See also:
» 18.02.2011 - Ethiopian "sacred forests" sold to Indian tea producer
» 23.03.2010 - Ethiopia dam to "devastate entire tribes"
» 23.10.2009 - $480 million to help in Ethiopia's food security
» 19.09.2008 - Ethiopian rebels demand food aid in Ogaden
» 10.06.2008 - Ethiopia separatist rebels launch major operations
» 18.01.2008 - Horn of Africans protest in UK
» 09.04.2007 - Ethiopia frees genocide, treason suspects
» 09.05.2005 - Ethiopia limits rights in Oromia ahead of election

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Human rights | Agriculture - Nutrition

Ethiopia's Ogaden rebels issue famine alert

Water pump in Ethiopia's Ogaden region, provided by The Denan Project

© Denan Project/afrol News
afrol News, 17 March
- Rebel groups in Ogaden fighting the Ethiopian government warn of a "severe drought" in the region, which could develop into famine. They claim government is withholding aid.

"The Ogaden as with most Horn of African regions is under the grips of severe draught," according to a statement by the Ogaden Liberation Front (ONLF) forwarded to afrol News. The ONLF is fighting a low-scale war for independence in Ogaden - a south-eastern region termed the Somali Province by Ethiopian authorities.

According to the rebels, the Deir rains in the Ogaden and many other parts of the African Horn had failed, "and since then the livelihood of both people and livestock has been steadily deteriorating."

"The draught has now reached a stage where both people and animals are dying," the ONLF statement says. "The draught in the Ogaden is more lethal than in other regions in the Horn of Africa because the regime of Meles Zenawi is not only denying the people international help, but is effectively obstructing them from utilising their own resources," the rebels claim.

One of the most urgent needs was reported to be water. "Water is most urgently needed in Doolo region (Wardher), Qorahey region (Qabri Daharre), Jarar region (Degahbur) and the Southern regions of Afdheer and Liiban. Thousands of animals are dying in these areas and there are reports of children and the elderly dying too," according to the ONLF.

International humanitarian agencies have not issued a special famine warning for the Ogaden, but the US-based Famine Early Warning Systems (FEWS) in its latest Ethiopia update rates the entire Ogaden region as "h

Food security assessment of Ethiopia January-March 2011, with orange areas set as "Highly food insecure"

© FEWS Net/afrol News
ighly food insecure" - which is far from a famine alert.

But access to the Ogaden region is limited for international humanitarian agencies and FEWS and UN agencies mostly rely on information provided by the Ethiopian government making their food security assessments. Government has not issued a particular alert for the Ogaden (or Somali) region.

According to the ONLF rebels, this has its reasons. They claim government is actively using the hunger card to fight the rebels. They claim government troops have "occupied the few water wells in the region, preventing people and livestock from using the wells."

"Furthermore, the troops are preventing the UN agencies to mount the necessary relief operation," the rebels say, claiming to have "reliable sources" ascertaining that UN agencies had "provided the resources and equipment needed, but the Meles Zenawi agents in the region are misappropriating the funds and preventing UN staff to go beyond the regional centres, while maintaining the aid embargo in Ogaden."

The ONLF ended its statement by sending an "urgent appeal" to the international community "to mitigate the effects of this draught by forcing the Zenawi Regime to allow unfettered access to Ogaden." Otherwise, the ONLF warns, "the 1984 catastrophe in Ethiopia could be repeated."

The ONLF "urgently appeals to the international community to take effective measures in order to save the people in Ogaden," the appeal ends.

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