Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Saafi Labafidhin Calls the Global Community to React to ´Ethiopian´ State

Saafi Labafidhin Calls the Global Community to React to ´Ethiopian´ State – Promoted Famine

Due to environmental reasons and underdevelopment, natural disasters and famine would be difficult to avoid. Due to criminal tribal hatred and unrestrained partiality (in favour of the Amhara and Tigray Monophysitic tribes), famine is inevitable in Abyssinia, fallaciously re-baptized ´Ethiopia´. Even worse, we have reasons to believe that the racist tyrant Zenawi meticulously planned the impending famine in order to implement his evil decision for a Genocide of the Ogadenis, the Oromos, the Sidamas, the Shekachos, the Kambaatas, and all the other subjugated nations of Abyssinia.

Having failed in the Somali South, where heroic fighters kill dozens of Amhara and Tigray thugs (Zenawi´s army of racist gangsters) every day, having seen his Somaliland and Puntland puppets ailing, having encountered Ethio-fascist opposition from Kinijit and Ginbot 7, and having seen his police and army repeatedly hit by the victorious Oromo and Ogadeni rebels in the illegally occupied lands of Oromia and Ogaden, Meles Zenawi, Africa´s most reviled dictator, has no other recourse but famine.

If Meles Zenawi is allowed by the global community to achieve his target and perform a deliberate genocide, the famine will hit, putting an end to the lives of no less than 2 million Ogadenis, Oromos, and others.

Preamble to the perpetration of genocide through famine is the elimination of the international NGOs from the terrorized and tyrannized parts of the lands that have been subjugated by the Abyssinians before 100 years, and tyrannized ever since.

An astute Ogadeni activist, journalist, and intellectual, Saafi Labafidhin, ( calls the International community to react fast before Ogaden becomes the place of another genocide – this time, due to premeditated provocation of famine.

Her recently published article, ´NGOs´ Increasing Obstacles in the Ogaden and The Silence of the International Community´ was widely noticed and commented in many parts of the world, particularly because it was complemented by an insightful report published in the leading financial portal Bloomberg.

In the Bloomberg report, we have full proof of the methods employed by the criminal, racist Amhara and Tigray Monophysitic administration of Meles Zenawi as preparation for genocide:

a. they downplay drought in order to make limited or minimal preparations, while at the same time,

b. they evacuate all the NGOs from the targeted areas,

c. they do their ingenious best to usurp humanitarian aid sent for others, and

d. they divert it to the provinces Amhara and Tigray (for which it was not sent).

I republish both articles, as they consist in full demonstration of evil intentions of genocide perpetration. Issuing an arrest warrant against Meles Zenawi would be the correct method to avert the forthcoming genocides in Abyssinia. If issued soon, it would demonstrate perfectly well - and for the first time - that the international community got the Kossova and Darfur lessons, and is able not only to give justice but also to prevent the crime.

NGOs´ Increasing Obstacles in the Ogaden and The Silence of the International Community

By Saafi Labafidhin

Ethiopia´s TPLF regime –better known for slaying, starving, oppressing, and sabotaging its civilians – receives the largest international aid in the whole continent of Africa and therefore is dependent on foreign aid in the form of bilateral as well as multilateral agreements. A great portion of this aid is channeled by donor nations through Non-Governmental Organizations. The Distribution of NGO presence in Ethiopia´s different regions is very asymmetrical. Throughout the country there are millions suffering as a result of recurrent droughts followed by famine.

However while the government does not care about its people the International NGOs who operate in Ethiopia seem to favor (or are forced by TPLF´s Relief Society Tigray -REST- to operate in Tigray) some regions over the others. Those who are willing to help people in remote areas like the Ogaden are forced to work in regions they would not choose otherwise. The few who dare to insist help the needy face obstructions and their staff is intimidated daily. The Ogaden whose people are self sufficient pastoralists were previously known to have been less aid-dependent compared to the rest of Ethiopia. However, government default, ongoing war against unarmed civilians, lack of international pressure, Harassing the few NGOs on the ground complicated the livelihoods of these civilians.

If the current government boasts of achieving an 11% annual growth and claim sustained development of the main sectors of the country, they know they are not talking about Ogaden because for them Ogaden is only a war zone where they do not bother investing in schools, clinics, veterinary health posts, roads etc. The only significant symbol of the government presence in the Ogaden is huge military personnel (some sources estimate almost half of Ethiopia´s military to be stationed in the Ogaden despite the many war frontiers Ethiopia has!!). This military is used to inflict the most imaginable harm on the people. They continue their daily mass killings of unarmed civilians (my maternal uncle was the last victim I heard. They killed him while he was milking his camel for his children!!!), they torture, arbitrarily arrest, blockade and destroy towns etc.

While they kill people meaninglessly, they are determined to obstruct anyone trying to lend the people a hand. All local NGOs are ordered to make food and other necessary items distributions through the so called Disaster Preparedness and Prevention Agency (DPPA) which is controlled by the army leaders.

Eventually, food is used as a weapon and never reaches the intended beneficiaries. The local NGOs have no choice and they are well aware of the whereabouts of those who questioned such acts. They know the fate of Sulub and his fellow men from Ogaden Welfare and Development Organization (OWDA). Some local charity organizations have reported that their vehicles are forcefully used by the army against the law.

Some government stooges even demand bribes otherwise will declare NGOs as Nabadiid which mean anti-peace!!!

The international NGOs are not spared by the obstacles of the Ethiopian government and the last victim is MSF-Switzerland who pulled out of their last operational post –Fiiq. Apparently, MSF endured a prolonged and repeated Ethiopian harassment but reached their limit when they feared for their staffs´ lives as was clearly stated by the organization´s and AFP reported:

Repeated administrative hurdles and intimidations towards MSF staff in the Fiiq area have prevented the organization from bringing urgently needed medical care to vulnerable populations. Despite agreements signed with federal authorities, MSF international staff members have not received necessary work permits and could only be on site for short periods.

"Over the six months of our intervention, our medical teams could only work for ten weeks in Fiiq town and five in the periphery of the town where the most important needs are," said Hugues Robert, in charge of the MSF Ethiopia program in Geneva. "It significantly reduces the medical impact of our action."

MSF is not the first to terminate operations in the Ogaden. MSF Belgium and International Committee of Red Cross (ICRC) have also been accused of supporting rebel groups and their permission revoked against the international law –Ethiopia is a signatory to the International Humanitarian Law which gives ICRC among others unlimited access to war zones. This comes a time when Meles has waged war against Somalis in the Ogaden and the need for Independent NGOs is eminent more than ever. Meles and his fellow men such as Bereket Simon has openly boasted to have accumulated experience during their struggle against the Derg and will never allow NGOs to help people in need. Parallel to all these difficulties is the law drafted by the order of Meles to restrict NGO freedom. The controversial draft law enables the Government to fully control the activities of NGOs.

In addition to the genocide and economic blockade of this hapless region, Ethiopia has left no stone unturned to cover its atrocities in front of the international community. They clearly deny access to international media even those who are pro-TPLF. Despite this, the world were able to see as the chain of tragedies has been unfolding in Ogaden through the brave reporters of New York Times, The Daily Telegraph (both of whose reporters were illegally arrested by TPLF in Degah Bur and Godey respectively), Aljazeera, Los Angels Times, etc. The latest Amnesty International Report on Ogaden was supported by undeniable Satellite Images of destroyed villages and towns whose population were also killed in the masses.

While all this is taking place the world is watching and doing nothing. The United Nations who in 2007 sent emergency assessment team who later that year came up with recommendations including the need for broader investigation by the UN has done nothing. We know how they were being silenced. The international community led by USA pursues the policy of look and see even though they all know that Ogaden is far worse than Darfur they won´t annoy their leaders who consider Meles as an important ally in what they call ´war against terror.´ Instead of holding the TPLF thugs of their crimes, it is sad to see famous lobbyists DLA-Piper earning their salaries by sabotaging the highly awaited Ethiopia Democracy and Accountability Act of 2007 –a bill supporting human rights and democracy in Ethiopia that was put forward by responsible individuals and passed by the United States House of Representatives.

But USA cannot claim to be the police of the World while they are defending such atrocities in the name of ´war on terror´. I wonder how USA can voice against Robert Mugabe and Omar Al-Bashir while letting criminal Meles attend G8 summit. The world will witness the suffering of humanity if the policy of double standardness is not re-evaluated. We are all human beings and we deserve the same rights!!

Ethiopians Wait for Aid, Government Downplays Drought

By Jason Mclure

July 14 (Bloomberg) -- Nurita Kadir huddles with dozens of women and babies in a fly-infested white tent in the southern Ethiopian town of Senbete and waits for a meal for her starving five-month old child.

Kadir, clad in a black headscarf, is among as many as 4.6 million people the World Health Organization estimates have been left hungry after spring rains failed. The drought is draining grain stores in villages across a third of the country. She's depending on foreign aid as criticism mounts that the government isn't doing enough to tackle the crisis.

The rains didn't come,'' Kadir, 36, said in a June 11 interview, as her child lay on a brown blanket beside her. ``I had nothing to eat so the milk stopped.''

While people like Kadir are getting help, the number in need of food is growing, the Geneva-based WHO says. Aid has been hindered by the government's attempts to downplay the crisis as a famine in the mid-1980s, the worst on record, still sullies the country's image today, according to Gus Selassie, an Africa analyst at London-based political risk consultancy, Global Insight.

The famine two decades ago caused a million deaths, sparking a global charity effort led by Bob Geldof's ``Do They Know it's Christmas,'' hit song and the Live Aid concerts.

The issue has been a source of friction between the government and the aid community,'' Selassie said. ``They feel the issue has been detracting from their economic success. They are trying to downplay it.''

Estimates Dismissed

Estimates in May by the United Nations Children's Fund, or Unicef, that 6 million children need food aid have been dismissed by Ethiopia's health ministry. With 78 million people, Ethiopia is the second-most populous country in sub-Saharan Africa after Nigeria.

The government has guaranteed electricity to export businesses such as flower farms. At the same time, power outages at factories that produce children's porridge have reduced their output in recent months by as much as 50 percent, according to the United Nations' World Food Programme's Country Director, Mohammed Diab.

We can't forget about other activities'' such as flower farms, Simon Mechale, the director of Ethiopia's Disaster Prevention and Preparedness Agency, said in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia's capital. ``I don't think we should compare this to 1984-1985.''

The IMF in April forecast economic growth of 8.4 percent this year. Even so, surging food prices pushed the annual inflation rate to 39.1 percent in May, the latest data available, according to the national statistics agency.

Fighting Rebels

From January to June the WFP said it distributed more than 45,000 metric tons of food to 2.6 million people. Still, in Ethiopia's Somali region, where the military is fighting against ethnic Somali rebels, less than a third of the 9,600 tons of food allocated by the UN for relief has actually been distributed, the organization says.

No official statistics on the number of deaths caused by the famine have been released by the government.

We don't have the right figure now on deaths,'' Tewordos Adhanom, the country's health minister, said at a June 3 press conference in Addis Ababa. ``We don't need to beat the drum of hunger for Ethiopia every year. Ok, there is a drought in some parts, but we shouldn't exaggerate.''

The government in May announced plans to buy 150,000 tons of wheat from South Africa. No wheat has left South Africa for the east African country since then, according to the Web Site of the South African Grain Information Service. The Addis Fortune newspaper today reported that the government will also buy 30,000 tons of corn from South Africa.

Food Shortages

Currently 4.6 million people are affected by food and water shortages,'' the WHO said in a July 11 statement. ``Food insecurity is increasing.''

Government grain stocks are now below 100,000 tons, less than a quarter of their normal level, the WFP's Diab said. About 391,000 tons of grain is needed by November, he added.

It's desperate,'' Bjorn Ljungqvist, country director for Unicef, said in an interview in Addis Ababa. At risk are ``50,000 to 100,000 kids over the next four months. If these kids don't get support, between 25 percent and 50 percent will die.''

This year's drought in February and March, which cut some harvests by 95 percent, came after a poor harvest in the country's autumn season. Farmers in the area often feed families of eight from half hectare (1.24 acre) plots and reap two harvests a year, according to Kadir.

Rains Have Fallen

While rains have now fallen across fields that were planted in late May the next crop won't be ready for at least three months, aid workers including Ljungvist say.

We have lost all hope,'' Larago Barisa, a farmer in the village of Lencho, south of Senbete, said. ``In the surrounding areas you see green plants you wouldn't think there is hunger, but when you step into the houses you will find nothing.''

The government is sensitive to criticism because the 1980s famine occurred under the rule of the Derg, the military regime that ruled between 1974 and 1987.

A comparison with the 1980s famine is to say the current government is ``not better than the Derg,'' Ljungqvist said. ``That's why this is so sensitive. As long as they agree there are a significant number of lives at risk I am not going to argue that they are wrong and we are right.''

Kadir has little interest in the squabbling. Her family sold four of their eight cows to raise money for food while the others died.

We're done,'' she says.

To contact the reporter on this story: Jason McLure in Addis Ababa via Johannesburg at

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