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IRIN: Feature: Ethiopian Oromo refugees face bribes, harassment in Kenya January 12, 2018

Posted by OromianEconomist in Uncategorized.
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 NAIROBI, 12 January 2018


A freelance journalist, focusing on humanitarian and development issues

Ethiopian Oromo refugees fleeing to Kenya to escape persecution say they are finding life on the streets of Nairobi no better than the insecurity they left behind, as they are targeted by bribes and harassment and forced into vast camps with few prospects or protections.

The Oromo are Ethiopia’s largest ethnic group but have long complained of political and economic marginalisation at the hands of the country’s ruling party, which is dominated by a minority ethnic group, the Tigrayans.

Following 2016 protests demanding political reform, which resulted in a state of emergency and the deaths of more than 600 in the security crackdown, thousands of Oromo made their way to neighbouring Kenya seeking asylum and refuge.

But they did not escape the Ethiopian authorities. Human Rights Watch has reported “numerous cases of harassment and threats” against Oromo asylum seekers in Kenya by Ethiopian government officials.

The rights group has also documented “confessions” by Kenyan police officers in which they admit to being offered bribes by the Ethiopian embassy to detain and intimidate Oromo refugees.

“When I came to Kenya I thought that I would be protected and would be able to start a new life,” said former Oromo politician “Tolessa”, who requested his identity be protected.

“[But] what I’m facing here is no different from what I was facing at home,” he told IRIN. “My future here isn’t very bright.”

Full of “spies”

Oromo refugees also reported attempts by Ethiopian officials to recruit them as informants in Nairobi’s Oromo community, promising land, protection, money, and even resettlement to the United States or elsewhere, Human Rights Watch noted.

“There are a lot of Ethiopian spies here in Nairobi,” one refugee, a former Ethiopian intelligence officer, alias “Demiksa”, told IRIN.

Now a senior dissident, “Demiksa” related what had happened to him back in Ethiopia.

He said that after refusing orders to torture prisoners held in Addis Ababa’s infamous Maekelawi prison, he was accused of being an opposition collaborator, detained, and then tortured himself.

“They tied my hands up and hung me up on the wall with nails and beat me with electric cables around my ankles and on my back,” he told IRIN, fighting tears. “I couldn’t walk for three months,” he added.

“Demiksa” said he was spared capital punishment on one condition: kill or be killed. Handed photographs of two prominent Oromo activists, he was given a loaded gun and told to get into a car.

He accepted the mission – “I had no choice,” he told IRIN – but was able to escape en route to the hit, and then fled Ethiopia.

When he arrived in Nairobi, “Demiksa” was told to register at the Kakuma refugee camp in northern Kenya like all other Ethiopian exiles.

The long arm of Ethiopian security

But Oromo who fear being stalked by Ethiopian intelligence believe even Kakuma is not safe.

“Threats from Ethiopian security officials – working together with local [Kenyan] police – also extend to the refugee camps [in Kenya],” Human Rights Watch researcher Felix Horne told IRIN.

Horne said Oromo activists who have come from cities in Ethiopia fear camp life because of the lack of employment opportunities, the heat, and Kakuma’s physical proximity to Ethiopia.

But they have darker fears too.

Oromo refugees have reportedly been kidnapped from Kenya and taken back to Ethiopia, and there have been similar reports from Sudan, Djibouti, Uganda, and Somaliland.

“This is not unique to Kenya,” Horne said. “The patterns of pervasive Ethiopian security presence utilising local security officials is similar in other countries where Ethiopians flee to.”

Tariku Debela, a political refugee living in Kampala who fled Kenya in April 2016, still remains a target for Ethiopian security forces. He told IRIN that his scars bear witness both to the torture he received in Ethiopia and an attempt on his life in Uganda.

“Some people came to my hotel room, drugged me, and then beat me up,” he explained to IRIN over the phone. “People living nearby heard what was happening and came to my rescue. One of [the attackers] was arrested.”

A Ugandan police investigation revealed “that the men who attacked me were sent from Ethiopia to kill me,” he added.

After imploring the UN refugee agency several times to offer him protection, Debela now stays in a UNHCR safe house, but doesn’t get much else in the way of assistance.

“UNHCR haven’t even tried to help me process my case for resettlement,” he told IRIN. “Since I am a political refugee, I shouldn’t have to stay here for the rest of my life.”

UNHCR has a mandate to provide protection to refugees, including political figures like “Demiksa” and Debela.

“The documentation issued to them by the government and UNHCR gives them the right to reside legally in Kenya and protects them from deportation to their country of origin or expulsion from Kenya,” Yvonne Ndege, senior communications officer at UNHCR, told IRIN.“There are some high-profile cases, such as the Oromo; sometimes their cases are expedited through the registration process,” she added.

But some say this policy exists only in theory.

“In practice, there is very little protection afforded to Oromo refugees,” Horne told IRIN.  “Individuals with serious security issues – some of whom are high-profile individuals – often receive no practical protection whatsoever from these agencies.”

Bribes, harassment, and detention

Kenya has an encampment policy – refugees are supposed to stay in one of two vast refugee camps that house 489,000 people: Dadaab and Kakuma. That means those found in urban centres without proper documentation are vulnerable to extortion and intimidation by the police.

Refugees IRIN spoke to in Nairobi mentioned regularly having to pay bribes to avoid harassment. The going rate is up to $200 for a permit to avoid being sent to Kakuma.

Life for those who can’t afford to pay is bleak. “Because I don’t have my papers I stay at home so that I can be safe from police,” teenager Fozia told IRIN.

Fozia fled Ethiopia following a brutal crackdown on students in her hometown in Oromia. After student protesters dispersed, she says police followed her home, then raped and beat her. She decided to flee.

Despite coming to Kenya as an unaccompanied minor, Fozia hasn’t been helped by the authorities. Without the ability to bribe registration officers at Nairobi’s government-run refugee registration centre, Shauri Moyo, she can’t officially register with UNHCR for refugee status determination.

“I was given a movement pass to Kakuma, but I feared going there, especially as a young girl,” she explained.

Neither can Fozia afford to bribe officials to gain an all-important exemption permit that would allow her to legally avoid going to Kakuma.

“Without that, I’m told by UNHCR to either go to Kakuma or register for exemption at Shauri Moyo,” she said.

Many other refugees face the same hurdles.

“I still haven’t received exemption,” another former Oromo politician and victim of torture in Maekelawi who preferred to remain anonymous, told IRIN.

“I’ve been ordered to bribe officers with $200 to gain exemption from camp,” the former politician said. “I don’t have that sort of money. I also stay indoors to avoid having to pay police officers that harass me.”

Following registration with Shauri Moyo, refugees can then apply for a government of Kenya “alien card” for asylum recognition. But several refugees told IRIN that this process also entails under the table payments – ranging from $300 to $485.

Such allegations of corruption and extortion are denied by Kenya’s Refugee Affairs Secretariat, known as RAS.

UNHCR “concerned”

Once refugees are able to access asylum, their cases are referred to UNHCR for refugee status determination, which is necessary for official recognition as a refugee.

But many refugees are having to wait years to even get an interview.

“I was supposed to have an appointment in March this year,” one woman complained. “You just turn up to their office [UNHCR], stand in line, and wait for your turn. Then they tell you that they can’t see you that day.”

She went on to explain how they typically just give you another appointment letter with a different date and year and tell you to wait.

“They didn’t even give me another appointment date last time – they just told me that they would call me,” she said. “I still haven’t heard anything yet [since her March appointment].”

Recognising these concerns, the UN refugee agency insisted it is committed to improving the registration system.

“UNHCR is concerned about the time being taken for asylum seekers and refugees to receive proper documentation,” UNHCR’s Ndege told IRIN, adding that it was working to streamline its registration processes.

But Horne from Human Rights Watch said neither UNHCR nor RAS are doing enough right now to protect vulnerable Oromo.

“Country guidelines on Ethiopia that officers use to assess asylum claims should be updated as they are over 10 years old and do not remotely reflect the current situation in Ethiopia,” he said.

Oromo opposition to rulers in Addis Ababa stretches back centuries. The current ruling party, the EPRDF, has used federalism to dilute that dissent, but it has persisted.

Charlie Ensor/IRIN
An Oromo activist in Nairobi, crosses his arms in an Oromo symbol of solidarity

In the unrest in 2016 and 2017, the Oromo were joined by the second largest ethnic group, the Amharas, in the demand for political reform – posing a significant challenge to the government.

Reform at last?

In a surprise announcement at the beginning of the month, Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn announced that his government would close Maekelawi prison and release political prisoners in a move he said would advance political dialogue with opposition groups.

“The regime realises that the political landscape is shifting rapidly and that they have to find a way forward to deal with ethnic tension and communal violence,” Ahmed Soliman, associate researcher at Chatham House, told IRIN.

But this all depends on how sincere the government is on reforming and its willingness to admit the violations it has committed – including in neighbouring countries.

As Amnesty International researcher Fisseha Tekele put it after Desalegn’s announcement: “A new chapter for human rights will only be possible if all allegations of torture and other ill-treatment are effectively investigated and those responsible brought to justice.”

(TOP PHOTO: Eastleigh, Nairobi. Home to Nairobi’s refugees. CREDIT: Charlie Ensor/IRIN)

ce/oa/as/ag


 

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HRW: The Long Arm of Ethiopia Reaches for Those Who Fled September 21, 2017

Posted by OromianEconomist in Ethiopia's Colonizing Structure and the Development Problems of People of Oromia, Afar, Ogaden, Sidama, Southern Ethiopia and the Omo Valley, Ethnic Cleansing, Genocide, Horn of Africa Affairs, Human Rights, Human Rights Watch on Human Rights Violations Against Oromo People by TPLF Ethiopia, Oromian Affairs, Uncategorized.
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Odaa Oromoooromianeconomist

HRW

The Long Arm of Ethiopia Reaches for Those Who Fled

Ethiopia’s Refugees Unsafe in Kenya and Elsewhere

UNPO: Illegal detention and refoulement of Somali refugee to Ethiopia September 2, 2017

Posted by OromianEconomist in Ethiopia's Colonizing Structure and the Development Problems of People of Oromia, Afar, Ogaden, Sidama, Southern Ethiopia and the Omo Valley, Horn of Africa Affairs, Uncategorized.
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Odaa Oromoooromianeconomist
UNPO

Illegal detention and refoulement of Somali refugee to Ethiopia

31 August 2017

 


Photo courtesy of the Horn Observer

On 23 August 2017, a Somali refugee from the Ogaden region, having been living in Mogadishu, Somalia, for three years, was arrested by the regional security of the Galkacyo, Galmudug regional state in central Somalia. Mr Abdikarin Sheikh Muse, also an executive committee member of UNPO Member Ogaden National Liberation Front, was then transferred to Mogadishu and held by the Somali National Security for a few days before being refouled to Ethiopia. This refoulement constitutes a violation of the principles laid out in the 1951 United Nations Convention relating to the Status of Refugees, to which Somalia acceded on 10 October 1978. Ethiopia is known to use torture and intimidation, including by harming members of the family, against its opponents: the transfer of a political refugee by Somalia to Ethiopia therefore disregards his rights to life and freedom and constitutes yet another attempt by Ethiopia to threaten the most vulnerable within its population. The UNPO stands by the ONLF in calling upon the international community to put pressure on Ethiopia to fully respect the rights of Mr Sheikh Muse.

Below is a press release published by the Ogaden National Liberation Front:

The regional security of the Galkacyo, Galmudug regional state in central Somalia detained on August 23, 2017 Mr Abdikarin Sheikh Muse, an Executive committee member of ONLF, who was residing in Mogadishu for the last three years. Mr Abdikarin Sh Muse whole family were wantonly killed by the TPLF led regime of Ethiopia. He went to Galkacyo to bring back his young niece to Mogadishu for medical treatment where he was apprehended and then transferred to Mogadishu and held by NISA, the Somali National Security for few days. The Somali government refused to let relatives of Abdikarin Sh Muse to visit him while claiming that they will release him soon.

After much effort by high level Somali Officers to secure the release Mr Sh. Muse, sources close to the Somali cabinet has informed us that the Somali government has ignored their pleas, and has forcefully handed over Mr Abdikarin Sheikh Muse without his consent to Ethiopia in violation of the principle of non-refoulement laid out in 1951 UN-Convention relating to the Status of Refugees, which, in Article 33(1) provides that:

“No Contracting State shall expel or return (‘refouler’) a refugee in any manner whatsoever to the frontiers of territories where his life or freedom would be threatened on account of his race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion.”

The Somali government and the current president also violated the Somali constitution which recognises the rights of all Somalis to have the right of abode regardless of which part of the Somali nation they originate.

Thus the Somali government has forcefully transferred a political refuge to Ethiopia which is known to torture and humiliate its opponents.

The direct involvement of both the Somali president and prime minister has been confirmed. It has also been intimated that Mr Abdikarin was sacrificed to Ethiopia in order to get political support from Ethiopia. The Ethiopian ambassador to Somalia who is a close relative of the prime minster and in law to the Somali president played a key role in brokering the deal.

Furthermore, in order to hide their cowardly and immoral act, the Somali regime and the Ethiopian regime resorted to cheap propaganda stunt by claiming that Mr Abdikarin Sh. Muse has an Ethiopian passport and was negotiating with the Ethiopian government by fabricating a false passport from the Ethiopian embassy in Mogadishu and claiming that he was going on his free will to Ethiopia.  In addition, stories about Mr Abdikarin’s involvement with Al-shabab was also fabricated in order to get support from external forces. ONLF is a national liberation organisation that struggles for the rights of the Somali people in Ogaden and has no involvement what-so-ever in Somalia’s multifaceted conflict at all.

The current president of Somalia, Mohamed Abdullahi “Farmajo, and his accomplices, the Prime Minister Mr Hassan Ali Khayre, The National security advisor, Gen. Bashir Mohamed Jamac-Goobe, the Head of NISA Mr. Abdullahi Mohamed Ali “Sanbalolshe” have committed a national crime against the Somali nation and as such will bear the full political and moral consequences of their cowardly act. Mr. Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo has set a new black record and vile precedence in the history of the Somali nation by becoming the first president of Somalia to hand over a fellow Somalis to the enemy of the Somali nation- the TPLF regime in Ethiopia. This happening shows that Somalia is still not fully sovereign and is under the suzerainty of the TPLF. TPLF is also the enemy to all the peoples in Ethiopia and the source of instability in Horn of Africa!

ONLF members and the Somali people from Ogaden are not a commodity for sale to the TPLF regime in Ethiopia and Somali patriots in all parts of the Somali nation will make sure that all those involved in this case will be made accountable. ONLF will use all available legitimate means at its disposal to protect its rights and its people.

ONLF thanks and commends the progressive forces in Somali who are busy to regain the respect of the Somali nation and the Republic and encourage them to pursue their noble endeavour

ONLF calls upon:

1. All the Somali people in the Horn of Africa to stand by the side of their brethren and hold accountable all that participated in this heinous act intended to damage the sanctity of the unity of Somali nation;

2. The Somalia parliament to take appropriate action against the failed regime of Mr Farmajo and his accomplices who have violated the trust of the Somali people;

3. The UNHRC, ICRC, HRW and the international community to secure the safety and well-being of Mr Abdi-Karin Sh. Muse and pressure Ethiopia to fully respect his human rights as stated in human rights charter and Geneva conventions;

4. All progressive peoples and organisations in the Horn of Africa and the world to condemn this heinous act.

ONLF thanks and commends the progressive forces in Somalia who are actively engaged in regaining the sovereignty of the Somali Republic and encourage them to continue to pursue their noble endeavour.

ONLF will never be deterred by such a cowardly act and will continue to struggle for the right of the Somali people in Ogaden.

The days of TPLF is numbered and those who ally with them are doomed to fail with them.

 

The press release is downloadable by clicking here.

IRIN: Securitising Africa’s borders is bad for migrants, democracy, and development July 6, 2017

Posted by OromianEconomist in Uncategorized.
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Legitimised by a language of sovereignty, greater border controls are part of an emerging containment era in which Africans’ movements – not only towards Europe but even across the continent – are becoming pathologised and criminalised. There are continental variations. Some countries and sub-regions are less committed to control than others, but so-called containment development is undeniably on the rise. In this new developmental mode, success is measured primarily by the ability to keep people at home. 

Critics of this approach focus heavily and justifiably on the migrants condemned to camps and detention centres, and the growing numbers who die before reaching their destination. Others note the extraordinary growth in a range of unsavoury professions: smuggling, kidnapping, and trafficking. Although often tinged with an alarmism driven by moral outrage or professional interest, these stories of exploited people and extinguished lives need to be told.

Yet focusing exclusively on the migrant victims of new containment technologies and practices, risks overlooking their implications for the continent’s governance and all Africans’ human rights. At the very least, the kind of bilateral arrangements various African countries are signing with the EU will scupper African Union plans to promote easier and safer movement within the continent. They will similarly curtail free movement policy proposals circulating within sub-regional economic communities.

In place of multilateralism, we are likely to get stronger militaries and more authoritarian leaders. Indeed, directing aid and weapons to existing leadership in the region will almost certainly erode democracy and heighten insecurity and instability.

The EU’s new migration-linked development aid emphasises the need to create local opportunities so people need never move. The results are likely to be increased investment in rural areas. While not in itself a bad thing, such spending will be distorted by the desire to fix people in place. African leaders may care little about migration towards Europe, but under these new agreements they risk losing aid money if they fail to control populations within their borders. And ongoing urbanisation can also present a political challenge to their power. Maintaining people in situ – not only within their countries but within “primordial” rural communities – helps maintain systems of ethnic patronage and prevents unruly urbanites from protesting at the presidential gates.

Securitised border management of the kind South Africa is mooting is a gateway to the kind of containment strategies the EU is promoting.  Within this new paradigm, millions will be detained in facilities across Africa or condemned to die along land and water borders. Smuggling, trafficking, and corruption will blossom in place of trade that could increase prosperity. Overseeing this will be politicians empowered by military aid windfalls and a global community without the moral authority to condemn their human rights abuses.

The vast majority of Africans who have no European fantasies will live in decreasingly democratic countries. The African Union and regional campaigns promoting development through accountable institutions and freer movement will also likely lead nowhere. The results – heightened inequality within and between countries, along with increased poverty and likelihood of conflict – will create precisely the pressures to migrate that Europe hopes to contain. – IRIN News

Loren B. Landau

Professor at the African Centre for Migration & Society, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg

Caroline Kihato

Associate professor at the Graduate School of Architecture at the University of Johannesburg


South Africa’s National Assembly recently passed a bill to set up a new border management agency. The Border Management Authority will fall under Home Affairs, a government department long distinguished by its lack of respect for immigrant and refugee rights. But there are other, deeper causes for concern.

Whereas previously, police and customs officers were under strict (if not always effective) civilian oversight, this new agency will be able to circumvent constitutional constraints. Broader changes to immigration and asylum policies are also in the works, such as a “risk-based” vetting system that could be used to justify barring most people from entering the country overland. Bolstering these efforts are plans to detain asylum seekers at processing centres dotted along the border.

South Africa’s new border management strategy has equivalents across the continent that likely do little to prevent smuggling and human trafficking or to stop terrorism – the justifications often used for such securitisation. Instead, they help reinforce authoritarian leadership and undermine regional governance initiatives. In the longer term, they are likely to impact development.

Free movement – within countries or to neighbouring areas – is central to people finding work and surviving in these precarious times. Constraints on such movement, whatever the source, are fundamentally anti-poor and anti-freedom. They treat migrants as suspected criminals, rather than as people legitimately seeking protection or employment. Many of these policies are being implemented with aid from the European Union and strong domestic support. Countries like Eritrea already maintain a repressive “exit visa” system while Central African Republic, Ethiopia, Niger, and Sudan are all planning enhanced border management strategies, including bio-metric tracking and militarisation.

Containment era

Militarising the margins has become an integral plank in the continent’s new approach to “migration management”. Following the Valletta Summit in late 2015, the EU created a trust fund that is funnelling billions of euros of development aid through bilateral arrangements with African states, including those with appalling human rights records, such as Sudan and Eritrea. Legitimised by a language of sovereignty, greater border controls are part of an emerging containment era in which Africans’ movements – not only towards Europe but even across the continent – are becoming pathologised and criminalised. There are continental variations. Some countries and sub-regions are less committed to control than others, but so-called containment development is undeniably on the rise. In this new developmental mode, success is measured primarily by the ability to keep people at home.

Critics of this approach focus heavily and justifiably on the migrants condemned to camps and detention centres, and the growing numbers who die before reaching their destination. Others note the extraordinary growth in a range of unsavoury professions: smuggling, kidnapping, and trafficking. Although often tinged with an alarmism driven by moral outrage or professional interest, these stories of exploited people and extinguished lives need to be told.

Yet focusing exclusively on the migrant victims of new containment technologies and practices, risks overlooking their implications for the continent’s governance and all Africans’ human rights. At the very least, the kind of bilateral arrangements various African countries are signing with the EU will scupper African Union plans to promote easier and safer movement within the continent. They will similarly curtail free movement policy proposals circulating within sub-regional economic communities.

While the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), already has a working protocol, it has been compromised by fears of terrorism and EU-funded programmes to deter migration through the region. In the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the East African Community (EAC), proposals modelled on the ECOWAS framework are now less likely to move forward. This domesticates politics in ways that weaken the regional governance mechanisms needed to address collective development concerns and negotiate more favourable global trade positions. In place of multilateralism, we are likely to get stronger militaries and more authoritarian leaders. Indeed, directing aid and weapons to existing leadership in the region will almost certainly erode democracy and heighten insecurity and instability.

Growth industry

What is perhaps most worrying is how emergent border management approaches are likely to extend and proliferate beyond borders. Efforts promoted by the EU, with complicity from many African leaders, effectively seek to limit movement and freedom across and within countries. Europe fears that any movement – typically towards cities – will beget further moves, some of which will be towards the European motherland.

The EU’s new migration-linked development aid emphasises the need to create local opportunities so people need never move. The results are likely to be increased investment in rural areas. While not in itself a bad thing, such spending will be distorted by the desire to fix people in place. African leaders may care little about migration towards Europe, but under these new agreements they risk losing aid money if they fail to control populations within their borders. And ongoing urbanisation can also present a political challenge to their power. Maintaining people in situ – not only within their countries but within “primordial” rural communities – helps maintain systems of ethnic patronage and prevents unruly urbanites from protesting at the presidential gates.

Securitised border management of the kind South Africa is mooting is a gateway to the kind of containment strategies the EU is promoting.  Within this new paradigm, millions will be detained in facilities across Africa or condemned to die along land and water borders. Smuggling, trafficking, and corruption will blossom in place of trade that could increase prosperity. Overseeing this will be politicians empowered by military aid windfalls and a global community without the moral authority to condemn their human rights abuses.

The vast majority of Africans who have no European fantasies will live in decreasingly democratic countries. The African Union and regional campaigns promoting development through accountable institutions and freer movement will also likely lead nowhere. The results – heightened inequality within and between countries, along with increased poverty and likelihood of conflict – will create precisely the pressures to migrate that Europe hopes to contain.

(TOP PHOTO: South African soldiers apprehend irregular migrants from Zimbabwe. Guy Oliver/IRIN)

ll-ck/ks/ag


 

Oromo nationals who fled over land rights from Oromia (Ethiopia) now face eviction from Calais “Jungle” October 24, 2016

Posted by OromianEconomist in #OromoProtests.
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CALAIS, France, Oct 24 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Deep in the Calais “Jungle” migrant camp in northern France, hundreds of Oromo Ethiopians set up their own school.

An Irish volunteer came to teach classes during the day, but at other times groups of Oromo men, and a few women, gathered to discuss the news from Ethiopia: this month’s announcement of a state of emergency, or the rising death toll in protests.

On the sides of makeshift wooden shelters they painted the crossed arms protest symbol of the Oromo struggle, publicised by Ethiopian marathon runner Feyisa Lilesa at the summer Olympics.

“Feyisa never give up,” was written on one wall, and “Stop killing Oromo students” was scrawled on another.

People from Oromiya, a region at the heart of Ethiopia’s industrialisation efforts, accuse the state of seizing their land and offering tiny compensation, before selling it on to companies, often foreign investors, at inflated prices.

“When we went to demonstrations they killed many people, they arrested many people, they put in jail many people. So we had to escape from the country,” said Solan, a 26-year-old from Addis Ababa.

An Oromo Ethiopian plays a video showing unrest and pictures of protesters who have been imprisoned or died during the unrest in Ethiopia, in Calais, France, November 20, 2016. Thomson Reuters Foundation/Sally Hayden

The former science student left Ethiopia in 2014 after his family was forcibly evicted from the land they had lived on for generations, he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Now Solan and hundreds of his fellow Oromo in the Jungle face eviction once again.

On Monday, French authorities began clearing the sprawling, ramshackle camp outside the port town of Calais, in preparation for the demolition of the shanty-town that has become a symbol of Europe’s struggle to respond to an influx of migrants fleeing war and poverty.

Hundreds of migrants carrying suitcases lined up outside a hangar to be resettled in reception centres across France.

But most migrants in the camp have made their way to Calais because they want to reach Britain, and make regular attempts to sneak aboard trucks or trains bound for the UK.

Groups like the Oromo say they have a particular reason for doing so. They are worried France won’t grant them asylum because it doesn’t recognise them as persecuted, based on the experience of others who have been rejected.

ASYLUM

The U.N. refugee agency UNHCR said everyone in the Calais camp would be offered the chance to be transferred to a reception centre where they could apply for asylum.

“There will be no blanket decisions for certain nationalities,” spokeswoman Laura Padoan said.

French asylum chief Pascal Brice recently visited the Jungle and offered reassurances to the migrants and refugees, including the Oromo group, said Solan.

Brice was not available for comment when the Thomson Reuters Foundation contacted his office on Monday.

“If they accept us we want to stay here (in France),” said Solan, who did not want to give his full name. “We are not searching for a better country, we are here (in Calais) because England accepts Oromo people.”

An Oromo Ethiopian pictured with “Jungle News”, an information leaflet handed out to migrants, in Calais, France, November 20, 2016. Thomson Reuters Foundation/Sally Hayden

The latest unrest broke out last year in Oromiya, as people took to the streets accusing the state of seizing their land and handing it over to investors with minimal compensation.

Unrest spread to other areas, including parts of Amhara region north of the capital, over land rights and wider complaints over political freedoms.

Ethiopian authorities said on Thursday they had detained 1,645 people since declaring the state of emergency in a bid to quell mass protests and violence.

Rights groups report more than 500 have been killed in protests in Oromiya since last year, but the government denies using excessive force and says the death toll is exaggerated.

Solan has been moving back and forth between Calais and a makeshift migrant camp in Paris for the past year, he said. In that time many other Oromo have come and gone from Calais – some as young as 12 or as old as 65. Many lose hope of reaching Britain and instead go to the Netherlands or Germany, he said.

“I am asking for everybody to stay with us, to support us, to save our children, to save our home, to save our story, to save our land,” he said.

(Editing by Ros Russell; Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women’s rights, trafficking, corruption and climate change. Visit http://www.trust.org)


Related:-#OromoRevolution Oromo refugees protest against the regime that forced them into this life as they are being evicted from Calais refugee camp in France
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Dictatorial regimes in East Africa and EU refugee crisis September 25, 2016

Posted by OromianEconomist in Free development vs authoritarian model, Uncategorized.
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Odaa OromooOromianEconomist


The crux of the matter is this – both Ethiopia and Eritrea are ruled by equally brutal dictatorial regimes. The only difference is the Ethiopian regime is the darling of the West and the havoc it is creating within the borders of Ethiopia and beyond are conveniently overlooked by Western powers for geopolitical reasons, its mission in Somalia on behalf of Western powers, mainly USA. Specifically, EU is very much aware that the Ethiopian regime is no less a dictator than that in Eritrea.The reader may wonder what has this got to do with the refugee numbers. Here is the logic. Those who decide to travel long distances across deserts and oceans are smart people. Besides they are well informed by the smugglers as well as network of refugees who are already settled in Europe. They know what officials in the other side of the sea want to hear. So, a good proportion of those who register themselves as originating from Eritrea are actually Ethiopian refugees, who know very well that if they declare themselves as Ethiopians then their case would get immediately rejected.In fact, there is strong reason to believe that actually the majority of those who registered as Eritreans are likely to be Ethiopians. There is a corroborating evidence for this – International Migration Organization statistics for immigrants arriving in Yemen and Saudi Arabia. Incidentally, the impact of repressive regime in Addis Ababa is so much that the refugee outflow to Yemen is still unabated, even when Yemen is burning due to civil war.Refugees arriving in this part of the world do declare their true identity, and the majority, about 80%, are Ethiopians. This sharply contrasts with the statistics on arrivals in Europe where refugees anticipate bias due to geopolitics. Otherwise, after all, Eritrea has only about 5 million population. If all of those who are crossing the desert and register as Eritreans were truly Eritreans, then the country’s population would have diminished to a great extent by now.This discrepancy reveals an interesting fact, which EU officials do not want to admit. It is not that EU officials are not aware of these facts, it is just that they do not want to reveal to their general public the havoc their foreign policy is creating by generously, even officiously in the Ethiopian case, supporting some dictators but exaggerating troubles created by others, all depending on geopolitical interests.  We do not live in a world where geopolitical interest can be put aside, but we should not live in a world where every foreign policy should be governed by just geopolitical interests.  If EU or USA chooses to employ security concerns to override all other values of humanity, then there will be no escape from engaging in a web of lies and deceptions even in explaining troubles arriving at their door, like the current refugee crisis, which is essentially a boomerang.It is disappointing to witness the persistence of Western powers in refusing to admit policy mistakes even in the middle of such crisis. This could have given them the opportunity to openly declare their stance regarding the cruel dictatorial regime in Ethiopia, which wins “elections” with 100% and yet remain a persistent offender of human rights: impoverish, imprison, torture, and kill citizens at massive scale. Ethiopia is the only country on earth where double digit economic growth rate has been declared year after year for over a decade but famine and starvation at massive scale is still shamelessly being announced to continue begging for food aid. It is a disgrace to witness the so called international community look the other way.

Source: Dictatorial regimes in East Africa and EU refugee crisis

Finfinnee Radio: Journalist Yassin Jumma’s Interview with Jabber Ismael, an Oromo refguee in Kenyan Nairobi October 8, 2015

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Related:-

https://oromianeconomist.wordpress.com/2015/06/04/ethiopia-spymaster-infiltrates-kenya-police/

https://oromianeconomist.wordpress.com/2015/06/28/kenya-the-plight-of-oromo-refugees/

Oromia: URGENT APPEAL TO INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY AND HUMAN RIGHTS ADVOCATES #Oromo Refugee Community Welfare Association, Kenya February 14, 2015   

https://oromianeconomist.wordpress.com/2015/02/14/oromia-urgent-appeal-to-international-community-and-human-rights-advocates-oromo-refugee-community-welfare-association-kenya/ee/

https://oromianeconomist.wordpress.com/2013/08/27/the-tyrannic-ethiopian-regim-is-accountable-for-the-death-of-a-political-prisoner-and-prisoner-of-conscience-oromo-national-engineer-tesfahun-chemeda/

Time: As Europe Begins to Welcome Syrians, African Refugees Fear Being Left Behind September 12, 2015

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Italy Migrants
Carmelo Imbesi—APMigrants wait to disembark from the Irish Navy vessel LE Niamh at the Messina harbor in Sicily, on Aug. 24, 2015. Source:- http://time.com/4031569/migrant-crisis-europe-african-refugees/

There is growing concern that Europe may unwittingly divide migrants into two distinct classes

With E.U. leaders finally working on a Europe-wide refugee policy, there is growing concern among some migrants and aid officials that the new policies might unwittingly divide the migrants into two distinct classes—with two different kinds of welcomes.

First, the hundreds of thousands of Syrians fleeing the war back home, whose stunning flight into Europe has seized world attention; and second, the hundreds of thousands of much poorer, less educated newcomers who have also fled dire circumstances in Africa.

As EU officials prepare to meet in Brussels on Monday to hash out an emergency plan, the details are sketchy as to how the continent will integrate the massive influx of migrants who have crossed into Europe from Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. On Wednesday the European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker made it clear to the EU Parliament that the union’s 28 countries were duty-bound to help host the 160,000 asylum-seekers currently stuck in Greece, Italy, and Hungary, and emphasized that all would be treated equally. “Europe has made the mistake in the past of distinguishing between Jews, Christians, Muslims,” he said. “There is no religion, no belief, no philosophy when it comes to refugees.”

Yet, for some of the 80,000 or so who have landed in Sicily this year—the vast majority African—the promise of fairness for all sounds unconvincing.

Africans who have fled deadly, often forgotten conflicts, or various kinds of persecution—including religious and anti-gay violence—say they believe it could take years to win refugee status or residence in Europe, if they ever receive it at all. Those simply fleeing poverty, and there are many, are not eligible for asylum.

Instead, many predict a long, tough road towards acceptance and employment somewhere on the continent. Several African asylum-seekers in Sicily described overwhelming bureaucratic hurdles towards those goals — a far different picture than the tens of thousands of Syrians whom the E.U. and U.S. now appear willing to host.

Yet both sets of newcomers share one experience: life-threatening journeys to Europe. “”We risked everything to cross the Mediterranean,” says Samate, a tall 17-year-old from Senegal, sitting in a detention center in the Sicilian town of Messina on Wednesday. He said he fled his home last February after separatist rebels in the disputed Casamance region where he comes from tried to draft him into battle. The Italian Coast Guard rescued him and other migrants as they tried to cross the Mediterranean on in late July, and brought them to Sicily.

About half of those who have landed on Europe’s shores this year have been Syrian, according to the U.N. refugee agency, most crossing from Turkey to Greece, before moving quickly on to Austria, Germany and Sweden. But a large portion of the rest are Africans who have crossed from Libya to Italy—a more lethal sea route that has so far killed more than 2,200 migrants this year. Most have arrived after hair-raising treks across the vast, searing Sahara, and then weeks in Libya’s migrant jails. Samate’s five-month journey included working for traffickers in Niger and Libya at meager wages.

Far different from the Syrians clambering off boats in Greece, the Africans land in Sicily penniless and empty-handed. When I ask to see what they carried with them, most look puzzled, then point to the clothes on their back. “I arrived with nothing, not even my documents,” said Mandjo, 16, from Guinea, who fled when religious violence destroyed his village. What little he grabbed as he fled was lost to bandits along the way.

Now, the plight of African refugees like Mandjo risks getting lost amid the Syrian refugee crisis in Europe, aid officials say. “It’s important to us that Europe is now beginning to talk about opening their borders and welcoming refugees,” says Giovanna Di Benedetto of Save the Children in Sicily. “But it is not only Syrians who have to be welcomed.”

To underscore her point, Di Benedetto whips out her iPhone to show me photos of dead African infants whose bodies washed ashore on a beach off Zuwara, Libya on August 28, when their smugglers’ boat capsized. About 200 people drowned when the ship overturned.

Five days later, a photo on a beach off Bodrum, Turkey showed another dead toddler: Aylan Kurdi, a three-year-old Syrian boy. That image finally jolted EU leaders into action. “Syrians of course need help, but they are not the only ones,” Di Benedetto says. Shaking her head at the photos of dead African children on her phone, she says she wonders whether Aylan’s “white skin” made the difference.

On Wednesday, Juncker, the European Commission President, announced a new €1.8-billion fund for Africa that will be financed from the EU’s operating budget. The fund is meant to address “root causes of illegal migration in Africa,” and Juncker expects individual European countries to “pitch in” with more money to effectively persuade Africans to stay at home, rather than move to Europe. He said the money would help generate jobs in Africa, thus reducing “destabilization, forced displacement and illegal migration.”

Such programs, sorely needed, could take generations to work, however. In the meantime, thousands of African migrants await settlement inside Europe’s borders.

How the EU will address this more immediate problem that problem is less clear than the issue of the new Syrian arrivals. “The EU is talking about the Syrians,” says Valeria Morace, an Italian working in the Messina center for unaccompanied minors. “But politicians don’t talk about Africans in general, because they are not really doing anything for them.”

As Europe Begins to Welcome Syrians, African Refugees Fear Being Left Behind