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Refugees walking from danger to danger: Members of Ethiopia’s largest national group, the #Oromo, which activists charge is systematically disenfranchised by the government are still heading to #Yemen September 17, 2015

Posted by OromianEconomist in Uncategorized.
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Walking into danger: migrants still head to Yemen
HARGEISA, 11 August 2015 (IRIN) – Qader and Abdi are two weeks into their journey. Carrying only one empty plastic water bottle each, flattened, with no liquid to return it to its cylindrical shape, the two men figure they will be walking for another month-and-a-half before they reach the sea. From there, they will take a smuggler boat the short distance to Yemen, where another 600-kilometre walk lies ahead before they may reach their final destination, Saudi Arabia.
The pair – members of Ethiopia’s largest ethnic group, the Oromo, which activists charge is systematically disenfranchised by the government – are walking along an uncrowded road connecting the capital of Somaliland, Hargeisa, to a northern port city. They walk because they cannot afford the roughly $150-200 that a series of smugglers would charge to take them from the Ethiopian border east through Somaliland to the port of Bosaso in the neighbouring semi-autonomous region of Puntland.“We will walk until we become weak,” said 30-year-old Qader, who withheld his last name to protect his identity. He and his 19-year-old companion are dressed in dirtied long-sleeve shirts to shield them from the early morning sun, which will become unbearable by midday. They have made it this far off the good will of Somalilanders who offer them small change or meals as they pass.There is a small risk they could be arrested so they veer off the paved road near checkpoints but quickly return so as not to lose their way. Although walking along roads in Somaliland – a self-declared nation that the international community still classifies as a region of Somalia – puts migrants like them at increased risk of robbery or assault, Somalilanders generally do not wish the duo ill will. Government officials have even been known to stop and provide food and drink to migrants despite their illegal status in the country.

When they reach Bosaso the help will likely come to an end and Qader and Abdi will have to pay. Unlike on land, which the destitute can traverse without charge as long as they can avoid arrest, the sea is only passable by ships operated by smugglers, who are more than happy to continue transporting people to war-torn Yemen for a fee.

Ever more dangerous journey

Migration to and through Yemen – historically the backdoor for migrants and asylum seekers from the Horn of Africa trying to reach Saudi Arabia – has always put people at risk of death and inhumane treatment. Last year, there were numerous drownings in the Gulf of Aden and Human Rights Watch released a report in 2014 documenting “torture camps” where smugglers held newcomers for ransom.

But a civil war, precipitated by the departure of Yemen’s internationally-recognised government and a Saudi Arabian-led bombing campaign to restore its legitimacy, has made an already perilous journey for migrants all the more death-defying.

“It’s very dangerous, and I cannot stress that enough,” said Teddy Leposky, an external relations officer for the UN’s refugee agency, UNHCR, in Yemen.

Not only has the war given smugglers license to act more ruthlessly than before, but also the ability of aid agencies to provide services to migrants and refugees has been severely compromised and the conflict’s violence has been indiscriminate. Five migrants were caught in shelling near the Saudi border in May and, at the end of March, a camp for displaced people camp was bombed, killing at least 45.

But as migrants and refugees know, the grinding poverty, political persecution or violence that typically push them out of the Horn of Africa, do not conveniently abate as wars break out in their path. So they continue to risk life and liberty and end up on Yemen’s shores. According to figures from UNHCR, more than 10,500 people have arrived in Yemen since March when the bombing campaign began. Although some of those might be part of the 51,000 who are now also leaving, as war in Yemen has created a circular flow in the region.

“I know it’s a high risk, but I will take it,” said Fila Aden, 24, in a café in Hargeisa. He is familiar with what lies ahead. This is the second time he left home in Ethiopia for work in oil-rich Saudi Arabia. Although he struggles to provide a precise timeline of events, he estimates he was deported from the kingdom about a month ago after working there for almost a year.Hiding the risks

Some aid officials believe that boat smugglers in Bosaso and Djibouti (for the Red Sea route to Yemen) may be downplaying the conflict in Yemen or flat-out lying to clients about the dangers they have seen.

Fila Aden in Hargeisa doesn’t doubt smugglers are sugarcoating forecasts, but he thinks the conflict in Yemen might actually work to his advantage. He is reassured by news that one of his friends just traversed Yemen and slipped unnoticed across the border with Saudi.

“We worry about Yemen. We could be accused of fighting [for a certain side] in the conflict. People are more paranoid now,” he said. “But looking at it from the Saudi perspective, they aren’t concerned about us. They are fighting a war in Yemen.”

As long as those like Aden are willing to go, there is money to be made. Several sources said the smugglers had doubled their asking price in Bosaso, which pre-war ran from $60 to $120 for the sea crossing. Omar, who asked that a pseudonym be used, smuggles Ethiopians from the border into Somaliland. He is fairly new, joining the ranks of the illicit business just five months ago. But the job has proven lucrative. He saw a drop in numbers around the time war broke out in Yemen, but Ramadan (which straddled June and July this year) was profitable, suggesting an uptick in those still willing to go to Yemen.

“People know damn well that they are taking a risk,” he said, when IRIN asked if smugglers were taking advantage of the war and luring clients under false pretenses. But he said smugglers too were taking extra risks, and more and more fearful of arrest. “I feel bad sometimes but what can I do? I have to make a living.”

No refuge any more

While Omar continues to facilitate a migrant march east, deteriorating conditions in Yemen have destroyed a refuge that many once sought.

Abdulqader Ahmed, a 17-year-old Ethiopian migrant, arrived in Yemen in March from Djibouti right as street battles began to erupt in the southern port city of Aden. He made his way to the UN-sponsored al-Kharaz camp nearby, too afraid to begin his journey north to Saudi Arabia. He watched as the camp ran short of food and water, with aid agencies unable to get supplies in. Finally, he managed to secure passage on a ship that evacuated him to Somaliland.

At a migrant response center in Hargeisa, where he was waiting to be repatriated back to Ethiopia, Ahmed said the war in Yemen had helped him reach the realisation that his goal of getting to Saudi Arabia would likely cost him his life. He now intends to return to farming with his father in Ethiopia, even though it will be almost impossible to earn a living.

For UNHCR’s Leposky, Yemen’s collapse is particularly concerning because of the country’s history of opening its borders to refugees and asylum seekers. He told IRIN that those arriving now in Yemen are making the costly journey across the sea only to find themselves in a similar situation, if not worse.

“It’s so unfortunate that a country that has provided protection and asylum to people for so many years is now in dire straits.”

http://m.irinnews.org/report/101848/walking-into-danger-migrants-still-head-to-yemen#.VfsJXNJVikq

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Undamming the rivers: Solar farms are super efficient new and clean sources of Energy September 17, 2015

Posted by OromianEconomist in Energy Economics.
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???????????Yale environment 360

“From Britain to the Czech Republic, European nations have been restoring rivers to their natural state — taking down dams, removing levees, and reviving floodplains. For a continent that long viewed rivers as little more than shipping canals and sewers, it is a striking change.”

Undamming Rivers: A Chance
For New Clean Energy Source

John Waldman and Karin Limburg, Environment 360, 6 August 2015

Many hydroelectric dams produce modest amounts of power yet do enormous damage to rivers and fish populations. Why not take down these aging structures, build solar farms in the drained reservoirs, and restore the natural ecology of the rivers?

Hydroelectric power is often touted as clean energy, but this claim is true only in the narrow sense of not causing air pollution. In many places, such as the U.S. East Coast, hydroelectric dams have damaged the ecological integrity of nearly every major river and have decimated runs of migratory fish.

This need not continue. Our rivers can be liberated from their concrete shackles, while also continuing to produce electricity at the site of former hydropower dams. How might that occur? A confluence of factors — the aging of many dams, the advent of industrial-scale alternative energy sources, and increasing recognition of the failure of traditional engineering approaches to sustain migratory fish populations — raises fresh possibilities for large rivers to continue to help provide power and, simultaneously, to have their biological legacies restored.

The answer may lie in “sharing” our dammed rivers, and the concept is straightforward. Remove aging hydroelectric dams, many of which produce relatively small amounts of electricity and are soon up for relicensing. When waters recede, rivers will occupy only part of the newly exposed reservoir bottoms. Let’s use these as a home for utility-scale solar and wind power installations, and let’s employ the existing power line infrastructure to the dams to connect the new solar and wind power facilities to the grid. This vision both keeps the electricity flowing from these former hydropower sites, while helping to resurrect once-abundant fish runs, as has recently happened in Maine….

Read more at:-

https://e360.yale.edu/feature/undamming_rivers_a_chance_for_new_clean_energy_source/2901/

https://wordpress.com/read/post/feed/18743358/809633065

Burkina Faso: Compaoré may have disappeared, but the state he created remained alive and well – and violently resistant to change. #Africa September 17, 2015

Posted by OromianEconomist in Africa, Burkina Faso.
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???????????Daily Maverick

Burkina Faso: The sting in the tail of the counter-revolution

SIMON ALLISON, DAILY MAVERICK

17 SEP 2015

simon-burkina-faso-coup.jpg

When the much-feared Presidential Guard stormed into a cabinet meeting to arrest Burkina Faso’s interim President and Prime Minister, we should not have been surprised. Until now, the country’s revolution has been – superficially at least – a little too clean, a little too orderly. In hindsight, another setback was always inevitable. By SIMON ALLISON.

As revolutions go, Burkina Faso’s was relatively tidy. President Blaise Compaoré chose not to fight to the death, scurrying into exile instead; and while violence was used to disperse popular protests, the casualty count remained in the single digits.

But as always, things behind the scenes were a lot more complicated. While interim President Michel Kafando was a civilian, his Prime Minister, Lieutenant Colonel Zida, was drawn from the upper echelons of the elite presidential guard (theRégiment de sécurité présidentielle, or RSP), the primary enforcers of the Compaoré regime. The army, meanwhile, continued to play a major role in political affairs ahead of the general election scheduled for 11 October.

Compaoré may have disappeared, but the state he created remained alive and well – and violently resistant to change.

These tensions exploded into the open on Wednesday, when members of the presidential guard stormed a cabinet meeting and arrested both President Kafando and Prime Minister Zida. State television and radio were taken off air. Nervous citizens stayed at home in anticipation of more trouble, and shops have closed their doors.

On Thursday, the RSP confirmed everyone’s worst fears: this was more than just intimidation tactics. This was a coup. In a public address, a military official said that the interim government had been disbanded, to be replaced with “a national democracy council tasked with organising democratic and inclusive elections” – whatever that means.

Two things prompted this sudden escalation in hostilities. First was the government’s decision to exclude members of the Compaore regime from contesting the upcoming elections. In the statement, the military said that this was not inclusive or democratic and therefore provided legitimate grounds for a coup. It is likely that Compaore’s former party, the Congress for Democracy and Progress, either supported or played a role in orchestrating the coup (tellingly, its leaders have refused to condemn the coup).

Second, and probably more pertinent, was the recommendation by the national Truth and Reconciliation Commission to disband the RSP. This represented an existential threat to the very institution that has now seized power.

“The presidential guard has always been the backbone of power, and within the new political dispensation the new political authorities have made it clear they want to reduce the influence of that unit within the army, if not suppress it completely,” said David Zounmenou, a senior researcher at the Institute for Security Studies.

Leading the campaign against the RSP was Prime Minister Zida, who went from the unit’s second-in-command to its most vociferous opponent. It is likely that personal animosity between Zida and General Gilbert Diendéré, the head of the unit, is also a factor in the current unrest. Although General Diendéré tends to avoid the spotlight, he was often described as Compaore’s right-hand man, or the power behind the throne.

Attention turns now to what comes next. Will the military really organise new elections? Who will take charge in the meantime? And will the people of Burkina Faso – who have already removed one leader through popular protests – accept the takeover?

“Unconfirmed rumours are that General Diendéré would be the new man in power, even if behind the scenes,” said Eloïse Bertrand, a researcher with the University of Warwick and an expert on Burkinabé politics. “The population, however, seems ready to resist this new coup, and I really think there is a wide consensus against the RSP. I think there is a real possibility that things will become violent as the coup leaders seem to have nothing to lose, and would probably repress violently massive protests.” Already, Reuters reported that soldiers fired warning shots to disperse a crowd of more than 100 people gathered in Ouagadougou’s Independence Square on Thursday morning.

Another important question concerns Compaoré himself. If his allies are calling the shots, is the exiled leader likely to return?

“While the RSP is definitely linked to the Compaoré regime, I would be very shocked to see a return of Compaoré himself. History demonstrates that once a military leader has taken power, he is unlikely to hand it to another leader. Therefore, while this is possibly a counter-revolution – or as I would prefer, a ‘counter-coup’ – in that it has returned power to the bloc that previously ruled the country, I do not foresee the return of Compaoré, or the return of democracy,” said Frank Charnas, Daily Maverick contributor and CEO of risk analysis firm Afrique Consulting.

Charnas added: “This coup places the international community in a precarious position. Kafando and Zida were not democratically elected, and while they were set to hold elections in the near future, their mandate was no more legitimate than that of the coup leaders. As was demonstrated following the overthrow of Compaoré, the international community is unlikely to take any concrete action beyond public denouncement of the coup.” DM

Read more at:-

http://www.dailymaverick.co.za/article/2015-09-17-burkina-faso-the-sting-in-the-tail-of-the-counter-revolution/#.VfqsXdJVikq

https://donvely.wordpress.com/2015/09/17/burkina-faso-military-confirms-coup/

Oromia: OBS: Qophii Addaa, Kabaja Ayyaana Ingichaa (2015) Abbaa Muudaa Abbabaa Haayiluu faana taasifnee. September 17, 2015

Posted by OromianEconomist in Uncategorized.
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