A Week in the Horn
- News in Brief
- President Ismail Omar Guelleh of Djibouti’s official visit to Ethiopia
- Dr Workneh describes Ethio-UK relationship as exemplary during Mr Johnson’s visit
- Foreign Minister Dr Workneh bids farewell to Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma
- Ethiopia-Russia Inter-governmental Commission Meeting in Addis Ababa
- UN Security Council holds an open debate on human trafficking
- Ethiopia’s food security outlook for the next seven months
- US Congressional Hearing fails test of reality on the ground
News in brief
Africa and the African Union
The outgoing head of the African Union Commission, Dr Dlamini-Zuma, welcomed the recent release of prisoners by the Sudanese government and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N). She said the releases were a positive step towards a suitable atmosphere before the resumption of the stalled talks to end the armed conflicts in the Two Areas and Darfur region.
In his first public address as African Union Commission Chairperson, Mr Moussa Faki Mahamat outlined his top priorities. These included: the need to implement structural reforms, on the basis of AU Summit decisions and President Kagame’s reform report; to efficiently and effectively implement the continental vision delivering the aspirations of the people; to silence the guns by 2020; to place women and youth at the centre of Africa’s development agenda; to focus on intra-African trade, including acceleration of free movement of goods, people and services within the continent; and to strengthen Africa’s voice in the global arena.
Just back from Kenya, Yemen, South Sudan and Somalia, UN Emergency Relief Coordinator Stephen O’Brien told the Security Council on Saturday (March 11): “We stand at a critical point in history. Already, at the beginning of the year, we are facing the largest humanitarian crisis since the creation of the UN”. He said there were seven million severely food insecure in Yemen; more than 7.5 million people in need of assistance in South Sudan, some 3.4 million displaced; 6.2 million needing aid in Somalia, 2.9 million requiring immediate assistance; and 2.7 million people were food insecure in Kenya and this number could reach four million by April. He said: “It is possible to avert this crisis, to avert these famines, to avert these looming human catastrophes: it is all preventable.”
Leading UK aid agencies announced a joint fundraising appeal to help millions of people facing hunger in East Africa on Wednesday (March 15). The Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) launched the East Africa Crisis Appeal for those facing hunger in South Sudan, Somalia, Kenya and Ethiopia, for the 16 million people in immediate need of food, water and medical treatment.
The UN Security Council held an open debate on Wednesday (March 15) on trafficking in persons in conflict situations. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said trafficking networks have gone global and victims could be found in more than 100 countries. He emphasized that this was an issue that should unite everyone, adding, “Slavery is not a thing of the past.”
IGAD signed an agreement on Sunday (March 12) with the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) to help improve on livestock management systems in Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia. The program will provide for improved disease surveillance, data collection on animal numbers and productivity, access to markets and tracing of stolen animals as well as educating communities with particular reference to dealing with drought.
A consultative meeting was held on Friday (March 17) at the African Union between IGAD ministers and Ms Federica Mogherini, the European Union’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy. They discussed regional developments, the current drought and cooperation on refugees and migration.
President Ismail Omar Guelleh made an official visit to Ethiopia this week (March 16-18). He held bilateral talks with Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn and addressed a joint session of Parliament. (See article)
President Dr Mulatu Teshome held discussions with a Turkish business delegation on Wednesday this week (March 15). Ambassador Fatih Ulusoy said Turkish companies were interested to engage in the areas of construction, textile and garment production and energy.
Foreign Minister Dr Workneh Gebeyehu met with the UK’s Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs on Thursday (March 16). He described the relationship between Ethiopia and the United Kingdom as strategic and exemplary. Mr Johnson praised the historic and outstanding bilateral relations between United Kingdom and Ethiopia and said one of his priorities would be encouraging more anchor UK companies to invest in Ethiopia. The two sides discussed bilateral and regional as well as global issues of mutual concern and trust. (See article)
Foreign Minister Dr Workneh Gebeyehu hosted a reception in honor of the Outgoing Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, on Monday (March 13) at the Hilton Hotel in Addis Ababa. He said Dr Zuma had [been] “a beacon of the Pan-African Vision of an integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa, driven by its citizens and representing dynamic force in the global arena,” and had played a major role in initiating and mobilizing support for the effective utilization of Agenda 2023, as well as contributing to Silencing the Guns by 2020, and empowering women in Africa.
Foreign Minister Dr Workneh received his Djiboutian counterpart, Mohamoud Ali Yousouf, in his office on Wednesday (March 15). Dr Workneh stressed the need to further bolster the ties and diversify their relationship.
Education Minister, Dr Shiferaw Teklemariam, said the Government has allocated close to 200 million Birr for the emergency school feeding program, which covers a total of over 1.7 million children. The Government is providing food for 1.2 million children and another half a million are being helped by international partners.
Ethiopia’s Minster of Construction, Ayisha Mohammed, told participants at the 12th annual Confederation of Indian Industry and EXIM Bank Conclave on the India-Africa Project Partnership at the end of last week that Ethiopia was keen to develop critical infrastructures through partnership with Indian companies. The two-day event attracted more than 150 delegates from all over the continent with 37 African countries represented at ministerial level.
State Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mrs Hirut Zemene, met Mr Evgeniy Kiselev, Deputy Minister of Natural Resources and Environment of the Russian Federation and Head of the Federal Agency for Subsoil Use (ROSNEDRA), on Wednesday, (March 15). They discussed ways to widen mechanisms to enhance cultural and people-to-people ties and create a conducive environment for investment and trade.
State Minister Mrs Hirut Zemene met a high-level delegation of the Africa Working Party of the Council of the European Union (COAFR) on Friday (March 17). Mrs Hirut, praising the overall strategic partnership between Ethiopia and the EU, said the two parties were working closely on implementing their strategic engagement, and cooperating on issues of human rights and good governance in particular. The State Minister called on the delegation to work on the implementation of the Job Compact initiative which, she emphasized, would benefit thousands of youth migrants.
State Minister Mrs Hirut held talks with the Head of the European Union Delegation to Ethiopia, Ambassador Chantal Hebberecht, on Wednesday (March 15). Both sides stressed the need to further strengthen strong ties between Ethiopian and the EU.
The House of People’s Representatives declared three days of national mourning, Wednesday to Friday this week, for the victims of the landslide at the garbage dump on the outskirts of Addis Ababa on Saturday. The death toll from the tragedy has risen to 113.
Ethiopia and the Russian Federation have signed Memoranda of Understanding to enhance cooperation in Culture and Arts and Tourism at the 6th Session of the Ethio-Russia Intergovernmental Commission on Economic, Scientific, Technical and Trade Cooperation which was held this week in Addis Ababa. (See article)
The Secretariat of the State of Emergency Command Post announced on Wednesday (March 15) that following “restoration of law and order in many parts of the country” it had terminated any process of arrests or searches without court orders. The curfew on movements around major infrastructural facilities had been lifted, as had restrictions on radio, TV, literature, pictures, photographs, theater and film productions.
US Congressman, Representative Chris Smith, convened a US House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing on the situation in Ethiopia on Thursday last week (March 9). (See article)
Africa’s largest cargo operator, Ethiopian Airlines, won the “Cargo Airline Award for Network Development” at the tenth anniversary of the Brussels Airport Aviation Awards held on March 4. It was awarded in recognition of the commitment of the airline to rapidly expand its cargo network and for becoming the largest cargo airline at Brussels Airport in just 6 months.
President Ismail Omar Guelleh made an official visit to Ethiopia this week, leading a delegation that included Mr Mahmoud Ali Youssouf, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation; Mr Moumin Ahmed Cheik, Minister of Justice in charge of Human Rights; Mr Ilyas Moussa Dawaleh, Minister of Finance and Economy; Mr Hassan Omar Mohamed, Minister of Interior; and Mr Aboubaker Omar Hadi, President of the Djibouti Port Authority.
Foreign Minister Osman Saleh Mohammed visited Morocco on Monday (March 13) to discuss bilateral relations with Morocco’s Foreign Minister, Salaheddine Mezouar. He brought a message from President Isaias to King Mohammed VI.
A new book by Professor van Reise (Leiden University) and Professor Mawere (Great Zimbabwe University) “Human trafficking and trauma in the digital era: the ongoing tragedy of trade in refugees from Eritrea”, claims the human trafficking of Eritrean refugees is an expanding business in which money is made through smuggling people. It reveals how individuals within Eritrea trade their fellow nationals in a complex regional system involving government officials, military personnel and criminal gangs, a system sustained by the tacit approval and involvement of the Eritrean government.
The 5th General Assembly of the Organization of Military Sports in Africa (OMSA) was held in Asmara at the weekend (March 11-13), attended by over 50 high-ranking military officials from 22 African countries. Opening the meeting, General Filipos Weldeyohannes, Chief of Staff of the Eritrean Defense Forces, pointed out the paramount importance of sports in developing physical and mental fitness, advancing spirit, promoting unity and harmony as well as instilling discipline.
President Kenyatta, making his 4th State of the Nation address on Wednesday, said the threat to peace in Somalia remains and “therefore we will continue our mission in Somalia.” Referring to al-Shabaab, he said: “If we fight the enemy in Somalia, we won’t have to fight them, here at home.” He asked Members of Parliament to observe a moment of silence for fallen Kenyans soldiers.
Kenya has halted the construction of its embassy in Mogadishu, Cabinet Secretary for Foreign Affairs, Amina Mohamed told National Assembly’s Defence and Foreign Affairs committee when defending the ministry’s Sh19.3 billion budget for 2017/18. She said the project commenced in August 2015 and was due for completion in December 2016.
Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi designated Tuesday (March 14) as a day to perform rain-seeking prayers as the drought in Somalia continues to worsen. He praised the efforts being made by the national drought relief committee led by Prime Minister Hassan Ali Khayre, and exhorted them to redouble their efforts. President Mohamed Abdullahi reiterated his call to Somalia’s friends and aid agencies to come to the rescue of the drought-ravaged population.
British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson on Wednesday called on the international community to increase support for the drought intervention measures in Somalia. After meeting President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, Mr Johnson said the UK was stepping up support to Somalia and hoped other countries could follow suit.
The UK Government has announced it will fund a £16 million program to help avert famine in Somalia over the coming months. This is part of a wider UKAid drought intervention for Somalia, totaling £110 million. The £16 million program will support more than 450,000 people with life-saving interventions and particularly food and water support. It will provide with emergency food assistance for 331,000 people and safe drinking water to over 125,000 people.
The United Nations envoy for Somalia strongly condemned the bomb blasts at two locations in Mogadishu on Monday (March 13). Mr Keating, the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General said the timing and suffering caused by the blasts was outrageous when the country was grappling with a severe drought that has already claimed the lives of hundreds of people.
Ambassador Francisco Madeira, head of AMISOM has called for a surge in AMISOM numbers, saying the Somali National Army has been unable to take charge as expected. His concern was echoed by General Thomas Waldhauser, head of U.S. Africa Command, who told the Senate Armed Services Committee in Washington, “The AU force known as AMISOM will begin withdrawing in 2018, “and if this departure begins prior to Somalia having capable security forces, large portions of Somalia are at risk of returning to al-Shabaab control or potentially allowing ISIS to gain a stronger foothold in the country,”
Arab League Secretary-General, Ahmed Abul-Gheit, has called for urgent action by Arab states to aid Somalia. In a statement on Tuesday (March 14), Mr Abul-Gheit called on Arab States to maintain solidarity with Somalia and to provide the necessary support through the United Nations system directly or through coordination with the Arab League, to help meet the urgent needs of more than six million Somalis.
The South Sudanese government on Sunday (March 12) called on regional leaders to designate the armed opposition forces (SPLM-IO) as a “negative force”. The Presidential Advisor on Security, Tut Kew Gatluak, said: “The president has declared a national dialogue which has been welcomed by all the countries and leaders in the region because the dialogue is the only way to resolve political issues.”
The Chair of the Human Rights Commission on South Sudan, Ms Yasmin Sooka, presented the Commission’s report to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva on March 14. She said South Sudan was facing a massive increase in gross human rights violations and abuses, as well as an escalation in fighting in most of the country. The Commission said this had contributed to the worsening humanitarian situation.
A delegation including 19 officials from the European Union visited Khartoum this week. Members of the delegation held meetings on Monday with Sudanese businessmen, representatives of civil society organizations, women’s leader’s rights groups and political parties. The visit is part of the strategic dialogue between Sudan and the EU which covers cooperation on bilateral and regional issues of common concern.
President Ismail Omar Guelleh of Djibouti’s official visit to Ethiopia
Djibouti and Ethiopia are the two countries that spring to mind in considering progress in the AU’s vision of economic integration. In October, 2016, at the completion of Africa’s first standard-gauge, international railway, between Djibouti and Addis Ababa, Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn expressed confidence that it would not be too long before Africans were able to travel by rail from Djibouti to Dakar and other west African cities. This is a stirring ambition for speedy implementation of Agenda 2063; integrative infrastructure that criss-crosses the continent. Certainly, the $4.2bn, 752km line could be the start of a pan-African network that will act as a catalyst to boost the relatively low level of intra-African trade. That was one of the reasons why Ethiopia and Djibouti are widely regarded as torchbearers in the IGAD region for fulfilling AU’s vision of economic integration. President Ismail Omar Guelleh’s three-day official visit this week (March 16-18) underlines the point, taking the two countries’ evolving relations to a new height. During his visit, the President held bilateral talks with Prime Minister Hailemariam and signed major cooperation agreements in different areas.
Following his arrival at Bole International Airport, President Guelleh made a speech to a joint session of the House of People’s Representatives and House of Federation. He opened his speech in Amharic, Ethiopia’s official language and a language in which President Guelleh is fluent. He was born and raised in Dire Dawa and is no stranger to Ethiopia. Among a couple of other languages, Guelleh’s fluency in Amharic is simply impressive. The President said his presence in Addis Ababa was a symbol of the longstanding relations between the two countries. The Ethio-Djibouti railway line, which had been closed for a decade, and now had begun connecting the two peoples, was a testament, he said, to the long-standing bilateral ties and underlined the commitment of both countries to foster and deepen their unique links. He said the economic integration and desire of the citizens of both countries for economic stability had been the guiding principles for the development. President Guelleh appreciated Ethiopia’s efforts and leadership in creating regional economic integration between their two countries and setting an example to Africa at large. The President also stressed that the two countries would continue to work together on peace and security issues.
President Guelleh said, “Africa is blessed with the greatest assets; namely its people and particularly its youth. We have a very young and dynamic population and these younger generations will determine the future of our continent.” President Guelleh reminded the Parliament of the need to work aggressively to make the youth of society a major part of the development boom in both countries. He also urged members of the Houses of Parliament to contribute their share of effort for the further betterment of the Ethio-Djibouti relationship.
During bilateral talks with Prime Minister Hailemariam, the two leaders recalled the strong bilateral ties of friendship that the two countries have enjoyed throughout their relationships, and expressed their desire and commitment to raise relations to even greater heights. Prime Minister Hailemariam said, “Our two countries are, naturally and historically, inextricably bound together,” adding, “The peoples of Ethiopia and Djibouti share common geography, history, languages, culture, way of life and social values.” This laid down the principal basis for their strong and exemplary relations. While the two countries shared common economic interests that made their bilateral relations of vital importance to both, those relations extend much wider and covered every aspect of cooperation: political issues, security matters, economic and commercial affairs, social and cultural issues, as well as infrastructural connections through railways and roads, water and power pipelines, telecom networks and port developments.
President Guelleh, noting how delightful it always is to visit Addis Ababa, praised the Government of Ethiopia for its unrelenting efforts to raise relations to a higher level. He said, “We are proud to have such wonderful collaboration with our brothers and sisters in Ethiopia.” He stressed the need to quickly act on the implementation of the One-Stop Shop to facilitate the movement of goods.
The two sides concluded the talks giving due emphasis to the need for more and speedy implementation of cooperation packages to further enhance the relations. And following the talks they signed four agreements: on Extradition, Mutual Legal Assistance on Criminal Matters, on Cooperation in the fields of Justice and Legal Training, and Trade.
In the Joint Communiqué issued at the end of the talks, the two leaders reaffirmed the decision to hold the High-Level Joint Commission biennially, and the Joint Ministerial Commission meetings, led by the Ministers of Foreign Affairs, on a quarterly basis in their respective capitals. They also called for speedy operationalization of the recently inaugurated railway between Addis Ababa and Djibouti.
It noted that Prime Minister Hailemariam and President Guelleh had also discussed pressing regional issues of common concern. They commended the Government of South Sudan on its efforts for Inclusive National Dialogue as a tool to restore lasting peace and stability, and underlined their support for full implementation of the Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan, signed in Addis Ababa in August 2015. Djibouti and Ethiopia have been closely working with the Government of Somalia and other pertinent partners in restoring peace and tranquility in Somalia, and they underlined the need to garner further support for the Government of Somalia to effectively install the necessary political, security and administrative institutions. Alarmed by the humanitarian crisis caused by the drought that has affected the region, Prime Minister Hailemariam and President Guelleh called upon the IGAD member states to stand together to deal with the looming disaster.
On his visit to Ethiopia, President Ismail Omar Guelleh led a delegation that included Mr Mahmoud Ali Youssouf, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation; Mr Moumin Ahmed Cheik, Minister of Justice in charge of Human Rights; Mr Ilyas Moussa Dawaleh, Minister of Finance and Economy; Mr Hassan Omar Mohamed, Minister of Interior; and Mr Aboubaker Omar Hadi, President of the Djibouti Port Authority.
Dr Workneh describes Ethio-UK relationship as exemplary during Mr Johnson’s visit
Foreign Minister Dr Workneh Gebeyehu met with the UK’s Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, Boris Johnson, who was visiting Ethiopia on Thursday (March 16) to discuss bilateral and regional issues as well as global matters of mutual concern and trust. Dr Workneh, who described the relationship between Ethiopia and the United Kingdom as strategic and exemplary, emphasized that Ethiopia and United Kingdom had strong and longstanding strategic bilateral relations. He said these had been growing year-by-year. Indeed, there was a growing need for cooperation with the growing importance of such significant issues as migration and terrorism. Dr Workneh pointed out Ethiopia’s leading regional role concerning migration management, noting that the country currently hosted well over seven hundred thousand refugees from Somalia, South Sudan and Eritrea.
The Foreign Minister called for enhanced cooperation against the scourge of terrorism and extremism. He underlined that terrorism was, of course, a very real threat to the entire region, though of particularly relevance to Somalia where al-Shabaab was so active. He mentioned Ethiopia’s major contributions to promoting peace and security in Somalia through AMISOM, and he also commended the role being played by IGAD and the African Union. Dr Workneh emphasized the importance of international cooperation to further encourage and push the momentum of establishing democratic governance in the country. He underscored Ethiopia’s continued support to peace and stability in Somalia, adding that it was committed to supporting the efforts of building institutional capacities there. This, he said, was because of Ethiopia’s core belief that the state of peace and stability of one country in the region had a spill-over effect on its neighbors. Equally, peace and development were inextricable conjoined.
Speaking about the performance of Ethiopia’s economy, Dr Workneh noted that Ethiopia was one of the fastest growing economies in the world. To keep up this momentum of accelerated growth, the government was making every effort to create a conducive environment for foreign direct investment and to expand the potential areas of investment. He also pointed out that in its bid to realize its ambitious transformation agenda, resolve the problems of poverty and unemployment, and achieve new development heights, the government has launched a series of massive industrialization projects including a number of industrial parks in various areas of the country. This was laid out in the country’s Second Growth and Transformation Plan (GTP II), which started in 2015.
The UK Secretary of State praised what he called the historic and outstanding bilateral relations between the United Kingdom and Ethiopia. He said the two countries enjoyed a great deal of economic cooperation. Taking note of the investment of UK companies like Diageo and Unilever, already operating in Ethiopia, the Foreign Secretary emphasized that one of his priorities while in office would be to encourage more anchor UK companies to invest and do business in Ethiopia.
On regional issues, Mr Johnson reiterated the need to enhance cooperation in support of efforts to encourage peace and stability efforts, as well as assist in the re-establishment of war-torn countries in the Horn of Africa. He commended Ethiopia’s significant role in Somalia and described its contribution to AMISOM as outstanding. On South Sudan, he said partnership on the peace process should be pushed forward and access to humanitarian aid should be guaranteed for the destitute and famine-stricken people there. The Secretary of State also pledged to work in concert with Ethiopia in the fight against terrorism.
The UK Embassy described Mr Johnson’s meeting with Dr Workneh as “friendly and productive”, on wide-ranging issues covering bilateral and consular affairs, domestic issues, the humanitarian crisis in the Horn of Africa, regional cooperation and the UN Security Council. The meeting highlighted the breadth and width of the UK-Ethiopia relations. Both countries agreed to further strengthen their cooperation at bilateral, regional and international level. It noted discussions covered regional security, the May 11 London Somalia conference, and the Commonwealth Summit in April 2018. The London meeting will be co-chaired by the Federal Government of Somalia and the United Nations and this was part of the UK’s commitment towards helping rally the international community to support Somalia.
Mr Johnson was also received by Prime Minister Hailemariam. During their discussion, they agreed there was great potential for bilateral relations to advance further, building on existing co-operation. They welcomed the Jobs Compact announced during the UN General Assembly meetings in September 2016 as a concrete example of how Ethiopia and the UK could work together to improve opportunities, both for Ethiopians and for refugees from the region. The Prime Minister and Mr Johnson shared their serious concerns about the drought affecting the Horn of Africa. They welcomed the relief efforts, including the £11.5m contribution to support Ethiopia announced by the UK Secretary of State for International Development during her visit to Addis Ababa in January. They recognized the need for further urgent action if conditions on the ground are not to deteriorate further.
A joint statement issued later said the Prime Minister and the UK Foreign Secretary also discussed Somalia and the new developments there following the recent elections. Given the UK’s leading role on Somalia in the UN Security Council and Ethiopia’s role as a neighbor and major troop contributing country to AMISOM, the two countries share their determination to work with the new Somali government to respond to the drought, to improve stability and security. Prime Minister Hailemariam confirmed his intention to attend the London Conference on Somalia in May. He said he looked forward to this as an important occasion to consolidate a new comprehensive partnership with Somalia for 2018 and beyond.
During his visit to the Horn of Africa, Mr Johnson has been in Somalia where he met with President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, on Wednesday, he called on the international community to ramp up support for drought intervention measures. He said the UK was stepping up support to Somalia and hoped other countries could follow suit as Somalia risked plunging into full-scale famine. He underlined that a massive increase in humanitarian assistance was urgently needed to avoid any repeat of what happened in 2011. However, he said, “We feel that this time it’s better than 2011; we feel that this time the response from Somalia is faster. So we are hopeful that there won’t be many people who will suffer and the appalling malnutrition we saw the last time.” Mr Johnson also visited the UN Joint Mission Training Centre where British military personnel train Somalia army and AMISOM forces, and the UN Drought Operation Coordination Centre.
Dr Workneh bids farewell to Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma
Dr Workneh Gebeyehu, Foreign Minister of Ethiopia, hosted a reception in honor of Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, outgoing Chairperson of the African Union Commission, on Monday (March 13) at the Hilton Hotel, Addis Ababa. Among those attending were the new Chairperson of the AU Commission, Mr Moussa Faki Mahamat; his Deputy, Ambassador Thomas Kwesi Quartey and the outgoing Deputy Chairperson, Erastus Mwencha, as well as AU ambassadors and other invited guests.
Dr Workneh Gebeyehu spoke of the important contributions Dr Dlamini-Zuma had made since she took the position in 2012. He said: “Dr Dlamini-Zuma has been a torch-bearer of the Pan-African Vision of an integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa, driven by its citizens and representing a dynamic force in the global arena.” Thanks to Dr Dlamini-Zuma, he went on, “I can confidently say that the AU Commission and our Union are on the right track towards realizing the aspirations stipulated in the Solemn Declaration of our continental organization. He emphasized that Dr Dlamini-Zuma had championed the causes of women’s rights; good governance; peaceful co-existence and stronger unity among African states. She had played an important role in initiating and mobilizing support for the effective utilization of Agenda 2023.
Dr Workneh commended the outgoing chairperson’s tireless efforts for peace and security and her efforts to achieve enhanced capacity in managing, preventing and resolving conflicts through mechanisms such as “Silencing the Guns by 2020”.
The Foreign Minister also praised Dr Dlamini Zuma’s earlier work in improving bilateral relations between Ethiopia and South Africa, when she had been Foreign Minister of South Africa. As part of a series of farewell events, Dr Dlamini Zuma met with the President of Ethiopia, Dr Mulatu Teshome on Tuesday (March 14). She will officially also bid farewell to Prime Minister Hailemariam on Saturday.
Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma thanked Ethiopia “for the warm welcome when we come and the warm farewell when we go”. She praised the government of Ethiopia for the excellent cooperation between the government and the African Union, and suggested Ethiopia’s development achievements in industrialization, infrastructure, energy and preservation of cultural heritage should be expanded as best practices on the continent. Dr Dlamini-Zuma thanked all AU Commission Staff, Member States and partners for their contribution and support during her tenure as Chairperson of the Commission. She said: “I am satisfied with the strong foundation now in place for the realization of Africa’s Agenda 2063 and I wish the incoming chairperson success in implementing and championing the continent’s Agenda”.
Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma of South Africa, recipient of numerous honorary degrees and awards, was the first ever woman to head the continental organization, and, officially handed over the chairmanship of the AU Commission to her successor, Moussa Faki Mahamat of Chad, on Tuesday (March 14). The official handover ceremony took place at the AU Headquarters in Addis Ababa. The ceremony was presided over by the President of Guinea, current Chairperson of the African Union, Professor Alpha Conde. It was attended by the President of Ethiopia, Dr Mulatu Teshome, President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda, the Prime Ministers of Swaziland and of Algeria, as well as the Foreign Ministers of Chad and Rwanda, members of the Diplomatic Corps, AU Commission staff and partners.
In his first public address as African Union Commission Chairperson, Mr Moussa Faki Mahamat outlined his top priorities. These included: the need to implement structural reforms, on the basis of AU Summit decisions and President Kagame’s reform report; to efficiently and effectively implement the continental vision and deliver the aspirations of the people; to silence the guns by 2020; to place women and youth at the centre of Africa’s development agenda; to focus on intra-African trade, including acceleration of free movement of goods, people and services within the continent; and strengthen Africa’s voice in the global arena. These priorities would be translated into sectoral and cross-sectoral programs, with specific timetables. The new Chairperson also made it clear he was committed to applying zero-tolerance towards any act that would tarnish the reputation of the Union, or erode its public confidence. He emphasized that he was determined to promote a culture of excellence and meritocracy.
Ethiopia-Russia Intergovernmental Commission Meeting in Addis Ababa
The 6th Session of the Ethio-Russia Intergovernmental Commission meeting on Economic, Scientific, Technical and Trade Cooperation was held this week (March13-15) at the Hilton Hotel in Addis Ababa. The three days of deliberation included sessions on the Technical Committees’ briefings, and negotiations on outstanding issues of the Commission’s previous meetings; discussions on adopting a Draft Protocol; agreement of minutes and the signature of Memoranda of Understanding. Delegates also attended cultural programs at Ethiopian Cultural restaurants.
In his opening remarks, Alemayehu Tegenu, Ethiopian Co-chair of the Commission and Minister of Cabinet Affairs of the Office of the Prime Minister, underlined that Ethiopia and the Russian Federation enjoyed long-standing and cordial relations; indeed, he said, bilateral ties have been “deep, profound and unique and are based on the mutual interests of the peoples of both sides.
Minister Alemayehu emphasized that this close alliance had historic roots and the Soviet Union had shown its close alliance with Ethiopia on a number of occasions in the past. Solidarity with Ethiopia was demonstrated first when the Russian Red Cross Society came to Ethiopia in 1896, at the time of the Battle of Adwa at the time of an Italian attempt to attack the country. That mission made an outstanding contribution in providing medical supplies and care to Ethiopian patriots on the battlefield and subsequently. Again, during the Italian fascist invasion of Ethiopia in 1936, Russia was one of those countries that had stood in solidarity with Ethiopia. People-to-people ties have underlined the strong impetus towards the growing partnership between the two countries. Noting that the current Intergovernmental Commission will significantly enhance bilateral relations, Minister Alemayehu referred to education, investment, technology transfer and energy as potential areas of engagement for both sides.
Evgeniy Kiselev, Russia’s Co-chair of the Russian side of the Commission, Deputy Minister of Natural Resources and Environment of the Russian Federation, and Head of the Federal Agency for Subsoil Use (ROSNEDRA), also underlined the two countries long-standing relations and historic connections. Expressing his country’s readiness to further advance bilateral cooperation, Mr Kiselev said the Government of the Russian Federation would encourage Russian companies working in mineral exploration to engage in Ethiopia. He noted that hydro-electric generation could also be another strong area of cooperation, which, he said, was vital to strengthen partnerships between the two countries.
Sessions on the second day of the meeting included the reports of the technical committee discussions, and negotiations for the signing of the draft Protocol of the Meeting, indicating key spheres of future Russian-Ethiopian cooperation and steps to be taken to enhance ties. The two sides reviewed bilateral trade relations and agreed to take additional measures to expedite and diversify trade turnover. Various Russian engineering companies expressed their interest in supplying cars, trucks, agricultural equipment to Ethiopia as well as establishing assemble plants and post-sale service centers in the country. Partnership in hydropower engineering was recognized as one of the most promising areas of cooperation taking into consideration the activities by Russian Inter RAO Export to modernize Melka Wakena Hydropower Plant and prospects for construction of other generating capacities in Ethiopia. Representatives of Russia’s State Atomic Energy Corporation, Rosatom, held extensive negotiations with their Ethiopian counterparts on joint projects in developing nuclear energy for peaceful purposes including construction of the Ethiopian Centre for nuclear science and technology.
On Wednesday (March 14) the two sides signed Memoranda of Understanding on Culture and Arts and on Tourism. The MoU between the Federal Agency on Tourism of the Russian Federation and the Ministry of Culture and Tourism of Ethiopia on cooperation in the field of tourism was signed by Mr Vsevolod Tkachenko, Russian Ambassador to Ethiopia and Mrs Meaza Gebremedkin, Ethiopian State Minister of Culture and Tourism; the MoU between the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation and the Ministry of Culture and Tourism of Ethiopia on cooperation in the field of culture and arts was signed by the Russian Ambassador to Ethiopia and Mr Remedan Ashenafi, Ethiopian State Minister of Culture and Tourism.
After the signing ceremony, in his closing remarks, Mr Kiselev said Russia was delighted with the success of the Sixth Ethiopia-Russia Intergovernmental Commission meeting. He said Ethiopia and Russia would now further widen and diversify cooperation in these and other sectors. The signed Memoranda of Understanding would further deepen the cordial relations between the two countries. Equally, the most difficult part of the job, he said, was turning what had been agreed and written on paper into practical action. In that context, he commended the fruitful meeting he had held with the Ministry of Mines, Petroleum and Natural Gas (MoMPNG) the previous day.
In his closing remarks, Minister Alemayehu underscored that the technical cooperation underway between the two countries would help the two sides reach mutual understanding in a number of areas. He said the Ethiopia-Russia Intergovernmental Commission on Economic, Scientific, Technical and Trade Cooperation was effectively advancing bilateral relations between Ethiopia and Russia in a wide range of sectors. He emphasized that these latest Memoranda signings would upgrade the partnership between the two countries in these sectors. Ato Alemayehu listed outstanding issues that demanded a further strengthened of cooperation and underlined that the two countries should work closely towards the implementation of agreements.
On the side-lines of the meeting, Mr Kiselev had discussions with Mr Motuma Mekassa, Ethiopian Minister of Mines, Petroleum and Natural Resources to discuss the bilateral cooperation in geology and natural resources development including mineral exploration, geophysical analysis, exchange of geological data and provision of professional training. He also met with Mrs Hirut Zemene, Ethiopian State Minister of Foreign Affairs, to discuss topical issues of Russian-Ethiopian cooperation in various areas. They confirmed the mutual interest and intention of Moscow and Addis Ababa to expand trade and economic cooperation, including launching major joint projects in Ethiopia, and the promotion of links in education, science and advanced technology.
UN Security Council holds an open debate on human trafficking
The Security Council held an open debate on Wednesday (March 15) on trafficking in persons in conflict situations. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told the Security Council that human trafficking was certainly not a thing of the past. Trafficking networks had gone global and victims could be found in more than 100 countries. Human trafficking thrived in countries where the rule of law was weak or non-existent, he said, and called on Governments to make better use of the tools created under the UN to stop victimization of men, women and children. This, he said, was an issue that could unite everyone, adding, “Slavery is not a thing of the past.” The Secretary-General said: “Let us come together around the key issues of prosecution, protection and prevention, and thereby build a future without human trafficking.”
Mr Guterres detailed the elements that could be used to punish human trafficking and, indeed, prevent it in the first place. Among these were the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, and its Protocol that provided the first internationally agreed definition of the crime of trafficking in persons as well as a framework to prevent and combat it effectively. He also noted the International Labor Organization Conventions and the complementary Global Plan of Action on Human Trafficking. This aims to better coordinate national responses and includes a UN Voluntary Trust Fund for Victims of Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children.
The Secretary-General called on Member States to strengthen intelligence-sharing and other law enforcement methods, while continuing to address the underlying vulnerabilities of victims, including education for girls, respect for the rights of minorities, and the creation of safe paths for migration. He urged governments to unite and implement rules on “prosecution, protection and prevention” and build a future without human trafficking.
Mr Yury Fedotov, Executive Director of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) who addressed the meeting by video, noted that human trafficking was a low-risk, high-reward criminal business for organized crime networks. This perception was reinforced by the inexcusably low conviction rates still reported around the world, he said. According to his Office’s 2016 Global Report in Trafficking in Persons, published last December, victims of trafficking could be found in 106 countries. Many of these, he said, were in conflict areas, where the crimes were not prosecuted. He said there were an estimated 21 million people around the world who were victims of forced labor and extreme exploitation.
Mr Fedotov also noted the threats facing refugees and displaced persons, pointing out: “As conflict displaces countless people, as the rule of law breaks down, as cooperation between countries falter, criminals see a clear business opportunity.” He emphasized that the best way to counter trafficking and protect the most vulnerable was to fully implement and make sure to use the frameworks already in place. He said the Global Plan of Action would be reviewed this October; the review would focus on trafficking in conflict situations, and he hoped the Security Council would take advantage of that opportunity.
Among the numerous speakers who addressed the Security Council during the debate was Demitu Hambissa, Minister for Women and Children’s Affairs of Ethiopia, who endorsed the statement delivered on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, emphasizing that terrorist groups such as Boko Haram, Al-Qaida in the Maghreb or Da’esh in Iraq and Syria were involved in human trafficking as well as criminal networks, and African women and children escaping persecution or seeking a better life in Europe and the Middle East were falling victim. Kidnapping, she said, was also a typical means of extortion, adding that criminal and terrorist groups were adept at using mobile money-transfer systems to collect ransoms.
Ms Demitu underlined the importance of putting the right national policies, as well as legislative and institutional frameworks, in place. She noted that Ethiopia had ratified the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children. She urged enhanced cooperation among origin, transit and destination countries in identifying, assisting and protecting victims, as well as assisting in their repatriation and reintegration. Increased humanitarian and development support, she said, should be provided to refugee-hosting countries as well as transit and origin countries.
Ethiopia’s food security outlook for the next seven months
The Famine Early Warning System Network (FEWS) on Wednesday this week (March 15) published its view of the current situation in Ethiopia and the outlook for food security for the period up to September this year.
As regards the current situation, the report noted that the October to December Deyr/Hagaya rainfall was late by three to six weeks, very infrequent, and well below average in terms of cumulative amounts in southern and south-eastern Ethiopia. Rainfall was worst in eastern and northern Somali Region, but was also below average in southern and central Rift Valley areas of Oromia, and South Omo in SNNPR. In some areas, this followed below-average rainfall during the March to May 2016 Gu/Genna rains and as a result the soil moisture in some area in the second half of last year was the lowest since 1982. At the same time, additional rain has fallen in southern, south-western, and north-eastern parts of the country during mid-to-late February this year.
As a result, since late 2016 large numbers of pastoral households in these areas had been moving with their livestock in search of pasture and water. This had meant additional pressure on available water resources. Livestock conditions, particularly for cattle and goats, were poorer than usual and deaths of cattle and some goats had been reported. Recent rainfall in February was helping to regenerate water sources and improve water access particularly in Borena and Afar areas. However, additional seasonal rainfall between March and May was needed to significantly improve livestock conditions, increase numbers and raise livestock prices.
The report noted that cereal production in most Meher-producing areas of western Oromia, Amhara, Tigray and western areas of SNNP regions was estimated to be average or above average levels, following the mostly favorable June to September Kremt 2016 rainy season. Maize and sorghum were the major cereals planted and harvested in western Amhara, SNNPR, Oromia, and Tigray, and the Meher 2016 cereal production in Tigray Regional State was significantly higher than in 2015 and only 4% lower than the recent five-year average. In Amhara Region, Meher 2016 production was estimated to be 19% higher than in 2015 and 12% higher the recent five-year average.
In the lowland areas of eastern and central Oromia, and some other areas, however, Meher 2016 production was below average, poorly distributed, and in some cases ended earlier than usual. These areas would have reduced household food access and suffer acute food insecurity between February and September 2017. Colder than usual temperatures between November and January caused frost that also damaged some late harvested crops, including khat in East and West Hararghe zone of Oromia, enset [false banana] in Sidama and Gedeo Zone of SNNPR, and vegetables and fruits.
Prices for major staple foods, sorghum, maize, and wheat grains, remained stable or declined slightly across most markets between December 2016 and January 2017, as harvests contributed to market supplies. Livestock prices were generally stable or showing only slight increases in Addis Ababa and north-western parts of the country though in southern and south-eastern areas they continued to decline due to greater than usual supplies to local markets as households started to sell more livestock than usual.
The report said in the absence of humanitarian assistance, many poor households in south-eastern Ethiopia would face food consumption gaps and acute food insecurity between February and September. This followed the very poor performance of the October to December 2016 Deyr/Hageya season and the impact on pasture and water resources. If they do not receive assistance, some worst-affected households in Warder and Korahe Zones in Somali Region might face increased acute malnutrition and be classified as falling into an Emergency situation. In terms of food security, the report said that without humanitarian assistance, large parts of the south and south-eastern pastoral areas of the country, the Somali, Southern Oromia and Southern SNNPR regional states are likely to remain in Crisis between June and September 2017. The Integrated Food Security Phase Classifications cover Minimal (IPC 1); Stressed (IPC 2); Crisis (IPC 3); Emergency (IPC 4).
It quoted the National Meteorological Agency (NMA) climate outlook which expects the March to May 2017 Genna/Gu/Dadaa rains to be below average in most parts of SNNP, Somali regional state, southern and south-eastern Oromia and Afar regions. The Belg 2017 rains are expected to be average to below average in most areas, but will be near average in western areas of the country. Belg planting and production is expected to be mostly near normal, Kremt rains between June and September 2017 are likely to be average to below average in most Meher-producing parts of the country. Improvements in livestock body conditions following the March to May rains are likely to be no more than temporary.
In the lowlands of central and eastern Oromia, the Rift Valley of SNNPR, the lowlands of Waghimra and Abay river catchment of East Gojjam zone of Amhara, and Tekeze river catchments of Tigray, own production from Meher 2016 harvests is below average and likely to be exhausted earlier than normal. Worst-affected areas such as West and East Hararghe in Oromia Region are facing a second consecutive year of very poor to near-failure of crop production in 2016 following the El Niño-related drought in 2015. These areas will be in Crisis between February and September 2017, while other areas are likely to be Stressed.
Most households in the western half of the country in western and central Oromia, Amhara, Tigray, SNNPR as well as Gambella and Benishangul Gumuz regions are likely to maintain adequate access to food, thanks to the normal levels of household food stocks following Meher 2016 harvests. These areas are likely to face Minimal acute food insecurity between February and September 2017.
The report also noted the 2017 Humanitarian Requirements Document released by the Government of Ethiopia estimates 5.6 million people will require emergency food assistance through June 2017, with funding requirements of approximately $948 million USD.
US Congressional Hearing fails test of reality on the ground
US Congressman, Representative Chris Smith, yet again convened a US House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing on the situation in Ethiopia on Thursday last week (March 9). The title, of the hearing “Democracy Under Threat in Ethiopia,” made it clear that Representative Smith had not changed his strongly negative view of Ethiopia, a view he has made very clear throughout the series of four previous hearings he has chaired in the last decade.
His own introduction to the hearing underlined his approach, suggesting for example that Ethiopian officials had privately but quietly told officials of the Obama administration that a tense situation in the country was “at least partly their government’s fault.” Representative Smith has clearly not been following Ethiopia at all if he thinks that this is something the government has only been expressing privately. The government has, in fact, made no secret of its acceptance that the disturbances have been a result of poor governance and of the number of policy changes it is drawing up to try to deal with problems. In a similarly careful misinterpretation, Mr Smith suggested that Dr Merara Gudina, chairman of a registered opposition party, the Oromo Federalist Congress, had been charged in February for attempting to “disrupt constitutional order,” merely because he had testified in November at a European parliament hearing about the crisis in his country. Mr Smith said that Dr Merara had testified alongside “exiled opposition leader Professor Berhanu Nega”. Mr Smith knows very well that Dr Merara was not charged for testifying at the EU but because he had been in discussions with Berhanu Nega who is rather more than an exiled opposition leader. He is the leader of an organization based in Eritrea which has publicly and repeatedly made it clear it is committed to overthrowing the present government of Ethiopia by force of arms. Its members have been armed and trained by Eritrea, as part of Eritrea’s continuous campaign to destabilize Ethiopia (and other countries in the region). Berhanu Nega’s organization has been involved in dozens of terrorist activities in Ethiopia, planting mines on roads, attacking buses and bombing hotels, mostly in the Tigray Regional State and has been labeled as a terrorist organization.
Mr Smith says the aim of himself and several of his colleagues, who recently introduced House Resolution 128, was to highlight “the crisis in Ethiopia due to government violations of the human rights of its citizens.” It was also, he said, to present “as true a picture of the situation in Ethiopia as possible” and this was why he had convened today’s hearing. The problem with this was that the witnesses he called were not in a position to do that and did not do so. It may be true that not all Mr Smith’s witnesses belong to opposition parties, but to claim they “present the facts as the rest of the world sees them” is untrue. Nor, and rather more importantly, did they present the reality of Ethiopia. Similarly, Human Rights Watch’s view of Ethiopia, for example, remains highly partisan. Mr Smith tried to pre-empt criticism of his witnesses by claiming that the government and its supporters tend to “see anyone who disagrees with them and their actions as supporting terrorists seeking to overthrow the government.” This again is simply not true. The government confines its accusations of terrorism to those like Berhanu Nega who publicly and openly have committed themselves to violence and whose organization has carried out extensive terrorist activities.
Representative Smith offered US help to “seek reasonable solutions” if the Government of Ethiopia was “ready to face the ugly truth of what has happened and what continues to happen in Ethiopia today.” This is patronizing. Mr Smith simply hasn’t looked at what has been happening in Ethiopia. The government acknowledged the problems some nine months ago and started to implement changes in policy to respond to these last year. It introduced a state of emergency last year in response to a very specific increase in violence, indeed a call from some members of the Diaspora, particularly in the US, for five days of violence in response to invented claims that over 600 people had been killed by helicopter gunships at the Ireecha tragedy. And let’s not go on with this claim that the demonstrations were exclusively peaceful. Many were, and many people certainly died during the demonstrations, but the burning of hotels, shops and houses, the pillaging of businesses and the killing of over thirty regional police is not a sign of peaceful demonstration. Mr Smith also seems unaware that an investigation last year did find that some police responses to demonstrations were excessive.
He certainly ignores the rather relevant fact that the Government has repeatedly acknowledged that people had legitimate grievances, including lack of basic social services, lack of good governance and corruption; it has taken a number of measures in response. These include: a whole series of public consultations in town-hall meetings to involve society at large in resolution of the problems; the launching of an independent and thorough investigation into deaths and injuries caused during the protests by the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission – an earlier investigation has already been delivered to Parliament; dialogue and negotiation between the ruling EPRDF with 22 opposition parties to discuss amendment of election laws and possible proportional representation; the adoption of the second National Human Rights Action Plan by the House of People’s Representatives; an extensive cabinet reshuffle; a whole series of ongoing measures taken against Government officials engaged in corrupt practices; compensation got investors whose properties were damaged or destroyed; the allocation of over 500 Million USD to provide employment opportunities for youth; and enhancement of industrial development through industrial parks to increase employment more generally.
In fact, none of the speakers recognized the fundamental point that no reform process, no changes of the kind that the government is now beginning to envisage, can be operational in the absence of peace and security. This is what the State of Emergency is designed to achieve. Once this has been produced, and in the absence of any further efforts at destabilization and terrorism by the Eritrea-based armed opposition movements of which Congressman Smith appears to approve, then the possibility of an effective, functional and useful relationship between opposition parties and the EPRDF becomes more plausible. No one doubts that a wider political space is desirable but it needs both sides to show serious commitment and political will.
The one attempt at a relatively balanced testimony was by Professor Terrence Lyons, who said he believed “Ethiopia was at a crossroads because of the “conflict” between a strong central government and the growing power of decentralized ethnic regions.” Professor Lyons managed to acknowledge that there were opposition parties operating legally in Ethiopia, though he failed to mention that there were 22 of them, or to note that they were currently in discussions with the ruling EPRDF over possibilities of changing the operational modalities of political activity. He did note that any process of substantial political reform required the engagement of members of the Diaspora and of other political forces. However, so far, this is something that the opposition has resolutely refused to do. Indeed, it has appeared largely incapable of any such activity. Its blanket refusal to work within the parameters of the Constitution is hardly conducive to encouraging the ruling party to hold a dialogue on possible reform. Equally unhelpful has been the determination of much of the opposition to turn for support to Eritrea and align themselves with President Isaias’s determination to destabilize Ethiopia as part of his own survival policy.
Professor Lyons also made the rather valid point that “some in the Diaspora engage in irresponsible encouragement of armed resistance.” One must hope that Congressman Smith takes note of this. The claims of the remaining witnesses, all from the Diaspora, appeared designed to support efforts to encourage inter-ethnic conflict on a large scale in Ethiopia, with claims that a Tigrayan government was trying to eliminate the Amhara, that the Oromo were being deliberately tortured and killed on a genocidal scale, that Ethiopia was gripped by an apartheid system, and that it was ”ruled by a minority ethnic regime which has brought about highly destructive governance by perpetually marginalizing and terrorizing other ethnic groups and religious groups by pitting one against the other.”
None of these highly-colored and exaggerated allegations, like the claims made by Human Rights Watch, stand up to any serious independent investigation. Mr Horne, the senior Africa researcher for HRW, repeated the usual exaggerated and inaccurate Human Rights Watch complaints against the government. He claimed that since 1991 the state had systematically controlled the benefits of development including access to seeds, fertilizers, jobs, health care and humanitarian assistance, and used its grip on power to control the population through fear. He said people were forced to vote for the ruling coalition party in order to receive benefits. This allegation has been made on a number of occasions by HRW in the past. It has never been substantiated and has, indeed, been comprehensively refuted more than once by independent investigation. Mr Horne even alleged that “While US-funded development assistance contributes to much-needed poverty reduction efforts, it also adds to the repressive capacity of the government by bolstering Ethiopians “reliance on the government for their livelihoods and ultimately for their survival.”
In his account of the recent problems leading up to the State of Emergency, Mr Horne provides his usual mix of misrepresentation, distortion, inaccuracy, exaggeration and outright error. Without any evidence, he attributes the Ireecha tragedy solely to security forces mishandling the crowd. He also implies this led to “angry mobs of youth destroying government buildings and private property.” He doesn’t mention a number of deaths occurred when these groups, in some cases riding around on motor bikes, throwing grenades at people and property, caused literally millions of dollars’ worth of damage, nor that opposition members in the Diaspora called for five days of violence, claiming that there had been 600 or more deaths at the Ireecha and that these had been caused by helicopter gunships opening fire. HRW itself still seems to believe that there were many more deaths than the now corroborated figure of 55.
Mr Horne grudgingly allows that Government statements about its commitment to undertake “deep reform” and engage in dialogue with opposition parties are saying the right thing. However, he immediately adds that any changes made are cosmetic. Indeed, he also adds that the Government’s responses to all abuses have been consistent – with all allegations routinely denied and no meaningful investigations carried out. What Mr Horne actually means is not that no investigations into alleged abuses have been carried out, but rather that the investigations that have taken place have not supported HRW’s views. That is a very different thing. There have been investigations, and credible investigations, carried out for example, into HRW allegations of possible crimes against humanity in Gambella in 2003/4 or the Ogaden in 2008. These found that most of HRW’s allegations could not be substantiated and in some cases were completely false. This did not make the investigations faulty or valueless. As we have repeatedly pointed out before, there are major problems with HRW’s methodology and its reliance upon unsupported allegations based upon unchecked, politically involved, sources. Until HRW is prepared to make real changes in its approach and adopt accepted methods of research and investigation, it remains impossible to work with it or accept its claims.
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