- ከ10% እስከ 15% ወይም ከሦስት ሚሊዮን በላይ የሚሆነው የዐማራ ሕዝብ ኑሮው የተመሠረተው በጣና ሐይቅ ላይ ነው፡፡ የባሕር ዳር ከተማን ጨምሮ በምዕራብ ጎጃም፣ በደቡብና በሰሜን ጎንደር ዞኖች የሚገኙ 54 ቀበሌ ገበሬ ማኅበራት ኢኮኖሚያዊ መሠረታቸው ከጣና ሐይቅ በሚገኝ የአሣ ምርትና መስኖ ነው፡፡
- የኢትዮጵያን 50% የንጹህ ውኃ ክምችት የያዘ ጣና ነው፡፡
- ከ40 በላይ ወንዞችና ጅረቶች ወደ ጣና ሐይቅ ይፈሳሉ፤ የዓለማችን በርዝመቱ ትልቁ ወንዝ ዓባይ ከጣና ሐይቅ ይነሳል፡፡ ወደ ሐይቁ ከሚገቡ ወንዞችና ጅረቶች መካከል ግልገል ዓባይ፣ ርብ፣ ጉማራ፣ እንፍራንዝና መገጭ ይገኙበታል፡፡
- በጣና ሐይቅ ውስጥ ከ31 በላይ ደሴቶች አሉ፡፡ ትልቁ ደሴት የደቅ ደሴት ሲሆን 16 ካሬ ኪሎ ሜትር አለው፤ 4,816 ሰዎች በደሴቱ ላይ ይኖራሉ፡፡ ደሴቶቹ በጥንታዊ ገዳማትና ታሪክ የታጨቁ ናቸው፡፡ ረዥም እድሜ ያለው ገዳም የጣና ቂርቆስ ሲሆን በብሉይ ዘመን የኦሪት መስዋት ሲሰዋባቸው ከነበሩት ቦታዎች አንዱ ነው፡፡ ቅዱስ ያሬድ እንደ አንቀጸ ብርሃን፣ ዚቅና የዜማ ድርሰቶች የደረሰው በዚሁ ደሴት ገድሞ ነው፡፡
- የጣና ሐይቅ በትንሹ 19 ዓይነት ገበሎ አስተኔዎች፣ 35 ዓይነት ተሳቢዎች፣ 28 ዓይነት አጥቢዎችንና 437 ዓይነት የተለያዩ አእዋፋትን የያዘ ነው፡፡
- የጣና ሐይቅ ምድቡ በከፍተኛ ቦታዎች ላይ የሚገኝ ሲሆን ከባሕር ወለል በላይ 1800 ሜትር ከፍ ያለ ነው፡፡
- ሐይቁ 90 ኪሎ ሜትር የዲያሜትር ርዝመትና የ385 ኪሎ ሜትር የጠርዝ ርዝመት አለው፡፡ የሐይቁ ጥልቀት ከ4 እስከ 14 ሜትር ጥልቀት ሲኖረው አማካይ ጥልቀቱ 8 ሜትር አካባቢ ነው፡፡ ቀደም ሲል 9.8 ሜትር አማካይ ጥልቀት እንደነበረው ይገመታል፡፡
- የሐይቁ ስፋት 3672 ካሬ ኪሎ ሜትር የነበረ ቢሆንም አሁን ላይ 3000 ብቻ ቀርቷል፡፡ 672 ካሬ ኪሎ ሜትር የሚሆነው ውኃ ደርቋል ወይም ወደ የብስነት ተቀይሯል፡፡
- የጣና ሐይቅን አደጋ ላይ የጣሉ አራት ምክንያቶች እስካሁን በውል ተለይተው ታውቀዋል፡፡ እንደጥፋት መጠናቸው ቅደም ተከተል የጣና በለስ ኃይል ማመንጫ፣ የእንቦጭ አረም፣ የከተሞች ፍሳሽና በደለል መሞላት ናቸው፡፡ የጣና በለስ ኃይል ማመንጫ ከተጀመረ ጊዜ ጀምሮ የሐይቁ ጥልቀት ከ50 ሣ.ሜ በላይ ጥልቀት ቀንሷል፡፡ ከጎንደርና ከባሕር ዳር ከተማዎች የሚወጣ ወደ ሐይቁ የሚለቀቅ ቆሻሻ ሐይቁን እየበከሉት ነው፡፡
- ከእምቦጭ አረም ውጭ ሌሎች ሁለት የተለያዩ መጥፎ አረሞች ጣናን እንደወረሩት ጥናቶች ያሳያሉ፡፡ እንቦጭ በጣና ላይ የተከሠተው በፈረንጆች አቆጣጠር በ2011 ሲሆን እንቦጭ ቆቃን ጨምሮ በሌሎች የኢትዮጵያ ሐይቆች ውስጥ እንደነበረ ጥናቶች ጠቁመዋል፡፡
- በ2014 እና 15 በጣና ሐይቅ ላይ በእንቦጭ ተሸፍኖ የነበረው የጣና ክፍል 20 ሺህ ሔክታር ቢሆንም በ2017 ወደ 24 ሺህ ሔክታር ከፍ ብሏል፡፡
- እምቦጭ 50 በመቶ የሚሆነውን የሐይቁን ጠርዝ ወሮታል፡፡ እምቦጭ ወደ ጣና የገባው በመገጭ ወንዝ ጫፍ አካባቢ እንደሆነ ሲገመት በፎገራ በኩል ከሩዝ ምርት ጋር ሌሎች ሁለት መጥፎ አረሞች እንደገቡ ጥናቶች ይጠቁማሉ፡፡ ሁለቱ ሌሎች መጤ አረሞች Azolla እና water lettuce በመባል ይታወቃሉ፡፡
ይህን እያወቅን እንዴት ዝም እንበል?
By ሙሉቀን ተስፋው
Source፡- #Save_Lake_Tana Facebook Page
በሕገ መንግስታዊ የፌደራል ስርዓት በምትመራ ሀገር፣ በስልጣን ላይ ያለው መንግስት በአራቱ የኢህአዴግ አባል ድርጅቶች፤ ህወሓት፥ ብአዴን፥ ኦህዴድ እና ደኢህዴን ጥምረት የሚመራ ሆኖ ሳለ፣ በሀገሪቱ ለሚስተዋሉ ፖለቲካዊ ችግሮች ህወሓትን ብቻ ተጠያቂ ማድረግ አድሏዊነት ሊመስል ይችላል። ነገር ግን፣ ይሄ እውነታ እንጆ አድሏዊነት አይደለም። ሌሎች የኢህአዴግ አባል ድርጅቶች፣ የፌደራል ስርዓቱና ተቋማት፣ እንዲሁም የክልል መንግስታትና ተቋማት የሚተዳደሩበት ሕግ፥ ስርዓትና መዋቅር በህወሓት የፖለቲካ መርህና አመለካከት ላይ የተመሰረተ ነው።
የፖለቲካ ጨዋታውን ሁሉም የኢህአዴግ አባል ድርጅቶች ይጫወታሉ። የጨዋታውን ሕግ በማፅደቁ ሂደት ሁሉም ተሳታፊዎች ነበሩ። ነገር ግን፣ ሕጉ የተረቀቀበት ፅንሰ-ሃሳብ የህወሓት ነው። ይህ የጨዋታ ሕግ የኢፊዲሪ ሕገ መንግስት ሲሆን የሕገ መንግስቱ መሰረታዊ መርሆች ደግሞ በህወሓት የብሔር ፖለቲካ መርህና አመለካከት ላይ የተመሰረቱ ናቸው። በመሆኑም የፌደራሉ መንግስትና ተቋማት ይህን የፖለቲካ መርህና አመለካከት ተግባራዊ ለማድርግ የተቋቋሙ ናቸው።
የሕጎች ሁሉ የበላይ እንደመሆኑ፣ በሁሉም ደረጃ የሚወጡ አዋጆች፥ ደንቦችና መመሪያዎች ለሕገ መንግስቱ ተገዢ መሆን አለባቸው። ነገር ግን፣ የሕገ መንግስቱ ትርጉምና ፋይዳ በህወሓት የፖለቲካ መርህና አመለካከት ላይ የተመሰረተ እንደመሆኑ፣ ለሕገ መንግስቱና ለመንግስታዊ ስርዓቱ ተገዢ መሆን ለህወሓት ተገዢ ከመሆን ጋር አንድና ተመሳሳይ ነው።
በአጠቃላይ፣ በሀገሪቱ ለሚስተዋሉ ፖለቲካዊ ችግሮች ከተቀሩት የኢህአዴግ አባል ድርጅቶች በተለየ ህወሓት ተጠያቂ የሚሆንባቸው ምክንያቶች፤ አንደኛ፡- መንግስታዊ ስርዓቱ በህወሓት የፖለቲካ መርህና መመሪያ የተመሰረተ ስለሆነ፣ ሁለተኛ፡- ይህ የፖለቲካ መርህና አመለካከት ፍፁም ስህተት ስለሆነ፣ ሦስተኛ፡- የሥልጣን የበላይነቱን ለማስቀጠል እጅግ አደገኛ የሆነ ሸርና አሻጥር እየፈፀመ ስለሆነ። እነዚህን ችግሮች አንድ ላይ አያይዤ በአጭሩ ለመዳሰስ እሞክራለሁ።
የዳግማዊ ወያነ ወይም የሕዝባዊ ወያነ ሃርነት ትግራይ (ህወሓት) የትጥቅ ትግል የጀመረው የትግራይ ህዝብን የለውጥ ፍላጎት የብሔርተኝነት ስሜት በመቆስቆስ እና በራስ የመወሰን መብትን ዓላማ በማድረግ ነው። የቀድሞ የህወሓት (TPLF) መስራችና አመራር አረጋዊ በርሄ (ዶ/ር) የድርጅቱን የትጥቅ ትግል አጀማመርና የንቅናቄ ስልት “…the prevalence of the TPLF at this stage of the struggle was attained by its rigorous mobilization of the people based on the urge of ethno-nationalist self-determination on the one” በማለት ገልፀውታል።
ነገር ግን፣ ከህወሃት ብሔርተኝነት በስተጀርባ ለራስ ብሔር ተወላጆች የተሻለ ክብርና ዋጋ መስጠት፣ ለሌሎች ብሔር ተወላጆች ደግሞ ያነሰ ክብርና ዋጋ በመስጠት ላይ የተመሰረተ ነው። የትጥቅ ትግሉን ለማስጀመር በትግራይ ህዝብና የፖለቲካ ልሂቃን ስነ-ልቦና ውስጥ እንዲሰርፅ የተደረገው የአክራሪ ብሔርተኝነት ስሜት ዛሬ ላይ ወደ የተበዳይነትና ወገንተኝነት ስሜት ፈጥሯል። ከደርግ ጋር በተካሄደው ጦርነት የተፈጠረው ጥላቻና የጠላትነት ስሜት ዛሬ ላይ ወደ ፍርሃትና ጥርጣሬ ተቀይሯል።
የዘውግ ብሔርተኝነት እና በራስ የመወሰን መብት ሕዝባዊ ንቅናቄን ለመፍጠር (mobilization) ተጠቅሞ ወደ ስልጣን የፖለቲካ ቡድን የተበዳይነትና ጠላትነት አመለካከት ያለው፣ ማንኛውንም ዓይነት ፖለቲካዊ እንቅስቃሴ በፍርሃትና ስጋት የሚመለከት ይሆናል። በሕወሃት መሪነት የተዘረጋው መንግስታዊ ስርዓት ከላይ የተጠቀሱት አሉታዊ ተፅዕኖዎች ያረፉበት ነው።
በመጀመሪያ ደረጃ ሕወሃት ከሀገሪቱ ሕዝብ ውስጥ አነስተኛ ቁጥር ያለውን የሕብረተሰብ ክፍል የሚወክልና በጦርነት ወቅት በተፈጠረ ከፍተኛ የተበዳይነት፥ ጠላትነትና ፍርሃት አመለካከት የሚመራ ድርጅት እንደመሆኑ በድርጅቱ መሪነትና የፖለቲካ መርህ ላይ ተመስርቶ የተዘረጋው ሕገ መንግስታዊ ስርዓት የሕወሃትን የስልጣን የበላይነት የማስቀጠል ዓላማ ያለው ነው።
ሁለተኛ እንደ ሕወሃት ያለ የፖለቲካ ቡድን ሌሎች አብላጫ ድምፅ ያላቸው ብሔሮች፥ ብሔረሰቦች፥ ሕዝቦች ተመሳሳይ የፖለቲካ ንቅናቄ እንዳይጀምሩ ማድረግ አለበት። ምክንያቱም አብላጫ ድምፅ ያላቸው ማህብረሰቦች ተመሳሳይ የፖለቲካ ንቅናቄ ማድረግ ከቻሉ የአነስተኛ ብሔር የስልጣን የበላይነትንና ተጠቃሚነትን በቀላሉ ያስወግዱታል። ስለዚህ አብላጭ ድምፅ ያላቸውን ብሔሮች፥ ብሔረሰቦች፥ ሕዝቦች በጎሳ፥ ብሔርና ቋንቋ በመከፋፈል የጋራ የፖለቲካ አጀንዳ እና የተቀናጀ ንቅናቄ እንዳይኖራቸው ማድረግ አለበት።
እንዲህ ያለ የፖለቲካ ቡድን የቆመለትን የአንድ ወገን የስልጣን የበላይነትን ሊያሳጣው የሚችል ማንኛውም ዓይነት የፖለቲካ እንቅስቃሴ፣ ለውጥና መሻሻል፣ ሃሳብና አስተያየት ተቀብሎ ለማስተነገድ ዝግጁ አይደለም። በተለይ ደግሞ በመንግስታዊ ስርዓቱ ላይ ምንም ዓይነት የማሻሻያ ሃሳብና ድርድር ለማድረግ ፍቃደኛ አይደለም። በዚህ ምክንያት፣ ላለፉት 25 ዓመታት ሕወሃት/ኢህአዴግ ከብዙሃኑ የሕብረተሰብ ክፍል የሚነሳውን የመብትና ነፃነት ጥያቄ በኃይልና በጉልበት ለማፈን ጥረት አድርጓል።
በመሰረቱ ሕወሃት የስልጣን የበላይነቱ በሕገ መንግስቱና በፌደራል ስርዓቱ ላይ የተመሰረተ ስለሆነ በዚያ ረገድ ምንም ዓይነት ለውጥና መሻሻል ለማድረግ ዝግጁ አይደለም። በመሆኑም እያንዳንዱን ፖለቲካዊ እንቅስቃሴ በፍርሃትና ጥርጣሬ ይመለከታል። የሕዝቡን የመብትና ነፃነት ጥያቄ በኃይልና በጉልበት በማዳፈን ብዙሃኑ የሕብረተሰብ ክፍል እና የፖለቲካ ልሂቃን መንግስትን እንዲፈሩ፣ በዚህም የስርዓቱን ሕልውና ለማስቀጠል ጥረት ያደርጋል።
በእርግጥ ፍርሃት (fear) የሕወሃት መርህና መመሪያ ነው። ሆኖም ግን፣ በየትኛውም ግዜ፥ ቦታና ፖለቲካዊ ስርዓት ውስጥ የሚኖሩ ሰዎች ፖለቲካዊ ጥያቄ እኩልነት (equality) ነው። የሁሉም መብትና ነፃነት እስካልተከበረ ድርስ ዜጎች የእኩልነት ጥያቄን ከማንሳት ወደኋላ አይሉም። እንደ ሕወሃት ያሉ ጨቋኞችም የመብትና ነፃነት ጥየቄ ባነሳው የሕብረተሰብ ክፍል ላይ የኃይል እርምጃ በመውሰድ ጥያቄው ዳግም እንዳይነሳ ለማድረግ ጥረት ያደርጋሉ። ይሁን እንጂ፣ ሕወሃት ከሚፈጥረው ሽብርና ፍርሃት ይልቅ እድሜ ልክ በተገዢነትና ጭቆና መኖር ይበልጥ ያስፈራል።
ዛሬ የሕወሃትን የሰልጣን የበላይነት የሚቃወም፣ በጭቆና ተገዢነት መኖር የሚጠየፍ ትውልድ ተፈጥሯል። ስለዚህ፣ ወይ የሕወሃት የበላይነት በለውጥና ተሃድሶ ያበቃል፣ አሊያም ሕገ መንግስታዊ ስርዓቱ በሕዝባዊ አመፅና አምቢተኝነት ይፈርሳል። በመሆኑም የሕወሃት የበላይነት በውዴታ አሊያም በግዴታ ያበቃል። ሰሞኑን በተለያዩ የኦሮሚያ አከባቢዎች የሚታየውን ሕዝባዊ ንቅናቄ በሸርና አሻጥር ወደ ሁከትና ብጥብጥ በመውሰድ የለውጡን እንቅስቃሴ ለማዳፈን የሚደረገው ጥረት ሁለተኛውን የለውጥ ጉዞ ከማፋጠን የዘለለ ትርጉምና ፋይዳ የለውም።
By Mengistu Assefa (Dr.)
After a week of bewildering assumptions and theories by politicians and media outlets as to why Obbo Abadula Gemeda resigned as Speaker of the lower house of parliament, on Saturday October 14, 2017 he came out on a state-run television Oromia Broadcasting Network and made his reasons clear why he decided to quit the post. In comments carried by the Network Abadula said he was dissatisfied with the EPRDF`s treatment of Oromo people. He said “I resigned because my people and party were disrespected. However, I will struggle to bring the necessary respect and do the best I can for the Oromo people to (re)gain their rights”.
I have to admit how tremendous the reactions this new development in EPRDF drew are as they are well deserved. I have seen comments and analyses from multiple sides of political interest groups and various media outlets. Some say it is nothing more than a puppet with fake name and identity holding a symbolic representation kicked out and put to garbage by his masters when he sought to breath on his own. Others saw it as a rare heroic move in a march to stand by side and redeem the oppressed Oromo nation.
Abadula`s own words and facial appearance on the television resonate the later. But what really happened? What is going on in EPRDF? Is the institutionalized Oromo nationalism going to take a tipping point against its oppressors (of all kind) in the face of all odds? Are we finally going to see the youth generation who were buried by the state brutality in the last couple of years really grow alive (in Abadula) as they were seeds of liberty, equality and social justice? Do we have to take Abadula for whatever he says anyway? Or are we doing it already?
I argue that both above cases hold some weight and yet miss the essential long track record of Obbo Abadula`s military and public service implications. The first case which presents his resignation as a forced removal by his masters (viz TPLF) misses the important point that Abadula is nothing like puppet political material; rather a feared reformist nationalist whom even the late Prime Minister Meles Zenawi didn’t say or take anything against. He brought him to higher federal office to make him lose close contact with and grip on the fearsome Oromo nationalism (the reformist nationalism which was crafted on the promise that Abadula made to the youth to build and maintain Oromo interest politically, economically and legally in the Ethiopian federal polity).
He was an army general who served at various levels and ranks of operations and fields in the military. He was defense minister and later Oromia National Regional State president. His Oromo reformist nationalism with Ethiopian patriotism which is an experiment in the making in Ethiopian quasi ethnic federalism is both troubling and essential to the political strategy of EPRDF. His strongman stance gave him a nickname “bulldozer”.
Given this all long track record of Obbo Abadula Gemeda, it is difficult to make a bold conclusion that he is just a balloon seeking to breath on its own in the hands of its inflators. The second category of reaction is a colorful one, at least temporarily. It`s a view held by the majority of Oromo intellectuals, political personalities and (‘conventional and social’) media analysts. It is a view that hails Abadula as die hard man of the world for the historic Oromo struggle born out of the years-long discontentment with the usual transaction he had been making within the EPRDF and the pressing issue of the popular and unquenchable Oromo Protest which swept the nation to which state brutality was the only way the federal government responded only to claim the lives of above 1000 people and forced the government to impose the notorious ten month long state of emergency which resulted in imprisonment of nearly 30000 people.
The recent development of border clash between Oromia and Ethiopian Somali regional states (which some claim that the federal government systematically recruited funded, trained, armed and deployed the infamous Somali Liyu Police to weaken the Oromo Protest) made Abadula (seemed) genuinely dissatisfied with how his people are treated by the federal government and how his party is undermined with regard to the existing and unescapable challenges begging only for a proper response. The proponents of Abadula`s heroic answer for longstanding call from the Qarree & Qeerroo and Qubee Generation take this for face value and go beyond with their political ambitions. I think this has to be dealt with, with the seriousness it deserves as it has a more serious damage with far reaching consequences. Here is why I say this.
First off, it is too early to comment in such a way that the EPRDF veteran politician jumped out of his post and joined the youth for struggle for human and democratic rights and social justice. I am not saying it is impossible. I am saying let us wait and see what he really meant by disrespect particularly. Let us also hear what the EPRDF would say on the matter of the new tension as Abadula is their precious pal after all.
Second, this latter view which is cleansing Abadula from all his sins and canonizing him into the bunch of torchbearers of liberty and justice who walked the talk of resistance against injustice. This is the big win for EPRDF as it critically helps it to hijack (forge and fake it to be its cause) the existing resistance to which the regime is pathologically incapable of providing the proper justice and democratization as well as prosperity the people are demanding. This brings me to the final part where I propose three interrelated possible reasons why Abadula might have done what he did.
- Oromo People’s Democratic Organization (OPDO) has lost its organizational vitality and popular legitimacy which enable it to bring the justice, socioeconomic development and benefits thereof for the people it represents. The Oromo people especially the youth feel that OPDO has traded the dignity, resources and cultural pride of its people for the suckers. It is considered as a weak, callous irredeemable mafia agent inept to do any good, whose best brings decapitation of Oromo struggle. This view is severely damaging to a political party as anyone can make out. In order to bring the “lost” organizational vitality and fractured promise of popular legitimacy back to the minds and hearts of Oromo youth, OPDO has to revitalize itself and reclaim its legitimacy as well as repair the fractured promise of democratization and self-determination fueled by and built on Oromummaa and Sabboonummaa (the central tenets of Oromo Nationalism) as per their stipulation of “change from within”. Abadula`s own words taken literally can systematically reverse the malice, bring salvation from its founder and put lipstick on the nose of a pig. This is the way OPDO can fake restoring the respect it deserves and struggling for the rights of Oromo. It is the only way OPDO can continue as a political party and coalition member in EPRDF with no fundamental change in its essential stance. If not, it has to either cut the knot and let the people go or divorce EPRDF and live and die for the people it claims it represents. When I see activists who are hardline critics of OPDO patronizing Abadula Gemeda, I think he is doing great in fulfilling the redemption of OPDO`s failure by atoning himself from the deliberate crimes he has been doing in the last 26 years. For the record, he left a position, an obscure and powerless one in Ethiopian not membership of the House nor Central Committee of OPDO.
- The current civil resistance is a serious existential threat to the regime. It couldn’t be quenched no matter how heavy-handed the state brutality is or how much deaf the ears of international communities on the matter are, especially the USA and UK governments. OPDO has recruited tech-savvy and rhetoric masters as its new leaders. These leaders at times go beyond limit and claim to be leaders of the ongoing resistance. They use languages which convey huge meaning in the Qeerroo`s psyche and hence tell the youth that they are not alone. Who are these people? Who elected them to the office? Did they answer the call from Qubee Generation? Or they have been and are in the security operatives of the federal government? For what it is worth, They are Abadula`s protégés for technocratization of the party leadership and state system The matter is a public secret. This new leadership coupled with Abadula`s appealing resignation will wrongly buy some trust of the youth and consequently hijacking the current resistance would be made easy.
- Abadula`s resignation is a double-edged sword. He will use his resignation as EPRDF`s metekakat policy to join the comrades on the back bench and still controls the country`s political, economic and security affairs. This will hijack the resistance, dims the cause and annuls the price paid for freedom and liberty so far while it also salvages the lost credibility of EPRDF.
I am well aware that my arguments could be woefully ignorant and Abadula
s resignation might be as sincere as he and his proponents claim. I just found it reasonable that given his long track record of military and public office service filled with wrong choices and bad decisions, his remaining in the parliament with no member of opposition political party and his decision to serve in the OPDO Central Committee didn’t serve the truth he said to be the cause of his resignation. Because the disrespect he didn’t specify was his original sin in the first place. The extrajudicial mass shooting, torture and incarceration, federal police and military deployment to crush the peaceful resistance, absence of nonpartisan neutral investigation into the killings and tortures didn’t start yesterday when OPDO tries hard to revitalize its nonexistent vitality and reclaim its eternally fractured political legitimacy. Rather the disrespect was birthed with OPDOs inception and its ever since perpetual subjugation with Abadula being its author and publisher.
The day has long passed when a veteran politician whose coalition party (EPRDF) gasping for the last breath on the edge of its political decomposition trying to appeal to us and win the game, same old game again. It is too little and too late to expect us to be moved by the mantra it ranted to insult us. It is a sunset diplomacy.
Therefore, I argue that Abadula is neither “the man of straw” who is set up by his masters for this questionable transaction nor “the man of the world” who will use his worldly wisdom and political expertise to finally stand by us and craft and embody the slogans of our pens and mouths and moans of our hearts. He is rather just not the exceptional to the legacy of veteran politicians of this regime who are well known for their empty promises in the name of reform and deepen reform when their action actually is metekakat in disguise. If the case of Abadula is exceptional in anyway, it is smarter one.
“በኦሮሚያ ክልል የተለያዩ አከባቢዎች እየተካሄደ ያለውን የተቃውሞ ሰልፍ ማን ነው የሚያስተባብረው?” የሚለው ጥያቄ ትልቅ መነጋገሪያ ርዕስ ሆኗል። ዳኒኤል ብርሃኔ “የተቃውሞ ሰልፉ እየተመራ ያለው ከተጠበቀው በላይ ትልቅ በሆነ የህቡዕ ድርጅት” መሆኑን ገልፀጿል። እኔን የሚያሳስበኝ የዚህ ህቡዕ ድርጅት መፈጠሩና የተቃውሞ እንቅስቃሴውን መምራቱ አይደለም። ከዚያ ይልቅ፣ መዋቅሩ በግልፅ ያልተለየ “ትልቅ የህቡዕ ድርጅት ተፈጥሯል” በሚል ሰበብ በኦሮሞ ሕዝብ ላይ ሊፈፀም የሚችለው ግፍና በደል ነው።
ቀጥሎ ያለው ምስል የሁለት ፎቶዎች ቅንብር ነው። የመጀመሪያው ፎቶ ህዳር 25/2008 ዓ.ም ዕለተ ሐሙስ ከጠዋቱ 2፡00 ሰዓት ላይ በአምቦ ዩኒቨርሲቲ የወሊሶ ካምፓስ ተማሪዎች በካምፓሱ ቅጥር ግቢ ውስጥ የተቃውሞ ሰልፍ ሲጀምሩ፣ ከዋናው መግቢያ በር ላይ ደግሞ የኦሮሚያ ልዩ ፖሊስ አድማ በታኞች ፖሊሶች ናቸው። ከታች ያለው ምስል ደግሞ ጥቅምት 03/2010 ዓ.ም ዕለተ ሐሙስ ከጠዋቱ 2፡00 ላይ በአምቦ ዩኒቨርሲቲ የወሊሶ ካምፓስ ተማሪዎች የተቃውሞ ሰልፍ ለማድረግ ካምፓሱ ቅጥር ግቢ እየወጡ ያሳያል።
በዚህ ፎቶ ላይ የኦሮሚያ ልዩ ፖሊሶች ወይም የከተማ ፖሊሶች ከካምፓሱ በር ላይ አይታዩም። ነገር ግን፣ በከተማው ዋና ዋና መንገዶች ላይ በብዛት ይታዩ ነበር። ከታች ባለው ፎቶ ላይ በግልፅ እንደሚታየው ባለፈው ሳምንት በተካሄደው ሰላማዊ ሰልፍ ላይ የከተማውና የኦሮሚያ ልዩ ፖሊሶች ስራቸውን በአግባቡ እየሰሩ እንደነበር ያሳያል። ከሁለት አመት በፊት የፖሊሶቹ ጥረት ተማሪዎቹና የአከባቢው ማህብረሰብ የተቃውሞ ሰልፍ እንዳያደርጉ በኃይል ለማስቆም ነበር። ባለፈው ሳምንት ሲያደርጉት የነበረው ደግሞ ተቃውሞ ሰልፉ ሁከትና ብጥብጥ እንዳይነሳ፣ በዚህም የሰዎች ህይወትና ንብረት እንዳይጠፋ መጠበቅ ነው።
ከሁለት አመት በፊት ፖሊሶች የተቃውሞ ሰልፉን በኃይል ለመበተን ያደረጉት ጥረት ከሳምንት በኋላ ፈፅሞ ታይቶ በማይታወቅ መልኩ ከ50ሺህ በላይ የወሊሶ ከተማ ነዋሪዎች ለአመፅና ተቃውሞ አደባባይ ወጡ። በዚህ ምክንያት፣ በዜጎች ሕይወትና ንብረት ላይ ከፍተኛ ጉዳት ደረሰ። ከከተማዋ አልፎ በመላው ኦሮሚያ የፀጥታና አለመረጋጋት ችግር ተፈጠረ። በመጨረሻም በአስቸኳይ ግዜ አዋጅ አማካኝነት ህዝቡና ሀገሪቱ በወታደራዊ ቁጥጥር ስር ወደቁ።
ባለፈው ሳምንት የተካሄደው የተቃውሞ ሰልፍ ግን ፍፁም ሰላማዊ ነበር። ከጠዋቱ 2፡00 ሰዓት ላይ የተጀመረው የተቃውሞ ሰልፍ ከ15ሺህ በላይ ሰዎችን ተሳትፈውበታል። ነገር ግን፣ ከቀኑ 7፡00 ሰዓት ላይ ግን ሁሉም ነገር ተጠናቅቆ ሰዎች በሰላም ወደ መደበኛ ሥራቸው ተመልሰዋል። በሕይወትና ንብረት ላይ የደረሰ ጉዳት የለም። ከሁለት ዓመት በፊት የተካሄደውን የተቃውሞ ሰልፍ ፖሊሶች በኃይል ለመበተን ባይሞክሩ ኖሮ ዛሬ ከደረስንበት ደረጃ አንደርስም ነበር። በወቅቱ “ወሊሶ፡ ከሰላም ወደ ሱናሚ” በሚል ርዕስ ባወጣሁት ፁኁፍ ላይ የተቃውሞ ሰልፉን ወደ አመፅና ብጥብጥ እንዲቀየር ያደረገውን ምክንያት እንዲህ ስል ገልጬ ነበር፡-
“ከዛሬ 50 አመት በፊት እንደነበረው ሁሉ፣ የተማሪዎችን እንቅስቃሴ በኃይል ለመበተን የሚደረግ ጥረት ሁኔታውን ይበልጥ ከማባባስ የዘለለ ሚና የለውም። ተመሳሳይ እንቅስቃሴ በተካሄደ ቁጥር ፖሊስ የተለመደ የኃይል እርምጃ በመውሰድ ነገሩን ከማባባስ ይልቅ ዋና ተግባሩ በሆነው የሰውና የንብረትን ደህንነት በማስከበር ላይ ትኩረት አድርጎ ቢሰራ የተሻለ ነው። የመንግስት ኃላፊዎችም በበኩላቸው የተነሳውን ተቃውሞ፣ ሃሳብን በነፃነት የመግለፅ መብትን በሚጥስ መልኩ የኃይል እርምጃ በመውሰድ አቋራጭ መፍትሄ ከመፈለግ ይልቅ የተነሳውን ጥያቄ በአግባቡ ተቀብለው ምላሽ ለመስጠት ጥረት ማድረግ አለባቸው።”
ከላይ በተጠቀሰው መሰረት፣ እንዲሁም ባለፈው ሳምንት በወሊሶ ከተማ ከታየው ሰላማዊ ሰልፍ አንፃር፣ የተቃውሞ ሰልፉን ወደ ሁከትና ብጥብጥ የሚቀይሩት ሰልፈኞች፥ ፖሊሶች ወይም ማንነታቸው ያልታወቁ ፀረ-ሰላም ኃይሎች አይደሉም። ከዚያ ይልቅ፣ ሁከትና ብጥብጥ የሚነሳው በፖለቲካ መሪዎች የተሳሳተ ግምትና ውሳኔ ምክንያት ነው።
ከሁለት አመት በኦሮሚያ አመፅና ተቃውሞ ሲቀሰቀስ የኢትዮጲያ መንግስት ኦነግና ግብፅን ተጠያቂ ማድረጉ ይታወሳል። ሰሞኑን ደግሞ በኦሮሚያ ክልል የተለያዩ አከባቢዎች እየተካሄደ ያለውን የተቃውሞ ሰልፍ እየተመራ ያለው በጣም ትልቅ በሆነ የህቡዕ ድርጅት ከሚል የለየለት ቅዠት ውስጥ ገብቷል።
ለሁለት አስርት አመታት “ኦነግ ሞቷል” እያለ ሲፎክር የነበረው የፖለቲካ ቡድን ከሁለት አመት በፊት ኦነግን ከቀበረበት መቃብር፣ ግብፅን ከገባችበት ችግር አውጥቶ “በኦሮሚያ አመፅና ተቃውሞ እየቀሰቀሱ ነው” በማለት የብዙሃን መሳቂያና መሳለቂያ የሆነ ምክንያት ሲያቀርብ ነበር። አሁን ደግሞ “ትልቅ የህቡዕ ድርጅት ተቋቁሟል” ከሚል ቅዠት ውስጥ ገብቷል። ይህ የፖለቲካ ቡድን ፈፅሞ መገንዘብ የተሳነው ነገር ቢኖር፣ የኦሮሞ ሕዝብ የተቃውሞ ሰልፍ እየወጣ ያለው በምንም ምክንያት፣ በማንም አሰስተባባሪነት ሳይሆን ያነሳቸው የነፃነት፥ እኩልነትና ፍትሃዊ ተጠቃሚነት ጥያቄዎች ምላሽ ስላላገኙ ነው።
ይህን እውነታ ተቀብሎ ተገቢ ምላሽ መስጠት የተሳነው ቡድን አንዴ “ኦነግና ግብፅ” ሌላ ግዜ “ህቡዕ ድርጅት” እያለ ሲቃዥ ይውላል እንጂ የሕዝቡን የነፃነት፥ እኩልነትና ፍትሃዊ ተጠቃሚነት ጥያቄ ማስቆም አይችልም። “የማሪያምን ብቅል የበላ ሲለፈልፍ ያድራል” እንደሚባለው ሁሉ የኦሮሞን ሕዝብ መብትና ነፃነት የበላ መንግስት ኦነግ፥ ግብፅ፥ ህቡዕ፥…እያለ ሲለፈልፍ ያድራል!
September 5, 20017, Ethiopia
By William Davison
Ethiopia’s public investment in mega dams has been a bold attempt to make up for Africa’s power deficit. But despite some impressive achievements, doubts remain about the efficiency of those schemes, as the government leaves its comfort zone to try and attract private capital into renewable energy projects.
The stink of garbage and sheen of steel at the Reppie site on the edge of Ethiopia’s capital reflects the nation’s troubled past and, the government hopes, its gleaming future.
Addis Ababa’s open dump was the scene of a tragedy in March as a chunk of the unmanaged landfill collapsed onto shacks killing over 100 people. The incident exposed maladministration by city managers and a historic absence of vision for how to dispose of waste.
But on the other side of the site, beyond the locals still doggedly scouring the garbage for scraps of value, two giant chimneys loom over a stretch of the city’s ring road. These are the flues that will treat remaining noxious gases after garbage is incinerated at 1,000 degrees Celsius for two seconds in a state-owned Waste-to-Energy plant set to open this year.
As well as disposing of 1,400 tons of rubbish a day in an eco-friendly fashion, two turbines will also produce electricity from pressurized steam. Reppie, which can power 6 million light bulbs for 8 hours a day, should act as a “stand-by generator 24-7” for a city that suffers regular outages, said Samuel Alemayehu, the managing director of co-contractor Cambridge Industries. The $120-million incinerator is built to the same specifications as a scheme near London, according to the charismatic Stanford University graduate.
“There are many who questioned the decision to design the facility with full European Environmental Standards,” he said. “However, we didn’t want to build a plant for now, but a facility for the future.”
Such ambition is matched by the government of Africa’s second-most populous nation, which has been engaged in a bold energy development program over the last decade anchored on building large dams to generate electricity from hydropower.
International attention has often focused on the dams’ potentially negative downstream impact, particularly for vulnerable minority groups in southern Ethiopia, and Egyptians that rely on the Nile. But the government has been resolute in arguing that schemes like the much-criticized Gibe III will benefit Ethiopians overall, and that an ancient nation has long been denied the right to utilize the Nile waters that flow mainly from its soil.
Yet, while there are indeed reasons to defend and praise the state-heavy mission to make Ethiopia a regional powerhouse, much like at Reppie, eye-catching advances mask a murky reality of politicized choices that affect project efficiency and the strategy’s comprehensiveness. As major dams reach completion, the next few years will therefore reveal whether the multi-billion dollar investments become the catalyst for industrialization. Or whether that cash was in fact sunk into superficially impressive vanity projects that will act as a drag on economic growth. Much also depends on the fate of a so far stuttering effort to attract private capital into the sector, as an increasingly indebted government begrudgingly seeks more sustainable ways to fund power plants.
In the never-ending circuit of talking shops about Africa’s under-development in upmarket hotels in Ethiopia’s capital, few pass by without criticism of the continent’s status as mainly an exporter of raw materials. If Africa is to finally reach its economic potential, a keynote speaker will pronounce, it must add value to its commodities; and for those industrial processes to take place, electricity is essential.
The case is irrefutable. Africa is estimated to have 13 percent of the world’s population, but 48 percent of the share of people without access to electricity. In 2013, sub-Saharan Africa, excluding South Africa, had around 45,000 megawatts of installed generating capacity. That is only as much as the U.S. produces from solar power. Ethiopia’s government, to its credit, moved beyond the rhetoric bemoaning the inequity to take action. Nine river basins and an undulating topography mean it can produce maybe 45,000 megawatts from hydropower, giving it Africa’s second-largest potential from the resource after the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Since 2008, it has intensified its efforts and embarked upon the continent’s two largest projects: the recently completed Gibe III, and the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) on the Blue Nile, which may start generation next year. Ethiopia’s leaders hope these developments will power a nascent manufacturing drive, as well as bring in foreign currency from electricity exports. “The Growth and Transformation vision very well articulated that type of high-level vision,” Samuel said about a development strategy that began in 2010. “The trouble is the nitty-gritty.”
A chunky piece of that nitty-gritty is the efficiency of these mega dams. Media reports on the GERD, for example, have compared its output to four nuclear power stations. But that is a valid comparison of maximum generating capacity, not overall electricity production. While, for example, U.S. nuclear power stations can operate at full blast for over 90 percent of the time on average, hydropower is far spottier, as it relies on fluctuating rainfall. In the GERD’s case, it will produce 28 percent of the power it could do if it was constantly generating its maximum. With increasingly climatic volatility, others think the figure could be as low as 20 percent for the dam that was projected to cost 80 billion birr ($3.4 billion). The result is that while the 6,450-megawatt GERD is projected to annually emit 15,692 gigawatt hours (gwh) of electricity, the 2,200-megawatt Diablo Canyon Power Plant in California, which was built in 1985, churns out around 18,000 gwh a year. “These are bragawatts, not megawatts,” said an industry insider about misleading references to the GERD’s maximum generating capacity.
The context for this situation is that the GERD is much more than just a dam. When former Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi selected the scheme, it was not simply a big project, but the biggest one conceivable. Studies had indicated the best option was a cascade of smaller dams on the Blue Nile leading towards the Sudanese border where the GERD is located. That would have been “cheaper and easier to manage” and may have produced more electricity, according to a consultant. But Meles’ decision to go for a single dam was not based on engineering or economics – it hinged on politics.
Studies had indicated a better option – ‘cheaper and easier to manage’ – would have been a cascade of smaller dams on the Blue Nile leading towards the Sudanese border.
For the state-building visionary, who passed away in 2012, the GERD was to be the symbol of the ‘Ethiopian Renaissance’ by demonstrating its ability to locally fund megaprojects. Although the details are opaque, GERD seems to have been financed mainly by state bank loans and bond purchases from citizens. The unilateral venture also signaled the end of Egyptian hegemony over the Nile, which had been marked in the 20th century by treaties that allotted the vast majority of water to Cairo. For centuries, Ethiopia, the source of most of the river, has sparred with Egypt, which relies heavily on the world’s longest watercourse, over its use.
Meles’ grand geopolitical gambit has thus far paid off, with patriotic Ethiopians supportive, and a distracted Egypt effectively paralyzed by the fait accompli. Yet the same cannot yet be said about the financial investment in what is an enormous and relatively inefficient power station.
More consistent schemes like Reppie will complement dams such as the GERD and Gibe III, which is expected to produce its capacity of 1,870 megawatts for slightly under half its operation time. They can potentially smooth the peaks and troughs from fluctuating hydropower so there is a constant supply of sufficient electricity. “It’s base-load power and makes sure the grid has alternative sources of energy,” said Samuel.
That type of reliable resource, which includes geothermal, is vital if Ethiopia is going to host the textile, leather and other factories that will provide some jobs for a bulging population. There are estimated to be at least one million people annually entering Ethiopia’s labor market and a population of 100 million is expected to almost double by 2050. More than 40 percent of the country is under the age of 15 and under-employed youth participated in unrest last year that was instigated by political grievances.
So far, the state-owned Ethiopian Electric Power (EEP) has overseen multiple hydropower projects and two wind farms, taking generating capacity to more than 4,000 megawatts. While a plethora of foreign contractors, consultants and donors swarm around the fringes of the sector, loans from mainly Ethiopian and Chinese state banks do the heavy lifting. For example, a $470-million advance from the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China paid for Gibe III’s turbines. That deal meant the government could ignore advocacy groups campaigning for multilateral banks not to support the scheme.
There has also been a focus on distribution with the World Bank funding a link to Sudan and a Chinese contractor connecting the GERD to Addis Ababa. The World Bank, the African Development Bank, French Development Agency and the two governments are financing a Kenya-Ethiopia transmission line that is a vital step in Addis Ababa’s goal of becoming a power hub.
Having completed these strides, Ethiopia is now looking for private financing to help develop untapped solar, wind and geothermal potential. “The past successful strategy will not be sustainable in the long term, both from a financial standpoint, as well as from a technological standpoint of putting all your eggs in one basket,” said Rahul Kitchlu, the World Bank’s Senior Energy Expert for Ethiopia. “The priority now is very much to diversify away from a reliance on hydro resources.” This partly means the government embarking on public-private partnerships for energy, and also for railway and sugar projects, as large concessional loans look like they are becoming harder to obtain. Indeed, continued rapid development of the power industry may depend on this transition. But, to this juncture, the progress has been far from electrifying.
In 2015, with U.S. President Barack Obama’s arrival for a state visit imminent, EEP signed a Power Purchasing Agreement (PPA) with Reykjavik Geothermal for the nation’s first large-scale privately generated electricity project. The concept supported by Obama’s Power Africa initiative was straightforward. Icelandic engineers would team up with mostly U.S. investors to bore into a collapsed volcano in the Rift Valley and create steam power from the earth’s heat. The electricity would be purchased by EEP and fed into the grid. While requiring major investment, in Corbetti Geothermal Project’s case $2 billion, geothermal provides a 95 percent-efficient power source, making it an ideal ingredient in a hydro-dominated energy mix. But while the deal was first announced in 2013, four years later the flagship 500–megawatt initiative has still not dug its first exploration well.
A significant obstacle was the passing of a geothermal law last year that said projects would be transferred to government ownership at the end of the PPA period. That stipulation contradicted the 25-year deal signed as Obama prepared to touchdown, and investors balked. Other conditions also caused consternation. For example, the legislation said companies would need regulatory permission to dig each well, which was considered overly bureaucratic. And the authorities were slow to try and access a World Bank risk-financing mechanism that would guarantee payments to the Independent Power Producer (IPP) should the government have cash flow problems. The facility would have reassured investors worried about Ethiopia’s chronic hard currency shortage. Corbetti’s chief executive Steve Meyer said most of these issues are now “ironed out” and is confident the scheme has political support and will proceed. Despite his optimism, the delays have been significant. During the time Ethiopia struggled to get Corbetti underway, South Africa, after taking two-years to establish the legal and administrative frameworks, closed 92 IPP deals.
State-owned Ethiopian Electric Power (EEP) has failed to produce a detailed financial report for the last two years.
The problems are partly due to the weaknesses of a bloated and hierarchical utility company. Decision-making at EEP is sluggish and there are not enough empowered managers, according to individuals who work with the corporation. EEP executives are over-burdened and lack technical expertise. One consultant said even decisions to purchase cables now have to get board approval because of a lack of trust in the management. A donor representative said EEP has failed to produce a detailed financial report for the last two years. Such issues are typical of Ethiopia’s public sector, which is weakened by meager salaries, places a premium on political loyalty, and is partly an ethnic balancing act when it comes to senior appointments.
Politics is also relevant at the top of an industry where veterans of the armed struggle exert considerable influence. EEP’s board is chaired by Debretsion Gebremichael, a minister who was a leading engineer for the Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) during the 17-year rebellion that ended with the Derg regime crumbling in 1991. The originally Leninist TPLF formed the core of the revamped military and founded the revolutionary ruling coalition that still dominates Ethiopian politics.
Debretsion oversees the GERD, whose electro-mechanical works were contracted to a conglomerate run by military officers. Lacking the requisite experience, that group, the Metals and Engineering Corporation (METEC), sub-contracted turbine construction to France’s Alstom and Germany’s Voith Hydro. While a foreign adviser says METEC’s role in the GERD has not caused problems, it has failed to deliver seperate sugar and fertilizer factories on time while pocketing substantial payments in advance. For years the ruling coalition has identified surging corruption as the primary domestic threat to realizing Meles’ development vision.
In an interview with The Reporter newspaper in March, Debretsion bullishly defended METEC’s role, arguing it helped stave off foreign pressure to downsize the GERD and was necessary to build domestic industrial capacity. He was also positive about the prospects for private investment in Ethiopian energy projects. But such views demonstrate the conundrums for Addis Ababa’s policy makers: despite the need for foreign capital, there are long-held suspicions from Marxist-influenced politicians about private profiteering; and the effort to rapidly boost energy production is sometimes at odds with aspirations to improve local engineering capabilities.
According to one energy consultant, these attitudes are a major obstacle to sustaining Ethiopia’s impressive momentum in the power sector, especially when it comes to facilitating the development of privately owned power plants. “There is still a question of whether at the highest level of the government they understand what an IPP is. It could have exploded with development if the right people were managing the economy,” the consultant said.
The messenger is dedicated to investigative and expository reporting in East Africa. For updates, sign up for our newsletter here.
Contrary to the international media’s and world leaders’ belief and understanding, Ethiopia’s policy for the protection of refugees is inhumane. Ethiopia is one of largest refugee-hosting nations in Africa and the fifth largest in the world. It is widely reported that Ethiopia has one of the most repressive regimes yet it has, nonetheless, creatively and sophistically fooled the international community with the commercialisation of its refugee crisis, turning it into one of the country’s most lucrative policies.
According to the United Nations High Commissions for Refugees (UNHCR),an unprecedented 65.6 million people around the world have been forced to leave their home – the highest level of displacement ever recorded. 51% of these people are under the age of 18. War-related violence has been the main driver of people fleeing to European countries: the ongoing conflict in Syria, violence in Afghanistan and Iraq, abuses in Eritrea, as well as both Tigrayans People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) brutality and poverty in Ethiopia.
Many world leaders have repeatedly praised Ethiopia for ‘their leading role’ in hosting refugees from different African countries, and its tireless efforts ‘to improve humanitarian conditions experienced by those fleeing their homes’. Speaking at a panel of the 71th United Nations General Assembly meeting held in New York, the former US President, Barack Obama, recognised the role of Ethiopia in sheltering refugees and helping them to access relevant and adequate humanitarian assistance.
In June 2016, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, echoed Obama’s stance on Ethiopia, praising efforts made by the Ethiopian government in handling the regional refugee crisis. Grandi made his remarks during the World Refugee Day commemorative ceremony held in Ethiopia’s Gambella regional state, which housed most of the South Sudanese refugees. ‘Ethiopia,’ he said, ‘is a very good model’ of how a country with limited resources and a great challenge of its own keeps its doors open, its arms open to people from neighbouring countries that are in trouble and seek protection here.’
World leaders and the international media continue to speak highly about Ethiopia’s efforts in welcoming and settling refugees.
As a refugee living in Ethiopia, I am shocked to hear such daily reports and I argue that these euphoric speeches hide the shocking and appalling reality on the ground: in Ethiopia, there is a stark difference between the publicly-spoken policy and its application. Ethiopia’s government has for many years, sophistically, immorally and dishonestly, used the refugee crisis as a tool to advance its political and economic agenda.
On 24th February 2016, I was part of Ethiopia’s refugee delegation to meet with the Ethiopian Prime Minister, Hailemariam Desalegn, to discuss the alarming humanitarian conditions faced by refugees in Ethiopia. We spoke clearly about ongoing extreme human rights abuses, inhumane conditions in the refugee camps, endemic corruption within the refugee protection system, bribery and the abuse of power by senior government officers in the Refugee Protection Programmes. As leader of the delegation, I was promised that positive changes would be forthcoming. One year later and nothing has been done. Desalegn has turned a blind eye to his country’s refugees yet continues to present to the world a positive image of Ethiopia’s treatment of them.
I have lived in Ethiopia refugee camps: we have no access to the basic rights to life. We are not allowed to work or move from one place to another. We are regularly subjected to various hate crimes, death threats and extreme abuses without government intervention or protection. I have witnessed fellow refugees dying from preventable situations such as pregnancy-related issues and still-births. Pregnant women are left to die and little is done to save their babies.
For example a woman called Mwamikazi Aline in Sherkole refugee camp was pregnant. The doctor said that Aline needed cesarean but the administration for refugees and returnee affairs (ARRA) contradicted doctor’s assessment, as cesarean means to be refereed to Addis Ababa which would have cost them 600 dollars. However Aline was agonizing, after four days we, refugees had to sell our monthly ration in order to get money which would have saved both Aline’s and her baby’s lives. But it was too late, having reached the private hospital, we were told that the baby had died in her mother’s womb. Instead ARRA’s staffs came after us, and ordered the hospital to bury the dead body’s without our consent, we didn’t even know that the baby was a boy nor a girl that is how Refugees are denied access to fundamental health services and so die as a result.
Ethiopia continues to receive sizeable and generous funding from various international donors and western governments. In reality, we – the refugees – are given 16kg of wheat, 1.5kg of lentils, 950g of cooking oil, a handful of salt and a handful of sugar. No, this is not a recipe for a cheap meal: it is the monthly nutritional allowance for every refugee family living in a refugee camp in Ethiopia. Oh, and I forgot to mention the one bar of soap – per month – for hygiene and laundry. And just last month the above rations were decreased to 8kg of wheat and 15ETB – Ethiopian birr – ($0.7) to buy charcoal.
As a direct consequence, there have been uprisings and protests. In Sherkole refugee camp, four refugees were shot dead, twenty-five were seriously injured, and forty are still currently in jail for allegedly inciting havoc on 30th June 2017 as a result of the World Food Programme (WFP) ration cuts.
Refugees are begging to be repatriated to their home countries instead of dying of hunger, many are desperate to escape but are forcibly returned by the army. With the recent reduction in food rations, every refugee camp in Ethiopia now faces a crisis of starvation.
Life in one of Ethiopia’s refugee camps is one of psychological torture: we cluster and sit, doing nothing, in one of the world’s most fragile physical environments and the conditions have caused many deaths. Children in torn clothing wander the dirt paths, picking up stones and sticks to play with and mingling with the free-roaming goats and donkeys.
It is difficult to keep going in such abject misery, especially when the need for serious medical care which is beyond reach: we are often told that there is no doctor available for the 12,000-people living in Sherkole. There are a few nurses and they have limited facilities and a limited supply of medication and medical equipment. People are treated with the same medications, no matter from what disease they are suffering. Death is a daily reality.
Refugees resettlement fraud
Corruption and fraud in the resettlement process continues to be endemic. The UNHCR office in Ethiopia is terribly afraid to challenge the unlawful and unethical practices throughout the refugee protection and resettlement programmes. Ethiopia’s government has been recognised and praised for its laudable initiative and decision to establish the ‘Out of Camp Policy’ (OCP) that has allowed Eritrean refugees in Ethiopia to live outside of the refugee camps in any part of the country, but little is known by external internal policy makers about this policy.
OCP refugees are predominantly Ethiopians falsely-labelled as Eritreans: they are resettled under the pretext that they live in the cities without any other support from either UNHCR or Ethiopia. OCP refugees are, therefore, resettled while genuine Eritreans continue to suffer.
There seems to be no fair process in providing resettlement and UNHCR continues to be a barrier in challenging the corrupted system: thousands of unknown and shamed refugees (mainly Ethiopians) are often screened for resettlement – but those who have fled real danger are forgotten.
UK and EU Global Strategy in response to the European migration crisis
The British government, the European Union and the World Bank on 21st September 2016 announced a plan to create 100,000 jobs in Ethiopia to help tackle the migrant crisis. Two industrial parks will be built in the country at a cost of $500m (£385m). Ethiopia, which proposed the plan, will be required to grant employment rights to 30,000 refugees and 70,000 local people.
The reality is that the plan is a waste of public funds: the Ethiopian government will accept the deal and manipulate its implementation with sham refugees to please or mislead British Prime Minister, Teresa May, and EU president, Jean Claude Junker.
The measures being considered to re-settle refugees in transit countries, including Ethiopia, will lead to a further refugee crisis in Europe, with refugees having to leave Ethiopia for Europe (just the opposite of what UK and EU trying to achieve).What the UK and the EU consider to be a solution will be counterproductive.
So, why do world leaders keep praising Ethiopia?
- Firstly, the Ethiopian government continues to use the refugee crisis as resource to influence diplomacy and cooperation with western governments, allowing it to benefit enormously from humanitarian aid in the name of the refugee crisis.
- Secondly, European donors hope that large-scale funding programmes provided to Ethiopia will put an end to the refugee crisis in Europe.
- Thirdly, UNHCR has done very little to challenge the Ethiopian government and finally, increasing the number of Eritrean refugees in Ethiopia helps to maintain the international mainstream view of the human rights situation in the ‘enemy’ country, Eritrea.
These ‘hidden’ interests make it difficult for journalists to tell a nuanced story about refugee experiences in Ethiopia. But the way journalists obtain stories about refugee policy is also part of the problem.
Refugees are, first of all, trained how to praise Ethiopia in order to be given an audience. On World Refugee Day for example, refugee leaders are requested to submit their speeches to ARRA (Administration for Refugees and Returnees Affairs) staff beforehand for checking and vetting.
Refugees in Ethiopia are treated as commodities: yet another kind of exploitation.
Much of the reporting on this issue is done through press trips organised by embassies or humanitarian organisations. This kind of hit-and-run reporting consists, mainly, of pre-arranged field visits and interviews, highlighting the positive work of the organisation and Ethiopia’s refugee policy.
So, presenting Ethiopia’s refugee policy as an exemplary model benefits all the actors concerned and makes journalists’ jobs a lot easier – but it makes the life of the refugee harder because it obscures the truth about what is really happening.
While Ethiopia boasts about its refugee policies, behind the scenes its draconian plans are more about the business of hosting refugees rather than taking care of those most in need. Sadly, UNHCR remains tight-lipped over these allegations. ARRA continues to routinely take bribes through the refugee resettlement process and justice and rights of refugees are inexistent.
The writer is “Felix Rugira,” a journalist refugee in Ethiopia. (You can contact him via his Facebook page)