The reaction has been fantastic. A huge amount of support and love, which I never expected," Matthijs commented on the reception.
This isn't the first time a Swedish police officer has gone viral after expressing opinions on asylum seekers in Sweden, but the previous example occurred for different reasons. In February, Peter Springare wrote a post claiming that the majority of preliminary investigations he carried out on suspected crimes in Örebro involved people from countries like Iraq, Turkey, Syria and Afghanistan.
The accuracy of his claim was challenged by a former colleague, and the post also provoked criticism from Swedish politicians including PM Stefan Löfven.
A Facebook group supporting the police officer was created as a result, but in April Springare himself advised supporters to leave the group because he did not want his name to be associated with a group that expresses "xenophobic, racist and other degrading statements about immigrants or other people".
Federal Court Rules Opposition Leaders To Defend Prosecutors’ Charges, Reduces Bekele Gerba’s Terrorism Charge To CrimeThursday, 13 July 2017 16:15
In what was seen as a key decision involving the high profile terrorism charges against 22 mostly opposition party leaders and members, the federal high court 4th criminal bench has today acquitted five of the 22 defendants, reduced the terrorism charge against Bekele Gerba to crime charges, and ordered the remaining 16 to defend terrorism charges brought by the federal prosecutors.
Among the 17 who will be defending both terrorism and criminal cases are high profile defendants including Bekele Gerba and Dejene Taffa, first secretary general and secretary general respectively of the opposition Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC).
Defendants Chimsa Abdisa Jaffer (aka Dejene Abdisa), Firaol Tola Dadi, Getachew Dereje Tujuba, Ashebir Desalegn Beri, as well as Halkeno Qonchora (The 7th, 9th, 10th, 13th and 22nd defendants respectively) were acquitted of all charges against them. Please click here to get the full list of the defendants.
Sixteen of the 17 will now begin defending charges of terrorism under Art. 7/1 of Ethiopia’s infamous Anti-Terrorism Proclamation (ATP).
The terrorism accusations these 16 defendants are facing deals with “Participation in a terrorist organization.” The proclamation states that “whoever recruits another person or takes training or becomes a member or participates in any capacity for the purpose of a terrorist organization or committing a terrorist act, on the basis of his level of participation, is punishable with rigorous imprisonment from five to 10 years.”
In the case of Bekele Gerba (pictured above), the court ruled that he should defend not the terrorism charges he was originally accused of, which includes Art. 3/1, 4, and 6 of the ATP, but article 257/A of the 2004 Criminal Code.
However, although Bekele Gerba can apply for a bail, he is facing sever accusations under the main section of “Violence against the national state”, which includes, among others, “outrage against the constitution, obstruction of the exercise of constitutional powers, and armed rising and civil war.”
Art. 257/A under “Provocation and Preparation”, which Bekele is accused of violating, states that “whoever, with the object of committing or supporting any of [the above] acts, publicly provokes them by word of mouth, images or writing,” is “punishable with simple imprisonment, or where the foreseeable consequences of his activities are particularly grave, with rigorous imprisonment not exceeding ten years.”
The voluminous 80 plus pages of document, which the judges began deliberating this morning and proceeded to this afternoon, is a critical part of the judges’ long awaited decision in a trial which was largely seen by many as one of the politically motivated trials against opposition members. The charges were first filed at the federal high court in April 2016, in the midst of a fast spreading anti-government protests in Oromia regional state.
All the 22 defendants were first accused of being, among others, agents of the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF), a rebel group labeled by Ethiopia’s ruling party dominated parliament as a terrorist organization, and inciting members of the public during the 2016 yearlong anti-government protests in Oromia regional state.
The court adjourned the dates to begin hearing defense statements from the 17 on August 14 – 18, 2017. AS
“If I knew a thing useful to my nation that would be ruinous to another,
I would not propose it to my prince, because I am a man before being a Frenchman,
because I am necessarily a man, and I am a Frenchman only by chance”. Montesquieu (400 years ago)
We have a warmer than usual rainy season here in Addis Ababa. We start our days with creeping clouds, followed by a bit of sun, and continuing rains in mid-afternoon. All in warmth! The next day, we start all over again.
Being humans and more essentially primates, we like warmth, we like to connect, hang out together and engage. And when you spend the entire day working the last thing you want is to have to work your brain even further trying to make small talk with people who are presumably incredibly boring.
According to a study done at the University of Arizona a certain number of substantive conversations a day can increase happiness but in my view, if I can just get through one dinner party without talking about Arsenal - I will be happier.
I’ll come back to that in a moment, but first, let me take a comment from a reader in response to my recent article of the “Destroy Addis Ababa – Adios Ethiopia” and reflect on some additional issues.
<<<Extract from a reader's comment>>>
"For the alarmist writers like Ato Kebour Ghenna Desta, the primary objectives are not solving the century-old question of Ethiopia’s nations and nationalities identity and self-administration questions but to protect the narrow interests of their base by telling us "how shocked and how surprised they are at EPRDF’s attempt to right the historical wrongs!"
I always wonder as to when people like Ato Kebour Ghenna Desta, respected people by any measure, will start thinking about the rights of the wider Ethiopian population including the Oromo, outside the narrow scope of the economic and political power interests of their ethnic base. What a shame?!"
<<<end of extract>>>
More for entertainment than enlightenment or utility! But let’s leave it at that.
My article was basically about the effect of the proposed new law on Addis Ababa. Alarmist it is, some say. I don't think that I have been alarmist — maybe alarming. We have a society in which most people have become unable to understand or appreciate that we live in a ‘fragilized’ society, where ethnic discord can undermine the state. Are the risks of such assumptions greatly exaggerated, or conversely are they underestimated? We need to think this through.
But first some reflections on few issues; starting with the status of Addis Ababa, I don’t want to rehearse the whole sequence of events that got us to where we are. But it’s important to understand what happened: It’s Ato Meles who abruptly relocated the capital of Oromia from Addis Ababa to Adama, and then back again from Adama to Addis Ababa....Why? I’ll let you speculate.
The political fallout from these follies, however, has yet to materialize. For now the fact that Addis Ababa/Finfine is the capital city of Oromia and of Addis Ababa has hardly disturbed any soul. What needs to be resolved with tact and cool heads, however, is choosing the right modus operandi for governing the city. Ignore the mob behind 'the chasing non-Oromo Ethiopians out of Addis Ababa'. They must be dreaming!! Remember that countries and peoples who have lived together for any length of time hardly get apart painlessly.
On the question of division of responsibilities - A federal union demands shared responsibility between Addis Ababa City Government, Oromia Regional State, and the Federal Government on issues related to Addis Ababa. These negotiations should begin in earnest, and the strategy for keeping Ethiopia whole should be based on three main lines: Strengthening Oromia within Ethiopia; improving Ethiopia’s federal system; and expanding the role of Oromia (and the other regions) in the international scene.
On the question of right of the residents of Addis Ababa: You don’t need to have visited Addis Ababa to appreciate how different the metropolis is to the rest of Ethiopia, residents of Addis Ababa are more diverse lot than any other population in Ethiopia, its size and economic dominance as well as the presence of all three branches of the federal government, the AU Commission, and United Nations Economic Commission for Africa on its territory makes it unique. In fact its label as Chartered City is one testimony to this fact. The residents of this city come from all corners of the country, and to certain degree from all corners of the continent. More reason then for the federal government to protect and maintain a commonwealth for the whole Union.
Going back to my last article, my main issue was not to question the sovereignty of Oromia over Addis Ababa, but rather to point out the problems that follow with the creation of two different rules for Addis Ababa: one for Oromos and the other for everyone else. When governments (city or federal) allot benefits to residents of a chartered city (a city for all Ethiopians) based on, say, ethnic affiliation, it necessarily means that government discriminates against others who don’t share those ethnic characteristics. What I am calling is, for both Oromia and the federal government, to take the right step of governing for the whole Union and not just for its largest and most powerful part.
Dear readers, a mere rhetoric and rancor does nothing to elevate the discussion. To argue for a fair and just social contract has nothing to do with one being Amhara, Oromo, Welaita, Harari and so on. Until such view is righted, it appears to me many will be dejected to contribute to the construction of a fair and prosperous society. Building a federated nation takes hundreds of years and is never complete, because federations by their nature are subject to life threatening power games stemming from the opportunistic behavior of the central government and federated units. The challenge for our nation is to find a way not simply to coexist, but to thrive and assert our identities, individually and collectively.
Now let me turn back to my initial beat: Arsenal. Can someone tell me if we’ll see Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil at the Emirates this season?
To a bright future!
Eritreans have long said their capital Asmara is like no other city in Africa, and on Saturday the UN agreed, designating it a World Heritage site, says AFP.
Asmara, the capital city of Eritrea has modernist architectural design built in late 19th and first half of 20th century.
“The architects who designed these buildings were Italian, and the material with which these buildings were built were a combination of local materials and imported ones. However, the people who built these buildings were undoubtedly Eritrean, and despite the colonial imprint embedded in such buildings, Asmara has been incorporated into the Eritrean identity and their struggle for self- determination, thus being a symbol of pride and achievement for the Eritrean people,” says the Statement released by Eritrea’s Ministry of Information.
It further said that the inscription of Asmara on to the World Heritage List will encourage and increase current Eritrean efforts to restore and maintain these buildings, as well as bring awareness to the world of this African modernist treasure.
“The city’s recognition as a heritage site of outstanding universal value fills us with tremendous pride and joy, but also with a profound sense of responsibility and duty,” said Hanna Simon, Eritrea’s permanent delegate to UNESCO.
While the modernist architecture of other Eritrean cities was destroyed during a decades-long war of liberation from Ethiopia, Asmara’s survived and was declared a national monument by the government in 2001, which refers to it as Africa’s “City of Dream”
A year after the Los Angeles Film Festival, An Ethiopian filmmaker’s career soars: A Year with Salome Mulugeta
The Los Angeles Film Festival (LAFF), produced by Film Independent, announced their films for the 2017 competition lineup , taking place June 14-22, featuring 37 world-premiere titles, two international premieres and nine North American premieres chosen for the Festival’s US Fiction, Documentary, World Fiction, LA Muse and Nightfall sections. Plus 51 short films, 15 Future Filmmaker High School shorts and nine web series episodes. The competition is again — fierce!
Less than a year ago—at the 2016 LAFF— filmmaker/producer/actress/ Salome Mulugeta, and her team, were biting their nails, trying to get Hollywood’s attention and a distribution deal for their first independent film “Woven,” a sweet, heart-felt family drama about a close-knit, New York, Ethiopian family dealing with a family tragedy.
In that short time span, director Salome Mulugeta’s film career has taken such gigantic leaps forward that her journey could turn out to be, a real-life Cinderella story but one in which the princess saves herself.
Determination is described as “[a] firmness of purpose; resoluteness — [s]he advanced with an unflinching determination.” Using that definition Salome Mulugeta is the very picture of creative determination. To wit it took her seventeen years to get “Woven,” financed.
Mulugeta resume reads thus: born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. At an early age, she left Ethiopia to attend a boarding school for girls in Bedford, England, where she won many prestigious acting competitions. She contributes content for the US-based Africa Channel and has produced and directed shows for The African Restaurant Week, Muziki Ni. She currently directs and hosts a show called A Day in the Life of..
In 2016, Mulugeta was awarded the Achievement and Perseverance Award by the Women’s Journey Foundation. She has been featured in Vibe Magazine and myNewYorkeye.
It bears repeating that it took seventeen, long years for Salome to get “Woven” completed and the film almost did not make the 2016 LAFF cut. It was the push of two, creative women, Roya Rastegar, Director of Programming of the Los Angeles Film Festival and power house film producer, Stephanie Allain who was the Los Angeles Film Festival Director, at the time (she’s resigned the post in 2016), saw something in the film, story and Salome and made room for the intimate family drama.
Asked why she fought to get “Woven” into LAFF this is what Roya Rastegar, LA Film Festival Director of Programming said: “Woven is an emotionally compelling directorial debut from first time directors Salome Mulugeta and Nagwa Ibrahim and we selected the film because the vision, energy, and voice of the film stood out amongst the thousands of feature film submissions we received.
I had never before seen an Ethiopian-American woman on screen navigating both cultures, and the story’s arc about forgiveness and redemption, even in the face of great tragedy, continues to resonate for me. Plus, Salome is also the star of the film! Talk about ambitious! Starring in your own film, which you also wrote and directed. I see immense talent in her, and I look forward to all the work she will make in the future.”
Love it. Loathe it. Ignore it. Embrace it. The fact is when someone of power, a respected player in the game, stands up for you — everything changes in an instant.
“I met Salome after her film was selected for the LA Film Festival in 2016,” shares producer Stephanie Allain. “We were looking for films from an authentic point of view and she brought her Ethiopian, female sensibilities to the story of survival despite life’s obstacles. Her poise and passion to tell stories close to her heart was palpable. We immediately connected as spiritual sisters unbeknownst to me, Mel Jones, my producing partner had her own meeting with Salome and when we compared notes, we knew we wanted to keep an eye out for what she would do next.”
What’s next is a big deal. producer Allain was so impressed by Salome’s storytelling abilities that she introduced her to Amy Tofte, a Nicholl Fellowship winner for Screenwriting (a fellowship program founded to aid screenwriters and administered by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts) for writing “ADDIS ABEKA.” Tofte and Salome clicked.
“ADDIS ABEKA” tells the journey a young Ethiopian boy who loses his family and must navigate the world on his own for ten years until he can be reunited with his brother.
Helping shape a director’s career takes a “village” and Salome was one of the six young filmmakers chosen to participate in Film Independent’s 2017 Directing Lab where she worked on “ADDIS ABEKA.”
Money is power in Hollywood. For indie filmmakers that simple fact is very challenging as they are often seeking financing from non-industry sources.
The funding for “ADDIS ABEKA” was secured by Salome’s efforts, a natural producer. It’s a rare and sought after talent, and one, once Hollywood really wakes up, might be the very thing that makes her a wealthy woman and a power broker in the Hollywood game.
Salome will direct and executive produce with Stephanie Allain and Mel Jones producing for Homegrown Pictures. “ADDIS ABEKA” —is set to go into production this fall—with DP Pedro Gomez Millan (“Woven”) stepping behind the camera. The film will be shot entirely in Ethiopia.
Letter to the UN Human Rights Council
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To Permanent Representatives of
Members and Observer States of the
UN Human Rights Council
Geneva, 25 May 2017
RE: Addressing the pervasive human rights crisis in Ethiopia
The undersigned civil society organisations write to draw your attention to persistent and grave violations of human rights in Ethiopia and the pressing need to support the establishment of an independent, impartial and international investigation into atrocities committed by security forces to suppress peaceful protests and independent dissent
As the UN Human Rights Council (UN HRC) prepares to convene for its 35th session from 6 – 23 June 2017, we urge your delegation to prioritise and address through joint statements the ongoing human rights crisis in Ethiopia.
In the wake of unprecedented, mass protests that erupted in November 2015 in Oromia, Amhara, and the Southern Nations Nationalities and Peoples (SNNPR) regional states, Ethiopian authorities routinely responded to legitimate and largely peaceful expressions of dissent with excessive and unnecessary force. As a result, over 800 protesters have been killed, thousands of political activists, human rights defenders, journalists and protesters have been arrested, and in October 2016, the Ethiopian Government declared a six-month nationwide State of Emergency, that was extended for an additional four months on 30 March 2017 after some restrictions were lifted.
The State of Emergency directives give sweeping powers to a Command Post, which has been appointed by the House of People’s Representatives to enforce the decree, including the suspension of fundamental and non-derogable rights protected by the Ethiopian Constitution, the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, and other international human rights treaties to which Ethiopia is party. More information on the human rights violations occurring under the current State of Emergency is included in the Annex at the end of this letter.
Lack of independent investigations
Few effective avenues to pursue accountability for abuses exist in Ethiopia, given the lack of independence of the judiciary – the ruling EPRDF coalition and allied parties control all 547 seats in Parliament.
Ethiopia’s National Human Rights Commission, which has a mandate to investigate rights violations, concluded in its June 2016 oral report to Parliament that the lethal force used by security forces in Oromia was proportionate to the risk they faced from the protesters. The written Amharic version of the report was only recently made public, and there are long-standing concerns about the impartiality and research methodology of the Commission. On 18 April 2017, the Commission submitted its second oral report to Parliament on the protests, which found that 669 people were killed, including 63 members of the security forces, and concluded that security forces had taken “proportionate measures in most areas.” Both reports are in stark contrast with the findings of other national and international organisations, including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch. The Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions has rated the Commission as B, meaning the latter has failed to meet fully the Paris Principles.
Refusal to cooperate with regional and international mechanisms
In response to the recent crackdown, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, has called for “access for independent observers to the country to assess the human rights situation”, and recently renewed his call for access to the country during a visit to the capital, Addis Ababa. Ethiopia’s government, however, has rejected the call, citing its own investigation conducted by its Commission. UN Special Procedures have also made similar calls.
In November 2016, the African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights adopted a resolution calling for an international, independent, and impartial investigation into allegations of the use of excessive and unnecessary lethal force by security forces to disperse and suppress peaceful protests. Recent European parliament and US Congressional resolutions have also called for independent investigations. The Ethiopian embassy in Belgium dismissed the European Parliament’s resolution citing its own Commission’s investigations into the protests.
As a member of the UN HRC, Ethiopia has an obligation to “uphold the highest standards” of human rights, and “fully cooperate” with the Council and its mechanisms (GA Resolution 60/251, OP 9), yet there are outstanding requests for access from Special Procedures, including from the special rapporteurs on torture, freedom of opinion and expression, and peaceful assembly, among others.
During the upcoming 35th session of the UN HRC, we urge your delegation to make joint and individual statements reinforcing and building upon the expressions of concern by the High Commissioner, UN Special Procedures, and others.
Specifically, the undersigned organisations request your delegation to publicly urge Ethiopia to:
urgently allow access to an international, thorough, independent, impartial and transparent investigation into all of the deaths resulting from alleged excessive use of force by the security forces, and other violations of human rights in the context of the protests;
respond favourably to country visit requests by UN Special Procedures,
immediately and unconditionally release journalists, human rights defenders, political opposition leaders and members as well as protesters arbitrarily detained during and in the aftermath of the protests;
ensure that those responsible for human rights violations are prosecuted in proceedings which comply with international law and standards on fair trials; and
fully comply with its international legal obligations and commitments including under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, and its own Constitution.
With assurances of our highest consideration,
Association for Human Rights in Ethiopia
CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation
Civil Rights Defenders
DefendDefenders (East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project)
Ethiopia Human Rights Project
Front Line Defenders
Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect
Human Rights Watch
International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH)
International Service for Human Rights
Reporters Without Borders
World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT)
Ethiopia's government has suspended adoptions, leaving dozens of foreign parents unable to unite with orphans they have legally adopted, according to officials from four western embassies whose citizens are concerned.
The measure has also frozen hundreds of pending applications for inter-country adoptions, blindsiding families who have in some cases waited years and spent thousands of dollars to adopt a child from the Horn of Africa nation.
A spokesman for Ethiopia's Ministry of Women, Children and Youth Affairs declined to comment on the suspension, which diplomats said came into effect on April 21 without warning.
"We haven't been explained what the reasons are behind (the ban), and what the intentions are," Spanish ambassador Borja Montesino told AFP.
Ethiopia is a popular destination for families interested in inter-country adoption.
Spanish families took in 1,200 Ethiopian children in 2010 and 2011, which even led to a brief backlog when the embassy had to halt applications for a while, Montesino said.
American families have adopted more than 5,500 Ethiopian children since 2011, according to the United States embassy.
Adopting a child can involve months, if not years, of vetting by adoption agencies, courts, and embassies, along with thousands of dollars in fees and travel costs.
'We're legal parents'
American Jon Oren and his wife are among those who had already been made legal parents of an Ethiopian child who they are now unable to take home.
The couple had been waiting for the required permission to take their new three-year-old son out of the country when the suspension took effect.
"Now that we're legal parents, documented parents, I'm effectively responsible for his wellbeing," Oren told AFP.
"I kind of can't just undo what I feel are my desires and even legal obligations as a father."
About 40 other American parents are in a similar situation, according to a US embassy statement to AFP, and more than 200 families who have only started the process to adopt have had their application put on hold.
Forecasters are warning that Ethiopia could face more rainfall deficits, deepening a drought that has left nearly eight million of the country's people in need of aid.
Dr. Chris Funk is a climate scientist at the United States Geological Survey (USGS) whose research focuses on African and Asian countries. He told VOA's Horn of Africa Service that there is a 50 percent chance another El Nino weather event could form in the Pacific Ocean this year.
“If it's a moderate or strong El Nino, that would definitely tilt towards odd, below normal rain for northern Ethiopia," he said. "That is what happened unfortunately in 2015, when we had a strong El Nino that reduced rains in northern and central Ethiopia and we are concerned about that possibility."
Ethiopia tends to receive its heaviest rain between mid-June and mid-September, especially in the north.
The moderate rainy season that runs from February to May was disappointing, said Dula Shanko, deputy director for the Ethiopian meteorological department.
“March rain was very poor for areas that get rain [in] this time," he said. "In April and May it shows little progress but not enough."
He added that rain was sparse in the southern regions of Somali and Oromia.
Out of 7.78 million Ethiopians in need of food assistance, 3.6 million are in Oromia.
Lower than normal rains in 2015 and 2016 contributed to the ongoing food crisis by killing livestock and reducing farm output. The drought has forced farmers and pastoralists to search for water, pushing students to drop out of school in some areas.
The impact has been especially harsh in Oromia, where massive protests against the government took place two years ago and officials have maintained a state of emergency. In this region, Borana, Guji, West Guji East, West Harerge, North Shewa, East Shewa, Arsi and Bale provinces are highly affected, according to a government report.
Ethiopian officials say they are working to counter the drought by providing food for both animals and people.
“The combined effort from local, federal government and citizens averted the country from falling to famine before it happens [and] saved countless lives by allocating millions of dollars for this purpose,” said Debebe Zewude, a public officer for the National Disaster and Risk Management Commission (NDRMC).
But government intervention only goes so far when it doesn't rain.
“Carcasses of cows, goats litter over the roads throughout the districts," said Dida Guyo of Nagelle Borana, a city in Oromia. "I would say thousands of animals are dead due to drought from this area."
The situation is grave, said Borbor Bule, a resident of Dubluk, a town in the south of the country.
"This is our only source of income," he added. "We have lost our proud breeds. I have lost more than 10 animals. More than 50 animals are dead in my village alone.”
“I have never seen anything like this in my life," he said. "... God forbid, we are fearing for human life."
Ethiopian journalist and blogger Eskinder Nega, who has been imprisoned since 2011 after criticising his country’s abuse of anti-terror laws to silence the press, has been named the International Press Institute (IPI)’s 69th World Press Freedom Hero.
IPI also announced today the Afghan Journalists Safety Committee as the recipient of the 2017 Free Media Pioneer Award in recognition of the group’s courageous and trailblazing work to prevent, combat and monitor attacks on journalists in one of the world’s most dangerous media environments.
Both awards, which for the past three years have been given in partnership with Copenhagen-based International Media Support (IMS), will be presented during a special ceremony on May 18 in Hamburg, Germany during IPI’s annual World Congress and General Assembly.
Press Freedom HeroIPI’s World Press Freedom Hero Award honours journalists who have made significant contributions to the promotion of press freedom, particularly in the face of great personal risk.
Nega has spent over 2,000 days behind bars since his arrest on Sept. 14, 2011, when Ethiopian authorities accused him of “leading a plan to throw the country into serious political chaos through a series of terrorist acts” and linked him to a banned opposition group.
His jailing came shortly after Nega, a persistent critic of Ethiopia’s former long-time ruler and then-Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, published a column questioning the government’s abuse of anti-terror laws to punish journalistic scrutiny.
Nega’s comments were preceded by a wave of detentions under Ethiopia’s broad 2009 anti-terror law, including those of journalists Woubshet Taye and Reeyot Alemu – the 2013 recipient of the UNESCO-Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize – as well as Swedish correspondents Martin Schibbye and Johan Persson.
An Ethiopian court convicted Nega in June 2012 of “participation in a terrorist organization” and “planning, preparation, conspiracy, incitement and attempt of (a) terrorist act”. He was sentenced to 18 years in prison the following month, a decision the U.N.
Working Group on Arbitrary Detention later said violated international law.IPI Executive Director Barbara Trionfi said the award was a recognition of Nega’s “unflinching dedication to the free exchange of ideas and information and his determination – at the expense of his freedom and separation from his family – not to remain silent in the face of the Ethiopian government’s cynical attempt to use the fight against terrorism to crush legitimate dissent”.
She continued: “This award sends the message that Eskinder Nega’s bravery in relentlessly scrutinising power despite years of intense retaliation has not been forgotten. We renew our call on Ethiopia to free Eskinder and all journalists jailed for doing their jobs or expressing their opinions, and we urge the international community not to ignore Ethiopia’s continued flouting of its international human rights obligations”.
Nega faced frequent official pressure and harassment due to his writing beginning in the early 1990s. In 2005, he and his wife, journalist Serkalem Fasil, were jailed on treason charges for their coverage of a mass government crackdown on popular protests following disputed parliamentary elections won by Zenawi’s Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF). Fasil would later give birth to a son behind bars.
Authorities released the couple in April 2007 but shuttered their publishing company and banned Nega from practicing journalism.Fasil, who now lives in exile in the United States with their son, said of IPI and IMS’ recognition of her husband that it was “absolutely heart-warming to know that all his sacrifices and valuable contribution to press freedom are not wasted in vain, but continue to shine a spotlight [on his plight] on the global stage”.She added: ”Although, it remains a bittersweet moment for me (knowing where he is now), it is important to uphold such recognition for the tremendous impact it’s having to those who aspire to follow in his footsteps. … I truly hope it also expedites his release from imprisonment and brings an end to his suffering.”IPI and its members have previously called for Nega’s release, including during a November 2013 joint mission to Ethiopia with the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA).
The Ethiopian government on that occasion denied IPI and WAN-IFRA’s requests to visit Nega and other jailed journalists.
The following year, WAN-IFRA honoured Nega with its Golden Pen of Freedom Award. In 2012, he also received the PEN American Center/Barbara Goldsmith Freedom to Write Award.In early September 2011, commenting on the arrests of Taye and Alemu, and just days before his own detention, Nega wrote to IPI: “Their arrest has more to do with calculated cultivation of fear. Fear is what dictatorships ultimately rely on to survive.
”Free Media PioneerThe annual Free Media Pioneer Award was established by IPI in 1996 to recognise news or media organisations that have made innovations that have promoted news access or quality, or benefitted journalists and the media community, thereby ensuring freer and more independent media in their country or region.
Malawi iimigration officials said they arrested over 56 male Ethiopian nationals around Engucwini area in Mzimba.
The officials claims the immigrants interred the country illegally.
According to reports, the 56 were packed in a lorry that was coming from Karonga direction heading to an unknown destination.
Upon realising that Immigration officials were chasing the vehicle, the driver of the lorry decided to divert from the M1 road to Engucwini road.
He then stopped the vehicle and ran away, leaving the immigrants who were fully covered at the back.
Currently, the 56 are in Mzuzu Police custody awaiting legal proceedings.