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In the News – Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Posted on : January 17, 2012

On Tuesday, January 17, 2012, the International Non-Governmental Organization (INGO) Human Rights Watch (HRW) released an alarming report on the forced relocation of thousands of Ethiopians from the Gambella region, to the West of the country.

Ethiopia, the Earth’s involuntary relocated populations

Fondation Chirac - Camp de Daadab, Kenya (crédits : Jo Harrison/ Oxfam)

Daadab Camp, Kenya (credits : Jo Harrison/ Oxfam)

The report is eloquently titled “Waiting Here for Death”: Forced Displacement and “Villagization” in Ethiopia’s Gambella Region.

Based on over 100 interviews conducted from May to June 2011 in Ethiopia, in the Daadab refugee camp and in Nairobi (Kenya), where many Gambella residents have fled, the report depicts the fate of these people (70,000 are concerned) belonging to indigenous population groups. Forcibly relocated by state agents in new villages, they are without the basic necessities: food, arable land, health services, and appropriate education are all lacking, contrary to government promises.

This treatment has lead the INGO to wonder why the government has relocated these people, thus violating the rights of indigenous peoples as recognized by international law. The massive relocation is apparently aimed to make way for commercial agriculture, even though the Ethiopian state affirms the “villagization” program is essentially aimed at “providing access to basic economic infrastructures” However, in the absence of effective compensation and given the violence perpetrated against the inhabitants of Gambella, HRW wishes to draw the attention of major donors to the situation.

Human Rights Watch said in this regard that “international donors should ensure that they are not assisting forced displacement, and are not promoting human rights violations in the name of development.”

Indeed, at a time of “l’inquiétant Monopoly des terres agricoles” (alarming agricultural land grabbing) to quote a December 21, 2011 article in the Tribune.fr, which summarizes the key issues for widespread agricultural land grabbing, the Ethiopian example as reported by the HRW is a forceful statement on a current reality.

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