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Ethiopia: Protesters attack foreign farm firms

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Protesters chant slogans during a demonstration over what they say is unfair distribution of wealth in the country at Meskel Square in Addis Ababa, August 6, 2016 (Reuters Photo)
By Tesfa-Alem Tekle

September 4, 2016 (ADDIS ABABA) – As unrest continues across parts of Ethiopia, protesters in Amhara region have attacked foreign-owned flower firms in the northern region.

Amhara regional officials on Sunday told journalists that protesters have caused series damages in at least seven foreign-owned flower farms.

A Dutch, Netherland, Israeli, Indian, Italian, and Belgian flower farms are among those attacked during the weeks-long anti government protests.

The recent waves of violent anti-government protests in Amhara and Oromiya region have reportedly claimed the lives of at least 100 people.

Questions linked with disputed regional territorial boundaries, release of political prisoners, political and economic rights are the causes for the violent protests.

According to the officials, some of the flower farms have been burnt to the ground, others partially vandalized during the attacks this week.

In a statement issued on Saturday, the Ethiopian Horticultural Producers and Exporters Association said “Details are still being gathered. The scope of damage requires further investigation”

According to the statement no injuries have been reported from the attacks.

Also a Dutch company, Esmeralda, which is the worst affected said that a 10 million euro worth of investments “went up in smoke” in an attack on its farm.

The company’s country manager Haile Seifu, who himself fled to Addis Ababa after the attacks said a large group of protesters invaded the farm land and start damaging all the properties.

“They were so aggressive, there were also soldiers who couldn’t control them, so we just ran away, as it’s life or death” he told journalists.

“They came actually at once through our compound, through our fence, through our main gate, so everybody left.”

Sources told Sudan Tribune that the attacked foreign-owned plantations had business links with the government.

Ethiopia’s cut flower industry has become among the fastest growing. Currently flowers one of the country’s top exports.

Ethiopia is Africa’s second largest (after Kenya) and world’s fifth largest cut flower exporter.

(ST)

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