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Ethiopia denies forcing thousands off land

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By Tesfa-Alem Tekle

May 17, 2012 (ADDIS ABABA) - The Ethiopian government has rejected growing accusations that it is forcibly relocating tens of thousands of indigenous people in the country’s south west in order to lease the land for commercial agriculture, mainly to foreign investors.

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Gambella region of Ethiopia (Getty)

Earlier this year, the US-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) said the Ethiopian government, under its "villagization" program, has forcibly resettled an estimated 70,000 indigenous residents from the western Gambella region to new villages where there is inadequate food, farmland and access to healthcare, and education.

HRW claim resettlement has been carried out forcibly and those who refuse it face assault and arbitrary arrest at the hands of state security forces. These are allegations which Addis Ababa denies.

Government spokesperson, Shimels Kemal on Wednesday told Sudan Tribune that the accusations are “baseless” and are part of politically motivated smear campaign.

Kemal said the land being leased is only in areas that are currently agricultural, uninhabited or sparsely populated.

He conceded that relocations have taken place in the area, but said this had been done in consultation with the local populous and with their consent.

The relocated people received assistance in establishing a new lives according to Kemal.

The Ethiopian government argues that the resettlement program is part of its strategy to ensure pastoralist areas of the country benefit from development and provides them with the necessary socio-economic infrastructures.

The programs have so far seen the relocation of some 20,000 households in the Gambella region and over 100,000 have also been resettled in Benshangul and Somali regions.

The Ethiopian government has plans to resettle some 1.5 million people by 2013 in Gambella, Afar, Somali, and Benishangul-Gumuz regions, in order to establish large-scale plantations there.

(ST)

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  • 20 May 2012 09:32, by Ruach

    Why relocating the local population in Gambella,Benashengul/Gumuz,Somali and Afar?Is it because these people are diverse countries?It will be worst in Gambella and Benashangul/Gumuz Kilils as these people are percieved as South Sudanese and Sudanese respectively.Gambella is the land of South sudan,but was legally sold to Ethiopia by stupid Arabs exchanged with Kassala which belong to ethio/Eritrea

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  • 20 May 2012 09:36, by Hotep

    Even Ethiopia which means Khemet or black is harassing its indigenous population of Ethiopia. Simply because the rulers changed color through bastardization and now play the role of their fathers the invaders.

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  • 21 May 2012 12:10, by SimonGK

    The government of Ethiopia is hiding the pact as said by HRW. people are relocating with their baseless investment that is not benefiting the region. because they are exporting its product rather open a factory that can create a job opportunity and benefit the local people.

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  • 30 July 2012 18:12, by danaray79

    I am really impressed by this blog! Very clear explanation of issues is given and it is open to everyone. thanks for posting this work of yours..this is very good! Buy Essay.

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