Friday, March 27, 2015

With big projects, Ethiopia shedding famine stereotype


Ethiopia's planned new airport on the outskirts of the capital is still years from becoming a reality but Tewodros Dawit can already envision how grand it will look.

"The airport we are planning to build is going to be huge. Very huge," Tewodros said one recent afternoon as he examined project plans in his office in Addis Ababa. "It will be one of the biggest airports in the world. I don't know what other countries are planning in this regard for the future but no country has created this much capacity so far in Africa."

Ethiopia, once known for epic famines that sparked global appeals for help, has a booming economy and big plans these days. The planned airport is one of several muscular, forward-looking infrastructure projects undertaken by the government that have fueled talk of this East African country as a rising African giant.

Addis Ababa increasingly looks like an enormous construction site, with cranes and building blocks springing up in many corners of the city. Britain, long a source of charitable aid for Ethiopia, announced last month that Ethiopia's growing economy means the time has come for "transitioning support toward economic development to help generate jobs, income and growth."

Read more Charlotte observer

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Al-Sisi warns Ethiopians of internal division, terrorism

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi directed a message to the Ethiopian people to keep their homeland safe and to prevent any attempts of division.

Al-Sisi held a meeting Wednesday with a Public Diplomacy delegation headed by Vice President of the Federal Council Mohammed Rashid. Al-Sisi said that while such a situation should not take place again, the length of time an Egyptian president had not visited Ethiopia reflects the sensitivity of the water issue. This subject requires careful attention and shared political will, Al-Sisi added.

Rashid expressed gratitude for Al-Sisi’s visit to Ethiopia and delivering a speech before the Ethiopian parliament. He said that the signing of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) inaugurated a new era of relations between Egypt and Ethiopia based on cooperation and understanding.

The delegation pointed out that this cooperation will be a “model for relationships of understanding between African countries”.

Delegation members also said the two countries need to move forward in deepening their cooperation for fair usage of the resources of the Nile River.

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Sissi Warns Ethiopia to Maintain Consensus on Nile Dam

Marthe van der Wolf

March 25, 2015 12:33 PM

Egypt's President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi addressed his hopes and concerns about sharing waters of the Nile River while addressing the Ethiopian parliament Wednesday, during his first official state visit to Ethiopia.

Ethiopia is building Africa’s largest hydropower dam, using waters of the Nile.

Sissi said he understands the need for Ethiopia to develop, but warned that conflict should be avoided when utilizing resources and seeking progress.

He says your Egyptian brothers also have the right, not only to development, but also the right to life itself. And to live in safe haven on the banks of the River Nile.

Ethiopia says that the $4 billion dam will not affect Egypt’s access to Nile water. The energy produced from the dam is to be used for Ethiopia’s domestic market and for export to countries in the region.

Sissi's speech comes two days after he signed an agreement on the Nile with Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn and Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir.

No details were released but the agreement is believed to focus on resolving misunderstandings between Nile countries, causing no harm to one another and promising to work out detailed procedures in the near future.

Read more VOA

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Eritrea blighted by 'ruthless repression' and human rights violations, says UN


The Eritrean government has been linked with “ruthless repression” and systemic human rights violations, including carrying out widespread detention and forcing citizens into indefinite military service, according to the UN’s first inquiry into human rights in the secretive country.

Rights abuses perpetuated by Eritrea’s government, coupled with dismal economic prospects, are driving hundreds of Eritreans out of the country every day, according to an interim report by the UN’s commission of inquiry on human rights in Eritrea.

“Most Eritreans have no hope for their future,” said Mike Smith, chairman of the commission, which was formed in June last year. “National service, whether in a military unit or in a civil assignment, is the only thing that from the age of 17 they can expect to spend their life doing – paid between less than $1 and a maximum of $2 a day.”

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Monday, March 23, 2015

Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan sign deal to end Nile dispute

Three African leaders have signed an initial deal to end a long-running dispute over the sharing of Nile waters and the building of Africa's biggest hydroelectric dam, in Ethiopia.

The leaders of Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan signed the agreement in Sudan's capital, Khartoum.

Egypt has opposed the Great Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, saying it would worsen its water shortages.

Ethiopia says the dam will give it a fairer share of Nile waters.

In 2013, Ethiopia's parliament ratified a controversial treaty to replace colonial-era agreements that gave Egypt and Sudan the biggest share of the Nile's water.

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Tuesday, February 17, 2015

TPLF Media War: Al Jazeera, The Stream

Advocates Petition UN to Intervene on Jailed Ethiopian Bloggers’ Behalf

By Soleyana S. Gebremicheal and Patrick Griffith

Despite early, high-level condemnation of the arrests of independent journalists and bloggers in Ethiopia nine months ago, international attention has waned as the pre-trial proceedings have dragged-on. The government’s continued detention of three independent journalists and six members of the Zone 9 blogging collective is not only an outrageous attack on the press – it is also illegal and unconscionable.

After its founding in May 2012, the Zone 9 blog received widespread attention from Ethiopian activists and academics who used the site to promote political rights enshrined under both international and Ethiopian law. For a time, they managed to operate in an increasingly restrictive media environment. When access to the site was blocked inside the country, members circulated articles through social media. When authorities summoned the contributors for questioning and accused them of threatening national security in 2013, the group temporarily stopped writing about political issues. But when the activists announced that they would revive the site and focus on Ethiopia’s upcoming national elections scheduled for May 2015, the government response was swift – within days, six members of Zone 9 and three independent journalists who knew them socially were behind bars.

Eventually, the government charged all nine detainees with terrorism and treason.

The use of overly broad national security laws to silence peaceful activists may seem like a surprising overreaction to online activism, but in Ethiopia, politicized prosecutions have become commonplace. Since the government passed the widely-criticized 2009 Anti-Terrorism Proclamation, prosecutors have cast an ever-widening net in an attempt to silence any kind of dissent. The government has applied the Proclamation to detain critical journalists, opposition activists, and religious protesters – apparently unconcerned that misusing such laws threatens to seriously undermine its credibility with security allies in a region with very real terror threats.

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Sunday, February 8, 2015

Ethiopian community still suffers trauma from exodus 30 years ago

Although the suffering of many immigrants from Ethiopia in the past 30 years is well documented, treatment for their resulting psychological trauma has been minimal.

Psychotrauma certainly is n't new to the Jewish People. Unspeakable, nightmarish experiences suffered by Holocaust survivors as long as 75 years ago remain fresh in their minds and have been passed on as trauma even to the second and third generations.

The painful experiences of Ethiopian Jewish immigrants are still vivid and raw up to three decades later.

Although many compared themselves to the ancient Israelites on the Exodus from Egypt, Ethiopian Jews weren’t running away; they were courageously pursuing their dream of the idyllic Jerusalem on which their parents had raised them. Yet murder, rape, illness, starvation, robbery and separation from loved ones during the prolonged passage through Sudan to Israel created bitter memories. Once they settled here, poverty, unjustified doubts about their Judaism, discrimination, changed roles and a government establishment often lacking compassion and cultural sensitivity have prolonged the suffering of many. A total of 135,000 Jews of Ethiopian origin – immigrants and their locally-born offspring – are living here and establishing their roots, but the in-between generation of newcomers is the most fragile.

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Ethiopia’s stifled press

By Editorial Board February 8 at 8:37 PM
WHILE ENJOYING its status as an international development darling, Ethiopia has been chipping away at its citizens’ freedom of expression. The country now holds the shameful distinction of having the second-most journalists in exile in the world, after Iran. That combination of Western subsidies and political persecution should not be sustainable.

According to a new report by Human Rights Watch, at least 60 journalists have fled the country since 2010, including 30 last year, and at least 19 have been imprisoned. Twenty-two faced criminal charges in 2014. The government closed five newspapers and a magazine within the past year, leaving Ethiopia with no independent private media outlets. With the country headed toward elections in May, the pressure on the media has undermined the prospect of a free and fair vote.

Ethiopia has long been known for its censorship and repression of the media, but the situation has deteriorated in recent years. According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, the country has since 2009 “banned or suspended at least one critical independent publication per year.” After the death of prime minister Meles Zenawi in 2012, successor Hailemariam Desalegn has tightened the regime’s stranglehold on the press. Even Ethiopia’s rival Eritrea looks better: It released several imprisoned journalists last month.

Read more on Washington post