About Prof. Muse Tegegne

Prof. Muse Tegegne has lectured sociology Change & Liberation in Europe, Africa, Asia, and Americas. He has obtained Doctorat es Science from the University of Geneva. A PhD in Developmental Studies & ND in Natural Therapies. He wrote on the problematic of the Horn of Africa extensively. And Lecture at Mobile University..
Website: http://ethiopianism.net
Prof. Muse has written 348 articles so far, you can find them below.

Eritrea, in the Horn of Africa’s fallen states Kaleidoscope…

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Friday November 20, 2009

Move at U.N. to sanction Eritrea over Somalia links

By Louis Charbonneau

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) – A draft U.N. Security Council resolution calls for an arms embargo against Eritrea and travel bans and asset freezes for members of its government and military for aiding Islamist insurgents in Somalia. The resolution, obtained by Reuters on Thursday, was drafted by temporary Security Council member Uganda and has been circulated to other members of the 15-nation panel, U.N. diplomats said. The United States and other council members accuse Eritrea of supplying al Shabaab rebels with money and weapons as they fight to topple the fragile U.N.-backed transitional government of Somali President Sheikh Sharif Ahmed, the official leader of the virtually lawless Horn of Africa nation. The fighting in Somalia has killed nearly 19,000 civilians since the start of 2007 and driven 1.5 million from their homes. Among the measures called for in the draft is a ban on all sales to Asmara of “weapons and ammunition, military vehicles and equipment, paramilitary equipment, and spare parts.” The draft also calls for a ban on providing Eritrea with “technical assistance, training, financial and other assistance, related to the military activities.” The Security Council, African Union (AU) and United States have all warned Asmara against destabilizing Somalia. Eritrea denies supporting al Shabaab and has said that the threat of U.N. sanctions is of “no concern at all.” A U.N. arms monitoring body — which was set up to record violations of a 1992 arms embargo on Somalia — has said Asmara was sending plane- and boatloads of munitions to Somali rebels, as well as providing them with logistical support. It was not clear when the council would vote on the resolution. Diplomats said it would need to be revised if it was to avoid a veto from China and Russia, which dislike sanctions in general. The resolution would authorize U.N. member states to inspect “all cargo to and from Somalia and Eritrea” via land and sea if there were grounds to suspect that the cargo included banned items. It would also impose a travel ban and freeze the assets of the “Eritrean political and military leadership” and other Eritrean individuals and firms suspected of supporting the hard-line Islamist rebels. Somalia has been mired in chaos for nearly two decades and there is little sign the latest attempt to establish central government is proving any more successful than the 14 previous efforts since a dictator was ousted in 1991.

Eritrea warns West against imposing sanctions

Thu Nov 26, 2009 1:16pm GMT
* U.N. reviewing sanctions against Asmara * Isaias says Somalia efforts are failing By Jeremy Clarke ASMARA, Nov 26 (Reuters) – Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki said the international community would regret moves to impose sanctions on the country, a government website said on Thursday. The U.N. Security Council is reviewing draft plans for punitive measures against the Red Sea state, which could include an arms embargo, travel bans and asset freezes for members of Eritrea’s government and military. The Asmara authorities are accused of backing an insurgency in Somalia by funnelling funds and weapons to rebels battling that country’s U.N.-backed transitional government. “The distorted and baseless anti-Eritrea accusations and intended measures in connection with the Somali issue would be a resort the authors and implementers stand to regret,” state-run website shabait.com quoted the president as saying. “There is no reason at all for Eritrea to send arms to Somalia where there exists huge arsenal of armaments for a long time and is still the centre of arms sales.” The president was critical of recent attempts to impose peace in the anarchic country. “The course being pursued by the international community in general and the forces directly involved in the Somali issue in particular has failed to bear any fruitful outcome,” he said. The draft proposes a ban on all sales to Asmara of “weapons and ammunition, military vehicles and equipment, paramilitary equipment, and spare parts”. It would also impose a travel ban and freeze the assets of political and military leaders and other Eritrean individuals and firms suspected of backing the hardline Islamist rebels. Some analysts fear sanctions would punish a population already hit by drought and the global economic crisis, and that it may prove a rallying cry for the government. But one Western diplomat defended the proposed measures. “They strike the right note between being too egregious to enforce upon a poor country, and being too soft to put any pressure on the government,” the diplomat said. “We shouldn’t underestimate the travel bans and asset freezes, this economy relies on the financial and moral support of the diaspora, which requires local officials drumming up support in other countries and carrying money back in.” Fighting in Somalia has killed nearly 19,000 civilians since the start of 2007 and driven 1.5 million from their homes. (Editing by Daniel Wallis and Victoria Main) ((Email: nairobi.newsroom@reuters.com; tel +254 20 222 4717)) (For more Reuters Africa coverage and to have your say on the top issues, visit: africa.reuters.com/)

———- ————– Mail & Guardian Online Oct 08 2008

Eritrea slams US over arms ban

Eritrea — in a government statement sent to Agence France-Presse on Wednesday — slammed the United States for imposing an arms ban over concerns that the Red Sea state was aiding terrorists in the region. Washington announced the ban on Monday, accusing Asmara of supporting “terrorist groups” in Somalia. “This unwarranted measure is purely prompted by the frustration of the US administration with the misguided policies it has been pursuing in Somalia, Ethiopia, Kenya and the Sudan,” the Eritrean Foreign Ministry said. Washington has in the past threatened to add Eritrea to its list of rogue states, which includes countries such as Iran, Syria, North Korea and Cuba. “US authorities could not substantiate the unfounded accusations they levelled against Eritrea in the past as a sponsor of terrorism. In the event, they have concocted this indirect ruse as a last-ditch effort to cover up their blunder,” the statement added. Ties between the two have been frosty over the past few years, with Asmara accusing the US of backing arch-foe Ethiopia in its border dispute with Addis Ababa, and Washington arguing that the small African state was backing Islamist groups in the region, an allegation denied by Eritrea. “In our region, groups and elements that the United States often dubs as terrorists are, in reality, those that Washington itself, and its surrogates in the Horn of Africa, employ for subversive activities,” it said. Last year, Eritrea banned USAid from operating in the country and imposed curbs on US diplomats in the country. In response, Washington closed Eritrea’s consulate in Oakland, California. — Sapa-AFP —————– ————-

Eritrea: Africa’s version of North Korea?

November 10, 2009

In this lonely corner of the world, the first sign of distress is the luggage. When one of the few international flights that are still operating here touched down one recent afternoon, the returning passengers emerged from baggage claim as if from a big shopping trip. Old metal trolleys squealed under the weight of mundane items: tires, a laptop computer, tubs of detergent and duffel bags crammed so tightly with food that tincans bulged through the fabric. The needs are acute in Eritrea, a narrow shard of sand and rock along the Red Sea that’s presided over by one of Africa‘s most secretive regimes. As its quixotic experiment in economic self-reliance falters, the Ohio-sized country of 5 million has slipped into its deepest political isolation in its 16 years of independence. The United States and others accuse President Isaias Afwerki of funneling arms and money to Islamist insurgents in Somalia and have threatened to slap him with sanctions. Analysts say Isaias is bent on wresting influence from Ethiopia – Eritrea’s large southern neighbor and adversary in a 30-year liberation struggle – and is backing several rebel groups across the chaotic Horn of Africa. Who needs allies? In a rare interview, Isaias dismissed the allegations as “fabrications” by Western interests – including his favorite bogeyman, the CIA – that traditionally have sided with Ethiopia. The pariah label has reinforced his belligerent attitude toward a world that long ignored Eritrea’s cries for independence, and one in which he now seems to have just one remaining friend, the wealthy Persian Gulf emirate of Qatar. “Why would you want to have allies?” the 63-year-old president told McClatchy. “It’s a sign of weakness.” A gruff, imposingly tall former guerrilla with a college professor’s wardrobe and a Ron Burgundy moustache, Isaias helped lead the liberation war and has never let go of power. A decade after a devastating border flare-up with Ethiopia that remains unresolved, he’s never held elections, banned opposition groups and independent media, and reportedly banished thousands of people to remote desert prisons where they languish without trial in “harsh and life-threatening conditions,” according to a State Department human rights report last year. In recent years, Isaias has seized U.N. World Food Program stockpiles and expelled or blocked most international relief organizations, claiming that his arid nation could produce enough food to feed all its people. Yet after consecutive poor harvests, and amid one of the worst hunger crises in East Africa in decades, the U.N. Food andAgriculture Organization warned last month that as many as two-thirds of Eritreans may be malnourished. Isaias rejected the report – “We have no shortage,” he said – but humanitarian groups say the government blocks them from accessing the areas that are thought to be the most affected. In the capital, Asmara, more and more children in frayed clothes and splotchy skin are begging on the streets, hinting at desperation in the countryside. “A year or two ago, you never saw that,” a diplomat said. “It means the safety net is failing.” Indefinite military service Perched atop a 7,600-foot plateau, sun-bathed Asmara is one of the continent’s safest and most alluring capitals, with wide, palm-fringed streets and splashes of colorful modernist architecture left over from Italian colonial rule. Below the surface, however, beats constant fear. No Eritreans would be quoted by name criticizing the president. The government, which some have likened to an African North Korea, controls people’s lives through a program of forced national service that requires all citizens to undergo military training and then assigns them indefinitely to army posts or civilian jobs, paying token wages. Men and women younger than 50 rarely get permission to leave the country, effectively meaning that the entire able-bodied population is on reserve duty. People who resist the service routinely are imprisoned and tortured, as documented in a 96-page report this year by Human Rights Watch, which found that Eritrean authorities had issued shoot-to-kill orders for anyone caught trying to jump the border without permission. “It’s for generations that we’re trying to build a nation and build an economy, and that requires sacrifice,” Isaias said. “National service may not be liked by everybody, even by the government, but it’s a necessity.” Surviving on remittances Yet even with these draconian measures, the country remains far from self-reliant. One-third of the economy, according to some estimates, consists of money sent home by Eritreans living overseas. The prodigious shopping on display at the airport – all carried by elderly travelers, the only ones eligible for exit visas – also suggests that Isaias’ gambit is failing. “People are losing patience everyday ”

Eritrea president says no hunger in 2010

13 Nov 2009 08:36:00 GMT
Source: Reuters
* All trade and investment permits reviewed next year * Aid agencies dispute President’s no hunger claim By Jeremy Clarke ASMARA, Nov 13 (Reuters) – President Isaias Afwerki said Eritrea would not suffer from hunger and food shortages in 2010, a government website reported. Hunger levels in Eritrea are ranked among the worst in the world by humanitarian organisations, with the agriculture-based economy affected by irregular rainfall. But the president said Asmara would meet the demands of those regions hardest hit. “The Government has drawn up plans towards ensuring no-hunger situation nationwide,” the state website Shabait.com reported the president as saying. “(The president) said that a time when the greater portion of the Horn of Africa is expected to face acute food shortage, there would exist no hunger in Eritrea in 2010,” it said. But the president, who was speaking in the coastal town Massawa, warned living standards in Eritrea could still fall due to illegal trade, black market currency exchange, and a lack of regular payment of taxes and customs duties. Isaias said all trade and investment permits currently in place would be reviewed in 2010. Projections made by various experts and humanitarian organisations are at odds with the claim that the Red Sea state will be free from hunger next year. Last month, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation estimated as many as two in every three Eritreans were malnourished, the second highest percentage in the world after the war-ravaged Democratic Republic of Congo. Analysts fear any widespread acute hunger in the country would be difficult to arrest because of the travel restrictions Asmara places on humanitarian organisations. East Africa is facing a devastating drought. Aid agencies estimate 23 million are in danger, with 13.7 million in neighbouring Ethiopia at risk of severe hunger. (Editing by Giles Elgood)

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-Eritrea denies aiding Somalia’s Islamist rebels

01 Dec 2009 18:24:49 GMT
Source: Reuters
* Eritrean envoy says no justification for UN sanctions * Envoy urges UN council to take up its Ethiopia dispute By Louis Charbonneau UNITED NATIONS, Dec 1 (Reuters) – Eritrea’s U.N. envoy denied that his country has been supporting Islamist rebels intent on toppling neighboring Somalia’s fragile government and said there was no reason to sanction Asmara. Ambassador Araya Desta was reacting to a Ugandan-drafted resolution circulated to members of the U.N. Security Council that would impose sanctions against the Red Sea state, including an arms embargo, travel bans and asset freezes for members of Eritrea’s government and military. [ID:nN19531413] The United States and other council members accuse Eritrea of supplying al Shabaab rebels with money and weapons as they fight to topple the U.N.-backed transitional government of Somali President Sheikh Sharif Ahmed, the official leader of the virtually lawless Horn of Africa nation. “The draft resolution is based on unfounded accusations against Eritrea on the issue of Somalia,” Desta said in a letter to the Security Council made public on Tuesday. “Eritrea does not favor or support a military solution, as it is convinced that there can be no military settlement in Somalia,” he said. “Nor does Eritrea favor one party as opposed to another. It does not work with one against others.” Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki said last week that the international community would regret any moves to impose sanctions on the country. In his letter, Desta hinted that Eritrea believes al Shabaab should be part of any future political solution for its neighbor in the Horn of Africa. “Eritrea firmly holds that a durable and sustainable solution requires the participation of all key Somali actors in an inclusive political process,” he said. It is unclear when the council will vote on the resolution, if at all. Diplomats say changes will be needed to avoid a veto from China and Russia, which dislike sanctions in general. Fighting in Somalia has killed nearly 19,000 civilians since the start of 2007 and made 1.5 million homeless. A U.N. arms monitoring body, set up to record violations of a 1992 arms embargo on Somalia, has said Asmara is sending plane- and boatloads of munitions to Somali rebels, as well as providing them with logistical support. Somalia has been mired in chaos for nearly two decades and there is little sign the latest attempt to establish a central government is proving any more successful than the 14 previous efforts since a dictator was ousted in 1991. Desta also urged the Security Council “not to ignore the real issue behind many conflicts in our region” — namely its long-running border dispute with Ethiopia, with which it fought a 1998-2000 border war that killed 70,000 people. The envoy said council members must act against breaches of international law by Ethiopia and take steps “to ensure that Ethiopia … withdraws its troops from sovereign Eritrean territories that it is illegally occupying.” (Editing by Vicki Allen) ((louis.charbonneau@thomsonreuters.com; +1 212 355 6053; Reuters Messaging: louis.charbonneau.reuters.com@reuters.net))

US Threatens to Invade Eritrea

“President Obama Cannot Afford to Look Weak on Terrorism” by Jason Ditz, April 17, 2009 The United States has reportedly threatened to invade Eritrea and subject it to “the same fate as Taliban-controlled Afghanistan in the wake of the September 11 attacks” for providing support to the al-Shabaab resistance movement in Somalia, which the US has since attempted to link with al-Qaeda. The Daily Telegraph quotes one source as saying “There are consequences for working with al-Shabaab when President Obama cannot afford to look weak on terrorism.” Situated along the Red Sea, the State of Eritrea is a nation of under 5 million people with a long history of foreign occupation. Bought by an Italian shipping company in 1869, the region remained under Italian rule until 1941, when Britain took control of them. British control was formalized under UN auspices in 1947, and the United Nations ceded the region to Ethiopia. What followed was a particularly bloodly 30-year long battle of secession between Ethiopia and an Eritrean rebel faction (the Eritrean Liberation Front), which ended in 1993 when Ethiopia finally gave in to demands for an independence referrendum, which passed with 99.79% of the votes in favor. Eritrea has remained on poor terms with Ethiopia since, fighting a border war which ended with the installation of a UN commission to establish the still tenuous border between the two. In 2006, Ethiopia invaded Somalia with American support, vowing to crush the Islamic Courts Union (ICU) movement and prop up the self-proclaimed Transitional National Government (TNG) of Somalia, which had recently been chased from a Kenya hotel for failing to pay their bills and was attempting to assert control over the stateless region. Eritrea backed the ICU, and later the al-Shabaab movement ostensibly to repay Somali support for their own independence bid. Though the TNG remained on the verge of collapse, Ethiopia declared “mission accomplished” in December of 2008, withdrawing its troops and claiming it had foiled a “plan orchestrated by Eritrea.” The Bush Administration attempted to have Eritrea declared a “state-sponsor of terrorism” numerous times for backing forces in opposition to the Ethiopian invasion of Somalia. Eritrea publicly denounced “foreign intervention” in Somalia and said the Ethiopian pullout had vindicated their position that military occupation would not stabilize the nation. Eritrean President Isaias Afewerki remains defiant, saying he will continue to oppose the Western-backed TNG’s attempt to assert control over the nation. “There is no government, there is not even a naiton of Somalia existing,” the president insisted, calling for a peace conference in which all parties, including those branded by the US and Ethiopia as “extremists” would have a voice. “Peace is not guaranteed without a government agreed by all Somalis.”

Eritrea, in the Horn of Africa’s fallen states Kaleidoscope…



Friday November 20, 2009

Move at U.N. to sanction Eritrea over Somalia links

By Louis Charbonneau

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) – A draft U.N. Security Council resolution calls for an arms embargo against Eritrea and travel bans and asset freezes for members of its government and military for aiding Islamist insurgents in Somalia. The resolution, obtained by Reuters on Thursday, was drafted by temporary Security Council member Uganda and has been circulated to other members of the 15-nation panel, U.N. diplomats said. The United States and other council members accuse Eritrea of supplying al Shabaab rebels with money and weapons as they fight to topple the fragile U.N.-backed transitional government of Somali President Sheikh Sharif Ahmed, the official leader of the virtually lawless Horn of Africa nation. The fighting in Somalia has killed nearly 19,000 civilians since the start of 2007 and driven 1.5 million from their homes. Among the measures called for in the draft is a ban on all sales to Asmara of “weapons and ammunition, military vehicles and equipment, paramilitary equipment, and spare parts.” The draft also calls for a ban on providing Eritrea with “technical assistance, training, financial and other assistance, related to the military activities.” The Security Council, African Union (AU) and United States have all warned Asmara against destabilizing Somalia. Eritrea denies supporting al Shabaab and has said that the threat of U.N. sanctions is of “no concern at all.” A U.N. arms monitoring body — which was set up to record violations of a 1992 arms embargo on Somalia — has said Asmara was sending plane- and boatloads of munitions to Somali rebels, as well as providing them with logistical support. It was not clear when the council would vote on the resolution. Diplomats said it would need to be revised if it was to avoid a veto from China and Russia, which dislike sanctions in general. The resolution would authorize U.N. member states to inspect “all cargo to and from Somalia and Eritrea” via land and sea if there were grounds to suspect that the cargo included banned items. It would also impose a travel ban and freeze the assets of the “Eritrean political and military leadership” and other Eritrean individuals and firms suspected of supporting the hard-line Islamist rebels. Somalia has been mired in chaos for nearly two decades and there is little sign the latest attempt to establish central government is proving any more successful than the 14 previous efforts since a dictator was ousted in 1991.

Eritrea warns West against imposing sanctions

Thu Nov 26, 2009 1:16pm GMT
* U.N. reviewing sanctions against Asmara * Isaias says Somalia efforts are failing By Jeremy Clarke ASMARA, Nov 26 (Reuters) – Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki said the international community would regret moves to impose sanctions on the country, a government website said on Thursday. The U.N. Security Council is reviewing draft plans for punitive measures against the Red Sea state, which could include an arms embargo, travel bans and asset freezes for members of Eritrea’s government and military. The Asmara authorities are accused of backing an insurgency in Somalia by funnelling funds and weapons to rebels battling that country’s U.N.-backed transitional government. “The distorted and baseless anti-Eritrea accusations and intended measures in connection with the Somali issue would be a resort the authors and implementers stand to regret,” state-run website shabait.com quoted the president as saying. “There is no reason at all for Eritrea to send arms to Somalia where there exists huge arsenal of armaments for a long time and is still the centre of arms sales.” The president was critical of recent attempts to impose peace in the anarchic country. “The course being pursued by the international community in general and the forces directly involved in the Somali issue in particular has failed to bear any fruitful outcome,” he said. The draft proposes a ban on all sales to Asmara of “weapons and ammunition, military vehicles and equipment, paramilitary equipment, and spare parts”. It would also impose a travel ban and freeze the assets of political and military leaders and other Eritrean individuals and firms suspected of backing the hardline Islamist rebels. Some analysts fear sanctions would punish a population already hit by drought and the global economic crisis, and that it may prove a rallying cry for the government. But one Western diplomat defended the proposed measures. “They strike the right note between being too egregious to enforce upon a poor country, and being too soft to put any pressure on the government,” the diplomat said. “We shouldn’t underestimate the travel bans and asset freezes, this economy relies on the financial and moral support of the diaspora, which requires local officials drumming up support in other countries and carrying money back in.” Fighting in Somalia has killed nearly 19,000 civilians since the start of 2007 and driven 1.5 million from their homes. (Editing by Daniel Wallis and Victoria Main) ((Email: nairobi.newsroom@reuters.com; tel +254 20 222 4717)) (For more Reuters Africa coverage and to have your say on the top issues, visit: africa.reuters.com/)

———- ————– Mail & Guardian Online Oct 08 2008

Eritrea slams US over arms ban

Eritrea — in a government statement sent to Agence France-Presse on Wednesday — slammed the United States for imposing an arms ban over concerns that the Red Sea state was aiding terrorists in the region. Washington announced the ban on Monday, accusing Asmara of supporting “terrorist groups” in Somalia. “This unwarranted measure is purely prompted by the frustration of the US administration with the misguided policies it has been pursuing in Somalia, Ethiopia, Kenya and the Sudan,” the Eritrean Foreign Ministry said. Washington has in the past threatened to add Eritrea to its list of rogue states, which includes countries such as Iran, Syria, North Korea and Cuba. “US authorities could not substantiate the unfounded accusations they levelled against Eritrea in the past as a sponsor of terrorism. In the event, they have concocted this indirect ruse as a last-ditch effort to cover up their blunder,” the statement added. Ties between the two have been frosty over the past few years, with Asmara accusing the US of backing arch-foe Ethiopia in its border dispute with Addis Ababa, and Washington arguing that the small African state was backing Islamist groups in the region, an allegation denied by Eritrea. “In our region, groups and elements that the United States often dubs as terrorists are, in reality, those that Washington itself, and its surrogates in the Horn of Africa, employ for subversive activities,” it said. Last year, Eritrea banned USAid from operating in the country and imposed curbs on US diplomats in the country. In response, Washington closed Eritrea’s consulate in Oakland, California. — Sapa-AFP —————– ————-

Eritrea: Africa’s version of North Korea?

November 10, 2009

In this lonely corner of the world, the first sign of distress is the luggage. When one of the few international flights that are still operating here touched down one recent afternoon, the returning passengers emerged from baggage claim as if from a big shopping trip. Old metal trolleys squealed under the weight of mundane items: tires, a laptop computer, tubs of detergent and duffel bags crammed so tightly with food that tincans bulged through the fabric. The needs are acute in Eritrea, a narrow shard of sand and rock along the Red Sea that’s presided over by one of Africa‘s most secretive regimes. As its quixotic experiment in economic self-reliance falters, the Ohio-sized country of 5 million has slipped into its deepest political isolation in its 16 years of independence. The United States and others accuse President Isaias Afwerki of funneling arms and money to Islamist insurgents in Somalia and have threatened to slap him with sanctions. Analysts say Isaias is bent on wresting influence from Ethiopia – Eritrea’s large southern neighbor and adversary in a 30-year liberation struggle – and is backing several rebel groups across the chaotic Horn of Africa. Who needs allies? In a rare interview, Isaias dismissed the allegations as “fabrications” by Western interests – including his favorite bogeyman, the CIA – that traditionally have sided with Ethiopia. The pariah label has reinforced his belligerent attitude toward a world that long ignored Eritrea’s cries for independence, and one in which he now seems to have just one remaining friend, the wealthy Persian Gulf emirate of Qatar. “Why would you want to have allies?” the 63-year-old president told McClatchy. “It’s a sign of weakness.” A gruff, imposingly tall former guerrilla with a college professor’s wardrobe and a Ron Burgundy moustache, Isaias helped lead the liberation war and has never let go of power. A decade after a devastating border flare-up with Ethiopia that remains unresolved, he’s never held elections, banned opposition groups and independent media, and reportedly banished thousands of people to remote desert prisons where they languish without trial in “harsh and life-threatening conditions,” according to a State Department human rights report last year. In recent years, Isaias has seized U.N. World Food Program stockpiles and expelled or blocked most international relief organizations, claiming that his arid nation could produce enough food to feed all its people. Yet after consecutive poor harvests, and amid one of the worst hunger crises in East Africa in decades, the U.N. Food andAgriculture Organization warned last month that as many as two-thirds of Eritreans may be malnourished. Isaias rejected the report – “We have no shortage,” he said – but humanitarian groups say the government blocks them from accessing the areas that are thought to be the most affected. In the capital, Asmara, more and more children in frayed clothes and splotchy skin are begging on the streets, hinting at desperation in the countryside. “A year or two ago, you never saw that,” a diplomat said. “It means the safety net is failing.” Indefinite military service Perched atop a 7,600-foot plateau, sun-bathed Asmara is one of the continent’s safest and most alluring capitals, with wide, palm-fringed streets and splashes of colorful modernist architecture left over from Italian colonial rule. Below the surface, however, beats constant fear. No Eritreans would be quoted by name criticizing the president. The government, which some have likened to an African North Korea, controls people’s lives through a program of forced national service that requires all citizens to undergo military training and then assigns them indefinitely to army posts or civilian jobs, paying token wages. Men and women younger than 50 rarely get permission to leave the country, effectively meaning that the entire able-bodied population is on reserve duty. People who resist the service routinely are imprisoned and tortured, as documented in a 96-page report this year by Human Rights Watch, which found that Eritrean authorities had issued shoot-to-kill orders for anyone caught trying to jump the border without permission. “It’s for generations that we’re trying to build a nation and build an economy, and that requires sacrifice,” Isaias said. “National service may not be liked by everybody, even by the government, but it’s a necessity.” Surviving on remittances Yet even with these draconian measures, the country remains far from self-reliant. One-third of the economy, according to some estimates, consists of money sent home by Eritreans living overseas. The prodigious shopping on display at the airport – all carried by elderly travelers, the only ones eligible for exit visas – also suggests that Isaias’ gambit is failing. “People are losing patience everyday ”

Eritrea president says no hunger in 2010

13 Nov 2009 08:36:00 GMT
Source: Reuters
* All trade and investment permits reviewed next year * Aid agencies dispute President’s no hunger claim By Jeremy Clarke ASMARA, Nov 13 (Reuters) – President Isaias Afwerki said Eritrea would not suffer from hunger and food shortages in 2010, a government website reported. Hunger levels in Eritrea are ranked among the worst in the world by humanitarian organisations, with the agriculture-based economy affected by irregular rainfall. But the president said Asmara would meet the demands of those regions hardest hit. “The Government has drawn up plans towards ensuring no-hunger situation nationwide,” the state website Shabait.com reported the president as saying. “(The president) said that a time when the greater portion of the Horn of Africa is expected to face acute food shortage, there would exist no hunger in Eritrea in 2010,” it said. But the president, who was speaking in the coastal town Massawa, warned living standards in Eritrea could still fall due to illegal trade, black market currency exchange, and a lack of regular payment of taxes and customs duties. Isaias said all trade and investment permits currently in place would be reviewed in 2010. Projections made by various experts and humanitarian organisations are at odds with the claim that the Red Sea state will be free from hunger next year. Last month, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation estimated as many as two in every three Eritreans were malnourished, the second highest percentage in the world after the war-ravaged Democratic Republic of Congo. Analysts fear any widespread acute hunger in the country would be difficult to arrest because of the travel restrictions Asmara places on humanitarian organisations. East Africa is facing a devastating drought. Aid agencies estimate 23 million are in danger, with 13.7 million in neighbouring Ethiopia at risk of severe hunger. (Editing by Giles Elgood)

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-Eritrea denies aiding Somalia’s Islamist rebels

01 Dec 2009 18:24:49 GMT
Source: Reuters

* Eritrean envoy says no justification for UN sanctions * Envoy urges UN council to take up its Ethiopia dispute By Louis Charbonneau UNITED NATIONS, Dec 1 (Reuters) – Eritrea’s U.N. envoy denied that his country has been supporting Islamist rebels intent on toppling neighboring Somalia’s fragile government and said there was no reason to sanction Asmara. Ambassador Araya Desta was reacting to a Ugandan-drafted resolution circulated to members of the U.N. Security Council that would impose sanctions against the Red Sea state, including an arms embargo, travel bans and asset freezes for members of Eritrea’s government and military. [ID:nN19531413] The United States and other council members accuse Eritrea of supplying al Shabaab rebels with money and weapons as they fight to topple the U.N.-backed transitional government of Somali President Sheikh Sharif Ahmed, the official leader of the virtually lawless Horn of Africa nation. “The draft resolution is based on unfounded accusations against Eritrea on the issue of Somalia,” Desta said in a letter to the Security Council made public on Tuesday. “Eritrea does not favor or support a military solution, as it is convinced that there can be no military settlement in Somalia,” he said. “Nor does Eritrea favor one party as opposed to another. It does not work with one against others.” Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki said last week that the international community would regret any moves to impose sanctions on the country. In his letter, Desta hinted that Eritrea believes al Shabaab should be part of any future political solution for its neighbor in the Horn of Africa. “Eritrea firmly holds that a durable and sustainable solution requires the participation of all key Somali actors in an inclusive political process,” he said. It is unclear when the council will vote on the resolution, if at all. Diplomats say changes will be needed to avoid a veto from China and Russia, which dislike sanctions in general. Fighting in Somalia has killed nearly 19,000 civilians since the start of 2007 and made 1.5 million homeless. A U.N. arms monitoring body, set up to record violations of a 1992 arms embargo on Somalia, has said Asmara is sending plane- and boatloads of munitions to Somali rebels, as well as providing them with logistical support. Somalia has been mired in chaos for nearly two decades and there is little sign the latest attempt to establish a central government is proving any more successful than the 14 previous efforts since a dictator was ousted in 1991. Desta also urged the Security Council “not to ignore the real issue behind many conflicts in our region” — namely its long-running border dispute with Ethiopia, with which it fought a 1998-2000 border war that killed 70,000 people. The envoy said council members must act against breaches of international law by Ethiopia and take steps “to ensure that Ethiopia … withdraws its troops from sovereign Eritrean territories that it is illegally occupying.” (Editing by Vicki Allen) ((louis.charbonneau@thomsonreuters.com; +1 212 355 6053; Reuters Messaging: louis.charbonneau.reuters.com@reuters.net))

US Threatens to Invade Eritrea

“President Obama Cannot Afford to Look Weak on Terrorism” by Jason Ditz, April 17, 2009 The United States has reportedly threatened to invade Eritrea and subject it to “the same fate as Taliban-controlled Afghanistan in the wake of the September 11 attacks” for providing support to the al-Shabaab resistance movement in Somalia, which the US has since attempted to link with al-Qaeda. The Daily Telegraph quotes one source as saying “There are consequences for working with al-Shabaab when President Obama cannot afford to look weak on terrorism.” Situated along the Red Sea, the State of Eritrea is a nation of under 5 million people with a long history of foreign occupation. Bought by an Italian shipping company in 1869, the region remained under Italian rule until 1941, when Britain took control of them. British control was formalized under UN auspices in 1947, and the United Nations ceded the region to Ethiopia. What followed was a particularly bloodly 30-year long battle of secession between Ethiopia and an Eritrean rebel faction (the Eritrean Liberation Front), which ended in 1993 when Ethiopia finally gave in to demands for an independence referrendum, which passed with 99.79% of the votes in favor. Eritrea has remained on poor terms with Ethiopia since, fighting a border war which ended with the installation of a UN commission to establish the still tenuous border between the two. In 2006, Ethiopia invaded Somalia with American support, vowing to crush the Islamic Courts Union (ICU) movement and prop up the self-proclaimed Transitional National Government (TNG) of Somalia, which had recently been chased from a Kenya hotel for failing to pay their bills and was attempting to assert control over the stateless region. Eritrea backed the ICU, and later the al-Shabaab movement ostensibly to repay Somali support for their own independence bid. Though the TNG remained on the verge of collapse, Ethiopia declared “mission accomplished” in December of 2008, withdrawing its troops and claiming it had foiled a “plan orchestrated by Eritrea.” The Bush Administration attempted to have Eritrea declared a “state-sponsor of terrorism” numerous times for backing forces in opposition to the Ethiopian invasion of Somalia. Eritrea publicly denounced “foreign intervention” in Somalia and said the Ethiopian pullout had vindicated their position that military occupation would not stabilize the nation. Eritrean President Isaias Afewerki remains defiant, saying he will continue to oppose the Western-backed TNG’s attempt to assert control over the nation. “There is no government, there is not even a naiton of Somalia existing,” the president insisted, calling for a peace conference in which all parties, including those branded by the US and Ethiopia as “extremists” would have a voice. “Peace is not guaranteed without a government agreed by all Somalis.”

Ethiopian Land Grab:- Ethiopia afford to sell Land while starving it’s people to death … A New Land Rush For Africa After 125 years from African Scramble in Berlin

Ethiopians Rise and Fight for  Your land !!!

Mohammed Ali Al-Amoudi The criminal who sold Ethiopian farm land to the Saudis shows his true animosity to Ethiopia at last… by intriguing and revealing his true identity… He is showing rice sample to Saudis while the Ethiopians are starving to death. He became the agent of death for the starving Ethiopians … a wolf in goat skin the enemy of the  starving Ethiopians… We demand intimidately  the Soudis rather invest  to help Ethiopians not to starve them by taking their fertile lands and immidately needed food for the 20 million  strong  starving hungry Ethiopians………… the coming  new government which will be the government of the people in Ethiopia will not respect the land Grab Deal of  Ali Al-Amoudi & Melese Zenawi regime in Addis Ababa… Be ware and be careful where you put your money in vain…

I

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25 Years ago of Band Aide Ethiopia is Worst even today losing their land  for the  Grabber  Amoudi…

India joins ‘neocolonial’ rush for Africa’s land and labour

India, once the colonial jewel of Britain’s empire, has been accused of ‘neo-colonialism’ in Africa where its business people have joined a race with China, Saudi Arabia and elsewhere to buy up agricultural estates and take advantage of cheap labour.

By Dean Nelson in New Delhi

Published: 1:46PM BST 28 Jun 2009

Indian farming companies have bought hundreds of thousands of hectares in Ethiopia, Kenya, Madagascar, Senegal and Mozambique, where they are growing rice, sugar cane, maize and lentils for their own domestic market back in India.

Its government has given soft loans as aid to support the overseas ventures in what has been described as a challenge to China and Saudi Arabia in the new scramble for Africa. China, South Korea, and a several Arab countries have led the way in creating new African mega-farms to outsource domestic food production and use cheaper labour.

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Critics have described the development as modern “piracy” and “land grabbing” from countries that have in the past been blighted by famine and severe food shortages.

South Korea has bought just under 700,000 hectares in Sudan, while Saudi Arabia has signed a deal for 500,000 hectares in Tanzania.

India is now catching up fast with its government offering financial incentives for companies to produce food in Ethiopia and other African countries. Pulses, cooking oils and maize are in short supply in India.

More than 80 Indian companies have invested an estimated £1.5 billion in buying huge plantations in Ethiopia. The largest among them is Karuturi Global, one of the world’s largest producers of cut roses. It has signed deals for just under 350,000 hectares to create what it claims is the world’s largest agricultural land-bank. The Bangalore-based company, which has also bought farm land in Kenya, is growing sugar cane, palm oil, rice and vegetables.

Indian farming is dominated by small, family-run holdings, bullock cart transport, and legions of middlemen. The slow, cumbersome system is cited as the main reason why a large proportion of Indian produce rots before it ever reaches the market – the annual loss is valued at up to £6 billion.

So Indian companies see in Africa the possibility to build more efficient and far larger agricultural operations. This is an separate motivation from that of many Arab countries that buy African land to produce food that their homelands cannot.

Raju Poosapati, Vice President of India’s Yes Bank, which advises investors in Africa, said a government ban on non-Basmati rice exports had driven Indian companies to grow it in Africa to sell overseas. Indians are now eating more meat and that has led many companies to grow maize animal feed in Africa as there are no government incentives for Indian farmers to grow it at home.

Sharad Pawar, India’s agriculture minister, rejected claims that the government supported a new colonisation of African farmland. “Some companies are interested in buying agricultural land for sugar cane and then selling it on the international markets. It’s business, nothing more,” he told The Daily Telegraph.

Government documents meanwhile show the details of official support, and just of under £500 million in soft loans to encourage African countries to export food to India. New Delhi has also cut import duties for food produced in Ethiopia.

A report by the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation said more than 2.5 hectares of African land had been bought by foreign companies since 2004 and voiced concerns that poor villagers might be ousted to make way for investments. It also said it feared some of the deals may be open to corruption.

Devinder Sharma of India’s Forum for Biotechnology and Food Security said the companies buying up land to export food from Africa were “food pirates” and compared them with the English companies that shipped food from Ireland during the 19th century potato famine.

“There are 80 Indian companies trying to get land in Ethiopia, and it’s all to be imported back to India. The government of India has been encouraging them,” he said, and warned of danger if famine returned to Africa.

“If food is being shipped out and poor people are dying, what will happen? There would be riots,” he said.

A consortium of Saudi businessmen is to invest $266million (1 billion Saudi Riyals) buying land in Sudan and Ethiopia to produce food solely for export to Saudi Arabia…..

Saudi to buy large chunks of Ethiopian land

A consortium of five Saudi business men has pledged an investment of $266 million into agricultural projects in Sudan and Ethiopia. The projects will lease land in the two countries to produce food for export to Saudi Arabia. The Ethiopian portion of the deal was reached as part of a wide ranging programme of investments signed by Saudi agriculture minister Fahd Balghunaim and Ethiopian Finance minister Sufian Ahmed.

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In Sudan, a Saudi Arabian firm Hail Agricultural Development Cooperation (HADCO) has leased 22,830 acres (roughly the size of the French capital, Paris) in the northern part of the country. The deal worth $45.3 million sees HADCO lease the land for 48 years to grow wheat and corn for export to Saudi Arabia and gives the firm an option to acquire a further 80,940 acres.

The investment deals are part of an initiative by the Saudi Arabian government to secure food security for the Kingdom by acquiring fertile land in neighbouring countries with sole aim of providing food supplies for the country.

This is part of a trend that has seen an increasing amount of “food Security” investments by Asian countries in Africa. In Madagascar the recent coup was triggered by amongst other reasons opposition to the deal between the former government and South Korea to lease land the size of Belgium to the Korean firm Daewoo to grow and export food back to South Korea.

Face of 1984 Ethiopia famine says food aid does not help

Television pictures of three-year-old Ethiopian Birhan Woldu’s emaciated face became the iconic image which moved the world to one of its greatest ever acts of charity.

By Mike Pflanz in Nairobi

Published: 6:41PM BST 22 Oct 2009

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This is an image from television taken early November 1984 of Birhan Weldu after arriving at a relief station in Mekele, Ethiopia Photo: AP

But 25 years after Michael Buerk’s broadcasts from Ethiopia’s 1984 famine, Miss Birhan said the kind of food handouts which once kept her alive are today failing Africa’s poorest.

“Twenty-five years ago, my life was saved by Irish nursing sisters who gave me an injection, and food from organisations like Band Aid,” said Birhan Woldu, now 28.

“So it may seem strange for me to say now that to get food aid from overseas is not the best way.

“As well as being demeaning to our dignity, my education has taught me that constantly shipping food is costly, uneconomic, and can encourage dependency.”

Prompted by Mr Buerk’s BBC reports, and others in Canada and the US, Bob Geldof and Midge Ure gathered international pop stars for the 1984 Band Aid single Do They Know It’s Christmas and the Live Aid concert in 1985.

In total more than £150 million was raised in what was the largest international aid appeal until the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami.

Miss Birhan’s comments came in a foreword she wrote for an Oxfam report released yesterday which urged urgent changes to international aid policies.

A focus on emergency aid wastes precious funding which should instead be targeted at preparing people in drought-hit areas for crises which are predicted to increase due to climate change, it argues.

Longer and more regular droughts have today pushed almost 23 million people across Africa’s east and north-east close to starvation once again.

More than seven per cent of all aid given to developing countries – ” including money intended to tackle corruption, build roads and improve health and education – is still in the form of humanitarian relief.

In Ethiopia, 91 per cent of humanitarian aid given so far in 2009 has been food. Only 0.14 per cent of aid is spent on preparing people for future droughts, Oxfam said.

“We know our vulnerabilities. We are a proud people,” Miss Birhan continued. “Let us grow our own food and help manage our own systems so we are not hit so hard when the next drought or flood comes.

“We need to approach disasters in a different way, that is more dignified and more sustainable than imported food aid.”

The government in Addis Ababa has been praised in recent years for its efforts to prepare its citizens for droughts.

But yesterday it was forced to ask for £75 million to help feed six million Ethiopians currently facing starvation. Three million of them are under-18 and most vulnerable to malnutrition, according to Save The Children.

Other survivors of the 1984 famine supported Miss Birhan’s statements.

“It seems to us that too often the money comes after a disaster is already here,” said Ebrahim Jemal, 30, now an aid worker with Care International, whose life was also saved with emergency food 25 years ago.

“By that time, we cannot say that we do not want the food. It will save us.

“But it is better for us, and cheaper for the West, in the long run if more money comes for early warning programmes or better roads or schools, to prepare us before a crisis starts.”

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Ethiopia on brink of famine again as Midge Ure returns 25 years after Band Aid

Midge Ure returns to the Ethiopian villages he helped save 25 years ago with Band Aid only to find malnutrition is once again killing children.

By Nick Meo in Ayub

Oct 2009

Twenty-five years ago, the farmers of Ayub village were reduced to living skeletons with bloated stomachs, certain of death. When emergency food rations turned up – seemingly by miracle – they fell on them without ever being sure how they reached the remote mountain hamlets. What most assumed was the mercy of God was in fact the work of a softly-spoken Scottish pop star, a man who had never set foot in Ethiopia, but who helped organise one of the most remarkable acts of charity in British history.

This week Midge Ure, the lead singer of Ultravox and the producer and songwriter for Band Aid, returned to Ethiopia to visit the villages which had been swept by terrible famine in 1984. What he saw did not please him.

The crops were again withered – and once more, local children are dying because of drought and malnutrition.

“It is desperately sad to see hungry children in Ethiopia again,” Ure, 56, told The Sunday Telegraph, as he toured an infant feeding centre where, in the past few weeks, four under-fives have died of diarrhoea and other hunger-related diseases.

Other babies were already painfully thin, and being fed on a vitamin-enhanced, sweet-tasting peanut paste called plumpy nut, which, it is hoped, will save their lives.

“Ethiopia has come a long way,” he said. “At least children here have been caught in time and the images aren’t like 1984, with mass deaths. But the fear is, if these people don’t get more help, that’s what we could see here again.”

His trip, to mark 25 years since Band Aid, was planned months ago to show how life had got better in villages which were a once a byword for terrible poverty. Clinics and schools have been built, and a rudimentary system of modest welfare payments has been set up to give a modicum of security to the poorest, who always perish first in a famine.

But Ethiopia’s rural population still depends on rain to grow crops, and now they have gone three years of drought in a row, just as they did during the early 1980s. As a result, villagers who survived 1984 and prayed it would never happen again are once more at famine’s edge.

Back then, those with the strength to do so in Ayub village dragged themselves ten miles to a place called Korum, where they found an isolated feeding station.

Thousands were saved there – but for many of those already in the latter stages of starvation, it was too late. They died in droves. The horrific scenes of filth and death were recorded for a television broadcast by the BBC journalist Michael Buerk that shocked Britain and inspired an extraordinary relief effort.

“The bodies of my neighbours lay in their huts, with their families either dead, or too weak to bury them,” said Shashe Fentau, 45, with a shudder of horror at the memory. We only survived then because of food aid.

“Now we have eaten all our stores and we are selling our cattle. It feels like the same thing is happening again. We are very scared. We have little to eat. In our village we know that hunger doesn’t kill you quickly. It is slow to take effect.”

Mrs Fentau, a mother of five, did not recognise the foreigner who turned up in her village last week with aid workers from Save the Children UK, asking questions about life and death in Ethiopia’s highlands. She had no idea that Ure may well have saved her life a quarter of a century ago.

It was after watching the harrowing BBC broadcast that he and ex-Boomtown Rat Bob Geldof galvanised a group of pop stars to form Band Aid and produced the single “Do They Know it’s Christmas?”, which raised millions in famine relief donations.

The food they bought was sent to villages like Ayub, much of it hurled out of the backs of aircraft – the only way of getting it to mountain communities, which at that time had no proper roads.

Unlike 1984-85, when a million died, there are good roads now, while the Soviet-backed military regime has been replaced by a government which shows rather more interest in its peoples’ survival. Yet Ethiopia remains the fifth poorest nation in the world, according to last year’s World Bank GDP figures, and is once again at risk of mass starvation.

Ure arrived last week just as Ethiopia’s government issued an urgent appeal for donors to feed 6.2 million hungry farmers and their families. The World Food Programme estimates that 125,000 metric tonnes of grain are needed, at a cost of £54 million, to fill the gaping hole in the nation’s food supplies.

Aid groups fear the real number at risk may be more than double that – putting more than one in ten of Ethiopia’s 80 million people at risk – because another 7.2 million depend on a government welfare scheme that is only intended to tide peasant farmers over for a hungry spell before the harvest. This year, the crops lie withered in the fields in much of the country, including Ayub village.

Dressed in a baseball cap and casual shirt, Ure looked more like an aid worker than the flamboyant rock star whose hit Vienna re-defined the New Romantic sound of the early 1980s. He visited without an entourage or PR executives, flew the 8-hour journey from London in economy class and stayed in a run-down hotel in the highlands with no hot water that cost £13 a night. He brought with him his 14-year-old daughter, Kitty, so she could see what life was like in an African village.

“I first came here in 1985 on a transport plane and stayed for 12 hours,” he said. “I swore I would never return. I went to a feeding centre outside Addis Ababa for children who were supposed to be on the mend. Three babies had died that morning.

“It was full of skeletal children with extended bellies. It was horrifying – just too much to handle for a 29-year-old pop star.”

But on this trip, he spent his time speaking to farmers, experts and officials, discussing crop yields, deforestation, rainfall patterns, and rural demography with a knowledge well beyond that of the average celebrity doing their bit for charity. One other star, who visited Africa on a private jet to promote a disease prevention campaign recently, was unaware that malaria was transferred to humans by mosquitoes.

Ayub village is typical of the Ethiopian highlands, with thatched, round mud-huts ringed by cactus and thorn hedges to keep out herds of long-horned oxen. The animals wander dirt tracks, kept in order by small boys with sticks who take them out to graze.

Groups of smiling schoolgirls with braided hair and patched clothes walk past on their way to the local school building – a sign of progress. Despite its tragic past, the region has become a tourist attraction, with backpackers drawn by its beautiful mountain landscapes.

Ayub took years to recover from the disaster of 1984; since then the population has doubled, as it has nationally. But that has forced farmers to divide their land into ever-smaller plots for their sons, and to cut down the surrounding forests for fuel, destroying a source of forage they had relied on at times of hardship.
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The landscape is still surprisingly green; yet most farmers suffer real hardship because the rains did not fall at the right time for their crops.

“When the rains don’t come, hope is lost,” said Teshome Laile, a 48-year-old health expert with Save the Children.

“The government does care about the people, unlike the old regime, but they don’t have enough resources, and the problem is big. Agriculture is not modernised, farmers are dependant on rainfall. So if rain doesn’t fall, farmers are in trouble.”

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Mrs Fentau, a survivor of 1984, gestured at a sickly, thin crop of maize next to her hut, which had not received enough water to produce anything edible.

Ure admitted that the feeling of achievement he felt at visiting villages kept alive by Band Aid in the 1980s was tempered by the fear he could see in the eyes of farmers now.

“I think there is a good chance that a lot of people we have met survived years ago thanks to food paid for by Band Aid,” he said. “They are alive because people in Britain simply bought a record.

“But these lands are still desperately poor. What could really change things here is long-term development, if money could be raised for that. Saving lives is newsworthy. Long-term development is boring.”

Band Aid has raised £150 million since the record was released, and it still generates money every Christmas. Ure admits that it wasn’t his finest song – the singer Morrissey, a critic of Band Aid who claimed the project was self-righteous, once described listening to it as “torture”. Ure is more combative, however, over the claim that pop stars use charity work to promote their own careers.

“I do this kind of thing because I think it is important to try to help,” he said. “You don’t sell any more records by doing this, there is no ulterior motive. The charities ask celebrities to make these trips because they work in attracting public attention.”

He added: “It did its job and has a place in many people’s hearts. The money raised was a drop in the ocean really, but it still saved a lot of starving people. We made charity cool for a whole new audience – before Band Aid, giving had been a worthy thing, confined to do-gooders and Blue Peter.”

Today, though, he is doubtful that its success can ever be repeated, partly because he believes rock stars no longer have the following or influence that they had in the early 1980s.

“I performed at the Live 8 concert in Edinburgh four years ago and the attitude was very different. People came for a concert, not for a cause.”

“In 1984 there was something real and honest and genuine about what happened. People in Britain didn’t want to see people in Africa starving to death. They wanted to help – and thanks to them there are thousands of people in Ethiopian villages who are alive today.”

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New York Times Magazine | November 22, 2009

By ANDREW RICE

Dr. Robert Zeigler, an eminent American botanist, flew to Saudi Arabia in March for a series of high-level discussions about the future of the kingdom’s food supply. Saudi leaders were frightened: heavily dependent on imports, they had seen the price of rice and wheat, their dietary staples, fluctuate violently on the world market over the previous three years, at one point doubling in just a few months. The Saudis, rich in oil money but poor in arable land, were groping for a strategy to ensure that they could continue to meet the appetites of a growing population, and they wanted Zeigler’s expertise.

INDIAN-OWNED: A rice and corn farm in Western Ethiopia. Here, a farmworker. (Simon Norfolk for The New York Times)

INDIAN-OWNED: A rice and corn farm in Western Ethiopia. Here, a farmworker. (Simon Norfolk for The New York Times)

There are basically two ways to increase the supply of food: find new fields to plant or invent ways to multiply what existing ones yield. Zeigler runs the International Rice Research Institute, which is devoted to the latter course, employing science to expand the size of harvests. During the so-called Green Revolution of the 1960s, the institute’s laboratory developed “miracle rice,” a high-yielding strain that has been credited with saving millions of people from famine. Zeigler went to Saudi Arabia hoping that the wealthy kingdom might offer money for the basic research that leads to such technological breakthroughs. Instead, to his surprise, he discovered that the Saudis wanted to attack the problem from the opposite direction. They were looking for land.

In a series of meetings, Saudi government officials, bankers and agribusiness executives told an institute delegation led by Zeigler that they intended to spend billions of dollars to establish plantations to produce rice and other staple crops in African nations like Mali, Senegal, Sudan and Ethiopia. “They laid out this incredible plan,” Zeigler recalled. He was flabbergasted, not only by the scale of the projects but also by the audacity of their setting. Africa, the world’s most famished continent, can’t currently feed itself, let alone foreign markets.

The American scientist was catching a glimpse of an emerging test of the world’s food resources, one that has begun to take shape over the last year, largely outside the bounds of international scrutiny. A variety of factors — some transitory, like the spike in food prices, and others intractable, like global population growth and water scarcity — have created a market for farmland, as rich but resource-deprived nations in the Middle East, Asia and elsewhere seek to outsource their food production to places where fields are cheap and abundant. Because much of the world’s arable land is already in use — almost 90 percent, according to one estimate, if you take out forests and fragile ecosystems — the search has led to the countries least touched by development, in Africa. According to a recent study by the World Bank and the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, one of the earth’s last large reserves of underused land is the billion-acre Guinea Savannah zone, a crescent-shaped swath that runs east across Africa all the way to Ethiopia, and southward to Congo and Angola.

Foreign investors — some of them representing governments, some of them private interests — are promising to construct infrastructure, bring new technologies, create jobs and boost the productivity of underused land so that it not only feeds overseas markets but also feeds more Africans. (More than a third of the continent’s population is malnourished.) They’ve found that impoverished governments are often only too welcoming, offering land at giveaway prices. A few transactions have received significant publicity, like Kenya’s deal to lease nearly 100,000 acres to the Qatari government in return for financing a new port, or South Korea’s agreement to develop almost 400 square miles in Tanzania. But many other land deals, of near-unprecedented size, have been sealed with little fanfare.

Greenhouses being built at the Jittu Horticulture farm at Awassa in southern Ethiopia. (Simon Norfolk for The New York Times)

Greenhouses being built at the Jittu Horticulture farm at Awassa in southern Ethiopia. (Simon Norfolk for The New York Times)

Investors who are taking part in the land rush say they are confronting a primal fear, a situation in which food is unavailable at any price. Over the 30 years between the mid-1970s and the middle of this decade, grain supplies soared and prices fell by about half, a steady trend that led many experts to believe that there was no limit to humanity’s capacity to feed itself. But in 2006, the situation reversed, in concert with a wider commodities boom. Food prices increased slightly that year, rose by a quarter in 2007 and skyrocketed in 2008. Surplus-producing countries like Argentina and Vietnam, worried about feeding their own populations, placed restrictions on exports. American consumers, if they noticed the food crisis at all, saw it in modestly inflated supermarket bills, especially for meat and dairy products. But to many countries — not just in the Middle East but also import-dependent nations like South Korea and Japan — the specter of hyperinflation and hoarding presented an existential threat.

“When some governments stop exporting rice or wheat, it becomes a real, serious problem for people that don’t have full self-sufficiency,” said Al Arabi Mohammed Hamdi, an economic adviser to the Arab Authority for Agricultural Investment and Development. Sitting in his office in Dubai, overlooking the cargo-laden wooden boats moored along the city’s creek, Hamdi told me his view, that the only way to assure food security is to control the means of production.

Hamdi’s agency, which coordinates investments on behalf of 20 member states, has recently announced several projects, including a tentative $250 million joint venture with two private companies, which is slated to receive heavy subsidies from a Saudi program called the King Abdullah Initiative for Saudi Agricultural Investment Abroad. He said the main fields of investment for the project would most likely be Sudan and Ethiopia, countries with favorable climates that are situated just across the Red Sea. Hamdi waved a sheaf of memos that had just arrived on his desk, which he said were from another partner, Sheik Mansour Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, a billionaire member of the royal family of the emirate of Abu Dhabi, who has shown interest in acquiring land in Sudan and Eritrea. “There is no problem about money,” Hamdi said. “It’s about where and how.”

A long the dirt road that runs to Lake Ziway, a teardrop in the furrow of Ethiopia’s Great Rift Valley, farmers drove their donkey carts past a little orange-domed Orthodox church, and the tombs of their ancestors, decorated with vivid murals of horses and cattle. Between clusters of huts that looked as if they were constructed of matchsticks, there were wide-open wheat fields, where skinny young men were tilling the soil with wooden plows and teams of oxen. And then, nearing the lake, a fence appeared, closing off the countryside behind taut strings of barbed wire.

All through the Rift Valley region, my travel companion, an Ethiopian economist, had taken to pointing out all the new fence posts, standing naked and knobby like freshly cut saplings — mundane signifiers, he said, of the recent rush for Ethiopian land. In the old days, he told me, farmers rarely bothered with such formal lines of demarcation, but now the country’s earth is in demand. This fence, though, was different from the others — it stretched on for a mile or more. Behind it, we could glimpse a vast expanse of dark volcanic soil, recently turned over by tractors. “So,” said my guide, “this belongs to the sheik.”

He meant Sheik Mohammed Al Amoudi, a Saudi Arabia-based oil-and-construction billionaire who was born in Ethiopia and maintains a close relationship with the Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi’s autocratic regime. (Fear of both men led my guide to say he didn’t want to be identified by name.) Over time, Al Amoudi, one of the world’s 50 richest people, according to Forbes, has used his fortune and political ties to amass control over large portions of Ethiopia’s private sector, including mines, hotels and plantations on which he grows tea, coffee, rubber and japtropha, a plant that has enormous promise as a biofuel. Since the global price spike, he has been getting into the newly lucrative world food trade.

Ethiopia might seem an unlikely hotbed of agricultural investment. To most of the world, the country is defined by images of famine: about a million people died there during the drought of the mid-1980s, and today about four times that many depend on emergency food aid. But according to the World Bank, as much as three-quarters of Ethiopia’s arable land is not under cultivation, and agronomists say that with substantial capital expenditure, much of it could become bountiful. Since the world food crisis, Zenawi, a former Marxist rebel who has turned into a champion of private capital, has publicly said he is “very eager” to attract foreign farm investors by offering them what the government describes as “virgin land.” An Ethiopian agriculture ministry official recently told Reuters that he has identified more than seven million acres. The government plans to lease half of it before the next harvest, at the dirt-cheap annual rate of around 50 cents per acre. “We are associated with hunger, although we have enormous investment opportunities,” explained Abi Woldemeskel, director general of the Ethiopian Investment Agency. “So that negative perception has to be changed through promotion.”

The government’s pliant attitude, along with Ethiopia’s convenient location, has made it an ideal target for Middle Eastern investors like Mohammed Al Amoudi. Not long ago, a newly formed Al Amoudi company, Saudi Star Agricultural Development, announced its plans to obtain the rights to more than a million acres — a land mass the size of Delaware — in the apparent hope of capitalizing on the Saudi government’s initiative to subsidize overseas staple-crop production. At a pilot site in the west of the country, he’s already cultivating rice. Earlier this year, amid great fanfare marking the start of the program, Al Amoudi personally presented the first shipment from the farm to King Abdullah in Riyadh. Meanwhile, in the Rift Valley region, another subsidiary is starting to grow fruits and vegetables for export to the Persian Gulf.

Al Amoudi’s plans raise a recurring question surrounding investment in food production: who will reap the benefits? As we drove down to the waterside, through fields dotted with massive sycamores, a farm supervisor told me that the 2,000-acre enterprise currently produces food for the local market, but there were plans to irrigate with water from the lake, and to shift the focus to exports. In the distance, dozens of laborers were bent to the ground, planting corn and onions.

Later, when I asked a couple of workers how much they were paid, they said nine birr each day, or around 75 cents. It wasn’t much, but Al Amoudi’s defenders say that’s the going rate for farm labor in Ethiopia. They argue that his investments are creating jobs, improving the productivity of dormant land and bringing economic development to rural communities. “We have achieved what the government hasn’t done for how many years,” says Arega Worku, an Ethiopian who is an agriculture adviser to Al Amoudi. (Al Amoudi declined to be interviewed.) Ethiopian journalists and opposition figures, however, have questioned the economic benefits of the deals, as well as Al Amoudi’s cozy relationship with the ruling party.

By far the most powerful opposition, however, surrounds the issue of land rights — a problem of historic proportions in Ethiopia. Just down the road from the farm on Lake Ziway, I caught sight of a gray-bearded man wearing a weathered pinstripe blazer, who was crouched over a ditch, washing his shoes. I stopped to ask him about the fence, and before long, a large group of villagers gathered around to tell me a resentful story. Decades ago, they said, during the rule of a Communist dictatorship in Ethiopia, the land was confiscated from them. After that dictatorship was overthrown, Al Amoudi took over the farm in a government privatization deal, over the futile objections of the displaced locals. The billionaire might consider the land his, but the villagers had long memories, and they angrily maintained that they were its rightful owners.

Throughout Africa, the politics of land is linked to the grim reality of hunger. Famines, typically produced by some combination of weather, pestilence and bad governance, break out with merciless randomness, unleashing calamity and reshaping history. Every country has its unique dynamics. Unlike most African nations, Ethiopia was never colonized in the 19th century but instead was ruled by emperors, who granted feudal plantations to members of their royal courts. The last emperor, Haile Selassie, was brought down by a famine that fueled a popular uprising. His dispossessed subjects chanted the slogan “land to the tiller.” The succeeding Communist dictatorship, which took ownership of all land for itself and pursued a disastrous collectivization policy, was toppled in the aftermath of the droughts of the 1980s. Under the present regime, private ownership of land is still banned, and every farmer in Ethiopia, foreign and domestic, works his fields under a licensing arrangement with the government. This land-tenure policy has made it possible for a one-party state to hand over huge tracts to investors at nominal rents, in secrecy, without the bother of a condemnation process.

Ethiopia’s government denies that anyone is being displaced, saying that the land is unused — an assertion many experts doubt. “One thing that is very clear, that seems to have escaped the attention of most investors, is that this is not simply empty land,” says Michael Taylor, a policy specialist at the International Land Coalition. If land in Africa hasn’t been planted, he says, it’s probably for a reason. Maybe it’s used to graze livestock, or deliberately left fallow to prevent nutrient depletion and erosion.

There is an ongoing debate among experts about the extent of the global land-acquisition trend. By its nature the evidence is piecemeal and anecdotal, and many highly publicized investments have yet to actually materialize on the ground. The most serious attempt to quantify the land rush, spearheaded by the International Institute for Environment and Development, suggests that as of earlier this year, the Ethiopian government had approved deals totaling around 1.5 million acres, while the country’s investment agency reports that it has approved 815 foreign-financed agricultural projects since 2007, nearly doubling the number registered in the entire previous decade. But that’s far from a complete picture. While the details of a few arrangements have leaked out, like one Saudi consortium’s plans to spend $100 million to grow wheat, barley and rice, many others remain undisclosed, and Addis Ababa has been awash in rumors of Arab moneymen who supposedly rent planes, pick out fertile tracts and cut deals.

Of course, there have been scrambles for African land before. In the view of critics, the colonial legacy is what makes the large land deals so outrageous, and they warn of potentially calamitous consequences. “Wars have been fought over this,” says Devlin Kuyek, a researcher with Grain, an advocacy group that opposes large-scale agribusiness and has played a key role in bringing attention to what it calls the “global land grab.”

It wasn’t until Grain compiled a long list of such deals into a polemical report titled “Seized!” last October that experts really began to talk about a serious trend. Although deals were being brokered in disparate locales like Australia, Kazakhstan, Ukraine and Vietnam, the most controversial field of investment was clearly Africa. “When you started to get some hints about what was happening in these deals,” Kuyek says, “it was shocking.” Within a month, Grain’s warnings seemed to be vindicated when The Financial Times broke news that the South Korean conglomerate Daewoo Logistics had signed an agreement to take over about half of Madagascar’s arable land, paying nothing, with the intention of growing corn and palm oil for export. Popular protests broke out, helping to mobilize opposition to Madagascar’s already unpopular president, who was overthrown in a coup in March.

The episode illustrated the emotional volatility of the land issue and raised questions about the degree to which corrupt leaders might be profiting off the deals. Since then, there has been an international outcry. Legislators from the Philippines have called for an investigation into their government’s agreements with various investing nations, while Thailand’s leader has vowed to chase off any foreign land buyers.

But there’s more than one side to the argument. Development economists and African governments say that if a country like Ethiopia is ever going to feed itself, let alone wean itself from foreign aid, which totaled $2.4 billion in 2007, it will have to find some way of increasing the productivity of its agriculture. “We’ve been complaining for decades about the lack of investment in African agriculture,” says David Hallam, a trade expert at the Food and Agriculture Organization. Last fall, Paul Collier of Oxford University, an influential voice on issues of world poverty, published a provocative article in Foreign Affairs in which he argued that a “middle- and upper-class love affair with peasant agriculture” has clouded the African development debate with “romanticism.” Approvingly citing the example of Brazil — where masses of indigenous landholders were displaced in favor of large-scale farms — Collier concluded that “to ignore commercial agriculture as a force for rural development and enhanced food supply is surely ideological.”

In Ethiopia, Mohammed Al Amoudi and other foreign agricultural investors are putting Collier’s theory into practice. Near the southern town of Awassa, in a shadow of a soaring Rift Valley escarpment, sits a field of waving corn and a complex of domed greenhouses, looking pristine and alien against the natural backdrop. On an overcast July morning, dozens of laborers were at work preparing the ground for one of Al Amoudi’s latest enterprises: a commercial vegetable farm.

“For a grower, this is heaven on earth,” says Jan Prins, managing director of the subsidiary company that is running the venture for Al Amoudi. Originally from the Netherlands, Prins says he assumed that Ethiopia was arid but was surprised to learn when he came to the country that much of it was fertile, with diverse microclimates. The Awassa farm is one of four that Prins is getting up and running. Using computerized irrigation systems, the farms will grow tomatoes, peppers, broccoli, melons and other fresh produce, the vast majority of it to be shipped to Saudi Arabia and Dubai. Over time, he says, he hopes to expand into growing other crops, like wheat and barley, the latter of which can be used to feed camels.

Greenhouses being built at the Jittu Horticulture farm at Awassa in southern Ethiopia. (Simon Norfolk for The New York Times)

The nations of the Persian Gulf are likely to see their populations increase by half by 2030, and already import 60 percent of their food. Self-sufficiency isn’t a viable option, as the Saudis have learned through bitter experience. In the 1970s, worries about the stability of the global food supply inspired the Saudi government to grow wheat through intensive irrigation. Between 1980 and 1999, according to a study by Elie Elhadj, a banker and historian, the Saudis pumped 300 billion cubic meters of water into their desert. By the early 1990s, the kingdom had managed to become the world’s sixth-largest wheat exporter. But then its leaders started paying attention to the warnings of environmentalists, who pointed out that irrigation was draining a nonreplenishable supply of underground freshwater. Saudi Arabia now plans to phase out wheat production by 2016, which is one reason it’s looking to other countries to fill its food needs.

“The rules of the game have changed,” says Saad Al Swatt, the chief executive of the Tabuk Agricultural Development Company, one of the kingdom’s largest farming concerns. Al Swatt’s company was one of those that met with Robert Zeigler about farming rice; he says that with government encouragement, he is looking at expanding into countries like Sudan, Ethiopia and Vietnam. “They have the land, they have the water, but unfortunately, they don’t have the system or sometimes the finance to have these large-scale agricultural projects.” Al Swatt says. “We wanted to export our experience and really develop those areas, to help people.”

About 10 percent of the more than 80 million people who live in Ethiopia suffer from chronic food shortages. This year, because of poor rains, the U.N. World Food Program warns that much of East Africa faces the threat of a famine, potentially the worst in almost two decades. Traditionally, the model for feeding the hungry in Africa has involved shipping in surpluses from the rest of the world in times of emergency, but governments that are trying to attract investment say that the new farms could provide a lasting, noncharitable solution. (“It’s better than begging,” one Ethiopian official recently told the African publication Business Daily.) Whatever the long-term justification, however, it looks bad politically for countries like Kenya and Ethiopia to be letting foreign investors use their land at a time when their people face the specter of mass starvation. And many experts wonder whether such governments will go through with the deals. Ethiopia, after all, was one of the countries that banned grain exports during the recent spike in world food prices. “The idea that one country would go to another country,” says Robert Zeigler, “and lease some land, and expect that the rice produced there would be made available to them if there’s a food crisis in that host country, is ludicrous.”

The hyperinflationary spiral that caused the world food crisis had multiple causes. The harvests in 2006 and 2007 were the worst of the decade, hedge funds and other players in the commodities markets appear to have driven up prices and government subsidies for biofuels encouraged farmers to grow crops that ended up as ethanol. But the environment and demography are more lasting issues, and experts predict that prices, which have declined since their peak, are likely to stabilize significantly above precrisis levels. This represents a danger to the developing world, where the poor spend between 50 and 80 percent of their income on food, but it may also present an opportunity. If one good thing has emerged from the crisis, it’s a growing awareness of Africa’s unrealized agricultural potential. Because where there are appetites, there are profits to be made.

In late June, several hundred farmers and investment bankers came together in Manhattan to survey the landscape at a conference on global agriculture investment. The food crisis has served as a catalyst for the sleepy agricultural sector, spurring financial firms like Goldman Sachs and BlackRock to invest hundreds of millions of dollars in overseas agricultural projects, so the mood was heady for business, though depressing for humanity. There much talk of Thomas Malthus, the 19th-century prophet of overpopulation and famine.

“Beware of 2020 and beyond, because we think there could be genuine food shortages by that period,” Susan Payne, the chief executive of Emergent Asset Management, told the audience during a talk on Africa’s agricultural potential. She showed a series of slides citing chilling statistics: grain stocks are at their lowest levels in 60 years; there were food riots in 15 countries in 2008; global warming is turning arable land into desert; freshwater is dwindling and China is draining its reserves; and the really big problem that contributes to all the others — the world’s population is growing by 80 million hungry people a year. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that in order to feed the world’s projected population in 2050 — some nine billion people — agricultural production needs to increase by an annual average of 1 percent. That means adding around 23 million tons of cereals to the world’s food supply next year, a little less than the total production of Australia in 2008.

“Africa is the final frontier,” Payne told me after the conference. “It’s the one continent that remains relatively unexploited.” Emergent’s African Agricultural Land Fund, started last year, is investing several hundred million dollars into commercial farms around the continent. Africa may be known for decrepit infrastructure and corrupt governments — problems that are being steadily alleviated, Payne argues — but land and labor come so cheaply there that she calculates the risks are worthwhile.

The payoffs could be immense. In a country like Ethiopia, farmers put in backbreaking effort, but they yield about a third as much wheat per acre as do Europe, China or Chile. Even modest interventions could start to close this gap. One small example: the black soil I saw throughout the Great Rift region. Known as vertisol, it’s a product of volcanic activity and possesses the nutrients to produce enormous harvests. Because of its high clay content, however, it becomes sticky and waterlogged during the rainy season, which makes it very difficult to plow by traditional methods. With the addition of advanced implements, improved seeds and fertilizer, you can double the amount of wheat it yields. Ethiopia, like all of Africa, is full of such opportunities, which is one reason the World Bank says that investing in agriculture is one of the most effective ways to speed economic development on the continent.

Yet agriculture has historically been a tiny item in foreign-aid budgets. For years, governments, private foundations and donor institutions like the World Bank have been urging African governments to fill the spending gap with private investment. Now, at the very moment a world food crisis has come along, creating the perhaps fleeting possibility of an influx of capital into African agriculture, some of the same organizations are sending conflicting messages. The Food and Agriculture Organization, for instance, co-sponsored a report calling for a major expansion of commercial agriculture in Africa, but the organization’s director-general has simultaneously been warning of the “neocolonial” dangers of land deals. “We’re making them feel that it’s sinful,” says Mafa Chipeta, a Malawian who oversees Ethiopia and the rest of eastern Africa for the organization. “Why are we not saying, here is an opportunity?”

One focus of agricultural investment in Ethiopia is the region of Gambella, near the border with Sudan. The World Bank says it has more than four million acres of irrigable land. “It’s emerald green, the whole place is fertile and they have only 200,000 people down there,” says Sai Ramakrishna Karuturi, head of an Indian commercial farming company. Earlier this year, Karuturi signed an agreement with the government to lease close to 800,000 acres on which he will grow rice, wheat and sugar cane, among other crops. Karuturi told me he doesn’t have to export the food to make money; there’s plenty of profit potential in the East African market. He has flown in John Deere tractors, agricultural experts from Texas A&M and commercial farmers from Mississippi to help him get things going. He says he’s raising $100 million in capital from private equity firms for the first phase of the project, which he estimates will ultimately cost well over a billion dollars. “Recently, I saw a lot of articles . . . where they referred to me as a food pirate,” Karuturi says. “This whole thing is so elitist, it’s ridiculous. They want Africa to remain poor.”

But the argument against enormous land concessions needn’t be based solely on appeals to human rights, environmental warnings or romanticism. It’s possible to be a believer in development without endorsing Paul Collier’s view that the small landholders stand in its way. In fact, there’s a whole school of economic thought that says that Collier is wrong, that big is not necessarily better in agriculture — and that the land deals therefore might be unwise not because they’re wrong but because they’re unprofitable. A recent World Bank study found that large-scale export agriculture in Africa has succeeded only with plantation crops like sugar and tea or in ventures that were propped up by extreme government subsidies, during colonialism or during the apartheid era in South Africa.

This record of failure is one reason that the government of Qatar, in addressing its food-security concerns, has chosen to concentrate on investing in existing agribusinesses rather than just acquiring land. That’s just one of many ways to invest in farming without removing the African farmers. On a bright Rift Valley afternoon, I went to see another option, a cooperative scheme under which a group of around 300 Ethiopians, working plots of 4 to 10 acres, were getting into export agriculture. During the European winter, they grew green beans for the Dutch market. The rest of the year, they cultivated corn and other crops for local consumption. The land had been irrigated with the help of a nonprofit organization and an Ethiopian commercial farmer named Tsegaye Abebe, who brought all the produce to market.

As a breeze riffled through a tall field of corn, a group of farmers, wearing sandals made from old tires, told me the arrangement, while not perfect, was beneficial in the most crucial respect: they weren’t toiling for someone else. Not far away, a Pakistani investor had taken over a government cattle ranch, once an area free for grazing, and had put fences and trenches in place to keep out the local livestock. The Ethiopians who worked there were miserable.

The farmers had heard rumors that foreign investors were eyeing still more Ethiopian land. Imam Gemedo Tilago, a 78-year-old cloaked in a white cotton shawl, shook his finger, vowing that Allah would not allow the community to remain passive. But that was a problem for the future, and the farmers had more grounded concerns. I noticed, driving down the rural paths that led to this farm, that the earth looked parched in places, and the cattle were showing their ribs through their dull brown hides. The worried farmers told me that this year, the seasonal rains were late in coming to the Rift Valley. If they didn’t arrive soon, there’d be hunger.

UN to regulate farmland grab deals

David Hallam of FAO taking a barrage of questions from journalists at an FAO media briefing on land grabbing in Rome on 17 November 2009. (Photo: GRAIN)

David Hallam of FAO taking a barrage of questions from journalists at an FAO media briefing on land grabbing in Rome on 17 November 2009. (Photo: GRAIN)

David Hallam of FAO taking a barrage of questions from journalists at an FAO media briefing on land grabbing in Rome on 17 November 2009. (Photo: GRAIN)

Financial Times | November 18 2009

By Javier Blas in Rome

The United Nations has started drawing up a code of conduct to regulate overseas investment in farmland, but the voluntary rules will not be ready for at least a year.

The code is the first attempt to control the growing trend of so-called “farmland grab” deals, which involve rich countries such as Saudi Arabia and South Korea investing in overseas farming to boost their own food security.

The trend gained prominence after an attempt by South Korea’s Daewoo Logistics to secure a large chunk of land in Madagascar contributed to the collapse of the African country’s government.

Diplomats are concerned that African countries, many of which face problems of chronic hunger, are giving away vast tracts of farmland almost for free in return for vague promises of job creation and spending on infrastructure.

The UN and the World Bank are walking a tightrope in drawing up a code of conduct, however, as they do not want to undermine all foreign direct investment in agriculture, which they believe can offer opportunities for development.

The difficulty was reflected in a declaration from the World Food Summit in Rome that aims to “facilitate and sustain private investment in agriculture” while seeking a study of “good practices to promote responsible international agricultural investment”.

Guidelines would be non-binding, UN officials said. They would focus on making sure that “existing rights to land …are recognised” and “investments do not jeopardise food security”, according to a World Bank draft policy paper seen by the Financial Times.

The code will also call for transparency in the process of “accessing land and making associated investments” and asks that “all those materially affected are consulted”. It also deals with guarantees about a project’s economic viability, social impact and environmental consequences.

David Hallam, deputy director of trade and markets at the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation in Rome, who is leading the work, said the aim was to transform “malpractices” into “win-win” scenarios for investors and hosts.

“It appears that there is political support for voluntary guidelines,” he said, adding that such a code was unlikely to be ready until late next year.

UN officials acknowledged that the delay could give investors time to secure farmland rights before the code of conduct came into force, but said discussion of the guidelines was already prompting a change in investors’ attitudes.

Campaigners protesting against the farmland deals complain that the code of conduct will not resolve the problem, arrive too late and lack teeth.

Devlin Kuyek of Grain, a non-governmental organisation that monitors farmland deals, said: “Win-win on land grabbing is a nonsense.”

Al Shabab menacing Uganda & Burundi taking slowly all over East Africa

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Hijacked ship spotted off Somalia coast
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Published: Oct. 23, 2009 at 12:22 PM
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HOBYO, Somalia, Oct. 23 (UPI) — The European Union anti-piracy force says the hijacked Chinese bulk carrier De Xin Hai has arrived off the coast of Somalia.

EU NAVFOR said Thursday on its Web site a EU NAVFOR Maritime Patrol Aircraft confirmed the De Xin Hai was spotted near the Somalia harbor city of Hobyo.

“It is not yet known if the pirates have contacted the owners and made their demands known,” the anti-piracy force said.

China’s official state-run Xinhua news agency reported the Chinese vessel, which has 25 crew members, was hijacked in the Indian Ocean Monday.

The carrier belongs to Qingdao Ocean Shipping Co. and was shipping coal from South Africa to India when commandeered.

Xinhua said China is one of a dozen countries that sends naval ships to the Gulf of Aden region to protect maritime shippers from pirates.

World Bank Keeper of Woyane on power in Ethiopia

Woyane the source  the New Biblical  Famine  now he makes money with it…

All the Money which goes in the pocket of Woyane  used against the Ethiopians their survival…

World Bank Provides $480 Million to Combat Food Insecurity in Ethiopia

The World Bank is helping to fight poverty and improve the living standards for the people of Ethiopia. This country is one of the largest beneficiaries of the World Bank’s concessional lending program, the International Development Association (IDA),with a portfolio of 33 active projects worth around US$ 3.6 billion of which around US$ 2.1 billion is provided as credit and the remaining US$ 1.5 billion is provided as grant.
Active projects support initiatives across a number of areas including:

Pastoral Community Development Project II: a US$ 80 million with the objective of enabling pastoralists to better withstand external shocks and to improve the livelihoods of targeted communities. The project will empower local communities by increasing their engagement in woreda processes and local development decision making. It will also provide them increased access to social services; and better access to support for savings and credit activities. In addition, the project seeks to improve and expand the pastoral early warning system and the responsiveness of the disaster mitigation and contingency funds.
The project will be implemented in pastoral and agro-pastoral communities in 57 woredas of the Afar, Somali, SNNPs and Oromya Regions. About 600,000 rural households or approximately 45% of pastoral and agro-pastoral woredas in Ethiopia will benefit from the PCDPII project. Read more…
Urban Local Govt Development Project: US$ 150 million. The project is the next step in the World Bank’s program of support to Ethiopian cities. The objective of the project is to support improved performance in the planning, delivery and sustained provision of priority municipal services and infrastructure. Through the provision of Performance Grants, the project will provide incentives to cities to improve their performance in key areas related to planning, citizens’ participation in the planning process, financial management and service delivery, while at the same time enabling cities to invest in critical municipal infrastructure such as roads, drainage, sewerage, market places, etc. Read more…
Tana & Beles Integrated Water Resources Development: US$ 45 million project which aims to lay the foundation needed to accelerate sustainable growth in the sub basins by developing enabling institutions and facilitating investments for integrated planning, management, and development. The project will not only benefit Ethiopia but will also improve regional cooperation among Nile riparian countries. It also seeks to develop a new paradigm of institutional modernization and convergence in managing precious water resources, while also stimulating sustainable development. Read more…

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World Bank  350+130 million for Wyane

WASHINGTON, October 22, 2009 – The Board of Executive Directors of the World Bank today approved a $350 million grant and a $130 million credit from the International Development Association to the Government of Ethiopia to support an innovative program that is keeping millions of families out of extreme poverty and helping them to achieve food security.

This financing is for the third phase of the Government of Ethiopia’s Productive Safety Net Program (PSNP) which provides transfers to 7.6 million rural citizens in 292 woredas in Afar, Amhara, Dire Dawa, Harare, Oromiya, Somali, Southern Nations and Nationalities (SNNP) and Tigray Regions.

Families participating in the Safety Net Program are the poorest and most food insecure in their communities. They earn a monthly transfer by working on public works projects for six months each year. For those participants who are physically unable to work, the Program provides direct grants. Transfers are predictable and timely, thereby enabling families to plan ahead to meet their food needs and preventing the sale of productive assets.

The PSNP goes beyond providing safety nets; it aims to address the underlying causes of food insecurity. Planned within an integrated watershed management framework, the public works under PSNP are designed to reverse a long history of environmental degradation and increased vulnerability to adverse weather. Since 2008, the Program became more flexible, able to scale-up the coverage, level, and duration of support to households in response to shocks in PSNP areas.

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Recent reviews demonstrate that the Safety Net Program has registered some impressive results since its launch in 2005. Household food security has improved, especially when transfers are predictable and delivered on time. PSNP households reported a smaller food gap and consumed more calories (19.2%) in 2008 as compared with 2006.

Households participating in the PSNP have also invested in assets and have increased their use of education and health services. Growth in livestock holdings was 28.1% faster among PSNP households than non-participants. An estimated 73% of PSNP participants reported increased use of health facilities compared to the previous year, and the majority attributed this to the Safety Net Program.

There is strong evidence that the combination of the PSNP and investments in productive assets can improve agricultural productivity. Maize yields increased by 38% among households receiving both PSNP transfers and investments through the Government’s Food Security Program (FSP). Households that received FSP investments alone enjoyed only marginal increases in productivity.
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But more needs to be done. The third phase of the PSNP will strengthen implementation to maximize the impact of the Program and will institutionalize the risk financing component of the PSNP, which allows the Program to scale up in response to shocks.

The World Bank will also provide financing to support the Government’s Household Asset Building Program (HABP), which is designed to assist food insecure households in PSNP woredas to transform their productive systems by diversifying income sources, improving productivity and increasing productive assets. The support to the HABP aims to make the program more efficient and effective, thereby maximizing the combined impact of the HABP and PSNP so that together they can support sustained graduation from food insecurity for the poorest households.
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“Food aid to Ethiopia in the past was often too little, too late, which meant families were often forced to sell livestock, tools or other productive assets to meet their daily needs,” said William Wiseman, the projects’ task team leader. “These programs are different because they provide support that families can count on – and the infrastructure, credit, and training that they need for long-term food security.”

The Safety Net Program is supported by a consortium of donors, namely, the Governments of the United Kingdom, Canada, Ireland, the Netherlands, Sweden, and the United States, as well as by the European Union and the World Food Program.

Somalia Syndrome is creeping all over the Horn Part III

mmmmmmmmmmmm

Timeline: Ethiopia and Somalia

A look back at the troubled relations between Ethiopia and Somalia – made worse in recent years by Ethiopia’s deep distrust of Somalia’s Islamist groups.

19 May 2009

Somali eye-witnesses report that Ethiopia troops are digging into positions near the border, following advances by Islamist fighters. Ethiopia denies the claims.

15 January 2009

Last Ethiopian troops leave Mogadishu.

28 November 2008

Ethiopia announces that its troops will leave by the end of the year.

21 November 2008

Ethiopian troops supposed to start pull-out under peace deal but no sign of withdrawal in Mogadishu. At least 15 people killed in Islamist attack on the capital.

15 November 2008

President Abdullahi Yusuf admits that his Ethiopian-backed government only controls parts of Mogadishu and Baidoa.

26 October 2008

Government and moderate Islamists promise to implement a ceasefire and say Ethiopian troops will start to leave.

2007-2008

Islamists stage frequent attacks on Ethiopian and government forces. Hardliners refuse to take part in peace talks unless Ethiopians agree to leave Somalia.

1 January 2007

Somali government troops, supported by Ethiopian troops, seize the southern port of Kismayo – the last remaining stronghold of the UIC

28 December 2006

Ethiopian-backed government forces capture the capital, Mogadishu, hours after Islamist fighters flee the city.

27 December

Ethiopian and Somali government troops take control of Jowhar, a strategic town previously held by the Islamists.

26 December

Forces loyal to the transitional government are reported to have taken control of the town of Burhakaba from the UIC. Other areas of southern and central Somalia are also said to have fallen under heavy assault from Somali and Ethiopian troops. Retreating Islamist militias are attacked by Ethiopian jets for a third day.

25 December

Ethiopian aircraft bomb Mogadishu airport.

24 December

Ethiopia for the first time admits its forces are fighting in Somalia, saying it has launched a “self-defensive” operation against Islamist militiamen. Fighting spreads across a 400km front along the border.

12 December

Islamic courts give Ethiopian troops one week to leave Somalia or face a “major attack”.

8 December

Islamic courts say they have engaged in battle with Ethiopian troops for the first time – south-west of Baidoa.

30 November

Ethiopia’s parliament passes a resolution authorising the government to take all legal and necessary steps against what it terms as any invasion by the UIC.

28 November

Eyewitnesses say Islamist fighters ambushed an Ethiopian convoy near Baidoa, blowing up a truck. The UIC claim some 20 Ethiopians died.

27 November

The Islamic courts say Ethiopian forces shelled the northern town of Bandiradley and it ambushed an Ethiopian convoy near Baidoa

25 October

Ethiopian Prime Minster Meles Zenawi says Ethiopia is “technically at war” with the UIC.

18 September 2006

Somalia’s interim President Abdullahi Yusuf survives an assassination attempt.

21 July

The Islamic court leadership orders a “holy war” against Ethiopians in Somalia.

20 July

A column of Ethiopian trucks, more than 100-strong and including armoured cars, are seen crossing into Somalia. Ethiopia only admits to having military trainers in the country helping the interim government.

June 2006

The Islamic courts take control of the Somalia capital, Mogadishu, from rival warlords and go on to gain territory in much of southern territory.

2004

Long-time Ethiopian ally and warlord, Abdullahi Yusuf becomes Somalia’s interim president making Baidoa his base.

1996

Ethiopian forces defeat Islamist fighters in the Somali town of Luuq.

1991

Somalia descends into civil war between rival clan warlords.

1988

Peace accord signed.

1964 and 1977

Two wars fought over Ethiopia’s Somali-inhabited Ogaden region.

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Britten Wood’s IMF & WB :- Woyane needs Euthanasia Not comma

How the institution of Britten Wood keeps a dead regime alive …

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IMF commits crime against Humanity  by keeping Woyane regime  in Comma by prolonging   Ethiopians agony.

Woyane owns s the IMF not Ethiopia in 17 years from December  1992  to September 30 2009  the sum of   106,960,000 SDR Now is asking the sum of SDR 153.755 million (about USD 240 million) which is more than  the sum its has sepnt in the last 17 years.

(The SDR is an international reserve asset created by the IMF in 1969 and serves as its unit of account. The currency value of the SDR is determined by summing the values in U.S. dollars of a basket of major currencies.)

IMF committing  crime against humanity  by keeping a regime in comma for almost two decades in  power in Ethiopia. IMF shares the responsibility for starving  and killing Ethiopians  by directly financing  a regime  responsible for genocide and ethnic cleansing. Recently IMF  has been duped to believe and recognize the economic performance of  Woyane regime in Addis Ababa .  They believed the following Woyane conclusion being acceptable  it reads in the following wise : CONCLUSION “Ethiopia remains at moderate risk of debt distress, though the level of risk is higher now than a year ago. This assessment highlights the importance for Ethiopia of keeping a close tab on debt vulnerabilities and of making every effort to secure grant and concessional financing for its ambitious public enterprise investment plans. At the same time, there is considerable scope to attract large FDI and increase export growth by means of structural reforms. In addition, emphasis should be placed on strengthening debt management capacity as well as sharing detailed information on future borrowings—both external and domestic—with relevant stakeholders, such as the IMF and the Bank. Finally, given the size of borrowing by public enterprises, it is imperative to expand the current debt strategy and monitoring exercise to include the largest public enterprises and assess potential contingent liabilities. ” A complete manuplation of  Woyane just to get money from IMF for their structural adjustment of Woyane which means throwing out of job the opposition and  to use it as an arm of  Ethnic purification by starving the un wanted population.” “—————-  ———- bbbbbbbbbbbbbb bbbbbbbbbbbb

Strauss-Kahn in Istanbul: “It no longer makes sense for global economic policy to be the concern of just a small group of countries” (IMF photo)

‘Istanbul Decisions’ to Guide IMF as Countries Shape Post-Crisis World

IMF Managing Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn tells policymakers from 186 countries gathered in Istanbul that global cooperation has saved the world from a far worse crisis and leaders should now seize the opportunity to shape a post-crisis world. click for more The Bretton Woods system of monetary management established the rules for commercial and financial relations among the world’s major industrial states in the mid 20th century. The Bretton Woods system was the first example of a fully negotiated monetary order intended to govern monetary relations among independent nation-states. Preparing to rebuild the international economic system as World War II was still raging, 730 delegates from all 44 Allied nations gathered at the Mount Washington Hotel inBretton Woods, New HampshireUnited States, for the United Nations Monetary and Financial Conference. The delegates deliberated upon and signed the Bretton Woods Agreements during the first three weeks of July 1944. Setting up a system of rules, institutions, and procedures to regulate the international monetary system, the planners at Bretton Woods established the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD), which today is part of the World Bank Group. These organizations became operational in 1945 after a sufficient number of countries had ratified the agreement. The chief features of the Bretton Woods system were an obligation for each country to adopt a monetary policy that maintained the exchange rate of its currency within a fixed value—plus or minus one percent—in terms of gold and the ability of the IMF to bridge temporary imbalances of payments. In the face of increasing financial strain, the system collapsed in 1971, after the United States unilaterally terminated convertibility of the dollars to gold. This action caused considerable financial stress in the world economy and created the unique situation whereby the United States dollar became the “reserve currency” for the states which had signed the agreement. mmmmm mmmmmm

The “Ethiopian” Sham full  beggar  continues to make money on the name development listen to this  shame letter

THE FEDERAL DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF ETHIOPIA

LETTER OF INTENT

Addis Ababa, August 7, 2009

Mr. Dominique Strauss-Kahn

Managing Director

International Monetary Fund

700 19th

Street, N.W.

Washington, D.C. 20431

U.S.A.

Dear Mr. Strauss-Kahn: The government of Ethiopia requests support from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for its 2009/10 economic program through a 14-month arrangement under the High-Access Component of the Exogenous Shocks Facility (ESF). We request access of 115 percent of quota, the equivalent of SDR 153.755 million (about USD 240 million). Macroeconomic performance has improved substantially under the policy package supported by the IMF with a drawing under the Rapid Access Component of the ESF, approved by the IMF Executive Board in January 2009. Given the still-low level of foreign exchange reserves, the requested arrangement will greatly assist with our efforts to steer the Ethiopian economy through the global economic crisis, sending a positive signal to domestic stakeholders and our development partners about our resolve to maintain a stable macroeconomic environment. In the attached Memorandum of Economic and Financial Policies (MEFP), we describe policy implementation in 2008/09 and set out our macroeconomic objectives and policies for 2009/10. Our program focuses on entrenching low inflation and building international reserves through appropriately tight fiscal and monetary policies supported by the necessary exchange rate flexibility. We also intend to enhance monitoring and control of borrowings by the public enterprise sector, develop the central bank’s liquidity forecasting and control capacity, and flesh out, with IMF technical assistance, a comprehensive time-bound tax reform strategy to improve domestic revenue mobilization. The MEFP and Technical Memorandum of Understanding (TMU) present quantitative performance criteria and indicative targets as well as structural benchmarks through the period of the arrangement. We believe that the policies set forth in the MEFP are adequate to achieve the objectives of the program, but we will take additional measures as needed to reach these goals. We will consult with IMF staff on the adoption of these measures, and in advance of revisions to the policies contained in the MEFP, in accordance with the agreed IMF policies on such consultation. The government of Ethiopia authorizes the IMF to publish the contents of this letter, and the attached MEFP and TMU, on its website after consideration of our request by the Executive Board. Sincerely yours, Sufian Ahmed        Teklewold Atnafu Minister        Governor The Ministry of Finance and Economic Development  The National Bank of Ethiopia mmmmmmmmmmm mmmmmmmmmmmmmm

The Ethiopian debt has raised to 160,960 million now he is asking for more of  153,755 million

The SDR is an international reserve asset created by the IMF in 1969 and serves as its unit of account. The currency value of the SDR is determined by summing the values in U.S. dollars of a basket of major currencies.

DateGRA PurchasesSAF, TF, ESAF/PRGF LoansTotals
September 30, 2009 0 106,960,000 106,960,000
December 31, 20050112,073,000112,073,000
December 31, 20040117,971,000117,971,000
December 31, 20030105,835,000105,835,000
December 31, 20020105,415,000105,415,000
December 31, 2001084,020,00084,020,000
December 31, 2000059,142,00059,142,000
December 31, 1999069,026,00069,026,000
December 31, 1998076,086,00076,086,000
December 31, 1997064,165,00064,165,000
December 31, 1996064,165,00064,165,000
December 31, 1995049,420,00049,420,000
December 31, 1994049,420,00049,420,000
December 31, 1993035,300,00035,300,000
December 31, 1992 0 14,120,000 14,120,000
December 31, 1991000
December 31, 19904,412,500101,9464,514,446
December 31, 198922,062,500922,74622,985,246
December 31, 198836,902,2773,941,34640,843,623
December 31, 198744,172,1639,198,10553,370,268
December 31, 198654,305,68014,454,86768,760,547
December 31, 198545,053,97019,711,62964,765,599
December 31, 198476,068,18024,147,591100,215,771

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Ethiopia: Financial Position in the Fund as of September 30, 2009 according to IMF

Summary of IMF members’ quota, reserve position, SDR holdings, outstanding credit, recent lending arrangements, projected payments due to the IMF, and monthly historical transactions with the Fund.
I. Membership Status: Joined: December 27, 1945;Article XIV
II. General Resources Account:SDR Million%Quota
Quota133.70100.00
Fund holdings of currency126.2294.41
Reserve Tranche Position7.515.62
Lending to the Fund
Notes Issuance
Holdings Exchange Rate
III. SDR Department:SDR Million%Allocation
Net cumulative allocation127.93100.00
Holdings17.6913.83
IV. Outstanding Purchases and Loans:SDR Million%Quota
ESF Arrangements73.5455.00
ESF RAC Loan33.4325.00
V. Latest Financial Arrangements:
Date ofExpirationAmount ApprovedAmount Drawn
TypeArrangementDate(SDR Million)(SDR Million)
ESF Aug 26, 2009 Oct 25, 2010153.76 73.54
PRGF Mar 22, 2001 Oct 31, 2004100.28 100.28
PRGF Oct 11, 1996 Oct 22, 199988.47 29.49
VI. Projected Payments to Fund  1/
(SDR Million; based on existing use of resources and present holdings of SDRs):
Forthcoming
2009 2010 2011 2012 2013
Principal
Charges/Interest0.230.820.820.820.82
Total0.230.820.820.820.82
1/ When a member has overdue financial obligations outstanding for more than three months, the amount of such arrears will be shown in this section.
VII. Implementation of HIPC Initiative:
Enhanced
I.   Commitment of HIPC assistance Framework
Decision point dateNov 2001
Assistance committed
by all creditors (US$ Million) 1/1,982.20
Of which: IMF assistance (US$ million)60.85
(SDR equivalent in millions) 45.12
Completion point date Apr 2004
II.  Disbursement of IMF assistance (SDR Million)
Assistance disbursed to the member45.12
Interim assistance10.28
Completion point balance34.84
Additional disbursement of interest income 2/1.54
Total disbursements46.66
1/ Assistance committed under the original framework is expressed in net present value (NPV) terms at the completion point, and assistance committed under the enhanced framework is expressed in NPV terms at the decision point. Hence these two amounts can not be added.
2/ Under the enhanced framework, an additional disbursement is made at the completion point corresponding to interest income earned on the amount committed at the decision point but not disbursed during the interim period.
VIII. Implementation of Multilateral Debt Relief Initiative (MDRI):
I.       MDRI-eligible debt (SDR Million)1/112.07
Financed by: MDRI Trust79.66
Remaining HIPC resources32.41
II.       Debt Relief by Facility (SDR Million)
Eligible Debt
Delivery Date GRA PRGF Total
January 2006N/A112.07112.07
1/ The MDRI provides 100 percent debt relief to eligible member countries that qualified for the assistance. Grant assistance from the MDRI Trust and HIPC resources provide debt relief to cover the full stock of debt owed to the Fund as of end-2004 that remains outstanding at the time the member qualifies for such debt relief.
_________________
Decision point – point at which the IMF and the World Bank determine whether a country qualifies for assistance under the HIPC Initiative and decide on the amount of assistance to be committed.
Interim assistance – amount disbursed to a country during the period between decision and completion points, up to 20 percent annually and 60 percent in total of the assistance committed at the decision point (or 25 percent and 75 percent, respectively, in exceptional circumstances).
Completion point – point at which a country receives the remaining balance of its assistance committed at the decision point, together with an additional disbursement of interest income as defined in footnote 2 above. The timing of the completion point is linked to the implementation of pre-agreed key structural reforms (i.e., floating completion point).
Prepared by Finance Department

The end of the Bretton Woods System (1972–81)

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By the early 1960s, the U.S. dollar’s fixed value against gold, under the Bretton Woods system of fixed exchange rates, was seen as overvalued. A sizable increase in domestic spending on President Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society programs and a rise in military spending caused by the Vietnam War gradually worsened the overvaluation of the dollar. End of Bretton Woods system The system dissolved between 1968 and 1973. In August 1971, U.S. President Richard Nixon announced the “temporary” suspension of the dollar’s convertibility into gold. While the dollar had struggled throughout most of the 1960s within the parity established at Bretton Woods, this crisis marked the breakdown of the system. An attempt to revive the fixed exchange rates failed, and by March 1973 the major currencies began to float against each other. Since the collapse of the Bretton Woods system, IMF members have been free to choose any form of exchange arrangement they wish (except pegging their currency to gold): allowing the currency to float freely, pegging it to another currency or a basket of currencies, adopting the currency of another country, participating in a currency bloc, or forming part of a monetary union.
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EPPF MOBILE UNIVERSITY II :- ETHIOPIANISM abc…

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INTERNATIONAL CRISIS Condemns Ethiopia Woyan’s ETHNIC FEDERALISM Africa Raport N° 153 09/09/09/

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Ethiopia’s known over 80 Ethnio linguistic  distribution and the existing  over 200 dialects  are living  sources of Woyane’s plan of Balkanization. And  its means of  legitimacy  in power for years to come. Prof. Muse

International Crisis Group

visit www.crisisgroup.org


Africa Report N°153 4 September 2009

ETHIOPIA: ETHNIC

FEDERALISM

AND ITS DISCONTENTS



Executive summary

The Ethiopian Peoples’ Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), led by its chairman and prime minister, Meles Zenawi, has radically reformed Ethiopia’s political system. The regime transformed the hitherto centralised state into the Federal Democratic Republic and also redefined citizenship, politics and identity on ethnic grounds. The intent was to create a more prosperous, just and representative state for all its people. Yet, despite continued economic growth and promised democratisation, there is growing discontent with the EPRDF’s ethnically defined state and rigid grip on power and fears of continued inter-ethnic conflict. The international community should take Ethiopia’s governance problems much more seriously and adopt a more principled position towards the government. Without genuine multi-party democracy, the tensions and pressures in Ethiopia’s polities will only grow, greatly increasing the possibility of a violent eruption that would destabilise the country and region.

The endeavour to transform Ethiopia into a federal state is led by the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), which has dominated the coalition of ethno-nationalist parties that is the EPRDF since the removal in 1991 of the Derg, the security services committee that overthrew Emperor Haile Selassie in 1974. The EPRDF quickly institutionalised the TPLF’s policy of people’s rights to self-determination and self-rule. The federal constitution ratified in 1994 defined the country’s structure as a multicultural federation based on ethno-national representation.

The government has created nine ethnic-based regional states and two federally administered city-states. The result is an asymmetrical federation that combines populous regional states like Oromiya and Amhara in the central highlands with sparsely populated and underdeveloped ones like Gambella and Somali. Although the constitution vests all powers not attributed to the federal government in them, the regional states are in fact weak.

The constitution was applauded for its commitment to liberal democracy and respect for political freedoms and human rights. But while the EPRDF promises democracy, it has not accepted that the opposition is qualified to take power via the ballot box and tends to regard the expression of differing views and interests as a form of betrayal. Before 2005, its electoral superiority was ensured by the limited national appeal and outreach of the predominantly ethnically based opposition parties. Divided and disorganised, the reach of those parties rarely went beyond Addis Ababa. When the opposition was able to challenge at local, regional or federal levels, it faced threats, harassment and arrest. With the opportunity in 2005 to take over the Addis Ababa city council in what would have been the first democratic change of a major administration in the country’s history, the opposition withdrew from the political process to protest flaws in the overall election.

The EPRDF did not feel threatened until the 2005 federal and regional elections. The crackdown that year on the opposition demonstrated the extent to which the regime is willing to ignore popular protest and foreign criticism to hold on to power. The 2008 local and by-elections went much more smoothly, in large part because the opposition Coalition for Unity and Democracy (CUD) was absorbed with internal and legal squabbles, and several other parties withdrew after their candidates experienced severe registration problems. The next federal and regional elections, scheduled for June 2010, most probably will be much more contentious, as numerous opposition parties are preparing to challenge the EPRDF, which is likely to continue to use its political machine to retain its position.

Despite the EPRDF’s authoritarianism and reluctance to accept genuine multi-party competition, political positions and parties have proliferated in recent years. This process, however, is not driven by democratisation or the inclusion of opposition parties in representative institutions. Rather it is the result of a continuous polarisation of national politics that has sharpened tensions between and within parties and ethnic groups since the mid-1990s. The EPRDF’s ethnic federalism has not dampened conflict, but rather increased competition among groups that vie over land and natural resources, as well as administrative boundaries and government budgets.

Furthermore, ethnic federalism has failed to resolve the “national question”. The EPRDF’s ethnic policy has empowered some groups but has not been accompanied by dialogue and reconciliation. For Amhara and national elites, ethnic federalism impedes a strong, unitary nation-state. For ethno-national rebel groups like the ONLF (Ogaden National Liberation Front; Somalis in the Ogaden) and OLF (Oromo Liberation Front; the Oromo), ethnic federalism remains artificial. While the concept has failed to accommodate grievances, it has powerfully promoted ethnic self-awareness among all groups. The international community has ignored or downplayed all these problems. Some donors appear to consider food security more important than democracy in Ethiopia, but they neglect the increased ethnic awareness and tensions created by the regionalisation policy and their potentially explosive consequences.

Nairobi/Brussels, 4 September 2009


Prof. Muse Tegegne Fight against Famine & Deforestation 20th Year anniversary. BASTA! Prof. Muse

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Famine part 1/2 for Italian Speakers

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Famine part 2/2 for Italian Speakers

1989-2009

20th Year anniversary of Deforestation War and Famine BASTA!!!

Since 1989 up unto 2009 Ethiopians, Eritreans, Somalians, Sudanis are still starving , are still dying ..

What is the Solution Coming soon… ?

Ethiopia had never recovered from the previous great famine of the early 1970s, which was the result of a drought that affected most of the countries of the African Sahel. The late 1970s again brought signs of intensifying drought. By the early 1980s, large numbers of people in central Eritrea, Tigray, Welo, and parts of Gonder and Shewa were beginning to feel the effects of renewed famine.

By mid-1984 it was evident that another drought and resulting famine of major proportions had begun to affect large parts of northern Ethiopia. Just as evident was the government’s inability to provide relief. The almost total failure of crops in the north was compounded by fighting in and around Eritrea, which hindered the passage of relief supplies. Although international relief organizations made a major effort to provide food to the affected areas, the persistence of drought and poor security conditions in the north resulted in continuing need as well as hazards for famine relief workers. In late 1985, another year of drought was forecast, and by early 1986 the famine had spread to parts of the southern highlands, with an estimated 5.8 million people dependent on relief food. Exacerbating the problem in 1986 were locust and grasshopper plagues.

The government’s inability or unwillingness to deal with the 1984-85 famine provoked universal condemnation by the international community. Even many supporters of the Ethiopian regime opposed its policy of withholding food shipments to rebel areas. The combined effects of famine and internal war had by then put the nation’s economy into a state of collapse.

The primary government response to the drought and famine was the decision to uproot large numbers of peasants who lived in the affected areas in the north and to resettle them in the southern part of the country. In 1985 and 1986, about 600,000 people were moved, many forcibly, from their home villages and farms by the military and transported to various regions in the south. Many peasants fled rather than allow themselves to be resettled; many of those who were resettled sought later to return to their native regions. Several human rights organizations claimed that tens of thousands of peasants died as a result of forced resettlement.

Another government plan involved villagization, which was a response not only to the famine but also to the poor security situation. Beginning in 1985, peasants were forced to move their homesteads into planned villages, which were clustered around water, schools, medical services, and utility supply points to facilitate distribution of those services. Many peasants fled rather than acquiesce in relocation, which in general proved highly unpopular. Additionally, the government in most cases failed to provide the promised services. Far from benefiting agricultural productivity, the program caused a decline in food production. Although temporarily suspended in 1986, villagization was subsequently resumed

After two decades and half  the Woyane regime will colapse with this continues and unresolved famine it is hiding like thta of the famine of

Welloin  1974, the 1984 the Tigraye famine and 1991 famine whch brought Woyane to power, and today of 2009 undeclared famine  and cholera which giong to bring woyane down.

Ethiopianism Paths of Struggle:- Amharas, Gojjam, Abyssinia

14

Who are Amharas?  What does Gojjam means? Who are the Makers of Ethiopia?

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