By Tesfa-Alem Tekle
April 20, 2013 (ADDIS ABABA) – Ethiopian prime minister Hailemariam Dessalegn has denied that the government is forcing tens of thousands of people off their land in order to lease it to foreign investors.
“As far as land grabbing is concerned this is not a case in [the] Ethiopia context”, he said while responding to queries raised from members of the European Union parliament at a meeting on Thursday in Brussels.
He said Ethiopia currently has more than 18 million hectares of arable land and out of these 2.6 million hectares of land has been given to Ethiopian investors.
Ethiopia remains one of the world’s poorest nations, with its government attempting to attract large-scale foreign investment in a bid to alleviate poverty and create jobs to millions of citizens.
Investors from India, China, Saudi Arabia and Turkey are currently eyeing large tracts of land to cultivate cereals, coffee, tea and rice, among others.
According to human right organisations, Ethiopia has leased over 600,000 hectares of land to Indian companies alone.
However, the Ethiopian premier told EU lawmakers that only 400,000 hectares of land has been issued to foreign firms so far.
However, international human right organisations say the leasing of prime agricultural land to foreign companies has led to intimidation, repression, detentions, rapes, beatings, environmental destruction, and the imprisonment of journalists and political objectors.
Many of the people affected have been indigenous peoples.
Rights groups have warned foreign investors flocking to Ethiopia to ensure local populations are consulted and compensated prior to relocation before forging ahead with projects.
The premier and members of the EU parliament, as well as Ethiopian partners also held discussions on political and security concerns in the East African region during the meeting.
Hailemariam expressed concerns that the process and support provided by the international community to Somalia remains slow.
He said the support is not equitable according to what Somalians actually need to boost security and rebuild their country.
“We also organise as IGAD to bring the international community to one voice”, he said.
With Ethiopia, Djibouti, Uganda, Kenya and Burundi currently providing support to Somalia on the ground, the war-torn Horn of Africa nation is experiencing relative improvements to peace and stability.
With regard to Eritrea, the Ethiopian prime minster said that his country is always ready for peace talks to mend ties with the Red Sea nation.
“We have put on [the] table some issues for dialogue”, he said, adding “we have five points of peace and normalisation strategies put in place”.
He added Ethiopia has consistently urged Eritrea to come to the negotiating table to make peace and to normalise relations.
The two rival East African neighbours fought a bitter two-year war between 1998-2000 over their disputed boundary, which left over 70,000 people dead and crippled the economies of both countries.
Article source: http://www.sudantribune.com/spip.php?article46297
Amid the two-day conference to raise funds for development and reconstruction projects in Darfur, the European Union announced it is pledging €27.5 million to “support people’s access to basic services”.
European Development Commissioner Andris Piebalgs, in a press statement released on Monday, said basic services include education and health, adding water management and agriculture projects would also benefit from the undertaking.
“The EU is firmly committed to bringing durable peace to the people of Darfur. However, we remain deeply concerned about the slow implementation of the DDPD, rising insecurity in parts of Darfur and restrictions on access for aid. We hope that all parties to the conflict will take this opportunity to choose political dialogue over armed confrontation”, Piebalgs said.
The conference is part of the agenda of the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur (DDPD), an agreement signed in July 2011 between the Government of Sudan and the Liberation and Justice Movement (LJM) to promote the peace process in Darfur.
Since 2010, the EU has allocated €60 million from the European Development Fund to the people of Sudan to increase their access to basic services such as education and health and improve the livelihoods of the rural population, as well as €15 million with a special focus on food security. Out of this total allocation, the people of Darfur have benefited from €16 million, the statement read.
The EU is a member of the International Follow-Up Committee, set up to assess the progress made so far in the provisions of the DDPD.
Despite some progress, the EU pointed out that “there are still insufficient advancements in the peace process such as the financial commitments made by the Government of Sudan. The DDPD foresees the transfer to the Darfur Regional Authority of €1.5 billion over two years since the signature of the document in 2011: but so far only 10% of that amount has been transferred.”
In the press release, Commissioner Piebalgs said: “We call on the Sudanese government and all parties involved to sustain their efforts to improve the environment in which aid workers operate and fully implement the DDPD to enable a new momentum on development.”
Photo: European Development Commissioner Andris Piebalgs (EU)
Donor conference commences in Doha (8 April 2013)
Protests against Doha donor conference continue in Darfur (8 April 2013)
Article source: http://www.radiodabanga.org/node/46230
April 7, 2013 (JUBA) – The International Organisation for Migration (IOM) has embarked on several peace promotion events, seeking to bring conflicting South Sudanese communities in harmony with one another.
The initiative, part of IOM’s €4.9m Peace and Stability Quick Impact Fund (PSQIK) programme, seeks to enhance cooperation and sharing of resources, in the wake of the country’s widespread level of inter-communal violence.
PSQIK was established in 2012, with the support of the European Union’s instrument for stability.
Under the scheme, IOM reportedly works with local partners to provide quick, flexible and visible peace-building and stabilizing interventions in South Sudan’s border states of Warrap, Northern Bahr el-Ghazal and Unity.
South Sudan split from neighbouring Sudan in July 2011, after its population chose separation in referendum. The vote was a prerequisite of the 2005 peace deal, which ended over two decades of the north-south civil war.
Since then, however, the young nation continues to experience tension and violence in various communities, mostly fuelled by limited access to water, frequent cattle raids and clashes between ethnic groups.
“When people come together and talk to each other, they appreciate their common identity, and know that the solutions to their problems need to come from within”, Marko Madut Garang, a peace coordinator with South Sudan Peace and Reconciliation Commission said at last week’s event held in Warrap.
With this foundation set by the EU and IOM, the government will be able to continue promoting the dividends of peace, he stressed.
Vincent Houver, IOM chief of mission, said the programme will positively impact on people and bring lasting peace in their various communities.
“It is our hope that we can build on these successes to bring dialogue and understanding to other parts of South Sudan where violence has become entrenched,” he remarked.
Tension in most part of the country, officials says, are exacerbated by a lack of communication between communities, leading to mistrust and an ongoing cycle of revenge attacks for past grievances.
Earlier this year, the country witnessed renewed violence between pastoralist groups and resident communities, as well as several cattle raiding incidences in various parts of South Sudan. Over 200,000 South Sudanese, according to the United Nations, are at risk of being displaced by violence, this year.
Meanwhile, plans are reportedly underway, based on positive outcomes of the programme, to extend the PSQIF approach to Jonglei state; a region that has witnessed cycles of violence.
Article source: http://www.sudantribune.com/spip.php?article46123