Ethiopian News

  • Ethiopia – Saudi Arabia amnesty expires: arrests, deportation looms

    A bilateral amnesty program between Ethiopia and Saudi Arabia in respect of Ethiopians illegally resident in the oil-rich Gulf nation expires today after a months’ extension elapsed.

    The process till this stage has involved the issuing of the initial 90-day amnesty – during which time authorities in Addis Ababa expressed worry over the slow rate of return. At a point there was a huge return then an extension of 30-days was granted.

    This effectively means that Saudi can now resort to forcible deportation and imprisonment of persons who failed to take the program and to return home.

    It is better if our citizens come back home before various problems arise seizing the opportunity they are given even in the remaining short period.

    The Ethiopian government helped facilitate exit visas for thousand of its nationals who were illegally resident in Saudi, most of them had gone to work as labourers.

    Figures indicate that there are about 400,000 such illegal residents but so far only about 60,000 of them have taken the amnesty program to return, the BBC’s reporter in Addis Ababa reports.

    Below is a brief timeline of events since March 2017.

    March 29, 2017

    – Saudi Arabia issues a 90-day notice for all undocumented workers to quit the Kingdom.
    May 21, 2017

    – Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn expressed worry over the refusal of nationals illegally resident in Saudi Arabia to return home despite a 90-day amnesty program. Desalegn said he feared that the Saudi government will resort to forcibly deport Ethiopians.
    He is quoted by the Ethiopia News Agency as saying, “the situation that made the Saudi Government forcibly deport our citizens is being created. Therefore, it is better if our citizens come back home before various problems arise seizing the opportunity they are given even in the remaining short period”.

    May 27, 2017

    – The Ethiopian government said it had secured exit visas for about 40,000 undocumented citizens living in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The Foreign Affairs chief traveled to Saudi and held talks with officials in Riyadh.
    June 24, 2017

    – Information Minister reported that 35,000 nationals had returned home on the program and that 85,000 of them had been granted exit visas at the time.
    He also disclosed that some returning citizens had taken other routes besides flying in. Assuring that those who left Saudi via ship and rail. Most of them are in neighbouring Djibouti and Sudan.

    June 28, 2017

    – The Ethiopian government requested for an extension of the amnesty of the over 400,000 nationals expected back home, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said only 45,000 had returned home.
    June 30, 2017

    – The extension requested by Ethiopia was granted by Saudi authorities – a further 30-days.
    Ethiopian Ambassador to the UK, Hailemichael Aberra confirmed the extension to the BBC on saying “Ethiopia is trying its best to welcome the people from Saudi Arabia”.

    “A taskforce has been established at several levels … 110,000 have been registered and the others are being encouraged to register to get their visas and come back home,” Aberra said.

    With the amnesty having expired today

    (Tuesday 25 July, 2017),

    Ethiopians who failed to return home will be forced back. They could also face detention and fines according to Saudi law.
    Ethiopia has one of the largest undocumented migrants in Saudi Arabia working as construction and domestic workers.

    Local media reports that a number of them have complained of inability to afford tickets to leave the country. The government sent envoys to help facilitate the repatriation via the national airline Ethiopian Airlines.

    This follows a similar campaign launched in 2013 that saw more than 2.5 million undocumented migrants leave the country. The move is part of Saudi’s national campaign to rid the country of the huge number of illegal migrants.

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  • The Khalid Adem Conundrum

     Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, July 25, 2017 -This is not a fiction. It’s an ugly truth of Khalid Adem, an Ethiopian, who imprisoned ten years in the United States of America for he falsely convicted of genital mutilation of his two years old daughter.

    His case was identified as “a high profile case of the first kind in the U.S.”, according to CNN, Atlanta media.

    A man who in 2006 became the first person in the United States to be convicted of female genital cutting was deported to his home country, Ethiopia, after serving 10 years in prison, the New York Times March 14, 2017 reported by quoting U.S’s federal authorities.

    After deportation to Ethiopia, Khalid Adem is writing a book which narrates the court process and the false witness of presented by his South African wife. Titled “Tears of Injustice”, is to be available on the market “after a month”, according to Khalid.

    “Adem, who had no criminal record, could have been sentenced up to 40 years in prison. He held his face in his hands and wept loudly after the jury’s verdict was read,” the Associated Press news reads.

    “Tears of Injustice is about a journey. This one man’s journey and a journey and a journey to the point at which our society collects facts, pass judgement, and not properly issue justice.

    The difference between right and wrong are disputable. Sometimes reasoning and circumstance blur the line between the two. This is exactly why, in matter that are unclear, we have justices system. A system divided by plaintiff and defendant held in court, before a jury of your peers, with a judge to bring order,” he wrote on a draft introduction of his new book availed to DireTube.

    On Saturday, July 22 late night Tadias Addis Show phone conversation Khalid disclosed that, “The conviction was totally a fabrication story of my former wife, whom we used to nag each other”. “I really miss my daughter Amirah Khalid, hope we’ll see her one day, if the goodwill of the almighty is there,” he put his optimistic opinion.


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  • New Livestock Traceability System Launched



    Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, July 25, 2017 – With the financial and technical support of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), through its Livestock Market Development activity, the Ministry of Livestock and Fisheries today launched the Ethiopian Livestock Identification and Traceability System. Fully implemented, the system will help to gather information regarding source/origin of the animal, type of husbandry, and management system in place resulting in quality products for consumers and increased incomes of farmers.

    For the last two years, USAID, through a livestock sector market improvement pilot project worth $1.4 million (over 32 million Ethiopian Birr), has supported the ministry in establishing the system, which is required to make the Ethiopian livestock sector more competitive in accessing international markets.

    The Livestock Identification and Traceability system tracks animals using tamper-proof plastic twin ear tags. The tags capture relevant data regarding source of the animal, necessary measures in place to control and prevent occurrence of major animal diseases, and medical and diagnostic data necessary to ensure the animal’s health and the quality of its meat. All recorded data is stored in a central database server purchased by USAID, which is housed inside the ministry’s data center. The system will make it possible to improve the quality and quantity of the Ethiopian livestock and livestock products destined for export markets.

    “The system marks a turning point in the livestock sector of Ethiopia because animal identification and traceability are important factors for livestock market in today’s global market,” said Stephen Morin, a representative of USAID Ethiopia. “This traceability system will promote the growth of a commercial livestock sector capable of competing in both domestic and international markets.”

    USAID supported the ministry by providing day-to-day guidance on issues related to general legal framework development, animal identification and traceability systems development and on implementation of the system. To this end, USAID provided financial and technical support for an international exposure visit for relevant stakeholders to Namibia.

    USAID’s five-year Livestock Market Development activity is implemented as part of the U.S. Government’s Feed the Future initiative and contributes to the Government of Ethiopia Agricultural Growth Program to improve smallholder incomes and nutritional status in four regions of Ethiopia.

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  • Strike against new tax spreads to Ethiopia’s capital

    Owners of small retail shops in Africa’s largest open-air market observe strike against new tax

    ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia

    Owners of small retail shops in the Africa’s largest open-air market, located in Ethiopia’s capital, observed a strike on Monday against a new tax.

    A deserted view was witnessed at the Merkato market, in a clear indication that protests which started in small towns has spread to the capital Addis Ababa, with annual deadline for filing of annual tax returns fast approaching in mid-August.

    Earlier this month, Ethiopian government introduced a new tax, targeting businesses with an annual turnover of up to 100,000 Ethiopian birr ($4,300).

    "My income is very small. They (the authorities) estimate my daily income to be as much as 5,000 Birr ($214). I am diabetic... I spend much of the day sleeping. Where can I get that huge money from?" Fantu Bedaso, a retailer of grains who is in her late 60s, told Anadolu Agency.

    "I filed my complaints with the government, but to no avail," she said while sitting in front of her small shop.

    Many retailers in the area, not wanting to disclose their names or get filmed due to fear of government’s retribution, told Anadolu Agency that they are coming together to voice their concern in more organized manner.

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  • For Ethiopia’s Underemployed Youth, Life Can Center on a Leaf


    BAHIR DAR, Ethiopia — Her life revolves around a psychotropic leaf.

    Yeshmebet Asmamaw, 25, has made chewing the drug a ritual, repeated several times a day: She carefully lays papyrus grass on the floor of her home, brews coffee and burns fragrant frankincense to set the mood.

    Then she pinches some Khat leaves, plucked from a potent shrub native to this part of Africa, into a tight ball and places them in one side of her mouth.

    “I love it!” she said, bringing her fingers to her lips with a smack.

    She even chews on the job, on the Khat farm where she picks the delicate, shiny leaves off the shrubs. Emerging from a day’s work, she looked slightly wild-eyed, the amphetamine like effects of the stimulant showing on her face as the sounds of prayer echoed from an Orthodox Christian church close by.

    Ethiopians have long chewed Khat, but the practice tended to be limited to predominantly Muslim areas, where worshipers chew the leaves to help them pray for long periods, especially during the fasting times of Ramadan.

    But in recent years, officials and researchers say, Khat cultivation and consumption have spread to new populations and regions like Amhara, which is mostly Orthodox Christian, and to the countryside, where young people munch without their parents’ knowledge, speaking in code to avoid detection.

    “If you’re a chewer in these parts, you’re a dead, dead man,” said Abhi, 30, who asked that his last name not is used because his family “will no longer consider me as their son.”

    Most alarming, the Ethiopian authorities say, is the number of young people in this predominantly young nation now consuming Khat. About half of Ethiopia’s youth are thought to chew it. Officials consider the problem an epidemic in all but name.

    The country’s government, which rules the economy with a tight grip, is worried that the habit could derail its plans to transform Ethiopia into a middle-income country in less than a decade ― a national undertaking that will require an army of young, capable workers, it says.

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  • Koshe Survivors Still Struggle


    Though it has been five months since the deadly garbage hill slide occurred in Koshe Open Garbage Dumpsite in Addis Ababa, survivors of the incident are still complaining about unfulfilled promises and harsh living conditions, The Reporter has learnt.

    Survivors told The Reporter this week that they have faced harassment from officials for sharing their current conditions to the media.

    “Previously, you came to us to hear about our problem,” a survivor, who requested anonymity, told The Reporter. “The fact that you came brought more problems and harassment from officials from the wereda.”

    “The officials came with a story published in your newspaper and harassed us for disclosing information to media,” the survivor said.

    “Because of the story, they stopped food rationing for almost two weeks,” the anonymous survivor claimed.

    A week ago The Reporter paid a visit to a temporary shelter, which also served as youth sport center. Even though the survivors were promised that they would get a house, close 90 individuals including women, children and the elderly are still living in the youth center.

    The people that were met by The Reporter expressed their fear and concern for sharing their conditions to the media. On the other hand, there were others who said that they are fed up with the conditions and that they do not fear of openly talk about what is happening.

    The Reporter observed that the people, who were originally arranged to live in two separate rooms, are now residing in a very congested fashion. In that regard, in one of the rooms, which is made of corrugated sheets, close to 60 people have been living since the tragedy. This room is shanty at best with the wind and rain creating unfavorable conditions to children who are exposed to the kiremt cold.

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