Ethiopian continues Humanitarian Collaboration with Boeing

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Air Cargo News

Ethiopian Airlines has flown 6.5 tons of humanitarian relief cargo from Seattle to Ethiopia on behalf of Conscience International (CI), Horn of Africa Neonatal Development Services and Seattle Alliance Outreach (SAO).

The carrier picked up the shipment, bound for St Paul’s Hospital and Bahir Dar University College of Medicine & Health Sciences, when it took delivery of another Boeing 787 aircraft – its 18th – from the Seattle-based manufacturer, as part of its fleet modernisation programme.

Ethiopian Airlines Group CEO Tewolde GebreMariam commented: “This round of our humanitarian delivery is a continuation of our commendable collaboration with Boeing that has served as a source of vital service for our community and neighbouring countries as well.”

The carrier’s 19th B787 is due for delivery by the end of this month (June) and will carry medical equipment and supplies for St Paul’s Hospital.

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Hunger to hit emergency levels in Ethiopia despite rains

Hunger is likely to reach emergency levels in Ethiopia and the number in need of food aid will rise beyond the current 7.7 million, experts said, as drought has decimated livestock, rains have been erratic and aid is in short supply.

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Prolonged drought, followed by floods, has pushed millions across East Africa into crisis, with 7 million in neighbouring Somalia also needing aid, the United Nations said as it grapples with the highest global hunger levels in decades.

“Despite enhanced rainfall at the end of April into early May over many areas of Ethiopia, food security outcomes are still expected to deteriorate,” the U.S.-based Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS NET) said on Wednesday.

Herders in southeastern Ethiopia will be worst hit over the next three months, it said, with hunger reaching the fourth “emergency” level on a five-phase scale, where the fifth level is famine.

“The current marginal improvements in pasture and water are likely to be depleted by early June, which will mean rangeland resources will rapidly decline, and subsequently livestock body conditions,” it said, with the next rains due in October.

The number of Ethiopians who need food aid surged to 7.7 million from 5.6 million between January and April.

This number is expected to increase in the second half of the year, the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said this week.

“Increased funding is needed urgently, in particular to address immediate requirements for clean drinking water, much of which is being delivered long distances by truck as regular wells have dried up,” it said.

The Trump administration has proposed to drastically cut U.S. funding for global health and food aid programmes amid opposition from Congress.

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Ethiopia is facing a killer drought

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia — The announcement by the United Nations in March that 20 million people in four countries were teetering on the edge of famine stunned the world and rammed home the breadth of the humanitarian crisis faced by so many in 2017.

Yet even as donors struggle to meet the severe needs in the war-torn nations of Nigeria, South Sudan, Somalia and Yemen, another crisis, more environmental in nature, is taking place nearby — nearly unnoticed.

On Thursday, the Ethiopian government increased its count of the number of people requiring emergency food aid from 5.6 million to 7.7 million, a move that aid agencies say was long overdue. The figure is expected to rise further as southeast Ethiopia confronts another fierce drought.

But with food crises erupting across the continent and the government’s budget strained by last year’s drought, the money isn’t there to fight it. There could eventually be as many people in Ethiopia needing emergency food assistance as in Somalia and South Sudan combined.

Ethiopia, long associated with a devastating famine in the 1980s, returned to the headlines last year when it was hit by severe drought in the highland region, affecting 10.2 million people. Food aid poured in, the government spent hundreds of millions of its own money, and famine was averted.

Now it’s the turn of the lowland region, particularly the area bordering Somalia, where a drought brought on by warming temperatures in the Indian Ocean has ravaged the flocks of the herders in the region and left people without food.

With their sheep and goats mostly dead, the nomads are clustered in camps surviving on aid from the government and international agencies — but that food is about to run out.

“This response capacity that is currently holding it at bay is about to be overwhelmed,” said Charlie Mason, humanitarian director of Save the Children, which is particularly active in Ethiopia’s impoverished Somali region. “We’ve spent all the money we’ve got, basically.”

With donors focused on Somalia across the border, little international aid has found its way to the Ethiopian areas hit by that drought. “I think it’s partly because there are other priorities, and they are not signaling loudly enough to donor offices,” Mason said.

According to a document detailing Ethiopian’s humanitarian needs that was drawn up in January by the government and aid agencies, Ethiopia needs nearly $1 billion to confront the crisis, more than half of which it still lacks. That figure also does not take into account the revised estimates in the numbers of people requiring aid.

During last year’s drought, Ethiopia came up with more than $400 million of its own money to fight off famine, but this year, it has been able to commit only $47 million, probably because of an exhausted budget.

There have also been accusations that the government is playing down the severity of the crisis to keep the country from looking bad internationally. During the earlier drought, it was months before the government admitted there was a problem, in part because Ethiopia had gained a reputation as Africa’s rising star and didn’t want to go back to being associated with drought and famine.

The contrast is clear in the bustling capital, Addis Ababa, where rainy skies and a hive of construction projects make it feel thousands of miles away from any drought. While Pizza Hut restaurants are set to soon open in the capital, thousands of children in the arid southeast suffer from acute malnutrition, and cholera is ripping through the relief camps.

The United Nations World Food Program (WFP), which is working in Ethiopia’s drought-hit Somali region, has started cutting its food rations to 80 percent. It is short $121 million for its Ethiopia operation this year, and the money is expected to run out over the summer.

If no new money arrives, the rations could be cut to 420 calories for the whole day — the equivalent of a burger. The government’s food contribution will probably suffer a similar fate.

“It’s stretching the humanitarian community,” WFP regional spokeswoman Challiss McDonough said, referring to the string of crises in the Horn of Africa and elsewhere on the continent. “I don’t think of it as donor fatigue. Quite frankly, the donors have been extremely generous, continuing to be so — but they are overwhelmed.”

There is also the fact that the Horn of Africa has been incredibly unlucky these past few years in terms of weather. Though famine was averted, many parts of the Ethiopian highlands are still recovering from the 2015-2016 drought, which was attributed to the El Niño ocean-warming phenomenon in the Pacific.

The U.N. World Meteorological Organization said Friday that there is a 50 percent to 60 percent chance that the Pacific will see another strong warming trend this year, which means Ethiopia’s highlands will be slammed again at a time when world resources are scarcer than ever.

“The droughts are coming more frequently and more often and they are worse — and that’s climate change. That’s very, very clear,” McDonough said. “You talk to any farmer how are the rains now compared to 20-30 years ago, they see a difference in their lifetimes, particularly the older ones.”

Even while they have one of the smallest carbon footprints on the globe, herders’ fragile existence in the arid climate of the Horn of Africa is probably the most threatened by climate change.

Adding to aid organizations’ concerns is a proposal by the Trump administration to slash U.S. contributions to international aid institutions, including the WFP. The U.S. government is the largest donor to the program. The proposed cuts, part of the president’s 2018 budget blueprint, are likely to face stiff opposition in Congress.

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WHO contender Tedros Adhanom doesn’t have the backing of the Ethiopian people

In a country struggling with a devastating drought, potentially evolving into a full-blown famine, the regime in Addis Ababa is spending millions of taxpayers’ money and resources for a campaign to install Tigraye People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) Politburo member for the post of Director-General at the World Health Organization (WHO). According to several international aid agencies, 18 million people are facing food shortage in Ethiopia while Tedros Adhanom is crisscrossing the globe and wining and dining in luxury, spending money that should otherwise be used to feed children. As a result of this developing drought situation, 500 schools across Ethiopia have closed because families are unable to feed their children.[1] Instead of providing the urgently needed food aid to desperate and needy children and mothers, the regime is filling gift bags sometimes with lavish presents to potential voters within the United Nations system.

Ethiopia today

Furthermore, most Ethiopians under the regime of which Tedros Adhanom is a member of the top leadership have experienced state inflicted terror conducted in the form of torture, extrajudicial killings, arbitrary arrests and disappearances. These heinous actions of the regime are well documented by international human rights organizations such as Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the United Nations Commission on Human Rights (UNCHR). In the last 12 months alone more than 1000 innocent civilians were murdered and more than 20,000 peaceful citizens summarily arrested by security forces loyal to the regime. Political activists, human rights defenders, journalists and pro-democracy organizers are routinely intimidated, arrested and tortured under the orders of Tedros Adhanom and his cohorts.

The United Nations High Commissoner for Human Rights, Zeid Al Hussein, repeatdly called on the regime to allow international observers to investigate these killing and gross violations of human rights in the country. Unfortunately, his call has been rejected by the regime. This refusal to allow international bodies to investigate the situation in the country is further evidence that the regime doesn’t adhere to international norms and instruments of which any responsible and civilized governemnt should respect and observe. Given this, and other belligerent behaviour of the regime, how can one of the senior members of the ruling clique even be considered to run for this prominent UN agency? Wouldn’t this be an affront to the values WHO represents, and an insult to WHO staff, the Ethiopian people and to the world?

Ethiopia currently is under a suffocating state of emergency, although some argue that the unoffcial state of emergency has been going on for twenty-six years, under the rule of Tedros Adhanom and his clique. The response of the regime to every political, economic and social demands of citizens is to rule by force (state of emergency) instead of providing a rational response to legitimate grievance due to steady erosion of basic constitutional rights.

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Tedros Adhanom’s TPLF party and North Korea’s Worker’s Party are the only two political organizations in the world to declare 100% “victory” in national elections 2014 and 2015 respectively. It is the hope of the majority of the Ethiopian people that individuals with undemocratic credentials and behaviors are not rewarded at the international stage. Thus, Tedros Adhanom should not be allowed near an inclusive, fair and responsible international institution. Moreover, the world is going through an unprecedented degree of national isolationism and violence. Hence, it is important to equip international institutions, such as WHO, with capable, inclusive and wise leaders instead of ethnic kleptocrats.

The Ethiopian people are watching Tedros Adhanom’s campaign with utter disgust and bewilderment. The fact that he is allowed to go this far is travesty of justice to those who are murdered, tortured, and arrested, under the orders of Adhanom and his group. “Rewarding agents of authoritarianism and those who participate in extrajudicial killings is nothing less than insult to injury,” said one mother, whose 18-year old son was brutally murdered by the TPLF paramilitary group called Agazi, a group in which Tedros Adhanom is one of the political chiefs.

Some of the United Nations agencies, such as the Human Rights Commission, already have troubling reputations as they roll out the welcome mat for representatives from authoritarian regimes, such as Saudi Arabia, even Libya. The World Health Organization must shield itself from such atrocious collusion with those who have no regard for the dignity and the sanctity of human life.

Most importantly, this position should not be a forum for horsetrading or “scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours” Quid Pro Quo games. The WHO is an international organization with a serious health, safety and security responsibility globally. Small mindedness, tribalism and ethnic extremism should not have a place at the international arena. Those who promote ethnic hegemony and domination today at the national level should not be allowed to get hold of power at the international level. As the world faces an unprecedented level of extreme polarization and violence, it is important to search for leaders with wisdom and for inclusion to guide humanity out of this turbulent period. Tedros Adhanom doesn’t have the wisdom, intelligence, compassion or the understanding of what is needed in this critical juncture of human history. Countries who are contemplating to use the WHO Director-General post as a horse trading opportunity should reconsider their positions because the responsibility comes with the position is too big for a small politics.

Tedros Adhanom and his group is outright rejected by the Ethiopian people because of their incompetence, small mindedness and also their addiction to violence and state terror. As one health care worker in Addis Ababa put it, “If the Ethiopian people have the opportunity to vote (in a free and fair election) for Tedros Adhanom for any position he couldn’t get more than one percent of the vote.” So we urge member nations not to allow Tedros Adhanom, a corrupt politician at the center of a regime with no regard for human life and basic human rights, to lead the ultimate humanitarian organisation on the globe.

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