Thursday, September 20, 2007

Humanitarian situation in Ethiopia’s Ogaden region worsens - UN

AP report in full - via Sudan Tribune 20 Sep 2007:
September 19, 2007 (ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia) — The United Nations said Wednesday that the situation in Ethiopia’s Ogaden region has "deteriorated rapidly," and called for an independent investigation into the humanitarian issues there.

The U.N. sent a fact-finding mission to the Ogaden in the country’s volatile east from Aug. 30 to Sept. 6.

"The mission observed the recent fighting has led to a worsening humanitarian situation, in which the price of food has nearly doubled," the U.N. said in a statement released late Wednesday in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa.

The mission also called for a substantial increase in emergency food aid to the impoverished region where rebels have been fighting for increased autonomy for more than a decade.

The U.N. mission was sent after months of fighting that followed a crackdown ordered by Prime Minister Meles Zenawi on the Ogaden National Liberation Front. The government says the rebels, who killed 74 members of a Chinese-run oil exploration team, are terrorists, funded by its archenemy Eritrea.

The rebels have accused the Ethiopian government of genocide - a charge the government denies. In a statement on Sept. 13, the front said the government was punishing civilians for the rebel activities and that the fact-finding mission had not visited areas where war crimes were being committed.

"The Ethiopian regime’s policy in Ogaden continues to be a campaign of state-sponsored terror that largely avoids engagements with ONLF forces and instead focuses on collectively punishing our civilian population," the statement said. "Victims of the regime’s war crimes include victims of rape, torture, gunshot wounds and those fleeing burnt villages," it said.

The front called on the international community to stop "yet another preventable African genocide," and urged the U.N. to investigate further in the region, saying the recent trip had been too tightly controlled by the government.

Bereket Simon, the special adviser to the prime minister, dismissed the rebels’ claims after the statement was issued last week.

"They said it is good that the U.N. has sent the fact-finding mission. And now when the facts from the ground are found to be not supporting their claims, they are fighting the fact-finding mission," he said.

The group is fighting for greater political rights for the region, which is ethnically Somali.


Anonymous pete heinlein said...

who is ingrid jones?
pete heinlein

Thursday, September 20, 2007  

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