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Famine: Hunger to hit emergency levels in Ethiopia despite rains May 25, 2017

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Hunger to hit emergency levels in Ethiopia despite rains

NAIROBI, May 24 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Hunger is likely to reach emergency levels in Ethiopia and the number in need of food aid will rise beyond the current 7.7 million, experts said, as drought has decimated livestock, rains have been erratic and aid is in short supply.

Prolonged drought, followed by floods, has pushed millions across East Africa into crisis, with 7 million in neighbouring Somalia also needing aid, the United Nations said as it grapples with the highest global hunger levels in decades.

“Despite enhanced rainfall at the end of April into early May over many areas of Ethiopia, food security outcomes are still expected to deteriorate,” the U.S.-based Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS NET) said on Wednesday.

Herders in southeastern Ethiopia will be worst hit over the next three months, it said, with hunger reaching the fourth “emergency” level on a five-phase scale, where the fifth level is famine.

“The current marginal improvements in pasture and water are likely to be depleted by early June, which will mean rangeland resources will rapidly decline, and subsequently livestock body conditions,” it said, with the next rains due in October.

The number of Ethiopians who need food aid surged to 7.7 million from 5.6 million between January and April.

This number is expected to increase in the second half of the year, the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said this week.

“Increased funding is needed urgently, in particular to address immediate requirements for clean drinking water, much of which is being delivered long distances by truck as regular wells have dried up,” it said.

The Trump administration has proposed to drastically cut U.S. funding for global health and food aid programmes amid opposition from Congress.

(Reporting by Katy Migiro @katymigiro, editing by Alisa Tang. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women´s rights, trafficking, property rights and climate change.

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Zeid expressed alarm at the “extremely large number” of arrests and said some charges against those detained “may be misplaced.”He asked that U.N. staffers be allowed to visit the areas of unrest. “We may then perhaps provide a list to the government and ask for specific releases” of people detained, Zeid said. “This requires more attention.”

AP Photo
AP Photo/STR

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (AP) — Ethiopian officials have blocked United Nations access to areas that experienced deadly protests during one of the country’s most violent periods in recent memory, the U.N. human rights chief said Thursday.

Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein spoke during a three-day visit to the East African nation at the government’s invitation. Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn has rejected United Nations and other outside requests to investigate the months of anti-government protests demanding more political freedoms.

The government has said at least 669 people were killed and largely blames the political opposition for the unrest. Opposition figures and human rights groups say security forces killed protesters, while the government has called security forces’ response “proportionate.”

More than 26,000 people were detained amid the protests, and Ethiopia in October declared a state of emergency that recently was extended.

Zeid expressed alarm at the “extremely large number” of arrests and said some charges against those detained “may be misplaced.”

He asked that U.N. staffers be allowed to visit the areas of unrest. “We may then perhaps provide a list to the government and ask for specific releases” of people detained, Zeid said. “This requires more attention.”

The human rights chief also expressed concern about anti-terrorism laws in Ethiopia, saying that “an excessively broad definition of terrorism may be misused against journalists, bloggers and members of opposition parties.”

Earlier Thursday, Zeid addressed the crisis in neighboring South Sudan, saying up to 50,000 civilians in the country’s Upper Nile region are at imminent risk of human rights violations as government troops close in.

Many civilians in Aburoc town, some of whom recently fled a military attack on nearby Kodok town, are ethnic Shilluk and have faced a sharp rise in government attacks as South Sudan’s civil war continues.

Zeid said military commanders on both sides show little regard for protecting civilians.

Separately, the U.N. humanitarian affairs agency said roughly 100,000 civilians have been displaced after a South Sudan government offensive in the Jonglei region.

Army spokesman Santo Domic Chol did not comment on fighting in either location but said government attacks on civilians “didn’t make sense” because civilians are not armed.

Associated Press writer Justin Lynch in Nairobi, Kenya contributed.

Daily Mail: UN rights chief urges Ethiopia to free prisoners after protests

At a press conference, Zeid said he was concerned about the mass arrests last year during protests driven by discontent among the country’s two largest ethnic groups, which left hundreds dead.

“The extremely large number of arrests, over 26,000, suggests it is unlikely rule of law guarantees have been observed in every case,” Zeid said.

“I am requesting the government to consider, if possible, the release of a number of individuals whose arrest or conviction appears to have been motivated by fear of criticism rather than evidence of intent to spark violent overthrow,” he said.  – More at Daily Mail.


NewsweeK: U.N. Renews Calls to Investigate Deadly Anti-Government Protests in Ethiopia

The U.N. has renewed calls to the Ethiopian government to let human rights officials conduct independent investigations into allegations of abuses by security forces against protesters in the country in 2015 and 2016.

London Marathon favourite Feyisa Lilesa amazing protest. #OromoProtests April 21, 2017

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 Feyisa Lilesa: I just didn’t have the words to explain to my wife why I’d put her and our children in danger

  • He made a powerful political statement as he crossed the finishing line in Rio
  • The 27-year-old Ethiopian publicised the persecution of the Oromo people 
  • Lilesa is one of the favourites for next Sunday’s London Marathon

It looked innocuous and many did not even know what it meant. After 26 miles of gruelling competition, Ethiopian Feyisa Lilesa approached the Sambadrome, Rio’s carnival venue and the Olympic marathon finishing line, in second place.

Then he raised his arms and crossed them. And then again, repeating the gesture all the way over the last 100 metres to the finish line. With an Olympic silver medal secured, celebration might have been expected. But as they watched 6,000 miles away back home, his wife and family were fearing the consequences of that simple act.

Unknown to them, Lilesa, 27, one of the favourites for next Sunday’s London Marathon, had been running with a goal which surpassed the individual glory of winning an Olympic medal. He had told nobody of his plan, not even his wife and family.

Ethiopian Feyisa Lilesa made a political statement as he crossed the finishing line in Rio

Ethiopian Feyisa Lilesa made a political statement as he crossed the finishing line in Rio

The crossed arms were a signal of protest about the persecution of his people, the Oromo, in Ethiopia, a country riven by political violence and dispute, where Amnesty International reports at least 800 protesters have been killed. Amnesty has urged the Ethiopian government to end mass arrests and beatings, as well as the unlawful detention of journalists and politicians making the Oromo cause.

‘You can’t even think in your head without feeling suspicious that someone is listening to your thoughts, let alone speaking or telling someone,’ says Lilesa. ‘So I made a decision that I had to keep it to myself. Because if I was to tell someone — even my family — and the word gets out, I would not even be able to go to Rio. So I went there having not told a single person.’

That made his first phone call to his wife, Iftu Mulisa, and children, daughter Soko, five, and son Sora, three, a traumatic affair. While many Oromo people were jubilant their cause was being publicised, his wife was aghast. There was no question in his mind of returning to Ethiopia. However, his family were stuck there.

‘When I first called her I just didn’t have the words to tell her and I didn’t have the words to say to her,’ he says. ‘It was a challenge initially just talking to her and explaining my decision and why I didn’t consult with them.

Lilesa with his wife, daughter Soko, five, and son Sora in their apartment in Arizona

Lilesa with his wife, daughter Soko, five, and son Sora in their apartment in Arizona

‘But she understood the importance of this. The problem in the country has reached every household. They understand the importance and what it means. Their two main differences were that I did not consult with them when I was planning this and not having a concrete plan for them or the future and what might happen to them.

‘This gesture was started by university students and people knew about it. A lot of people were arrested essentially for showing that gesture. Coincidentally, that same day, the government stopped a rally in Addis Ababa. People went home because the city was engulfed by military forces and they happened to be watching TV.

‘The race was being broadcast on state television when it happened, the first time I showed the gesture. But since I kept repeating it, they quickly cut the live transmission and went back to the studio. People understood why the transmission was cut abruptly.

‘Of course my family was scared and they were shocked because they didn’t know what would happen to me. I had fears for my family. But a lot of people were getting killed. I knew it was just a matter of time before it reached my family. It has touched almost every household.

Lilesa's wife was aghast that he had publicised the persecution of the Oromo people

Lilesa’s wife was aghast that he had publicised the persecution of the Oromo people

‘In fact, my brother-in-law was one of the people arrested and taken away from university and he remains in jail to this day. Young people were being killed, elderly were being killed. My friends were in jail and I had other friends who were being killed. So my family also feared the same fate. I feared they would be affected one day and that they had not was just that it was not their turn.

‘But generally at the time, I didn’t really care much about my life and the consequences this would bring to my family, because I knew the fate other people were going through in that country.’

Lilesa knew he needed a medal for his plan to succeed. ‘If I didn’t win a medal no one would have noticed me. No one would have seen my protest. It would not have had the impact. No one would have actually believed my story and I could have potentially returned to Ethiopia and bad things might have happened to me. So winning the medal was part of my plan.’

He was briefly in no man’s land in Rio de Janiero. Though he says many team-mates and officials supported his protest, he was persona non grata. ‘They don’t even want to see my face, so I don’t expect them to allow me to run for the country,’ he says.

The Ethiopian government have encouraged him to return home, saying he would be welcome. He does not believe them. ‘I didn’t have fears about my life but I did have fears that I might not be able to compete,’ he says. ‘I thought this was the end of my career as an athlete.’

The 27-year-old is one of the favourites for next Sunday’s London Marathon

The 27-year-old is one of the favourites for next Sunday’s London Marathon

Fears for his family and career have now been addressed. Ethiopian exiles arranged a flight from Brazil to the US and he is now based in Flagstaff, Arizona, a magnet for top-class distance runners, where he can train properly.

Last month he won the New York Half Marathon in preparation for the London Marathon. More significantly, in February his family were finally permitted to join him in the US.

The reunion was understandably an emotional affair, Soko sprinting into her father’s arms when she finally saw him at the airport. ‘This was very, very important,’ he says. ‘And at least my mind is in one place in the sense that this is one weight lifted off my back. Now that at least I don’t have to worry about the safety of my children.

‘Also, I was living alone and I didn’t have much help. Now that my wife is here she can at least help me with some things I need. But the problem that put me in this position — the problem of my people — remains. My worries and concerns about that remain.’

His protests will continue. He is critical of those icons of Ethiopian athletics, Haile Gebrselassie and Kenenisa Bekele, the latter of whom he will face in London, who he says have benefited from keeping quiet and not criticising the government.

‘I admire Haile as a runner, as champion and as someone who broke a world record,’ says Lilesa. ‘But on the other hand rich people are generally benevolent and they give back to their people and they help the poor. In Ethiopia, the rich people we have are selfish and greedy and they live a parasitic life where they attach themselves to the government.’

A representative of Gebrselassie and Bekele responded by saying that such criticisms did not take account of the complicated and volatile political situation in Ethiopia, where they both still live.

LILESA wants people, especially the British, to know more about the plight of the Oromo in Ethiopia. ‘Our people are being imprisoned, hundreds remain in jail. Others are being killed. Over the past year, people have been dropping like leaves. Others are running away to save their lives — to South Africa — and have died along the way.

‘The Oromo people are the majority in my country. They have a lot resources in terms of the economy. Despite that, we don’t have the political power. They have lost all their freedoms and rights.

‘I want people in England to put pressure on their government because they do provide the biggest amount of aid to the Ethiopian government, to use that leverage not to cosy up to the Ethiopian rulers but to change their behaviour and to allow our people to have their freedom and rights.

‘We don’t hate the people of Ethiopia. Our fight and issues are with the system. What I expressed is based on my experience. I’m speaking about the injustices I saw all my life. The world may not have known… until now.’

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/othersports/article-4415224/London-Marathon-favourite-Feyisa-Lilesa-amazing-protest.html#ixzz4ePMWijwV
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BBC:  Africa Highlights: Feyisa to protest killings at London Marathon

thiopia elite runner Feyisa Lilesa poses during a photocall for the men"s marathon elite athletes outside Tower Bridge in central London on April 20, 2017 ahead of the upcoming London Marathon


The athlete says he could be killed if he goes back home

Exiled Ethiopian runner Feyisa Lilesa has vowed to protest against the government at Sunday’s London Marathon, saying “blood is flowing” in his home country.

Feyisa caught the world’s attention when made a protest gesture in solidarity with the Oromo people while crossing the line in the marathon race at the Rio 2016 Olympics.

In an interview with the BBC’s Sport Today, the silver medalist said he did not regret making the gesture.

How can I regret [it]? I come from the people. My people are dying, still. The blood is flowing.”

He added that would not return to Ethiopia while the current government was in power as he would be “automatically” killed, jailed or barred from leaving the country.

Feyisa refused to go back to Ethiopia after the Olympics, despite the government saying he would be welcomed as a hero.

He is currently living in the US with his wife and children on a temporary visa.

In Rio, Feyisa became the first Ethiopian to finish in the top two of a men’s Olympic marathon since 2000, claiming silver behind Kenya’s Eliud Kipchoge.

As he crossed the line, he lifted his arms to form an X above his head, the same gesture used in protests by the Oromo people, the country’s largest ethnic group, which has suffered a crackdown at the hands of the Ethiopian government.

Feyisa Lilesa

Getty Images

The ‘X’ sign is used as a symbol of protest in Ethiopia

The state-backed Ethiopia Human Rights Commission  said earlier this week that 669 people were killed in protests since November 2015.

The government has blamed the violence on “terrorists”.

A state of emergency has ben in force since last October to curb the unrest.

Read: Endurance test for Feyisa

Daily Mail: Unrest mars Ethiopia’s New Year, Eid parties. #OromoProtests and the Market Boycott in Action September 10, 2016

Posted by OromianEconomist in #OromoProtests.
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oromoprotests-boycotts-fascist-ethiopias-regime-tplf-the-criminal-group-and-its-businessDiina irra hin bitiini, itti hin gurguriin. #OromoProtests. September 2016

Unrest mars Ethiopia’s New Year, Eid parties

With New Year festivities set for Sunday and Eid parties scheduled the following day, in any other year Burayu’s sheep and cattle market would have been at its busiest this weekend.

But after months of on-off trouble in the central Oromo region — home to Ethiopia’s largest ethnic group — this small town close to the capital, Addis Ababa, is in virtual lockdown after a call for a general strike against the government’s stance on Oromo demands.

Closed shops in Burayu town, about ten kilometres from Addis Ababa in Oromia regional state

Closed shops in Burayu town, about ten kilometres from Addis Ababa in Oromia regional state

“I’ve never seen the city like this,” said a grocer manning one of the few market stalls still open.

“The police came and said we have no right to close our shops and if we close, they’ll close us for good.”

But despite incessant police patrols up and down the streets, most of the shops have remained shuttered.

“The whole Oromo region is ruled by the military,” said 26-year-old Abdisa, who vows while chatting with a couple of friends that his family’s small cafe will stay shut until the New Year, as agreed by the shopkeepers.

“This boycott is a way of showing our disagreement with the government,” adds Abdisa, who gave no family name.

The lockdown, he says, is a sign of respect for those killed in the Oromo region since November, which rights groups say number in the hundreds.

With security forces readily using live bullets against demonstrators, there have been fewer protests in recent days.

– ‘People choice is my choice’

“We don’t want to celebrate the New Year with joy … They’re killing people with guns. We need the killings to stop,” said Falmata, a young university graduate unable to find a job.

And when talk focuses on Ethiopia’s last elections in May 2015, when the ruling EPRDF coalition — in power for a quarter of a century — won every parliamentary seat, Falmata’s anger boils over. “This result is totally false,” he says.

It was a government decision a few months later to appropriate Oromo lands for an urban development scheme — a decision now rescinded — that raised fears by Oromo farmers of expropriation, triggering months of deadly trouble.

“The plan brought a lot of blood, and that blood started everything”” said Falmata.

“We don’t want this regime to continue, it’s ruled by a few people dominated by the TPLF,” he added, referring to the Tigray Liberation Front that overthrew Mengistu Haile Mariam’s dictatorial regime in 1991 but is now also accused of monopolising political power.

The unrest, the first such protests in a decade, has spread to the northern Amhara region. In August, simultaneous protests took place for the first time in the two regions that together account for 60 percent of the country’s people.

The protests were violently suppressed by security forces who opened fire on crowds in several places leaving at least 100 dead, according to rights group Amnesty International.

In Burayu, the main bus station is deserted, with activists stopping all traffic to western Oromo, where the protests have been specially violent.

Civil disobedience appears to be growing in the region, with artists now openly joining the protest movement.

“I am on the side of the people,” popular singer Abush Zeleke said on Facebook. “People choice is my choice. I am not going to perform any concert.”

Local media says around 20 artists have decided to boycott New Year celebrations on Sunday.

closed shops in Burayu town, about ten kilometres from Addis Ababa in Oromia regional state.Most traders have closed their shops and called for a general str...

closed shops in Burayu town, about ten kilometres from Addis Ababa in Oromia regional state.Most traders have closed their shops and called for a general strike against the repression of anti-government movement that affects the Oromo region.

Most traders have closed their shops and called for a general strike against the repression of anti-government movement that affects the Oromo region

Most traders have closed their shops and called for a general strike against the repression of anti-government movement that affects the Oromo region.

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Daily Mail: Grand #OromoProtests: At least 90 protesters killed in Ethiopia – residents, opposition August 8, 2016

Posted by OromianEconomist in #OromoProtests.
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stop killing Oromo People#OromoProtests, #GrandOromiaProtests, 6 August 2016, all over Oromia. Dhaadannoo. p131

Grand #OromoProtests, Grand ‪#‎OromoProtests‬ full scale Military massacre  has been conducted by Ethiopia's fascsit regimei n Naqamte, East Walaga. 6 August 2016 pcture

At least 90 protesters killed in Ethiopia – residents, opposition

By Aaron Maasho

ADDIS ABABA, Aug 8 (Reuters) – More than 90 people were shot dead by security forces in protests across Ethiopia’s Oromiya and Amhara regions at the weekend, residents and opposition officials said on Monday.

Unrest flared in Oromiya for several months until early this year over plans to allocate farmland surrounding the regional capital for development. Authorities scrapped the scheme in January, but protests flared again over the continued detention of opposition demonstrators.

At the weekend, protesters chanted anti-government slogans and waved dissident flags. Some demanded the release of jailed opposition politicians.

“So far, we have compiled a list of 33 protesters killed by armed security forces that included police and soldiers but I am very sure the list will grow,” Mulatu Gemechu, deputy chairman of the opposition Oromo Federalist Congress, said.

The deaths were in at least 10 towns across Oromiya, he said, including Ambo, Dembi Dolo and Nekemt – areas that saw previous rounds of protest.

“Twenty-six people have been injured, while several have been detained,” Mulatu said, adding three members of his party were also being held.

Government officials were not immediately available for comment. The state-owned Ethiopian News Agency said “illegal protests” by “anti-peace forces” had been brought under control. It did not mention casualties.


Oromiya is the second region to be hit by unrest in the past few days.

In Amhara, residents said police fired live bullets at demonstrators during protests over disputed territory that continued until early Monday in the city of Bahir Dar.

“Soldiers fired live rounds at protesters. Hospitals have been filled by dead and wounded victims,” one resident said, putting the number killed at 60.

Tensions have been rumbling for two decades over the status of Wolkayt district, a stretch of land that protesters from Amhara say was illegally incorporated into the neighbouring Tigray region to the north.

Nigusu Tilahun, spokesperson for the regional government, told state-affiliated news outlets that seven people died over the weekend.

Amnesty International said the bloodshed in Bahir Dar may amount to “extrajudicial killings” and that at least 30 people were killed in one day.

The United States said it was “deeply concerned” by the violence in both regions.

“We reaffirm our call to respect the constitutionally enshrined rights of all citizens, including those with opposition views, to gather peacefully and to express their opinions,” its embassy in Addis Ababa said in a statement.

Any sign of unrest is closely watched in Ethiopia, a Western ally against Islamist militants in neighbouring Somalia and an economic power seen as a centre of relative stability in a fragile region.

“Ethiopian forces have systematically used excessive force in their mistaken attempts to silence dissenting voices,” Michelle Kagari, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes, said. (Reporting by Aaron Maasho; Editing by George Obulutsa and Janet Lawrence)

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/wires/reuters/article-3729831/At-90-protesters-killed-Ethiopia–residents-opposition.html#ixzz4Glk41Lgp
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