BY ENGIDU WOLDIE | ESAT NEWS
The diplomatic community in Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa expressed concern over the political turmoil as well as the crisis within the ruling EPRDF while a TPLF diplomat insists they should not worry about the situation and told them to “just calm down and do their job.”
The diplomats were speaking at a forum organized by the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa where its Acting Executive Secretary, Abdalla Hamdok, spoke on governance in Africa and Ethiopia’s situation, according to The Reporter newspaper published in Addis Ababa.
A representative from the British Embassy on the occasion inquired on the importance of the re-imposition of a state of emergency and was wondering who was in charge of political power in the country given the crisis within the ruling EPRDF and also given the fact that the Oromo representatives of the coalition seemed to push for reform in a Front that has been steer wheeled solely by the TPLF.
A former foreign minister, now special envoy to the Middle East, Seyoum Mesfin, who is also a founding member of the TPLF, argued the country needed the state of emergency for a “peaceful transition of power,” and that the resignation of the Prime Minister simply shows the “democratic process.”
The regime in Ethiopia declared a state of emergency in February, the second in two years, in what critics say was a move to rule by the military and legitimize the killing of anti-regime protesters and dissidents.
Scores of people were killed in the country’s Oromo region since the re-imposition of the martial law in mid-February.
Agazi security forces of the TPLF killed at least 13 and wounded scores of others a week ago in Moyale town, near the country’s border with Kenya. At least 40,000 people have reportedly fled to Kenya to escape the killings.
The state of emergency was decried by allies of the regime including the United States. The U.S. Embassy in Addis Ababa last month said it “strongly disagrees” with the decree and that only an inclusive political process was the solution to the political crisis facing the country.
Ethiopia has been in political turmoil for nearly three years with protesters in the Oromo and Amhara regions demanding the removal of the TPLF regime which they said have politically and economically marginalized the majority ethnic groups in favor of a minority Tigrayan elites.
The last three years have seen the death of hundreds, the detention of tens of thousands and the displacement of at least 1.2 million people.
Nearly 10,000 Ethiopians Seek Asylum in Moyale, Kenya Following Violence
“I was really scared, so I decided to cross the border with my family to Kenya for safety”
BY ROSA OGOLA | UNHCR
Balanish Tadese, an Ethiopian mother of two, walks through a makeshift refugee camp in Moyale, Kenya, with a bundle of personal belongings strapped to her back. Her 6-year-old son, Abdi, and 9-year-old daughter, Sarah, follow close behind, clutching personal belongings in their hands. They’re looking for something to eat or drink and somewhere to stay.
More than 80 percent of those that fled are women and children, nearly 1500 are under age 5, with one child being just 6 days old. There are over 600 expectant mothers. Some disabled and elderly persons also fled.
The asylum seekers are staying in two makeshift camps in the Somare and Sololo areas of Moyale. They are in urgent need of food, water, sanitation facilities, shelter, and some have medical needs.
UNHCR is leading and coordinating efforts to help, by providing blankets, soap, jerry cans, plastic sheets, tarpaulin, kitchen sets, mosquito nets and mats to meet the immediate needs of those that have arrived.
Tadese and others who fled with her say they are worried about the security situation back home, and fear being situated in camps close to the border with Ethiopia. So it’s not clear how long the asylum seekers might stay in Moyale.
The Kenyan Government is looking at reducing the number of makeshift camps, so UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency in Kenya, the Kenya Red Cross, and others can meet the needs of those that have arrived more effectively. UNHCR is also helping the Government of Kenya register the asylum seekers, while ongoing assessments are being made about what to do long term.
One of the challenges is that some of the asylum seekers are staying with relatives and friends in Moyale, so it’s difficult to know precisely how many more have fled and are affected, and what their needs might be.