Ethiopia must release opposition politician held for Facebook posts

Ethiopia must release opposition politician held for Facebook posts
Ethiopia must release opposition politician held for Facebook posts

amnesty_usa(Amnesty USA) — The Ethiopian authorities must immediately and unconditionally release a prominent opposition politician facing a possible death sentence on trumped-up terrorism charges over comments he posted on Facebook, said Amnesty International.

Yonatan Tesfaye, the spokesman of the opposition Semayawi (Blue) party, was arbitrarily arrested in December 2015 and held in lengthy pre-trial detention for comments he posted on Facebook. The government says his posts against a government plan to extend the capital’s administrative authority to the Oromia region were in pursuit of the objectives of the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF), which it considers a terrorist organization.

“The Ethiopian authorities have increasingly labelled all opposition to them as terrorism. Yonatan Tesfaye spoke up against a possible land grab in Oromia, which is not a crime and is certainly not terrorism,” said Muthoni Wanyeki, Amnesty International’s Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes.

“He and many others held under similar circumstances should be immediately and unconditionally released.”

Tesfaye was arbitrarily arrested in December 2015 and held without charge for months on end. It was not until May 4, 2016 that he was charged with “incitement, planning, preparation, conspiracy and attempt” to commit a terrorist act. The state prosecutor charged that Tesfaye’s remarks were in pursuit of the OLF’s objectives.

“Yonatan Tesfaye has no demonstrated links to the OLF. His arrest is just another example of government overreach in the application of its seriously flawed anti-terrorism law. This law is once again being used as a pretext to quash dissent,” said Wanyeki.

The Ethiopian authorities should also promptly, impartially, thoroughly and transparently investigate claims that he may have been tortured or otherwise ill-treated in detention at the Maekelawi Prison, a jail notorious for its widespread use of torture.

Source: New feed

Beautiful ethnic Oromo bride (wearing white in the middle) surrounded by her pretty maid of honors

Beautiful ethnic Oromo bride (wearing white in the middle) surrounded by her pretty maid of honors
Beautiful ethnic Oromo bride (wearing white in the middle) surrounded by her pretty maid of honors


(We African Nations) –Beautiful ethnic Oromo bride (wearing white in the middle) surrounded by her pretty maid of honors at Oromo traditional wedding ceremony at Oromia in Ethiopia, East Africa. The Oromo (Oromo: Oromoo, “The Powerful”; Ge’ez: ኦሮሞ, ’Oromo) people are indigenous and one of the largest Cushitic-speaking ethnic group in Africa, occupying the Eastern and North Eastern Africa. Oromo as one of the Cushitic speakers have occupied parts of north-eastern and eastern Africa (Horn of Africa) for as long as recorded history. They are found in:

  • Northern Ethiopia (southern Tigray Region)
  • Kenya (mainly northern), even as far south as Lamu Island and
  • Somalia

The Oromo people is the single largest national group in Ethiopia, accounting for about 35 million (40%) of 75 million population. Tilahun (1992), however, posits that “in Ethiopia, Oromo account for 50%-60% of the population of the Ethiopian Empire State (Tilahun, 1992). They are “a very ancient race, the indigenous stock, perhaps, on which most other peoples in this part of Eastern Africa (the Horn of Africa) had been grafted” (Bates, 1979). The Oromo people primarily reside over a vast region of Ethiopia predominately in Wallaggaa, Iluabbaabooraa, Jimmaa, Shewa, Arsii, Baalee, Harargee, Walloo, Boranaa, and Southwestern part of Gojjam .


The Oromos have a traditional marriage ceremony which descended from earlier times (antiquities). The great social significance is attached to the wedding ceremony. The wedding day is a very important day in the life of both the bride and the groom. It is important for the bride whose wedding celebrated once in her life. As for the man, he can celebrates his wedding if he marries a second or third wives either because of the death of his first wife or when ever he wants to have more than one wife. However, even for the man, it is the first wedding ceremony which is more important than the second or the third one. These ceremonies do not take place equally in all forms of acquiring wife (marriage).The most typical is Naqataa (betrothal) form of marriage where the ceremony starts at the moment when marriage is first thought of and even continues after the marriage is concluded in such case as Ilillee, Mana Aseennaa, Minje Deebii and Torban Taa’umsa.

Bethortal is a form marriage mostly arranged by the parents of the bride and groom with a great deal of negotiation. Traditionally the groom’s parents search for a bride for their son. Before they make any contact with the bride’s parents, the groom’s parents research back seven generations to make sure that the families are not related by blood. Once this has been done, the boy’s parents hen make contact with the girl’s parents through a mediator. The mediator goes to the home of the girl’s parents and asks if their daughter will marry the son of the other parents. The girls’s parents often impose conditions and the mediator will take the message to the boy’s parents, then arrange a date for both parents to meet at a mutually convenient location. When the parents have reached an agreement, the man and woman get engaged (betrothed). The parents then set a wedding date and they meet all the wedding expenses.

After the betrothal is conducted, both parents prepare food and drink for the wedding and invite guests. The families enjoy the wedding ceremonies of their children and say that yeroo cidha dhala keenyaa itti arginudha (it the time to seethe wedding of our children). Both families begin to make wedding feast including Farsoo1, Daadhii2, Araqee3 and food. These preparations begin a couple of weeks before the date of wedding. Fifteen or twenty days before marriage, the young girl friends of the bride-to-be are invited to come to her house after dark to practice singing and dancing. This is called Jaala Bultii (Dancing and singing, which takes, place around the boy’s and girl’s house in the evening two or three weeks prior to the wedding and terminates on the wedding date.) The boys and girls of the community gather and sing by the house of the bride and the bridegroom. The singers on the side of the bridegroom praise him and his relatives while degrading the bride and her relatives by their songs. The same is true of the singers on the bride’s side.

One month before the wedding date, the groom requests his companion (hamaamota) and age mates (Hiriyya) to travel with him to take his bride. It is also his responsibility to choose the miinjee (miinjota, plural)-the best man. Usually these people come with mule. If most of the bride’s friends and best men come with their own mules it is assumed to be an indication of groom’s wealth. The father of the boy also tells one of his age-mates to go with his boy as waa’ela abbaa (father’s stand-in). A week before the wedding date the bride will start washing her clothes, arranging her hair and finish her unfinished works like traditional clothes and other household furniture. Her friends will not depart from her thereafter. Women in the neighborhoods of the bride would help the mother of the bride in grinding, roasting grains which are used for making food and local drinks. They also fetch water, collect firewood and carryout some other similar works. The men on their part help by fetching objects, which are necessary for the feast, by constructing temporary staying rooms called Daassii for the attendants of the feast and decorating the compound.

The bride and her friends often discuss about the departure which is inevitable. During this time they are sorrowful and often sing breath-taking melodies, the bride makes prose in poetical style and weep and her friends follow after her in singing the prose and weeping. In the early morning of the wedding date, the relatives of the bridegroom gather. After a while bride’s companions gather while girls near the house of the bridegroom sing and dance. After wards, companions will be provided with food and drinks. The bridegroom then will be dressed with the clothes especially prepared for that date and will be seated a midst of his relatives. The parents of the bridegroom, elders and relatives will bless the bridegroom. When the bridegroom leaves his houses with his companions, the girl will accompany him by beating drums, singing and resounding (Ilillee). If the bridegroom is from the wealthy family, bullets will be shot as a pride to the family.

The companions will proceed to the bride’s house singing songs. When they arrive at the house of the bride’s family, a certain procedure should meet. That is, the bride with her friend will come to the gate of the place reserved for the companions and beating drums. By doing this, she bars the bridegroom and the companions from entering the house of her family. Such activity is known as Balbal qaba. She will do this until she gets a certain sum of money from the bridegroom as an entrance fee.

Sometimes the bridegroom tries to enter the house of the bride’s family without giving a certain sum of money to the bride. During this time, a dispute may arise between the bride and her age-mates on the one hand and the bridegroom and his companions on the other hand on whether or not the company of the bridegroom should be let enter the house of the girl’s family without paying some amount of money to the bride. Sometimes the disputes may lead to serious debate and even to exchange of blows. In such occurrences, some individuals from bride’s family try to cool the nuisance and make the girls leave the entrance. This is almost carried out by making the entrance fee negotiable by both sides.

That means these individuals advice the girl to reduce the sum and the company of the boys to pay a certain sum. After the sum fixed is paid the bridegroom and his companions will sit on the seat reserved for them in the temporary staying rooms (daassii). After they get in the dassii hosts from the bride’s family provide food, distributes waancaa (A vessel made of horn of animals which is used foe drinking purposes) or drinking glasses to them and fills it with good quality Farsoo. After the food is eaten, the groom puts gatii caabii (Caabii: earthen dish or plate used for dinning. Gatii caabii – money paid by the groom after the food is served. The girl’s mother takes this money and it is usually between twenty to thirty Ethiopian Birr.) The feast goes on in the form of eating and drinking.

The companions together with girl’s parties sing and dance. Following this, the groom and bride receive blessing from the girl’s parents. In that blessing place the father and the mother of the bride as well as close relatives of her willassemble and the bride and the bridegroom will be seated side by side in front of the individuals who bless them. The mother of the bride will provide wancaafull of farsoo or milk. The bride and the groom will take hold of the glass by putting their hands together on the glass at the same time. While the bride and groom holding the glass together, the father and mother of the bride will bless them by saying walitti horaa bulaa, which means have children, wealth and all necessity of life and live together. Graan keessanii fi afaan keessan tokko haata’u, which means be one mind and heart. Then the bride and groom will take a sip of the drink of blessing. At this moment older men take out all items or materials made ready to be given as a gonfa (gifts) to count, tie and pack them. These are prepared by the bride and her parents, and are also contributed by near relatives and the bride’s age-mates. The gifts contributed by the invited people in the form of money or kinds are called gumaata.

After the competition of the blessing process, the elders from the bride’s side demand a miinjee (the first best man) to be named and becomes forward when the proxy for the groom’s father (dura adeemaa) calls his name. Then the best man is asked whether he has a sister or not and his willingness to be a brother of this girl (miinjee). If he names his sister, he will take an oath in her name to take care of the bride as his own sister. He receives an oath to counsel and protect her ways, to help her whenever she is in problem and asks him for help. The best man says, “If I fail to assist her, let my sister’s best man treat her like that”. In the case that the best man has no sister, he swears saying that the same kind of treatment should come to himself. After that the groom and his companion, through the elder representing them then, state now we ate and drunk and finished what is required of us. So, we appeal to your will to let us go because we on our part have guests at our home. The groom rises alone while the best man helps the bride and leads her out. The bride walks with her best man under the newly bought umbrella and mounts her mule by the help of the best man.

The companion take all the material given as dowry and mount their own mules. After this, the bridegroom and his company will leave for their home with his bride. On their way to bride’s house if they come across a river, the bride halts her mule because she wants the groom to promise her half claim over a cow.

The girl does not practice this whenever she comes across a river. Rather, this is done only in the cases of rivers which she might come across near his or her house. In the case of the second river when she practices the same act, she would be promised the second half of cow as the case may be.
On arrival at the groom’s house, the groom’s sister and her friends singing to defame the bride. The companion present the gonfaa (gifts) and count it in frontof relatives and invited guests to show how much her parents are hard working.The groom’s sister blocks the entrance until he pays her some amount of money. The companion who takes the responsibility of the bride then pays some amount of money to the groom’s sisters who do not let the bride enter the house and if they got they leave the door.

The companion and other guests enjoy themselves with the feast till the morning while singing and dancing. That night the boy deflowers the girl. The best men and the groom’s mother go to the girl after she has been deflowered. The bride’s scarf is used to take the blood to proof her virginity. If no proof of virginity is found, the husband whips her with alanga (Whip made from hippopotamus), and sometimes sends her back to demand the return of marriage payment. But such practice is at less degree these days. If she is found virgin, the groom and the best men shoot of the gun to declare her purity and the groom’s mother and the best men take possession of the stained scarf and emerge triumphant to declare the virtue of the girl. The best men spend five days with the couples except for the day they return to her parents’ house for the misiraachoo ( Congratulating the girl’s family on the virginity of their daughter and their proper upbringing.) For these five days the bride remains in the small house behind a curtain with her best men, visited freely only by the groom and his mother throughout a five day isolation. During these five days the best men do not allow any one to visit the bride without offering some cents.

One day following the wedding day the best men and other friends congratulate the girl’s family on the virginity of their daughter and their proper upbringing. On the arrival the best men and his friends shoot off the gun and present the stained cloth to the individual family members by placing it on each of their caps while he sounds ilillee (An utterance of victory or joy.) The friend or relative is obliged to offer a gift for the privilege of viewing the bloodstained scarf. The scarf is not necessarily the one, which has a spot of a blood on it. Every individual is supposed to give more than two coins (0.20 Ethiopian cents). After spending there enjoying the feasts and congratulators start for their house, directly to the house of the newly weds to stay there till fifth day.

On the fifth day, the bride introduces herself to the groom’s family and makes a formal entry into the big house of the groom’s parents. The entry is called mana aseeennaa. Before the girl leaves the little house, the couple and the miinjotaa feed from the marqaa (A bread made from grain flour, usually barley served with butter) and qorii (Barley roasted and serve with special butter) provided by the groom’s mother.

When she leaves her small hose the groom shaves her qarree, which is another sign of her new status, and she also shaves a small portion of her husband’s hair. Following this the couple enter the house of the parents followed by the miinjotaa and at the door her husband’s father promise her cows, and she reciprocates by providing the father with heavy bullukko (A large garment usually worn by men. It is local production made from cotton) and the mother with kutaa (A cotton cloth which is very long worn by the women from the top to the bottom. It is usually worn on the date of festivals) and wedding and sabbata ( It is a long step of cloth, which is worn by Oromos of Gidda area round their waist.)

The miinjee also brings many things for the ceremony such as qorii, food served with chicken dish, and pot full of farsoo. All the family with their relatives enjoy the feast prepared for the ceremony. From that day on wards the miinjotaa go their homes and the bride lives with her husband without feeling of loneliness.

After month or two the bride family invite the couple with miinjotaa to return home. This first homecoming is known as miinje deebii (returning of the best man). For that day the groom prepare a goat that will be killed at the house of the bride’s family. His mother prepares qorii, araqee and kukkutaa (A food soaked in a meat soup), which the bride takes with her when she goes for the miinjee deebii.

After getting prepared, the couple and the companion go with few friends on fixed date. At the house of the bride’s family, young girls gather and sing together. On the arrival they are given seats in the temporary staying rooms. The bride’s family provides them with food and drink. After eating and drinking, the bride stands up to exchange greetings with her family and relatives. Following this the best men dances at the middle of the girls dancing out side, declaring the virginity of the girl while the bride serving the food she has brought. People rarely sleep that night; usually stay all night eating, drinking and singing. Early in the morning, the groom brings into the front the goat he has brought and the first best man kills it.

From the killed goat, steer or ram what ever it may be, the right hind limb will not be consumed there but the newly weds take it to their home. And also the skin belongs to the best men. The couple, the best men and friends who accompanied the couple and relatives of the bride’s family eat meat from the goat prepared by the bride’s mother and women from the surrounding. After this, few friends who accompanied the couple return home while the couple and the best men stay for another one or two days. Before the couple return to their home, the family of the bride fix a date for their daughter to come back for yet another visit which is called toorban taa’umsa (a stay for a couple of weeks).
On this fixed date the bride goes to her family accompanied by her husband who will turn home in the morning. She carries again flour and spiced butter to provide to her family. After her stay for a week with her parents the husband takes her home.

Beautiful ethnic Afar girl from Danakil Desert in Ethiopia showing her beautification sharpened teeth in a hearty smile.

Beautiful ethnic Afar girl from Danakil Desert in Ethiopia showing her beautification sharpened teeth in a hearty smile. The Afar people also known as Adal, Adali, Oda’ali, Teltal and Dankali are Cushitic-nomadic people located in the East African countries of Djibouti, Somalia, Ethiopia, and Eritrea. The Afar (Danakil) claim to be descendants of Ham (Noah’s son). They prefer to be known as the Afar, since the Arabic word “danakil” is an offensive term to them. They are a proud people, emphasizing a man’s strength and bravery. Prestige comes, as it always has, from killing one’s enemies. The Afar people are warrior tribe and are very good at using knives and daggers in a warfare. They love their culture and respects their laws. There is a proverb in Afar that says: (koo liih anii macinay kamol ayyo mogolla) which means “I accept you in my home as a brother but I do not accept that you put my authority questioned” and therefore the Afar have still not agreed to be humble, being crushed, therefore they are in conflict with the rest of ethnic groups.

Source: New feed

Senegal: Hissène Habré Verdict Scheduled May 30

Senegal: Hissène Habré Verdict Scheduled May 30
Senegal: Hissène Habré Verdict Scheduled May 30

(Dakar) – Human Rights Watch on May 3, 2016, issued an updated question-and-answer document about the trial in Senegal of the former Chadian dictator Hissène Habré. A verdict is scheduled for May 30, based on an announcement by the court at the end of the trial on February 11.

Hissène Habré at his trial in Dakar

Hissène Habré at his trial in Dakar

“The trial of Hissène Habré shows that it is possible for victims, with tenacity and perseverance, to bring a dictator to court,” said Reed Brody, counsel at Human Rights Watch who has worked with the survivors since 1999.

Habré faces charges of crimes against humanity, torture, and war crimes before the Extraordinary African Chambers in the Senegal court system. The chambers were inaugurated by Senegal and the African Union in February 2013, to prosecute the “person or persons” most responsible for international crimes committed in Chad between 1982 and 1990, the period when Habré ruled Chad. The president of the Trial Chamber is Gberdao Gustave Kam of Burkina Faso.

Habré’s trial, which began on July 20, 2015, was the first in the world in which the courts of one country prosecuted the former ruler of another for alleged human rights crimes. It was also the first universal jurisdiction case to proceed to trial in Africa. Universal jurisdiction is a legal basis in international law that allows national courts to prosecute the most serious crimes even when committed abroad, by a foreigner and against foreign victims.

The question-and-answer document includes information about the history of the case and details about the trial and the Extraordinary African Chambers.

Habré is accused of thousands of political killings and systematic torture during his rule, from 1982 to 1990, when he was deposed by the current president, Idriss Déby Itno, and fled to Senegal. After a 22-year campaign by his victims, the chambers indicted Habré in July 2013 and placed him in pretrial custody. After a 19-month investigation, judges of the Extraordinary African Chambers found that there was sufficient evidence for Habré to face trial on charges of crimes against humanity, torture, and war crimes.

Source: New feed

Kenya disbands refugee department, to close Dadaab and Kakuma camps

Kenya disbands refugee department, to close Dadaab and Kakuma camps
Kenya disbands refugee department, to close Dadaab and Kakuma camps

Somali refugees are pictured at the Ifo camp in Dadaab near the Kenya-Somalia border, May 8, 2015. Photo/REUTERS

Somali refugees are pictured at the Ifo camp in Dadaab near the Kenya-Somalia border, May 8, 2015. Photo/REUTERS

Nairobi, May 6 (The Star) — The government has disbanded the department of refugee affairs to pave way for the closure of Kakuma and Dadaab camps.

Kenya has continued to shoulder very “heavy economic, security and environmental burden” by hosting refugees, the Interior PS said,

“Due to Kenya’s national security interest, the government has decided that hosting of refugees has to come to an end,” Karanja Kibicho in a statement on Friday.

“The government acknowledges that this decision will have adverse effects on the lives of refugees but Kenya will no longer be hosting them.”

Kibicho asked the international community to back the move.

“The international community must collectively take responsibility on humanitarian needs that will arise out of this action,” he said.

Kenya had said it would repatriate all Somali refugees and close camps in the northern region.

Interior CS Joseph Nkaissery said in 2015 that refugee camps, particularly in the Dadaab complex, had become hiding places for terrorists and their agents.

But Kenya backtracked on plans to close down Dadaab after intense pressure from the international community.

Kenya has hosted more than a half a million refugees for more than two decades.

Nkaissery said more than 200,000 Southern Sudan nationals are living in the Kakuma camp.

So far, 4,214 Somali refugees have been repatriated under the UNHCR assisted programme.

Dadaab which is 80km from Somalia’s border, was set up by UN in 1991 for Somalis fleeing violence and famine in their home country.

Terrorism: Why Dadaab refugee camp is no longer at ease

After the September 21 attack, calls for the expulsion of Somali refugees out of the country have dominated parliamentary debates and took hogs of space in the local and international media.

humanitarian crisis: Dadaab refugee camp in Northern Kenya, the largest refugee camp in the world.

humanitarian crisis: Dadaab refugee camp in Northern Kenya, the largest refugee camp in the world.

Nairobi, November 12, 2013 (The Star) –THE Dadaab refugee camp complex in Garissa County is home to almost half a million Somali refugees who fled their country due to two decades of civil war. The camps cover a total area of 50 square km and are within an 18km radius of Dadaab town. It comprises of Ifo1, Ifo2, Dagahaley and Hagadera camps.

Since its inception in the 1990s, the camps have been clouded in controversy ranging from smuggling of goods and weapons from the neighbouring Somalia to harbouring terrorists. But it is the latest terror attacks in the country that renewed claims that the camps house deadly gangs of terrorists that orchestrated and co-ordinated numerous attacks including the Westgate Mall attack that left 69 people dead and more than 200 injured.

After the September 21 attack, calls for the expulsion of Somali refugees out of the country have dominated parliamentary debates and took hogs of space in the local and international media.

The chairman of the Parliamentary Committee on Administration and National Security, Asman Kamama, said parliament is determined to push for the closure of Dadaab and Kakuma camps, describing it as a ‘nursery for terrorists’ despite strong opposition from human rights groups.

“The United Nations must understand the security of Kenyans comes first. Even if it is about human rights, it should not be at our expense,” said Kamama when he led the parliamentary committee members to the Westgate Mall.

Kakuma Refugee Camp

Kakuma Refugee Camp

“It is confirmed that quite a number of these crooks planned this terror attack from a refugee camp. Go back to Somalia or ask the United Nations to take them to another country. We don’t have a pact with Somalia on refugees,” Kamama, who is also the MP for Tiaty, added.

But a statement by the Cabinet Secretary for Interior Joseph Ole Lenku was even more harsh and damning. “Some of these refugees have abused our hospitality and kindness to plan and launch terror attacks from the safety of the refugee camps. This cannot and should not be allowed to continue,” while adding that the refugees “abused Kenya’s hospitality” after they were “welcomed with open arms”.

But are allegations levelled against refugees justified? Intelligence reports leaked recently have exposed the camps to suspicion and condemnation by some leaders and ordinary citizens who called for its closure.

Intelligence briefs, for instance, cite ‘Al Shabaab operatives’ who entered the country through Hagardera and Dagahley camp and planned ‘to kidnap and assassinate’ humanitarian staff, attack a church and a restaurant frequented by government officials.

The report further alleges that a businessman based in Hagardera is “facilitating the movements and training of Al-Shabaab operatives and explosives from Garissa to Nairobi”.

“About 33 al Shabaab militia aged between 20 and 23 from Somalia have entered the country through Hagardera and Dagahley refugee camps,” said the brief.

The intelligence sources also say that prominent Somali businessmen dealing in ‘illegal trade in sugar, drugs and weapons’ are working in cohorts with terror syndicates in the camps who are ‘determined to continue attacking security establishments’ in the country.

At the same time, the report says that the militant group dispatched to Kenya a group of 20 amniyats (the group’s elite intelligence unit) called Madax Jibshe (head breakers) ‘trained in assassinations by use of small arms’.

“They planned to first proceed to Hagardera refugee camp where they would be assisted by an amniyat facilitator,” say the intelligence source.

Somalia’s ambassador to Kenya, Mohamed Ali Nur, however, came to the defence of the refugees against accusations after fingers were pointed at them, saying they are also victims of terror and ‘unspeakable violence’.

“I really do not like what I see in the media saying that the refugees are terrorists. I can understand the feeling of the Kenyan government and the people of Kenya; the burden that these refugees have placed on them. But there are rules and laws that govern international refugees which say that refugees cannot be returned forcefully to where they came from,” he said.

“The refugees themselves have been victims. Some of them were killed, some women were raped and kids were killed,” he said.

Laban Osoro, the deputy executive director, Kituo Sheria, said Kenya must not punish all refugees for the criminal acts committed by few. “Can asylum or refugee status and Kenya security coexist, or for Kenya to be safe must refugees go?” he asked, adding that refugees and asylum seekers ‘are becoming an easy scapegoat’ for the fight against terrorism.

Osoro called on the security machinery to use intelligence reports in tackling terror attacks before hand, instead of collectively condemning genuine refugees who are too ‘victims of two decades old civil strife’.

Humanitarian agencies have maintained that all refugees are properly vetted and documented before being accepted into the camps.

Analysts say by expelling refugees, Kenya would have violated its international obligations. Kenya is a signatory to the 1951 UN Refugee Convention and its 1967 Protocol, as well as the 1969 OAU Refugee Convention. It is also a signatory to other international and regional human rights instruments that are relevant to refugee protection.

On the domestic front, the Refugee Act was also enacted in 2006 which paved the way for the establishment of the Department of Refugee Affairs which has assumed greater responsibility for refugee and asylum seekers in Kenya.

The department recently raised a storm when it announced the expulsion of refugees from urban centres back to camps and their subsequent repatriation to Somalia.

According to the UN refugee agency records, Kenya is hosting more than 500,000 refugees and asylum seekers, mainly from Somalia (83 per cent). Kenya also hosts refugees and asylum seekers from Ethiopia, South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, as well as Burundi, Eritrea, Rwanda and Uganda.

Source: New feed

Ethiopia activist charged after anti-govt Facebook posts

Ethiopia activist charged after anti-govt Facebook posts
Ethiopia activist charged after anti-govt Facebook posts


ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia, May 5 (AFP): The ex-spokesman for Ethiopia’s main opposition Blue Party has been charged with inciting violence and being a “ring leader” of a banned rebel group after he criticized the government on Facebook.

The ex-spokesman for Ethiopia’s main opposition Blue Party has been charged with inciting violence and being a “ring leader” of a banned rebel group after he criticized the government on Facebook.

It has its own language, Oromo, distinct from Amharic, the language of Ethiopia’s government.

Authorities consider Tesfaye’s writings as a call to rise up against the government and given the country’s tough anti-terror law he could face up to 15 years behind bars if convicted.

Tesfaye was until recently the Blue Party’s spokesman and comes from a generation of young activists determined to challenge the authoritarian regime that has ruled the nation for 25 years.

Yonatan Tesfaye, who has been jailed since December 2015, in one message accused the ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) of using “force against the people instead of using peaceful discussion with the public.”

He was referring to the authorities’ response to protests that have rocked the Oromia region in Africa’s second-most populous nation.

Home to some 27 million people, Oromia encircles Addis Ababa and stretches over large parts of the rest of the country.

It has its own language, Oromo, distinct from Amharic, the language of Ethiopia’s government.

The demonstrations began in November against a government plan to expand the boundaries of Addis Ababa into Oromia.

According to court records, Tesfaye was charged Wednesday with 11 counts including inciting violence “to disrupt the social, economic and political stability of the country.”

He is also accused of being a “ring leader of the far-left Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) to inflame demonstrations,” the court records said.

OLF is a banned separatist movement opposed to the Ethiopian government which police routinely blame for “terrorist” acts.

Authorities consider Tesfaye’s writings as a call to rise up against the government and given the country’s tough anti-terror law he could face up to 15 years behind bars if convicted.

Tesfaye was until recently the Blue Party’s spokesman and comes from a generation of young activists determined to challenge the authoritarian regime that has ruled the nation for 25 years.

“When people become popular and give a voice to the voiceless, (the government) charge them with fabricated charges and put them in jail,” Blue Party head Yilkal Getnet told AFP.

“This is what happened to Yonatan,” he added.

Since the overthrow of a Marxist junta in 1991, Ethiopia’s political and economic situation has stabilized, although rights groups have criticized the government for suppressing opposition.

Source: New feed

Interview with Ambassador Herman J. Cohen, former Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs

Interview with Ambassador Herman J. Cohen, former Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs
Interview with Ambassador Herman J. Cohen, former Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs

By: Kabir K. Gandhi

Ambassador Herman J. Cohen, former Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs

Ambassador Herman J. Cohen, former Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs

May 5 (APJ)–Earlier this month the Africa Policy Journal sat down with Herman J. Cohen, a former U.S. ambassador to several African countries, advisor to multiple U.S. Presidents, and a 38-year veteran of the U.S. Foreign Service. During his time in Africa, Cohen developed relationships with African leaders including South African President Nelson Mandela and Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi. In his time as Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs during the first President George Bush Administration, and through his role at the National Security Council under President Ronald Reagan, Cohen worked to bring about transitions of power in South Africa and Namibia, and to end long-standing conflicts in Angola, Ethiopia, and Mozambique. Currently, Cohen is the President and CEO of Cohen and Woods International and a consultant on Africa for Contour Global Electric Power. Though still keenly interested in the evolving African political climate, Cohen now focuses on bringing investment to Africa and strengthening U.S.-Africa trade relations.

Cohen discusses how U.S. policy towards Africa has changed and his upcoming book The Mind of the African Strongman. Below is an edited version of the conversation.

Q: What really interested you in Africa?
Cohen: I was a junior diplomat just getting involved in the late 1950s and it was just the time that a lot of African countries were becoming independent, mainly those colonized by the French and the British. So there I was in the State Department and told that I should specialize in something as the world grew increasingly complex. So I saw that all these countries were becoming independent and thought, ‘So what is going to be U.S. policy?’

Q: What were the U.S.’s objectives in trying to stabilize Ethiopia, Eritrea, Mozambique and the other countries facing political turmoil?
One of our objectives in mediating was trying to make sure that the ongoing governance situation was more democratic than non-democratic. So in Angola, one of the agreements in the peace deal was an election with the hope that it would lead on to more democracy. In Ethiopia, we urged the rebels who ended up on top to fix their democracy. In Mozambique, we helped establish a democracy, which has lasted to this day. So our objective was always a good- governance situation after the conflicts.

Q: In your book The Mind of the African Strongman, you discuss post-colonial figures leading nations post independence for better or for worse. You mention Gaddafi and Mandela, for example. How have these “Strongmen” shaped the Africa we see today?
Cohen: I think they made Africa lag behind for the most part. Some of the more selfish leaders didn’t only lead to non-democratic governance but also adoption of policies, both economic and political, that would guarantee progress that couldn’t compare to say South-East Asia.

Q: Has this corruption affected the way Americans view investment into Africa?
Cohen: I remember having dinner at the Ambassador’s house in Ghana, after I left government, and it was all Ghanaian businessmen. I asked them if they were all really investing, but they said they were waiting for Americans to invest, who they said would make them feel comfortable. But it’s the opposite in reality. Americans will only invest where they see local people investing. It’s still quite rare. Now you have Ford Motor Company starting a factory in Kenya, for example, where they feel comfortable and don’t feel like they’ll be harassed. It’s happening in Nigeria too, where you know that it’s only commercial issues that will decide if you make money or not. But I would say only twenty percent of the African continent is inviting to foreign investment.

Q: What do you see as a resolution to this issue? Be it in the form of policy or otherwise, how can the US encourage further foreign investment in the country?
Cohen: We have people in USAID and the World Bank who go in and study the situation and explain why Africa is deterring Western investors. There is the judicial issue and the corruption issue. Some governments don’t even know the issues their countries face. It is essential to encourage locals first and foreigners will then feel comfortable. That’s a heavy part of our good- governance objective.

Q: What do you see as some of the challenges the continent unilaterally faces?
Cohen: I would say the biggest issue is electricity, because you can’t really do anything without reliable power. You go to many large African cities and they have power outages that last 2-3 hours virtually every day and if you’re an investor that needs that power to keep your production going that’s an issue. So I give that the highest priority – and that’s what I’m working on now: how to get power into Africa via the private sector. The second is other forms of infrastructure, especially ports. For example, Ethiopia is having a major drought problem that has led to famine. Now ships are coming into their only close port, which is Djibouti, and they’ve taken forty days in waiting. And there are ports that are still operating like they were in 1950. These have to adapt now to handle these gigantic ships, especially for minerals. Thirdly, I would say are roads. What use is a port if you can’t transport materials from ports into the major cities? So the issues are mainly infrastructure-oriented, in addition to corruption and the lack of apt judicial processes.

Q: Will American companies and businesses be involved in this push to develop African energy and electricity infrastructure?
Cohen: They already are. In fact, I am Africa Political Risk Advisor to a New York company called Contour Global, which is a worldwide company that invests in power generation and the receiving country signs a contract to buy that power at a fixed price for twenty years. We now have started in five countries, Togo, Senegal, Rwanda, Mali and Nigeria.

Q: Does the infrastructure necessarily exist for disseminating that energy?
Cohen: That’s a good question, because it doesn’t always exist in a lot of countries, but everywhere the company has invested they have focused on selling the power to the consumer and figuring out how to get it there. But in other countries, Contour Global has said we can’t work here because there is simply no facility to transmit our product.

Q: Should Africa first develop a fully-fledged grid network of electricity or go straight to solar energy?
Cohen: I think you need both. The statistic is that 600 million people still don’t have access to electricity in Africa. So what do you do? Well, those who live in large cities or medium sized cities, they have grids but not enough production. So there you put in more generation. A good example is the city of Conakry in Guinea – a typical African country where the French left behind a small generation facility with unmaintained lines running throughout the city. So the World Bank came in and said, ‘We’ll fix the lines,’ and an Indian company came in and said, ‘We’ll install pay-first meters,’ and now the city never has any outages. For cities, you go back to the traditional generation of power and people pay for it. For people in the rural areas you have off- grid power – like small solar kits that they buy for $500 which enables them to have five light- bulbs and a television set. I think it’s essential that they equip themselves with off-grid electricity and eventually the main lines will reach them.

Q: How has the US government’s policy directed towards encouraging business in Africa changed?
Cohen: Well, the Clinton administration brought in a very innovative project called the African Growth and Opportunities Act which says that whatever African countries make, we’ll allow into the United States duty free, which is a tremendous advantage. Somebody in Madagascar can now make a ladies sweater far more cheaply than the Chinese could. This has not been a blockbuster project, but some of these countries have really benefitted a lot from it, like Lesotho, South Africa, and Tanzania.

Q: What has inhibited the African Growth and Opportunities Act from realizing its potential?
Cohen: If you are going to take advantage of this policy to its full extent you have to make things. In order to make things you need investors. So you expect that Americans would think they can get lots of cheap labor in Africa and import their goods into the United States, but because of the governance issues we’ve discussed, American investors say, ‘Let the Taiwanese investors build factories and we’ll give them big contracts.’ The Africans do benefit from a heavy uptake in employment, but are not benefitting as much as they could from real direct American investment.

Q: How do you see the difference between the Afro-Chinese and Afro-American business relationship?
Cohen: China has not seen Africa as a development destination, but the U.S. sees to it that businesses in collaboration with the government contribute to a development result. When the Chinese started their big expansion nearly twenty years ago they saw Africa as a vast treasure trove of commodities which they needed, except for bauxite. They needed iron ore, copper, diamonds, oil and all these other things. So they saw Africa as a barter area – they came in and asked the countries what they needed. ‘We need a road from the capital to the sea.’ The Chinese said they would send a road building company, but asked, ‘Can you guarantee us 100,000 tonnes of copper per year?’ That’s a fine approach, but there was not economic development rationale included. U.S. companies create not only jobs but also highly skilled individuals, like in the case of Chevron. The Chinese never do that. They bring in their own workers and then after the project is over, some workers stay and bring in Chinese goods for their retail shops that undercut local production. So when people tell me that China is undercutting the U.S., I disagree because our objectives are different.

Q: To close our discussion, I’d like to ask you a quite hotly debated topic. Do you think that foreign aid is more valuable than international trade?
Cohen: There’s a book that has made a lot of noise called Dead Aid, which was written by a Zambian economist. She argues that aid creates a dependency syndrome, so Africans get used to it. So therefore thing, ‘Why make an effort to do what is necessary to generate our own wealth?’ When you look at the budget of a lot of African countries you see that 30-40 percent is foreign aid, budgetary support. And so some argue that it is a disincentive for African political leaders to do what’s right. I tend to think there is something valid in that argument. So what I’m saying is let’s give notice to a lot of African countries that there are only ten more years of support. We will support you technically even after we stop our budgetary aid any way. However, I mentioned this to a congressman who said, ‘If you have no foreign aid, you have no foreign policy.’ So it’s a clash between good economic rationale and foreign policy. We want to make sure we still have an influence.

Brief overview of Ambassador Cohen’s career in the Foreign Service:

  • Senior Advisor, Global Coalition for Africa (1993-1998)
  • Assistant Secretary of State for Africa (1989-1993)
  • Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Africa, National Security Council (1987-1989)
  • Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Intelligence and Research (1980-1984)
  • U.S. Ambassador to Senegal, Gambia (1977-1980)
  • Director for Central African Affairs (Department of State) (1969-1974)
  • Chief of Mission, Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo (1968-1969)

Author bio: Kabir Gandhi, member of Harvard College Class of 2019, is Communications Chair and Vice President-elect for the Harvard Africa Business and Investment Club. Born in New York City, Gandhi has also lived in Mumbai, Hong Kong and most recently in London, where he attended the Harrow School. He is deeply interested in the development of emerging markets and government policy geared towards financial inclusion.

Source: New feed

Can aid reform end Ethiopia’s repeated hunger emergencies?

Can aid reform end Ethiopia’s repeated hunger emergencies?
Can aid reform end Ethiopia’s repeated hunger emergencies?


Debre Mekuria breastfeeds her malnourished baby in Seriel health centre in Ethiopia's northern Amhara region, Feb. 13, 2016. REUTERS/Tristan Martin

Debre Mekuria breastfeeds her malnourished baby in Seriel health centre in Ethiopia’s northern Amhara region, Feb. 13, 2016. REUTERS/Tristan Martin

NAIROBI, May 5 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Over the years, Ethiopian mother-of-three Hana Mekonnen has received all sorts of aid designed to free her from the bitter trap of poverty and hunger: goats, cash transfers, resettlement and, of course, sacks of grain.

None has worked.

Hana’s one-year-old son was diagnosed with malnutrition in October, usually a time of plenty in Ethiopia’s mountainous Amhara region, when the main harvest starts to come in.

The Horn of Africa nation’s worst drought in 50 years has left her destitute, reduced to arguing with neighbors over the allocation of aid rations.

“Because of the drought, we are all poor,” she said, seated in her dimly-lit hut with her child on her lap.

“No one in this village has anything to give their children. We all live on food aid.”

Hana blames God for failed rains, but development experts say her chronic poverty is the result of traditional farming methods, a soaring population and a lack of alternative sources of income.

Millions of farmers and herders across Africa have been pushed into crisis by drought this year, raising questions about the ability of aid to break the hunger cycle, despite a resolve to do so after famine killed 260,000 people in Somalia in 2011.

How to make people less vulnerable to natural disasters, and improving the aid response when they do strike, are key themes of the World Humanitarian Summit on May 23-24 in Istanbul.


Hana receives cash and food six months a year, in exchange for environmental work, like digging ponds and planting trees.

Ethiopia’s Productive Safety Net Programme (PSNP), set up in 2005, helps her through the ‘lean season’ between harvests, while also rehabilitating land and building roads, health posts and schools to tackle some of the underlying causes of poverty.

The scheme, administered by the government and largely funded by international donors, was set up to end the annual scramble for emergency funding to feed hungry Ethiopians, averaging 5 million a year in the decade before its launch.

It has made the provision of food aid more predictable and cheaper, helping to prevent the terrible famines that tarnished Ethiopia’s international image in the 1970s and 80s.

But it has not ended hunger.

“Ethiopia is, and has demonstrated itself to be, very effective at response,” said Laura Hammond, who heads the development studies department at the University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS).

“But there’s still this level of vulnerability and poverty that is persistent and that’s harder to turn a corner on.”

This year, one in five Ethiopians need food aid, with 8 million receiving support from the PSNP and another 10.2 million from a $1.4 billion humanitarian appeal.

By 2020, the project – Africa’s largest social safety net – will have cost donors $5.7 billion, raising questions about its sustainability.

“Ultimately, there does need to be a vision for this not being a donor-financed safety net,” Greg Collins, director of the Center for Resilience at the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

“We more and more need to be investing in creating opportunities that allow those who are able to graduate from the PSNP.”

Initial optimism about a rapid shift to self-sufficiency has been replaced with an acceptance that some Ethiopians will be dependent on aid indefinitely.


The busy roads, endless construction sites and new light railway snaking over Ethiopia’s capital are testament to the double-digit growth it has enjoyed for the last decade.

This growth has led to a dramatic drop in poverty rates, with the share of the population living below the poverty line falling from 56 to 31 percent between 2000 and 2011, according to World Bank data.

“Ethiopia is the darling of Africa at the moment,” said Lindsey Jones, a researcher with the London-based Overseas Development Institute. “Its economy is expanding massively.”

But deeper structural changes, like urbanization and industrialization, are needed to end poverty, experts say.

From the early 1990s, Ethiopia pursued an agriculture-led development strategy, under visionary strongman Meles Zenawi.

Increased use of fertilizer, better seeds and expert advice produced sharp increases in yields, benefiting the 92 percent of Ethiopians who, according to the World Bank, own land.

As Ethiopia’s population has doubled since the early 1990s, many people’s farms are often only half a hectare.

“There is no means to increase the landholding size,” said Mitiku Kassa, head of Ethiopia’s National Disaster Prevention and Preparedness Committee. “The only option is to increase the productivity of the land by using agricultural technologies.”

Each ward has three development agents, graduates in crop and animal sciences, who demonstrate to villagers how to increase their yields, he said.

But farmers remain vulnerable to poor rains, unlike workers in manufacturing and services jobs, which have proven critical in reducing poverty in countries like Bangladesh and Rwanda.

Ethiopia’s recent investment in the food processing, textile and flower industries is a step towards diversifying the economy away from its heavy dependence on farming, said SOAS’s Hammond.


The most popular buzzword among aid workers after the 2011 drought across the Horn of Africa was “resilience”, which means boosting people’s ability to bounce back from shocks like a failed harvest or a death in the family.

Projects that provide families with alternative sources of income, such as livestock, or loans to set up small businesses, can make them less vulnerable when disaster hits.

“What’s needed is more investment in action before droughts strike,” said Michael Mosselmans, head of humanitarian policy and practice for Christian Aid.

Every dollar spent on preparedness saves seven dollars in disaster aftermath, the United Nations says, but it is harder to generate enthusiasm for preventative projects than tackling visible crises, like starving children.

At the World Humanitarian Summit, Christian Aid is calling for 5 percent of aid to be spent on resilience and disaster preparedness, up from the current 0.4 percent.

Ethiopia is not holding its breath.

The government’s Mitiku says efforts to end hunger for women like Hana must be driven by Ethiopia itself.

“Emergencies will continue, in my view, as long as we are living with adverse climate change,” he said, drawing comparisons with drought-hit California.

“They are not appealing (for funds) because they have the capacity to respond. We expect Ethiopia to have such capacity to respond by itself… when we reach lower middle-income (status),” he said, a target it has set for 2025.

Source: New feed

Oduu gara garaa

Oduu gara garaa
Oduu gara garaa

Ethiopia Rated 1st Most Religous Cuntry in the World

According to this news statistic released by the Pew Research Center data and shared by the World Economic Forum, Ethiopia is the 9th country in the world with strong religious views. Blow is the full list

ODUU GADDAA Kamisa Guyyaa 27/8/2008 Arraa Sa.a 7:30 iraa eegalee magaalaa dirree dawaa keessatti balaa galaanattiin qabeenyahedduu kan akka makiinaa guuruu isaa agarreera fakkiin makiinaa kameraadhaaf nuuhinmijjoonye ture lubbuu galaanaan darbe amma duree ganaa hindhageenye hagasuu turtii gaarii

‪#‎OromoProtests‬ Harari People’s Regional Government have been warned not to go ahead with the plan of evicting thousands of Oromo farmers from their own land. We know this is TPLF’s cooked plan that is going to be implemented through your forgery administration to make the indigenous Oromo people homeless. It’s impossible to evict a single Oromo from his land if so the consequence is so expensive and unpleasant.
‪#‎OromoProtests‬ Naannoon Hararii gaafuma hundeeffamtu saniillee seeraab ala hundeeffamte. Naannoon Hundeeffamuuf abbaa qabeenyummaa lafaa, sabni irra jiraatu, afaan dubbatamuu fi fedhii ummata sanii irratti xiyyeeffachuun dirqamadha. Harariin gaafuma hundeeffamtullee ulaagaa kanaa fi kan biroollee hin guuttu, guutuufis hiree tokkollee hin qabdu. Lakkoofsa Manaa fi Ummataa bara 1999 ALI taasifameen ummanni Naannichaa 180,000 kan hin caalle yoo tahu kana keessaa 150,000 saba Oromooti. Oromootti aansee saba Amaaraatu hedduudha. Sabni Hararii lakkoofsaan muraasaa fi 8% ummata kanaa kan hin geenye yoo tahuu sunuu Oromoota Fadisii fi Jaarsoo irraa gara magaalaa Harar dhufanii bara Oromoon cunqursaa hamaa jala turee fi Oromummaa himachuu hin dendeenye Hararii(Adaree) himatee jiraachuu dirqametti Hararii ofiin jedhaniidha. Gabrummaan waan hin taane nama gooti. Adaree Oromoon lafa kenniteefii qubsiifteetu har’a wayyaanee dahoo godhatee Oromoo lafa kenneefii waggoota dheeraaf jiraachisaa ture hiraarsaa jira. Barana immoo warra Finfinnee irraa baratanii qonnaan jiraattota Oromoo lafarraa buqqaasanii lafa baballifachuu egalan. Oromoo ka’aa ni falmannaa

Source: New feed