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Youth Employment in Africa: what policy makers can do January 25, 2016

Posted by OromianEconomist in Africa, Youth Unemployment.
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Sub-Saharan Africa is experiencing a learning crisis: While more children are attending school, many learn very little. By grade 3, many students cannot recognize a single word of a simple paragraph. At the end of the primary cycle, results from an assessment of math skills in 14 Southern and Eastern African countries found that 60% did not get beyond the designation of “basic numeracy,” and arecent assessment in 10 Western and Central (francophone) African countries found that 60% did not get beyond the ability to answer brief questions by calling upon factual knowledge or a specific procedure (defined by the authors as the “sufficient” competency threshold). By addressing these urgent education issues, governments could ensure that young Africans have the basic skills to build on through further education or on-the-job experience. Other dimensions of human capital merit action. Governments should put in place programs that ensure early child development; young children who start off with appropriate nutrition and stimulation have greater success later in life. Also, employers demand workers with high levels of socioemotional skills, which are also rewarded in household enterprises. There should be attention to developing these skills; for example, “life skills” training for adolescent girls has resulted in higher earnings.


Youth Employment in Africa: what policy makers can do




Just under two years ago, I—along with a team from across the World Bank—co-authored a report, Youth Employment in Sub-Saharan Africa, which tackled the growing gap between the aspirations of African youth and the realities of the job markets—and what governments should do about it. With an expected 11 million young Africans entering the labor market every year well into the next decade, the findings and main messages of the report remain relevant.

Boosting youth employment is not a one-dimensional task that can be solved, for example, by merely increasing training opportunities—a frequently touted response. The key is to ensure that young people—and other workers—can earn a decent income in whatever work they do. Young people need strong foundational skills—human capital—to bring to their jobs; farm and business owners, entrepreneurs and investors need a conducive environment to create more productive opportunities. Governments must address the quality of basic education and remove obstacles that hinder progress in agriculture, household enterprises, and manufacturing.

Nearly 80% of Africans work in the informal sector on small farms or in household enterprises. Most people in these sectors earn meager incomes. The challenge is beyond unemployment it is that of boosting earnings across the board.

Africa’s impressive economic growth
over the past 15 years (about 7% a year) was not associated with large-scale job creation or poverty reduction. Much of this growth was in the extractive industries that are less labor-intensive. Although the formal wage sector grew quickly in some countries (10% a year in Ghana) even in the best-case scenario, this sector will not create enough jobs in the near future. The report featured estimates of what kinds of jobs workers would have in 2020 based on optimisticprojections of overall economic growth, andhigh estimates of the formal sector wage job creation that would be associated with that growth—using the cases of countries such as Bangladesh and Vietnam as sources (Fox et al. 2013). The results were sobering: while the number of jobs created would be impressive, the structure of the labor force would remain remarkably similar to what it is today—low-income African countries would have close to 60% of workers in agriculture, 20% in household enterprises, 13% working for wages in the services sector, and only 6% working for wages in the industrial sector. Demography and the difference between stocks and flows mean that any change will take a long time.

What, then, is a government to do? The report provides a framework for systematically assessing constraints to higher earnings related to the human capital that workers bring to their jobs, and the business environment that ensures that those jobs are productive. The framework looks not just at the formal wage sector, but also at how to increase productivity in agriculture and in household enterprises. It recommends what should be “done now for now” and what should be “done now for results later.”

Key recommendations for policy makers include:

  • Carry out business environment reforms that attract investment into large enterprises that can create a lot of formal wage jobs, and help make these firms more competitive. Priority reforms include improving access to finance and infrastructure services, improving trade logistics, and easing regulatory constraints to entrepreneurship.
  • Ramp up efforts to support the informal sector. Recognize its importance and ensure the legal status of those who work in it. Provide support by ensuring access to (i) land or (legal) space to operate a business, (ii) public services (such as security services) and infrastructure (such as electricity) so that small businesses can be secure and have a predictable operational environment, and (iii) finance so that even smallholder farmers and household enterprises can invest in their businesses to make them more productive.
  • Ensure that youth have solid foundational skills. Sub-Saharan Africa is experiencing a learning crisis: While more children are attending school, many learn very little. By grade 3, many students cannot recognize a single word of a simple paragraph. At the end of the primary cycle, results from an assessment of math skills in 14 Southern and Eastern African countries found that 60% did not get beyond the designation of “basic numeracy,” and arecent assessment in 10 Western and Central (francophone) African countries found that 60% did not get beyond the ability to answer brief questions by calling upon factual knowledge or a specific procedure (defined by the authors as the “sufficient” competency threshold). By addressing these urgent education issues, governments could ensure that young Africans have the basic skills to build on through further education or on-the-job experience. Other dimensions of human capital merit action. Governments should put in place programs that ensure early child development; young children who start off with appropriate nutrition and stimulation have greater success later in life. Also, employers demand workers with high levels of socioemotional skills, which are also rewarded in household enterprises. There should be attention to developing these skills; for example, “life skills” training for adolescent girls has resulted in higher earnings.
  • Promote the dynamic private market for vocational education and training(which includes apprenticeships). Priorities include providing information and facilitating access to existing training for disadvantaged youths as well as well as ensuring the availability of better training options (this does not necessarily mean providing these services). In the presence of active training markets, public interventions need to be selective, performance driven, and evidence-based. One interesting finding is that programs that combine training with access to finance (to start or invest in a business) seem to show substantial promise.

While there is no silver-bullet that will solve the challenge of youth employment, a number of actions can, and should, be taken to ensure that young Africans are well-prepared for work—and that the work that they will engage in will yield substantially higher incomes than it does today.

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Say no to the master killer. Addis Ababa master plan is genocidal plan against Oromo people. Say no.Ethiopian-land-giveawayOromoProtests against genocidal TPLF Ethiopia2. 19 June 2015


#OromoProtests Special coverage


By J. Bonsa, PhD,  Addis Standard, January 25, 2016


The most commonly held rallying cry of the ongoing Oromo protestin Ethiopia is “Say No to the Master Plan!” There is a consensus among the protesters and the general public that the “Master Plan”, named by some campaigners as the “Master Killer”, has just served as a focal point that ignited the widespread discontent in a range of social, political and economic lives of the Oromo who finally went out en masse to express their outrage.


This piece is concerned with effective messaging of the protest. If framed wisely and clearly,messages and slogans can contribute to effective communication between the wider Oromo society in general and, most importantly, with the rest of the Ethiopian people and the international community.
It should be emphasized that the Oromo protest is a spontaneous outburst of rage among the Oromo youth and the general public at large, who had enough of the relentless and systematic oppression and dispossession by the current EPRDF led government in which the Oromo peopleare not genuinely and meaningfully represented. Since the protest is not centrally organized and coordinated, it is not surprising if the messages are not as sharp as they should.


The “Plan”
The concerns and questions related to the ‘Master Plan’ can be classified into the following sets of issues and regulations: The ‘Master Plan’– The request to scrap the ‘Master Plan’, a technical document that specifies the expansion of Addis Abeba by 20 times its current size, albeit with the ominous prospect of dissecting Oromiya into two parts through a deliberate enlargement of Addis Abeba; and Evictions and Land Grab – This follows from (a) the enlargement of Addis Abeba will inevitably get accomplished by evicting hundreds of thousands of farmers and turning pristine farm lands into a massive urban development spaces; and (b) Urban Development Law– recently passed byCaffee Oromiya, which was rushed through as an urban development law with far reaching implications, essentially obliterating Oromiya’s right on its urban centers.


If we count slogans that appeared on placards carried at demonstrations in towns and villages of Oromiya as well as solidarity rallies organized by the Oromo diaspora, then perhaps more than 90% of the cases would refer to the ‘Master Plan’, that is in the sense of (a) above. We witness similar levels of frequent references on social media; for instance, profiles of activists on Facebook often appear with a familiar red-green colored two worded slogan, “Say NO”, a shorthand for “Say No to the Master Plan”. Matters related to land grab are also referred to during chants by protesters but with less frequency than “Say No” type slogans. As far as I am aware, the “urban development law” has received a very marginal attention during the protest rallies and related discourses.


Unintended outcomes
There is an unintended consequence of heavy reference to the ‘Master Plan’ during opposition and solidarity rallies and expert discussions. The presence of the very word ‘Plan’ in ‘Master Plan’ seems to have hugely distorted the message. By definition, ‘plans’ are essentially futuristic. Therefore, any opposition to a planned activity can essentially (and easily) sound as if it is all about opposing something yet to take place. To complicate matters, even in latest press releases by Oromo political groups appear with phrases like “if implemented”; that is to say “if this Master Plan is going to be implemented”.
In rare cases when they report on Oromo protest, the western media often misrepresented Oromo protest as opposition to “development plan”, with negative connotation of portrayal as anti-economic development. The EPRDF ledgovernment has often projected this image portraying itself as pro-development and Oromo activists as obstacles againstits development plans. Even if Oromos put their cases in the best possible way, then I suspect the government would still devise ways to distort it and the Western Media would still be reluctant to provide fair coverage. Such that lack of focus in getting messages right have therefore immensely contributed to the distorted image of Oromo activism, specifically related to opposition to the ‘Master Plan’.
The excessive reference to the ‘Master Plan’ has already caused some misunderstandings and created obstacles to the ongoing Oromo uprising. For instance, government officials have reluctantly indicated their willingness for dialogue. Under pressure they have gone as far as announcing a closure of the Integrated Master Plan Project Office. The US government has provided a lip service to Oromo protest, effectively implying that “what happened is regrettable, but now that the government is willing to talk to you, stop protesting and start engaging with the authorities”. Sadly, the US government has yet again given the moral high ground to the government in Ethiopia, whose security forces have already killed more than 80 peaceful Oromo protesters, including a mother who tried to plead and protect her son.


In my view, what is required is simple and straightforward. The messages can get right by doing two things:
Prioritize:I propose prioritization the messages in the following order: oppositions againstthe general practice of land grab; the Oromiya urban development law; and the ‘Master Plan’ itself. Meanwhile references to the later have to be kept to the minimum. Land grab, the end result of the ‘Master Plan’, has to be brought up front and protesters have to be vocal in their opposition to the ill-designed and deceitful regulation rushed through Caffee Oromiya. References to the fuzzy, vague and broad “plan” have to be relegated to a third category. However, I believe it should still remain on the placards but with less frequency than it currently appears.
Balance: The message gets clearer if opposition to the ‘Master Plan’is unpacked and presented in its time dimension: past, present and future. So far, the misunderstanding emanates from the presence of the word ‘Plan’ in ‘Master Plan’, which gave totally wrong impressions that Oromos are protesting a plan that is not yet implemented. It is a known fact that this is not the spirit in which the Oromo protests have taken place. The fact of the matter is the ‘Addis Master Plan’ has already been implemented. The EPRDF government should therefore be accused and challenged not only for lack of public participation in the preparation of the ‘Master Plan’ but also for declaring a plan for City development activity which has already been substantially implemented without much say from the general public. This would mean reframing the message and challenging primarily the implemented component of the Addis Abeba Master Plan. In other words, the focus of the movement should shift from what is yet to happen to what has already happened. This will save the protest from being labeled as a protest led by “imagination” to opposition against incalculable damages and crimes already perpetrated on the Oromo people.


The whole purpose of this analysis is to assist with sharpening the messages and messaging in the ongoing Oromo protest. I will conclude by providing rough sketches of the nature of effective messages I would like to see in future rallies. Although I put “Land Grab” as a primary target for opposition, even this would need to be framed in such a way that the message to be conveyed is a great deal more focused and sharper. In the context of Oromiya, “We Oppose Land Grab” is not good enough. Instead“Lafaa Hattee Deebisi!” or “Return Stolen Properties!” sounds sharper. I will simply outline a few focal points, and leave the task of coining effective slogans out of them. (of course, that is if my concern is shared with others colleagues).


Compensation– peaceful protesters would need to put across messages that target proper compensation for millions of families that have already been evicted over the last two decades. The justification for this is clear and straightforward. Ill-compensated farmers have legitimate cases to legally hold the authorities accountable for their dispossessed properties. There is no such a thing as bygones are bygones in such matters. In this case, the target has to be proper compensations perhaps over a longer period of time. It is possible to imagine the kinds of settlement that can be reached.
This might include establishing an inquiry that will look into the elaborate scams surrounding property development deals, amount of money collected, and then institute public fund for special compensations that will regularly pay evicted farmers and reinstate their dignities as human beings. Inevitably, such compensation funds can be sustained through property taxes, which inin tern force those who unjustly acquired land to pay back in the long run. Such guarantees will save current owners from insecurity in the short term to medium term.


‘Master Plan’– The manner in which protesters oppose part of the ‘Master Plan’yet to be implemented would need to be reframed. The aspect related to inevitable future land grab will remain as in the current rally but it should not be allowed to overshadow other aspects. However, I think it is important to express opposition to the deceitful merger of Addis Abeba with surrounding Oromiya towns in the pretext of development. Peaceful protesters would need to vocally express their opposition to “merger”. The reason is clear; it violates the basic principles of federalism. Something like this would send a strong message: Development Plan Integrations, Yes!; City-Town Mergers, No!.It can never be a difficult task to elaborate the underlying reasons for such slogans. It will also remove the unfortunate image of sounding a protest against “development plans”. Holding this slogan is like hittingtwo birds with one stone – a protest against land grab, gerrymandering, and the urban development proclamation. It also gives confidence for others who plan to settle in Oromiya.


Ed’s Note: The writer is an economist by profession and can be reached atdinade0612@gmail.com. The opinions expressed in this article are that of the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial principles of Addis Standard magazine
The number of Oromo protesters killed as of now exceeds 150, according to campaigners.


Opinion: Oromo protests: getting the messages right


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Odaa Oromoo#OromoProtests against the Ethiopian regime fascist tyranny. Join the peaceful movement for justice, democracy, development and freedom of Oromo and other oppressed people in Ethiopia#OromoProtests, Qabosoon itti fufa jedhu aayyoleenOromo students Protests, Western Oromia, Mandii, Najjoo, Jaarsoo,....


#OromoProtests Special coverage


By Henok Gabisa, Addis Standard,  25 January 2016


The current situation in Oromiya and wider Ethiopia is blusterous. In the words of an anonymous commentator on the ground, “Oromiya is a war zone; we are under effective military control.” From this characterization, I gather that the government security forces’ merciless firing of live ammunition at peaceful protestors has turned the situation into a popular civil rebellion in all of Oromiya. As a matter of fact, protest actions have taken place in more than 170 Oromo cities, towns and villages. As of this writing, Oromo activists have verified and documented the killing of over 100 Oromo persons, the majority of whom are students and farmers. The Associated Press reports that 80 Oromo protestors were killed. Oromo mothers and female students are being kidnapped and transported to unknown locations.


Effective December 15, the Oromo nation has fallen under the administrative jurisdiction of a “Command Post”, an entity chaired by the Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn. “Counter-Terrorism Task Force”, which is assembled for this particular purpose is also deployed. It remains a major legal question whether the “military administration” constitutes the same effect as declaration of emergency situation-executive decree which should have followed a procedure of its own as under article 93 of the constitution. However, as of now, what we know is that the inception of the “command post” already has obliterated any semblance of legality because it unconstitutionally suspended the bodies that administer (i.e., the State Parliament and the Executive) of the State of Oromiya and the nominal political party in charge there.
On December 16, the federal government released something very close to a national decree. It was read on a national TV during prime time broadcast service. A joint venture of the “Command Post” and “Anti-Terrorism Special Task Force”, the decree’s content was considered by many as amounting to a declaration of war against the Oromo in general. The following day, the communication minister, Getachew Reda, followed up the decree with a presser, in which he described Oromo protesters as “devils”, “demons”, “satanic”, “witches” and “terrorists”, who need special military operation “to be put back in their place”. In his cantankerous statements, Getachew cleared up what many observers already suspected: the deep-seated and systematized dehumanization project of the Oromo by the regime and beyond. Again, PM Hailemariam Dessalegn, in an exclusive interview with the national TV, menacingly vowed for a “merciless” national response against the Oromo protesters if they don’t stop protesting. Now, we are observing synchronized, condescending and patronizing melodrama being translated into collective punishment against the Oromo. Getachew’s sordidly loaded press communication in fact reminded me of Seif-Al Islam Gaddafi’s last taunting moment in one of the notorious TV broadcast in which he called the Libyan protestors “rats” who had to be annihilated. The current military control in Oromiya exactly resembles the famous Nazi Law known as The Third Reich of 1933 that Nazified all German law in order to grant arbitrary power to Hitler to detain and convict Jews. In a similar way, ours is also a regime that has unequivocally and arrogantly displayed that it is not only the enemy of the people, but also of itself.


Why the plan is the reincarnation of perennial Oromo question?
The protest, now turned into an unarmed popular uprising or movement, is a renewed call from Oromo people to object to and demand the unconditional and permanent termination of the implementation of the Addis Abeba Master Plan, which is designed to incorporate surrounding Oromo lands into the capital against the will of owner-operators. The complete absence, on the part of the government, to solicit public consultation or participation since the start of the plan’s preparation in 2009 did not only make it a surreptitious political scheme, but also flagged major questions as to the substantive intent and content of the plan itself. In fact, the plan was viewed among the Oromo as an existential threat to the people and their land. The Oromo see the plan as a danger to their identity, language, culture, environment, and most importantly, their right to property/land security and the right to a sustainable development.
The government’s initial attempt to foist the plan in 2014 faced a stiff resistance from Ambo University students and all corners of Oromiya, triggering a massive crackdown by the government that killed unknown number of Oromo students in April and May of the same year. No judicial investigation or commission of inquiry was established, nor did anyone government official was hold accountable.


Completely disrespecting the peoples’ persistent objection against the plan, as of November 2015, the government came back with an imperious determination to implement the infamous master plan. At this juncture, the Oromo people, indisputably, were convinced of the federal government’s long-term scheme to end the meager economic and political presence, of the Oromo in central Addis Abeba and its surroundings.
The Master Plan, which the regional government said was scarped all together, is an epitome of the major political and economic injustices that have lingered on unresolved for far too long. Political subordination and denial of self-governance, rising poverty and increasing unemployment rate among Oromo households because of the policy of land eviction and language discrimination, are some of the fundamental questions. The ongoing movement is an expression of demand for an international scrutiny towards the Ethiopian regime’s system of wealth distribution and economic regulation in the ethnically structured federal system of the country.


Over the last quarter of century, the Oromo people have been ruthlessly targeted for their identity, falling prey to one of the authoritarian regimes in the continent. For example, various reports indicate that about 90% of the political prisoners in Ethiopian prison are exclusively made up of the Oromo. Not only did this create a deep-seated grievance among the Oromo, but also displayed the inept political leadership of the incumbent, potentially risking long-term stability of the region. The condensed account of political and economic discrimination based on identity, language and culture, the widespread and systematic violation of fundamental rights to property, crumbling land security, complete non-existence of freedom of assembly and of the press are some of the rudiments that are heating up the recent Oromo civil movement. These questions are as old as the coming into power of the current regime itself, or well beyond. The surreptitiously designed Addis Master Plan is the latest iteration of the long-standing policy of dispossessing the Oromo from their property, this time under the shibboleth of “urbanization” and “development.”


Humanitarian Crises: regime’s breach of common Article 3 of Geneva Convention
With the civilian protestors facing a regime that has no hesitation to use the national military force, a humanitarian crises has unfolded at an alarming rate. In some cases the government has deployed military helicopters to transport military personnel to the protest sites. We have witnessed that the regime’s military response doesn’t have moral boundary. I suspect the regime is oblivious to the fact that the whole world is watching.
Material breach-by the regime’s military force-of humanitarian obligation also continues to take place in several other forms. For example, in Wallaga, reports indicate that medical professionals are being beaten and arrested for treating wounded protesters. In Najjo town, Ambo and Burayu, security forces have occupied hospital compounds and other medical facilities in order to detain, deny and refuse admittance of the fatally injured protesters. In fact, the same type of cruelty has been witnessed during the 2014 Oromo protest. Of course, this kind of material breach of international humanitarian duty could also be considered as a constitutive element of war crimes and crimes against humanity.


Furthermore, the regime’s moral revulsion against the protestors is well indicated in the pervasive and horrifying acts of group rapes allegedly committed by members of the military  in a number of villages and university campuses. Some reports also reveal a disturbing account of a wife who was raped at night in front of her husband. It is clear that rape has always been used as a tool of committing crimes against humanity and war crimes in different countries at different times. That is why International Tribunal for Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) developed a legal theory under which an act of rape could give rise to a joint criminal conviction for crimes against humanity and war crimes.
Any viable solution?
The movement is an expressed demand for sustainable peace, justice, democracy, equality and true development that had been lacking in the country over the last 25 years. Apparently, the existing model of governance couldn’t extend to the greater public beyond the elites and a few members of a group who are affiliated with the regime. In fact, that is why Ethiopia is on the brink of famine with over 20 million Ethiopian people in need of urgent food, the majority of the affected being the Oromo. The number of Ethiopian youths that very frequently perish in the Mediterranean Sea while running away from home should put the lie to the government’s claim of the double digit growth. The stories thousands of our sisters living in an almost slavery-like situation in the Middle East should be a sufficient indication of how the travesty of the assertion Ethiopia’s fast economic growth.



The recent movement filled with ultimate self-sacrifice is the latest episode in Oromo’s quest for a better future and legitimate self-governance. The movement understands that unchecked state power in Ethiopia has been the problem and not the solution to economic development. The movement is an ultimate negation of the regime’s grandiloquent declaration of the recent 100% parliamentary win. It is the movement that is guarding and protecting the constitution from the government that was supposed to defend it. At the end of the day, the movement is a demand for reconfiguration and restructuring of the politics of the country. Of all, the movement is a plea for the permanent removal of the metastasized political cancer that that has diminished the lives and existence of the Oromo.
So, it is possible that the movement will soon culminate in being a sole driving force for the emergence of a new Ethiopia that all can call home. Oromo children’s blood gushing like a river on every street of Oromo city is a timely proof for a well-deserved moral leadership in the country. Over the last two months, the incumbent regime has conveyed a message to the Oromo and all other Ethiopians that it cannot lead the country; that its moral integrity is already corrupted, busted and politically bankrupt. The regime didn’t cash in on the benefit of the doubt it was granted 25 years ago. Now, it is a prime time for the people to step up their games by owning and showing the right leadership. That is the only way out.



Ed’s Note: Henok Gabisa is Visiting International Law Fellow based at Washington and Lee University School of Law in Lexington, Virginia. He can be reached at GabisaH@wlu.edu. The opinions expressed in this article are that of the writer and do not necessarily reflect Addis Standard’s editorial guideline.


Opinion: Oromo Protests: Marking the next Ethiopian political chapter

Oromia (#OromoProtests): VOA: Ethiopia Boundary Dispute Puts Human Rights Violations in Spotlight January 25, 2016

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Global Solidalirty rally with #OromoProtests in Oromia@Seattle 29 December 2015
 Ethiopia Boundary Dispute Puts Human Rights Violations in Spotlight

After almost two months of clashes between Oromo protesters and security forces in Ethiopia, authorities have scrapped a “master plan” that would have expanded the boundaries of Addis Ababa and, according to protesters, would have displaced Oromo farmers.

However, observers are divided on the significance of the move by Ethiopia and whether it truly represents a change of policy or just a reaction to negative publicity.

Dr. Awol Allo, a fellow in human rights at the London School of Economics, said he believes the government will find other ways to take land it deems useful.

“I don’t actually believe that the practices of displacement and the eviction and the plunder would cease,” Allo told VOA. “Remember, the expansion of Addis began a very long time ago and it has intensified over the course of the last 10 years because of the influx of investment into the city, both foreign and domestic.”

Compiled by activists

Allo pointed to figures compiled by jailed Oromo activist and opposition leader Bekele Gerba, who said 150,000 Oromo farmers have had their land taken by the government over the past 10 years.

“The practices would continue. They just don’t call them a master plan,” Allo said. “The master plan was basically intended to sort of basically formalize and legalize the processes of annexation and expansion. It may not have that kind of name that gives it a broader mandate, sort of legitimacy and authority, but the practice would nevertheless continue.”

Earlier this week, the European Parliament adopted a 19-point resolution urging Ethiopia to respect the rights of peaceful protestors as well as to cease intimidation and imprisonment of journalists. During a recent visit to Ethiopia, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power urged the government to engage in dialogue with protesters.

Approximately 140 people were killed during the protests, according activists interviewed by Human Rights Watch.

“What we are urging is that the international community should not turn a blind eye to these gross violations of human rights that have taken place in Ethiopia,” said Mandeep Tiwana, head of policy and research at CIVICUS, a group that works to strengthen civil society and civilian participation in politics.

“They should diplomatically engage with Ethiopia, institute external inquiry into this matter and also bring to court those responsible for excessive force and it appears that security forces have used excessive force against peaceful protesters and in fact there are reports that even children as young as 12 have been killed,” Tiwana said.

Confirmed deaths

The government has confirmed that 13 security forces died in the clashes. VOA made repeated requests for comment from the Ethiopian Embassy in Washington, D.C., but has not yet received an official statement.

The protests come at a particularly difficult time for Ethiopia, as the worst drought to hit the area in 30 years has caused a famine that is particularly affecting the northeast region.

The aid group Save the Children says as many as 10 million people are in need of food aid and calls it one of the two worst humanitarian crises in the world, following only Syria.

But observers hope the desire by the international community to aid those affected by the drought will not prevent them from insisting that Ethiopia respect human rights as it pertains to the Oromo protests.

Muthoni Wanyeki, Amnesty International’s regional director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes, said her organization and others are calling for three additional measures following the cancellation of the master plan.

Release, investigation

First, they want the unconditional release of the people arrested during the protests. They also want an independent investigation of police conduct, and they are calling for a national dialogue about policing and demonstrations and what is appropriate during protests.

“It is a sign of good faith that the government canceled these immediate plans,” Wanyeki said. “I think the pressure from the community and from all of the people that put aid into Ethiopia’s much wanted development progress need to insist on standards around projects like this.”

Under Ethiopian law, all land belongs to the government and people who are relocated are entitled to compensation.

However, the constitution specifically protects the rights of pastoralists and their right not to be displaced from their land.

Allo said proper compensation and due process has not occurred in the Oromo region around Addis Ababa.

“Their entire livelihood is inextricably tied to the land and land means everything. Their property is a way of living for them so to deprive them of that possibility that prospect of leaving the land that they have known, in the ecologies that they have known, without proper consultation, without appropriate compensation, I think that is a huge injustice,” he said.