Ethiopia: Week in Review

April 11, 2021

Review of developments in Ethiopia from the past week. We'll cover the ongoing violence against civilians, the GERD, Tigray, and more.

1. Hundreds of members of the Afar community were killed during clashes with the Somali regional state's special police. Kontie Moussa a member of the Afar People's Party strongly condemned the killings. The Ethiopian Ministry of Peace announced that the Afar and Somali governments have began a dialogue to resolve their issues, although new reports indicate that clashes have resurfaced today.

2. Protests against the intensifying mass murders of Amhara civilians took place in major cities in the US including Seattle, Oakland, Minneapolis, and Denver, in Europe in Geneva and Berlin and in Israel. Thousands of Amhara civilians are fleeing the Oromia region and are struggling to find shelter elsewhere. In the Benishangul Gumuz region an Amhara political candidate, Berihun Asferaw was assassinated. The Amhara Association of America released an investigation in which it reported 194 Amhara people were killed and 212 wounded by the Oromo Liberation Army in the attack in North Shewa region of Amhara regional state in late March. Endale Haile, Ethiopia's Chief Ombudsman separately reported that a total of 303 people were killed , 369 injured, and 1539 homes were burnt during the March attacks. Mr. Endale declined to classify the victims based on their ethnicity stating: "We are not willing to identify based on their ethnicity. They are human beings, so we should consider them as human beings rather than classifying them as Oromo and Amhara".

3. The GERD negotiations between Ethiopia, Egypt, and Sudan ended without an agreement. Ethiopia accused Egypt and Sudan of seeking to undermine the African Union because of Egypt and Sudan's attempt to add the US, EU, and the UN as additional mediators. Sudan and Egypt blamed "Ethiopian intransigence" for the failure of the talks and vowed to take the issue to the United Nations Security Council. Following the talks, Ethiopia extended an invitation to Egyptian and Sudanese dam operators to exchange data before the upcoming summer filling season. Sudan and Egypt promptly rejected the invitation stating that their acceptance of the invitation would be tantamount to endorsing the second filling of the dam before a binding agreement is reached between the three countries.

4. US Secretary of State urged Sudan to de-escalate tensions with Ethiopia in a call with Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdock over their border dispute and the GERD. Earlier in the week Sudan had requested the removal of Ethiopian troops from the UN peace-keeping mission in Abyei citing a "lack of confidence". Up North from Sudan, Egyptian politicians continued their hardline rhetoric warning "all options are open" to deal with the dam crisis if negotiations fail. Egypt also announced that it signed a security intelligence agreement with Uganda in what appears to be a bid to rally African neighbors against Ethiopia. US tech giant Facebook announced the removal of 17 Egyptian social media accounts some of which were spreading propaganda against Ethiopia and the GERD.

5. Foreign Minister Demeke Mekonnen held a phone call with US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan in which the latter expressed his "grave concerns" about the humanitarian and human rights situation in Tigray. EU envoy Pekka Haavisto also traveled to Ethiopia to express the EU's concerns and met with President Sahle Work Zewde. The UN reported there has been substantial improvement in the humanitarian situation. Still it cautioned that the situation remains dire and more support is needed. The US, through USAID, announced that it will provide an additional $152 million to alleviate the humanitarian situation in Tigray. A poll of over 600 Tigrayans conducted in February and March sheds some light on the humanitarian condition with a majority concluding that more needs to be done.

6. Ethiopian Ministry of Foreign Affairs rebuked western media coverage of the Tigray conflict in a statement accusing them of releasing "biased reports that do not corroborate with facts on the ground". The Ethiopian National Defense Force dismissed a CNN video showing extrajudicial executions as a "complete fabrication". Sensational western reports on the conflict continued on British and American outlets including Channel 4, Financial Times, Morning Star UK, Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, AP, The Week, AP again, and Telegraph. Alex De Waal, the thinly disguised TPLF supporter masquerading as a neutral academic, made cameos in multiple outlets and released a report accusing the Ethiopian government of deliberately starving Tigray which was quoted widely by the European and American press. The Ethiopian government through its embassy in the UK categorically rejected his findings.

7. Ethiopia reported 1739 new COVID cases in the past 24 hours taking the nationwide tally to 227,255. The national death toll is now at 3,146. According to Yacob Seman, a public health advocate in Ethiopia, the COVID ICU occupancy rate is 69% nationally and 93% in Addis Ababa. Oromia is 100% occupied and Sidama has only 2 beds available.

8. Prime Minister Abiy gave an interview making the case for why Ethiopia telecom is an exciting investment opportunity. Ethiopia held debt relief meetings with the IMF and World Bank. The Ethiopian Planning and Development Commission laid the blame on the country's worsening inflation on "previous maladministration". Elsewhere, Ethiopian airlines celebrated its 75th year of operation. Ethiopia also announced the inauguration of a new medical facility, Roha medical campus. Finally, the Ethiopian Ministry of Peace hired a Washington DC lobbying firm for a six month $270,000 contract.

Interesting Reads

• Ethiopia Risks Unravelling for Lack of PR, by Dr Yonas Biru

• Ethiopia: MaiKadra, Metekel, and the Media Shame that Won't be Forgotten, by Jeff Pearce

My Life My Ethiopia, by Alula Pankhurst

A conversation with Dr. Tirusew Asefa, (published on this blog)

The Origins of The Original Sins of Federalism: A Feminist Perspective, (Tigist Hussen, Rahel Hassen, and Lidet Shiferaw)

A Week in the Horn, by the Ethiopian Ministry of Foreign Affairs

• Pulling Ethiopia from the Brink, op-ed by editorial board of The Reporter Ethiopia

Ethiopia's Government and the TPLF Are Not Morally Equivalent, by Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn

That's it for this week. Hope you have a wonderful and productive week.

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