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  • UN Boosts Aid for Ethiopia, Somalia to Head Off Famine

    U.N. aid agencies are appealing to international donors to provide money to scale up lifesaving operations in drought-stricken Ethiopia and Somalia, where millions of hungry people are at risk of death and illness.

    FILE - Southern Somali women carry food aid donations from the UNHCR as they make their way to their refugee camp in Dollow, Somalia, Aug. 30, 2011. Hunger is again stalking the country, and the U.N. is appealing for aid.

    Five years after a devastating 2011 famine killed nearly 260,000 people in Somalia, famine again is stalking that country. The worst-affected areas are in northern Puntland and Somaliland, where dozens of drought-related deaths and many illnesses already are being reported.

    "On Sunday, we received reports of 38 deaths due to drought-linked reasons in the Bakool region of south-central Somalia," said Leo Dobbs, spokesman for the U.N. refugee agency. "Medical cases include people with acute malnutrition — especially children — watery diarrhea and cholera. These problems are likely to grow without substantial aid."

    The United Nations estimates that half of Somalia's population, 6.2 million people, is threatened by the drought. The U.N. Children's Fund said children were the most vulnerable.

    Christiane Boulierac, a UNICEF spokesman, said the number of children suffering from severe acute malnutrition "is expected to rise to 270,000 in the next few months."

    Read more at VOA

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  • UNHCR Hails Ethiopia's Refugee Handling

    The UN Refugee Agency has lauded Ethiopia for its commitment in hosting refugees and providing asylum and other basic needs.

    UNHCR Ethiopia Spokesperson Kisut Gebrezgabher told The Ethiopian Herald that Ethiopia is prominent for its open door policy towards refugees and asylum seekers for centuries, and UNHCR as well as the international community appreciate the country and its people's generosity.

    Kisut said: ''The people and government of Ethiopia, particularly the refugee hosting communities must be commended for their generous hospitality and continued support to the refugees. The international community should recognize this and support Ethiopia to help the refugees.

    "However, considering the growing number of refugees in the country and the huge gaps in meeting their needs, Ethiopia deserves greater support to enable it  protect and assist the refugees in a better way.''

    The Government of Ethiopia has made pledges aimed at further  improving the level of protection and support enjoyed by refugees in the country and urges the international community to step up its support for the refugees and for those populations hosting them, Kisut affirmed.

    According to him, UNHCR has been providing basic assistance and services to refugees and asylum seekers, including registration, documentation, shelter, food, water, sanitation and health, education, training, as well as livelihood support   in collaboration with the Ethiopian Government and other partners.

    Besides, Kisut confirmed that UNHCR and its partners have been launching some alternative energy sources for cooking and lighting to reduce the pressure on the   environment.

    Administration for Refugee and Returnee Affairs Communication and Public Relations Team Leader Suleyman Ali for his part said the out-of-camp policy which has been offered by the Ethiopian government has granted ample opportunities for many refugees.

    ''Besides, we have urban refugees living in Addis Ababa. The urban refugees mostly came from countries like Eritrea, Burundi, Congo, Rwanda, Yemen and Djibouti. The out-of-camp policy has enabled refugees who need special medical attention and refugees with serious protection concerns,'' he added.

    The Team Leader stated that due to the ever-increasing flow of refugees to Ethiopia, additional refugee camps were launched in the refugee hosting regions, thus the number of refugee camps in the country has been upgraded to 25.

    Suleyman pointed out that there are significant improvements in Somalia refugee influx to Ethiopia because of the AMISOM efforts to sustain peace and stability in the country.

    ''The terrorist group Al-Shabab has been heavily weakened by AMISOM forces and could not pose serious threat as it had been posing before. That's why there are significant improvements as far as Somali refugee is concerned. But the Eritrean problem is still persistent. Hundreds of Eritreans are fleeing their country daily due to the gross human right abuse, compulsory military conscription and dictatorship,'' he explained.

    The Team Leader admitted that the resource constraint facing Ethiopia, ARRA and other partners has been creating setback in providing basic needs to the refugees as much as necessary, urging the international community to stretch their hands in tackling one of the serious refugee crisis in the world.

    In addition to resource constraint, Suleyman highlighted that environmental degradation and secondary movement of refugees have been serious challenges occurred with respect to refugee-hosting process. 

    According to the 2016, UNHCR report  Ethiopia is among the largest refugee-hosting countries in Africa, sheltering some 800,000 refugees in 25 refugee camps across six States.

    Source: The Ethiopian Herald

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  • Ethiopia mourns its friend and greatest historian

    Ethiopia is mourning one of its greatest historians, Dr Richard Pankhurst, who died at the age of 90.

    The country’s Foreign Ministry in a statement referred to Pankhurst as a ‘‘doyen of historians and scholars of Ethiopia,’‘ it added that he ‘‘was one of Ethiopia’s greatest friends during his long and productive life, and his scholarship and understanding for Ethiopia will be sorely missed.’‘

    He received an award of recognition from President Teshome Mulatu for the crucial role he played in the campaign for the return of a historical monument (the axum stelae) from Italy. The monument was re-erected in 2008. The 1,700-year-old giant stone obelisk was taken to Italy by fascist invaders in the 1930s and remained there until it was restored to its historic site in an ancient northern town.

    Pankhurst arrived in Ethiopia in 1956 and devoted his life to Ethiopian studies, he is credited with over 20 books and editing many more on aspects of Ethiopia’s history, culture and economics. He taught at the Addis Ababa University – then known as the University College of Addis Ababa.

    He was the founding Director of the Institute of Ethiopian Studies and a leading figure within the ‘Friends of Ethiopia’ group. He left Ethiopia to his native Britain but returned in 1986 to continue work with the Institute he founded.

    He was also awarded the Order of the British Empire by the Queen for his services to Ethiopian studies. He is survived by Mrs. Rita Pankhurst and two children, Helen and Alula. The late academician was the son of Sylvia Pankhurst, a staunch supporter of Ethiopia’s struggle against Italy in the 1930s.

    Source: Africanews


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  • Searching for 'white gold' in the 'cruelest place on Earth'

    The depression lies 100 meters below sea level and is one of the world's hottest and most inhospitable locations, with National Geographic calling it the "cruelest place on Earth."

    Despite temperatures that reach over 50 degrees centigrade, it remains a lively and important economic hub, where Ethiopians maintain a centuries-old industry of mining salt from the ground by hand.

    Home to some of the most spectacular geological features in the world, the Danakil depression lies at the junction of three tectonic plates in the Horn of Africa. It is one of the hottest places on Earth -- the hottest when considering the annual average temperature -- and it sits well over 100 meters below sea level. A lively and important economic hub for Ethiopia, it is studied by scientists to see how microorganisms can live in such extreme conditions, which might offer clues about the possibility of life on other planets.

    Read more at CNN

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  • U.N. to plant 1 million trees in Gambella

    ROME, Feb 8 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - A million trees are to be planted in Ethiopia to fight deforestation around camps hosting hundreds of thousands of South Sudanese refugees who rely almost entirely on wood for fuel, a United Nations agency said on Wednesday.

    A view over part of Tierkidi refugee camp, hosting almost 50,000 south Sudanese refugees, mostly from the Nuer ethnic group in the Gambella region of western Ethiopia. Photo credit:

    The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said the trees would be planted on 150 hectares of land in Ethiopia's western Gambella region to meet the growing refugee population's demand for energy.

    Almost 300,000 people, mostly women and children, have found shelter in Ethiopia since conflict erupted in South Sudan in December 2013.

    Fires used by the refugees for cooking are fuelled almost entirely by chopped wood, putting considerable pressure on local forests, FAO energy and forestry expert Arturo Gianvenuti said.

    "Imagine tens of thousands of people - the population of a small city - who suddenly arrive in a location and start using forest resources," Gianvenuti told the Thomson Reuters Foundation in an interview. "The impact is visible".

    The depletion of forests risks creating tensions with local communities and disrupting the ecosystem, as trees stabilize the climate, regulate water flows and provide shelter to numerous animal species, according to the FAO.

    It also exposes refugee women to the risk of sexual abuse as they have to walk long distances in isolated areas to fetch firewood, Gianvenuti said.

    To address some of these issues, the FAO plans to set up nurseries for fast-growing trees, like Leucaena and Eucalyptus, to supply refugees from four camps in Gambella with wood, he said.

    The FAO and U.N. refugee agency (UNHCR) have also agreed to monitor deforestation with high resolution satellite images and train local craftsmen to produce energy-saving clay stoves that would cut wood consumption by up to 25 percent, Gianvenuti said.

    FAO also plans to monitor deforestation in Uganda, which has received 600,000 South Sudanese refugees so far, he added.

    South Sudan plunged into civil war in December 2013 after a long-running feud between President Salva Kiir and his former deputy, Riek Machar, exploded into violence, often along ethnic lines.

    The conflict has driven more than 3 million people from their homes and 600,000 more are expected to be displaced in 2017, according to U.N. estimates. (Reporting by Umberto Bacchi @UmbertoBacchi, Editing by Katie Nguyen.; Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women's rights, trafficking, property rights, climate change and resilience.

    Source: Reuters


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