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Thursday, February 16, 2006

Ethiopia - not getting much attention

Many in Ethiopia had their hopes for democracy dashed last May, when there appeared to be widespread rigging of elections by the government. Since then, protesters have been beaten, jailed and many killed. This includes a lot of youth. With some exceptions, the President has not felt much international pressure and indeed Washington has remained particularly quiet - Ethiopia is a strategic friend in the area on the 'war on terrorism' (see map to know why).

I have a dear friend living in Addis Ababa with his wife and children and he's been telling me it's a new climate of fear and discouragement, after some years of hope. I won't name him here, but for his family's sake, I want to focus attention on this.

Here is an
action that can be taken by anyone who would like to write a letter to the Prime Minister of Ethiopia. The action is written for young people, but at this time of the day, that's just about the right level for me...

In addition, here is an Ethiopian blog that leads to lots of current information and articles (excuse the plethora of ads).

Thanks for bringing this to our attention Gary. Sadly, I didn't know this was happening. I'll participate in the action that you have provided a link to. Cheers!
Africa is burning.
Just think of how much good could be done in that country with the $ blown in Iraq.
A lot of the countries were really trying, but when you have NOTHING, and the worst diseases in the world, and no medicine to cure diseases that have been wiped out, well, things get a little rough.
We have to do something, but step one, GET OUT OF IRAQ!
Gary, this is a great post. I had no idea such things were going on in Ethiopia. Unfortunately, I am not as informed about Africa as I would like to be. I keep promising myself to read more about it so I can learn, but life is filled with distractions from what is REALLY important. Most of what I learn comes from a friend who is doing PhD research in Kenya. Fortunately, Kenya ia pretty stable.

Thanks for the links to the action and to the Ethiopian blog. It will provide some interesting reading.
But, we've been told freedom is on the march...?
On Jan. 18, Britain cut all of its aid to Ethiopia’s government and plans to redirect the 50 million pounds to humanitarian agencies or local governments working in the country because of concerns the government’s handling of the unrest sparked by disputed election results.

Today the EU pressed Ethiopia’s parties to negotiate an end to the political crisis triggered by disputed results of last year’s elections and a subsequent crackdown on government’s critics.

I hope this helps a little too. I believe they need water and food, not money. Corruption as allways stands in the way..
Thanks all and and thanks Dimitri for that quite positive news. I've never been to Ethiopia but know many from there. It's apparently a very beautiful and interesting country to visit - on my list.
Thanks for the update.

It seems ironic that the very cradle of civilisation, our roots, should be to day an area subject to so much despair. I think the corruption is an outward sign of an inner collapse.

We have seen it played out in history many times in the failure of past civilisations that fight to gain power over the remnants, as human rights abuses continue. But the rest of the world can’t afford to stand back and watch these tragedies unfold, aid is needed to these countries to stem the inner collapse which lessens the likelihood of corruption and provides a rescue bridge away from its systemic spread.
Great points, Lindsay. I am also concerned about the AIDS epidemic in Africa and everyone's reluctance to talk or do anything about it (with the exception of Bono, of course, who is outspoken about this). Sometimes I think that leaders in the West just think if they sit back and do nothing long enough, their African "problem" will eventually resolve itself this way. SAD.

I think Africa is a beautiful continent. I had the joy of teaching many African students for all parts of the continent when I was a professor. I found them to be interesting, hard-working, fun-loving people, and I loved reading their papers. I think these people get overlooked in the West because of poverty and AIDS, and I think that's unfortunate. I know that their young people have much to offer.
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Thanks for the comments - I'll post some comments from my friend in Ethiopia soon (without his name or identifiers).

Stephen Lewis, the UN Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa is a passionately committed man to this cause (Canadian). I have seen him speak and he wept with the audience (literally). He's reaching the end of his rope on this one - such small steps and such suffering. Here's the link to his foundation http://www.stephenlewisfoundation.org/

See the Cost of Iraq War ticker on my site (and many of yours)? There should be a ticker with those kind of numbers for Money Spent on AIDS in Africa...

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