Ethiopia Envisions Bolstering Relations with Allies, Engaging Disgruntled Countries in 2022: Spokesperson

Ethiopia’s vision for 2022 is to further bolster its relations with close allies and engage those countries that have been disgruntled and confused about the current situation in the country, Foreign Affairs Spokesperson Dina Mufti said.

According to the spokesperson, the year 2021 witnessed exceptional diplomatic and citizen-centered activities in withstanding undue and unwarranted pressures and standing together for the good of Ethiopia and its people.

The pressure on Ethiopia was mainly due to issues of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), law enforcement in the northern part of the country, and the border dispute between Ethiopia and Sudan, he added.

However, Ethiopia has overcome the pressure with the help of its strong people, efforts of Ethiopians living abroad, and close friends of Ethiopia, Dina underscored.

“Ethiopia’s vision for 2022 will engage our close friends to further strengthen our relations. We will also engage those countries who have been disgruntled and confused about the situation in the country and perhaps misled by false propaganda. …We will tell them what is exactly happening in the country and hope they will rectify their position and come along with us so that we can work together to benefit of our mutual interests.”

Speaking about the current situation in the northern part of the country, he stated that the latest provocations and shellings of Abeala in Afar region by the TPLF have continued to challenge the humanitarian supply process.

“The Government of Ethiopia would like to ask the international community to condemn this egregious act by the TPLF that puts the lives of many of our people in Tigray region in danger,” the spokesperson underlined.

The terrorist group’s attack on the humanitarian supply route shows its disregard for the people in Tigray and its profiteering attitude from creating and exacerbating the food crisis in the region.

The silence of Chief of the World Food Programme about the over 1,000 hijacked trucks by the TPLF, coupled with the indifference of the international community over the latest unwarranted provocations on humanitarian supply routes in the Afar region, are putting many lives in danger, Dina revealed.

Commenting on the report of the Human Rights Watch issued yesterday alleging about  mistreatment of thousands of ethnic Tigrayans deported from Saudi Arabia in the hands of the Ethiopian government, the spokesperson pointed out that the report is not only unsubstantiated but an irresponsible move aimed to discredit all the efforts that the Ethiopian government has been doing to relieve the pains of citizens that have returned from Saudi Arabia.

“We have repatriated more than 40,000 Ethiopians from Saudi Arabia in just a couple of months, regardless of ethnic group that they belong to.”

The report by the Human Rights Watch seems to accuse the Government of Ethiopia of not sending the returnees to the areas that have been affected by the conflict.

Advancing political interests at the cost of the returnees is beyond comprehension, the spokesperson noted.

He further revealed that Ethiopian diaspora and friends of Ethiopia are coming home in big numbers, following the call of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed.

Dina said they are here to express their solidarity with the people of Ethiopia and support the reconstruction effort.


Source: Ethiopia News Agency

Italy Eager to Enhance Bilateral, Multilateral Relations with Ethiopia: Ambassador Agostino Palese

Italy is keen to enhance bilateral and multilateral relations with Ethiopia, according to the newly appointed Italian Ambassador to Ethiopia Agostino Palese.

He noted that Ethiopia and Italy are friendly nations with longstanding and strong diplomatic ties.

In spite of the established trade, investment and cultural cooperation between the countries,  Italy is desirous to further strengthen the partnership to a higher level, the ambassador added.

Ambassador Palese pointed out that Italy wants the partnership to focus on areas that would help to ensure the benefits of the youth in Ethiopia and support the government’s development agenda.

The two countries will also work to address global challenges by enhancing multilateral cooperation, he stated.

The ambassador, who handed over his credentials to President Sahle-Work yesterday, further stated that Italy supports the efforts being made by the Government of Ethiopia to hold a national dialogue among the different segments of Ethiopians.

In this regard, the Government of Italy commends the recently established National Dialogue Commission by the House of People’s’ Representatives, he said.

Besides government-to-government engagement, the bilateral relations of Ethiopia and Italy are  based on people-to-people relationship.


Source: Ethiopia News Agency

Commission Urges Ethiopian Diaspora to Engage in Investment

Ethiopian Investment Commission has urged members of the diaspora to widely engage in the ample investment opportunities of Ethiopia.

An exhibition and a consultative forum which promotes investment opportunities in Ethiopia will be held from January, 11 to 14, 2022, it was learned.

Briefing the media today, Investment Commissioner  Lelise Neme said Ethiopia has plenty of investment opportunities and encouraging policy frameworks.

According to her, there is a conducive environment particularly for the diaspora to invest the   knowledge it had acquired over the years and resources in the country.

The commissioner further stated that there are Websites and social networking sites where the Diaspora can access and know the country’s growth and investment opportunities.

Stating investment opportunities in logistics, manufacturing, agro-processing, industry and ICT parks as well as health sectors, she said the diaspora can invest in any of those sectors and benefit.


Source: Ethiopia News Agency

Ethiopia Dismisses Accusations of Abusing Repatriated Tigrayans from Saudi Arabia

ADDIS ABABA  — Ethiopia’s government has dismissed a Human Rights Watch report that says authorities illegally detained, abused, and caused the forced disappearance of thousands of ethnic Tigrayans repatriated from Saudi Arabia.

Ethiopia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Thursday lashed out at the Human Rights Watch report that accuses the state of targeting ethnic Tigrayans recently repatriated from Saudi Arabia.

The rights group’s report accused authorities of detaining, abusing, and causing thousands of Tigrayans to effectively vanish in a sweep against illegal migrants.

Ministry spokesman Dina Mufti called the report unsubstantiated and an irresponsible move that aimed to discredit the government’s efforts to help citizens returned by Saudi authorities.

“We have repatriated more than 40,000 Ethiopians from Saudi Arabia in just a couple of months regardless of which ethnic group that they belong to,” Mufit said, according to a transcript of the briefing.

Ethiopia in January 2021 announced it had agreed with Saudi Arabia to repatriate 40,000 of its citizens detained in the country at a rate of 1,000 per day.

Human Rights Watch’s report Wednesday said 40% of returnees from November 2020 to June 2021 were Tigrayan.

The report said from June to July Saudi Arabia deported more than 30,000 Ethiopian citizens just as authorities were targeting ethnic Tigrayans.

The group’s refugee and migrant rights researcher Nadia Hardman said the Tigrayan returnees were detained in various parts of Ethiopia, beaten, and subjected to forced labor.

“Ethiopian authorities are persecuting Tigrayans deported from Saudi Arabia by wrongfully detaining and forcibly disappearing them,” Hardman said. “Saudi Arabia should stop contributing to this abuse by ending the forced return of Tigrayans to Ethiopia and allowing them to seek asylum or resettlement in third countries.”

The rights group also called on Ethiopian authorities to immediately release detained migrants and to stop profiling ethnic Tigrayans.

The report was based on interviews Human Rights Watch conducted with 23 alleged victims of the abuse.

Since the war broke out in November 2020 between Ethiopian federal authorities and those in the Tigray region, the government has denied discriminating against or targeting ethnic Tigrayans.

But reports from inside Ethiopia indicate authorities have subjected ethnic Tigrayans to arbitrary detentions, dismissal from official positions, and travel restrictions. Ethiopian government spokesperson Legesse Tulu told the Reuters news agency there were no ethnic-based prison facilities or places for deportees from other countries.

But he acknowledged many Ethiopians were detained on suspicion of aiding what he called terrorists, the Ethiopian government’s term for the Tigray Peoples Liberation Front. The TPLF have long ruled the Tigray region and ran the federal government for three decades until they were ousted from power in 2018.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Mufti on Thursday said Ethiopia plans to send a committee of officials, religious leaders, and other stakeholders to Saudi Arabia to discuss measures for its citizens who remain in detention.


Source: Voice of America

China to Appoint Horn of Africa Special Envoy

NAIROBI, KENYA — China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi has announced that Beijing will soon appoint a special envoy for the Horn of Africa. Wang’s announcement during a visit to Kenya on Thursday comes as the U.S. envoy to the Horn heads to Ethiopia, which has been struggling with over a year of war. The region has also seen setbacks from a coup in Sudan and an election stand-off in Somalia.

The visiting Chinese top diplomat said his country will appoint a special envoy to lead the peace process in the Horn of Africa.

Speaking in the coastal Kenyan city of Mombasa, Wang said his country will support the people of the Horn of Africa in finding peace.

He said it was important to have a consultation on equal footing and to put the destiny of this region firmly in its own people’s hands. He suggested countries in the region might convene a conference on the peace of the Horn of Africa. He added that in order to discuss this matter in depth, to share political consensus and to coordinate actions, China will appoint a special envoy to provide the necessary support for this process.

The plan to appoint a special envoy for a war-torn region is seen as part of China’s ambitious plan to play a role in the region’s politics and security.

The announcement comes as U.S. special envoy for the region Jeffrey Feltman is expected to visit Ethiopia in a renewed effort to end that country’s conflict.

China is among the countries suspected of supplying military hardware to the Ethiopian government, including drones.

Nasong’o Muliro, an international relations lecturer at the Technical University in Kenya, said China is turning from economic issues to military matters.

“Special representatives are not purely for trade. They do a lot of peace and security matters… But once China starts flexing its military power and having bases, then we may go to proxy wars,” Muliro said.

The U.S. Department of Defense, in its annual report to Congress on China’s military activities, said Beijing wants to establish military bases in Kenya and Tanzania, a claim denied by China.

Ethiopia is facing political instability after the government launched an offensive against rebels in the Tigray region in November 2020. The conflict has led to millions of people being displaced and tens of thousands dead. The 14-month-old war threatens to split the country.

Kenya’s Foreign Minister Raychelle Omamo said Wang and Kenyan officials also discussed trade issues during the foreign minister’s two-day visit.

“We signed an MOU (memorandum of understanding) and the establishment of a working group will look into the issues of tariff and non-tariff barriers to Kenya-China trade and to fast-track and increase exports from Kenya to China. Both sides also concluded and signed two protocols to facilitate bilateral trade, particularly in the export of avocados and aquatic products from Kenya to China,” Omamo said.

The Chinese delegation visited the Kipevu oil terminal in Mombasa, which cost $400 million to build.

Chinese money accounts for 67% of Kenya’s external debt, and many Kenyans fear the country may lose control of key facilities like the Mombasa port if Kenya fails to repay the loans.


Source: Voice of America

US Names New Horn of Africa Envoy

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Thursday named career diplomat David Satterfield as the new special envoy to the troubled Horn of Africa.

Satterfield, 67, who has experience in the Persian Gulf states, Lebanon and Iraq, most recently has served as ambassador to Turkey. He is replacing Jeffrey Feltman, another veteran diplomat, who had held the Horn of Africa posting, covering the countries of Somalia, Djibouti, Eritrea and Ethiopia, since last April.

In making the appointment, Blinken said, “Ambassador Satterfield’s decades of diplomatic experience and work amidst some of the world’s most challenging conflicts will be instrumental in our continued effort to promote a peaceful and prosperous Horn of Africa and to advance U.S. interests in this strategic region.”

The top U.S. diplomat said Feltman, 63, would continue to work at the State Department in an advisory capacity on African affairs.

In assessing his tenure in the Horn of Africa in November, Feltman pleaded for an end to the “violence, humanitarian catastrophe and atrocities in northern Ethiopia,” in the Tigray, Amhara and Afar regions.

The Ethiopian government has been at war with Tigray’s ruling TPLF party since November 2020.

“But we are also deeply concerned with violence and tensions elsewhere in Ethiopia,” Feltman said. “If not addressed through dialogue and consensus, these problems can contribute to the deterioration of the integrity of the state.”

Last month, the State Department also expressed concern about Somalia’s delayed elections and what it called “the procedural irregularities that have undermined the credibility” of those polls.


Source: Voice of America

Two children killed in airstrike on Tigray refugee camp

“Refugees are not and should never be a target”, UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi said on Thursday, following reports of a deadly airstrike on the Mai Aini refugee camp in Tigray, northern Ethiopia.

While UN refugee agency, UNHCR, continues to gather and corroborate details on yesterday’s attack that left three Eritrean refugees dead – two of them children – and four others injured, Mr. Grandi reiterated UNHCR’s call for all parties to the conflict to “respect the rights of all civilians, including refugees”.

“Refugee settlements must always be protected”, in line with international legal obligations that apply to all who take up arms, he said, offering his thoughts and deepest sympathies to the loved ones of those killed.

Fighting, looting, destruction

Meanwhile, the wider humanitarian crisis that has wracked Ethiopia, since hostilities began between Government forces and fighters of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) in November 2020, continues.

Some 5.2 million people currently need help in the northern regions of Tigray, Amhara and Afar.

Amidst allegations of widespread human rights abuses, thousands are feared killed as more than two million have been forced to flee their homes.

And over the past few months, killings, looting and destruction of health centres and farming infrastructure, including irrigation systems that are vital to production, have caused humanitarian needs to surge.

UN humanitarians report that the situation in the northern part of the country remains unpredictable and volatile.

In Tigray, the humanitarian situation continues to deteriorate, with tensions restricting the movement of humanitarian supplies along the only available route from Semera to Abala to Mekelle. No trucks carrying humanitarian supplies have been able to enter Tigray since 15 December”, UN Spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric told journalists on Thursday in New York.

Deliveries held up

Since 12 July, only 1,338 trucks have entered Tigray, which is less than 12 per cent of those required. Around 100 trucks must be admitted every day to meet the humanitarian need of people in Tigray.

As of 3 January, UN partners who have been distributing food in the region have only around 10,000 litres of fuel left, while at least 60,000 litres are needed to dispatch the limited food supplies that are currently available in Mekelle.

Several UN and non-Governmental organizations will be forced to cease operations if humanitarian supplies, fuel and cash are not delivered to Tigray very soon”, warned Mr. Dujarric.

People in need

UN humanitarian staff have reported that people continue to be displaced, including from Afar, Amhara, and the Western Zone of Tigray.

“People are also returning, along with those people needing food, water, sanitation and shelter”, said the UN Spokesperson. “Our partners continue to work with authorities to ensure that the returns are well planned, voluntary and dignified and that returnees have adequate support”.

Meanwhile, despite challenges, aid organizations continue to provide critical assistance.

In Amhara, more than 33,000 people received shelter and other aid during the past week, which Mr. Dujarric said brings the total number of people helped to 586,000.

However, while food distribution continues across the north, it remains well below the require levels.

We urgently call on all parties to allow unimpeded and sustained access to people in Tigray, Amhara and Afar”, concluded the UN official.


Source: United Nations