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Gambella: My Father, Who Dared to Defend Land Rights March 10, 2016

Posted by OromianEconomist in Africa, Ethiopia's Colonizing Structure and the Development Problems of People of Oromia, Afar, Ogaden, Sidama, Southern Ethiopia and the Omo Valley, Ethnic Cleansing, Gambella, Land Grabs in Africa.
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Odaa OromooFTOakland Institute

 

My Father, Who Dared to Defend Land Rights


Financial Times &  Oakland Institute,  9 March 2016


 

 

Sir, Your Big Read article, “The billionaire’s farm” (March 2), captures well the ramifications of the takeover of land and natural resources on the most marginalised communities in Ethiopia, a destination for many of the foreign investors. The devastating impact is way too personal for some of us.

Okello Akway Ochalla, mentioned in the article, is my father. He was kidnapped and then renditioned to Ethiopia and has been languishing in jail for two years, charged as a terrorist. His crime being — having witnessed the massacre of his people in 2003 as the governor of Gambella, having had to flee the country since he feared for his own life, having been separated from his family — my sister and I spent half of our lives as refugees in Kenya, before coming to the US in 2013 — that he dared to advocate for the human rights of the people of Gambella and the Anuak community.

On March 7, a final verdict was expected in my father’s case and yet once again to break his spirit, the verdict has been postponed to April 6. The strongest evidence the court has against my father is his own confession. A confession obtained, as my father explained in his closing statement, “after being kidnapped and suffering in detention for more than three months without any defence lawyer and communication with anyone”. He added: “The defence statement was made to look as if it was voluntarily submitted to the court… at the time I was giving the statement to the police, I was in an environment where the police investigator had put the pistol on the table in front of me and I was being tortured.”

If anyone cares to read the evidence brought forward by the defence and my father’s closing argument, it is obvious that the crime committed by my father is one of dissent and that he has committed no terrorist activities. His dissent challenges the continued suffering of Anuak people and the theft of natural resources such as our land, rivers and forests, which is igniting social and political conflict. My father is no terrorist. A good man, a good father and a good leader, my father is a land rights defender!

In the light of the excellent coverage by the FT, my sincere hope is that big donors to Ethiopia, including the US, the UK and the World Bank, will reconsider the impact of this land rush on families such as mine and urge the Ethiopian government to release my father.

Obok Akway Ochalla
Spokane, WA, US

UNPO: Ethnic Cleansing in Gambella Region, Ethiopia: What Is to Become of Its Minorities? February 4, 2016

Posted by OromianEconomist in #OromoProtests, Africa, Ethiopia's Colonizing Structure and the Development Problems of People of Oromia, Afar, Ogaden, Sidama, Southern Ethiopia and the Omo Valley, Ethnic Cleansing, Gambella, Genocide, Indigenous People.
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Odaa OromooUNPO

Ethnic Cleansing in Gambella Region, Ethiopia: What Is to Become of Its Minorities?

 

Unfortunately it is not unusual for the Ethiopian government to conduct ethnically-based human rights violations in its own country. Only a few weeks go, Oromo civilians were specifically targeted and killed in their home towns following peaceful protests. Today it is the Anuak community who is suffering from oppression by national authorities. The government seems to have started the conflict to repress a group of civilians suspected of affiliation to the Gambella Peoples’ Liberation Movement (GPLM). The People’s Alliance for Freedom and Democracy (PAFD) condemns these atrocities and pleads the international community to take these continuous human rights violations in consideration when engaged in relations with the Ethiopian Government.

 

Photo courtesy of Julio Garcia @Flickr

 

On January 27, 2016, around 2:00 am local time, ‘special police’ from the regional administration of Gambella aided by local militia attacked Anuak civilians all over the region. Subsequently, the death of more than four dozen of Anuak civilians have been reported; and the indiscriminate massacre of unarmed Gambella civilians is said to be continuing. Moreover, the local militia close to the regional administrator attacked a prison in Gambella town and residential areas by killing more than 8 people and destroying the regional state prison.

In Gambella, the Ethiopian government arms and trains both the special police forces and the local militias. Therefore, the government is believed to have instigated the current conflict after it has suspected that the Anuak are affiliated to Gambella Peoples’ Liberation Movement (GPLM), one of the founding members of the ‘Peoples’ Alliance for freedom and Democracy’ (PAFD). The instability of the South Sudan is also said to have negatively impacted on the intra-communal harmony.

Between 13 and 16 of December 2003, in Gambella region, the Ethiopian army has massacred over 424 Anuak people, wounding further 200 and causing the disappearances of about 85 people.

Time and again, we have witnessed such profoundly disturbing crimes perpetrated by the current Ethiopian government on civilians of all regions. Since November 2015, the Ethiopian government’s forces are committing similar massacres and brutally treating unarmed Oromo civilians in various Oromia villages and towns. The Oromo civilians are peacefully protesting TPLF’s land-grabbing policies under the pretext of expanding Addis Ababa.

The regime blatantly continues committing similar massacres in Ogaden Somali, Sidama, Tepi-Mezenger, Beni-Shangul and other regions in front of the international community. Civilians and opposition groups and their supporters are arbitrarily imprisoned, continually tortured and denied legal representation. Millions of farmers are continually uprooted from their livelihoods to vacate their land for TPLF’s business. Journalists for writing the truth and all those who dare to exercising their constitutionally guaranteed rights are classified as terrorists.

Therefore, PAFD

– Categorically condemns the Ethiopian government’s systematic instigation of the current conflict in Gambella and urges it to stop the arming of one ethnic group to stand against their own people.

– Calls upon all the Gambella civilians to exercise utmost restraint; stop massacring their own brothers and sisters- instead uniting to resist authoritarian TPLF’s regime

– Calls upon all Gambella related democratic movements and liberation fronts to unite in unanimously denouncing the Ethiopian government’s heinous tactics of inciting conflicts between fraternally co-exited brothers and sisters.

– Calls upon all the international and Ethiopian related democratic forces to unite in condemning the on-going Gambella massacre orchestrated by the Ethiopian government.

– Calls upon all the international humanitarians and Western politicians to rethink their position whilst supporting the Ethiopian TPLF’s authoritarian regime.

– Call upon all foreign groups to desist from interfering in the internal affairs of the Gambella peoples.

 

For the original press release please download this.

http://unpo.org/article/18883

The UK has ended its financial support for a controversial development project alleged to have helped the Ethiopian government fund a brutal resettlement programme, says the Guardian Global Development February 28, 2015

Posted by OromianEconomist in Gambella, Land and resource Rights, Land and Water Grabs in Oromia, Land Grabs in Africa, Land Grabs in Oromia, Omo Valley, Oromia, UK Aid Should Respect Rights.
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British support for Ethiopia scheme withdrawn amid abuse allegations,

Sam Jones and Mark Anderson

http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2015/feb/27/british-support-for-ethiopia-scheme-withdrawn-amid-abuse-allegations

The UK has ended its financial support for a controversial development project alleged to have helped the Ethiopian government fund a brutal resettlement programme. Hundreds of people have been forced from their land as a result of the scheme, while there have also been reports of torture, rape and beatings.

Until last month, Britain’s Department for International Development (DfID) was the primary funder of the promotion of basic services (PBS) programme, a $4.9bn (£3.2bn) project run by the World Bank and designed to boost education, health and water services in Ethiopia.

On Thursday, DfID said it had ended its PBS contributions because of Ethiopia’s “growing success”, adding that financial decisions of this nature were routinely made after considering a recipient country’s “commitment to partnership principles”.

It has been alleged that programme funds have been used to bankroll the Ethiopian government’s push to move 1.5 million rural families from their land to new “model” villages across the country.

Opponents of the commune development programme (CDP) say it has been characterised by violence. One Ethiopian farmer is taking legal action against the British government, claiming UK money has funded abuses against Anuak peoplein the Gambella region. The man, an Anuak known as Mr O, says he was beaten and witnessed rapes and assaults as government soldiers cleared people off their land. DfID has always insisted it does not fund Ethiopia’s commune development programme.

A scathing draft report from the World Bank’s internal watchdog recently concluded that inadequate oversight, bad audit practices, and a failure to follow the bank’s own rules had allowed operational links to form between the PBS programme and the Ethiopian government’s resettlement scheme.

Although the bank’s inspection panel found that funds could have been diverted to implement villagisation, it did not look into whether the resettlement programme had involved human rights abuses, claiming such questions were outside its remit.

DfID, which has contributed nearly £745m of UK taxpayer money to the PBS programme, said the decision to withdraw financial support was prompted in part by Ethiopia’s “impressive progress” towards the millennium development goals.

“The UK will now evolve its approach by transitioning support towards economic development to help generate jobs, income and growth that will enable self-sufficiency and ultimately end poverty,” it said.

“This will go alongside additional funding for specific health, education and water programmes – where impressive results are already being delivered – resourced by ending support for the promotion of basic Services programme.”

A DfID spokesman said the move had nothing to do with Mr O’s ongoing legal action or the World Bank’s internal report, but added: “Changes to programmes are based on a number of factors including, but not limited to, country context, progress to date and commitment to partnership principles.”

The department said its overall financial commitment to Ethiopia, one of the largest recipients of UK aid, would remain unchanged, with almost £256m due to be spent between 2015 and 2016.

The Ethiopian government said DfID’s decision was not a matter of concern.

“They have been discussing it with pertinent government bodies,” said the communications minister, Redwan Hussien.

“What they said is that the aid that they’re giving will not be refused or stopped, it will be reorganised.”

The World Bank’s executive board met on Thursday to discuss the internal report on the PBS programme and the management response.

In a statement released on Friday, the bank said that although its inspection panel had concluded that the seizing of land and use of violence and intimidation were not consequences of PBS, it had determined that the programme “did not fully assess and mitigate the risks arising from the government’s implementation of CDP, particularly in the delivery of agricultural services to the Anuaks”.

The World Bank Group president, Jim Yong Kim, said that one of the institution’s core principles was to do no harm to the poor, adding: “In this case, while the inspection panel found no violations, it did point out areas where we could have done more to help the Anuak people. We draw important lessons from this case to better anticipate ways to protect the poor and be more effective in fighting poverty.”

Opponents of the villagisation process have been vocal in their criticisms of the bank’s role. Jessica Evans, senior international financial institutions researcher at Human Rights Watch, said the inspection panel’s report showed the bank had “largely ignored human rights risks evident in its projects in Ethiopia” and highlighted “the perils of unaccountable budget support” in the country.

 

http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2015/feb/27/british-support-for-ethiopia-scheme-withdrawn-amid-abuse-allegations

The World Bank should fully address serious human rights issues raised by the bank’s internal investigation into a project in #Ethiopia, Human Rights Watch said in a letter to the bank’s vice president for #Africa February 24, 2015

Posted by OromianEconomist in African Poor, Aid to Africa, Ethiopia's Colonizing Structure and the Development Problems of People of Oromia, Afar, Ogaden, Sidama, Southern Ethiopia and the Omo Valley, Free development vs authoritarian model, Gambella, Groups at risk of arbitrary arrest in Oromia: Amnesty International Report, Land and resource Rights, Land and Water Grabs in Oromia, Land Grabs in Africa, Land Grabs in Oromia, World Bank.
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World Banka: Address Ethiopia Findings
Response to Inquiry Dismissive of Abuses
The new village of Bildak in Ethiopia's Gambella region, which the semi-nomadic Nuer who were forcibly transferred there quickly abandoned in May 2011 because there was no water source for their cattle.
The new village of Bildak in Ethiopia’s Gambella region, which the semi-nomadic Nuer who were forcibly transferred there quickly abandoned in May 2011 because there was no water source for their cattle. © 2011 Human Rights Watch
The Inspection Panel’s report shows that the World Bank has largely ignored human rights risks evident in its projects in Ethiopia. The bank has the opportunity and responsibility to adjust course on its Ethiopia programming and provide redress to those who were harmed. But management’s Action Plan achieves neither of these goals. – Jessica Evans, senior international financial institutions researcher

( FEBRUARY 23, 2015, Washington, DC) – The World Bank should fully address serious human rights issues raised by the bank’s internal investigation into a project in Ethiopia, Human Rights Watch said in a letter to the bank’s vice president for Africa. The bank’s response to the investigation findings attempts to distance the bank from the many problems confirmed by the investigation and should be revised. The World Bank board of directors is to consider the investigation report and management’s response, which includes an Action Plan, on February 26, 2015.

The Inspection Panel, the World Bank’s independent accountability mechanism, found that the bank violated its own policies in Ethiopia. The investigation was prompted by a formal complaint brought by refugees from Ethiopia’s Gambella region concerning the Promoting Basic Services (PBS) projects funded by the World Bank, the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DFID), the African Development Bank, and several other donors.

“The Inspection Panel’s report shows that the World Bank has largely ignored human rights risks evident in its projects in Ethiopia,” said Jessica Evans, senior international financial institutions researcher at Human Rights Watch. “The bank has the opportunity and responsibility to adjust course on its Ethiopia programming and provide redress to those who were harmed. But management’s Action Plan achieves neither of these goals.”

The report, leaked to the media in January, determinedthat “there is an operational link” between the World Bank projects in Ethiopia and a government relocation program known as “villagization.” It concluded that the bank had violated its policy that is intended to protect indigenous peoples’ rights. It also found that the bank “did not carry out the required full risk analysis, nor were its mitigation measures adequate to manage the concurrent rollout of the villagisation programme.” These findings should prompt the World Bank and other donors to take all necessary measures to prevent and address links between its programs and abusive government initiatives, Human Rights Watch said.

Rather than taking on these important findings and applying lessons learned, World Bank management has drafted an Action Plan that merely reinforces its problematic current course, Human Rights Watch said. The Action Plan emphasizes the role of programs designed to mobilize communities to engage in local government’s decisions without addressing the significant risks people take in speaking critically.

The Inspection Panel also found that the bank did not take the necessary steps to mitigate the risk presented by Ethiopia’s 2009 law on civil society organizations. The law prohibits human rights organizations in Ethiopia from receiving more than 10 percent of their funding from foreign sources. As a result of the law, most independent Ethiopian civil society organizations working on human rights issues have had to discontinue their work.

The plan also pledges to enhance the capacity of local government staff to comply with the bank’s policies and to provide complaint resolution mechanisms without addressing the role of the local government in human rights abuses. This continues an approach of seeing the officials implicated in human rights abuses as a source of potential resolution, Human Rights Watch said. Management has also concluded, contrary to the Inspection Panel, that the World Bank is adequately complying with the bank’s policy to protect the rights of indigenous peoples.

Human Rights Watch research into the first year of the villagization program in the western Gambella region found that people were forced to move into the government’s new villages. Human Rights Watch found that the relocation was accompanied by serious abuses, including intimidation, assaults, and arbitrary arrests by security officials, and contributed to the loss of livelihoods for the people forced to move. While the Ethiopian government has officially finished its villagization program in Gambella, it is forcibly evicting communities in other regions, including indigenous people, ostensibly for development projects such as large-scale agriculture projects.

Donors to the Ethiopia Promoting Basic Services Program, including the World Bank and the UK, have repeatedly denied any link between their programs and problematic government programs like villagization.

Human Rights Watch has long raised concerns over inadequate monitoring and the risks of misuse of development assistance in Ethiopia. In 2010 Human Rights Watch documented the government’s use of donor-supported resources and aid to consolidate the power of the ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF). Government officials discriminated on the basis of real and perceived political opinion in distributing resources, including access to donor-supported programs, salaries, and training opportunities. Donors have never systematically investigated these risks to their programming, much less addressed them.

The Inspection Panel report is the first donor mechanism that has investigated the donor’s approach to risk assessment in Ethiopia. Although the Inspection Panel adopted a narrow view of its mandate and decided explicitly to exclude human rights violations, its findings underscore the need for donors to considerably enhance and broaden their risk assessment processes in Ethiopia. These processes are crucial for ensuring that their programs advance the social and economic rights of the people they are intended to benefit, without violating their human rights. Management’s response misrepresents the panel’s view of its mandate, erroneously concurring “with the panel’s conclusion that the harm alleged in the Request cannot be attributed to the Project” – the Inspection Panel report makes no such sweeping conclusion.

“The bank directors should send management’s response and Action Plan back and insist on a plan that addresses the Inspection Panel’s findings and the concerns of the people who sought the inquiry,” Evans said. “A meaningful Action Plan should address the program in question, bank-lending in Ethiopia more broadly, and how to apply lessons from these mistakes to all bank programing in high-risk, repressive environments around the world.”

The Action Plan should include provisions for high-level dialogue between the bank and the Ethiopian government to address key human rights issues that are obstacles to effective development, Human Rights Watch said. These issues include forced evictions and development-related displacement, restrictions on civil society, including attacks on independent groups and journalists, discriminatory practices, and violations ofindigenous peoples’ rights.

The plan should include provisions for identifying and mitigating all human rights risks and adverse impacts at the project level, and for independent monitoring to make sure these concerns are fully addressed. The plan should also include provisions for people affected by projects to be involved in projects from their conception and remedies for people negatively affected by bank projects.

Given the climate of fear and repression in Ethiopia, Gambella residents who brought the complaint to the bank and have taken refuge in South Sudan and Kenya are unlikely to feel safe returning home. In light of this, the Action Plan should address their most urgent needs abroad, including education and livelihood opportunities, Human Rights Watch said.

The Inspection Panel’s findings also have wider implications for donor programming in Ethiopia. Donors’ current appraisal methods do not consider human rights and other risks from their programs. The panel highlighted particular problems with budget support or block grants that cannot be tracked at the local level.

“The Inspection Panel report illustrates the perils of unaccountable budget support in Ethiopia,” Evans said. “Donors should implement programs that ensure that Ethiopia’s neediest participate in and have access to the benefits of donor aid.”

http://www.hrw.org/news/2015/02/23/world-bank-address-ethiopia-findings

 

FEBRUARY 23, 2015

Dear Vice President Diop,

As you are aware, Human Rights Watch has researched and documented human rights violations that the government of Ethiopia has committed in the course of its “villagization” program in both Gambella and in the Lower Omo valley. We have also reported on the links between villagization and the various iterations of the World Bank’s Promoting/ Protection of Basic Services projects. With this in mind, I write to you as your staff are working to prepare an action plan responding to the Inspection Panel’s findings of non-compliance in its Ethiopia investigation.

We urge you to ensure that World Bank management responds to the Inspection Panel findings comprehensively in its action plan. Human Rights Watch has been profoundly disappointed by the lack of constructive engagement of World Bank management on the problems of villagization in Ethiopia and its unwillingness to work to address a range of human rights risks in its programming. The concerns raised in the Investigation Panel’s report are an opportunity to adjust management’s course on its Ethiopia programming and address these issues.

We believe the Action Plan should include a commitment to:

1.    Enhance Management’s High Level Dialogue with the Ethiopian Government

Whenever World Bank staff, particularly you or President Kim, meet with the Ethiopian government, we urge you to raise the continuing negative impact that several Ethiopian government policies and practices are having on development efforts.

First, forced evictions and development-related displacement continues to have serious negative effects on communities in various parts of the country, well beyond Gambella. While the government has officially finished its villagization program, it continues to forcibly evict people, including indigenous peoples, from their land ostensibly for development projects, including large-scale agriculture, including for sugar plantation development in the Lower Omo Valley. Bank staff should work with other donors to highlight problems with ongoing practices, as well as pointing to key standards (which should include the UN Basic Principles and Guidelines on Development-based Evictions and Displacement, and standards and jurisprudence of the African regional human rights institutions). While we recognize bank management has discussed some concerns about villagization before and supported the development of standards for involuntary resettlement, relying on the Bank’s safeguards, dialogue needs to recognize the problems with the existing practices and advise on how to address them.

Second, it is crucial that the Bank asserts the importance of civic participation and social accountability for effective development. This means consistently raising concerns, and urging reforms of the Ethiopian government’s Charities and Societies Proclamation and Anti-Terrorism Proclamation, which have had such a devastating impact on the ability of Ethiopians to exercise their rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly. It is also crucial that the Bank and other donors press the Ethiopian government to reverse the practices of arbitrary arrest and detention, and politically motivated prosecutions of independent journalists, activists, and opposition party members including media reporting on problematic “development” initiatives. Independent nongovernmental organizations and media are essential for accountability, and these repressive policies undermine both civic participation and social accountability.

Third, you should raise concerns over discriminatory practices in the country, both on the basis of ethnic background and political opinion. President Kim has spoken passionately about the scourge of discrimination. This should translate into a dialogue with the government not only about how discrimination is wrong, but how it undermines development. Human Rights Watch and others have documented discriminatory practices against individuals not supporting the ruling party in the distribution of the benefits of development, including access to agricultural inputs like seeds and fertilizers, micro-credit loans and job opportunities. In this context, bank management should highlight these ongoing discriminatory practices, including against those who do not support the ruling party and against indigenous groups in areas where villagization occurred including Gambella and the Lower Omo valley.

Finally, it is essential that Ethiopia respect and protect the rights of indigenous peoples. You may want to consider the work of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, which has on several occasions discussed indigenous rights within the African context. The African Commission’s Working Group on Indigenous Populations/ Communities has suggested that, in determining whether groups fall within the definition of indigenous peoples, the:

focus should be on … self-definition as indigenous and distinctly different from other groups within a state; on a special attachment to and use of their traditional land whereby their ancestral land and territory has a fundamental importance for their collective physical and cultural survival as peoples; on an experience of subjugation, marginalization, dispossession, exclusion or discrimination because these people have different cultures, ways of life or modes of production than the national hegemonic and dominant model.

The Commission has helpfully addressed common misconceptions regarding indigenous peoples in Africa, paraphrased in attachment 1.

2.    Address Risks at the Project Level

The report of the Inspection Panel shows that the World Bank needs to have systems in place to analyze and avoid or mitigate the above and other human rights risks linked to its projects in Ethiopia. The Bank should acknowledge that the repressive environment in Ethiopia requires an entirely different approach to participation and social accountability. It should work with other donors to develop creative methods for participation that avoid risks of reprisals against those who express dissent and to encourage fearful individuals to use mechanisms and institutions that ensure participation and accountability, free of intimidation and fear. In recognition of the difficulties of ensuring participation and effective, secure avenues for accountability, the Bank should routinely identify security risks for project-affected persons including the risk of reprisal if individuals criticize a project or oppose resettlement.

Considering the high-risk environment, World Bank management should explicitly report to the board on how it has analyzed and addressed all risks of social and human rights impacts in each project in Ethiopia at least annually. Such a report should outline how management has addressed security risks, risks of all forms of discrimination, potential obstacles to participation and accountability, and risks related to land rights or forced evictions, as well as any other potential adverse social or human rights impact.

The World Bank should also ensure that it comprehensively complies with its Indigenous Peoples’ policy in all projects in which indigenous peoples stand to be impacted, directly or indirectly. Compliance needs to go beyond consulting with indigenous peoples in the course of undertaking a social impact assessment, and instead involve comprehensive participation of indigenous peoples in all bank-projects that affect them beginning at the project proposal stage and throughout the entire project cycle. The World Bank should only proceed with projects that affect indigenous peoples with their free, prior, and informed consent as provided by international law.

Furthermore, the bank should require independent third party monitoring and independent grievance redress mechanisms for all of its projects in Ethiopia. Until the environment for independent organizations, including nongovernmental organizations and the media, improves substantially, there is little opportunity for individuals to report problems with World Bank projects. Many of the existing grievance redress mechanisms lack independence from the government or, equally important, are perceived to lack independence.

While the bank has championed its “social accountability mechanisms” in Ethiopia, we question the effectiveness of these mechanisms within the current repressive environment. Statements from the requesters indicate that they would never utilize such mechanisms because of government involvement, and the Bank should heed these concerns. Unfortunately, to date, the bank does not appear to have addressed the question of how these mechanisms can be effective within the current repressive environment. The World Bank needs to find alternative, effective mechanisms to supervise its projects and permit people to safely complain about grievances.

Finally, in accordance with the World Bank’s commitment to and expertise regarding fiscal transparency and accountability, management should only support projects for which funds can be tracked. Tracking the funding is necessary for tracking the full impacts of a World Bank-financed project. It is also particularly relevant considering the bank’s decision not to provide direct budget support to Ethiopia because of the high-risk environment. The Inspection Panel pointed to the challenge of tracking PBS’ financing, in particular, because the government did not share key financial information. This is immensely problematic and should be promptly remedied.

3.    Provide the Requesters with a Remedy

The requesters have proposed measures to remedy the problems they highlighted in their complaint and a strong Action Plan is needed to address these concerns, which Human Rights Watch supports. I attach their letter for ease of reference.

The Action Plan should provide effective development and much-needed basic services to the people of Gambella, free of the requirement to be supportive of the ruling party. As indigenous people, the requesters should be partners in the World Bank’s development initiatives, which includes the right to be meaningfully consulted and for development projects to only go forward with their consent, free of any intimidation.

Given the climate of fear and repression that exists in Ethiopia, it is unlikely that many requesters will feel safe to return home to Gambella. In light of this, the Action Plan should address some of the most urgent needs of the requesters in the refugee communities including the lack of education and livelihood opportunities.

Finally, we urge the World Bank management to present the final Action Plan to the requesters in person in Kenya and South Sudan, comprehensively explaining it and responding to the requestors’ letter.

Thank you for considering our recommendations. I would be most happy to discuss them with you or your staff further. I look forward to your response.

Sincerely,

Jessica Evans

Senior Advocate on International Financial Institutions

Business and Human Rights Division

Human Rights Watch

Annex 1

The African Commission’s Working Group on Indigenous Populations / Communities has debunked several misconceptions regarding indigenous peoples in Africa:

Misconception 1: To protect the rights of indigenous peoples gives special rights to some ethnic groups over and above the rights of all other groups.

Certain groups face discrimination because of their particular culture, mode of production, and marginalized position within the state. The protection of their rights is a legitimate call to alleviate this particular form of discrimination. It is not about special rights.

Misconception 2: Indigenous is not applicable in Africa as “all Africans are indigenous.”

There is no question that Africans are indigenous to Africa in the sense that they were there before the European colonialists arrived and that they were subject to subordination during colonialism. When some particular marginalized groups use the term “indigenous” to describe themselves, they use the modern analytical form (which does not merely focus on aboriginality) in an attempt to draw attention to and alleviate the particular form of discrimination they suffer from. They do not use the term in order to deny other Africans their legitimate claim to belong to Africa and identify as such.

Misconception 3: Talking about indigenous rights will lead to tribalism and ethnic conflicts.

Giving recognition to all groups, respecting their differences and allowing them all to flourish does not lead to conflict, it prevents conflict. What creates conflict is when certain dominant groups force a contrived “unity” that only reflects perspectives and interests of powerful groups within a given state, and which seeks to prevent weaker marginal groups from voicing their unique concerns and perspectives. Conflicts do not arise because people demand their rights but because their rights are violated. Protecting the human rights of particularly discriminated groups should not be seen as tribalism and disruption of national unity. On the contrary, it should be welcomed as an interesting and much needed opportunity in the African human rights arena to discuss ways of developing African multicultural democracies based on the respect and contribution of all ethnic groups.

Source: Paraphrased from Report of the African Commission’s Working Group on Indigenous Populations/Communities, Adopted by the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights at its 34th Ordinary Session, November 6-20, 2003.

http://www.hrw.org/node/132912

RELATED MATERIALS:

A major UK- and World Bank-funded development programme in Ethiopia may have contributed to the violent resettlement and evictions of the indigenous people January 20, 2015

Posted by OromianEconomist in Afar, Africa, Ethiopia's Colonizing Structure and the Development Problems of People of Oromia, Ethnic Cleansing, Free development vs authoritarian model, Gambella, H & M, Land and Water Grabs in Oromia, Ogaden, Omo, Omo Valley, Sidama, Southern Ethiopia and the Omo Valley, UK Aid Should Respect Rights, World Bank.
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Ethiopia: human rights groups criticise UK-funded development programme

Leaked World Bank report rejects claims from the Bank’s management that no link existed between their programme and villagisation
The Guardian, Tuesday 20 January 2015
Traditional homestead in Gambela
 
A major UK- and World Bank-funded development programme in Ethiopia may have contributed to the violent resettlement of a minority ethnic group, a leaked report reveals. The UK’s Department for International Development was the primary funder of a World Bank-run development project aimed at improving health, education and public services in Ethiopia, contributing more than £388m of UK taxpayer funds to the project. However, a scathing draft report of the World Bank’s internal watchdog said that due to inadequate oversight, bad audit practices, and a failure to follow its own rules, the Bank has allowed operational links to form between its programme and the Ethiopian government’s controversial resettlement programme. Multiple human rights groups operating in the region have criticised the Ethiopian government’s programme for violently driving tens of thousands of indigenous people, predominantly from the minority Anuak Christian ethnic group, from their homes in order to make way for commercial agriculture projects – allegations the Ethiopian government denies. Many of those resettled remain in poor conditions lacking even basic facilities in refugee camps in South Sudan. The leaked World Bank report, obtained by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists and seen by the Guardian, rejected claims from the Bank’s management that no link existed between their programme and villagisation. According to the report, weak audit controls meant bank funds – which included over £300m from the UK’s Department for International Development – could have been diverted to implement villagisation. The report did not itself examine whether the resettlement programme had involved human rights abuses, saying such questions were outside its remit. However, the watchdog highlighted a series of failures in the planning and implementation of the programme, including a major oversight in its failure to undertake full risk-assessments as required by bank protocol. Crucially for the Anuak people, the bank did not apply required safeguards to protect indigenous groups. Anuradha Mittal, the founder of the Oakland Institute, a California-based development NGO which is active in the region, said DfID was an active participant in the programme, and should share responsibility for its failings. “Along with the World Bank and other donors, DfID support constitutes not only financial support but a nod of approval for the Ethiopian regime to bring about ‘economic development’ for the few at the expense of basic human rights and livelihoods of its economically and politically most marginalised ethnic groups,” she said. Mittal was also critical of the World Bank panel’s draft findings, falling short of directly implicating the World Bank and its fellow donors in the resettlement programme. “It is quite stunning that the panel does not think that the World Bank is responsible for villagisation-related widespread abuses in Ethiopia resulting in destruction of livelihoods, forced displacement of Anuaks from their fertile lands and forests.” Disclosure of the draft report’s findings come as the UK government faces increasing scrutiny over its involvement in villagisation. DfID is the project’s largest donor and in March ministers will face a judicial review over whether the UK’s contributions indirectly funded the resettlement programme. The case has been brought by a farmer from the Gambela region who claims he was violently evicted from his land. Responding to the report’s findings, David Pred of Inclusive Development International – the NGO which filed the original complaint on the Anuak group’s behalf – said: “The Bank has enabled the forcible transfer of tens of thousands of indigenous people from their ancestral lands. “The Bank today just doesn’t want to see human rights violations, much less accept that it bears some responsibility when it finances those violations.” A World Bank spokesman declined to answer the Guardian’s questions about the report. “As is standard procedure, World Bank staff cannot comment on the results of the inspection panel’s investigation until the executive board of the World Bank Group has had the opportunity to review the panel’s report over the coming weeks.” In previous statements the bank’s management said there was no evidence of widespread abuses or evictions. Asked about the findings, a DfID spokesman said: “We do not comment on leaked reports. “Britain’s support to the Promotion of Basic Services Programme is specifically for the provision of essential services like healthcare, schooling and clean water, and we have no evidence that UK funds have been diverted for other purposes.”   http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/jan/20/ethiopia-human-rights-groups-development-programme-world-bank-villagisation

Saudi Star To Restart Rice Project on Disputed #Anuak Lands in Ethiopia. #Gambela. #Oromia #Omo. #Africa. January 3, 2015

Posted by OromianEconomist in Africa, African Poor, Amnesty International's Report: Because I Am Oromo, Colonizing Structure, Corruption in Africa, Ethiopia's Colonizing Structure and the Development Problems of People of Oromia, Afar, Ogaden, Sidama, Southern Ethiopia and the Omo Valley, Ethnic Cleansing, Gambella, Genocidal Master plan of Ethiopia, Land Grabs in Africa, Land Grabs in Oromia, Oromia, Uncategorized.
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OLand grab inOromia

 

Saudi Star Agricultural Development plans to pump $100 million into a rice export project in Gambella region of Ethiopia despite allegations of human rights violations surrounding the “villagization” program under which the land has been taken from indigenous Anuak pastoralists to lease to foreign investors.

The company is owned by Mohamed al-Amoudi, who was born in Ethiopia to a Saudi father and an Ethiopian mother. Al-Amoudi made a fortune from construction contracts to build Saudi Arabia’s national underground oil storage complex. Now a billionaire many times over, al-Amoudi has invested heavily in Ethiopia where he owns a gold mine and a majority stake in the national oil company.
Al-Amoudi was one of the first to invest in a new scheme under which president Meles Zenawi offered to lease four million hectares of agricultural land to foreign investors and his company was also one of the first to become the subject of controversy. After Saudi Star was awarded a 10,000 hectare (24,700 acres) lease in 2008, a dozen aggrieved Anuak villagers attacked Saudi Star’s compound in Gambella in 2010 and killed several employees.

Saudi Star abandoned work at the time but this past November the company announced that it would return to invest millions to grow rice using new large-scale flood irrigation techniques. Saudi Star hopes to sell its produce to Saudi Arabia under King Abdullah’s Food Security Program.

“We know we’re creating job opportunities, transforming skills, training local indigenous Anuak,” Jemal Ahmed, Saudi Star CEO told Bloomberg. “The government wants the project to be a success and see more Gambella people able to work and produce more, that’s the big hope.”

But activists say that Saudi Star’s newly invigorated project in Gambella is likely to have a detrimental impact on the local population, notably pastoralist groups like the Anuak as well as the Nuer.

“Sadly, right now, the Anuak, nearly all small subsistence farmers, are becoming refugees in their own land as they are internally displaced from indigenous land their ancestors have possessed for centuries,” Obang Metho, Executive Director of Solidarity Movement for a New Ethiopia, told the Africa Congress on Effective Cooperation for a Green Africa.

“They have become ‘discardable’ by a regime that wants their land, but not for them, in order to lease it to foreigners and regime-cronies for commercial farms,” he added.

All told as many as 1.5 million subsistence farmers are expected to be offered voluntary relocation to new settlements where the government has told them that they will be given housing, social services and support infrastructure under the villagization program.

However, activists like Human Rights Watch and the Oakland Institute say that the relocation process has been plagued by violence and broken promises.
Instead of getting housing, villagers are forced to build their own tukols – traditional huts – and risk beatings if they speak out, says Human Rights Watch, which conducted interviews of 100 residents during the first round of villagization that occurred in 2010.

The majority of resettlements did not have a school, health clinic or even water wells, says the Oakland Institute. Lack of agricultural assistance such as seeds, fertilizers, tools and trainings, have further exacerbated the risk of hunger and starvation among families.

The traditional pastoralist communities also say that they are having a hard time adapting to sedentary farming practices in the new settlements. “We want you to be clear the government brought us here…to die…right here,” an Anuak elder in Abobo district told Human Rights Watch. “They brought us no food, they gave away our land to foreigners so we can’t even move back. On all sides the land is given away, so we will die here in one place.”

TJ Petrowski

From CorpWatch

Saudi Star Agricultural Development plans to pump $100 million into a rice export project in Gambella region of Ethiopia despite allegations of human rights violations surrounding the “villagization” program under which the land has been taken from indigenous Anuak pastoralists to lease to foreign investors.

The company is owned by Mohamed al-Amoudi, who was born in Ethiopia to a Saudi father and an Ethiopian mother. Al-Amoudi made a fortune from construction contracts to build Saudi Arabia’s national underground oil storage complex. Now a billionaire many times over, al-Amoudi has invested heavily in Ethiopia where he owns a gold mine and a majority stake in the national oil company.

Resettled Ethiopian villagers. Resettled Ethiopian villagers.

Al-Amoudi was one of the first to invest in a new scheme under which president Meles Zenawi offered to lease four million hectares of agricultural land to foreign investors and his company was also one of the…

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Ethiopia & poverty: Ethiopia Ranks the second poorest country in the world and Africa, Oxford University study reveals June 24, 2014

Posted by OromianEconomist in Africa, Africa Rising, African Poor, Free development vs authoritarian model, Gambella, No to land grabs in Oromia, NO to the Evictions of Oromo Nationals from Finfinnee (Central Oromia), Omo, Omo Valley, Oromia, Poverty, The Colonizing Structure & The Development Problems of Oromia, The extents and dimensions of poverty in Ethiopia, The Tyranny of Ethiopia, Uncategorized, Youth Unemployment.
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Odaa Oromoo

http://www.ophi.org.uk/

 

Ethiopia & the extents of  its poverty

(OPHI) –The Global Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI), published by Oxford University reveals that Ethiopia ranks the second poorest country in the world and Africa, just ahead of Niger. The study is based on analysis of acute poverty in 108 developing countries around the world. Despite making progress at reducing the percentage of destitute people, Ethiopia is still home to more than 76 million poor people (out of total population of 87 million). 87.3% of Ethiopians are classified as MPI poor, while 58.1% are considered destitute. Oxford University says poverty is not just about a lack of money. It’s also about not having enough food, education, healthcare and shelter, and some poor are much worse off than others.

A person is identified as multidimensionally poor (or ‘MPI poor’) if they are deprived in at least one third of the weighted MPI indicators. The destitute are deprived in at least one-third of the same weighted indicators, The Global MPI uses 10 indicators to measure poverty in three dimensions: education, health and living standards. 

In rural Ethiopia 96.3% are poor while in the urban area the percentage of poverty is 46.4%.

The 10 Poorest Countries in the World:

1. Niger
2. Ethiopia
3. Mali
4. Burkina Faso
5. Burundi
6. Somalia
7. Central African Republic
8. Liberia
9. Guinea
10. Sierra Leone

 

According to Dr. Sabina Alkire — director of the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative, the U.N. Millennium Development Goals – which set targets regarding poverty, hunger, malnutrition, health and other issues – expire at the end of next year. Thus,  MPI could help in the creation of a replacement for the MDGs that gives a complete picture of poverty. “We need a replacement that keeps our eyes really focused on human poverty and the pain and suffering that it entails, but also brings in the environment. And our suggestion is really simple. That along side the $1.25 a day measure – or some extreme income poverty measure – that we bring into view these people who are multidimensionally poor. And that we can do so with a measure of destitution and a measure of multidimensional poverty and maybe even a measure of vulnerability that would be more appropriate for middle and high income countries.”

graph_mpi_percnt_poor_deprvd

OPHI Country Briefing 2014: Ethiopia
http://www.dataforall.org/dashboard/ophi/index.php/

http://www.dataforall.org/dashboard/ophi/index.php/mpi/country_briefings
see Alkire, Conconi and Seth (2014), available at: http://www.ophi.org.uk/multidimensional-poverty-index/.

 

 

 

Ethiopia:
MPI Value 0.564
Percentage of Population:
MPI Poor 87.3%
MPI Poor and Destitute 58.1%
$1.25/day Poor 30.65%
Human Development Index (HDI) 0.396
Inequality (Gini Index) 0.336
Income level Low income
Gross National Income (GNI) per capita 380
Survey: DHS Year: 2011

A person is identified as multidimensionally poor (or ‘MPI poor’) if they are deprived in at least one third of the weighted indicators shown above; in other words, the cutoff for poverty (k) is 33.33%.
The proportion of the population that is multidimensionally poor is the incidence of poverty, or headcount ratio (H). The average proportion of indicators in which poor people are deprived is described as the intensity of their poverty (A). The MPI is calculated by multiplying the incidence of poverty by the average intensity of poverty across the poor (MPI = H x A); as a result, it reflects both the share of people in poverty and the degree to which they are deprived.
64.6%
Percentage of Poor People (H)(k = 33.3%)
Average Intensity Across the Poor (A)
58.1%
Inequality Among the MPI Poor

Vulnerable toPoverty(k = 20%-33.3%)
In SeverePoverty(k = 50%)

See more @ Oxford and Human Development Initiative (2014). “Ethiopia Country Briefing”, Multidimensional Poverty Index Data Bank. OPHI, University of Oxford. Available at /.

http://www.ophi.org.uk/multidimensional-poverty-index/mpi-country-briefings

More reference to famine in Ethiopia:

In the last two or three decades, there has been a revolution in thinking about the
explanations of famines. The entitlement’s approach by Amartya Sen brought the issue
of food accessibility to the forefront of the academic debate on famine. Sen noted that,
often enough, there is enough food available in the country during famines but all
people do not have the means to access it. More specifically, famines are explained by
entitlement failures, which in turn can be understood in terms of endowments,
production possibilities, and exchange conditions among others (Sen, 1981).
Ethiopia is a good case in point where, for instance, food was moving out of Wollo
when the people in the region were affected by the 1972-3 famine (Sen, 1981), and even
today some regions in Ethiopia produce surplus, while people in other regions face
famine threats. There are of course infrastructural problems in the country to link the
surplus producing regions to the food-deficit ones. However, the question goes beyond
this simplistic level, as some people simply do not have enough entitlements to have a
share of the food available in the country, a situation which can be described as a case
of direct entitlement failures (Tully 2003: 60)7. Or else, peasants do not find the right
price for their surplus, as in the 2002 Bumper Harvest which ended up in an 80 per cent
price drop, which illustrated a failure in peasants’ exchange entitlements. Alternatively,
the most irrigated land of the country in the Awash River basin, for instance, is used
primarily for cash crop production to be exported to the western world (even when there
is drought) leading the vulnerability of various pastoralist groups to turn into famine or
underpinned by what is known as a crisis in endowments and production possibilities.
In short, while drought and population pressure can partly explain famine threats in
Ethiopia, the entitlements approach provides an explanation from an important but less
visible angle. By shifting the attention from absence of food to lack of financial access
to food, the approach points in the direction of policy failures. That only some classes in
society are affected by famine clearly indicates that policy failures are central to the
understanding of famine.  http://portal.svt.ntnu.no/sites/ices16/Proceedings/Volume%203/Alexander%20Attilio%20Vadala%20-%20Understanding%20Famine%20in%20Ethiopia.pdf

Ethiopia’s Villagisation Scheme is a failure April 28, 2014

Posted by OromianEconomist in Africa Rising, Colonizing Structure, Corruption, Ethnic Cleansing, Free development vs authoritarian model, Gambella, Janjaweed Style Liyu Police of Ethiopia, Land and Water Grabs in Oromia, Land Grabs in Africa, Ogaden, OMN, Omo, Omo Valley, Oromia, Oromia Satelite Radio and TV Channels, Oromia Support Group, Oromian Voices, The Colonizing Structure & The Development Problems of Oromia, The Tyranny of Ethiopia, Theory of Development, Youth Unemployment.
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The orderly village of Agulodiek in Ethiopia‘s western Gambella region stands in stark contrast to Elay, a settlement 5km west of Gambella town, where collapsed straw huts strewn with cracked clay pots lie among a tangle of bushes.

 

Agulodiek is a patch of land where families gradually gathered of their own accord, while Elay is part of the Ethiopian government’s contentious “villagisation” scheme that ended last year. The plan in Gambella was to relocate almost the entire rural population of the state over three years. Evidence from districts surrounding Gambella town suggest the policy is failing.

 

Two years ago people from Agulodiek moved to Elay after officials enticed them with promises of land, livestock, clean water, a corn grinder, education and a health clinic. Instead they found dense vegetation they were unable to cultivate. After one year of selling firewood to survive, they walked back home.

 

“All the promises were empty,” says Apwodho Omot, an ethnic Anuak, sitting in shade at Agulodiek. There is a donor-funded school at the village whose dirt paths are swept clear of debris, and the government built a hand pump in 2004 that still draws water from a borehole. Apwodho’s community says they harvest corn twice a year from fertile land they have cleared. “We don’t know why the government picked Elay,” she says.

 

Gambella region’s former president Omod Obang Olum reported last year that 35,000 households had voluntarily moved from a target of 45,000. The official objective had been to cluster scattered households to make public service delivery more efficient. Critics such as Human Rights Watch said the underlying reason was to clear the way for agricultural investors, and that forced evictions overseen by soldiers involved rape and murder. The Ethiopian government refute the allegations.

 

Last month the London-based law firm Leigh Day & Co began proceedings against the UK Department for International Development (DfID) at the high court after a man from Gambella alleged he suffered abuse when the agency supported the resettlement scheme. Since 2006, DfID and other donors have funded a multibillion-dollar programme in Ethiopia that pays the salaries of key regional government workers such as teachers and nurses through the Protection of Basic Services scheme.

 

A DfID spokesman said: “We will not comment on ongoing legal action, however, the UK has never funded Ethiopia’s resettlement programmes. Our support to the Protection of Basic Services Programme is only used to provide essential services like healthcare, schooling and clean water.”

 

Karmi, 10km from Gambella town, is a newly expanded community for those resettled along one of the few tarmac roads. Two teachers scrub clothes in plastic tubs on a sticky afternoon. A herd of goats nibble shrubs as purple and orange lizards edge up tree trunks. There is little activity in the village, which has bare pylons towering over it waiting for high-voltage cables to improve Gambella’s patchy electricity supply.

 

The teachers work in an impressive school built in 2011 with funds from the UN refugee agency. It has a capacity of 245 students for grades one to five – yet the teachers have only a handful of pupils per class. “This is a new village but the people have left,” says Tigist Megersa.

 

Kolo Cham grows sorghum and corn near the Baro river, a 30-minute walk from his family home at Karmi. The area saw an influx of about 600 people at the height of villagisation, says Kolo, crouching on a tree stump, surrounded only by a group of children with a puppy. Families left when they got hungry and public services weren’t delivered. “They moved one by one so the government didn’t know the number was decreasing,” he says.

 

The Anuak at Karmi have reason to fear the authorities, particularly Ethiopia’s military. Several give accounts of beatings and arrests by soldiers as they searched for the perpetrators of a nearby March 2012attack on a bus that killed 19. The insecurity was a key factor in the exodus, according to residents.

 

As well as the Anuak, who have tended crops near riverbanks in Gambella for more than 200 years, the region is home to cattle-herding Nuer residents, who began migrating from Sudan in the late 19th century. Thousands of settlers from northern Ethiopia also arrived in the 1980s when the highlands suffered a famine. The government blamed the bus attack on Anuak rebels who consider their homeland colonised.

 

David Pred is the managing director of Inclusive Development International. The charity is representing Gambella residents, who haveaccused the World Bank of violating its own policies by funding the resettlement programme. An involuntary, abusive, poorly planned and inadequately funded scheme was bound to fail, he says. “It requires immense resources, detailed planning and a process that is truly participatory in order for resettlement to lead to positive development outcomes,” he adds.

 

Most of flood-prone Gambella, one of Ethiopia’s least developed states, is covered with scrub and grasslands. Inhospitable terrain makes it difficult for villagisation to take root in far-flung places such as Akobo, which borders South Sudan. Akobo is one of the three districts selected for resettlement, according to Kok Choul, who represents the district in the regional council.

 

In 2009, planners earmarked Akobo for four new schools, clinics, vets, flourmills and water schemes, as well as 76km of road. But the community of about 30,000 has seen no change, says 67-year-old Kok, who has 19 children from four wives. “There is no road to Gambella so there is no development,” he says. One well-placed civil servant explains that funds for services across the region were swallowed by items such as daily allowances for government workers.

 

A senior regional official says the state ran low on funds for resettlement, leading to delivery failures and cost-cutting. For example, substandard corn grinders soon broke and have not been repaired, he says. The government will continue to try to provide planned services in three districts including Akobo this year and next, according to the official.

 

However, the programme has transformed lives, with some farmers harvesting three times a year, says Ethiopia’s ambassador to the UK, Berhanu Kebede. The government is addressing the “few cases that are not fully successful”, he says. Service provision is ongoing and being monitored and improved upon if required, according to Kebede.

 

At Elay, Oman Nygwo, a wiry 40-year-old in cut-off jeans, gives a tour of deserted huts and points to a line of mango trees that mark his old home on the banks of the Baro. He is scathing about the implementation of the scheme but remains in Elay as there is less risk of flooding. There was no violence accompanying these resettlements, Oman says, but “there would be problems if the government tried to move us again”.

 

 

Read @ original source:http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2014/apr/22/ethiopia-villagisation-scheme-fails?CMP=twt_gu