Author Archive for Tadias

Spotlight on ‘Enkopa’: New Ethiopian Movie Based on True Story of a Young Migrant

Enkopa portrays the efforts for survival against the brutal and inhumane treatment of traffickers. It's a film dealing with displacement, betrayal, false hope and strength. (Courtesy photo)

Tadias Magazine

By Tadias Staff

Updated: July 11th, 2020

New York (TADIAS) — Enkopa is a timely new feature film based on the true story of a young Ethiopian migrant at the mercy of unscrupulous traffickers. The film delves deeper into familiar headlines of a generation of Ethiopian women and their efforts to survive the often brutal and inhumane treatment they are faced with as they travel illegally through Sudan and other neighboring countries in search of a better life abroad.

The press release added: “During the journey from Ethiopia to Canada, the main character, Enkopa, is faced with sexual abuse, the constant demand for more cash from her traffickers, as well as lack of support and huge expectation from her family back home. Despite the challenges, she does encounter friendship and love. Enkopa is a film dealing with displacement, betrayal, false hope and strength.”

Enkopa is the latest release from Habeshaview, the first international Ethiopian film distribution and online streaming company. Tigist Kebede, Habeshaview’s Operations Director, says the company “is committed to raising the profile of Ethiopian films and providing audiences around the world with quality movies that inspire.”

Watch: Enkopa (እንቆጳ) NEW! Ethiopian Movie Based On True Story – Trailer

Enkopa is currently streaming on www.habeshaview.com.

Related:

WATCH: Q&A with Cast and Crew of “Enchained (ቁራኛዬ) Live From Ethiopia

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Ethiopia Coronavirus Cases Reach 7,402

According to the World Heath Organization (WHO) the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Ethiopia has reached 7,402 as of JuLy 11th, 2020. (Photo: A worker of the Ethiopian Public Health Institute (EPHI) at Bole airport in Addis Ababa/Getty Images)

THE LATEST UPDATE:

Updated: July 11th, 2020

  • Ethiopia Coronavirus Cases Reach 7,402
  • Ethiopia’s COVID-19 Update Affected By Internet Cut
  • Amid Pandemic Ethiopia Launches Policy to Encourage Walking and Cycling
  • African Development Fund approves $165 m grant for Ethiopia’s national COVID-19 emergency response
  • Sponsor network gives lifeline to Ethiopians struggling under pandemic
  • Ethiopia among Forbes’ post-Covid ‘Rising Stars in Travel’
  • COVID19 Contact Tracing is a race. But few U.S. states say how fast they’re running
  • WHO warns of ‘new and dangerous phase’ as coronavirus accelerates; Americas now hardest hit
  • World Bank Provides Additional Support to Help Ethiopia Mitigate Economic Impacts of COVID-19
  • Africa outperforms world economies in coronavirus mayhem
  • As coronavirus cases rise in U.S., public health experts urge caution
  • COVID-19 Cases Pass 10 Million Worldwide
  • U.S. tops 2.5 million reported cases
  • US Deaths From Coronavirus Surpass 125,000 and Growing
  • Once the coronavirus epicenter in the U.S., New York City begins to reopen
  • Winter is coming south of the equator, along with predictions of the coronavirus’s spread
  • NYT honors coronavirus victims with powerful front page
  • Spotlight: Ethiopia’s First Private Ambulance System Tebita Adds Services Addressing COVID19
  • WHO reports most coronavirus cases in a day as cases approach five million
  • World Health Organization warns against hydroxychloroquine use for covid-19
  • Experts: Trump’s threats to WHO could undercut global health
  • Why Cape Town has 10 percent of Africa’s confirmed coronavirus cases
  • WHO head says vaccines, medicines must be fairly shared to beat COVID-19
  • U.S. coronavirus death toll tops 80,000
  • U.S. Jobless Rate Spikes to 14.7%, Highest Since Great Depression
  • Doctors face new urgency to solve children and coronavirus puzzle
  • In Ethiopia, Abiy Warns of Opposition Power Grab Amid Pandemic
  • Q&A: How Ethiopia’s Health Minister is Preparing for Coronavirus
  • Young Inventor Helps Ethiopia’s COVID-19 Crisis
  • Hospitalizations continue to decline in New York, Cuomo says
  • Researchers double U.S. COVID-19 death forecast, citing eased restrictions
  • Ethiopia: PM Abiy Writes COVID-19 Related Op-Ed on World Economic Forum Blog
  • Virus deaths in D.C., Virginia and Maryland surpass 2,000
  • IMF Approves $411M in Coronavirus Aid for Ethiopia
  • COVID-19 and Its Impact on African Economies: Q&A with Prof. Lemma Senbet
  • Los Angeles becomes first major U.S. city to offer free coronavirus testing for all residents
  • Global coronavirus death toll surpasses 200,000, as world leaders commit to finding vaccine
  • City demolitions expose Ethiopian families to coronavirus
  • In Maryland, Wogene Debele Gave Birth Before Dying of Covid-19. She Never Got to See Her Newborn.
  • Germany to start first coronavirus vaccine trial
  • U.S. coronavirus deaths top 51,000, with fatalities expected to climb
  • Young and middle-aged people, barely sick with covid-19, are dying from strokes
  • Ethiopia’s Ministry of Health Holds Webinar With Diaspora on COVID-19 Response
  • Webinar on COVID-19 and Mental Health: Interview with Dr. Seble Frehywot
  • CDC director warns second wave of coronavirus is likely to be even more devastating
  • Americans at World Health Organization transmitted real-time info. about coronavirus to Trump admin.
  • In Ethiopia, Dire Dawa Emerges as Newest Coronavirus Hot Spot
  • COVID-19: Interview with Dr. Tsion Firew, an Ethiopian Doctor on the Frontline in NYC
  • UN COVID-19 Major airlift operation reaches ‘most vulnerable’ African nations
  • Ethiopia Cases of Coronavirus Surpass 100
  • In U.S., New York’s Cuomo attacks Trump’s pandemic response
  • Doctor who sounded the alarm about covid-19 is now a children’s book hero
  • Ethiopia Opens Aid Transport Hub to Fight Covid-19
  • Ethiopia to buy life insurance for health workers
  • IMF says COVID-19 pandemic is causing worst global economic downturn since Great Depression
  • U.N. says Saudi deportations of Ethiopian migrants risks spreading coronavirus
  • Ethiopia’s capital launches door-to-door Covid-19 screening
  • Worldwide deaths from the coronavirus hit 100,000
  • Ethiopia COVID-19 Response Team: Interview with Mike Endale
  • Ethiopia eyes replicating China’s successes in applying traditional medicine to contain COVID-19
  • WHO Director Slams ‘Racist’ Comments About COVID-19 Vaccine Testing
  • Ethiopia Declares State of Emergency, Recruits Health Workers to Fight Virus
  • The virus is infecting and killing black Americans at an alarmingly high rate, a Post analysis shows
  • In China, Wuhan’s lockdown officially ends after 11 weeks
  • U.S. coronavirus deaths surpass 10,000
  • U.S. Government urged to release race, ethnicity data on covid-19 cases
  • Ethio-American Tech Company PhantomALERT Offers Free App to Track & Map COVID-19 Outbreak
  • 2nd COVID-19 death confirmed in Ethiopia
  • The Next Coronavirus Test Will Tell You If You Are Now Immune. And It’s Fast.
  • New York City mayor calls for national enlistment of health-care workers
  • ‘Your Safety is Our Priority’: How Ethiopian Airlines is Navigating the Global Virus Crisis
  • Ethiopia races to bolster ventilator stockpile for coronavirus fight
  • Potential COVID-19 Vaccine Shows Promise
  • Over 10 million Americans applied for unemployment benefits in March as economy collapsed
  • U.N. Chief Calls Pandemic Biggest Global Challenge Since World War II
  • US death toll eclipses China’s as reinforcements head to NYC
  • Getting Through COVID 19: ECMAA Shares Timely Resources With Ethiopian Community
  • 2020 Ethiopia Election Canceled Due to COVID-19
  • DC Metro Area Goes on Lockdown
  • U.S. Approves Malaria Drug to Treat Coronavirus Patients
  • U.S. Deaths Could Reach 200,000
  • The Curious Case of Ethiopian Traditional Medicine Covid-19 Treatment & Need for Caution
  • Ethiopia: PM Abiy spoke with Dr. Tedros regarding the Coronavirus response in Africa
  • COVID-19: Fire brigades disinfect Ethiopian capital
  • The Doctor Who Helped Defeat Smallpox Explains What’s Coming
  • In Tunisia Factory Workers Making 50k Masks a Day While in Voluntary Lockdown
  • Virus infections top 600,000 globally with long fight ahead
  • Maryland Issues COVID-19 Fact Sheet in Amharic for Ethiopian Community
  • Gouged prices, middlemen and medical supply chaos: Why governors are so upset with Trump
  • Worshippers in Ethiopia Defy Ban on Large Gatherings Despite Coronavirus
  • A record 3.3 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits as the coronavirus slams economy
  • Ethiopia: Parents fear for missing students as universities close over Covid-19
  • Ethiopia pardons more than 4,000 prisoners to help prevent coronavirus spread

    Ethiopia Coronavirus Cases Reach 7,402

    By WHO Health Emergency Dashboard

    In Ethiopia, from Mar 14 to 10:34am CEST, 11 July 2020, there have been 7,402 confirmed cases of COVID-19. Read more »

    COVID19 Contact Tracing is a race. But few U.S. states say how fast they’re running

    Someone — let’s call her Person A — catches the coronavirus. It’s a Monday. She goes about life, unaware her body is incubating a killer. By perhaps Thursday, she’s contagious. Only that weekend does she come down with a fever and get tested. What happens next is critical. Public health workers have a small window of time to track down everyone Person A had close contact with over the past few days. Because by the coming Monday or Tuesday, some of those people — though they don’t yet have symptoms — could also be spreading the virus. Welcome to the sprint known as contact tracing, the process of reaching potentially exposed people as fast as possible and persuading them to quarantine. The race is key to controlling the pandemic ahead of a vaccine, experts say. But most places across the United States aren’t making public how fast or well they’re running it, leaving Americans in the dark about how their governments are mitigating the risk. An exception is the District of Columbia, which recently added metrics on contact tracing to its online dashboard. A few weeks ago, the District was still too overwhelmed to try to ask all of those who tested positive about their contacts. Now, after building a staff of several hundred contact tracers, D.C. officials say they’re making that attempt within 24 hours of a positive test report in about 98 percent of cases. For months, every U.S. state has posted daily numbers on coronavirus testing — along with charts of new cases, hospitalizations and deaths. So far, only one state, Oregon, posts similar data about contact tracing. Officials in New York say they plan to begin publishing such metrics in the coming weeks.

    Read more »

    Coronavirus cases in the U.S. surpass 2.5 million

    By The Washington Post

    June 28th, 2020

    Confirmed coronavirus cases in the United States surpassed 2.5 million on Sunday morning as a devastating new wave of infections continued to bear down throughout the country’s South and West. Florida, Texas and Arizona are fast emerging as the country’s latest epicenters after reporting record numbers of new infections for weeks in a row. Positivity rates and hospitalizations have also spiked. Global cases of covid-19 exceeded 10 million, according to a count maintained by Johns Hopkins University, a measure of the power and spread of a pandemic that has caused vast human suffering, devastated the world’s economy and still threatens vulnerable populations in rich and poor nations alike.
    Read more »

    WHO warns of ‘new and dangerous phase’ as coronavirus accelerates; Americas now hardest hit

    By The Washington Post

    The World Health Organization warned Friday that “the world is in a new and dangerous phase” as the global pandemic accelerates. The world recorded about 150,000 new cases on Thursday, the largest rise yet in a single day, according to the WHO. Nearly half of these infections were in the Americas, as new cases continue to surge in the United States, Brazil and across Latin America. More than 8.5 million coronavirus cases and at least 454,000 deaths have been reported worldwide. As confirmed cases and hospitalizations climb in the U.S., new mask requirements are prompting faceoffs between officials who seek to require face coverings and those, particularly conservatives, who oppose such measures. Several studies this month support wearing masks to curb coronavirus transmission, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend their use as a protective measure. Read more »

    World Bank Provides Additional Support to Help Ethiopia Mitigate Economic Impacts of COVID-19

    JUNE 18, 2020

    The World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors today approved $250 million ($125 million grant and $125 million credit) in supplemental financing for the ongoing Second Ethiopia Growth and Competitiveness Programmatic Development Policy Financing. This funding is geared towards helping Ethiopia to revitalize the economy by broadening the role of the private sector and attaining a more sustainable development path.

    “The COVID 19 pandemic is expected to severely impact Ethiopia’s economy. The austerity of the required containment measures, along with disruptions to air travel and the collapse in international demand for goods exported by Ethiopia are already taking a toll on the economy,” said Carolyn Turk, World Bank Country Director for Ethiopia, Sudan, South Sudan and Eritrea. “Additionally, an estimated 1.8 million jobs are at risk, and the incomes and livelihoods of several million informal workers, self-employed individuals and farmers are expected to be affected.”

    The supplemental financing will help to mitigate the impact of the ongoing COVID-19 crisis on the Government’s reform agenda. Specifically, the program is intended to help address some of the unanticipated financing needs the Government of Ethiopia is facing due to the COVID-19 crisis. Additional financing needs are estimated to be approximately $1.5 billion, as revenue collection is expected to weaken, and additional expenditure is needed to mitigate the public health and economic impacts of the crisis.

    Read more »

    Once the coronavirus epicenter in the U.S., New York City begins to reopen


    After three months of a coronavirus crisis followed by protests and unrest, New York City is trying to turn a page when a limited range of industries reopen Monday, June 8, 2020. (AP Photo)

    100 days after the first coronavirus case was confirmed there, the city that was once the epicenter of America’s coronavirus pandemic began to reopen. The number of cases in New York has plunged, but health officials fear that a week of protests on the streets could bring a new wave.

    Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) estimated that between 200,000 to 400,000 workers returned to work throughout the city’s five boroughs.

    “All New Yorkers should be proud you got us to this day,” de Blasio said at a news conference at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, a manufacturing hub.

    Read more »

    US Deaths From Coronavirus Surpass 100,000 Milestone

    By The Associated Press

    The U.S. surpassed a jarring milestone Wednesday in the coronavirus pandemic: 100,000 deaths. That number is the best estimate and most assuredly an undercount. But it represents the stark reality that more Americans have died from the virus than from the Vietnam and Korea wars combined. “It’s a striking reminder of how dangerous this virus can be,” said Josh Michaud, associate director of global health policy with the Kaiser Family Foundation in Washington. The true death toll from the virus, which emerged in China late last year and was first reported in the U.S. in January, is widely believed to be significantly higher, with experts saying many victims died of COVID-19 without ever being tested for it. Read more »

    Ethiopia Coronavirus Cases Reach 5,846

    By Dr. Lia Tadesse, Minister of Health

    Report #111 የኢትዮጵያ የኮሮና ቫይረስ ሁኔታ መግለጫ. Status update on #COVID19Ethiopia. Total confirmed cases [as of June 29th, 2020]: 5,846 Read more »

    New York Times Memorializes Coronavirus Victims as U.S. Death Toll Nears 100,000

    America is fast approaching a grim milestone in the coronavirus outbreak — each figure here represents one of the nearly 100,000 lives lost so far. Read more »

    Spotlight: Ethiopia’s First Private Ambulance System Tebita Adds Services Addressing COVID19

    By Liben Eabisa | TADIAS

    Twelve year ago when Kibret Abebe quit his job as a nurse anesthetist at Black Lion Hospital and sold his house to launch Tebita Ambulance — Ethiopia’s First Private Ambulance System — his friends and family were understandably concerned about his decisions. But today Tebita operates over 20 advanced life support ambulances with approval from the Ministry of Health and stands as the country’s premier Emergency Medical Service (EMS). Tebita has since partnered with East Africa Emergency Services, an Ethiopian and American joint venture that Kibret also owns, with the aim “to establish the first trauma center and air ambulance system in Ethiopia.” This past month Tebita announced their launch of new services in Addis Abeba to address the COVID-19 pandemic and are encouraging Ethiopians residing in the U.S. to utilize Tebita for regular home check-ins on elderly family members as well as vulnerable individuals with pre-existing conditions. The following is an audio of the interview with Kibret Abebe and Laura Davis of Tebita Ambulance and East Africa Emergency Services: Read more »

    WHO reports most coronavirus cases in a day as cases approach five million

    By Reuters

    GENEVA (Reuters) – The World Health Organization expressed concern on Wednesday about the rising number of new coronavirus cases in poor countries, even as many rich nations have begun emerging from lockdown. The global health body said 106,000 new cases of infections of the novel coronavirus had been recorded in the past 24 hours, the most in a single day since the outbreak began. “We still have a long way to go in this pandemic,” WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a news conference. “We are very concerned about rising cases in low and middle income countries.” Dr. Mike Ryan, head of WHO’s emergencies programme, said: “We will soon reach the tragic milestone of 5 million cases.” Read more »

    WHO head says vaccines, medicines must be fairly shared to beat COVID-19

    By Reuters

    Scientists and researchers are working at “breakneck” speed to find solutions for COVID-19 but the pandemic can only be beaten with equitable distribution of medicines and vaccines, the head of the World Health Organization said on Friday. “Traditional market models will not deliver at the scale needed to cover the entire globe,” WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a briefing in Geneva.

    Read more »

    Doctors face new urgency to solve children and coronavirus puzzle

    By Axios

    Solving the mystery of how the coronavirus impacts children has gained sudden steam, as doctors try to determine if there’s a link between COVID-19 and kids with a severe inflammatory illness, and researchers try to pin down their contagiousness before schools reopen. New York hospitals have reported 73 suspected cases with two possible deaths from the inflammatory illness as of Friday evening. Read more »

    COVID-19 and Its Impact on African Economies: Q&A with Prof. Lemma Senbet


    Prof. Lemma Senbet. (Photo: @AERCAFRICA/Twitter)

    By Liben Eabisa | TADIAS

    Last week Professor Lemma Senbet, an Ethiopian-American financial economist and the William E. Mayer Chair Professor at University of Maryland, moderated a timely webinar titled ‘COVID-19 and African Economies: Global Implications and Actions.’ The well-attended online conference — hosted by the Center for Financial Policy at University of Maryland Robert H. Smith School of Business on Friday, April 24th — featured guest speakers from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) as well as the World Bank who addressed “the global implications of the COVID-19 economic impact on developing and low-income countries, with Africa as an anchor.” In the following Q&A with Tadias Prof. Lemma, who is also the immediate former Executive Director of the African Economic Research Consortium based in Nairobi, Kenya, explains the worldwide economic fallout of the Coronavirus pandemic and its impact on the African continent, including Ethiopia. Read more »

    US unemployment surges to a Depression-era level of 14.7%

    By The Associated Press

    The coronavirus crisis has sent U.S. unemployment surging to 14.7%, a level last seen when the country was in the throes of the Depression and President Franklin D. Roosevelt was assuring Americans that the only thing to fear was fear itself…The breathtaking collapse is certain to intensify the push-pull across the U.S. over how and when to ease stay-at-home restrictions. And it robs President Donald Trump of the ability to point to a strong economy as he runs for reelection. “The jobs report from hell is here,” said Sal Guatieri, senior economist at BMO Capital Markets, “one never seen before and unlikely to be seen again barring another pandemic or meteor hitting the Earth.” Read more »

    Hospitalizations continue to decline in New York, Cuomo says

    By CBS News

    New York Governor Andrew Cuomo says the number of people newly diagnosed and hospitalized with COVID-19 has continued to decrease. “Overall the numbers are coming down,” he said. But he said 335 people died from the virus yesterday. “That’s 335 families,” Cuomo said. “You see this number is basically reducing, but not at a tremendous rate. The only thing that’s tremendous is the number of New Yorkers who’ve still passed away.” Read more »

    Los Angeles offers free testing to all county residents

    By The Washington Post

    All residents of Los Angeles County can access free coronavirus testing at city-run sites, Mayor Eric Garcetti (D) said on Wednesday. Previously, the city had only offered testing to residents with symptoms as well as essential workers and people who lived or worked in nursing homes and other kinds of institutional facilities. In an announcement on Twitter, Garcetti said that priority would still be given to front-line workers and anyone experiencing symptoms, including cough, fever or shortness of breath. But the move, which makes Los Angeles the first major city in the country to offer such widespread testing, allows individuals without symptoms to be tested. Health experts have repeatedly said that mass testing is necessary to determine how many people have contracted the virus — and in particular, those who may not have experienced symptoms — and then begin to reopen the economy. Testing is by appointment only and can be arranged at one of the city’s 35 sites. Read more »

    Researchers Double U.S. COVID-19 Death Forecast

    By Reuters

    A newly revised coronavirus mortality model predicts nearly 135,000 Americans will die from COVID-19 by early August, almost double previous projections, as social-distancing measures for quelling the pandemic are increasingly relaxed, researchers said on Monday. The ominous new forecast from the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) reflect “rising mobility in most U.S. states” with an easing of business closures and stay-at-home orders expected in 31 states by May 11, the institute said. Read more »

    Global coronavirus death toll surpasses 200,000, as world leaders commit to finding vaccine

    By NBC News

    The global coronavirus death toll surpassed 200,000 on Saturday, according to John Hopkins University data. The grim total was reached a day after presidents and prime ministers agreed to work together to develop new vaccines, tests and treatments at a virtual meeting with both the World Health Organization (WHO) and Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. “We will only halt COVID-19 through solidarity,” said Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General. “Countries, health partners, manufacturers, and the private sector must act together and ensure that the fruits of science and research can benefit everybody. As the U.S. coronavirus death tollpassed 51,000 people, according to an NBC News tally, President Donald Trump took no questions at his White House briefing on Friday, after widespread mockery for floating the idea that light, heat and disinfectants could be used to treat coronavirus patients.”

    Read more »

    Germany to start first coronavirus vaccine trial

    By DW

    German Health Minister Jens Spahn has announced the first clinical trials of a coronavirus vaccine. The Paul Ehrlich Institute (PEI), the regulatory authority which helps develop and authorizes vaccines in Germany, has given the go-ahead for the first clinical trial of BNT162b1, a vaccine against the SARS-CoV-2 virus. It was developed by cancer researcher and immunologist Ugur Sahin and his team at pharmaceutical company BioNTech, and is based on their prior research into cancer immunology. Sahin previously taught at the University of Mainz before becoming the CEO of BioNTech. In a joint conference call on Wednesday with researchers from the Paul Ehrlich Institute, Sahin said BNT162b1 constitutes a so-called RNA vaccine. He explained that innocuous genetic information of the SARS-CoV-2 virus is transferred into human cells with the help of lipid nanoparticles, a non-viral gene delivery system. The cells then transform this genetic information into a protein, which should stimulate the body’s immune reaction to the novel coronavrius.

    Read more »

    Webinar on COVID-19 and Mental Health: Interview with Dr. Seble Frehywot

    By Liben Eabisa | TADIAS

    Dr. Seble Frehywot, an Associate Professor of Global Health & Health Policy at George Washington University in Washington, D.C. and her colleague Dr. Yianna Vovides from Georgetown University will host an online forum next week on April 30th focusing on the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on mental health. Dr. Seble — who is also the Director of Global Health Equity On-Line Learning at George Washington University – told Tadias that the virtual conference titled “People’s Webinar: Addressing COVID-19 By Addressing Mental Health” is open to the public and available for viewing worldwide. Read more »

    Young and middle-aged people, barely sick with covid-19, are dying from strokes

    By The Washington Post

    Doctors sound alarm about patients in their 30s and 40s left debilitated or dead. Some didn’t even know they were infected. Read more »

    CDC director warns second wave of coronavirus is likely to be even more devastating

    By The Washington Post

    Even as states move ahead with plans to reopen their economies, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned Tuesday that a second wave of the novel coronavirus will be far more dire because it is likely to coincide with the start of flu season. “There’s a possibility that the assault of the virus on our nation next winter will actually be even more difficult than the one we just went through,” CDC Director Robert Redfield said in an interview with The Washington Post. “And when I’ve said this to others, they kind of put their head back, they don’t understand what I mean…We’re going to have the flu epidemic and the coronavirus epidemic at the same time,” he said. Having two simultaneous respiratory outbreaks would put unimaginable strain on the health-care system, he said. The first wave of covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, has already killed more than 42,000 people across the country. It has overwhelmed hospitals and revealed gaping shortages in test kits, ventilators and protective equipment for health-care workers.

    Read more »

    Americans at World Health Organization transmitted real-time information about coronavirus to Trump administration

    By The Washington Post

    More than a dozen U.S. researchers, physicians and public health experts, many of them from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, were working full time at the Geneva headquarters of the World Health Organization as the novel coronavirus emerged late last year and transmitted real-time information about its discovery and spread in China to the Trump administration, according to U.S. and international officials. A number of CDC staff members are regularly detailed to work at the WHO in Geneva as part of a rotation that has operated for years. Senior Trump-appointed health officials also consulted regularly at the highest levels with the WHO as the crisis unfolded, the officials said. The presence of so many U.S. officials undercuts President Trump’s assertion that the WHO’s failure to communicate the extent of the threat, born of a desire to protect China, is largely responsible for the rapid spread of the virus in the United States. Read more »

    In Ethiopia, Dire Dawa Emerges as Newest Coronavirus Hot Spot

    By Africa News

    The case count as of April 20 had reached 111 according to health minister Lia Tadesse’s update for today. Ethiopia crossed the 100 mark over the weekend. All three cases recorded over the last 24-hours were recorded in the chartered city of Dire Dawa with patients between the ages of 11 – 18. Two of them had travel history from Djibouti. Till date, Ethiopia has 90 patients in treatment centers. The death toll is still at three with 16 recoveries. A patient is in intensive care. Read more »

    COVID-19: Interview with Dr. Tsion Firew, an Ethiopian Doctor on the Frontline in NYC


    Dr. Tsion Firew is Doctor of Emergency Medicine and Assistant Professor at Columbia University. She is also Special Advisor to the Ministry of Health in Ethiopia. (Courtesy photo)

    By Liben Eabisa

    In New York City, which has now become the global epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic, working as a medical professional means literally going to a “war zone,” says physician Tsion Firew, a Doctor of Emergency Medicine and Assistant Professor at Columbia University, who has just recovered from COVID-19 and returned to work a few days ago. Indeed the statistics coming out of New York are simply shocking with the state recording a sharp increase in death toll this months surpassing 10,000 and growing. According to The New York Times: “The numbers brought into clearer focus the staggering toll the virus has already taken on the largest city in the United States, where deserted streets are haunted by the near-constant howl of ambulance sirens. Far more people have died in New York City, on a per-capita basis, than in Italy — the hardest-hit country in Europe.” At the heart of the solution both in the U.S. and around the world is more testing and adhering to social distancing rules until such time as a proper treatment and vaccine is discovered, says Dr. Tsion, who is also a Special Advisor to the Ministry of Health in Ethiopia. Dr. Tsion adds that at this moment “we all as humanity have one enemy: the virus. And what’s going to win the fight is solidarity.” Listen to the interview »

    Ethiopia Opens Aid Transport Hub to Fight Covid-19

    By AFP

    Ethiopia and the United Nations on Tuesday opened a humanitarian transport hub at Addis Ababa airport to move supplies and aid workers across Africa to fight coronavirus. The arrangement, which relies on cargo services provided by Ethiopian Airlines, could also partially offset heavy losses Africa’s largest carrier is sustaining because of the pandemic. An initial shipment of 3 000 cubic metres of supplies – most of it personal protective equipment for health workers – will be distributed within the next week, said Steven Were Omamo, Ethiopia country director for the World Food Programme (WFP). “This is a really important platform in the response to Covid-19, because what it does is it allows us to move with speed and efficiency to respond to the needs as they are unfolding,” Omamo said, referring to the disease caused by the coronavirus. The Addis gateway is one of eight global humanitarian hubs set up to facilitate movement of aid to fight Covid-19, according to WFP.

    Read more »

    Covid-19: Ethiopia to buy life insurance for health workers

    By TESFA-ALEM TEKLE | AFP

    The Ethiopian government is due to buy life insurance for health professionals in direct contact with Covid-19 patients. Health minister Lia Tadesse said on Tuesday that the government last week reached an agreement with the Ethiopian Insurance Corporation but did not disclose the value of the cover. The two sides are expected to sign an agreement this week to effect the insurance grant. According to the ministry, the life insurance grant is aimed at encouraging health experts who are the most vulnerable to the deadly coronavirus. Members of the Rapid Response Team will also benefit.

    Read more »

    U.N. says Saudi deportations of Ethiopian migrants risks spreading coronavirus

    By Reuters

    The United Nations said on Monday that deportations of illegal migrant workers by Saudi Arabia to Ethiopia risked spreading the coronavirus and it urged Riyadh to suspend the practice for the time being.

    Read more »

    Ethiopia’s capital launches door-to-door Covid-19 screening


    Getty Images

    By TESFA-ALEM TEKLE | AFP

    Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa is due to begin a door-to-door mass Covid-19 screening across the city, Addis Ababa city administration has announced. City deputy Mayor, Takele Uma, on Saturday told local journalists that the mass screening and testing programme will be started Monday (April 13) first in districts which are identified as potentially most vulnerable to the spread of the highly infectious coronavirus. The aggressive city-wide screening measure intends to identify Covid-19 infected patients and thereby to arrest a potential virus spread within communities. He said, the mass screening will eventually be carried out in all 117 districts, locally known as woredas, of the city, which is home to an estimated 7 million inhabitants. According to the Mayor, the door-to-door mass Covid-19 screening will be conducted by more than 1,200 retired health professionals, who responded to government’s call on the retired to join the national fight against the coronavirus pandemic.

    Read more »

    Worldwide deaths from the coronavirus hit 100,000

    By The Associated Press

    The worldwide death toll from the coronavirus has hit 100,000, according to the running tally kept by Johns Hopkins University. The sad milestone comes as Christians around the globe mark a Good Friday unlike any other — in front of computer screens instead of in church pews. Meanwhile, some countries are tiptoeing toward reopening segments of their battered economies. Public health officials are warning people against violating the social distancing rules over Easter and allowing the virus to flare up again. Authorities are using roadblocks and other means to discourage travel.

    Read more »

    Ethiopia COVID-19 Response Team: Interview with Mike Endale

    By Liben Eabisa | TADIAS

    A network of technology professionals from the Ethiopian Diaspora — known as the Ethiopia COVID-19 Response Team – has been assisting the Ethiopian Ministry of Health since the nation’s first Coronavirus case was confirmed on March 13th. The COVID-19 Response Team has since grown into an army of more than a thousand volunteers. Mike Endale, a software developer based in Washington, D.C., is the main person behind the launch of this project. Read more »

    Ethiopia eyes replicating China’s successes in applying traditional medicine to contain COVID-19

    By CGTN Africa

    The Ethiopian government on Thursday expressed its keen interest to replicate China’s positive experience in terms of effectively applying traditional Chinese medicine to successfully contain the spread of COVID-19 pandemic in the East African country.

    This came after high-level officials from the Ethiopian Ministry of Innovation and Technology (MoIT) as well as the Ethiopian Ministry of Health (MoH) held a video conference with Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) practitioners and researchers on ways of applying the TCM therapy towards controlling the spread of coronavirus pandemic in the country, the MoIT disclosed in a statement issued on Thursday.

    “China, in particular, has agreed to provide to Ethiopia the two types of Chinese traditional medicines that the country applied to successfully treat the first two stages of the novel coronavirus,” a statement from the Ethiopian Ministry of Innovation and Technology read.

    Read more »

    WHO Director Slams ‘Racist’ Comments About COVID-19 Vaccine Testing


    The Director General of the World Health Organization, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, has angrily condemned recent comments made by scientists suggesting that a vaccine for COVID-19 should be tested in Africa as “racist” and a hangover from the “colonial mentality”. (Photo: WHO)

    By BBC

    The head of the World Health Organization (WHO) has condemned as “racist” the comments by two French doctors who suggested a vaccine for the coronavirus could be tested in Africa.

    “Africa can’t and won’t be a testing ground for any vaccine,” said Director General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

    The doctors’ remarks during a TV debate sparked outrage, and they were accused of treating Africans like “human guinea pigs”.

    One of them later issued an apology.

    When asked about the doctors’ suggestion during the WHO’s coronavirus briefing, Dr Tedros became visibly angry, calling it a hangover from the “colonial mentality”.

    “It was a disgrace, appalling, to hear during the 21st Century, to hear from scientists, that kind of remark. We condemn this in the strongest terms possible, and we assure you that this will not happen,” he said.

    Read more »

    Ethiopia declares state of emergency to curb spread of COVID-19

    By Reuters

    Ethiopia’s prime minister, Abiy Ahmed, on Wednesday declared a state of emergency in the country to help curb the spread of the new coronavirus, his office said on Twitter. “Considering the gravity of the #COVID19, the government of Ethiopia has enacted a State of Emergency,” Abiy’s office said.

    Ethiopia virus cases hit 52, 9-month-old baby infected

    By TESFA-ALEM TEKLE | AFP

    Ethiopia on Tuesday reported eight new Covid-19 cases, the highest number recorded so far in one day since the country confirmed its first virus case on March 12. Among the new patients that tested positive for the virus were a 9-month-old infant and his mother who had travelled to Dubai recently. “During the past 24 hours, we have done laboratory tests for a total of 264 people and eight out of them have been diagnosed with coronavirus, raising the total confirmed number of Covid-19 patients in Ethiopia to 52,” said Health Minister Dr Lia Tadese. According to the Minister, seven of the newly confirmed patients had travel histories to various countries. They have been under forced-quarantine in different designated hotels in the capital, Addis Ababa. “Five of the new patients including the 9-month-old baby and the mother came from Dubai while the two others came from Thailand and the United Kingdom,” she said

    Read more »

    The coronavirus is infecting and killing black Americans at an alarmingly high rate

    By The Washington Post

    As the novel coronavirus sweeps across the United States, it appears to be infecting and killing black Americans at a disproportionately high rate, according to a Washington Post analysis of early data from jurisdictions across the country. The emerging stark racial disparity led the surgeon general Tuesday to acknowledge in personal terms the increased risk for African Americans amid growing demands that public-health officials release more data on the race of those who are sick, hospitalized and dying of a contagion that has killed more than 12,000 people in the United States. A Post analysis of what data is available and census demographics shows that counties that are majority-black have three times the rate of infections and almost six times the rate of deaths as counties where white residents are in the majority.

    Read more »

    In China, Wuhan’s lockdown officially ends after 11 weeks

    After 11 weeks — or 76 days — Wuhan’s lockdown is officially over. On Wednesday, Chinese authorities allowed residents to travel in and out of the besieged city where the coronavirus outbreak was first reported in December. Many remnants of the months-long lockdown, however, remain. Wuhan’s 11 million residents will be able to leave only after receiving official authorization that they are healthy and haven’t recently been in contact with a coronavirus patient. To do so, the Chinese government is making use of its mandatory smartphone application that, along with other government surveillance, tracks the movement and health status of every person.

    Read more »

    U.S. hospitals facing ‘severe shortages’ of equipment and staff, watchdog says

    By The Washington Post

    As the official U.S. death toll approached 10,000, U.S. Surgeon General Jerome M. Adams warned that this will be “the hardest and saddest week of most Americans’ lives.”

    Read more »

    Ethio-American Tech Company PhantomALERT Offers Free App to Track & Map COVID-19 Outbreak

    By Tadias Staff

    PhantomALERT, a Washington D.C.-based technology company announced, that it’s offering a free application service to track, report and map COVID-19 outbreak hotspots in real time. In a recent letter to the DC government as well as the Ethiopian Embassy in the U.S. the Ethiopian-American owned business, which was launched in 2007, explained that over the past few days, they have redesigned their application to be “a dedicated coronavirus mapping, reporting and tracking application.” The letter to the Ethiopian Embassy, shared with Tadias, noted that PhantomALERT’s technology “will enable the Ethiopian government (and all other countries across the world) to locate symptomatic patients, provide medical assistance and alert communities of hotspots for the purpose of slowing down the spread of the Coronavirus.”

    Read more »

    2nd COVID-19 death confirmed in Ethiopia

    By Dr. Lia Tadesse (Minister, Ministry of Health, Ethiopia)

    It is with great sadness that I announce the second death of a patient from #COVID19 in Ethiopia. The patient was admitted on April 2nd and was under strict medical follow up in the Intensive Care Unit. My sincere condolences to the family and loved ones.

    Read more »

    The Next Coronavirus Test Will Tell You If You Are Now Immune. And It’s Fast.


    People line up in their cars at the COVID-19 testing area at Roseland Community Hospital on April 3, 2020, in Chicago. (E. Jason Wambsgans / Chicago Tribune)

    By Chicago Tribune

    A new, different type of coronavirus test is coming that will help significantly in the fight to quell the COVID-19 pandemic, doctors and scientists say. The first so-called serology test, which detects antibodies to the virus rather than the virus itself, was given emergency approval Thursday by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. And several more are nearly ready, said Dr. Elizabeth McNally, director of the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine Center for Genetic Medicine.

    Read more »

    ‘Your Safety is Our Priority’: How Ethiopian Airlines is Navigating the Global Virus Crisis

    By Tadias Staff

    Lately Ethiopian Airlines has been busy delivering much-needed medical supplies across Africa and emerging at the forefront of the continent’s fight against the coronavirus pandemic even as it has suspended most of its international passenger flights.

    Read more »

    Ethiopia races to bolster ventilator stockpile for coronavirus fight

    By AFP

    Ethiopia’s government — like others in Africa — is confronting a stark ventilator shortage that could hobble its COVID-19 response. In a country of more than 100 million people, just 54 ventilators — out of around 450 total — had been set aside for COVID-19 patients as of this week, said Yakob Seman, director general of medical services at the health ministry.

    Read more »

    New York City mayor calls for national enlistment of health-care workers


    New York Mayor Bill de Blasio. (AP photo)

    By The Washington Post

    New York Mayor Bill de Blasio on Friday called for a national enlistment of health-care workers organized by the U.S. military.

    Speaking on CNN’s New Day, he lamented that there has been no effort to mobilize doctors and nurses across the country and bring them to “the front” — first New York City and then other areas that have been hardest hit by the coronavirus outbreak.

    “If there’s not action by the president and the military literally in a matter of days to put in motion this vast mobilization,” de Blasio said, “then you’re going to see first hundreds and later thousands of Americans die who did not need to die.”

    He said he expects his city to be stretched for medical personnel starting Sunday, which he called “D-Day.” Many workers are out sick with the disease, he added, while others are “just stretched to the limit.”

    The mayor said he has told national leaders that they need to get on “wartime footing.”

    “The nation is in a peacetime stance while were actually in the middle of a war,” de Blasio said. “And if they don’t do something different in the next few days, they’re going to lose the window.”

    Read more »

    Over 10 million Americans applied for unemployment benefits in March as economy collapsed

    By The Washington Post

    More than 6.6 million Americans applied for unemployment benefits last week — a new record — as political and public health leaders put the economy in a deep freeze, keeping people at home and trying to slow the spread of the deadly coronavirus. The past two weeks have seen more people file for unemployed claims than during the first six months of the Great Recession, a sign of how rapid, deep and painful the economic shutdown has been on many American families who are struggling to pay rent and health insurance costs in the midst of a pandemic. Job losses have skyrocketed as restaurants, hotel, gyms, and travel have shut down across the nation, but layoffs are also rising in manufacturing, warehousing and transportation, a sign of how widespread the pain of the coronavirus recession is. In March alone, 10.4 million Americans lost their jobs and applied for government aid, according to the latest Labor Department data, which includes claims filed through March 28. Many economists say the real number of people out work is likely even higher, since a lot of newly unemployed Americans haven’t been able to fill out a claim yet.

    Read more »

    U.N. Chief Calls Pandemic Biggest Global Challenge Since World War II

    By The Washington Post

    The coronavirus outbreak sickening hundreds of thousands around the world and devastating the global economy is creating a challenge for the world not seen since World War II, United Nations Secretary General António Guterres said late Tuesday. Speaking in a virtual news conference, Guterres said the world needs to show more solidarity and cooperation in fighting not only the medical aspects of the crisis but the economic fallout. The International Monetary Fund is predicting an economic recession worse than in 2008.

    Read more »

    US death toll eclipses China’s as reinforcements head to NYC

    By The Associated Press

    The U.S. death toll from the coronavirus climbed past 3,800 Tuesday, eclipsing China’s official count, as hard-hit New York City rushed to bring in more medical professionals and ambulances and parked refrigerated morgue trucks on the streets to collect the dead.

    Read more »

    Getting Through COVID 19: ECMAA Shares Timely Resources With Ethiopian Community

    By Tadias Staff

    The Ethiopian Community Mutual Assistance Association (ECMAA) in the New York tri-state area has shared timely resources including COVID-19 safety information as well as national sources of financial support for families and small business owners.

    Read more »

    2020 Ethiopia Election Canceled Due to COVID-19

    By Tadias Staff

    The highly anticipated 2020 national election in Ethiopia has been canceled for now due to the coronavirus outbreak. The National Election Board of Ethiopia (NEBE) announced that it has shelved its plans to hold the upcoming nationwide parliamentary polls on August 29th after an internal evaluation of the possible negative effect of the virus pandemic on its official activities.

    Read more »

    Washington, D.C., Maryland, Virginia on lockdown as coronavirus cases grow

    By The Washington Post

    Maryland, Virginia and the District issued “stay-at-home” orders on Monday, joining a growing list of states and cities mandating broad, enforceable restrictions on where residents can go in an effort to limit the spread of the novel coronavirus.

    Read more »

    U.S. Approves Malaria Drug to Treat Coronavirus Patients

    By The Washington Post

    The Food and Drug Administration has given emergency approval to a Trump administration plan to distribute millions of doses of anti-malarial drugs to hospitals across the country, saying it is worth the risk of trying unproven treatments to slow the progression of the disease in seriously ill coronavirus patients.

    Read more »

    U.S. Deaths Could Reach 200,000

    By Bloomberg News

    A top U.S. infectious disease scientist said U.S. deaths could reach 200,000, but called it a moving target. New York’s fatalities neared 1,000, more than a third of the U.S. total.

    Read more »

    Ethiopia: PM, WHO Director Discuss Coronavirus Response


    @fanatelevision/twitter

    By Tadias Staff

    Ethiopian PM Abiy Ahmed spoke with Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization, over the weekend regarding the Coronavirus response in Ethiopia and Africa in general.

    Read more »

    Virus infections top 600,000 globally with long fight ahead

    By The Associated Press

    The number of confirmed coronavirus infections worldwide topped 600,000 on Saturday as new cases stacked up quickly in Europe and the United States and officials dug in for a long fight against the pandemic. The latest landmark came only two days after the world passed half a million infections, according to a tally by John Hopkins University, showing that much work remains to be done to slow the spread of the virus. It showed more than 607,000 cases and over 28,000 deaths. While the U.S. now leads the world in reported infections — with more than 104,000 cases — five countries exceed its roughly 1,700 deaths: Italy, Spain, China, Iran and France.

    Read more »

    Maryland Issues COVID-19 Fact Sheet in Amharic for Ethiopian Community

    By Tadias Staff

    The state of Maryland Department of Health has issued a COVID-19 Fact Sheet in Amharic for its large Ethiopian community.

    Read more »

    Gouged prices, middlemen and medical supply chaos: Why governors are so upset with Trump

    By The Washington Post

    Masks that used to cost pennies now cost several dollars. Companies outside the traditional supply chain offer wildly varying levels of price and quality. Health authorities say they have few other choices to meet their needs in a ‘dog-eat-dog’ battle.

    Read more »

    Worshippers in Ethiopia Defy Ban on Large Gatherings Despite Coronavirus

    By VOA

    ADDIS ABABA – Health experts in Ethiopia are raising concern, as some religious leaders continue to host large gatherings despite government orders not to do so in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak. Earlier this week, Ethiopia’s government ordered security forces to enforce a ban on large gatherings aimed at preventing the spread of COVID-19. Ethiopia has seen only 12 cases and no deaths from the virus, and authorities would like to keep it that way. But enforcing the orders has proven difficult as religious groups continue to meet and, according to religious leaders, fail to treat the risks seriously.

    Read more »

    U.S. deaths from coronavirus top 1,000

    By The Washington Post

    It began as a mysterious disease with frightening potential. Now, just two months after America’s first confirmed case, the country is grappling with a lethal reality: The novel coronavirus has killed more than 1,000 people in the United States, a toll that is increasing at an alarming rate.

    Read more »

    A record 3.3 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits as the coronavirus slams economy

    By The Washington Post

    A record 3.3 million Americans applied for unemployment benefits last week, the Labor Department said Thursday, as restaurants, hotels, barber shops, gyms and more shut down in a nationwide effort to slow the spread of the deadly coronavirus.

    Last week saw the biggest jump in new jobless claims in history, surpassing the record of 695,000 set in 1982. Many economists say this is the beginning of a massive spike in unemployment that could result in over 40 million Americans losing their jobs by April.

    Laid off workers say they waited hours on the phone to apply for help. Websites in several states, including New York and Oregon, crashed because so many people were trying to apply at once.

    “The most terrifying part about this is this is likely just the beginning of the layoffs,” said Martha Gimbel, a labor economist at Schmidt Futures. The nation’s unemployment rate was 3.5 percent in February, a half-century low, but that has likely risen already to 5.5 percent, according to calculations by Gimbel. The nation hasn’t seen that level of unemployment since 2015.

    Read more »

    Ethiopia: Parents fear for missing students as universities close over Covid-19


    Photo via amnesty.org

    As universities across Ethiopia close to avert spread of the COVID-19 virus, Amnesty International is calling on the Ethiopian authorities to disclose measures they have taken to rescue 17 Amhara students from Dembi Dolo University in Western Oromia, who were abducted by unidentified people in November 2019 and have been missing since.

    The anguish of the students’ families is exacerbated by a phone and internet shutdown implemented in January across the western Oromia region further hampering their efforts to get information about their missing loved ones.

    “The sense of fear and uncertainty spreading across Ethiopia because of COVID-19 is exacerbating the anguish of these students’ families, who are desperate for information on the whereabouts of their loved ones four months after they were abducted,” said Seif Magango, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for East Africa.

    “The Ethiopian authorities’ move to close universities in order to protect the lives of university students is commendable, but they must also take similarly concrete actions to locate and rescue the 17 missing students so that they too are reunited with their families.”

    Read more »

    UPDATE: New York City is now reporting 26,697 COVID-19 cases and 450 deaths.

    BY ABC7 NY

    Temporary hospital space in New York City will begin opening on Monday and more supplies are on the way as an already overwhelmed medical community anticipates even more coronavirus patients in the coming days. Mayor Bill de Blasio tweeted 20 trucks were on the road delivering protective equipment to hospitals, including surgical masks, N95 masks, and hundreds more ventilators.

    Governor Cuomo added the temporary hospital in the Javits Center will open on Monday the same day that the USNS Comfort will arrive in New York City.

    Read more »

    Related: New York sees some signs of progress against coronavirus as New Orleans hit hard (REUTERS)

    L.A. mayor says residents may have to shelter at home for two months or more

    By Business Insider

    Los Angeles residents will be confined to their homes until May at the earliest, Mayor Eric Garcetti told Insider on Wednesday.

    “I think this is at least two months,” he said. “And be prepared for longer.”

    In an interview with Insider, Garcetti pushed back against “premature optimism” in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, saying leaders who suggest we are on the verge of business as usual are putting lives at risk.

    “I can’t say that strongly enough,” the mayor said. Optimism, he said, has to be grounded in data. And right now the data is not good.

    “Giving people false hope will crush their spirits and will kill more people,” Garcetti said, adding it would change their actions by instilling a sense of normality at the most abnormal time in a generation.

    Read more »

    Ethiopia pardons more than 4,000 prisoners to help prevent coronavirus spread

    By CNN

    Ethiopian President Sahle-Work Zewde has granted pardon to more than 4,000 prisoners in an effort to contain the spread of coronavirus.

    Sahle-Work Zewde announced the order in a tweet on Wednesday and said it would help prevent overcrowding in prisons.

    The directive only covers those given a maximum sentence of three years for minor crimes and those who were about to be released from jail, she said.

    There are 12 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in Ethiopia, the World Health Organization said Wednesday.
    Authorities in the nation have put in place a raft of measures, including the closure of all borders except to those bringing in essential goods to contain the virus. The government has directed security officials to monitor and enforce a ban on large gatherings and overcrowded public transport to ensure social distancing.

    Read more »


    U.S. House passes $2 trillion coronavirus emergency spending bill


    Watch: Senator Chuck Schumer of New York breaks down massive coronavirus aid package (MSNBC Video)

    By The Washington Post

    The House of Representatives voted Friday [March 27th] to approve a massive $2 trillion stimulus bill that policy makers hope will blunt the economic destruction of the coronavirus pandemic, sending the legislation to President Trump for enactment. The legislation passed in dramatic fashion, approved on an overwhelming voice vote by lawmakers who’d been forced to return to Washington by a GOP colleague who had insisted on a quorum being present. Some lawmakers came from New York and other places where residents are supposed to be sheltering at home.

    Read more »

    In Ethiopia, Abiy seeks $150b for African virus response

    By AFP

    Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed on Tuesday urged G20 leaders to help Africa cope with the coronavirus crisis by facilitating debt relief and providing $150 billion in emergency funding.
    The pandemic “poses an existential threat to the economies of African countries,” Abiy’s office said in a statement, adding that Ethiopia was “working closely with other African countries” in preparing the aid request.

    The heavy debt burdens of many African countries leave them ill-equipped to respond to pandemic-related economic shocks, as the cost of servicing debt exceeds many countries’ health budgets, the statement said.

    Read more »

    Worried Ethiopians Want Partial Internet Shutdown Ended (AP)


    Ethiopians have their temperature checked for symptoms of the new coronavirus, at the Zewditu Memorial Hospital in the capital Addis Ababa, Ethiopia Wednesday, March 18, 2020. For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms such as fever and cough and the vast majority recover in 2-6 weeks but for some, especially older adults and people with existing health issues, the virus that causes COVID-19 can result in more severe illness, including pneumonia. (AP Photo/Mulugeta Ayene)

    By Elias Meseret | AP

    March 24, 2020

    ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia — Rights groups and citizens are calling on Ethiopia’s government to lift the internet shutdown in parts of the country that is leaving millions of people without important updates on the coronavirus.

    The months-long shutdown of internet and phone lines in Western Oromia and parts of the Benishangul Gumuz region is occurring during military operations against rebel forces.

    “Residents of these areas are getting very limited information about the coronavirus,” Jawar Mohammed, an activist-turned-politician, told The Associated Press.

    Ethiopia reported its first coronavirus case on March 13 and now has a dozen. Officials have been releasing updates mostly online. Land borders have closed and national carrier Ethiopian Airlines has stopped flying to some 30 destinations around the world.

    Read more »

    In Global Fight vs. Virus, Over 1.5 Billion Told: Stay Home


    A flier urging customers to remain home hangs at a turnstile as an MTA employee sanitizes surfaces at a subway station with bleach solutions due to COVID-19 concerns, Friday, March 20, 2020, in New York. (AP)

    The Associated Press

    NEW YORK (AP) — With masks, ventilators and political goodwill in desperately short supply, more than one-fifth of the world’s population was ordered or urged to stay in their homes Monday at the start of what could be a pivotal week in the battle to contain the coronavirus in the U.S. and Europe.

    Partisan divisions stalled efforts to pass a colossal aid package in Congress, and stocks fell again on Wall Street even after the Federal Reserve said it will lend to small and large businesses and local governments to help them through the crisis.

    Warning that the outbreak is accelerating, the head of the World Health Organization called on countries to take strong, coordinated action.

    “We are not helpless bystanders,” Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said, noting that it took 67 days to reach 100,000 cases worldwide but just four days to go from 200,000 to 300,000. “We can change the trajectory of this pandemic.”

    Read more »

    China’s Coronavirus Donation to Africa Arrives in Ethiopia (Reuters)


    An Ethiopian Airlines worker transports a consignment of medical donation from Chinese billionaire Jack Ma and Alibaba Foundation to Africa for coronavirus disease (COVID-19) testing, upon arrival at the Bole International Airport in Addis Ababa, March 22, 2020. (REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri)

    The first batch of protective and medical equipment donated by Chinese billionaire and Alibaba co-founder Jack Ma was flown into the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa on Sunday, as coronavirus cases in Africa rose above 1,100.

    The virus has spread more slowly in Africa than in Asia or Europe but has a foothold in 41 African nations and two territories. So far it has claimed 37 lives across the continent of 1.3 billion people.

    The shipment is a much-needed boost to African healthcare systems that were already stretched before the coronavirus crisis, but nations will still need to ration supplies at a time of global scarcity.

    Only patients showing symptoms will be tested, the regional Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) said on Sunday.

    “The flight carried 5.4 million face masks, kits for 1.08 million detection tests, 40,000 sets of protective clothing and 60,000 sets of protective face shields,” Ma’s foundation said in a statement.

    “The faster we move, the earlier we can help.”

    The shipment had a sign attached with the slogan, “when people are determined they can overcome anything”.

    Read more »


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    City Sleeps: A Look At The Empty NYC Streets Amid The Virus – In Pictures

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    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

  • UPDATE: Ethiopia Announces Arrests in Prominent Singer’s Killing

    The shooting last month of Hachalu Hundessa, a hero to young Ethiopians calling for reform, was followed by unrest in which hundreds of people were killed. Hachalu, 34, was shot on June 29 in a suburb of Addis Ababa. He was taken to a hospital but died of his wounds. Attorney General Adanech Abebe announced the arrests in a televised statement on Friday, saying that a third suspect was still on the run. (Photo: EthioTube)

    The New York Times

    By Abdi Latif Dahir

    Updated: July 11, 2020

    NAIROBI, Kenya — Ethiopia has said that two men have been arrested in connection with the killing of Hachalu Hundessa, a well-known musician and activist whose death last month was followed by unrest in which hundreds were killed.

    Attorney General Adanech Abebe announced the arrests in a televised statement on Friday night, saying that a third suspect in Mr. Hundessa’s shooting was still on the run. “We will continue to uphold the rule of law,” Ms. Abebe said.

    She said the two men arrested had confessed to killing Mr. Hundessa, acting on the orders of an armed splinter wing of the Oromo Liberation Front, an opposition group, with the goal of inciting ethnic tension and overthrowing the government. She provided no evidence for the claim, and the Oromo Liberation Front had yet to respond to the accusation as of Saturday morning.

    Mr. Hundessa, 34, was shot on June 29 in a suburb of the capital, Addis Ababa. He was taken to a hospital but died of his wounds.

    The singer and activist was a member of Ethiopia’s largest ethnic group, the Oromo, who have long been marginalized despite their numbers. His songs of resistance made him a hero to a generation of young people struggling for political and economic change.

    After his death, violent protests broke out in Addis Ababa and the neighboring Oromia region. Officials said that at least 239 people had been killed in the unrest, during which buildings were burned and groups of young men carried out ethnically motivated attacks.

    The government blocked the internet and arrested nearly 5,000 people, including activists, journalists and a prominent critic of the government, Jawar Mohammed. Tensions also escalated when the police blocked mourners from attending Mr. Hundessa’s funeral in his hometown, Ambo, 60 miles west of the capital.

    The violence has posed a challenge to Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, who is overseeing Ethiopia’s delicate transition from authoritarian rule to multiparty democracy.

    Mr. Hundessa’s music provided a soundtrack to a wave of antigovernment protests that began in 2015, which eventually led to the resignation of the prime minister at the time, Hailemariam Desalegn, and the rise of Mr. Abiy, an Oromo himself.

    Read more »


    Ethiopia’s Week of Unrest Sees 239 Dead


    GETTY IMAGES

    The Associated Press

    By ELIAS MESERET

    Updated: July 8th, 2020

    ADDIS ABABA (AP) — At least 239 people have been killed and 3,500 arrested in more than a week of unrest in Ethiopia that poses the biggest challenge yet to its Nobel Peace Prize-winning prime minister.

    In the Oromia region, the toll includes 215 civilians along with nine police officers and five militia members, regional police commissioner Mustafa Kedir told the ruling party-affiliated Walta TV on Wednesday.

    Officials earlier said 10 people were killed in the capital, Addis Ababa, eight of them civilians, amid outrage after a popular singer was shot dead last Monday.

    Hachalu Hundessa had been a rallying voice in anti-government protests that led to Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed taking power in 2018. Abiy swiftly introduced political reforms that also opened the way for long-held ethnic and other grievances in Africa’s second most populous country.

    The military was deployed during the outrage that followed Hachalu’s death.

    In remarks last week while wearing a military uniform, Abiy said dissidents he recently extended an offer of peace had “taken up arms” in revolt against the government. He hinted there could be links between this unrest and the killing of the army chief last year as well as the grenade thrown at one of his own rallies in 2018.

    The 3,500 arrests have included that of a well-known Oromo activist, Jawar Mohammed, and more than 30 supporters. It is not clear what charges they might face. The Oromo make up Ethiopia’s largest ethnic group but had never held the country’s top post until they helped bring Abiy to power.

    Local reports have said that in some places ethnic Oromo have attacked ethnic Amhara, and in Shashamane town some people were going home to home checking identity cards and targeting Amhara residents.

    Businesses have now begun opening slowly in Oromia after the violence in which several hundred homes in Ethiopia were burned or damaged.

    But Ethiopia’s internet service remains cut, making it difficult for rights monitor and others to track the scores of killings.


    Hachalu Hundessa – Ethiopia’s Murdered Musician Who Sang for Freedom


    A former political prisoner who grew up looking after cattle, Hachalu Hundessa rose to become one of Ethiopia’s biggest music stars, mesmerising fans with his songs about romance and political freedom – topics that he easily blended into his lyrics. (DAGI PICTURES)

    BBC

    A former political prisoner who grew up looking after cattle, Hachalu rose to become one of Ethiopia’s biggest music stars, mesmerising fans with his songs about romance and political freedom – topics that he easily blended into his lyrics.

    Hachalu’s father, who used to work in the electricity department in the city of Ambo, aspired for his son to become a doctor, but he showed little interest in medicine.

    However, from an infant, Hachalu showed a passion for music and singing, with the encouragement of his mother, while he looked after cows on the family’s farmland on the outskirts of Ambo, the heartland of Ethiopia’s largest ethnic group, the Oromo.

    “I used to sing whatever came to my head,” he recalled in a BBC Afaan Oromo interview in 2017.

    Jailed for five years

    One of eight children, Hachalu was born in 1986 in Ambo – a city about 100km (60 miles) west of the capital, Addis Ababa.

    It was at the forefront of the campaign by Oromos for self-rule in a nation where they felt repressed under a government that had banned opposition groups and jailed critics.

    Hachalu went to school in Ambo, and joined student groups campaigning for freedom.

    At the age of 17 in 2003, Hachalu was imprisoned for five years for his political activities.

    His father kept his morale high in prison, telling him during visits that “prison makes a man stronger”.

    Hachalu became increasingly politicised in prison, as he increased his knowledge about Ethiopia’s history, including its rule by emperors and autocrats.

    Whilst incarcerated in Ambo prison he also developed his music skills.

    “I did not know how to write lyrics and melodies until I was put behind bars. It is there that I learned,” he said in the 2017 interview.

    During his time in jail, he wrote nine songs and released his first album Sanyii Mootii (Race of the King) in 2009, a year after walking free.

    Refused to go into exile

    The album turned him into a music star, and a political symbol of the Oromo people’s aspirations.

    However, he played down his political role, saying: “I am not a politician, I am an artist. Singing about what my people are going through doesn’t make me a politician.”

    Many other musicians and activists fled into exile fearing persecution under the rule of then-Prime Minister Meles Zenawi and his successor Hailemariam Desalegn but Hachalu remained in Ethiopia and encouraged the youth to stand up for their rights.

    One of his songs was about how he fell in love with a girl who was proud of her identity and was willing to die for it.

    ‘Gallant warriors and horsemen’

    His second album Waa’ee Keenya (Our Plight) was released in 2013 while he was on a tour in the US. It became the best-selling African album on Amazon at the time.

    Two years later, he released a powerful single, Maalan Jira? (What existence is mine?), referring to the eviction of Oromos from Addis Ababa and its surrounding areas, after the government decided to expand the boundaries of the city.

    Read more »


    Abiy Ahmed, Ethiopia’s Nobel Peace Laureate Cracks Down on Ethnic Violence


    Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed responded to the violence by sending in troops and shutting off the internet. High-profile opposition leaders were arrested, along with others. Those who participate “in the destruction of the nation cannot be considered guardians of the nation,” Abiy said. (Photo: ETV)

    Axios

    July 7th, 2020

    The image of a Nobel Peace laureate in military fatigues encapsulates the moment in which Ethiopia finds itself — on the verge of a transition to democracy, a descent into violence or, perhaps, a precarious combination of the two.

    Driving the news: At least 166 people were killed after an iconic musician, Haacaaluu Hundeessaa, was murdered last Monday in Addis Ababa, the capital. Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed responded to the violence by sending in troops and shutting off the internet. High-profile opposition leaders were arrested, along with some 2,300 others.

    - Abiy claimed that “external forces” were “pulling the strings” in an effort to destabilize Ethiopia at a critical moment a reference to the standoff with Egypt over access to the Nile.

    - Most of the deaths after Hundeessaa’s killing came in intercommunal violence, however. Some of it was reportedly carried out by militant wings of hardline political factions.

    - “Considering who the dead and wounded are, there are clear indications that they were targeted for ethnic reasons,” DW’s Yoahannes Geberegziabeher reports from Addis Ababa.

    Zoom in: The violence took place in Oromia state, also the site of the 2014–2017 uprising that swept Abiy, Ethiopia’s first Oromo prime minister, to power.

    Haacaaluu Hundeessaa, 34, “basically provided the soundtrack to the uprising,” says Murithi Mutiga, project director for the Horn of Africa for the International Crisis Group.

    Read the full article at axios.com »


    UPDATE: Ethiopian Police Patrol Oromia Area and Capital After Unrest (AP)


    In this image taken from OBN video, the funeral for Ethiopia singer Hachalu Hundessa takes place in Ambo, Thursday July 2, 2020. At least 166 people have been killed in unrest in Ethiopia after the popular singer Hachalu Hundessa was shot dead this week. He was buried Thursday amid tight security. He had been a prominent voice in anti-government protests that led to a change in leadership in 2018. (OBN via AP)

    The Associated Press

    By ELIAS MESERET

    Updated: Jul 5th 2020

    ADDIS ABABA (AP) — Ethiopian police were patrolling the country’s troubled Oromia region and the capital, Addis Ababa, on Sunday, following a week of unrest in which 166 people were killed and more than 2,000 arrested, after a popular singer was shot dead.

    In Oromia, 145 civilians and 11 members of security forces were killed, Girma Gelam, deputy police commissioner in the region, told the state-affiliated Fana Broadcasting Corporate. Another 10 people were killed in the capital, eight of them civilians.

    The internet was cut last week to try to dampen the protests and made it difficult for rights monitors to track the scores of killings.

    More than 2,280 people were arrested in Oromia and Addis Ababa, said police. Arrests included that of a well-known Oromo activist, Jawar Mohammed, and more than 30 supporters. It is not clear what charges they might face. The Oromo make up Ethiopia’s largest ethnic group but had never held the country’s top political post until Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed came to power in 2018.

    The arrest of opposition figures “could make a volatile situation even worse,” Human Rights Watch has said.

    The unrest erupted after popular singer Hachalu Hundessa was killed. He had been a prominent voice in anti-government protests that led to Abiy coming to power. The singer was buried Thursday in a ceremony shown on national television.

    The new disturbances amount to the prime minister’s greatest domestic test since he took office, say analysts. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize last year for dramatic reforms, including welcoming home once-banned exile groups. However, Abiy’s steps to open political space have been used by some Ethiopians to air ethnic and other grievances. At times it has led to deadly violence, and human rights groups have accused security forces of abuses.

    Speaking about the week of unrest, Abiy said he had recently extended an offer of peace to dissidents, but they have “taken up arms” in revolt against the government in a week.

    Those who participate “in the destruction of the nation cannot be considered guardians of the nation,” Abiy said on Friday.

    “It’s a moment when people need to pause and de-escalate,” said Murithi Mutiga, project director for the Horn of Africa with the International Crisis Group. He cited a series of challenges in Ethiopia including an armed insurgency in parts of the country and tension over the timing of the next election. The government recently delayed the vote, citing the coronavirus pandemic.

    “This is not the first but one in a long line of grave provocations by an actor not yet identified,” Mutiga said, adding that the “wiser course of action is to strive to create an atmosphere of reconciliation and dialogue.”

    The past week appears to be the most serious challenge yet to Ethiopia’s transition to multifaceted democracy, Mutiga said. “Thankfully, the situation seems to have calmed down in Addis and parts of Oromia but the scale of the violence, the degree of grievance witnessed on the streets and the danger of instability was quite high.”


    Killing of Hachalu Hundessa Must be Investigated Throughly (Amnesty.org)


    Hachalu Hundesa was shot around 9:30 pm on June 29 in Addis Ababa’s Gelan Condominium area. He was taken to a nearby hospital, where he was pronounced dead shortly after arrival. (Photo via Amnesty.org)

    Press Release

    Amnesty International

    Ethiopia: Popular musician’s killing must be fully investigated

    The Ethiopian authorities must conduct prompt, thorough, impartial, independent and effective investigations into the killing of popular singer Hachalu Hundesa on 29 June, and bring to justice anyone suspected to be responsible, Amnesty International said [this week].

    There must be justice for the killing of Hachalu Hundesa

    “There must be justice for the killing of Hachalu Hundesa. The musician’s songs rallied the country’s youth in sustained protests from 2015 leading to the political reforms witnessed in the country since 2018,” said Sarah Jackson, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes.

    “The authorities have opened an investigation into his killing and must now ensure it is prompt, thorough, impartial, independent and effective and bring to justice in fair trials those suspected to be responsible,” said Sarah Jackson.

    A blanket internet shutdown imposed by the authorities…has made it difficult to verify reports of people killed in ongoing protests.

    “The authorities should immediately lift the countrywide blanket internet shutdown and allow people to access information and to freely mourn the musician,” said Sarah Jackson.

    Amnesty International is also calling for the security forces to exercise restraint when managing the ongoing protests and refrain from the use of excessive force.

    Background

    Hachalu Hundesa, renowned for his politically inspired songs, was shot around 9:30 pm on 29 June in Addis Ababa’s Gelan Condominium area. He was taken to a nearby hospital, where he was pronounced dead shortly after arrival.

    On 22 June, Hachalu Hundesa was interviewed on the Oromo Media Network (OMN) where he spoke on many controversial issues eliciting public outrage on social media platforms.

    According to Addis Standard, a national newspaper, the Addis Ababa Police Commission Commissioner, Getu Argaw, stated that the police had launched an investigation and had “some suspects” in police custody. Read more »


    Turmoil at Funeral of Singer Shows Ethiopia’s ‘Combustible’ Politics (NYT)


    At least 81 people have been killed and dozens injured in the unrest that followed the killing of Hachalu Hundessa, underscoring long-simmering tensions in [Ethiopia]. (Photo: Musician Hachalu Hundessa posing while dressed in a traditional costume in Addis Ababa in 2019/Tiksa Negeri/Reuters)

    The New York Times

    By Abdi Latif Dahir and Tiksa Negeri

    July 2, 2020

    NAIROBI, Kenya — In life, Hachalu Hundessa’s protest songs roused and united Ethiopians yearning for freedom and justice. He is doing the same in death, with thousands flocking on Thursday to bury him in Ambo, the town 60 miles west of the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa where he was born and raised.

    Mr. Hundessa, 34, was shot on Monday night by unknown assailants in Addis Ababa and later died of his wounds in a hospital. His death has ignited nationwide protests that have killed 81 people, injured dozens of others and caused extensive property damage. The authorities have blocked the internet and arrested 35 people, including a prominent media magnate and government critic, Jawar Mohammed.

    On Thursday, groups of young men, some with machetes, roamed through neighborhoods in Addis Ababa, singling out people from rival ethnic groups for attacks. And in Ambo, witnesses said that the police blocked some people from attending the singer’s funeral, even firing shots at them.

    The unrest, analysts say, threatens the stability of Africa’s second-most populous country and deepens the political crisis in a nation already undergoing a roller-coaster democratic transition.

    “I am in bitter sadness,” said Getu Dandefa, a 29-year-old university student. When he saw Mr. Hundessa’s coffin in Ambo, he said he dropped to the ground and started crying.

    “We lost our voice,” he said, “We will keep fighting until Hachalu gets justice. We will never stop protesting.”

    Mr. Hundessa’s funeral has brought tensions to a boiling point in a country already facing myriad political, economic and social challenges. The fury aroused by his death poses a challenge to Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, who rose to power in 2018 following a wave of antigovernment protests that Mr. Hundessa — a member of the country’s largest but historically marginalized ethnic group, the Oromo — helped to galvanize through his music.

    Since then, Mr. Abiy, an Oromo himself, has introduced a raft of changes aimed at dismantling Ethiopia’s authoritarian structure, releasing political prisoners, liberalizing the centralized economy, committing to overhaul repressive laws and welcoming back exiled opposition and separatist groups.

    In 2019, Mr. Abiy was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his initiative to resolve the decades-long conflict with neighboring Eritrea and for spearheading regional peace and cooperation in the Horn of Africa.

    A nation of about 109 million people, Ethiopia has one of the fastest-growing economies in Africa, hosts the headquarters of the African Union, and is a key United States ally in the fight against terrorism.

    But while the 43-year-old prime minister has made great strides, the changes have unleashed forces that have produced a sharp increase in lawlessness in many parts of the country, with rising ethnic tensions and violence that have displaced 3 million people.

    Yohannes Gedamu, an Ethiopian lecturer in political science at Georgia Gwinnett College, in Lawrenceville, Ga., said that the ruling coalition had lost its grip on the structures it once used to maintain order in an ethnically and linguistically diverse nation. As a result, he added, as the country moves toward multiparty democracy, rival ethnic and political factions have clashed over resources, power and the country’s direction forward.

    The government has come under fire for failing to stop the killing of government critics and prominent figures, like the chief of staff of the Ethiopian Army, and its inability to rescue a dozen or more university students abducted months ago.

    In combating the disorder, the authorities have resorted to the tactics of previous, repressive governments, not only blocking the internet, but arresting journalists and enacting laws that human rights advocates say could limit freedom of expression. Ethiopian security forces have been accused of gross human rights violations, including rape, arbitrary arrests and extrajudicial killings.

    The coronavirus pandemic has complicated all this, leading the government to postpone August elections that many saw as a critical test of Mr. Abiy’s reform agenda. The move drew condemnation from opposition parties, who fear the government will use the delay to attempt a power grab.


    Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed at a tree-planting ceremony last month. The fury the death of Mr. Hundessa touched off poses a challenge to Mr. Ahmed, who rose to power in 2018 following a wave of antigovernment protests.Credit…Michael Tewelde/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

    “The last few days demonstrate just how combustible the situation in Ethiopia is,” said Murithi Mutiga, the project director for the Horn of Africa at the International Crisis Group.

    He added: “The merest spark can easily unleash all these bottled up, ethnonationalist passions that have become the defining feature of Ethiopian politics, especially as it goes through this very delicate transition.”

    While Mr. Abiy has a daunting task at hand, many say the government’s forceful response to the recent discontent could make matters worse. Laetitia Bader, the Horn of Africa director at Human Rights Watch, said the group had received reports that security forces had used lethal force on protesters in at least seven towns.

    “The initial signs aren’t good,” Ms. Bader said. “The government needs to make clear that it is listening to these grievances, creating the space for them to be heard and adequately responding to them without resorting to repression or violence.”

    Given Mr. Hundessa’s stature, and how his music provided a stirring soundtrack against repression, the authorities should pull back and allow “people to grieve in peace,” said Henok Gabisa, the co-chairperson of the International Oromo Lawyers Association, based in St. Paul, Minn. About 200 of the city’s Oromo community protested on Tuesday.

    “The Oromo people are in disbelief, shocked and confused,” said Mr. Gabisa, who knew Mr. Hundessa and met him a few months ago in Ethiopia. But arresting political opposition leaders like Bekele Gerba, of the Oromo Federalist Congress party, and raiding Mr. Mohammed’s Oromia Media Network only risked inflaming long-simmering tensions, he said.

    Read more »

    Related:

    Six hurt in scuffles with security forces at Ethiopian singer’s funeral (Reuters)

    Haile Selassie: Statue of former Ethiopian leader destroyed in London park (BBC)

    ‘Several’ Killed in Ethiopia Unrest After Singer Shot Dead (The Associated Press)


    Hachalu Hundessa, well known for his political songs, was shot dead on Monday in Addis ababa. The 34-year-old had been a prominent voice in anti-government protests that led to a change in leadership in 2018, with Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed taking office. (Photo: YouTube music video screenshot)

    The Associated Press

    By ELIAS MESERET

    Updated: July 1st, 2020

    Ethiopia’s prime minister says “several people” have been killed in unrest that followed the killing of a popular singer this week.

    Angry protests were reported Tuesday in the capital, Addis Ababa, after Hachalu Hundessa was shot dead on Monday. He had been a prominent voice in anti-government protests that led to a change in leadership in 2018, with Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed taking office.

    The killing was a “tragedy,” Abiy said Tuesday, vowing that the perpetrators would be brought to justice and declaring that “our enemies will not succeed.”

    Three bombs exploded in the capital Tuesday, police said. It was not clear whether anyone was killed.

    Internet service has been cut again in Ethiopia, where tensions continue after the government delayed this year’s national election, citing the coronavirus pandemic.

    The singer Hachalu is set to be buried Thursday in his hometown in the Oromia region.

    A well-known Oromo activist, Jawar Mohammed, was among 35 people arrested during the latest unrest.

    There was no immediate sign of protests in Addis Ababa on Wednesday and roads were empty.

    Internet cut off in Ethiopia amid outcry over death of singer-activist

    By Bethlehem Feleke, CNN

    Updated: June 30th, 2020

    (CNN) Internet access was cut across Ethiopia on Tuesday amid national protests over the shooting death of singer and activist Hachalu Hundessa.

    Hachalu, a prominent figure in the Oromo ethnic group, was shot Monday night at the Gelan Condominiums area of the capital Addis Ababa, according to state broadcaster EBC citing the Addis Ababa police commissioner, Getu Argaw.

    On Tuesday, images of protesters in the capital and in Oromia region circulated on social media and the US Embassy in Ethiopia released a security alert saying the embassy was “monitoring reports of protests and unrest, including gunfire, throughout Addis Ababa.”

    Demonstrators also protested the singer’s death in front of the US embassy, the alert said, describing the situation as “volatile at this time.”

    A blanket shutdown

    Netblocks, an internet-monitoring NGO, reported that internet “has been cut across most of Ethiopia from just after 9am local time on Tuesday.”

    Read more »

    Hachalu Hundessa: Killing of Ethiopian singer sparks unrest (DW)

    Hachalu Hundessa — famed for his political songs — had been considered a voice for Ethiopia’s largest ethnic group, the Oromo, during years of anti-government protest. Heavy violence has been reported after his killing.

    ‘Voice of a generation’

    The context to the singer’s death was not immediately clear, although the embassy said Hundessa’s supporters had blamed security forces and “assume a political motive” for the crime.

    Ethiopia’s prime minister, Abiy Ahmed, expressed his condolences and tweeted that an investigation was currently under way.

    Hundessa in 2017 was described by OPride.com as an “electrifying voice of a generation that is revolting” after being awarded the portal’s Oromo Person.

    “For capturing and expressing the frustration, anger, and hope of Oromo protesters through revolutionary lyrics; for courageously defying forcible suppression of dissent and boldly proclaiming ‘we are here and not going anywhere’; for providing a stirring soundtrack to the budding Oromo revolution; for breaking down fear and structural barriers through rousing musical storytelling, and for uniting the Oromo masses and amplifying their collective yearning for change, Haacaaluu Hundeessaa is OPride’s Oromo Person of 2017.”

    The Oromo, Ethiopia’s largest ethnic group, had taken to the streets to complain about what they perceive as marginalization and persecution by the central government.

    Oromo protests made international headlines when Ethiopian long-distance runner Feyisa Lilesa — a member of the Oromo community — reached the finishing line raising his crossed hands at the Rio 2016 Olympics. The crossed hands have become the symbol of the anti-government movement that started in the Oromia region and spread north to the Amhara region.

    Ethiopia is no stranger to ethnic violence. With over 80 different ethnic groups and Africa’s second-largest country based on population, the country is extremely diverse and disagreements between various groups often spiral into communal violence.

    kw/stb (dpa, Reuters)

    ‘More than an entertainer’

    By Bekele Atoma, BBC Afaan Oromo

    Updated: June 30th, 2020

    Hachalu was more than just a singer and entertainer.

    He was a symbol for the Oromo people who spoke up about the political and economic marginalisation that they had suffered under consecutive Ethiopian regimes.

    In one of his most famous songs, he sang: “Do not wait for help to come from outside, a dream that doesn’t come true. Rise, make your horse ready and fight, you are the one close to the palace.”

    The musician had also been imprisoned for five years when he was 17 for taking part in protests.

    Many like him fled into exile fearing persecution but he remained in the country and encouraged the youth to struggle.

    Read more »

    Hachalu Hundessa: Popular Ethiopian protest singer shot dead (BBC)


    Musician Hachalu Hundessa was killed in Addis Ababa on Monday, June 29th, 2020. (BBC)

    BBC News

    Updated: June 30th, 2020

    Ethiopian musician Hachalu Hundessa, well known for his political songs, has been shot dead in the capital

    The 34-year-old had said that he had received death threats and the police are now holding a number of suspects.

    Hachalu’s lyrics often focused on the rights of the country’s Oromo ethnic group and became anthems in a wave of protests that led to the downfall of the previous prime minister.

    Demonstrations broke out in response to the news of the musician’s death.

    Gunshots have been heard in Addis Ababa and people set fire to tyres.

    Thousands of his fans headed to the hospital in the city where the body of the singer was taken on Monday night, BBC Afaan Oromo’s Bekele Atoma reports.

    To them, he was a voice of his generation that protested against decades of government repression, he says.

    Police used tear gas to disperse the crowd.

    The internet was also shut down in parts of the country as protests spread in Oromia regional state.

    Hachalu’s body has now been taken to the town of Ambo, about 100km (62 miles) west of the capital.

    Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has expressed his condolences saying in a tweet that Ethiopia “lost a precious life today” and describing the singer as “marvellous”

    Read more »

    Popular Ethiopian singer Hachalu Hundessa shot dead in Addis Ababa (Al Jazeera)

    Updated: June 30th, 2020

    A popular Ethiopian musician has been shot dead in the country’s capital, Addis Ababa, local media reported, quoting police. He was 36.

    Hachalu Hundessa, an ethnic Oromo also known as Haacaaluu Hundeessaa, was shot in the city’s Gelan Condominiums area late on Monday, Addis Ababa’s police commissioner said.

    Geta Argaw said police had arrested several suspects, state-affiliated Fana broadcaster reported on Tuesday.

    Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed expressed his condolences, saying Ethiopia had “lost a precious life”.

    “I express my deep condolences for those of us who are in deep sorrow since the news of the death of the shining young Artist Hachalu Hundesa,” Fana reported the prime minister as saying. “We are expecting full investigation reports of this evil act.”

    “Let us express our condolences by keeping ourselves safe and preventing further crime,” Abiy said.

    Ethiopians on social media, including the country’s ambassador to Washington, expressed their shock at the killing of the popular musician.

    On Tuesday, youths enraged by the killing of the musician, who was known for his protest songs, burned tyres during demonstrations in Addis Ababa.

    Hachalu, a former political prisoner, rose to prominence during prolonged anti-government protests, which propelled Abiy, a fellow Oromo, into office in 2018. Oromo ethnic group, which have historically faced discrimination, led the the mass protests.

    Abiy’s rise to power ended decades of political dominance by ethnic Tigray leaders in this multi-ethnic African nation.

    His rule has ushered in greater political and economic freedoms in what had long been one of the continent’s most repressive states. He was awarded the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize for ending conflict with neighbouring Eritrea and his reforms.

    But the rise in political activism has also led to an increase in unrest in a country made up of more than 80 ethnic groups. Abiy’s rule has been frequently challenged by local powerbrokers demanding more access to land, power and resources.

    His pan-Ethiopian politics have sparked a backlash from some elements of his own Oromo powerbase, spearheaded by a media magnate, Jawar Mohammed.

    “They did not just kill Hachalu. They shot at the heart of the Oromo Nation, once again !!…You can kill us, all of us, you can never ever stop us!! NEVER !!” Jawar posted on his Facebook page on Tuesday.

    Clashes between police and Jawar’s supporters killed at least 78 people in October last year after the government tried to withdraw Jawar’s security detail.

    Elections due this year have been postponed until next year due to COVID-19 in a deal agreed with the major opposition parties.


    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    Ethiopians in Lebanon Struggle to be Heard Amid Unrest & Net Blockage at Home

    Ethiopia’s internet shutdown is silencing migrant workers stranded in Lebanon. “If we held the protest while the internet was down, the Ethiopian government would not see it, so it would really be pointless,” said Banchi Yimer, the founder of the domestic workers rights organization Egna Legna Besidet. (Getty Images)

    Caught between an economic crisis [in Lebanon] and a news blackout [in Ethiopia], this vulnerable community is struggling to be heard

    On Friday July 3, Ethiopian activists planned to gather outside their national consulate in Beirut in protest against the kafala system — a form of employment sponsorship that operates across the Middle East and has been blamed for widespread cases of abuse. But, with Lebanon’s economic collapse dominating the domestic media and an online blackout in force at home, organizers postponed the event.

    Ethiopia’s government blocked internet access across the country on June 30. The move followed a wave of deadly protests, sparked by the killing of the popular singer Haacaaluu Hundeessaa, whose music focused on the rights of the nation’s Oromo people…

    “If we held the protest while the internet was down, the Ethiopian government would not see it, so it would really be pointless,” said Banchi Yimer, the founder of the domestic workers rights organization Egna Legna Besidet.

    In Lebanon, some 250,000 domestic workers — the majority of whom are women from Ethiopia — are registered under kafala. As such, their legal status and residency is tied to their employers, meaning that they cannot leave or change jobs at will. Workers are also excluded from protections provided by national labor laws…

    Lebanon’s economic crisis, which had been deepening for months, has been sent into overdrive by the global Covid-19 outbreak. The national currency has plummeted to less than a quarter of its official pegged value against the U.S. dollar, and the cost of basic goods has rocketed. Domestic workers have become an unaffordable luxury, and thousands have had their salaries slashed, gone unpaid or lost their jobs entirely.


    Ethiopian maids gather in front of the main entrance of the Ethiopian Consulate in the Hazmiyeh town, south-east of Beirut after they were kicked out from their work. (Getty Images)

    Since early June, dozens of Ethiopian women, abandoned by employers, have been forced to sleep on the sidewalk in front of their national consulate. Many were left without money, belongings or passports.

    “Every hour, another taxi would pull up and dump a woman on the street,” said Hareg, who has been visiting to help new arrivals.

    The Ethiopian consulate was, at first, slow to act. Recently, it set up a shelter for some of these women. Others are living in cramped, shared housing, or in refuges run by the Catholic relief organization Caritas Internationalis.

    Another Canada-based activist organization, founded by former migrant workers, is doing what it can to help. This Is Lebanon was established in 2017, to draw attention to the plight of foreign domestic workers within the country. Part of its strategy is the naming and shaming of abusive employers by posting their photographs and personal details on a dedicated Facebook page.

    The group relies on high public visibility and a large social media following, both to achieve its goals and as a form of protection.

    “Employers aren’t going to do anything when they know 82,000 people are watching,” said one volunteer, who used the pseudonym Patricia.

    Read the full article at codastory.com »

    ‘Lebanon is in a death spiral’: Domestic workers dumped on the street amid unprecedented economic collapse


    Ethiopian domestic workers camp outside their embassy in Beirut after being dumped by their employers. As Lebanon plunges towards hyperinflation, experts say that three-quarters of the country will soon rely on food handouts to survive . (Bel Trew)

    Independent

    July 3rd, 2020

    Bewildered and scared, Ife, an Ethiopian domestic worker, explains how a few hours ago she thought she was on her way to Beirut airport. “So you can fly home,” her cash-strapped employer had said while pushing her out of the car in front of the Ethiopian embassy.

    “It was a lie,” whispers the 24-year-old, clutching her belongings like a lifebuoy.

    “I cried and cried because I haven’t been paid since January. I have no money. I have a son.”

    Ife only has one option: sleep rough alongside a dozen other Ethiopian women also dumped by their employers in front of the consulate in Beirut, and beg to be repatriated home. They are among a growing number of migrant workers in Lebanon that have been abandoned by their bosses who, amid an unprecedented economic collapse, cannot afford to pay their salaries.

    Most of the workers interviewed by The Independent say they have not been paid since January when Lebanon’s financial woes began to bite, and so few have the resources to get home. Many also do not have their passports. Under the country’s abusive kafala system, which rights groups say traps them into forced labour and abuse, migrant workers in Lebanon cannot change jobs or leave without permission of their employer, who often withholds their documents.

    And so, without rights, funds, and passports, Lebanon’s quarter of a million migrant domestic workers are among the most vulnerable in the country’s economic crash.

    Protests erupt in Lebanon

    This Is Lebanon, an organisation that shames abusive employers, says its caseload has more than doubled over the last few months as the crisis deepened. It is so overwhelmed by calls for help that staff now have to turn away women who have been unpaid for less than seven months.

    “It’s awful but we have to tell them we can’t help you any more,” Patricia, a spokeswoman, tells The Independent. “We’re saying the only way is to cut their losses and try to get home.”

    And so the group outside the embassy, sleeping amid their suitcases, wait each day for news of a flight home.

    “Everything got so much worse these days. No is getting paid,” says Hayat, 21, who was dumped by her employer four days ago.

    “Now I’m sleeping here, I have no passport, no money, I have my pyjamas only.”

    Lebanon’s embattled local and immigrant population has been sucker-punched by a staggering financial crisis that could become so severe, experts warn many may starve.

    Grounded in decades of chronic mismanagement and corruption, Lebanon saw its economic woes crescendo in October, sparking a revolution. The arrival of the coronavirus pandemic in March, which shuttered businesses and halted already dwindling remittances, only made matters worse.

    Read more »


    SPOTLIGHT: Yemen to Lebanon Plight of Ethiopian Migrants Amid Pandemic


    Ethiopian migrants in the Yemeni capital, Sana, being forced to quarantine by security forces in April over fears that they could spread the coronavirus. (Getty Images)

    The New York Times

    By Vivian Yee and Tiksa Negeri

    June 28th, 2020

    BEIRUT, Lebanon — The Yemeni militiamen rumbled up to the settlement of Al Ghar in the morning, firing their machine guns at the Ethiopian migrants caught in the middle of somebody else’s war. They shouted at the migrants: Take your coronavirus and leave the country, or face death.

    Fatima Mohammed’s baby, Naa’if, was screaming. She grabbed him and ran behind her husband as bullets streaked overhead.

    “The sound of the bullets was like thunder that wouldn’t stop,” said Kedir Jenni, 30, an Ethiopian waiter who also fled Al Ghar, near the Saudi border in northern Yemen, on that morning in early April. “Men and women get shot next to you, you see them die and move on.”

    This scene and others were recounted in phone interviews with a half-dozen migrants now in Saudi prisons. Their accounts could not be independently verified, but human rights groups have corroborated similar episodes.

    Read more »


    ‘No-one Wants to Stay’: Ethiopia Under Pressure to Rescue Maids in Lebanon


    Birtukan Mekuanint, 23, says she was trapped and exploited after she went to work in Lebanon as a maid. (AFP Photo)

    AFP

    Updated: June 24th, 2020

    Addis Ababa (AFP) – After she flew to Lebanon in 2017 to work as a maid for a family of eight, Birtukan Mekuanint managed to call her own relatives in Ethiopia only a handful of times.

    So her father, Abiye Yefru, did not know what to think when Birtukan emerged unannounced from a taxi outside their home in Addis Ababa last week.

    “Everyone was very emotional when she came to meet us,” Abiye told AFP, describing their reunion. “Me, I didn’t hold back my tears, and my wife cried even more.”

    Soon, though, Abiye’s joy turned to anger as Birtukan recounted her hardship in Lebanon — an all-too-common tale of uncompensated labour in abusive conditions.

    Now he’s joining the chorus of Ethiopians pleading with the government to bring back thousands of domestic workers stranded in Lebanon.

    “It’s too difficult over there,” he said. “Of course they should be brought home.”

    A quarter of a million migrants are employed as domestic workers in Lebanon, the majority of them Ethiopian.

    A sponsorship system known as “kafala” leaves maids, nannies and carers outside the remit of Lebanese labour law and at the mercy of their employers.

    The workers’ plight has come under the spotlight in recent weeks as Lebanon grapples with its worst economic crisis in decades, with dozens of women kicked out by their employers and dumped outside the Ethiopian consulate in Beirut.

    Yet Ethiopian women have for years endured nonpayment of wages, forced confinement and physical and sexual violence, activists say.

    Making matters worse, Ethiopian authorities have turned a blind eye to the abuses, said Banchi Yimer, founder of an NGO that advocates for migrant workers’ rights.

    “I would say they do nothing,” she said. “Nothing has been done by the Ethiopian government.”

    Like many Ethiopian women, Birtukan believed the brokers who told her moving to Lebanon would be an easy way to improve her family’s fortunes.

    For 7,000 Ethiopian birr (around $200), they promised to arrange her travel and place her with a family that would pay $200 (177 euros) a month while covering her expenses.

    Upon reaching Beirut, however, she learned the brokers would pocket her earnings for the first two months.

    The brokers then cut off contact, and her Lebanese boss refused to pay her.

    Under the kafala system, migrant workers can’t terminate contracts without the consent of their employers, meaning Birtukan was effectively trapped.

    She spent long hours mopping floors, ironing clothes and cleaning bathrooms, all while tallying the days on a piece of cardboard she hid under her mattress.

    “I didn’t see other people. Even if I tried to talk on the phone, they would stop me,” she told AFP as tears rolled down her cheeks.

    She seized the first chance she could to escape, swiping a key to the compound gate left behind by one of the family’s children.

    She then secured a spot on one of the flights organised last month by the Ethiopian government and state-owned Ethiopian Airlines.

    But only around 650 women have been flown home so far.

    As the coronavirus pandemic exacerbates Lebanon’s economic woes, Birtukan wants to see more repatriations.

    “I think the government should bring back all the women there,” she said. “They’re sleeping under bridges. They don’t have enough to eat.”

    Ethiopia’s foreign affairs ministry and the consulate in Beirut did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

    -Tough times ahead-

    For all the horror stories out of Lebanon, some women are glad they made the journey.

    Almaz Gezaheng, 32, travelled to Lebanon in 2008, moving in with a family of four.

    She found the pay too low and the conditions too strenuous, but after she left she landed a job as a cleaner at a beauty parlour that paid $400 per month.

    She sent half that money home, enabling her parents to buy their own house.

    “At least I changed my family’s life, even if I haven’t done anything for myself.”

    But after the Lebanese economy tanked, Almaz lost her job, and she exhausted her savings before securing a spot on a repatriation flight this month.

    “I think the future will be very difficult for Lebanon. I would advise young Ethiopians to stay here and do their own work rather than go there,” she said.

    She urged the Ethiopian government to step in and help those still stuck there.

    “Most of their madams are throwing them out of the house,” she said. “Before anything worse happens, it would be good for the government to bring back all of our girls from Lebanon.”

    The call is echoed by Banchi, founder of the migrants workers’ rights NGO, who said she is receiving reports of Ethiopian women in Lebanon who are in such despair that they drink bleach or try to jump off balconies.

    “The inaction of the Ethiopian government is leading domestic workers to depression,” she said. “Everybody wants to go home. No-one wants to stay in Lebanon.”


    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    UPDATE: PM Abiy Says Unrest Will Not Derail Filling of Nile Dam

    Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said Tuesday the recent violence was specifically intended to throw Ethiopia's plans for the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam off course. Abiy, last year's Nobel Peace Prize winner, also criticised politicians who he suggested were trying to profit from Hachalu's killing to undermine his government. "You can't become a government by destroying the country, by sowing ethnic and religious chaos," he said. (AP photo)

    AFP

    July 7th, 2020

    Addis Ababa (AFP) – Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said Tuesday that recent domestic unrest would not derail his plan to start filling a mega-dam on the Blue Nile River this month, despite objections from downstream neighbours Egypt and Sudan.

    Violence broke out last week in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa and the surrounding Oromia region following the shooting death of Hachalu Hundessa, a popular singer from the Oromo ethnic group, Ethiopia’s largest.

    More than 160 people died in inter-ethnic killings and in clashes between protesters and security forces, according to the latest official toll provided over the weekend.

    Abiy said last week that Hachalu’s killing and the violence that ensued were part of a plot to sow unrest in Ethiopia, without identifying who he thought was involved.

    On Tuesday he went a step further, saying it was specifically intended to throw Ethiopia’s plans for the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam off course.

    “The desire of the breaking news is to make the Ethiopian government take its eye off the dam,” Abiy said during a question-and-answer session with lawmakers, without giving evidence to support the claim.

    Ethiopia sees the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam as essential to its electrification and development, while Egypt and Sudan worry it will restrict access to vital Nile waters.

    Addis Ababa has long intended to begin filling the dam’s reservoir this month — in the middle of its rainy season — while Cairo and Khartoum are pushing for the three countries to first reach an agreement on how it will be operated.

    Talks between the three nations resumed last week.

    Ethiopian officials have not publicised the exact day they intend to start filling the dam.

    But Abiy on Tuesday reiterated Ethiopia’s position that the filling process is an essential element of the dam’s construction.

    “If Ethiopia doesn’t fill the dam, it means Ethiopia has agreed to demolish the dam,” he said.

    “On other points we can reach an agreement slowly over time, but for the filling of the dam we can reach and sign an agreement this year.”

    -Ethiopia ‘not Syria, Libya’-

    Abiy, last year’s Nobel Peace Prize winner, also criticised politicians who he suggested were trying to profit from Hachalu’s killing to undermine his government.

    “You can’t become a government by destroying a government by destroying the country, by sowing ethnic and religious chaos,” he said.

    “If Ethiopia becomes Syria, if Ethiopia becomes Libya, the loss is for everybody.”

    A number of high-profile opposition politicians have been arrested in Ethiopia in the wake of Hachalu’s killing.

    Some of them, including former media mogul Jawar Mohammed, have accused Abiy, the country’s first Oromo prime minister, of failing to sufficiently champion Oromo interests after years of anti-government protests swept him to power in 2018.

    Abiy defended his Oromo credentials on Tuesday. “All my life I’ve struggled for the Oromo people,” he said.

    “The Oromo people are free now. What we need now is development.”

    ‘It’s my dam’: Ethiopians Unite Around Nile River Mega-Project


    The Blue Nile flowing through the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam. The project is passionately supported by the Ethiopian public despite the tensions it has stoked with Egypt and Sudan downstream. (AFP)

    AFP

    Updated: June 29th, 2020

    Last week, Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s press secretary took a break from official statements to post something different to her Twitter feed: a 37-line poem defending her country’s massive dam on the Blue Nile River.

    “My mothers seek respite/From years of abject poverty/Their sons a bright future/And the right to pursue prosperity,” Billene Seyoum wrote in her poem, entitled “Ethiopia Speaks”.

    As the lines indicate, Ethiopia sees the $4.6 billion (four-billion-euro) Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam as crucial for its electrification and development.

    But the project, set to become Africa’s largest hydroelectric installation, has sparked an intensifying row with downstream neighbours Egypt and Sudan, which worry that it will restrict vital water supplies.

    Addis Ababa plans to start filling next month, despite demands from Cairo and Khartoum for a deal on the dam’s operations to avoid depletion of the Nile.

    The African Union is assuming a leading role in talks to resolve outstanding legal and technical issues, and the UN Security Council could take up the issue Monday.

    With global attention to the dam on the rise, its defenders are finding creative ways to show support — in verse, in Billene’s case, through other art forms and, most commonly, in social media posts demanding the government finish construction.

    To some observers, the dam offers a rare point of unity in an ethnically-diverse country undergoing a fraught democratic transition and awaiting elections delayed by the coronavirus pandemic.

    Abebe Yirga, a university lecturer and expert in water management, compared the effort to finish the dam to Ethiopia’s fight against Italian would-be colonisers in the late 19th century.

    “During that time, Ethiopians irrespective of religion and different backgrounds came together to fight against the colonial power,” he said.

    “Now, in the 21st century, the dam is reuniting Ethiopians who have been politically and ethnically divided.”

    -Hashtag activism-

    Ethiopia broke ground on the dam in 2011 under then-Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, who pitched it as a catalyst for poverty eradication.

    Civil servants contributed one month’s salary towards the project that year, and the government has since issued dam bonds targeting Ethiopians at home and abroad.

    Nearly a decade later, the dam remains a source of hope for a country where more than half the population of 110 million lives without electricity.

    With Meles dead nearly eight years, perhaps the most prominent face of the project these days is water minister Seleshi Bekele, a former academic whose publications include articles with titles like “Estimation of flow in ungauged catchments by coupling a hydrological model and neural networks: Case study”.

    As a government minister, though, Seleshi has demonstrated an ear for the catchy soundbite.

    At a January press conference in Addis Ababa, he fielded a question from a journalist wondering whether countries besides Ethiopia might play a role in operating the dam.

    With an amused expression on his face, Seleshi looked the journalist dead in the eye and responded simply, “It’s my dam.”

    In those five seconds, a hashtag was born.

    Coverage of the exchange went viral, and today a Twitter search for #ItsMyDam turns up seemingly endless posts hailing the project.

    At recent events officials have even distributed T-shirts bearing the slogan to Ethiopian journalists, who proudly wear them around town.

    -Banana boosterism-

    Some non-Ethiopians have also gotten in on #ItsMyDam fever.

    Anna Chojnicka spent four years living in Ethiopia working for an organisation supporting social entrepreneurs, though she recently moved to London.

    In March, holed up with suspected COVID-19, she began using a comb and thread-cutter to imprint designs on bananas.

    Her #BananaOfTheDay series has included bruises portraying the London skyline, iconic scenes from Disney movies and the late singer Amy Winehouse.

    But by far the most popular are her bananas related to the dam, the first of which she posted last week showing water rushing through the concrete colossus.

    On Thursday she posted a banana featuring a woman carrying firewood, noting that once the dam starts operating “fewer women will need to collect firewood for fuel”.

    The image was quickly picked up by an Ethiopian television station.


    Ethiopia, Egypt & Sudan Agree to Restart Talks Over Disputed Dam


    Early Saturday, Seleshi Bekele, Ethiopia’s water and energy minister, confirmed that the countries had decided during an African Union summit to restart stalled negotiations and finalize an agreement over the contentious mega-project within two to three weeks, with support from the AU. (Satellite image via AP)

    The Associated Press

    Updated: June 27th, 2020

    The leaders of Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia agreed late Friday to return to talks aimed at reaching an accord over the filling of Ethiopia’s new hydroelectric dam on the Blue Nile, according to statements from the three nations.

    Early Saturday, Seleshi Bekele, Ethiopia’s water and energy minister, confirmed that the countries had decided during an African Union summit to restart stalled negotiations and finalize an agreement over the contentious mega-project within two to three weeks, with support from the AU.

    The announcement was a modest reprieve from weeks of bellicose rhetoric and escalating tensions over the $4.6 billion Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, which Ethiopia had vowed to start filling at the start of the rainy season in July.

    Egypt and Sudan said Ethiopia would refrain from filling the dam next month until the countries reached a deal. Ethiopia did not comment explicitly on the start of the filling period.

    Ethiopia has hinged its development ambitions on the colossal dam, describing it as a crucial lifeline to bring millions out of poverty.

    Egypt, which relies on the Nile for more than 90% of its water supplies and already faces high water stress, fears a devastating impact on its booming population of 100 million. Sudan, which also depends on the Nile for water, has played a key role in bringing the two sides together after the collapse of U.S.-mediated talks in February.

    Just last week, Ethiopian Foreign Minister Gedu Andargachew warned that his country could begin filling the dam’s reservoir unilaterally, after the latest round of talks with Egypt and Sudan failed to reach an accord governing how the dam will be filled and operated.

    After an AU video conference chaired by South Africa late Friday, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi said that “all parties” had pledged not to take “any unilateral action” by filling the dam without a final agreement, said Bassam Radi, Egypt’s presidency spokesman.

    Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok also indicated the impasse between the Nile basin countries had eased, saying the nations had agreed to restart negotiations through a technical committee with the aim of finalizing a deal in two weeks. Ethiopia won’t fill the dam before inking the much-anticipated deal, Hamdok’s statement added.

    African Union Commission Chairman Moussa Faki Mahamat said the countries “agreed to an AU-led process to resolve outstanding issues,” without elaborating.

    Sticking points in the talks have been how much water Ethiopia will release downstream from the dam if a multi-year drought occurs and how Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan will resolve any future disagreements.

    Both Egypt and Sudan have appealed to the U.N. Security Council to intervene in the years-long dispute and help the countries avert a crisis. The council is set to hold a public meeting on the issue Monday.

    Filling the dam without an agreement could bring the stand-off to a critical juncture. Both Egypt and Ethiopia have hinted at military steps to protect their interests, and experts fear a breakdown in talks could lead to open conflict.

    Related:

    Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan to agree Nile dam in weeks

    Ethiopia agrees to delay filling Nile mega-dam, say Egypt, Sudan

    Clock Ticks On Push to Resolve Egypt-Ethiopia Row Over Nile Dam

    The Grand Renaissance Dam is seen as it undergoes construction on the river Nile in Guba Woreda, Benishangul Gumuz Region, Ethiopia. (REUTERS photo/Tiksa Negeri)

    Reuters

    Updated: June 26th, 2020

    CAIRO (Reuters) – Egypt is counting on international pressure to unlock a deal it sees as crucial to protecting its scarce water supplies from the Nile river before the expected start-up of a giant dam upstream in Ethiopia in July.

    Tortuous, often acrimonious negotiations spanning close to a decade have left the two nations and their neighbour Sudan short of an agreement to regulate how Ethiopia will operate the dam and fill its reservoir.

    Though Egypt is unlikely to face any immediate, critical shortages from the dam even without a deal, failure to reach one before the filling process starts could further poison ties and drag out the dispute for years, analysts say.

    “There is the threat of worsening relations between Ethiopia and the two downstream countries, and consequently increased regional instability,” said William Davison, a senior analyst at the International Crisis Group.

    The latest round of talks left the three countries “closer than ever to reaching an agreement”, according to a report by Sudan’s foreign ministry seen by Reuters.

    But it also said the talks, which were suspended last week, had revealed a “widening gap” over the key issue of whether any agreement would be legally binding, as Egypt demands.

    The stakes for largely arid Egypt are high, for it draws at least 90% of its fresh water from the Nile.

    With Ethiopia insisting it will use seasonal rains to begin filling the dam’s reservoir next month, Cairo has appealed to the U.N. Security Council in a last-ditch diplomatic move.

    ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

    The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) is being built about 15 km (nine miles) from the border with Sudan on the Blue Nile, the source of most of the Nile’s waters.

    Ethiopia says the $4 billion hydropower project, which will have an installed capacity of 6,450 megawatts, is essential to its economic development. Addis Ababa told the U.N. Security Council in a letter this week that it is “designed to help extricate our people from abject poverty”.

    The letter repeated accusations that Egypt was trying to maintain historic advantages over the Nile and constrict Ethiopia’s pursuit of future upstream projects. It argued that Ethiopia had accommodated Egyptian demands to allow recent talks to move forward before Egypt unnecessarily escalated by taking the issue to the Security Council.

    Ethiopia’s government was not immediately available for comment.

    Egypt says it is focused on securing a fair deal limited to the GERD, and that Ethiopia’s talk of righting colonial-era injustice is a ruse meant to distract attention from a bid to impose a fait accompli on its downstream neighbours.

    Both accuse each other of trying to sabotage the talks and of blocking independent studies on the impact of the GERD. Egypt requested U.S. mediation last year, leading to talks over four months in Washington that broke down in February.

    “PROGRESS”

    The resort to outside mediation came because the two sides had been “going round in vicious cycles for years”, said an Egyptian official. The stand-off is a chance for the international community to show leadership on the issue of water, and help broker a deal that “could unlock a lot of cooperation possibilities”, he said.

    Talks this month between water ministers led by Sudan, and observed by the United States, South Africa and the European Union, produced a draft deal that Sudan said made “significant progress on major technical issues”.

    It listed outstanding technical issues however, including how the dam would operate during “dry years” of reduced rainfall, as well as legal issues on whether the agreement and its mechanism for resolving disputes should be binding.

    Sudan, for its part, sees benefits from the dam in regulating its Blue Nile waters, but wants guarantees it will be safely and properly operated.

    Like Egypt it is seeking a binding deal before filling starts, but its increasing alignment with Cairo has not proved decisive.

    Technical compromises are still available, said Davison, but “there’s no reason to think that Ethiopia is going to bow to increased international pressure”.

    “We need to move away from diplomatic escalation and instead the parties need to sit themselves once again around the table and stay there until they reach agreement.”

    UN to Hear Ethiopia-Egypt Nile Dam Dispute


    The behind-closed-doors meeting [set for Monday in New York] was requested by France, according to diplomats, who spoke on condition of anonymity. It came after the latest talks between Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan ended without an agreement. (Bloomberg)

    Bloomberg

    (Bloomberg) — The United Nations Security Council will discuss for the first time Monday a growing dispute between Egypt and Ethiopia over a giant hydropower dam being built on the Nile River’s main tributary, diplomats said. The behind-closed-doors meeting was requested by France, according to the diplomats, who spoke on condition of anonymity. It came after the latest talks between Egypt, Ethi

    The behind-closed-doors meeting was requested by France, according to the diplomats, who spoke on condition of anonymity. It came after the latest talks between Egypt, Ethiopia and mutual neighbor Sudan ended last week with Ethiopia refusing to accept a permanent, minimum volume of water that the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam should release downstream in the event of severe drought.

    Egypt’s Foreign Ministry subsequently asked the UNSC to intervene, calling for a fair and balanced solution. Ethiopia has threatened to start filling the dam’s reservoir when the rainy season begins in July, with or without a deal. That’s a step that Egypt, which relies on the Nile for almost all its fresh water, considers both unacceptable and illegal.

    Ethiopia remains resolute that a so-called declaration of principles agreement signed by Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan in 2015 allows it to proceed with damming the GERD.


    Dear Ethiopia & Egypt: Nile Dam Update


    Nefartari with Simbel and St. Yared holding a Simbel, which is called Tsenatsil in Amharic and Ge’ez.

    The Africa Report

    By Meklit Berihun, a civil engineer and aspiring researcher in systems thinking and its application in the water/environment sector.

    Dear Egypt

    My dear, how are you holding up in these trying times? I hope you are faring well as much as one can given the circumstances. And I pray we will not be burdened with more than we can bear and that this time will soon come to pass for the both of us.

    Dearest, I hear of your frustration about the progress—or lack thereof—on the negotiations over my dam. That is a frustration I also share. I look forward to the day we settle things and look to the future together.

    Beloved, though your approach has recently metamorphosed in addressing your right to our water—officially stating you never held on to any past agreements—the foundation, that you do not want to settle for anything less than 66 percent of what is shared by 10 of your fellow African states, remains unchanged. I must be honest: I cannot fathom how you still hold on to this.

    Read more »

    Dear Ethiopia,

    By Nervana Mahmoud, Doctor and independent political commentator on Middle East issues. BBC’s 100 women 2013.

    Thank you for your letter.

    The fate of our two countries has been linked since ancient times, as described in Herodotus’s book An Account of Egypt, Egypt is the “gift of the Nile,” “it has soil which is black and easily breaks up, seeing that it is in truth mud and silt brought down from Ethiopia by the river.”

    It is sad you question Egypt’s African identity. It may sound surprising to you, but the vast majority of Egyptians are proud Africans. In 1990, my entire family was glued to the television, showing our support for Cameroon against England, in the World Cup. Last year, Egypt hosted the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations. Many Egyptians supported Senegal and Nigeria, who played Arab teams, in the final rounds because we see ourselves as Africans.

    Unfortunately, I do not believe that you — our African brothers — appreciate the potential disastrous impacts of your Grand Renaissance Dam (GERD) on our livelihood in Egypt.

    Read more »

    AP Interview: Egypt Says UN Must Stop Ethiopia on Dam Fill

    AP Interview:: Ethiopia To Fill Disputed Dam, Deal or No Deal


    This satellite image taken May 28, 2020, shows the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) on the Blue Nile river in the Benishangul-Gumuz region. In an interview with The Associated Press Friday, June 19, 2020, Foreign Minister Gedu Andargachew said that Ethiopia will start filling the $4.6 billion dam next month. (AP)

    The Associated Press

    By ELIAS MESERET

    Updated: June 19th, 2020

    ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (AP) — It’s a clash over water usage that Egypt calls an existential threat and Ethiopia calls a lifeline for millions out of poverty. Just weeks remain before the filling of Africa’s most powerful hydroelectric dam might begin, and tense talks between the countries on its operation have yet to reach a deal.

    In an interview with The Associated Press, Ethiopian Foreign Minister Gedu Andargachew on Friday declared that his country will go ahead and start filling the $4.6 billion Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam next month, even without an agreement. “For us it is not mandatory to reach an agreement before starting filling the dam, hence we will commence the filling process in the coming rainy season,” he said.

    “We are working hard to reach a deal, but still we will go ahead with our schedule whatever the outcome is. If we have to wait for others’ blessing, then the dam may remain idle for years, which we won’t allow to happen,” he said. He added that “we want to make it clear that Ethiopia will not beg Egypt and Sudan to use its own water resource for its development,” pointing out that Ethiopia is paying for the dam’s construction itself.

    He spoke after the latest round of talks with Egypt and Sudan on the dam, the first since discussions broke down in February, failed to reach agreement.

    No date has been set for talks to resume, and the foreign minister said Ethiopia doesn’t believe it’s time to take them to a head of state level.

    The years-long dispute pits Ethiopia’s desire to become a major power exporter and development engine against Egypt’s concern that the dam will significantly curtail its water supply if filled too quickly. Sudan has long been caught between the competing interests.

    The arrival of the rainy season is bringing more water to the Blue Nile, the main branch of the Nile, and Ethiopia sees an ideal time to begin filling the dam’s reservoir next month.

    Both Egypt and Ethiopia have hinted at military steps to protect their interests, and experts fear a breakdown in talks could lead to conflict.

    Ethiopia’s foreign minister would not say whether his country would use military action to defend the dam and its operations.

    “This dam should have been a reason for cooperation and regional integration, not a cause for controversies and warmongering,” he said. “Egyptians are exaggerating their propaganda on the dam issue and playing a political gamble. Some of them seem as if they are longing for a war to break out.”

    Gedu added: “Our reading is that the Egyptian side wants to dictate and control even future developments on our river. We won’t ask for permission to carry out development projects on our own water resources. This is both legally and morally unacceptable.”

    He said Ethiopia has offered to fill the dam in four to seven years, taking possible low rainfall into account.

    Sticking points in the talks have been how much water Ethiopia will release downstream from the dam during a multi-year drought and how Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan will resolve any future disputes.

    The United States earlier this year tried to broker a deal, but Ethiopia did not attend the signing meeting and accused the Trump administration of siding with Egypt. This week some Ethiopians felt vindicated when the U.S. National Security Council tweeted that “257 million people in east Africa are relying on Ethiopia to show strong leadership, which means striking a fair deal.”

    In reply to that, Ethiopia’s foreign minister said: “Statements issued from governments and other institutions on the dam should be crafted carefully not to take sides and impair the fragile talks, especially at this delicate time. They should issue fair statements or just issue no statements at all.”

    He also rejected the idea that the issue should be taken to the United Nations Security Council, as Egypt wants. Egypt’s foreign ministry issued a statement Friday saying Egypt has urged the Security Council to intervene in the dispute to help the parties reach a “fair and balanced solution” and prevent Ethiopia from “taking any unilateral actions.”

    The latest talks saw officials from the U.S., European Union and South Africa, the current chairman of the African Union, attending as observers.

    Sudan’s Irrigation Minister Yasser Abbas told reporters after talks ended Wednesday that the three counties’ irrigation leaders have agreed on “90% or 95%” of the technical issues but the dispute over the “legal points” in the deal remains dissolved.

    The Sudanese minister said his country and Egypt rejected Ethiopia’s attempts to include articles on water sharing and old Nile treaties in the dam deal. Egypt has received the lion’s share of the Nile’s waters under decades-old agreements dating back to the British colonial era. Eighty-five percent of the Nile’s waters originate in Ethiopia from the Blue Nile.

    “The Egyptians want us to offer a lot, but they are not ready to offer us anything,” Gedu said Friday. “They want to control everything. We are not discussing a water-sharing agreement.”

    The countries should not get stuck in a debate about historic water rights, William Davison, senior analyst on Ethiopia with the International Crisis Group, told reporters this week. “During a period of filling, yes, there’s reduced water downstream. But that’s a temporary period,” he said.

    Initial power generation from the dam could be seen late this year or in early 2021, he said.

    Ethiopia’ foreign minister expressed disappointment in Egypt’s efforts to find backing for its side.

    “Our African brotherly countries should have supported us, but instead they are tainting our country’s name around the world, and especially in the Arab world,” he said. “Egypt’s monopolistic approach to the dam issue will not be acceptable for us forever.”


    Tussle for Nile Control Escalates as Dam Talks Falter


    The Blue Nile river passes through the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam near Guba, Ethiopia. (Getty Images)

    Bloomberg

    Updated: June 18th, 2020

    A last ditch attempt to resolve a decade-long dispute between Egypt and Ethiopia over a huge new hydropower dam on the Nile has failed, raising the stakes in what – for all the public focus on technical issues – is a tussle for control over the region’s most important water source.

    The talks appear to have faltered over a recurring issue: Ethiopia’s refusal to accept a permanent, minimum volume of water that the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, or GERD, should release downstream in the event of severe drought.

    What happens next remains uncertain. Both Ethiopia and Sudan – a mutual neighbor that took part in the talks – said that progress had been made and left the door open to further negotiation. Yet the stakes in a region acutely vulnerable to the impact of climate change are disconcertingly clear.

    Ethiopia has threatened to start filling the dam’s reservoir when the rainy season begins in July, with or without a deal, a step Egypt considers both unacceptable and illegal. In a statement late Wednesday, Egypt’s irrigation ministry accused Ethiopia of refusing to accept any effective drought provision or legally binding commitments, or even to refer the talks to the three prime ministers in an effort to break the deadlock. Ethiopia was demanding “an absolute right” to build further dams behind the GERD, the ministry said.

    Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry threatened on Monday to call for United Nations Security Council intervention to protect “international peace and security” if no agreement was reached. A day later his Ethiopian opposite, Gedu Andargachew, accused Egypt of “acting as if it is the sole owner of the Nile waters.”

    Egyptian billionaire Naguib Sawiris even warned of a water war. “We will never allow any country to starve us, if Ethiopia doesn’t come to reason, we the Egyptian people will be the first to call for war,” he said in a tweet earlier this week.

    Although both sides have played down the prospect of military conflict, they have occasionally rattled sabers and concern at the potential for escalation helped draw the U.S. and World Bank into the negotiating process last year. When that attempt floundered in February, the European Union and South Africa, as chair of the African Union, joined in.

    “This is all about control,” said Asfaw Beyene, a professor of mechanical engineering at San Diego State University, California, whose work Egypt cited in support of a May 1 report to the UN. The so-called aide memoire argued that the GERD and its 74 billion cubic meter reservoir are so vastly oversized relative to the power they will produce that it “raises questions about the true purpose of the dam.”

    National Survival

    Egypt’s concern is that once the dam’s sluices can control the Nile’s flow, Ethiopia could in times of drought say “I am not releasing water, I need it,” or dictate how the water released is used, says Asfaw. Yet he backs Ethiopia’s claims that once filled, the dam won’t significantly affect downstream supplies. He also agrees with their argument that climate change could render unsustainable any water guarantees given to Egypt.

    Both sides describe the future of the hydropower dam that will generate as much as 15.7 gigawatts of electricity per year as a matter of national survival. Egypt relies on the Nile for as much as 97% of an already strained water supply. Ethiopia says the dam is vital for development, because it would increase the nation’s power generation by about 150% at a time when more than half the population have no access to electricity.

    Read more »


    UPDATE: Ethiopian Army Official Says Country Will Defend Itself Over Dam (AP)


    A general view of the Blue Nile river as it passes through the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), near Guba in Ethiopia. (Getty Images)

    The Associated Press

    By ELIAS MESERET

    Updated: June 12th, 2020

    ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (AP) — Ethiopia’s deputy army chief on Friday said his country will strongly defend itself and will not negotiate its sovereignty over the disputed $4.6 billion Nile dam that has caused tensions with Egypt.

    “Egyptians and the rest of the world know too well how we conduct war whenever it comes,” Gen. Birhanu Jula said in an interview with the state-owned Addis Zemen newspaper, adding that Egyptian leaders’ “distorted narrative” on Africa’s largest hydroelectric dam is attracting enemies.

    He accused Egypt of using its weapons to “threaten and tell other countries not to touch the shared water” and said “the way forward should be cooperation in a fair manner.”

    He spoke amid renewed talks among Ethiopian, Sudanese and Egyptian water and irrigation ministers after months of deadlock. Ethiopia wants to begin filling the dam’s reservoir in the coming weeks, but Egypt worries a rapid filling will take too much of the water it says its people need to survive. Sudan, caught between the competing interests, pushed the two sides to resume discussions.

    The general’s comments were a stark contrast to Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s remarks to lawmakers earlier this week that diplomacy should take center stage to resolve outstanding issues.

    “We don’t want to hurt anyone else, and at the same time it will be difficult for us to accept the notion that we don’t deserve to have electricity,” the Nobel Peace Prize laureate said. “We are tired of begging others while 70% of our population is young. This has to change.”

    Talks on the dam have struggled. Egypt’s Irrigation Ministry on Wednesday called for Ethiopia to “clearly declare that it had no intention of unilaterally filling the reservoir” and that a deal prepared by the U.S. and the World Bank in February serves as the starting point of the resumed negotiations.

    Ethiopia refused to sign that deal and accused the U.S. of siding with Egypt.

    Egypt said that in Tuesday’s talks, Ethiopia showed it wanted to re-discuss “all issues” including “all timetables and figures” negotiated in the U.S.-brokered talks.

    President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi discussed the latest negotiations in a phone call with President Donald Trump on Wednesday, el-Sissi’s office said, without elaborating.

    Egypt’s National Security Council, the highest body that makes decisions in high-profile security matters in the country, has accused Ethiopia of “buying time” and seeking to begin filling the dam’s reservoir in July without reaching a deal with Egypt and Sudan.

    Ethiopia Seeks to Limit Outsiders’ Role in Nile Dam Talks (AFP)


    Ethiopia sees the dam as essential for its electrification and development, while Sudan and Egypt see it as a threat to essential water supplies (AFP Photo)

    AFP

    Updated: June 11th, 2020

    Addis Ababa (AFP) – Ethiopia said Thursday it wants to limit the role of outside parties in revived talks over its Nile River mega-dam, a sign of lingering frustration over a failed attempt by the US to broker a deal earlier this year.

    The Grand Ethiopia Renaissance Dam has been a source of tension in the Nile River basin ever since Ethiopia broke ground on it nearly a decade ago.

    Ethiopia sees the dam as essential for its electrification and development, while Sudan and Egypt see it as a threat to essential water supplies.

    The US Treasury Department stepped in last year after Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi put in a request to his ally US President Donald Trump.

    But the process ran aground after the Treasury Department urged Ethiopia to sign a deal that Egypt backed as “fair and balanced”.

    Ethiopia denied a deal had been reached and accused Washington of being “undiplomatic” and playing favourites.

    On Tuesday Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan resumed talks via videoconference with representatives of the United States, the European Union and South Africa taking part.

    The talks resumed Wednesday and were expected to pick up again Thursday.

    In a statement aired Thursday by state-affiliated media, Ethiopia’s water ministry said the role of the outside parties should not “exceed that of observing the negotiation and sharing good practices when jointly requested by the three countries.”

    The statement also criticised Egypt for detailing its grievances over the dam in a May letter to the UN Security Council — a move it described as a bad faith attempt to “exert external diplomatic pressure”.

    Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed reiterated Monday that his country plans to begin filling the dam’s reservoir in the coming weeks, giving the latest talks heightened urgency.

    The short window makes it “more necessary than ever that concessions are made so a deal can be struck that will ease potentially dangerous tensions,” said William Davison of the International Crisis Group, a conflict prevention organisation.

    One solution could involve Ethiopia “proposing a detailed cooperative annual drought-management scheme that takes Egypt and Sudan’s concerns into account, but does not unacceptably constrain the dam’s potential,” he said.

    The EU sees the resumption of talks as “an important opportunity to restore confidence among the parties, build on the good progress achieved and agree on a mutually beneficial solution,” said spokeswoman Virginie Battu-Henriksson.

    “Especially in this time of global crisis, it is important to appease tensions and find pragmatic solutions,” she said.

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    Amanuel Tamirat, the 20-Year-Old Ethiopian American Found Hanging in New Jersey

    Amanuel Tamirat, the 20-Year-Old Ethiopian American found hanging at a public park in New Jersey, is one of four Black men from around the country to be found hanging in the last two months. Amanuel who was adopted from Ethiopia, at the age of 5, was a football player for the West Morris Central Wolfpack. (Heavy.com)

    The 20-Year-Old Ethiopian American Found Hanging in New Jersey

    Amani Kildea — full name Amanuel Tamirat Kildea — was the 20-year-old adopted son of a pastor and his wife who was found dead in Morris County, New Jersey, according to the Daily Record. Kildea’s death was originally ruled a suicide by the Morris County Medical Examiner’s Office, but pushback from activists, including a Morristown chapter of Black Lives Matter, has raised doubts about that determination.

    According to Lieutenant Chris List of Morris County Park Police, a visitor spotted Kildea’s body hanging from a tree in Morris County Park at around 2:47 p.m. on June 28, the Christian Post reported. The Morris County Prosecutor’s Office Major Crimes Unit is still investigating the case, according to Parsippany Focus.

    Kildea is one of four Black men from around the country to be found hanging in the last two months.

    Here’s what you need to know:

    1. Amanuel Tamirat Kildea Was Adopted

    Amanuel Tamirat Kildea was adopted from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, at the age of 5, the Christian Post reported. He grew up the son of Janice Kildea and her husband, Tom Kildea, who is also the senior pastor of Redeemer Lutheran Church in Succasunna.

    According to his obituary, although his native language was Amharic, he quickly picked up English and he was also funny.

    He was a West Morris Central High School graduate from Long Valley, New Jersey, and according to Parsippany Focus, he was planning on attending James Madison University in the fall of 2020.

    An article about Kildea in Morristown Green described him as goofy and full of life. In February, he graduated from military police basic training in the Army Reserves. “He made basic training fun, I miss it because of him. His big smile and dumb jokes…It was impossible not to love him,” an Army friend named Noah Brammer posted. “I just wish he would’ve reached out to his family and friends. He never ever acted like he was depressed or talked about it”

    “Amani was sensitive, tender-hearted, gentle and kind. He was a great listener, and he loved to listen to family stories. He felt deeply, observed closely. He was broken in ways that very few could see or would ever know,” his obituary read.

    2. Kildea Was A Gifted Athlete

    Kildea was a football player for the West Morris Central Wolfpack and for the high school’s basketball team.

    According to his obituary:

    Amani was a natural athlete; he loved basketball the most. He would have liked to have been a great football player, but he was also wonderfully and beautifully slender. (A distinct disadvantage.) As a child, he was happiest with a friend and a ball.

    His obituary also stated that Kildea was “exceptionally bright,” that he was “terrific at games” and that he hated to lose.

    One of Kildea’s high school friends, Owen Caulfield, was quoted in Morristown Green as calling him “funny, ballsy, caring, friendly, smart and empathetic.”

    “No matter what the circumstance, you would always have a smile on your face, even when we were getting in trouble (which was pretty often),” Caulfield said. “You held our nut job friend group together like glue, every second spent with you was fun.”…

    Morris County Police released a statement, which read in part:

    Contrary to the statements made in social media and elsewhere, the investigation remains open and has not concluded.

    Read more »

    Related:

    Ongoing Investigation of the Death of Amani (Amanuel Tamirat) Kildea

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    Ethiopia Cracks Down on Ethnic Violence

    Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed responded to the violence by sending in troops and shutting off the internet. High-profile opposition leaders were arrested, along with others. Those who participate “in the destruction of the nation cannot be considered guardians of the nation,” Abiy said. (Photo: ETV)

    Axios

    Abiy Ahmed, Ethiopia’s Nobel Peace Laureate Cracks Down on Ethnic Violence

    The image of a Nobel Peace laureate in military fatigues encapsulates the moment in which Ethiopia finds itself — on the verge of a transition to democracy, a descent into violence or, perhaps, a precarious combination of the two.

    Driving the news: At least 166 people were killed after an iconic musician, Haacaaluu Hundeessaa, was murdered last Monday in Addis Ababa, the capital. Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed responded to the violence by sending in troops and shutting off the internet. High-profile opposition leaders were arrested, along with some 2,300 others.

    - Abiy claimed that “external forces” were “pulling the strings” in an effort to destabilize Ethiopia at a critical moment a reference to the standoff with Egypt over access to the Nile.

    - Most of the deaths after Hundeessaa’s killing came in intercommunal violence, however. Some of it was reportedly carried out by militant wings of hardline political factions.

    - “Considering who the dead and wounded are, there are clear indications that they were targeted for ethnic reasons,” DW’s Yoahannes Geberegziabeher reports from Addis Ababa.

    Zoom in: The violence took place in Oromia state, also the site of the 2014–2017 uprising that swept Abiy, Ethiopia’s first Oromo prime minister, to power.

    Haacaaluu Hundeessaa, 34, “basically provided the soundtrack to the uprising,” says Murithi Mutiga, project director for the Horn of Africa for the International Crisis Group.

    Read the full article at axios.com »


    UPDATE: Ethiopian Police Patrol Oromia Area and Capital After Unrest (AP)


    In this image taken from OBN video, the funeral for Ethiopia singer Hachalu Hundessa takes place in Ambo, Thursday July 2, 2020. At least 166 people have been killed in unrest in Ethiopia after the popular singer Hachalu Hundessa was shot dead this week. He was buried Thursday amid tight security. He had been a prominent voice in anti-government protests that led to a change in leadership in 2018. (OBN via AP)

    The Associated Press

    By ELIAS MESERET

    Updated: Jul 5th 2020

    ADDIS ABABA (AP) — Ethiopian police were patrolling the country’s troubled Oromia region and the capital, Addis Ababa, on Sunday, following a week of unrest in which 166 people were killed and more than 2,000 arrested, after a popular singer was shot dead.

    In Oromia, 145 civilians and 11 members of security forces were killed, Girma Gelam, deputy police commissioner in the region, told the state-affiliated Fana Broadcasting Corporate. Another 10 people were killed in the capital, eight of them civilians.

    The internet was cut last week to try to dampen the protests and made it difficult for rights monitors to track the scores of killings.

    More than 2,280 people were arrested in Oromia and Addis Ababa, said police. Arrests included that of a well-known Oromo activist, Jawar Mohammed, and more than 30 supporters. It is not clear what charges they might face. The Oromo make up Ethiopia’s largest ethnic group but had never held the country’s top political post until Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed came to power in 2018.

    The arrest of opposition figures “could make a volatile situation even worse,” Human Rights Watch has said.

    The unrest erupted after popular singer Hachalu Hundessa was killed. He had been a prominent voice in anti-government protests that led to Abiy coming to power. The singer was buried Thursday in a ceremony shown on national television.

    The new disturbances amount to the prime minister’s greatest domestic test since he took office, say analysts. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize last year for dramatic reforms, including welcoming home once-banned exile groups. However, Abiy’s steps to open political space have been used by some Ethiopians to air ethnic and other grievances. At times it has led to deadly violence, and human rights groups have accused security forces of abuses.

    Speaking about the week of unrest, Abiy said he had recently extended an offer of peace to dissidents, but they have “taken up arms” in revolt against the government in a week.

    Those who participate “in the destruction of the nation cannot be considered guardians of the nation,” Abiy said on Friday.

    “It’s a moment when people need to pause and de-escalate,” said Murithi Mutiga, project director for the Horn of Africa with the International Crisis Group. He cited a series of challenges in Ethiopia including an armed insurgency in parts of the country and tension over the timing of the next election. The government recently delayed the vote, citing the coronavirus pandemic.

    “This is not the first but one in a long line of grave provocations by an actor not yet identified,” Mutiga said, adding that the “wiser course of action is to strive to create an atmosphere of reconciliation and dialogue.”

    The past week appears to be the most serious challenge yet to Ethiopia’s transition to multifaceted democracy, Mutiga said. “Thankfully, the situation seems to have calmed down in Addis and parts of Oromia but the scale of the violence, the degree of grievance witnessed on the streets and the danger of instability was quite high.”

    166 Die During Protests After Shooting of Ethiopian Singer (AFP)


    Ethiopian musician Hachalu Hundessa poses while dressed in a traditional costume during the 123rd anniversary celebration of the battle of Adwa in Addis Ababa. Photograph: Tiksa Negeri/Reuters.

    Agence France-Presse

    Jul 4th 2020

    At least 166 people have died during violent demonstrations that roiled Ethiopia in the days following the murder of popular singer Haacaaluu Hundeessaa, police said Saturday.

    The singer, a member of the Oromo ethnic group, Ethiopia’s largest, was shot dead by unknown attackers in Addis Ababa on Monday night, fuelling ethnic tensions threatening the country’s democratic transition.

    “In the aftermath of Haacaaluu’s death, 145 civilians and 11 security forces have lost their lives in the unrest in the region,” said Girma Gelam, deputy police commissioner of Oromia region, in a statement on the state-affiliated Fana Broadcasting Corporate.

    Another 10 are known to have died in the capital Addis Ababa.

    Girma said that a further 167 had “sustained serious injuries” and that 1,084 people had been arrested.

    Officials have attributed the deaths to a combination of lethal force by security officers and inter-ethnic violence.

    Girma added that the violent unrest had now “completely stopped”.

    Haacaaluu’s music gave voice to Oromos’ widespread sense of economic and political marginalisation during years of anti-government protests that swept the prime minister, Abiy Ahmed, to power in 2018.


    Killing of Hachalu Hundessa Must be Investigated Throughly (Amnesty.org)


    Hachalu Hundesa was shot around 9:30 pm on June 29 in Addis Ababa’s Gelan Condominium area. He was taken to a nearby hospital, where he was pronounced dead shortly after arrival. (Photo via Amnesty.org)

    Press Release

    Amnesty International

    Ethiopia: Popular musician’s killing must be fully investigated

    The Ethiopian authorities must conduct prompt, thorough, impartial, independent and effective investigations into the killing of popular singer Hachalu Hundesa on 29 June, and bring to justice anyone suspected to be responsible, Amnesty International said [this week].

    There must be justice for the killing of Hachalu Hundesa

    “There must be justice for the killing of Hachalu Hundesa. The musician’s songs rallied the country’s youth in sustained protests from 2015 leading to the political reforms witnessed in the country since 2018,” said Sarah Jackson, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes.

    “The authorities have opened an investigation into his killing and must now ensure it is prompt, thorough, impartial, independent and effective and bring to justice in fair trials those suspected to be responsible,” said Sarah Jackson.

    A blanket internet shutdown imposed by the authorities…has made it difficult to verify reports of people killed in ongoing protests.

    “The authorities should immediately lift the countrywide blanket internet shutdown and allow people to access information and to freely mourn the musician,” said Sarah Jackson.

    Amnesty International is also calling for the security forces to exercise restraint when managing the ongoing protests and refrain from the use of excessive force.

    Background

    Hachalu Hundesa, renowned for his politically inspired songs, was shot around 9:30 pm on 29 June in Addis Ababa’s Gelan Condominium area. He was taken to a nearby hospital, where he was pronounced dead shortly after arrival.

    On 22 June, Hachalu Hundesa was interviewed on the Oromo Media Network (OMN) where he spoke on many controversial issues eliciting public outrage on social media platforms.

    According to Addis Standard, a national newspaper, the Addis Ababa Police Commission Commissioner, Getu Argaw, stated that the police had launched an investigation and had “some suspects” in police custody. Read more »


    Hachalu Hundessa – Ethiopia’s Murdered Musician Who Sang for Freedom


    A former political prisoner who grew up looking after cattle, Hachalu Hundessa rose to become one of Ethiopia’s biggest music stars, mesmerising fans with his songs about romance and political freedom – topics that he easily blended into his lyrics. (DAGI PICTURES)

    BBC

    July 2nd, 2020

    More than 80 people have been killed in two days of unrest in Ethiopia following the killing of prominent singer Hachalu Hundessa.

    The 34-year-old had emerged as a powerful political voice of the Oromo ethnic group, and had made many enemies during his musical career.

    Two suspects were arrested after he was shot dead while driving in the capital, Addis Ababa on Monday evening. However, police have not yet revealed a motive for the killing and no charges have been brought against the suspects.

    Hachalu’s funeral has taken place in his hometown of Ambo.

    BBC Afaan Oromoo’s Bekele Atoma writes about the musician who was a thorn in the flesh of successive governments.

    A former political prisoner who grew up looking after cattle, Hachalu rose to become one of Ethiopia’s biggest music stars, mesmerising fans with his songs about romance and political freedom – topics that he easily blended into his lyrics.

    Hachalu’s father, who used to work in the electricity department in the city of Ambo, aspired for his son to become a doctor, but he showed little interest in medicine.

    However, from an infant, Hachalu showed a passion for music and singing, with the encouragement of his mother, while he looked after cows on the family’s farmland on the outskirts of Ambo in the Oromia region, the heartland of Ethiopia’s largest ethnic group, the Oromo.

    “I used to sing whatever came to my head,” he recalled in a BBC Afaan Oromoo interview in 2017.

    Jailed for five years
    One of eight children, Hachalu was born in 1986 in Ambo – a city about 100km (60 miles) west of the capital, Addis Ababa.

    It was at the forefront of the campaign by Oromos for self-rule in a nation where they felt repressed under a government that had banned opposition groups and jailed critics.

    Hachalu went to school in Ambo, and joined student groups campaigning for freedom.

    At the age of 17 in 2003, Hachalu was imprisoned for five years for his political activities.

    His father kept his morale high in prison, telling him during visits that “prison makes a man stronger”.

    Hachalu became increasingly politicised in prison, as he increased his knowledge about Ethiopia’s history, including its rule by emperors and autocrats.

    Whilst incarcerated in Ambo prison he also developed his music skills.

    “I did not know how to write lyrics and melodies until I was put behind bars. It is there that I learned,” he said in the 2017 interview.

    During his time in jail, he wrote nine songs and released his first album Sanyii Mootii (Race of the King) in 2009, a year after walking free.

    Refused to go into exile

    The album turned him into a music star, and a political symbol of the Oromo people’s aspirations.

    However, he played down his political role, saying: “I am not a politician, I am an artist. Singing about what my people are going through doesn’t make me a politician.”

    Many other musicians and activists fled into exile fearing persecution under the rule of then-Prime Minister Meles Zenawi and his successor Hailemariam Desalegn but Hachalu remained in Ethiopia and encouraged the youth to stand up for their rights.

    One of his songs was about how he fell in love with a girl who was proud of her identity and was willing to die for it.

    ‘Gallant warriors and horsemen’

    His second album Waa’ee Keenya (Our Plight) was released in 2013 while he was on a tour in the US. It became the best-selling African album on Amazon at the time.

    Two years later, he released a powerful single, Maalan Jira? (What existence is mine?), referring to the eviction of Oromos from Addis Ababa and its surrounding areas, after the government decided to expand the boundaries of the city.

    Read more »


    Turmoil at Funeral of Singer Shows Ethiopia’s ‘Combustible’ Politics (NYT)


    At least 81 people have been killed and dozens injured in the unrest that followed the killing of Hachalu Hundessa, underscoring long-simmering tensions in [Ethiopia]. (Photo: Musician Hachalu Hundessa posing while dressed in a traditional costume in Addis Ababa in 2019/Tiksa Negeri/Reuters)

    The New York Times

    By Abdi Latif Dahir and Tiksa Negeri

    July 2, 2020

    NAIROBI, Kenya — In life, Hachalu Hundessa’s protest songs roused and united Ethiopians yearning for freedom and justice. He is doing the same in death, with thousands flocking on Thursday to bury him in Ambo, the town 60 miles west of the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa where he was born and raised.

    Mr. Hundessa, 34, was shot on Monday night by unknown assailants in Addis Ababa and later died of his wounds in a hospital. His death has ignited nationwide protests that have killed 81 people, injured dozens of others and caused extensive property damage. The authorities have blocked the internet and arrested 35 people, including a prominent media magnate and government critic, Jawar Mohammed.

    On Thursday, groups of young men, some with machetes, roamed through neighborhoods in Addis Ababa, singling out people from rival ethnic groups for attacks. And in Ambo, witnesses said that the police blocked some people from attending the singer’s funeral, even firing shots at them.

    The unrest, analysts say, threatens the stability of Africa’s second-most populous country and deepens the political crisis in a nation already undergoing a roller-coaster democratic transition.

    “I am in bitter sadness,” said Getu Dandefa, a 29-year-old university student. When he saw Mr. Hundessa’s coffin in Ambo, he said he dropped to the ground and started crying.

    “We lost our voice,” he said, “We will keep fighting until Hachalu gets justice. We will never stop protesting.”

    Mr. Hundessa’s funeral has brought tensions to a boiling point in a country already facing myriad political, economic and social challenges. The fury aroused by his death poses a challenge to Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, who rose to power in 2018 following a wave of antigovernment protests that Mr. Hundessa — a member of the country’s largest but historically marginalized ethnic group, the Oromo — helped to galvanize through his music.

    Since then, Mr. Abiy, an Oromo himself, has introduced a raft of changes aimed at dismantling Ethiopia’s authoritarian structure, releasing political prisoners, liberalizing the centralized economy, committing to overhaul repressive laws and welcoming back exiled opposition and separatist groups.

    In 2019, Mr. Abiy was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his initiative to resolve the decades-long conflict with neighboring Eritrea and for spearheading regional peace and cooperation in the Horn of Africa.

    A nation of about 109 million people, Ethiopia has one of the fastest-growing economies in Africa, hosts the headquarters of the African Union, and is a key United States ally in the fight against terrorism.

    But while the 43-year-old prime minister has made great strides, the changes have unleashed forces that have produced a sharp increase in lawlessness in many parts of the country, with rising ethnic tensions and violence that have displaced 3 million people.

    Yohannes Gedamu, an Ethiopian lecturer in political science at Georgia Gwinnett College, in Lawrenceville, Ga., said that the ruling coalition had lost its grip on the structures it once used to maintain order in an ethnically and linguistically diverse nation. As a result, he added, as the country moves toward multiparty democracy, rival ethnic and political factions have clashed over resources, power and the country’s direction forward.

    The government has come under fire for failing to stop the killing of government critics and prominent figures, like the chief of staff of the Ethiopian Army, and its inability to rescue a dozen or more university students abducted months ago.

    In combating the disorder, the authorities have resorted to the tactics of previous, repressive governments, not only blocking the internet, but arresting journalists and enacting laws that human rights advocates say could limit freedom of expression. Ethiopian security forces have been accused of gross human rights violations, including rape, arbitrary arrests and extrajudicial killings.

    The coronavirus pandemic has complicated all this, leading the government to postpone August elections that many saw as a critical test of Mr. Abiy’s reform agenda. The move drew condemnation from opposition parties, who fear the government will use the delay to attempt a power grab.


    Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed at a tree-planting ceremony last month. The fury the death of Mr. Hundessa touched off poses a challenge to Mr. Ahmed, who rose to power in 2018 following a wave of antigovernment protests.Credit…Michael Tewelde/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

    “The last few days demonstrate just how combustible the situation in Ethiopia is,” said Murithi Mutiga, the project director for the Horn of Africa at the International Crisis Group.

    He added: “The merest spark can easily unleash all these bottled up, ethnonationalist passions that have become the defining feature of Ethiopian politics, especially as it goes through this very delicate transition.”

    While Mr. Abiy has a daunting task at hand, many say the government’s forceful response to the recent discontent could make matters worse. Laetitia Bader, the Horn of Africa director at Human Rights Watch, said the group had received reports that security forces had used lethal force on protesters in at least seven towns.

    “The initial signs aren’t good,” Ms. Bader said. “The government needs to make clear that it is listening to these grievances, creating the space for them to be heard and adequately responding to them without resorting to repression or violence.”

    Given Mr. Hundessa’s stature, and how his music provided a stirring soundtrack against repression, the authorities should pull back and allow “people to grieve in peace,” said Henok Gabisa, the co-chairperson of the International Oromo Lawyers Association, based in St. Paul, Minn. About 200 of the city’s Oromo community protested on Tuesday.

    “The Oromo people are in disbelief, shocked and confused,” said Mr. Gabisa, who knew Mr. Hundessa and met him a few months ago in Ethiopia. But arresting political opposition leaders like Bekele Gerba, of the Oromo Federalist Congress party, and raiding Mr. Mohammed’s Oromia Media Network only risked inflaming long-simmering tensions, he said.

    Read more »

    Related:

    Six hurt in scuffles with security forces at Ethiopian singer’s funeral (Reuters)

    Haile Selassie: Statue of former Ethiopian leader destroyed in London park (BBC)

    ‘Several’ Killed in Ethiopia Unrest After Singer Shot Dead (The Associated Press)


    Hachalu Hundessa, well known for his political songs, was shot dead on Monday in Addis ababa. The 34-year-old had been a prominent voice in anti-government protests that led to a change in leadership in 2018, with Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed taking office. (Photo: YouTube music video screenshot)

    The Associated Press

    By ELIAS MESERET

    Updated: July 1st, 2020

    Ethiopia’s prime minister says “several people” have been killed in unrest that followed the killing of a popular singer this week.

    Angry protests were reported Tuesday in the capital, Addis Ababa, after Hachalu Hundessa was shot dead on Monday. He had been a prominent voice in anti-government protests that led to a change in leadership in 2018, with Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed taking office.

    The killing was a “tragedy,” Abiy said Tuesday, vowing that the perpetrators would be brought to justice and declaring that “our enemies will not succeed.”

    Three bombs exploded in the capital Tuesday, police said. It was not clear whether anyone was killed.

    Internet service has been cut again in Ethiopia, where tensions continue after the government delayed this year’s national election, citing the coronavirus pandemic.

    The singer Hachalu is set to be buried Thursday in his hometown in the Oromia region.

    A well-known Oromo activist, Jawar Mohammed, was among 35 people arrested during the latest unrest.

    There was no immediate sign of protests in Addis Ababa on Wednesday and roads were empty.

    Internet cut off in Ethiopia amid outcry over death of singer-activist

    By Bethlehem Feleke, CNN

    Updated: June 30th, 2020

    (CNN) Internet access was cut across Ethiopia on Tuesday amid national protests over the shooting death of singer and activist Hachalu Hundessa.

    Hachalu, a prominent figure in the Oromo ethnic group, was shot Monday night at the Gelan Condominiums area of the capital Addis Ababa, according to state broadcaster EBC citing the Addis Ababa police commissioner, Getu Argaw.

    On Tuesday, images of protesters in the capital and in Oromia region circulated on social media and the US Embassy in Ethiopia released a security alert saying the embassy was “monitoring reports of protests and unrest, including gunfire, throughout Addis Ababa.”

    Demonstrators also protested the singer’s death in front of the US embassy, the alert said, describing the situation as “volatile at this time.”

    A blanket shutdown

    Netblocks, an internet-monitoring NGO, reported that internet “has been cut across most of Ethiopia from just after 9am local time on Tuesday.”

    Read more »

    Hachalu Hundessa: Killing of Ethiopian singer sparks unrest (DW)

    Hachalu Hundessa — famed for his political songs — had been considered a voice for Ethiopia’s largest ethnic group, the Oromo, during years of anti-government protest. Heavy violence has been reported after his killing.

    ‘Voice of a generation’

    The context to the singer’s death was not immediately clear, although the embassy said Hundessa’s supporters had blamed security forces and “assume a political motive” for the crime.

    Ethiopia’s prime minister, Abiy Ahmed, expressed his condolences and tweeted that an investigation was currently under way.

    Hundessa in 2017 was described by OPride.com as an “electrifying voice of a generation that is revolting” after being awarded the portal’s Oromo Person.

    “For capturing and expressing the frustration, anger, and hope of Oromo protesters through revolutionary lyrics; for courageously defying forcible suppression of dissent and boldly proclaiming ‘we are here and not going anywhere’; for providing a stirring soundtrack to the budding Oromo revolution; for breaking down fear and structural barriers through rousing musical storytelling, and for uniting the Oromo masses and amplifying their collective yearning for change, Haacaaluu Hundeessaa is OPride’s Oromo Person of 2017.”

    The Oromo, Ethiopia’s largest ethnic group, had taken to the streets to complain about what they perceive as marginalization and persecution by the central government.

    Oromo protests made international headlines when Ethiopian long-distance runner Feyisa Lilesa — a member of the Oromo community — reached the finishing line raising his crossed hands at the Rio 2016 Olympics. The crossed hands have become the symbol of the anti-government movement that started in the Oromia region and spread north to the Amhara region.

    Ethiopia is no stranger to ethnic violence. With over 80 different ethnic groups and Africa’s second-largest country based on population, the country is extremely diverse and disagreements between various groups often spiral into communal violence.

    kw/stb (dpa, Reuters)

    ‘More than an entertainer’

    By Bekele Atoma, BBC Afaan Oromo

    Updated: June 30th, 2020

    Hachalu was more than just a singer and entertainer.

    He was a symbol for the Oromo people who spoke up about the political and economic marginalisation that they had suffered under consecutive Ethiopian regimes.

    In one of his most famous songs, he sang: “Do not wait for help to come from outside, a dream that doesn’t come true. Rise, make your horse ready and fight, you are the one close to the palace.”

    The musician had also been imprisoned for five years when he was 17 for taking part in protests.

    Many like him fled into exile fearing persecution but he remained in the country and encouraged the youth to struggle.

    Read more »

    Hachalu Hundessa: Popular Ethiopian protest singer shot dead (BBC)


    Musician Hachalu Hundessa was killed in Addis Ababa on Monday, June 29th, 2020. (BBC)

    BBC News

    Updated: June 30th, 2020

    Ethiopian musician Hachalu Hundessa, well known for his political songs, has been shot dead in the capital

    The 34-year-old had said that he had received death threats and the police are now holding a number of suspects.

    Hachalu’s lyrics often focused on the rights of the country’s Oromo ethnic group and became anthems in a wave of protests that led to the downfall of the previous prime minister.

    Demonstrations broke out in response to the news of the musician’s death.

    Gunshots have been heard in Addis Ababa and people set fire to tyres.

    Thousands of his fans headed to the hospital in the city where the body of the singer was taken on Monday night, BBC Afaan Oromo’s Bekele Atoma reports.

    To them, he was a voice of his generation that protested against decades of government repression, he says.

    Police used tear gas to disperse the crowd.

    The internet was also shut down in parts of the country as protests spread in Oromia regional state.

    Hachalu’s body has now been taken to the town of Ambo, about 100km (62 miles) west of the capital.

    Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has expressed his condolences saying in a tweet that Ethiopia “lost a precious life today” and describing the singer as “marvellous”

    Read more »

    Popular Ethiopian singer Hachalu Hundessa shot dead in Addis Ababa (Al Jazeera)

    Updated: June 30th, 2020

    A popular Ethiopian musician has been shot dead in the country’s capital, Addis Ababa, local media reported, quoting police. He was 36.

    Hachalu Hundessa, an ethnic Oromo also known as Haacaaluu Hundeessaa, was shot in the city’s Gelan Condominiums area late on Monday, Addis Ababa’s police commissioner said.

    Geta Argaw said police had arrested several suspects, state-affiliated Fana broadcaster reported on Tuesday.

    Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed expressed his condolences, saying Ethiopia had “lost a precious life”.

    “I express my deep condolences for those of us who are in deep sorrow since the news of the death of the shining young Artist Hachalu Hundesa,” Fana reported the prime minister as saying. “We are expecting full investigation reports of this evil act.”

    “Let us express our condolences by keeping ourselves safe and preventing further crime,” Abiy said.

    Ethiopians on social media, including the country’s ambassador to Washington, expressed their shock at the killing of the popular musician.

    On Tuesday, youths enraged by the killing of the musician, who was known for his protest songs, burned tyres during demonstrations in Addis Ababa.

    Hachalu, a former political prisoner, rose to prominence during prolonged anti-government protests, which propelled Abiy, a fellow Oromo, into office in 2018. Oromo ethnic group, which have historically faced discrimination, led the the mass protests.

    Abiy’s rise to power ended decades of political dominance by ethnic Tigray leaders in this multi-ethnic African nation.

    His rule has ushered in greater political and economic freedoms in what had long been one of the continent’s most repressive states. He was awarded the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize for ending conflict with neighbouring Eritrea and his reforms.

    But the rise in political activism has also led to an increase in unrest in a country made up of more than 80 ethnic groups. Abiy’s rule has been frequently challenged by local powerbrokers demanding more access to land, power and resources.

    His pan-Ethiopian politics have sparked a backlash from some elements of his own Oromo powerbase, spearheaded by a media magnate, Jawar Mohammed.

    “They did not just kill Hachalu. They shot at the heart of the Oromo Nation, once again !!…You can kill us, all of us, you can never ever stop us!! NEVER !!” Jawar posted on his Facebook page on Tuesday.

    Clashes between police and Jawar’s supporters killed at least 78 people in October last year after the government tried to withdraw Jawar’s security detail.

    Elections due this year have been postponed until next year due to COVID-19 in a deal agreed with the major opposition parties.


    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    Statement From The Ethiopian Diaspora High Level COVID-19 Advisory Council on the Killing of Artist Hachalu Hundessa

    Musician Hachalu Hundessa during the 123rd anniversary celebration of the battle of Adwa in Addis Ababa. (Photo: Tiksa Negeri/Reuters)

    Press Release

    The Ethiopian Diaspora High Level COVID-19 Advisory Council

    Washington D.C. (July 6, 2020) – First and foremost we would like to express our heartfelt sorrow on the killing of artist Hachalu Hundessa, and extend our deepest sympathy and condolences to his family and friends.

    We would also like to express the profound sadness we feel over the killing of our fellow citizens in the aftermath of the murder of the artist, and offer our condolences and prayers of comfort to their loved ones.

    We believe that the killing of the artist is a premeditated criminal act and, therefore, we call upon the government to bring the responsible individuals and their accomplices to justice in accordance with the law, and to report the investigation and findings to the public expeditiously and with full transparency.

    Furthermore, we call upon the government to identify and prosecute to the fullest extent of the law all the culprits responsible for the loss of innocent lives in the aftermath of the killing of the artist, and to report the findings to the public in a timely and transparent manner.

    Meanwhile, as the government conducts and reports the results of their investigation with credibility and transparency, we call upon the public to exercise restraint and follow the unfolding events with prudence, without succumbing to misinformation intended to incite fratricidal violence and exacerbating the volatile situation.

    We would also like to caution the public that the ultimate losers, as a result of the ensuing destruction of property, are the citizens themselves and the local economies. In addition, we urge the public to vigilantly protect our national heritages, which have been targets of those who are tirelessly seeking to undermine the very existence of the country.

    Finally, the risk of transmitting COVID-19, the virus and global pandemic that has taken an enormous toll on Ethiopia and the rest of the world, increases significantly when a large number of people are gathered in one area. We, therefore, urge the public to heed the guidelines and instructions issued by public health officials and to refrain from creating a fertile ground for the propagation of COVID-19.

    May the Almighty protect Ethiopia and its people!

    About the Ethiopian Diaspora High-Level Advisory Council on COVID-19

    The Ethiopian Diaspora High-Level Advisory Council on COVID-19 is an independent body comprising of professionals in diverse areas, including medicine, public health, economics, virology and biostatistics. It was established upon the request of Ambassador Fitsum Arega four months ago in response to the prevailing COVID-19 pandemic outbreak in Ethiopia.


    Hachalu Hundessa – Ethiopia’s Murdered Musician Who Sang for Freedom


    A former political prisoner who grew up looking after cattle, Hachalu Hundessa rose to become one of Ethiopia’s biggest music stars, mesmerising fans with his songs about romance and political freedom – topics that he easily blended into his lyrics. (DAGI PICTURES)

    BBC

    A former political prisoner who grew up looking after cattle, Hachalu rose to become one of Ethiopia’s biggest music stars, mesmerising fans with his songs about romance and political freedom – topics that he easily blended into his lyrics.

    Hachalu’s father, who used to work in the electricity department in the city of Ambo, aspired for his son to become a doctor, but he showed little interest in medicine.

    However, from an infant, Hachalu showed a passion for music and singing, with the encouragement of his mother, while he looked after cows on the family’s farmland on the outskirts of Ambo, the heartland of Ethiopia’s largest ethnic group, the Oromo.

    “I used to sing whatever came to my head,” he recalled in a BBC Afaan Oromo interview in 2017.

    Jailed for five years

    One of eight children, Hachalu was born in 1986 in Ambo – a city about 100km (60 miles) west of the capital, Addis Ababa.

    It was at the forefront of the campaign by Oromos for self-rule in a nation where they felt repressed under a government that had banned opposition groups and jailed critics.

    Hachalu went to school in Ambo, and joined student groups campaigning for freedom.

    At the age of 17 in 2003, Hachalu was imprisoned for five years for his political activities.

    His father kept his morale high in prison, telling him during visits that “prison makes a man stronger”.

    Hachalu became increasingly politicised in prison, as he increased his knowledge about Ethiopia’s history, including its rule by emperors and autocrats.

    Whilst incarcerated in Ambo prison he also developed his music skills.

    “I did not know how to write lyrics and melodies until I was put behind bars. It is there that I learned,” he said in the 2017 interview.

    During his time in jail, he wrote nine songs and released his first album Sanyii Mootii (Race of the King) in 2009, a year after walking free.

    Refused to go into exile

    The album turned him into a music star, and a political symbol of the Oromo people’s aspirations.

    However, he played down his political role, saying: “I am not a politician, I am an artist. Singing about what my people are going through doesn’t make me a politician.”

    Many other musicians and activists fled into exile fearing persecution under the rule of then-Prime Minister Meles Zenawi and his successor Hailemariam Desalegn but Hachalu remained in Ethiopia and encouraged the youth to stand up for their rights.

    One of his songs was about how he fell in love with a girl who was proud of her identity and was willing to die for it.

    ‘Gallant warriors and horsemen’

    His second album Waa’ee Keenya (Our Plight) was released in 2013 while he was on a tour in the US. It became the best-selling African album on Amazon at the time.

    Two years later, he released a powerful single, Maalan Jira? (What existence is mine?), referring to the eviction of Oromos from Addis Ababa and its surrounding areas, after the government decided to expand the boundaries of the city.

    Read more »


    Killing of Hachalu Hundessa Must be Investigated Throughly (Amnesty.org)


    Hachalu Hundesa was shot around 9:30 pm on June 29 in Addis Ababa’s Gelan Condominium area. He was taken to a nearby hospital, where he was pronounced dead shortly after arrival. (Photo via Amnesty.org)

    Press Release

    Amnesty International

    Ethiopia: Popular musician’s killing must be fully investigated

    The Ethiopian authorities must conduct prompt, thorough, impartial, independent and effective investigations into the killing of popular singer Hachalu Hundesa on 29 June, and bring to justice anyone suspected to be responsible, Amnesty International said [this week].

    There must be justice for the killing of Hachalu Hundesa

    “There must be justice for the killing of Hachalu Hundesa. The musician’s songs rallied the country’s youth in sustained protests from 2015 leading to the political reforms witnessed in the country since 2018,” said Sarah Jackson, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes.

    “The authorities have opened an investigation into his killing and must now ensure it is prompt, thorough, impartial, independent and effective and bring to justice in fair trials those suspected to be responsible,” said Sarah Jackson.

    A blanket internet shutdown imposed by the authorities…has made it difficult to verify reports of people killed in ongoing protests.

    “The authorities should immediately lift the countrywide blanket internet shutdown and allow people to access information and to freely mourn the musician,” said Sarah Jackson.

    Amnesty International is also calling for the security forces to exercise restraint when managing the ongoing protests and refrain from the use of excessive force.

    Background

    Hachalu Hundesa, renowned for his politically inspired songs, was shot around 9:30 pm on 29 June in Addis Ababa’s Gelan Condominium area. He was taken to a nearby hospital, where he was pronounced dead shortly after arrival.

    On 22 June, Hachalu Hundesa was interviewed on the Oromo Media Network (OMN) where he spoke on many controversial issues eliciting public outrage on social media platforms.

    According to Addis Standard, a national newspaper, the Addis Ababa Police Commission Commissioner, Getu Argaw, stated that the police had launched an investigation and had “some suspects” in police custody. Read more »


    Turmoil at Funeral of Singer Shows Ethiopia’s ‘Combustible’ Politics (NYT)


    Hachalu Hundessa, well known for his political songs, was shot dead on Monday in Addis ababa. The 34-year-old had been a prominent voice in anti-government protests that led to a change in leadership in 2018, with Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed taking office. (Photo: YouTube music video screenshot)

    The New York Times

    By Abdi Latif Dahir and Tiksa Negeri

    July 2, 2020

    NAIROBI, Kenya — In life, Hachalu Hundessa’s protest songs roused and united Ethiopians yearning for freedom and justice. He is doing the same in death, with thousands flocking on Thursday to bury him in Ambo, the town 60 miles west of the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa where he was born and raised.

    Mr. Hundessa, 34, was shot on Monday night by unknown assailants in Addis Ababa and later died of his wounds in a hospital. His death has ignited nationwide protests that have killed 81 people, injured dozens of others and caused extensive property damage. The authorities have blocked the internet and arrested 35 people, including a prominent media magnate and government critic, Jawar Mohammed.

    On Thursday, groups of young men, some with machetes, roamed through neighborhoods in Addis Ababa, singling out people from rival ethnic groups for attacks. And in Ambo, witnesses said that the police blocked some people from attending the singer’s funeral, even firing shots at them.

    The unrest, analysts say, threatens the stability of Africa’s second-most populous country and deepens the political crisis in a nation already undergoing a roller-coaster democratic transition.

    “I am in bitter sadness,” said Getu Dandefa, a 29-year-old university student. When he saw Mr. Hundessa’s coffin in Ambo, he said he dropped to the ground and started crying.

    “We lost our voice,” he said, “We will keep fighting until Hachalu gets justice. We will never stop protesting.”

    Mr. Hundessa’s funeral has brought tensions to a boiling point in a country already facing myriad political, economic and social challenges. The fury aroused by his death poses a challenge to Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, who rose to power in 2018 following a wave of antigovernment protests that Mr. Hundessa — a member of the country’s largest but historically marginalized ethnic group, the Oromo — helped to galvanize through his music.

    Since then, Mr. Abiy, an Oromo himself, has introduced a raft of changes aimed at dismantling Ethiopia’s authoritarian structure, releasing political prisoners, liberalizing the centralized economy, committing to overhaul repressive laws and welcoming back exiled opposition and separatist groups.

    In 2019, Mr. Abiy was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his initiative to resolve the decades-long conflict with neighboring Eritrea and for spearheading regional peace and cooperation in the Horn of Africa.

    A nation of about 109 million people, Ethiopia has one of the fastest-growing economies in Africa, hosts the headquarters of the African Union, and is a key United States ally in the fight against terrorism.

    But while the 43-year-old prime minister has made great strides, the changes have unleashed forces that have produced a sharp increase in lawlessness in many parts of the country, with rising ethnic tensions and violence that have displaced 3 million people.

    Yohannes Gedamu, an Ethiopian lecturer in political science at Georgia Gwinnett College, in Lawrenceville, Ga., said that the ruling coalition had lost its grip on the structures it once used to maintain order in an ethnically and linguistically diverse nation. As a result, he added, as the country moves toward multiparty democracy, rival ethnic and political factions have clashed over resources, power and the country’s direction forward.

    The government has come under fire for failing to stop the killing of government critics and prominent figures, like the chief of staff of the Ethiopian Army, and its inability to rescue a dozen or more university students abducted months ago.

    In combating the disorder, the authorities have resorted to the tactics of previous, repressive governments, not only blocking the internet, but arresting journalists and enacting laws that human rights advocates say could limit freedom of expression. Ethiopian security forces have been accused of gross human rights violations, including rape, arbitrary arrests and extrajudicial killings.

    The coronavirus pandemic has complicated all this, leading the government to postpone August elections that many saw as a critical test of Mr. Abiy’s reform agenda. The move drew condemnation from opposition parties, who fear the government will use the delay to attempt a power grab.


    Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed at a tree-planting ceremony last month. The fury the death of Mr. Hundessa touched off poses a challenge to Mr. Ahmed, who rose to power in 2018 following a wave of antigovernment protests.Credit…Michael Tewelde/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

    “The last few days demonstrate just how combustible the situation in Ethiopia is,” said Murithi Mutiga, the project director for the Horn of Africa at the International Crisis Group.

    He added: “The merest spark can easily unleash all these bottled up, ethnonationalist passions that have become the defining feature of Ethiopian politics, especially as it goes through this very delicate transition.”

    While Mr. Abiy has a daunting task at hand, many say the government’s forceful response to the recent discontent could make matters worse. Laetitia Bader, the Horn of Africa director at Human Rights Watch, said the group had received reports that security forces had used lethal force on protesters in at least seven towns.

    “The initial signs aren’t good,” Ms. Bader said. “The government needs to make clear that it is listening to these grievances, creating the space for them to be heard and adequately responding to them without resorting to repression or violence.”

    Given Mr. Hundessa’s stature, and how his music provided a stirring soundtrack against repression, the authorities should pull back and allow “people to grieve in peace,” said Henok Gabisa, the co-chairperson of the International Oromo Lawyers Association, based in St. Paul, Minn. About 200 of the city’s Oromo community protested on Tuesday.

    “The Oromo people are in disbelief, shocked and confused,” said Mr. Gabisa, who knew Mr. Hundessa and met him a few months ago in Ethiopia. But arresting political opposition leaders like Bekele Gerba, of the Oromo Federalist Congress party, and raiding Mr. Mohammed’s Oromia Media Network only risked inflaming long-simmering tensions, he said.

    Read more »

    Related:

    Six hurt in scuffles with security forces at Ethiopian singer’s funeral (Reuters)

    Haile Selassie: Statue of former Ethiopian leader destroyed in London park (BBC)

    ‘Several’ Killed in Ethiopia Unrest After Singer Shot Dead (The Associated Press)

    The Associated Press

    By ELIAS MESERET

    Updated: July 1st, 2020

    Ethiopia’s prime minister says “several people” have been killed in unrest that followed the killing of a popular singer this week.

    Angry protests were reported Tuesday in the capital, Addis Ababa, after Hachalu Hundessa was shot dead on Monday. He had been a prominent voice in anti-government protests that led to a change in leadership in 2018, with Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed taking office.

    The killing was a “tragedy,” Abiy said Tuesday, vowing that the perpetrators would be brought to justice and declaring that “our enemies will not succeed.”

    Three bombs exploded in the capital Tuesday, police said. It was not clear whether anyone was killed.

    Internet service has been cut again in Ethiopia, where tensions continue after the government delayed this year’s national election, citing the coronavirus pandemic.

    The singer Hachalu is set to be buried Thursday in his hometown in the Oromia region.

    A well-known Oromo activist, Jawar Mohammed, was among 35 people arrested during the latest unrest.

    There was no immediate sign of protests in Addis Ababa on Wednesday and roads were empty.

    Internet cut off in Ethiopia amid outcry over death of singer-activist

    By Bethlehem Feleke, CNN

    Updated: June 30th, 2020

    (CNN) Internet access was cut across Ethiopia on Tuesday amid national protests over the shooting death of singer and activist Hachalu Hundessa.

    Hachalu, a prominent figure in the Oromo ethnic group, was shot Monday night at the Gelan Condominiums area of the capital Addis Ababa, according to state broadcaster EBC citing the Addis Ababa police commissioner, Getu Argaw.

    On Tuesday, images of protesters in the capital and in Oromia region circulated on social media and the US Embassy in Ethiopia released a security alert saying the embassy was “monitoring reports of protests and unrest, including gunfire, throughout Addis Ababa.”

    Demonstrators also protested the singer’s death in front of the US embassy, the alert said, describing the situation as “volatile at this time.”

    A blanket shutdown

    Netblocks, an internet-monitoring NGO, reported that internet “has been cut across most of Ethiopia from just after 9am local time on Tuesday.”

    Read more »

    Hachalu Hundessa: Killing of Ethiopian singer sparks unrest (DW)

    Hachalu Hundessa — famed for his political songs — had been considered a voice for Ethiopia’s largest ethnic group, the Oromo, during years of anti-government protest. Heavy violence has been reported after his killing.

    ‘Voice of a generation’

    The context to the singer’s death was not immediately clear, although the embassy said Hundessa’s supporters had blamed security forces and “assume a political motive” for the crime.

    Ethiopia’s prime minister, Abiy Ahmed, expressed his condolences and tweeted that an investigation was currently under way.

    Hundessa in 2017 was described by OPride.com as an “electrifying voice of a generation that is revolting” after being awarded the portal’s Oromo Person.

    “For capturing and expressing the frustration, anger, and hope of Oromo protesters through revolutionary lyrics; for courageously defying forcible suppression of dissent and boldly proclaiming ‘we are here and not going anywhere’; for providing a stirring soundtrack to the budding Oromo revolution; for breaking down fear and structural barriers through rousing musical storytelling, and for uniting the Oromo masses and amplifying their collective yearning for change, Haacaaluu Hundeessaa is OPride’s Oromo Person of 2017.”

    The Oromo, Ethiopia’s largest ethnic group, had taken to the streets to complain about what they perceive as marginalization and persecution by the central government.

    Oromo protests made international headlines when Ethiopian long-distance runner Feyisa Lilesa — a member of the Oromo community — reached the finishing line raising his crossed hands at the Rio 2016 Olympics. The crossed hands have become the symbol of the anti-government movement that started in the Oromia region and spread north to the Amhara region.

    Ethiopia is no stranger to ethnic violence. With over 80 different ethnic groups and Africa’s second-largest country based on population, the country is extremely diverse and disagreements between various groups often spiral into communal violence.

    kw/stb (dpa, Reuters)

    ‘More than an entertainer’

    By Bekele Atoma, BBC Afaan Oromo

    Updated: June 30th, 2020

    Hachalu was more than just a singer and entertainer.

    He was a symbol for the Oromo people who spoke up about the political and economic marginalisation that they had suffered under consecutive Ethiopian regimes.

    In one of his most famous songs, he sang: “Do not wait for help to come from outside, a dream that doesn’t come true. Rise, make your horse ready and fight, you are the one close to the palace.”

    The musician had also been imprisoned for five years when he was 17 for taking part in protests.

    Many like him fled into exile fearing persecution but he remained in the country and encouraged the youth to struggle.

    Read more »

    Hachalu Hundessa: Popular Ethiopian protest singer shot dead (BBC)


    Musician Hachalu Hundessa was killed in Addis Ababa on Monday, June 29th, 2020. (BBC)

    BBC News

    Updated: June 30th, 2020

    Ethiopian musician Hachalu Hundessa, well known for his political songs, has been shot dead in the capital

    The 34-year-old had said that he had received death threats and the police are now holding a number of suspects.

    Hachalu’s lyrics often focused on the rights of the country’s Oromo ethnic group and became anthems in a wave of protests that led to the downfall of the previous prime minister.

    Demonstrations broke out in response to the news of the musician’s death.

    Gunshots have been heard in Addis Ababa and people set fire to tyres.

    Thousands of his fans headed to the hospital in the city where the body of the singer was taken on Monday night, BBC Afaan Oromo’s Bekele Atoma reports.

    To them, he was a voice of his generation that protested against decades of government repression, he says.

    Police used tear gas to disperse the crowd.

    The internet was also shut down in parts of the country as protests spread in Oromia regional state.

    Hachalu’s body has now been taken to the town of Ambo, about 100km (62 miles) west of the capital.

    Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has expressed his condolences saying in a tweet that Ethiopia “lost a precious life today” and describing the singer as “marvellous”

    Read more »

    Popular Ethiopian singer Hachalu Hundessa shot dead in Addis Ababa (Al Jazeera)

    Updated: June 30th, 2020

    A popular Ethiopian musician has been shot dead in the country’s capital, Addis Ababa, local media reported, quoting police. He was 36.

    Hachalu Hundessa, an ethnic Oromo also known as Haacaaluu Hundeessaa, was shot in the city’s Gelan Condominiums area late on Monday, Addis Ababa’s police commissioner said.

    Geta Argaw said police had arrested several suspects, state-affiliated Fana broadcaster reported on Tuesday.

    Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed expressed his condolences, saying Ethiopia had “lost a precious life”.

    “I express my deep condolences for those of us who are in deep sorrow since the news of the death of the shining young Artist Hachalu Hundesa,” Fana reported the prime minister as saying. “We are expecting full investigation reports of this evil act.”

    “Let us express our condolences by keeping ourselves safe and preventing further crime,” Abiy said.

    Ethiopians on social media, including the country’s ambassador to Washington, expressed their shock at the killing of the popular musician.

    On Tuesday, youths enraged by the killing of the musician, who was known for his protest songs, burned tyres during demonstrations in Addis Ababa.

    Hachalu, a former political prisoner, rose to prominence during prolonged anti-government protests, which propelled Abiy, a fellow Oromo, into office in 2018. Oromo ethnic group, which have historically faced discrimination, led the the mass protests.

    Abiy’s rise to power ended decades of political dominance by ethnic Tigray leaders in this multi-ethnic African nation.

    His rule has ushered in greater political and economic freedoms in what had long been one of the continent’s most repressive states. He was awarded the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize for ending conflict with neighbouring Eritrea and his reforms.

    But the rise in political activism has also led to an increase in unrest in a country made up of more than 80 ethnic groups. Abiy’s rule has been frequently challenged by local powerbrokers demanding more access to land, power and resources.

    His pan-Ethiopian politics have sparked a backlash from some elements of his own Oromo powerbase, spearheaded by a media magnate, Jawar Mohammed.

    “They did not just kill Hachalu. They shot at the heart of the Oromo Nation, once again !!…You can kill us, all of us, you can never ever stop us!! NEVER !!” Jawar posted on his Facebook page on Tuesday.

    Clashes between police and Jawar’s supporters killed at least 78 people in October last year after the government tried to withdraw Jawar’s security detail.

    Elections due this year have been postponed until next year due to COVID-19 in a deal agreed with the major opposition parties.


    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    COVID19 Contact Tracing is a race. But few U.S. states say how fast they’re running

    The race is key to controlling the pandemic ahead of a vaccine, experts say. But most places across the United States aren’t making public how fast or well they’re running it, leaving Americans in the dark about how their governments are mitigating the risk. (Photo: Coronavirus contact tracers in Virginia/TWP)

    The Washington Post

    Someone — let’s call her Person A — catches the coronavirus. It’s a Monday. She goes about life, unaware her body is incubating a killer. By perhaps Thursday, she’s contagious. Only that weekend does she come down with a fever and get tested.

    What happens next is critical. Public health workers have a small window of time to track down everyone Person A had close contact with over the past few days. Because by the coming Monday or Tuesday, some of those people — though they don’t yet have symptoms — could also be spreading the virus.

    Welcome to the sprint known as contact tracing, the process of reaching potentially exposed people as fast as possible and persuading them to quarantine.

    The race is key to controlling the pandemic ahead of a vaccine, experts say. But most places across the United States aren’t making public how fast or well they’re running it, leaving Americans in the dark about how their governments are mitigating the risk.

    An exception is the District of Columbia, which recently added metrics on contact tracing to its online dashboard. A few weeks ago, the District was still too overwhelmed to try to ask all of those who tested positive about their contacts. Now, after building a staff of several hundred contact tracers, D.C. officials say they’re making that attempt within 24 hours of a positive test report in about 98 percent of cases.

    For months, every U.S. state has posted daily numbers on coronavirus testing — along with charts of new cases, hospitalizations and deaths. So far, only one state, Oregon, posts similar data about contact tracing. Officials in New York say they plan to begin publishing such metrics in the coming weeks.

    Read more »

    Related:

    Interview: Yoseph Seyoum on How to Find Job as COVID-19 Contact Tracer in U.S. Ethiopian Community

    If you are interested in becoming a COVID-19 Contact Tracer, you can learn more and register here: https://tracers.ethiodiasporacovid.com/

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    Watch: Mahdere Yared on The Long-Term Effects of Racism (TEDxPineCrestSchool)

    Mahdere Yared is a member of the Pine Crest School class of 2021 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. (TEDxPineCrestSchool)

    TedxTalk

    In her TedxTalk, Mahdere goes into depth about the long-term effects that racism has on African Americans as she interrogates the possibility that the impact cuts so deep that it may even go to the cellular level. Mahdere Yared is a member of the Pine Crest School class of 2021. Outside of school, Mahdere likes to run with her teammates and does research at a lab. Mahdere enjoys learning about various topics and researching them to understand them better. This talk was given at a TEDx event using the TED conference format but independently organized by a local community. Learn more at https://www.ted.com/tedx

    Related:

    Meet Tsion Yared: High School Runner of the Year in Florida

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    Killing of Hachalu Hundessa Must be Investigated Throughly (Amnesty.org)

    Hachalu Hundesa was shot around 9:30 pm on June 29 in Addis Ababa’s Gelan Condominium area. He was taken to a nearby hospital, where he was pronounced dead shortly after arrival. (Photo via Amnesty.org)

    Press Release

    Amnesty International

    Ethiopia: Popular musician’s killing must be fully investigated

    The Ethiopian authorities must conduct prompt, thorough, impartial, independent and effective investigations into the killing of popular singer Hachalu Hundesa on 29 June, and bring to justice anyone suspected to be responsible, Amnesty International said [this week].

    There must be justice for the killing of Hachalu Hundesa

    “There must be justice for the killing of Hachalu Hundesa. The musician’s songs rallied the country’s youth in sustained protests from 2015 leading to the political reforms witnessed in the country since 2018,” said Sarah Jackson, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes.

    “The authorities have opened an investigation into his killing and must now ensure it is prompt, thorough, impartial, independent and effective and bring to justice in fair trials those suspected to be responsible,” said Sarah Jackson.

    A blanket internet shutdown imposed by the authorities…has made it difficult to verify reports of people killed [during the] protests.

    “The authorities should immediately lift the countrywide blanket internet shutdown and allow people to access information and to freely mourn the musician,” said Sarah Jackson.

    Amnesty International is also calling for the security forces to exercise restraint when managing the ongoing protests and refrain from the use of excessive force.

    Background

    Hachalu Hundesa, renowned for his politically inspired songs, was shot around 9:30 pm on 29 June in Addis Ababa’s Gelan Condominium area. He was taken to a nearby hospital, where he was pronounced dead shortly after arrival.

    On 22 June, Hachalu Hundesa was interviewed on the Oromo Media Network (OMN) where he spoke on many controversial issues eliciting public outrage on social media platforms.

    According to Addis Standard, a national newspaper, the Addis Ababa Police Commission Commissioner, Getu Argaw, stated that the police had launched an investigation and had “some suspects” in police custody. Read more »


    Hachalu Hundessa – Ethiopia’s Murdered Musician Who Sang for Freedom


    A former political prisoner who grew up looking after cattle, Hachalu Hundessa rose to become one of Ethiopia’s biggest music stars, mesmerising fans with his songs about romance and political freedom – topics that he easily blended into his lyrics. (DAGI PICTURES)

    BBC

    More than 80 people have been killed in two days of unrest in Ethiopia following the killing of prominent singer Hachalu Hundessa.

    The 34-year-old had emerged as a powerful political voice of the Oromo ethnic group, and had made many enemies during his musical career.

    Two suspects were arrested after he was shot dead while driving in the capital, Addis Ababa on Monday evening. However, police have not yet revealed a motive for the killing and no charges have been brought against the suspects.

    Hachalu’s funeral has taken place in his hometown of Ambo.

    BBC Afaan Oromoo’s Bekele Atoma writes about the musician who was a thorn in the flesh of successive governments.

    A former political prisoner who grew up looking after cattle, Hachalu rose to become one of Ethiopia’s biggest music stars, mesmerising fans with his songs about romance and political freedom – topics that he easily blended into his lyrics.

    Hachalu’s father, who used to work in the electricity department in the city of Ambo, aspired for his son to become a doctor, but he showed little interest in medicine.

    However, from an infant, Hachalu showed a passion for music and singing, with the encouragement of his mother, while he looked after cows on the family’s farmland on the outskirts of Ambo in the Oromia region, the heartland of Ethiopia’s largest ethnic group, the Oromo.

    “I used to sing whatever came to my head,” he recalled in a BBC Afaan Oromoo interview in 2017.

    Jailed for five years
    One of eight children, Hachalu was born in 1986 in Ambo – a city about 100km (60 miles) west of the capital, Addis Ababa.

    It was at the forefront of the campaign by Oromos for self-rule in a nation where they felt repressed under a government that had banned opposition groups and jailed critics.

    Hachalu went to school in Ambo, and joined student groups campaigning for freedom.

    At the age of 17 in 2003, Hachalu was imprisoned for five years for his political activities.

    His father kept his morale high in prison, telling him during visits that “prison makes a man stronger”.

    Hachalu became increasingly politicised in prison, as he increased his knowledge about Ethiopia’s history, including its rule by emperors and autocrats.

    Whilst incarcerated in Ambo prison he also developed his music skills.

    “I did not know how to write lyrics and melodies until I was put behind bars. It is there that I learned,” he said in the 2017 interview.

    During his time in jail, he wrote nine songs and released his first album Sanyii Mootii (Race of the King) in 2009, a year after walking free.

    Refused to go into exile

    The album turned him into a music star, and a political symbol of the Oromo people’s aspirations.

    However, he played down his political role, saying: “I am not a politician, I am an artist. Singing about what my people are going through doesn’t make me a politician.”

    Many other musicians and activists fled into exile fearing persecution under the rule of then-Prime Minister Meles Zenawi and his successor Hailemariam Desalegn but Hachalu remained in Ethiopia and encouraged the youth to stand up for their rights.

    One of his songs was about how he fell in love with a girl who was proud of her identity and was willing to die for it.

    ‘Gallant warriors and horsemen’

    His second album Waa’ee Keenya (Our Plight) was released in 2013 while he was on a tour in the US. It became the best-selling African album on Amazon at the time.

    Two years later, he released a powerful single, Maalan Jira? (What existence is mine?), referring to the eviction of Oromos from Addis Ababa and its surrounding areas, after the government decided to expand the boundaries of the city.

    Read more »


    Turmoil at Funeral of Singer Shows Ethiopia’s ‘Combustible’ Politics (NYT)


    At least 81 people have been killed and dozens injured in the unrest that followed the killing of Hachalu Hundessa, underscoring long-simmering tensions in [Ethiopia]. (Photo: Musician Hachalu Hundessa posing while dressed in a traditional costume in Addis Ababa in 2019/Tiksa Negeri/Reuters)

    The New York Times

    By Abdi Latif Dahir and Tiksa Negeri

    July 2, 2020

    NAIROBI, Kenya — In life, Hachalu Hundessa’s protest songs roused and united Ethiopians yearning for freedom and justice. He is doing the same in death, with thousands flocking on Thursday to bury him in Ambo, the town 60 miles west of the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa where he was born and raised.

    Mr. Hundessa, 34, was shot on Monday night by unknown assailants in Addis Ababa and later died of his wounds in a hospital. His death has ignited nationwide protests that have killed 81 people, injured dozens of others and caused extensive property damage. The authorities have blocked the internet and arrested 35 people, including a prominent media magnate and government critic, Jawar Mohammed.

    On Thursday, groups of young men, some with machetes, roamed through neighborhoods in Addis Ababa, singling out people from rival ethnic groups for attacks. And in Ambo, witnesses said that the police blocked some people from attending the singer’s funeral, even firing shots at them.

    The unrest, analysts say, threatens the stability of Africa’s second-most populous country and deepens the political crisis in a nation already undergoing a roller-coaster democratic transition.

    “I am in bitter sadness,” said Getu Dandefa, a 29-year-old university student. When he saw Mr. Hundessa’s coffin in Ambo, he said he dropped to the ground and started crying.

    “We lost our voice,” he said, “We will keep fighting until Hachalu gets justice. We will never stop protesting.”

    Mr. Hundessa’s funeral has brought tensions to a boiling point in a country already facing myriad political, economic and social challenges. The fury aroused by his death poses a challenge to Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, who rose to power in 2018 following a wave of antigovernment protests that Mr. Hundessa — a member of the country’s largest but historically marginalized ethnic group, the Oromo — helped to galvanize through his music.

    Since then, Mr. Abiy, an Oromo himself, has introduced a raft of changes aimed at dismantling Ethiopia’s authoritarian structure, releasing political prisoners, liberalizing the centralized economy, committing to overhaul repressive laws and welcoming back exiled opposition and separatist groups.

    In 2019, Mr. Abiy was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his initiative to resolve the decades-long conflict with neighboring Eritrea and for spearheading regional peace and cooperation in the Horn of Africa.

    A nation of about 109 million people, Ethiopia has one of the fastest-growing economies in Africa, hosts the headquarters of the African Union, and is a key United States ally in the fight against terrorism.

    But while the 43-year-old prime minister has made great strides, the changes have unleashed forces that have produced a sharp increase in lawlessness in many parts of the country, with rising ethnic tensions and violence that have displaced 3 million people.

    Yohannes Gedamu, an Ethiopian lecturer in political science at Georgia Gwinnett College, in Lawrenceville, Ga., said that the ruling coalition had lost its grip on the structures it once used to maintain order in an ethnically and linguistically diverse nation. As a result, he added, as the country moves toward multiparty democracy, rival ethnic and political factions have clashed over resources, power and the country’s direction forward.

    The government has come under fire for failing to stop the killing of government critics and prominent figures, like the chief of staff of the Ethiopian Army, and its inability to rescue a dozen or more university students abducted months ago.

    In combating the disorder, the authorities have resorted to the tactics of previous, repressive governments, not only blocking the internet, but arresting journalists and enacting laws that human rights advocates say could limit freedom of expression. Ethiopian security forces have been accused of gross human rights violations, including rape, arbitrary arrests and extrajudicial killings.

    The coronavirus pandemic has complicated all this, leading the government to postpone August elections that many saw as a critical test of Mr. Abiy’s reform agenda. The move drew condemnation from opposition parties, who fear the government will use the delay to attempt a power grab.


    Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed at a tree-planting ceremony last month. The fury the death of Mr. Hundessa touched off poses a challenge to Mr. Ahmed, who rose to power in 2018 following a wave of antigovernment protests.Credit…Michael Tewelde/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

    “The last few days demonstrate just how combustible the situation in Ethiopia is,” said Murithi Mutiga, the project director for the Horn of Africa at the International Crisis Group.

    He added: “The merest spark can easily unleash all these bottled up, ethnonationalist passions that have become the defining feature of Ethiopian politics, especially as it goes through this very delicate transition.”

    While Mr. Abiy has a daunting task at hand, many say the government’s forceful response to the recent discontent could make matters worse. Laetitia Bader, the Horn of Africa director at Human Rights Watch, said the group had received reports that security forces had used lethal force on protesters in at least seven towns.

    “The initial signs aren’t good,” Ms. Bader said. “The government needs to make clear that it is listening to these grievances, creating the space for them to be heard and adequately responding to them without resorting to repression or violence.”

    Given Mr. Hundessa’s stature, and how his music provided a stirring soundtrack against repression, the authorities should pull back and allow “people to grieve in peace,” said Henok Gabisa, the co-chairperson of the International Oromo Lawyers Association, based in St. Paul, Minn. About 200 of the city’s Oromo community protested on Tuesday.

    “The Oromo people are in disbelief, shocked and confused,” said Mr. Gabisa, who knew Mr. Hundessa and met him a few months ago in Ethiopia. But arresting political opposition leaders like Bekele Gerba, of the Oromo Federalist Congress party, and raiding Mr. Mohammed’s Oromia Media Network only risked inflaming long-simmering tensions, he said.

    Read more »

    Related:

    Six hurt in scuffles with security forces at Ethiopian singer’s funeral (Reuters)

    Haile Selassie: Statue of former Ethiopian leader destroyed in London park (BBC)

    ‘Several’ Killed in Ethiopia Unrest After Singer Shot Dead (The Associated Press)


    Hachalu Hundessa, well known for his political songs, was shot dead on Monday in Addis ababa. The 34-year-old had been a prominent voice in anti-government protests that led to a change in leadership in 2018, with Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed taking office. (Photo: YouTube music video screenshot)

    The Associated Press

    By ELIAS MESERET

    Updated: July 1st, 2020

    Ethiopia’s prime minister says “several people” have been killed in unrest that followed the killing of a popular singer this week.

    Angry protests were reported Tuesday in the capital, Addis Ababa, after Hachalu Hundessa was shot dead on Monday. He had been a prominent voice in anti-government protests that led to a change in leadership in 2018, with Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed taking office.

    The killing was a “tragedy,” Abiy said Tuesday, vowing that the perpetrators would be brought to justice and declaring that “our enemies will not succeed.”

    Three bombs exploded in the capital Tuesday, police said. It was not clear whether anyone was killed.

    Internet service has been cut again in Ethiopia, where tensions continue after the government delayed this year’s national election, citing the coronavirus pandemic.

    The singer Hachalu is set to be buried Thursday in his hometown in the Oromia region.

    A well-known Oromo activist, Jawar Mohammed, was among 35 people arrested during the latest unrest.

    There was no immediate sign of protests in Addis Ababa on Wednesday and roads were empty.

    Internet cut off in Ethiopia amid outcry over death of singer-activist

    By Bethlehem Feleke, CNN

    Updated: June 30th, 2020

    (CNN) Internet access was cut across Ethiopia on Tuesday amid national protests over the shooting death of singer and activist Hachalu Hundessa.

    Hachalu, a prominent figure in the Oromo ethnic group, was shot Monday night at the Gelan Condominiums area of the capital Addis Ababa, according to state broadcaster EBC citing the Addis Ababa police commissioner, Getu Argaw.

    On Tuesday, images of protesters in the capital and in Oromia region circulated on social media and the US Embassy in Ethiopia released a security alert saying the embassy was “monitoring reports of protests and unrest, including gunfire, throughout Addis Ababa.”

    Demonstrators also protested the singer’s death in front of the US embassy, the alert said, describing the situation as “volatile at this time.”

    A blanket shutdown

    Netblocks, an internet-monitoring NGO, reported that internet “has been cut across most of Ethiopia from just after 9am local time on Tuesday.”

    Read more »

    Hachalu Hundessa: Killing of Ethiopian singer sparks unrest (DW)

    Hachalu Hundessa — famed for his political songs — had been considered a voice for Ethiopia’s largest ethnic group, the Oromo, during years of anti-government protest. Heavy violence has been reported after his killing.

    ‘Voice of a generation’

    The context to the singer’s death was not immediately clear, although the embassy said Hundessa’s supporters had blamed security forces and “assume a political motive” for the crime.

    Ethiopia’s prime minister, Abiy Ahmed, expressed his condolences and tweeted that an investigation was currently under way.

    Hundessa in 2017 was described by OPride.com as an “electrifying voice of a generation that is revolting” after being awarded the portal’s Oromo Person.

    “For capturing and expressing the frustration, anger, and hope of Oromo protesters through revolutionary lyrics; for courageously defying forcible suppression of dissent and boldly proclaiming ‘we are here and not going anywhere’; for providing a stirring soundtrack to the budding Oromo revolution; for breaking down fear and structural barriers through rousing musical storytelling, and for uniting the Oromo masses and amplifying their collective yearning for change, Haacaaluu Hundeessaa is OPride’s Oromo Person of 2017.”

    The Oromo, Ethiopia’s largest ethnic group, had taken to the streets to complain about what they perceive as marginalization and persecution by the central government.

    Oromo protests made international headlines when Ethiopian long-distance runner Feyisa Lilesa — a member of the Oromo community — reached the finishing line raising his crossed hands at the Rio 2016 Olympics. The crossed hands have become the symbol of the anti-government movement that started in the Oromia region and spread north to the Amhara region.

    Ethiopia is no stranger to ethnic violence. With over 80 different ethnic groups and Africa’s second-largest country based on population, the country is extremely diverse and disagreements between various groups often spiral into communal violence.

    kw/stb (dpa, Reuters)

    ‘More than an entertainer’

    By Bekele Atoma, BBC Afaan Oromo

    Updated: June 30th, 2020

    Hachalu was more than just a singer and entertainer.

    He was a symbol for the Oromo people who spoke up about the political and economic marginalisation that they had suffered under consecutive Ethiopian regimes.

    In one of his most famous songs, he sang: “Do not wait for help to come from outside, a dream that doesn’t come true. Rise, make your horse ready and fight, you are the one close to the palace.”

    The musician had also been imprisoned for five years when he was 17 for taking part in protests.

    Many like him fled into exile fearing persecution but he remained in the country and encouraged the youth to struggle.

    Read more »

    Hachalu Hundessa: Popular Ethiopian protest singer shot dead (BBC)


    Musician Hachalu Hundessa was killed in Addis Ababa on Monday, June 29th, 2020. (BBC)

    BBC News

    Updated: June 30th, 2020

    Ethiopian musician Hachalu Hundessa, well known for his political songs, has been shot dead in the capital

    The 34-year-old had said that he had received death threats and the police are now holding a number of suspects.

    Hachalu’s lyrics often focused on the rights of the country’s Oromo ethnic group and became anthems in a wave of protests that led to the downfall of the previous prime minister.

    Demonstrations broke out in response to the news of the musician’s death.

    Gunshots have been heard in Addis Ababa and people set fire to tyres.

    Thousands of his fans headed to the hospital in the city where the body of the singer was taken on Monday night, BBC Afaan Oromo’s Bekele Atoma reports.

    To them, he was a voice of his generation that protested against decades of government repression, he says.

    Police used tear gas to disperse the crowd.

    The internet was also shut down in parts of the country as protests spread in Oromia regional state.

    Hachalu’s body has now been taken to the town of Ambo, about 100km (62 miles) west of the capital.

    Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has expressed his condolences saying in a tweet that Ethiopia “lost a precious life today” and describing the singer as “marvellous”

    Read more »

    Popular Ethiopian singer Hachalu Hundessa shot dead in Addis Ababa (Al Jazeera)

    Updated: June 30th, 2020

    A popular Ethiopian musician has been shot dead in the country’s capital, Addis Ababa, local media reported, quoting police. He was 36.

    Hachalu Hundessa, an ethnic Oromo also known as Haacaaluu Hundeessaa, was shot in the city’s Gelan Condominiums area late on Monday, Addis Ababa’s police commissioner said.

    Geta Argaw said police had arrested several suspects, state-affiliated Fana broadcaster reported on Tuesday.

    Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed expressed his condolences, saying Ethiopia had “lost a precious life”.

    “I express my deep condolences for those of us who are in deep sorrow since the news of the death of the shining young Artist Hachalu Hundesa,” Fana reported the prime minister as saying. “We are expecting full investigation reports of this evil act.”

    “Let us express our condolences by keeping ourselves safe and preventing further crime,” Abiy said.

    Ethiopians on social media, including the country’s ambassador to Washington, expressed their shock at the killing of the popular musician.

    On Tuesday, youths enraged by the killing of the musician, who was known for his protest songs, burned tyres during demonstrations in Addis Ababa.

    Hachalu, a former political prisoner, rose to prominence during prolonged anti-government protests, which propelled Abiy, a fellow Oromo, into office in 2018. Oromo ethnic group, which have historically faced discrimination, led the the mass protests.

    Abiy’s rise to power ended decades of political dominance by ethnic Tigray leaders in this multi-ethnic African nation.

    His rule has ushered in greater political and economic freedoms in what had long been one of the continent’s most repressive states. He was awarded the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize for ending conflict with neighbouring Eritrea and his reforms.

    But the rise in political activism has also led to an increase in unrest in a country made up of more than 80 ethnic groups. Abiy’s rule has been frequently challenged by local powerbrokers demanding more access to land, power and resources.

    His pan-Ethiopian politics have sparked a backlash from some elements of his own Oromo powerbase, spearheaded by a media magnate, Jawar Mohammed.

    “They did not just kill Hachalu. They shot at the heart of the Oromo Nation, once again !!…You can kill us, all of us, you can never ever stop us!! NEVER !!” Jawar posted on his Facebook page on Tuesday.

    Clashes between police and Jawar’s supporters killed at least 78 people in October last year after the government tried to withdraw Jawar’s security detail.

    Elections due this year have been postponed until next year due to COVID-19 in a deal agreed with the major opposition parties.


    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    Amid Pandemic Ethiopia Launches Policy to Encourage Walking and Cycling

    Ethiopia’s Non-Motorized Transport Strategy was developed in partnership with United Nations Environment Program. (Image via UNEP)

    UN Environment

    As the COVID-19 pandemic swept through Ethiopia earlier this year, many in the Horn of Africa country abandoned public transit, fearful of catching the disease on crowded buses and trains.

    But that created a problem. How would people move around in the country of 109 million?

    The Ethiopian government believes the answer lies in part in cycling and walking. On 3 June, World Bicycle Day, the country launched virtually a national policy designed to promote those two modes of transport. Officially known as the Non-Motorized Transport Strategy 2020-2029, the programme was inaugurated by Dagmawit Moges, Ethiopia’s Minister of Transport.

    The strategy’s online launch event brought together key development partners, such as the United Nations Environment Programme, United Nations Habitat, the Institute of Transport and Development Policy, and other experts and organizations who helped frame the strategy. “This government is committed to adopting a more equitable approach that addresses the mobility needs of all citizens,” said Moges.

    Like many urban centres around the globe, Ethiopian cities face the challenge of moving around their citizens while contending with increasing traffic, deaths from road accidents, and high levels of air pollution. At the same time, despite the widespread use of non-motorised transport, road planning and infrastructure building in Ethiopian cities has largely been car-centred. Many streets, for example, lack continuous walkways and bike lanes.

    During the strategy launch, which was held online because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Moges said the transport ministry will follow an inclusive planning process. Several government bodies will participate in what she called the transformation of Ethiopia’s streets and public spaces. Under the strategy, all road building funded by the national government will need to incorporate high-quality non-motorized transport facilities.

    The strategy, say experts, is especially relevant in a COVID-19 world; cycling and walking allow commuters to respect social distancing guidelines. Experts say those methods of transit are also far better for the environment than commuting by vehicle. Officials hope the new strategy will dissuade some commuters, especially in large cities such as Addis Ababa, Aksum and Hawassa, from reverting to a dependency on cars.

    Ethiopia’s Non-Motorized Transport Strategy was developed in partnership with UNEP’s Share the Road Programme and the Institute of Transport and Development Policy Africa. The strategy is available in both English and Amharic.


    Related:

    Ethiopia’s COVID-19 Update Affected By Internet Cut

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    UPDATE: The Ethiopians in Lebanon

    Ethiopian domestic workers camp outside their embassy in Beirut after being dumped by their employers. As Lebanon plunges towards hyperinflation, experts say that three-quarters of the country will soon rely on food handouts to survive . (Bel Trew)

    Independent

    ‘Lebanon is in a death spiral’: Domestic workers dumped on the street amid unprecedented economic collapse

    Bewildered and scared, Ife, an Ethiopian domestic worker, explains how a few hours ago she thought she was on her way to Beirut airport. “So you can fly home,” her cash-strapped employer had said while pushing her out of the car in front of the Ethiopian embassy.

    “It was a lie,” whispers the 24-year-old, clutching her belongings like a lifebuoy.

    “I cried and cried because I haven’t been paid since January. I have no money. I have a son.”

    Ife only has one option: sleep rough alongside a dozen other Ethiopian women also dumped by their employers in front of the consulate in Beirut, and beg to be repatriated home. They are among a growing number of migrant workers in Lebanon that have been abandoned by their bosses who, amid an unprecedented economic collapse, cannot afford to pay their salaries.

    Most of the workers interviewed by The Independent say they have not been paid since January when Lebanon’s financial woes began to bite, and so few have the resources to get home. Many also do not have their passports. Under the country’s abusive kafala system, which rights groups say traps them into forced labour and abuse, migrant workers in Lebanon cannot change jobs or leave without permission of their employer, who often withholds their documents.

    And so, without rights, funds, and passports, Lebanon’s quarter of a million migrant domestic workers are among the most vulnerable in the country’s economic crash.

    Protests erupt in Lebanon

    This Is Lebanon, an organisation that shames abusive employers, says its caseload has more than doubled over the last few months as the crisis deepened. It is so overwhelmed by calls for help that staff now have to turn away women who have been unpaid for less than seven months.

    “It’s awful but we have to tell them we can’t help you any more,” Patricia, a spokeswoman, tells The Independent. “We’re saying the only way is to cut their losses and try to get home.”

    And so the group outside the embassy, sleeping amid their suitcases, wait each day for news of a flight home.

    “Everything got so much worse these days. No is getting paid,” says Hayat, 21, who was dumped by her employer four days ago.

    “Now I’m sleeping here, I have no passport, no money, I have my pyjamas only.”

    Lebanon’s embattled local and immigrant population has been sucker-punched by a staggering financial crisis that could become so severe, experts warn many may starve.

    Grounded in decades of chronic mismanagement and corruption, Lebanon saw its economic woes crescendo in October, sparking a revolution. The arrival of the coronavirus pandemic in March, which shuttered businesses and halted already dwindling remittances, only made matters worse.

    Read more »


    SPOTLIGHT: Yemen to Lebanon Plight of Ethiopian Migrants Amid Pandemic


    Ethiopian migrants in the Yemeni capital, Sana, being forced to quarantine by security forces in April over fears that they could spread the coronavirus. (Getty Images)

    The New York Times

    By Vivian Yee and Tiksa Negeri

    BEIRUT, Lebanon — The Yemeni militiamen rumbled up to the settlement of Al Ghar in the morning, firing their machine guns at the Ethiopian migrants caught in the middle of somebody else’s war. They shouted at the migrants: Take your coronavirus and leave the country, or face death.

    Fatima Mohammed’s baby, Naa’if, was screaming. She grabbed him and ran behind her husband as bullets streaked overhead.

    “The sound of the bullets was like thunder that wouldn’t stop,” said Kedir Jenni, 30, an Ethiopian waiter who also fled Al Ghar, near the Saudi border in northern Yemen, on that morning in early April. “Men and women get shot next to you, you see them die and move on.”

    This scene and others were recounted in phone interviews with a half-dozen migrants now in Saudi prisons. Their accounts could not be independently verified, but human rights groups have corroborated similar episodes.

    Read more »


    ‘No-one Wants to Stay’: Ethiopia Under Pressure to Rescue Maids in Lebanon


    Birtukan Mekuanint, 23, says she was trapped and exploited after she went to work in Lebanon as a maid. (AFP Photo)

    AFP

    Updated: June 24th, 2020

    Addis Ababa (AFP) – After she flew to Lebanon in 2017 to work as a maid for a family of eight, Birtukan Mekuanint managed to call her own relatives in Ethiopia only a handful of times.

    So her father, Abiye Yefru, did not know what to think when Birtukan emerged unannounced from a taxi outside their home in Addis Ababa last week.

    “Everyone was very emotional when she came to meet us,” Abiye told AFP, describing their reunion. “Me, I didn’t hold back my tears, and my wife cried even more.”

    Soon, though, Abiye’s joy turned to anger as Birtukan recounted her hardship in Lebanon — an all-too-common tale of uncompensated labour in abusive conditions.

    Now he’s joining the chorus of Ethiopians pleading with the government to bring back thousands of domestic workers stranded in Lebanon.

    “It’s too difficult over there,” he said. “Of course they should be brought home.”

    A quarter of a million migrants are employed as domestic workers in Lebanon, the majority of them Ethiopian.

    A sponsorship system known as “kafala” leaves maids, nannies and carers outside the remit of Lebanese labour law and at the mercy of their employers.

    The workers’ plight has come under the spotlight in recent weeks as Lebanon grapples with its worst economic crisis in decades, with dozens of women kicked out by their employers and dumped outside the Ethiopian consulate in Beirut.

    Yet Ethiopian women have for years endured nonpayment of wages, forced confinement and physical and sexual violence, activists say.

    Making matters worse, Ethiopian authorities have turned a blind eye to the abuses, said Banchi Yimer, founder of an NGO that advocates for migrant workers’ rights.

    “I would say they do nothing,” she said. “Nothing has been done by the Ethiopian government.”

    Like many Ethiopian women, Birtukan believed the brokers who told her moving to Lebanon would be an easy way to improve her family’s fortunes.

    For 7,000 Ethiopian birr (around $200), they promised to arrange her travel and place her with a family that would pay $200 (177 euros) a month while covering her expenses.

    Upon reaching Beirut, however, she learned the brokers would pocket her earnings for the first two months.

    The brokers then cut off contact, and her Lebanese boss refused to pay her.

    Under the kafala system, migrant workers can’t terminate contracts without the consent of their employers, meaning Birtukan was effectively trapped.

    She spent long hours mopping floors, ironing clothes and cleaning bathrooms, all while tallying the days on a piece of cardboard she hid under her mattress.

    “I didn’t see other people. Even if I tried to talk on the phone, they would stop me,” she told AFP as tears rolled down her cheeks.

    She seized the first chance she could to escape, swiping a key to the compound gate left behind by one of the family’s children.

    She then secured a spot on one of the flights organised last month by the Ethiopian government and state-owned Ethiopian Airlines.

    But only around 650 women have been flown home so far.

    As the coronavirus pandemic exacerbates Lebanon’s economic woes, Birtukan wants to see more repatriations.

    “I think the government should bring back all the women there,” she said. “They’re sleeping under bridges. They don’t have enough to eat.”

    Ethiopia’s foreign affairs ministry and the consulate in Beirut did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

    -Tough times ahead-

    For all the horror stories out of Lebanon, some women are glad they made the journey.

    Almaz Gezaheng, 32, travelled to Lebanon in 2008, moving in with a family of four.

    She found the pay too low and the conditions too strenuous, but after she left she landed a job as a cleaner at a beauty parlour that paid $400 per month.

    She sent half that money home, enabling her parents to buy their own house.

    “At least I changed my family’s life, even if I haven’t done anything for myself.”

    But after the Lebanese economy tanked, Almaz lost her job, and she exhausted her savings before securing a spot on a repatriation flight this month.

    “I think the future will be very difficult for Lebanon. I would advise young Ethiopians to stay here and do their own work rather than go there,” she said.

    She urged the Ethiopian government to step in and help those still stuck there.

    “Most of their madams are throwing them out of the house,” she said. “Before anything worse happens, it would be good for the government to bring back all of our girls from Lebanon.”

    The call is echoed by Banchi, founder of the migrants workers’ rights NGO, who said she is receiving reports of Ethiopian women in Lebanon who are in such despair that they drink bleach or try to jump off balconies.

    “The inaction of the Ethiopian government is leading domestic workers to depression,” she said. “Everybody wants to go home. No-one wants to stay in Lebanon.”


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    Africa Coming to Terms With a Growing Diaspora’s Dual Citizenship

    A Ugandan-American family celebrate becoming US citizens at a naturalization ceremony in Boston. (AP photo)

    Quartz Africa

    African countries are having to come to terms with a growing diaspora’s dual citizenship

    Earlier this year, Jawar Mohammed, the prominent political activist and media entrepreneur, who had returned home to Ethiopia from the US, looked set to challenge his former ally, prime minister Abiy Ahmed, in the country’s election. But there was immediately uncertainty created over Jawar’s eligibility simply because he had been a US citizen. Ethiopian law does not allow dual nationality and even though he written letters saying he’s renounced his US citizenship that uncertainty remains.

    Jawar’s case is one of many that highlights an increasingly common issue for many African countries, who after years of battles with Western imperialism and colonial rule were determined at independence for their citizens to literally pick a side and not be allowed to carry the passports of other countries.

    But in the 60 years since independence across the continent, the forces of globalization and transatlantic migration has seen dual nationality come up more frequently as an issue which needs to be addressed across politics and business through to sports.

    Back in 1985, Saudi Arabia’s soccer authorities initially refused to hand over the trophy of the Afro-Asian Cup after losing to Cameroon in the finals of the tournament. They claimed Cameroon had fielded an ineligible player who was none other than legendary star Roger Milla, who had traveled to Jeddah on a French passport as he couldn’t also have a Cameroonian one.

    Now, Cameroon is considering a revision of its nationality code which was enacted in 1968. The current law stipulates any Cameroonian adult who willfully acquires a foreign nationality automatically loses their Cameroon nationality.

    But a new draft bill—a copy of which Quartz Africa has seen—says “a Cameroonian who has acquired another nationality shall retain Cameroon nationality unless it is expressly relinquished by the concerned.” The bill is expected to pass through with little challenge.

    Some African governments have been reluctant to legalize dual citizenship, arguing the patriotism of people with dual citizenship could be questioned. But there’s also anecdotal evidence some of these governments are more concerned an influential and economically independent diaspora, able to move freely between countries, could support a challenge to the leadership.

    Read more »

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    Ethiopia’s COVID-19 Update Affected By Internet Cut

    Ethiopia has not released coronavirus statistics since June 29 when cases were at 5,846. (Africa News)

    Africa News

    Virus stats affected by internet cut

    Ethiopia has not released coronavirus statistics since June 29 when cases were at 5,846 with 103 deaths, 2430 recoveries and 3,311 recoveries.

    The main sources of updates, the federal Health Ministry, Minister Lia Tadesse and the Ethiopia Public Health Institute have all not posted updates since June 29. Neither the WHO Africa regional office or the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have also updated stats since Monday.

    The development could likely be because of an internet blackout in the country in the wake of the murder of a popular musician Hachalu Hundessa in the capital Addis Ababa.

    Four days since the incident, the country has experienced deadly protests as people demanded justice for the murder. Police reported blasts in the capital whiles the army was deployed to quell violence.

    Read more »

    THE LATEST UPDATE:

    Updated: July 3rd, 2020

    Latest stories

  • African Development Fund approves $165 m grant for Ethiopia’s national COVID-19 emergency response
  • Sponsor network gives lifeline to Ethiopians struggling under pandemic
  • WHO warns of ‘new and dangerous phase’ as coronavirus accelerates; Americas now hardest hit
  • World Bank Provides Additional Support to Help Ethiopia Mitigate Economic Impacts of COVID-19
  • Africa outperforms world economies in coronavirus mayhem
  • As coronavirus cases rise in U.S., public health experts urge caution
  • COVID-19 Cases Pass 10 Million Worldwide
  • U.S. tops 2.5 million reported cases
  • US Deaths From Coronavirus Surpass 125,000 and Growing
  • Ethiopia Coronavirus Cases Reach 5,846
  • Once the coronavirus epicenter in the U.S., New York City begins to reopen
  • Winter is coming south of the equator, along with predictions of the coronavirus’s spread
  • NYT honors coronavirus victims with powerful front page
  • Spotlight: Ethiopia’s First Private Ambulance System Tebita Adds Services Addressing COVID19
  • WHO reports most coronavirus cases in a day as cases approach five million
  • World Health Organization warns against hydroxychloroquine use for covid-19
  • Experts: Trump’s threats to WHO could undercut global health
  • Why Cape Town has 10 percent of Africa’s confirmed coronavirus cases
  • WHO head says vaccines, medicines must be fairly shared to beat COVID-19
  • U.S. coronavirus death toll tops 80,000
  • U.S. Jobless Rate Spikes to 14.7%, Highest Since Great Depression
  • Doctors face new urgency to solve children and coronavirus puzzle
  • In Ethiopia, Abiy Warns of Opposition Power Grab Amid Pandemic
  • Q&A: How Ethiopia’s Health Minister is Preparing for Coronavirus
  • Young Inventor Helps Ethiopia’s COVID-19 Crisis
  • Hospitalizations continue to decline in New York, Cuomo says
  • Researchers double U.S. COVID-19 death forecast, citing eased restrictions
  • Ethiopia: PM Abiy Writes COVID-19 Related Op-Ed on World Economic Forum Blog
  • Virus deaths in D.C., Virginia and Maryland surpass 2,000
  • IMF Approves $411M in Coronavirus Aid for Ethiopia
  • COVID-19 and Its Impact on African Economies: Q&A with Prof. Lemma Senbet
  • Los Angeles becomes first major U.S. city to offer free coronavirus testing for all residents
  • Global coronavirus death toll surpasses 200,000, as world leaders commit to finding vaccine
  • City demolitions expose Ethiopian families to coronavirus
  • In Maryland, Wogene Debele Gave Birth Before Dying of Covid-19. She Never Got to See Her Newborn.
  • Germany to start first coronavirus vaccine trial
  • U.S. coronavirus deaths top 51,000, with fatalities expected to climb
  • Young and middle-aged people, barely sick with covid-19, are dying from strokes
  • Ethiopia’s Ministry of Health Holds Webinar With Diaspora on COVID-19 Response
  • Webinar on COVID-19 and Mental Health: Interview with Dr. Seble Frehywot
  • CDC director warns second wave of coronavirus is likely to be even more devastating
  • Americans at World Health Organization transmitted real-time info. about coronavirus to Trump admin.
  • In Ethiopia, Dire Dawa Emerges as Newest Coronavirus Hot Spot
  • COVID-19: Interview with Dr. Tsion Firew, an Ethiopian Doctor on the Frontline in NYC
  • UN COVID-19 Major airlift operation reaches ‘most vulnerable’ African nations
  • Ethiopia Cases of Coronavirus Surpass 100
  • In U.S., New York’s Cuomo attacks Trump’s pandemic response
  • Doctor who sounded the alarm about covid-19 is now a children’s book hero
  • Ethiopia Opens Aid Transport Hub to Fight Covid-19
  • Ethiopia to buy life insurance for health workers
  • IMF says COVID-19 pandemic is causing worst global economic downturn since Great Depression
  • U.N. says Saudi deportations of Ethiopian migrants risks spreading coronavirus
  • Ethiopia’s capital launches door-to-door Covid-19 screening
  • Worldwide deaths from the coronavirus hit 100,000
  • Ethiopia COVID-19 Response Team: Interview with Mike Endale
  • Ethiopia eyes replicating China’s successes in applying traditional medicine to contain COVID-19
  • WHO Director Slams ‘Racist’ Comments About COVID-19 Vaccine Testing
  • Ethiopia Declares State of Emergency, Recruits Health Workers to Fight Virus
  • The virus is infecting and killing black Americans at an alarmingly high rate, a Post analysis shows
  • In China, Wuhan’s lockdown officially ends after 11 weeks
  • U.S. coronavirus deaths surpass 10,000
  • U.S. Government urged to release race, ethnicity data on covid-19 cases
  • Ethio-American Tech Company PhantomALERT Offers Free App to Track & Map COVID-19 Outbreak
  • 2nd COVID-19 death confirmed in Ethiopia
  • The Next Coronavirus Test Will Tell You If You Are Now Immune. And It’s Fast.
  • New York City mayor calls for national enlistment of health-care workers
  • ‘Your Safety is Our Priority’: How Ethiopian Airlines is Navigating the Global Virus Crisis
  • Ethiopia races to bolster ventilator stockpile for coronavirus fight
  • Potential COVID-19 Vaccine Shows Promise
  • Over 10 million Americans applied for unemployment benefits in March as economy collapsed
  • U.N. Chief Calls Pandemic Biggest Global Challenge Since World War II
  • US death toll eclipses China’s as reinforcements head to NYC
  • Getting Through COVID 19: ECMAA Shares Timely Resources With Ethiopian Community
  • 2020 Ethiopia Election Canceled Due to COVID-19
  • DC Metro Area Goes on Lockdown
  • U.S. Approves Malaria Drug to Treat Coronavirus Patients
  • U.S. Deaths Could Reach 200,000
  • The Curious Case of Ethiopian Traditional Medicine Covid-19 Treatment & Need for Caution
  • Ethiopia: PM Abiy spoke with Dr. Tedros regarding the Coronavirus response in Africa
  • COVID-19: Fire brigades disinfect Ethiopian capital
  • The Doctor Who Helped Defeat Smallpox Explains What’s Coming
  • In Tunisia Factory Workers Making 50k Masks a Day While in Voluntary Lockdown
  • Virus infections top 600,000 globally with long fight ahead
  • Maryland Issues COVID-19 Fact Sheet in Amharic for Ethiopian Community
  • Gouged prices, middlemen and medical supply chaos: Why governors are so upset with Trump
  • Worshippers in Ethiopia Defy Ban on Large Gatherings Despite Coronavirus
  • A record 3.3 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits as the coronavirus slams economy
  • Ethiopia: Parents fear for missing students as universities close over Covid-19
  • Ethiopia pardons more than 4,000 prisoners to help prevent coronavirus spread

    Coronavirus cases in the U.S. surpass 2.5 million

    By The Washington Post

    June 28th, 2020

    Confirmed coronavirus cases in the United States surpassed 2.5 million on Sunday morning as a devastating new wave of infections continued to bear down throughout the country’s South and West. Florida, Texas and Arizona are fast emerging as the country’s latest epicenters after reporting record numbers of new infections for weeks in a row. Positivity rates and hospitalizations have also spiked. Global cases of covid-19 exceeded 10 million, according to a count maintained by Johns Hopkins University, a measure of the power and spread of a pandemic that has caused vast human suffering, devastated the world’s economy and still threatens vulnerable populations in rich and poor nations alike.
    Read more »

    WHO warns of ‘new and dangerous phase’ as coronavirus accelerates; Americas now hardest hit

    By The Washington Post

    The World Health Organization warned Friday that “the world is in a new and dangerous phase” as the global pandemic accelerates. The world recorded about 150,000 new cases on Thursday, the largest rise yet in a single day, according to the WHO. Nearly half of these infections were in the Americas, as new cases continue to surge in the United States, Brazil and across Latin America. More than 8.5 million coronavirus cases and at least 454,000 deaths have been reported worldwide. As confirmed cases and hospitalizations climb in the U.S., new mask requirements are prompting faceoffs between officials who seek to require face coverings and those, particularly conservatives, who oppose such measures. Several studies this month support wearing masks to curb coronavirus transmission, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend their use as a protective measure. Read more »

    World Bank Provides Additional Support to Help Ethiopia Mitigate Economic Impacts of COVID-19

    JUNE 18, 2020

    The World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors today approved $250 million ($125 million grant and $125 million credit) in supplemental financing for the ongoing Second Ethiopia Growth and Competitiveness Programmatic Development Policy Financing. This funding is geared towards helping Ethiopia to revitalize the economy by broadening the role of the private sector and attaining a more sustainable development path.

    “The COVID 19 pandemic is expected to severely impact Ethiopia’s economy. The austerity of the required containment measures, along with disruptions to air travel and the collapse in international demand for goods exported by Ethiopia are already taking a toll on the economy,” said Carolyn Turk, World Bank Country Director for Ethiopia, Sudan, South Sudan and Eritrea. “Additionally, an estimated 1.8 million jobs are at risk, and the incomes and livelihoods of several million informal workers, self-employed individuals and farmers are expected to be affected.”

    The supplemental financing will help to mitigate the impact of the ongoing COVID-19 crisis on the Government’s reform agenda. Specifically, the program is intended to help address some of the unanticipated financing needs the Government of Ethiopia is facing due to the COVID-19 crisis. Additional financing needs are estimated to be approximately $1.5 billion, as revenue collection is expected to weaken, and additional expenditure is needed to mitigate the public health and economic impacts of the crisis.

    Read more »

    Once the coronavirus epicenter in the U.S., New York City begins to reopen


    After three months of a coronavirus crisis followed by protests and unrest, New York City is trying to turn a page when a limited range of industries reopen Monday, June 8, 2020. (AP Photo)

    100 days after the first coronavirus case was confirmed there, the city that was once the epicenter of America’s coronavirus pandemic began to reopen. The number of cases in New York has plunged, but health officials fear that a week of protests on the streets could bring a new wave.

    Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) estimated that between 200,000 to 400,000 workers returned to work throughout the city’s five boroughs.

    “All New Yorkers should be proud you got us to this day,” de Blasio said at a news conference at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, a manufacturing hub.

    Read more »

    US Deaths From Coronavirus Surpass 100,000 Milestone

    By The Associated Press

    The U.S. surpassed a jarring milestone Wednesday in the coronavirus pandemic: 100,000 deaths. That number is the best estimate and most assuredly an undercount. But it represents the stark reality that more Americans have died from the virus than from the Vietnam and Korea wars combined. “It’s a striking reminder of how dangerous this virus can be,” said Josh Michaud, associate director of global health policy with the Kaiser Family Foundation in Washington. The true death toll from the virus, which emerged in China late last year and was first reported in the U.S. in January, is widely believed to be significantly higher, with experts saying many victims died of COVID-19 without ever being tested for it. Read more »

    Ethiopia Coronavirus Cases Reach 5,846

    By Dr. Lia Tadesse, Minister of Health

    Report #111 የኢትዮጵያ የኮሮና ቫይረስ ሁኔታ መግለጫ. Status update on #COVID19Ethiopia. Total confirmed cases [as of June 29th, 2020]: 5,846 Read more »

    New York Times Memorializes Coronavirus Victims as U.S. Death Toll Nears 100,000

    America is fast approaching a grim milestone in the coronavirus outbreak — each figure here represents one of the nearly 100,000 lives lost so far. Read more »

    Spotlight: Ethiopia’s First Private Ambulance System Tebita Adds Services Addressing COVID19

    By Liben Eabisa | TADIAS

    Twelve year ago when Kibret Abebe quit his job as a nurse anesthetist at Black Lion Hospital and sold his house to launch Tebita Ambulance — Ethiopia’s First Private Ambulance System — his friends and family were understandably concerned about his decisions. But today Tebita operates over 20 advanced life support ambulances with approval from the Ministry of Health and stands as the country’s premier Emergency Medical Service (EMS). Tebita has since partnered with East Africa Emergency Services, an Ethiopian and American joint venture that Kibret also owns, with the aim “to establish the first trauma center and air ambulance system in Ethiopia.” This past month Tebita announced their launch of new services in Addis Abeba to address the COVID-19 pandemic and are encouraging Ethiopians residing in the U.S. to utilize Tebita for regular home check-ins on elderly family members as well as vulnerable individuals with pre-existing conditions. The following is an audio of the interview with Kibret Abebe and Laura Davis of Tebita Ambulance and East Africa Emergency Services: Read more »

    WHO reports most coronavirus cases in a day as cases approach five million

    By Reuters

    GENEVA (Reuters) – The World Health Organization expressed concern on Wednesday about the rising number of new coronavirus cases in poor countries, even as many rich nations have begun emerging from lockdown. The global health body said 106,000 new cases of infections of the novel coronavirus had been recorded in the past 24 hours, the most in a single day since the outbreak began. “We still have a long way to go in this pandemic,” WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a news conference. “We are very concerned about rising cases in low and middle income countries.” Dr. Mike Ryan, head of WHO’s emergencies programme, said: “We will soon reach the tragic milestone of 5 million cases.” Read more »

    WHO head says vaccines, medicines must be fairly shared to beat COVID-19

    By Reuters

    Scientists and researchers are working at “breakneck” speed to find solutions for COVID-19 but the pandemic can only be beaten with equitable distribution of medicines and vaccines, the head of the World Health Organization said on Friday. “Traditional market models will not deliver at the scale needed to cover the entire globe,” WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a briefing in Geneva.

    Read more »

    Doctors face new urgency to solve children and coronavirus puzzle

    By Axios

    Solving the mystery of how the coronavirus impacts children has gained sudden steam, as doctors try to determine if there’s a link between COVID-19 and kids with a severe inflammatory illness, and researchers try to pin down their contagiousness before schools reopen. New York hospitals have reported 73 suspected cases with two possible deaths from the inflammatory illness as of Friday evening. Read more »

    COVID-19 and Its Impact on African Economies: Q&A with Prof. Lemma Senbet


    Prof. Lemma Senbet. (Photo: @AERCAFRICA/Twitter)

    By Liben Eabisa | TADIAS

    Last week Professor Lemma Senbet, an Ethiopian-American financial economist and the William E. Mayer Chair Professor at University of Maryland, moderated a timely webinar titled ‘COVID-19 and African Economies: Global Implications and Actions.’ The well-attended online conference — hosted by the Center for Financial Policy at University of Maryland Robert H. Smith School of Business on Friday, April 24th — featured guest speakers from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) as well as the World Bank who addressed “the global implications of the COVID-19 economic impact on developing and low-income countries, with Africa as an anchor.” In the following Q&A with Tadias Prof. Lemma, who is also the immediate former Executive Director of the African Economic Research Consortium based in Nairobi, Kenya, explains the worldwide economic fallout of the Coronavirus pandemic and its impact on the African continent, including Ethiopia. Read more »

    US unemployment surges to a Depression-era level of 14.7%

    By The Associated Press

    The coronavirus crisis has sent U.S. unemployment surging to 14.7%, a level last seen when the country was in the throes of the Depression and President Franklin D. Roosevelt was assuring Americans that the only thing to fear was fear itself…The breathtaking collapse is certain to intensify the push-pull across the U.S. over how and when to ease stay-at-home restrictions. And it robs President Donald Trump of the ability to point to a strong economy as he runs for reelection. “The jobs report from hell is here,” said Sal Guatieri, senior economist at BMO Capital Markets, “one never seen before and unlikely to be seen again barring another pandemic or meteor hitting the Earth.” Read more »

    Hospitalizations continue to decline in New York, Cuomo says

    By CBS News

    New York Governor Andrew Cuomo says the number of people newly diagnosed and hospitalized with COVID-19 has continued to decrease. “Overall the numbers are coming down,” he said. But he said 335 people died from the virus yesterday. “That’s 335 families,” Cuomo said. “You see this number is basically reducing, but not at a tremendous rate. The only thing that’s tremendous is the number of New Yorkers who’ve still passed away.” Read more »

    Los Angeles offers free testing to all county residents

    By The Washington Post

    All residents of Los Angeles County can access free coronavirus testing at city-run sites, Mayor Eric Garcetti (D) said on Wednesday. Previously, the city had only offered testing to residents with symptoms as well as essential workers and people who lived or worked in nursing homes and other kinds of institutional facilities. In an announcement on Twitter, Garcetti said that priority would still be given to front-line workers and anyone experiencing symptoms, including cough, fever or shortness of breath. But the move, which makes Los Angeles the first major city in the country to offer such widespread testing, allows individuals without symptoms to be tested. Health experts have repeatedly said that mass testing is necessary to determine how many people have contracted the virus — and in particular, those who may not have experienced symptoms — and then begin to reopen the economy. Testing is by appointment only and can be arranged at one of the city’s 35 sites. Read more »

    Researchers Double U.S. COVID-19 Death Forecast

    By Reuters

    A newly revised coronavirus mortality model predicts nearly 135,000 Americans will die from COVID-19 by early August, almost double previous projections, as social-distancing measures for quelling the pandemic are increasingly relaxed, researchers said on Monday. The ominous new forecast from the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) reflect “rising mobility in most U.S. states” with an easing of business closures and stay-at-home orders expected in 31 states by May 11, the institute said. Read more »

    Global coronavirus death toll surpasses 200,000, as world leaders commit to finding vaccine

    By NBC News

    The global coronavirus death toll surpassed 200,000 on Saturday, according to John Hopkins University data. The grim total was reached a day after presidents and prime ministers agreed to work together to develop new vaccines, tests and treatments at a virtual meeting with both the World Health Organization (WHO) and Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. “We will only halt COVID-19 through solidarity,” said Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General. “Countries, health partners, manufacturers, and the private sector must act together and ensure that the fruits of science and research can benefit everybody. As the U.S. coronavirus death tollpassed 51,000 people, according to an NBC News tally, President Donald Trump took no questions at his White House briefing on Friday, after widespread mockery for floating the idea that light, heat and disinfectants could be used to treat coronavirus patients.”

    Read more »

    Germany to start first coronavirus vaccine trial

    By DW

    German Health Minister Jens Spahn has announced the first clinical trials of a coronavirus vaccine. The Paul Ehrlich Institute (PEI), the regulatory authority which helps develop and authorizes vaccines in Germany, has given the go-ahead for the first clinical trial of BNT162b1, a vaccine against the SARS-CoV-2 virus. It was developed by cancer researcher and immunologist Ugur Sahin and his team at pharmaceutical company BioNTech, and is based on their prior research into cancer immunology. Sahin previously taught at the University of Mainz before becoming the CEO of BioNTech. In a joint conference call on Wednesday with researchers from the Paul Ehrlich Institute, Sahin said BNT162b1 constitutes a so-called RNA vaccine. He explained that innocuous genetic information of the SARS-CoV-2 virus is transferred into human cells with the help of lipid nanoparticles, a non-viral gene delivery system. The cells then transform this genetic information into a protein, which should stimulate the body’s immune reaction to the novel coronavrius.

    Read more »

    Webinar on COVID-19 and Mental Health: Interview with Dr. Seble Frehywot

    By Liben Eabisa | TADIAS

    Dr. Seble Frehywot, an Associate Professor of Global Health & Health Policy at George Washington University in Washington, D.C. and her colleague Dr. Yianna Vovides from Georgetown University will host an online forum next week on April 30th focusing on the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on mental health. Dr. Seble — who is also the Director of Global Health Equity On-Line Learning at George Washington University – told Tadias that the virtual conference titled “People’s Webinar: Addressing COVID-19 By Addressing Mental Health” is open to the public and available for viewing worldwide. Read more »

    Young and middle-aged people, barely sick with covid-19, are dying from strokes

    By The Washington Post

    Doctors sound alarm about patients in their 30s and 40s left debilitated or dead. Some didn’t even know they were infected. Read more »

    CDC director warns second wave of coronavirus is likely to be even more devastating

    By The Washington Post

    Even as states move ahead with plans to reopen their economies, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned Tuesday that a second wave of the novel coronavirus will be far more dire because it is likely to coincide with the start of flu season. “There’s a possibility that the assault of the virus on our nation next winter will actually be even more difficult than the one we just went through,” CDC Director Robert Redfield said in an interview with The Washington Post. “And when I’ve said this to others, they kind of put their head back, they don’t understand what I mean…We’re going to have the flu epidemic and the coronavirus epidemic at the same time,” he said. Having two simultaneous respiratory outbreaks would put unimaginable strain on the health-care system, he said. The first wave of covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, has already killed more than 42,000 people across the country. It has overwhelmed hospitals and revealed gaping shortages in test kits, ventilators and protective equipment for health-care workers.

    Read more »

    Americans at World Health Organization transmitted real-time information about coronavirus to Trump administration

    By The Washington Post

    More than a dozen U.S. researchers, physicians and public health experts, many of them from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, were working full time at the Geneva headquarters of the World Health Organization as the novel coronavirus emerged late last year and transmitted real-time information about its discovery and spread in China to the Trump administration, according to U.S. and international officials. A number of CDC staff members are regularly detailed to work at the WHO in Geneva as part of a rotation that has operated for years. Senior Trump-appointed health officials also consulted regularly at the highest levels with the WHO as the crisis unfolded, the officials said. The presence of so many U.S. officials undercuts President Trump’s assertion that the WHO’s failure to communicate the extent of the threat, born of a desire to protect China, is largely responsible for the rapid spread of the virus in the United States. Read more »

    In Ethiopia, Dire Dawa Emerges as Newest Coronavirus Hot Spot

    By Africa News

    The case count as of April 20 had reached 111 according to health minister Lia Tadesse’s update for today. Ethiopia crossed the 100 mark over the weekend. All three cases recorded over the last 24-hours were recorded in the chartered city of Dire Dawa with patients between the ages of 11 – 18. Two of them had travel history from Djibouti. Till date, Ethiopia has 90 patients in treatment centers. The death toll is still at three with 16 recoveries. A patient is in intensive care. Read more »

    COVID-19: Interview with Dr. Tsion Firew, an Ethiopian Doctor on the Frontline in NYC


    Dr. Tsion Firew is Doctor of Emergency Medicine and Assistant Professor at Columbia University. She is also Special Advisor to the Ministry of Health in Ethiopia. (Courtesy photo)

    By Liben Eabisa

    In New York City, which has now become the global epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic, working as a medical professional means literally going to a “war zone,” says physician Tsion Firew, a Doctor of Emergency Medicine and Assistant Professor at Columbia University, who has just recovered from COVID-19 and returned to work a few days ago. Indeed the statistics coming out of New York are simply shocking with the state recording a sharp increase in death toll this months surpassing 10,000 and growing. According to The New York Times: “The numbers brought into clearer focus the staggering toll the virus has already taken on the largest city in the United States, where deserted streets are haunted by the near-constant howl of ambulance sirens. Far more people have died in New York City, on a per-capita basis, than in Italy — the hardest-hit country in Europe.” At the heart of the solution both in the U.S. and around the world is more testing and adhering to social distancing rules until such time as a proper treatment and vaccine is discovered, says Dr. Tsion, who is also a Special Advisor to the Ministry of Health in Ethiopia. Dr. Tsion adds that at this moment “we all as humanity have one enemy: the virus. And what’s going to win the fight is solidarity.” Listen to the interview »

    Ethiopia Opens Aid Transport Hub to Fight Covid-19

    By AFP

    Ethiopia and the United Nations on Tuesday opened a humanitarian transport hub at Addis Ababa airport to move supplies and aid workers across Africa to fight coronavirus. The arrangement, which relies on cargo services provided by Ethiopian Airlines, could also partially offset heavy losses Africa’s largest carrier is sustaining because of the pandemic. An initial shipment of 3 000 cubic metres of supplies – most of it personal protective equipment for health workers – will be distributed within the next week, said Steven Were Omamo, Ethiopia country director for the World Food Programme (WFP). “This is a really important platform in the response to Covid-19, because what it does is it allows us to move with speed and efficiency to respond to the needs as they are unfolding,” Omamo said, referring to the disease caused by the coronavirus. The Addis gateway is one of eight global humanitarian hubs set up to facilitate movement of aid to fight Covid-19, according to WFP.

    Read more »

    Covid-19: Ethiopia to buy life insurance for health workers

    By TESFA-ALEM TEKLE | AFP

    The Ethiopian government is due to buy life insurance for health professionals in direct contact with Covid-19 patients. Health minister Lia Tadesse said on Tuesday that the government last week reached an agreement with the Ethiopian Insurance Corporation but did not disclose the value of the cover. The two sides are expected to sign an agreement this week to effect the insurance grant. According to the ministry, the life insurance grant is aimed at encouraging health experts who are the most vulnerable to the deadly coronavirus. Members of the Rapid Response Team will also benefit.

    Read more »

    U.N. says Saudi deportations of Ethiopian migrants risks spreading coronavirus

    By Reuters

    The United Nations said on Monday that deportations of illegal migrant workers by Saudi Arabia to Ethiopia risked spreading the coronavirus and it urged Riyadh to suspend the practice for the time being.

    Read more »

    Ethiopia’s capital launches door-to-door Covid-19 screening


    Getty Images

    By TESFA-ALEM TEKLE | AFP

    Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa is due to begin a door-to-door mass Covid-19 screening across the city, Addis Ababa city administration has announced. City deputy Mayor, Takele Uma, on Saturday told local journalists that the mass screening and testing programme will be started Monday (April 13) first in districts which are identified as potentially most vulnerable to the spread of the highly infectious coronavirus. The aggressive city-wide screening measure intends to identify Covid-19 infected patients and thereby to arrest a potential virus spread within communities. He said, the mass screening will eventually be carried out in all 117 districts, locally known as woredas, of the city, which is home to an estimated 7 million inhabitants. According to the Mayor, the door-to-door mass Covid-19 screening will be conducted by more than 1,200 retired health professionals, who responded to government’s call on the retired to join the national fight against the coronavirus pandemic.

    Read more »

    Worldwide deaths from the coronavirus hit 100,000

    By The Associated Press

    The worldwide death toll from the coronavirus has hit 100,000, according to the running tally kept by Johns Hopkins University. The sad milestone comes as Christians around the globe mark a Good Friday unlike any other — in front of computer screens instead of in church pews. Meanwhile, some countries are tiptoeing toward reopening segments of their battered economies. Public health officials are warning people against violating the social distancing rules over Easter and allowing the virus to flare up again. Authorities are using roadblocks and other means to discourage travel.

    Read more »

    Ethiopia COVID-19 Response Team: Interview with Mike Endale

    By Liben Eabisa | TADIAS

    A network of technology professionals from the Ethiopian Diaspora — known as the Ethiopia COVID-19 Response Team – has been assisting the Ethiopian Ministry of Health since the nation’s first Coronavirus case was confirmed on March 13th. The COVID-19 Response Team has since grown into an army of more than a thousand volunteers. Mike Endale, a software developer based in Washington, D.C., is the main person behind the launch of this project. Read more »

    Ethiopia eyes replicating China’s successes in applying traditional medicine to contain COVID-19

    By CGTN Africa

    The Ethiopian government on Thursday expressed its keen interest to replicate China’s positive experience in terms of effectively applying traditional Chinese medicine to successfully contain the spread of COVID-19 pandemic in the East African country.

    This came after high-level officials from the Ethiopian Ministry of Innovation and Technology (MoIT) as well as the Ethiopian Ministry of Health (MoH) held a video conference with Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) practitioners and researchers on ways of applying the TCM therapy towards controlling the spread of coronavirus pandemic in the country, the MoIT disclosed in a statement issued on Thursday.

    “China, in particular, has agreed to provide to Ethiopia the two types of Chinese traditional medicines that the country applied to successfully treat the first two stages of the novel coronavirus,” a statement from the Ethiopian Ministry of Innovation and Technology read.

    Read more »

    WHO Director Slams ‘Racist’ Comments About COVID-19 Vaccine Testing


    The Director General of the World Health Organization, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, has angrily condemned recent comments made by scientists suggesting that a vaccine for COVID-19 should be tested in Africa as “racist” and a hangover from the “colonial mentality”. (Photo: WHO)

    By BBC

    The head of the World Health Organization (WHO) has condemned as “racist” the comments by two French doctors who suggested a vaccine for the coronavirus could be tested in Africa.

    “Africa can’t and won’t be a testing ground for any vaccine,” said Director General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

    The doctors’ remarks during a TV debate sparked outrage, and they were accused of treating Africans like “human guinea pigs”.

    One of them later issued an apology.

    When asked about the doctors’ suggestion during the WHO’s coronavirus briefing, Dr Tedros became visibly angry, calling it a hangover from the “colonial mentality”.

    “It was a disgrace, appalling, to hear during the 21st Century, to hear from scientists, that kind of remark. We condemn this in the strongest terms possible, and we assure you that this will not happen,” he said.

    Read more »

    Ethiopia declares state of emergency to curb spread of COVID-19

    By Reuters

    Ethiopia’s prime minister, Abiy Ahmed, on Wednesday declared a state of emergency in the country to help curb the spread of the new coronavirus, his office said on Twitter. “Considering the gravity of the #COVID19, the government of Ethiopia has enacted a State of Emergency,” Abiy’s office said.

    Ethiopia virus cases hit 52, 9-month-old baby infected

    By TESFA-ALEM TEKLE | AFP

    Ethiopia on Tuesday reported eight new Covid-19 cases, the highest number recorded so far in one day since the country confirmed its first virus case on March 12. Among the new patients that tested positive for the virus were a 9-month-old infant and his mother who had travelled to Dubai recently. “During the past 24 hours, we have done laboratory tests for a total of 264 people and eight out of them have been diagnosed with coronavirus, raising the total confirmed number of Covid-19 patients in Ethiopia to 52,” said Health Minister Dr Lia Tadese. According to the Minister, seven of the newly confirmed patients had travel histories to various countries. They have been under forced-quarantine in different designated hotels in the capital, Addis Ababa. “Five of the new patients including the 9-month-old baby and the mother came from Dubai while the two others came from Thailand and the United Kingdom,” she said

    Read more »

    The coronavirus is infecting and killing black Americans at an alarmingly high rate

    By The Washington Post

    As the novel coronavirus sweeps across the United States, it appears to be infecting and killing black Americans at a disproportionately high rate, according to a Washington Post analysis of early data from jurisdictions across the country. The emerging stark racial disparity led the surgeon general Tuesday to acknowledge in personal terms the increased risk for African Americans amid growing demands that public-health officials release more data on the race of those who are sick, hospitalized and dying of a contagion that has killed more than 12,000 people in the United States. A Post analysis of what data is available and census demographics shows that counties that are majority-black have three times the rate of infections and almost six times the rate of deaths as counties where white residents are in the majority.

    Read more »

    In China, Wuhan’s lockdown officially ends after 11 weeks

    After 11 weeks — or 76 days — Wuhan’s lockdown is officially over. On Wednesday, Chinese authorities allowed residents to travel in and out of the besieged city where the coronavirus outbreak was first reported in December. Many remnants of the months-long lockdown, however, remain. Wuhan’s 11 million residents will be able to leave only after receiving official authorization that they are healthy and haven’t recently been in contact with a coronavirus patient. To do so, the Chinese government is making use of its mandatory smartphone application that, along with other government surveillance, tracks the movement and health status of every person.

    Read more »

    U.S. hospitals facing ‘severe shortages’ of equipment and staff, watchdog says

    By The Washington Post

    As the official U.S. death toll approached 10,000, U.S. Surgeon General Jerome M. Adams warned that this will be “the hardest and saddest week of most Americans’ lives.”

    Read more »

    Ethio-American Tech Company PhantomALERT Offers Free App to Track & Map COVID-19 Outbreak

    By Tadias Staff

    PhantomALERT, a Washington D.C.-based technology company announced, that it’s offering a free application service to track, report and map COVID-19 outbreak hotspots in real time. In a recent letter to the DC government as well as the Ethiopian Embassy in the U.S. the Ethiopian-American owned business, which was launched in 2007, explained that over the past few days, they have redesigned their application to be “a dedicated coronavirus mapping, reporting and tracking application.” The letter to the Ethiopian Embassy, shared with Tadias, noted that PhantomALERT’s technology “will enable the Ethiopian government (and all other countries across the world) to locate symptomatic patients, provide medical assistance and alert communities of hotspots for the purpose of slowing down the spread of the Coronavirus.”

    Read more »

    2nd COVID-19 death confirmed in Ethiopia

    By Dr. Lia Tadesse (Minister, Ministry of Health, Ethiopia)

    It is with great sadness that I announce the second death of a patient from #COVID19 in Ethiopia. The patient was admitted on April 2nd and was under strict medical follow up in the Intensive Care Unit. My sincere condolences to the family and loved ones.

    Read more »

    The Next Coronavirus Test Will Tell You If You Are Now Immune. And It’s Fast.


    People line up in their cars at the COVID-19 testing area at Roseland Community Hospital on April 3, 2020, in Chicago. (E. Jason Wambsgans / Chicago Tribune)

    By Chicago Tribune

    A new, different type of coronavirus test is coming that will help significantly in the fight to quell the COVID-19 pandemic, doctors and scientists say. The first so-called serology test, which detects antibodies to the virus rather than the virus itself, was given emergency approval Thursday by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. And several more are nearly ready, said Dr. Elizabeth McNally, director of the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine Center for Genetic Medicine.

    Read more »

    ‘Your Safety is Our Priority’: How Ethiopian Airlines is Navigating the Global Virus Crisis

    By Tadias Staff

    Lately Ethiopian Airlines has been busy delivering much-needed medical supplies across Africa and emerging at the forefront of the continent’s fight against the coronavirus pandemic even as it has suspended most of its international passenger flights.

    Read more »

    Ethiopia races to bolster ventilator stockpile for coronavirus fight

    By AFP

    Ethiopia’s government — like others in Africa — is confronting a stark ventilator shortage that could hobble its COVID-19 response. In a country of more than 100 million people, just 54 ventilators — out of around 450 total — had been set aside for COVID-19 patients as of this week, said Yakob Seman, director general of medical services at the health ministry.

    Read more »

    New York City mayor calls for national enlistment of health-care workers


    New York Mayor Bill de Blasio. (AP photo)

    By The Washington Post

    New York Mayor Bill de Blasio on Friday called for a national enlistment of health-care workers organized by the U.S. military.

    Speaking on CNN’s New Day, he lamented that there has been no effort to mobilize doctors and nurses across the country and bring them to “the front” — first New York City and then other areas that have been hardest hit by the coronavirus outbreak.

    “If there’s not action by the president and the military literally in a matter of days to put in motion this vast mobilization,” de Blasio said, “then you’re going to see first hundreds and later thousands of Americans die who did not need to die.”

    He said he expects his city to be stretched for medical personnel starting Sunday, which he called “D-Day.” Many workers are out sick with the disease, he added, while others are “just stretched to the limit.”

    The mayor said he has told national leaders that they need to get on “wartime footing.”

    “The nation is in a peacetime stance while were actually in the middle of a war,” de Blasio said. “And if they don’t do something different in the next few days, they’re going to lose the window.”

    Read more »

    Over 10 million Americans applied for unemployment benefits in March as economy collapsed

    By The Washington Post

    More than 6.6 million Americans applied for unemployment benefits last week — a new record — as political and public health leaders put the economy in a deep freeze, keeping people at home and trying to slow the spread of the deadly coronavirus. The past two weeks have seen more people file for unemployed claims than during the first six months of the Great Recession, a sign of how rapid, deep and painful the economic shutdown has been on many American families who are struggling to pay rent and health insurance costs in the midst of a pandemic. Job losses have skyrocketed as restaurants, hotel, gyms, and travel have shut down across the nation, but layoffs are also rising in manufacturing, warehousing and transportation, a sign of how widespread the pain of the coronavirus recession is. In March alone, 10.4 million Americans lost their jobs and applied for government aid, according to the latest Labor Department data, which includes claims filed through March 28. Many economists say the real number of people out work is likely even higher, since a lot of newly unemployed Americans haven’t been able to fill out a claim yet.

    Read more »

    U.N. Chief Calls Pandemic Biggest Global Challenge Since World War II

    By The Washington Post

    The coronavirus outbreak sickening hundreds of thousands around the world and devastating the global economy is creating a challenge for the world not seen since World War II, United Nations Secretary General António Guterres said late Tuesday. Speaking in a virtual news conference, Guterres said the world needs to show more solidarity and cooperation in fighting not only the medical aspects of the crisis but the economic fallout. The International Monetary Fund is predicting an economic recession worse than in 2008.

    Read more »

    US death toll eclipses China’s as reinforcements head to NYC

    By The Associated Press

    The U.S. death toll from the coronavirus climbed past 3,800 Tuesday, eclipsing China’s official count, as hard-hit New York City rushed to bring in more medical professionals and ambulances and parked refrigerated morgue trucks on the streets to collect the dead.

    Read more »

    Getting Through COVID 19: ECMAA Shares Timely Resources With Ethiopian Community

    By Tadias Staff

    The Ethiopian Community Mutual Assistance Association (ECMAA) in the New York tri-state area has shared timely resources including COVID-19 safety information as well as national sources of financial support for families and small business owners.

    Read more »

    2020 Ethiopia Election Canceled Due to COVID-19

    By Tadias Staff

    The highly anticipated 2020 national election in Ethiopia has been canceled for now due to the coronavirus outbreak. The National Election Board of Ethiopia (NEBE) announced that it has shelved its plans to hold the upcoming nationwide parliamentary polls on August 29th after an internal evaluation of the possible negative effect of the virus pandemic on its official activities.

    Read more »

    Washington, D.C., Maryland, Virginia on lockdown as coronavirus cases grow

    By The Washington Post

    Maryland, Virginia and the District issued “stay-at-home” orders on Monday, joining a growing list of states and cities mandating broad, enforceable restrictions on where residents can go in an effort to limit the spread of the novel coronavirus.

    Read more »

    U.S. Approves Malaria Drug to Treat Coronavirus Patients

    By The Washington Post

    The Food and Drug Administration has given emergency approval to a Trump administration plan to distribute millions of doses of anti-malarial drugs to hospitals across the country, saying it is worth the risk of trying unproven treatments to slow the progression of the disease in seriously ill coronavirus patients.

    Read more »

    U.S. Deaths Could Reach 200,000

    By Bloomberg News

    A top U.S. infectious disease scientist said U.S. deaths could reach 200,000, but called it a moving target. New York’s fatalities neared 1,000, more than a third of the U.S. total.

    Read more »

    Ethiopia: PM, WHO Director Discuss Coronavirus Response


    @fanatelevision/twitter

    By Tadias Staff

    Ethiopian PM Abiy Ahmed spoke with Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization, over the weekend regarding the Coronavirus response in Ethiopia and Africa in general.

    Read more »

    Virus infections top 600,000 globally with long fight ahead

    By The Associated Press

    The number of confirmed coronavirus infections worldwide topped 600,000 on Saturday as new cases stacked up quickly in Europe and the United States and officials dug in for a long fight against the pandemic. The latest landmark came only two days after the world passed half a million infections, according to a tally by John Hopkins University, showing that much work remains to be done to slow the spread of the virus. It showed more than 607,000 cases and over 28,000 deaths. While the U.S. now leads the world in reported infections — with more than 104,000 cases — five countries exceed its roughly 1,700 deaths: Italy, Spain, China, Iran and France.

    Read more »

    Maryland Issues COVID-19 Fact Sheet in Amharic for Ethiopian Community

    By Tadias Staff

    The state of Maryland Department of Health has issued a COVID-19 Fact Sheet in Amharic for its large Ethiopian community.

    Read more »

    Gouged prices, middlemen and medical supply chaos: Why governors are so upset with Trump

    By The Washington Post

    Masks that used to cost pennies now cost several dollars. Companies outside the traditional supply chain offer wildly varying levels of price and quality. Health authorities say they have few other choices to meet their needs in a ‘dog-eat-dog’ battle.

    Read more »

    Worshippers in Ethiopia Defy Ban on Large Gatherings Despite Coronavirus

    By VOA

    ADDIS ABABA – Health experts in Ethiopia are raising concern, as some religious leaders continue to host large gatherings despite government orders not to do so in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak. Earlier this week, Ethiopia’s government ordered security forces to enforce a ban on large gatherings aimed at preventing the spread of COVID-19. Ethiopia has seen only 12 cases and no deaths from the virus, and authorities would like to keep it that way. But enforcing the orders has proven difficult as religious groups continue to meet and, according to religious leaders, fail to treat the risks seriously.

    Read more »

    U.S. deaths from coronavirus top 1,000

    By The Washington Post

    It began as a mysterious disease with frightening potential. Now, just two months after America’s first confirmed case, the country is grappling with a lethal reality: The novel coronavirus has killed more than 1,000 people in the United States, a toll that is increasing at an alarming rate.

    Read more »

    A record 3.3 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits as the coronavirus slams economy

    By The Washington Post

    A record 3.3 million Americans applied for unemployment benefits last week, the Labor Department said Thursday, as restaurants, hotels, barber shops, gyms and more shut down in a nationwide effort to slow the spread of the deadly coronavirus.

    Last week saw the biggest jump in new jobless claims in history, surpassing the record of 695,000 set in 1982. Many economists say this is the beginning of a massive spike in unemployment that could result in over 40 million Americans losing their jobs by April.

    Laid off workers say they waited hours on the phone to apply for help. Websites in several states, including New York and Oregon, crashed because so many people were trying to apply at once.

    “The most terrifying part about this is this is likely just the beginning of the layoffs,” said Martha Gimbel, a labor economist at Schmidt Futures. The nation’s unemployment rate was 3.5 percent in February, a half-century low, but that has likely risen already to 5.5 percent, according to calculations by Gimbel. The nation hasn’t seen that level of unemployment since 2015.

    Read more »

    Ethiopia: Parents fear for missing students as universities close over Covid-19


    Photo via amnesty.org

    As universities across Ethiopia close to avert spread of the COVID-19 virus, Amnesty International is calling on the Ethiopian authorities to disclose measures they have taken to rescue 17 Amhara students from Dembi Dolo University in Western Oromia, who were abducted by unidentified people in November 2019 and have been missing since.

    The anguish of the students’ families is exacerbated by a phone and internet shutdown implemented in January across the western Oromia region further hampering their efforts to get information about their missing loved ones.

    “The sense of fear and uncertainty spreading across Ethiopia because of COVID-19 is exacerbating the anguish of these students’ families, who are desperate for information on the whereabouts of their loved ones four months after they were abducted,” said Seif Magango, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for East Africa.

    “The Ethiopian authorities’ move to close universities in order to protect the lives of university students is commendable, but they must also take similarly concrete actions to locate and rescue the 17 missing students so that they too are reunited with their families.”

    Read more »

    UPDATE: New York City is now reporting 26,697 COVID-19 cases and 450 deaths.

    BY ABC7 NY

    Temporary hospital space in New York City will begin opening on Monday and more supplies are on the way as an already overwhelmed medical community anticipates even more coronavirus patients in the coming days. Mayor Bill de Blasio tweeted 20 trucks were on the road delivering protective equipment to hospitals, including surgical masks, N95 masks, and hundreds more ventilators.

    Governor Cuomo added the temporary hospital in the Javits Center will open on Monday the same day that the USNS Comfort will arrive in New York City.

    Read more »

    Related: New York sees some signs of progress against coronavirus as New Orleans hit hard (REUTERS)

    L.A. mayor says residents may have to shelter at home for two months or more

    By Business Insider

    Los Angeles residents will be confined to their homes until May at the earliest, Mayor Eric Garcetti told Insider on Wednesday.

    “I think this is at least two months,” he said. “And be prepared for longer.”

    In an interview with Insider, Garcetti pushed back against “premature optimism” in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, saying leaders who suggest we are on the verge of business as usual are putting lives at risk.

    “I can’t say that strongly enough,” the mayor said. Optimism, he said, has to be grounded in data. And right now the data is not good.

    “Giving people false hope will crush their spirits and will kill more people,” Garcetti said, adding it would change their actions by instilling a sense of normality at the most abnormal time in a generation.

    Read more »

    Ethiopia pardons more than 4,000 prisoners to help prevent coronavirus spread

    By CNN

    Ethiopian President Sahle-Work Zewde has granted pardon to more than 4,000 prisoners in an effort to contain the spread of coronavirus.

    Sahle-Work Zewde announced the order in a tweet on Wednesday and said it would help prevent overcrowding in prisons.

    The directive only covers those given a maximum sentence of three years for minor crimes and those who were about to be released from jail, she said.

    There are 12 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in Ethiopia, the World Health Organization said Wednesday.
    Authorities in the nation have put in place a raft of measures, including the closure of all borders except to those bringing in essential goods to contain the virus. The government has directed security officials to monitor and enforce a ban on large gatherings and overcrowded public transport to ensure social distancing.

    Read more »


    U.S. House passes $2 trillion coronavirus emergency spending bill


    Watch: Senator Chuck Schumer of New York breaks down massive coronavirus aid package (MSNBC Video)

    By The Washington Post

    The House of Representatives voted Friday [March 27th] to approve a massive $2 trillion stimulus bill that policy makers hope will blunt the economic destruction of the coronavirus pandemic, sending the legislation to President Trump for enactment. The legislation passed in dramatic fashion, approved on an overwhelming voice vote by lawmakers who’d been forced to return to Washington by a GOP colleague who had insisted on a quorum being present. Some lawmakers came from New York and other places where residents are supposed to be sheltering at home.

    Read more »

    In Ethiopia, Abiy seeks $150b for African virus response

    By AFP

    Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed on Tuesday urged G20 leaders to help Africa cope with the coronavirus crisis by facilitating debt relief and providing $150 billion in emergency funding.
    The pandemic “poses an existential threat to the economies of African countries,” Abiy’s office said in a statement, adding that Ethiopia was “working closely with other African countries” in preparing the aid request.

    The heavy debt burdens of many African countries leave them ill-equipped to respond to pandemic-related economic shocks, as the cost of servicing debt exceeds many countries’ health budgets, the statement said.

    Read more »

    Worried Ethiopians Want Partial Internet Shutdown Ended (AP)


    Ethiopians have their temperature checked for symptoms of the new coronavirus, at the Zewditu Memorial Hospital in the capital Addis Ababa, Ethiopia Wednesday, March 18, 2020. For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms such as fever and cough and the vast majority recover in 2-6 weeks but for some, especially older adults and people with existing health issues, the virus that causes COVID-19 can result in more severe illness, including pneumonia. (AP Photo/Mulugeta Ayene)

    By Elias Meseret | AP

    March 24, 2020

    ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia — Rights groups and citizens are calling on Ethiopia’s government to lift the internet shutdown in parts of the country that is leaving millions of people without important updates on the coronavirus.

    The months-long shutdown of internet and phone lines in Western Oromia and parts of the Benishangul Gumuz region is occurring during military operations against rebel forces.

    “Residents of these areas are getting very limited information about the coronavirus,” Jawar Mohammed, an activist-turned-politician, told The Associated Press.

    Ethiopia reported its first coronavirus case on March 13 and now has a dozen. Officials have been releasing updates mostly online. Land borders have closed and national carrier Ethiopian Airlines has stopped flying to some 30 destinations around the world.

    Read more »

    In Global Fight vs. Virus, Over 1.5 Billion Told: Stay Home


    A flier urging customers to remain home hangs at a turnstile as an MTA employee sanitizes surfaces at a subway station with bleach solutions due to COVID-19 concerns, Friday, March 20, 2020, in New York. (AP)

    The Associated Press

    NEW YORK (AP) — With masks, ventilators and political goodwill in desperately short supply, more than one-fifth of the world’s population was ordered or urged to stay in their homes Monday at the start of what could be a pivotal week in the battle to contain the coronavirus in the U.S. and Europe.

    Partisan divisions stalled efforts to pass a colossal aid package in Congress, and stocks fell again on Wall Street even after the Federal Reserve said it will lend to small and large businesses and local governments to help them through the crisis.

    Warning that the outbreak is accelerating, the head of the World Health Organization called on countries to take strong, coordinated action.

    “We are not helpless bystanders,” Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said, noting that it took 67 days to reach 100,000 cases worldwide but just four days to go from 200,000 to 300,000. “We can change the trajectory of this pandemic.”

    Read more »

    China’s Coronavirus Donation to Africa Arrives in Ethiopia (Reuters)


    An Ethiopian Airlines worker transports a consignment of medical donation from Chinese billionaire Jack Ma and Alibaba Foundation to Africa for coronavirus disease (COVID-19) testing, upon arrival at the Bole International Airport in Addis Ababa, March 22, 2020. (REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri)

    The first batch of protective and medical equipment donated by Chinese billionaire and Alibaba co-founder Jack Ma was flown into the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa on Sunday, as coronavirus cases in Africa rose above 1,100.

    The virus has spread more slowly in Africa than in Asia or Europe but has a foothold in 41 African nations and two territories. So far it has claimed 37 lives across the continent of 1.3 billion people.

    The shipment is a much-needed boost to African healthcare systems that were already stretched before the coronavirus crisis, but nations will still need to ration supplies at a time of global scarcity.

    Only patients showing symptoms will be tested, the regional Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) said on Sunday.

    “The flight carried 5.4 million face masks, kits for 1.08 million detection tests, 40,000 sets of protective clothing and 60,000 sets of protective face shields,” Ma’s foundation said in a statement.

    “The faster we move, the earlier we can help.”

    The shipment had a sign attached with the slogan, “when people are determined they can overcome anything”.

    Read more »


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    City Sleeps: A Look At The Empty NYC Streets Amid The Virus – In Pictures

    Ethiopia enforces 14-day quarantine for all travelers

    Diaspora-based Tech Professionals Launch Ethiopia COVID-19 Response Task Force

    Amid COVID-19 Pandemic Hopeful & Inspiring Stories Shared by Obama

    Pleas to Diaspora to Assist Coronavirus First Responders in Ethiopia

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

  • Turmoil at Funeral of Singer Shows Ethiopia’s ‘Combustible’ Politics (UPDATE)

    At least 81 people have been killed and dozens injured in the unrest that followed the killing of Hachalu Hundessa, underscoring long-simmering tensions in [Ethiopia]. (Photo: Musician Hachalu Hundessa posing while dressed in a traditional costume in Addis Ababa in 2019/Tiksa Negeri/Reuters)

    The New York Times

    By Abdi Latif Dahir and Tiksa Negeri

    July 2, 2020

    NAIROBI, Kenya — In life, Hachalu Hundessa’s protest songs roused and united Ethiopians yearning for freedom and justice. He is doing the same in death, with thousands flocking on Thursday to bury him in Ambo, the town 60 miles west of the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa where he was born and raised.

    Mr. Hundessa, 34, was shot on Monday night by unknown assailants in Addis Ababa and later died of his wounds in a hospital. His death has ignited nationwide protests that have killed 81 people, injured dozens of others and caused extensive property damage. The authorities have blocked the internet and arrested 35 people, including a prominent media magnate and government critic, Jawar Mohammed.

    On Thursday, groups of young men, some with machetes, roamed through neighborhoods in Addis Ababa, singling out people from rival ethnic groups for attacks. And in Ambo, witnesses said that the police blocked some people from attending the singer’s funeral, even firing shots at them.

    The unrest, analysts say, threatens the stability of Africa’s second-most populous country and deepens the political crisis in a nation already undergoing a roller-coaster democratic transition.

    “I am in bitter sadness,” said Getu Dandefa, a 29-year-old university student. When he saw Mr. Hundessa’s coffin in Ambo, he said he dropped to the ground and started crying.

    “We lost our voice,” he said, “We will keep fighting until Hachalu gets justice. We will never stop protesting.”

    Mr. Hundessa’s funeral has brought tensions to a boiling point in a country already facing myriad political, economic and social challenges. The fury aroused by his death poses a challenge to Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, who rose to power in 2018 following a wave of antigovernment protests that Mr. Hundessa — a member of the country’s largest but historically marginalized ethnic group, the Oromo — helped to galvanize through his music.

    Since then, Mr. Abiy, an Oromo himself, has introduced a raft of changes aimed at dismantling Ethiopia’s authoritarian structure, releasing political prisoners, liberalizing the centralized economy, committing to overhaul repressive laws and welcoming back exiled opposition and separatist groups.

    In 2019, Mr. Abiy was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his initiative to resolve the decades-long conflict with neighboring Eritrea and for spearheading regional peace and cooperation in the Horn of Africa.

    A nation of about 109 million people, Ethiopia has one of the fastest-growing economies in Africa, hosts the headquarters of the African Union, and is a key United States ally in the fight against terrorism.

    But while the 43-year-old prime minister has made great strides, the changes have unleashed forces that have produced a sharp increase in lawlessness in many parts of the country, with rising ethnic tensions and violence that have displaced 3 million people.

    Yohannes Gedamu, an Ethiopian lecturer in political science at Georgia Gwinnett College, in Lawrenceville, Ga., said that the ruling coalition had lost its grip on the structures it once used to maintain order in an ethnically and linguistically diverse nation. As a result, he added, as the country moves toward multiparty democracy, rival ethnic and political factions have clashed over resources, power and the country’s direction forward.

    The government has come under fire for failing to stop the killing of government critics and prominent figures, like the chief of staff of the Ethiopian Army, and its inability to rescue a dozen or more university students abducted months ago.

    In combating the disorder, the authorities have resorted to the tactics of previous, repressive governments, not only blocking the internet, but arresting journalists and enacting laws that human rights advocates say could limit freedom of expression. Ethiopian security forces have been accused of gross human rights violations, including rape, arbitrary arrests and extrajudicial killings.

    The coronavirus pandemic has complicated all this, leading the government to postpone August elections that many saw as a critical test of Mr. Abiy’s reform agenda. The move drew condemnation from opposition parties, who fear the government will use the delay to attempt a power grab.


    Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed at a tree-planting ceremony last month. The fury the death of Mr. Hundessa touched off poses a challenge to Mr. Ahmed, who rose to power in 2018 following a wave of antigovernment protests.Credit…Michael Tewelde/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

    “The last few days demonstrate just how combustible the situation in Ethiopia is,” said Murithi Mutiga, the project director for the Horn of Africa at the International Crisis Group.

    He added: “The merest spark can easily unleash all these bottled up, ethnonationalist passions that have become the defining feature of Ethiopian politics, especially as it goes through this very delicate transition.”

    While Mr. Abiy has a daunting task at hand, many say the government’s forceful response to the recent discontent could make matters worse. Laetitia Bader, the Horn of Africa director at Human Rights Watch, said the group had received reports that security forces had used lethal force on protesters in at least seven towns.

    “The initial signs aren’t good,” Ms. Bader said. “The government needs to make clear that it is listening to these grievances, creating the space for them to be heard and adequately responding to them without resorting to repression or violence.”

    Given Mr. Hundessa’s stature, and how his music provided a stirring soundtrack against repression, the authorities should pull back and allow “people to grieve in peace,” said Henok Gabisa, the co-chairperson of the International Oromo Lawyers Association, based in St. Paul, Minn. About 200 of the city’s Oromo community protested on Tuesday.

    “The Oromo people are in disbelief, shocked and confused,” said Mr. Gabisa, who knew Mr. Hundessa and met him a few months ago in Ethiopia. But arresting political opposition leaders like Bekele Gerba, of the Oromo Federalist Congress party, and raiding Mr. Mohammed’s Oromia Media Network only risked inflaming long-simmering tensions, he said.

    Read more »

    Related:

    Six hurt in scuffles with security forces at Ethiopian singer’s funeral (Reuters)

    Haile Selassie: Statue of former Ethiopian leader destroyed in London park (BBC)

    ‘Several’ Killed in Ethiopia Unrest After Singer Shot Dead (The Associated Press)


    Hachalu Hundessa, well known for his political songs, was shot dead on Monday in Addis ababa. The 34-year-old had been a prominent voice in anti-government protests that led to a change in leadership in 2018, with Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed taking office. (Photo: YouTube music video screenshot)

    The Associated Press

    By ELIAS MESERET

    Updated: July 1st, 2020

    Ethiopia’s prime minister says “several people” have been killed in unrest that followed the killing of a popular singer this week.

    Angry protests were reported Tuesday in the capital, Addis Ababa, after Hachalu Hundessa was shot dead on Monday. He had been a prominent voice in anti-government protests that led to a change in leadership in 2018, with Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed taking office.

    The killing was a “tragedy,” Abiy said Tuesday, vowing that the perpetrators would be brought to justice and declaring that “our enemies will not succeed.”

    Three bombs exploded in the capital Tuesday, police said. It was not clear whether anyone was killed.

    Internet service has been cut again in Ethiopia, where tensions continue after the government delayed this year’s national election, citing the coronavirus pandemic.

    The singer Hachalu is set to be buried Thursday in his hometown in the Oromia region.

    A well-known Oromo activist, Jawar Mohammed, was among 35 people arrested during the latest unrest.

    There was no immediate sign of protests in Addis Ababa on Wednesday and roads were empty.

    Internet cut off in Ethiopia amid outcry over death of singer-activist

    By Bethlehem Feleke, CNN

    Updated: June 30th, 2020

    (CNN) Internet access was cut across Ethiopia on Tuesday amid national protests over the shooting death of singer and activist Hachalu Hundessa.

    Hachalu, a prominent figure in the Oromo ethnic group, was shot Monday night at the Gelan Condominiums area of the capital Addis Ababa, according to state broadcaster EBC citing the Addis Ababa police commissioner, Getu Argaw.

    On Tuesday, images of protesters in the capital and in Oromia region circulated on social media and the US Embassy in Ethiopia released a security alert saying the embassy was “monitoring reports of protests and unrest, including gunfire, throughout Addis Ababa.”

    Demonstrators also protested the singer’s death in front of the US embassy, the alert said, describing the situation as “volatile at this time.”

    A blanket shutdown

    Netblocks, an internet-monitoring NGO, reported that internet “has been cut across most of Ethiopia from just after 9am local time on Tuesday.”

    Read more »

    Hachalu Hundessa: Killing of Ethiopian singer sparks unrest (DW)

    Hachalu Hundessa — famed for his political songs — had been considered a voice for Ethiopia’s largest ethnic group, the Oromo, during years of anti-government protest. Heavy violence has been reported after his killing.

    ‘Voice of a generation’

    The context to the singer’s death was not immediately clear, although the embassy said Hundessa’s supporters had blamed security forces and “assume a political motive” for the crime.

    Ethiopia’s prime minister, Abiy Ahmed, expressed his condolences and tweeted that an investigation was currently under way.

    Hundessa in 2017 was described by OPride.com as an “electrifying voice of a generation that is revolting” after being awarded the portal’s Oromo Person.

    “For capturing and expressing the frustration, anger, and hope of Oromo protesters through revolutionary lyrics; for courageously defying forcible suppression of dissent and boldly proclaiming ‘we are here and not going anywhere’; for providing a stirring soundtrack to the budding Oromo revolution; for breaking down fear and structural barriers through rousing musical storytelling, and for uniting the Oromo masses and amplifying their collective yearning for change, Haacaaluu Hundeessaa is OPride’s Oromo Person of 2017.”

    The Oromo, Ethiopia’s largest ethnic group, had taken to the streets to complain about what they perceive as marginalization and persecution by the central government.

    Oromo protests made international headlines when Ethiopian long-distance runner Feyisa Lilesa — a member of the Oromo community — reached the finishing line raising his crossed hands at the Rio 2016 Olympics. The crossed hands have become the symbol of the anti-government movement that started in the Oromia region and spread north to the Amhara region.

    Ethiopia is no stranger to ethnic violence. With over 80 different ethnic groups and Africa’s second-largest country based on population, the country is extremely diverse and disagreements between various groups often spiral into communal violence.

    kw/stb (dpa, Reuters)

    ‘More than an entertainer’

    By Bekele Atoma, BBC Afaan Oromo

    Updated: June 30th, 2020

    Hachalu was more than just a singer and entertainer.

    He was a symbol for the Oromo people who spoke up about the political and economic marginalisation that they had suffered under consecutive Ethiopian regimes.

    In one of his most famous songs, he sang: “Do not wait for help to come from outside, a dream that doesn’t come true. Rise, make your horse ready and fight, you are the one close to the palace.”

    The musician had also been imprisoned for five years when he was 17 for taking part in protests.

    Many like him fled into exile fearing persecution but he remained in the country and encouraged the youth to struggle.

    Read more »

    Hachalu Hundessa: Popular Ethiopian protest singer shot dead (BBC)


    Musician Hachalu Hundessa was killed in Addis Ababa on Monday, June 29th, 2020. (BBC)

    BBC News

    Updated: June 30th, 2020

    Ethiopian musician Hachalu Hundessa, well known for his political songs, has been shot dead in the capital

    The 34-year-old had said that he had received death threats and the police are now holding a number of suspects.

    Hachalu’s lyrics often focused on the rights of the country’s Oromo ethnic group and became anthems in a wave of protests that led to the downfall of the previous prime minister.

    Demonstrations broke out in response to the news of the musician’s death.

    Gunshots have been heard in Addis Ababa and people set fire to tyres.

    Thousands of his fans headed to the hospital in the city where the body of the singer was taken on Monday night, BBC Afaan Oromo’s Bekele Atoma reports.

    To them, he was a voice of his generation that protested against decades of government repression, he says.

    Police used tear gas to disperse the crowd.

    The internet was also shut down in parts of the country as protests spread in Oromia regional state.

    Hachalu’s body has now been taken to the town of Ambo, about 100km (62 miles) west of the capital.

    Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has expressed his condolences saying in a tweet that Ethiopia “lost a precious life today” and describing the singer as “marvellous”

    Read more »

    Popular Ethiopian singer Hachalu Hundessa shot dead in Addis Ababa (Al Jazeera)

    Updated: June 30th, 2020

    A popular Ethiopian musician has been shot dead in the country’s capital, Addis Ababa, local media reported, quoting police. He was 36.

    Hachalu Hundessa, an ethnic Oromo also known as Haacaaluu Hundeessaa, was shot in the city’s Gelan Condominiums area late on Monday, Addis Ababa’s police commissioner said.

    Geta Argaw said police had arrested several suspects, state-affiliated Fana broadcaster reported on Tuesday.

    Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed expressed his condolences, saying Ethiopia had “lost a precious life”.

    “I express my deep condolences for those of us who are in deep sorrow since the news of the death of the shining young Artist Hachalu Hundesa,” Fana reported the prime minister as saying. “We are expecting full investigation reports of this evil act.”

    “Let us express our condolences by keeping ourselves safe and preventing further crime,” Abiy said.

    Ethiopians on social media, including the country’s ambassador to Washington, expressed their shock at the killing of the popular musician.

    On Tuesday, youths enraged by the killing of the musician, who was known for his protest songs, burned tyres during demonstrations in Addis Ababa.

    Hachalu, a former political prisoner, rose to prominence during prolonged anti-government protests, which propelled Abiy, a fellow Oromo, into office in 2018. Oromo ethnic group, which have historically faced discrimination, led the the mass protests.

    Abiy’s rise to power ended decades of political dominance by ethnic Tigray leaders in this multi-ethnic African nation.

    His rule has ushered in greater political and economic freedoms in what had long been one of the continent’s most repressive states. He was awarded the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize for ending conflict with neighbouring Eritrea and his reforms.

    But the rise in political activism has also led to an increase in unrest in a country made up of more than 80 ethnic groups. Abiy’s rule has been frequently challenged by local powerbrokers demanding more access to land, power and resources.

    His pan-Ethiopian politics have sparked a backlash from some elements of his own Oromo powerbase, spearheaded by a media magnate, Jawar Mohammed.

    “They did not just kill Hachalu. They shot at the heart of the Oromo Nation, once again !!…You can kill us, all of us, you can never ever stop us!! NEVER !!” Jawar posted on his Facebook page on Tuesday.

    Clashes between police and Jawar’s supporters killed at least 78 people in October last year after the government tried to withdraw Jawar’s security detail.

    Elections due this year have been postponed until next year due to COVID-19 in a deal agreed with the major opposition parties.


    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    Hachalu Hundessa – Ethiopia’s Murdered Musician Who Sang for Freedom

    A former political prisoner who grew up looking after cattle, Hachalu Hundessa rose to become one of Ethiopia's biggest music stars, mesmerising fans with his songs about romance and political freedom - topics that he easily blended into his lyrics. (DAGI PICTURES)

    BBC

    More than 80 people have been killed in two days of unrest in Ethiopia following the killing of prominent singer Hachalu Hundessa.

    The 34-year-old had emerged as a powerful political voice of the Oromo ethnic group, and had made many enemies during his musical career.

    Two suspects were arrested after he was shot dead while driving in the capital, Addis Ababa on Monday evening. However, police have not yet revealed a motive for the killing and no charges have been brought against the suspects.

    Hachalu’s funeral has taken place in his hometown of Ambo.

    BBC Afaan Oromoo’s Bekele Atoma writes about the musician who was a thorn in the flesh of successive governments.

    A former political prisoner who grew up looking after cattle, Hachalu rose to become one of Ethiopia’s biggest music stars, mesmerising fans with his songs about romance and political freedom – topics that he easily blended into his lyrics.

    Hachalu’s father, who used to work in the electricity department in the city of Ambo, aspired for his son to become a doctor, but he showed little interest in medicine.

    However, from an infant, Hachalu showed a passion for music and singing, with the encouragement of his mother, while he looked after cows on the family’s farmland on the outskirts of Ambo in the Oromia region, the heartland of Ethiopia’s largest ethnic group, the Oromo.

    “I used to sing whatever came to my head,” he recalled in a BBC Afaan Oromoo interview in 2017.

    Jailed for five years
    One of eight children, Hachalu was born in 1986 in Ambo – a city about 100km (60 miles) west of the capital, Addis Ababa.

    It was at the forefront of the campaign by Oromos for self-rule in a nation where they felt repressed under a government that had banned opposition groups and jailed critics.

    Hachalu went to school in Ambo, and joined student groups campaigning for freedom.

    At the age of 17 in 2003, Hachalu was imprisoned for five years for his political activities.

    His father kept his morale high in prison, telling him during visits that “prison makes a man stronger”.

    Hachalu became increasingly politicised in prison, as he increased his knowledge about Ethiopia’s history, including its rule by emperors and autocrats.

    Whilst incarcerated in Ambo prison he also developed his music skills.

    “I did not know how to write lyrics and melodies until I was put behind bars. It is there that I learned,” he said in the 2017 interview.

    During his time in jail, he wrote nine songs and released his first album Sanyii Mootii (Race of the King) in 2009, a year after walking free.

    Refused to go into exile

    The album turned him into a music star, and a political symbol of the Oromo people’s aspirations.

    However, he played down his political role, saying: “I am not a politician, I am an artist. Singing about what my people are going through doesn’t make me a politician.”

    Many other musicians and activists fled into exile fearing persecution under the rule of then-Prime Minister Meles Zenawi and his successor Hailemariam Desalegn but Hachalu remained in Ethiopia and encouraged the youth to stand up for their rights.

    One of his songs was about how he fell in love with a girl who was proud of her identity and was willing to die for it.

    ‘Gallant warriors and horsemen’

    His second album Waa’ee Keenya (Our Plight) was released in 2013 while he was on a tour in the US. It became the best-selling African album on Amazon at the time.

    Two years later, he released a powerful single, Maalan Jira? (What existence is mine?), referring to the eviction of Oromos from Addis Ababa and its surrounding areas, after the government decided to expand the boundaries of the city.

    Read more »


    Turmoil at Funeral of Singer Shows Ethiopia’s ‘Combustible’ Politics (NYT)


    At least 81 people have been killed and dozens injured in the unrest that followed the killing of Hachalu Hundessa, underscoring long-simmering tensions in [Ethiopia]. (Photo: Musician Hachalu Hundessa posing while dressed in a traditional costume in Addis Ababa in 2019/Tiksa Negeri/Reuters)

    The New York Times

    By Abdi Latif Dahir and Tiksa Negeri

    July 2, 2020

    NAIROBI, Kenya — In life, Hachalu Hundessa’s protest songs roused and united Ethiopians yearning for freedom and justice. He is doing the same in death, with thousands flocking on Thursday to bury him in Ambo, the town 60 miles west of the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa where he was born and raised.

    Mr. Hundessa, 34, was shot on Monday night by unknown assailants in Addis Ababa and later died of his wounds in a hospital. His death has ignited nationwide protests that have killed 81 people, injured dozens of others and caused extensive property damage. The authorities have blocked the internet and arrested 35 people, including a prominent media magnate and government critic, Jawar Mohammed.

    On Thursday, groups of young men, some with machetes, roamed through neighborhoods in Addis Ababa, singling out people from rival ethnic groups for attacks. And in Ambo, witnesses said that the police blocked some people from attending the singer’s funeral, even firing shots at them.

    The unrest, analysts say, threatens the stability of Africa’s second-most populous country and deepens the political crisis in a nation already undergoing a roller-coaster democratic transition.

    “I am in bitter sadness,” said Getu Dandefa, a 29-year-old university student. When he saw Mr. Hundessa’s coffin in Ambo, he said he dropped to the ground and started crying.

    “We lost our voice,” he said, “We will keep fighting until Hachalu gets justice. We will never stop protesting.”

    Mr. Hundessa’s funeral has brought tensions to a boiling point in a country already facing myriad political, economic and social challenges. The fury aroused by his death poses a challenge to Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, who rose to power in 2018 following a wave of antigovernment protests that Mr. Hundessa — a member of the country’s largest but historically marginalized ethnic group, the Oromo — helped to galvanize through his music.

    Since then, Mr. Abiy, an Oromo himself, has introduced a raft of changes aimed at dismantling Ethiopia’s authoritarian structure, releasing political prisoners, liberalizing the centralized economy, committing to overhaul repressive laws and welcoming back exiled opposition and separatist groups.

    In 2019, Mr. Abiy was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his initiative to resolve the decades-long conflict with neighboring Eritrea and for spearheading regional peace and cooperation in the Horn of Africa.

    A nation of about 109 million people, Ethiopia has one of the fastest-growing economies in Africa, hosts the headquarters of the African Union, and is a key United States ally in the fight against terrorism.

    But while the 43-year-old prime minister has made great strides, the changes have unleashed forces that have produced a sharp increase in lawlessness in many parts of the country, with rising ethnic tensions and violence that have displaced 3 million people.

    Yohannes Gedamu, an Ethiopian lecturer in political science at Georgia Gwinnett College, in Lawrenceville, Ga., said that the ruling coalition had lost its grip on the structures it once used to maintain order in an ethnically and linguistically diverse nation. As a result, he added, as the country moves toward multiparty democracy, rival ethnic and political factions have clashed over resources, power and the country’s direction forward.

    The government has come under fire for failing to stop the killing of government critics and prominent figures, like the chief of staff of the Ethiopian Army, and its inability to rescue a dozen or more university students abducted months ago.

    In combating the disorder, the authorities have resorted to the tactics of previous, repressive governments, not only blocking the internet, but arresting journalists and enacting laws that human rights advocates say could limit freedom of expression. Ethiopian security forces have been accused of gross human rights violations, including rape, arbitrary arrests and extrajudicial killings.

    The coronavirus pandemic has complicated all this, leading the government to postpone August elections that many saw as a critical test of Mr. Abiy’s reform agenda. The move drew condemnation from opposition parties, who fear the government will use the delay to attempt a power grab.


    Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed at a tree-planting ceremony last month. The fury the death of Mr. Hundessa touched off poses a challenge to Mr. Ahmed, who rose to power in 2018 following a wave of antigovernment protests.Credit…Michael Tewelde/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

    “The last few days demonstrate just how combustible the situation in Ethiopia is,” said Murithi Mutiga, the project director for the Horn of Africa at the International Crisis Group.

    He added: “The merest spark can easily unleash all these bottled up, ethnonationalist passions that have become the defining feature of Ethiopian politics, especially as it goes through this very delicate transition.”

    While Mr. Abiy has a daunting task at hand, many say the government’s forceful response to the recent discontent could make matters worse. Laetitia Bader, the Horn of Africa director at Human Rights Watch, said the group had received reports that security forces had used lethal force on protesters in at least seven towns.

    “The initial signs aren’t good,” Ms. Bader said. “The government needs to make clear that it is listening to these grievances, creating the space for them to be heard and adequately responding to them without resorting to repression or violence.”

    Given Mr. Hundessa’s stature, and how his music provided a stirring soundtrack against repression, the authorities should pull back and allow “people to grieve in peace,” said Henok Gabisa, the co-chairperson of the International Oromo Lawyers Association, based in St. Paul, Minn. About 200 of the city’s Oromo community protested on Tuesday.

    “The Oromo people are in disbelief, shocked and confused,” said Mr. Gabisa, who knew Mr. Hundessa and met him a few months ago in Ethiopia. But arresting political opposition leaders like Bekele Gerba, of the Oromo Federalist Congress party, and raiding Mr. Mohammed’s Oromia Media Network only risked inflaming long-simmering tensions, he said.

    Read more »

    Related:

    Six hurt in scuffles with security forces at Ethiopian singer’s funeral (Reuters)

    Haile Selassie: Statue of former Ethiopian leader destroyed in London park (BBC)

    ‘Several’ Killed in Ethiopia Unrest After Singer Shot Dead (The Associated Press)


    Hachalu Hundessa, well known for his political songs, was shot dead on Monday in Addis ababa. The 34-year-old had been a prominent voice in anti-government protests that led to a change in leadership in 2018, with Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed taking office. (Photo: YouTube music video screenshot)

    The Associated Press

    By ELIAS MESERET

    Updated: July 1st, 2020

    Ethiopia’s prime minister says “several people” have been killed in unrest that followed the killing of a popular singer this week.

    Angry protests were reported Tuesday in the capital, Addis Ababa, after Hachalu Hundessa was shot dead on Monday. He had been a prominent voice in anti-government protests that led to a change in leadership in 2018, with Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed taking office.

    The killing was a “tragedy,” Abiy said Tuesday, vowing that the perpetrators would be brought to justice and declaring that “our enemies will not succeed.”

    Three bombs exploded in the capital Tuesday, police said. It was not clear whether anyone was killed.

    Internet service has been cut again in Ethiopia, where tensions continue after the government delayed this year’s national election, citing the coronavirus pandemic.

    The singer Hachalu is set to be buried Thursday in his hometown in the Oromia region.

    A well-known Oromo activist, Jawar Mohammed, was among 35 people arrested during the latest unrest.

    There was no immediate sign of protests in Addis Ababa on Wednesday and roads were empty.

    Internet cut off in Ethiopia amid outcry over death of singer-activist

    By Bethlehem Feleke, CNN

    Updated: June 30th, 2020

    (CNN) Internet access was cut across Ethiopia on Tuesday amid national protests over the shooting death of singer and activist Hachalu Hundessa.

    Hachalu, a prominent figure in the Oromo ethnic group, was shot Monday night at the Gelan Condominiums area of the capital Addis Ababa, according to state broadcaster EBC citing the Addis Ababa police commissioner, Getu Argaw.

    On Tuesday, images of protesters in the capital and in Oromia region circulated on social media and the US Embassy in Ethiopia released a security alert saying the embassy was “monitoring reports of protests and unrest, including gunfire, throughout Addis Ababa.”

    Demonstrators also protested the singer’s death in front of the US embassy, the alert said, describing the situation as “volatile at this time.”

    A blanket shutdown

    Netblocks, an internet-monitoring NGO, reported that internet “has been cut across most of Ethiopia from just after 9am local time on Tuesday.”

    Read more »

    Hachalu Hundessa: Killing of Ethiopian singer sparks unrest (DW)

    Hachalu Hundessa — famed for his political songs — had been considered a voice for Ethiopia’s largest ethnic group, the Oromo, during years of anti-government protest. Heavy violence has been reported after his killing.

    ‘Voice of a generation’

    The context to the singer’s death was not immediately clear, although the embassy said Hundessa’s supporters had blamed security forces and “assume a political motive” for the crime.

    Ethiopia’s prime minister, Abiy Ahmed, expressed his condolences and tweeted that an investigation was currently under way.

    Hundessa in 2017 was described by OPride.com as an “electrifying voice of a generation that is revolting” after being awarded the portal’s Oromo Person.

    “For capturing and expressing the frustration, anger, and hope of Oromo protesters through revolutionary lyrics; for courageously defying forcible suppression of dissent and boldly proclaiming ‘we are here and not going anywhere’; for providing a stirring soundtrack to the budding Oromo revolution; for breaking down fear and structural barriers through rousing musical storytelling, and for uniting the Oromo masses and amplifying their collective yearning for change, Haacaaluu Hundeessaa is OPride’s Oromo Person of 2017.”

    The Oromo, Ethiopia’s largest ethnic group, had taken to the streets to complain about what they perceive as marginalization and persecution by the central government.

    Oromo protests made international headlines when Ethiopian long-distance runner Feyisa Lilesa — a member of the Oromo community — reached the finishing line raising his crossed hands at the Rio 2016 Olympics. The crossed hands have become the symbol of the anti-government movement that started in the Oromia region and spread north to the Amhara region.

    Ethiopia is no stranger to ethnic violence. With over 80 different ethnic groups and Africa’s second-largest country based on population, the country is extremely diverse and disagreements between various groups often spiral into communal violence.

    kw/stb (dpa, Reuters)

    ‘More than an entertainer’

    By Bekele Atoma, BBC Afaan Oromo

    Updated: June 30th, 2020

    Hachalu was more than just a singer and entertainer.

    He was a symbol for the Oromo people who spoke up about the political and economic marginalisation that they had suffered under consecutive Ethiopian regimes.

    In one of his most famous songs, he sang: “Do not wait for help to come from outside, a dream that doesn’t come true. Rise, make your horse ready and fight, you are the one close to the palace.”

    The musician had also been imprisoned for five years when he was 17 for taking part in protests.

    Many like him fled into exile fearing persecution but he remained in the country and encouraged the youth to struggle.

    Read more »

    Hachalu Hundessa: Popular Ethiopian protest singer shot dead (BBC)


    Musician Hachalu Hundessa was killed in Addis Ababa on Monday, June 29th, 2020. (BBC)

    BBC News

    Updated: June 30th, 2020

    Ethiopian musician Hachalu Hundessa, well known for his political songs, has been shot dead in the capital

    The 34-year-old had said that he had received death threats and the police are now holding a number of suspects.

    Hachalu’s lyrics often focused on the rights of the country’s Oromo ethnic group and became anthems in a wave of protests that led to the downfall of the previous prime minister.

    Demonstrations broke out in response to the news of the musician’s death.

    Gunshots have been heard in Addis Ababa and people set fire to tyres.

    Thousands of his fans headed to the hospital in the city where the body of the singer was taken on Monday night, BBC Afaan Oromo’s Bekele Atoma reports.

    To them, he was a voice of his generation that protested against decades of government repression, he says.

    Police used tear gas to disperse the crowd.

    The internet was also shut down in parts of the country as protests spread in Oromia regional state.

    Hachalu’s body has now been taken to the town of Ambo, about 100km (62 miles) west of the capital.

    Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has expressed his condolences saying in a tweet that Ethiopia “lost a precious life today” and describing the singer as “marvellous”

    Read more »

    Popular Ethiopian singer Hachalu Hundessa shot dead in Addis Ababa (Al Jazeera)

    Updated: June 30th, 2020

    A popular Ethiopian musician has been shot dead in the country’s capital, Addis Ababa, local media reported, quoting police. He was 36.

    Hachalu Hundessa, an ethnic Oromo also known as Haacaaluu Hundeessaa, was shot in the city’s Gelan Condominiums area late on Monday, Addis Ababa’s police commissioner said.

    Geta Argaw said police had arrested several suspects, state-affiliated Fana broadcaster reported on Tuesday.

    Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed expressed his condolences, saying Ethiopia had “lost a precious life”.

    “I express my deep condolences for those of us who are in deep sorrow since the news of the death of the shining young Artist Hachalu Hundesa,” Fana reported the prime minister as saying. “We are expecting full investigation reports of this evil act.”

    “Let us express our condolences by keeping ourselves safe and preventing further crime,” Abiy said.

    Ethiopians on social media, including the country’s ambassador to Washington, expressed their shock at the killing of the popular musician.

    On Tuesday, youths enraged by the killing of the musician, who was known for his protest songs, burned tyres during demonstrations in Addis Ababa.

    Hachalu, a former political prisoner, rose to prominence during prolonged anti-government protests, which propelled Abiy, a fellow Oromo, into office in 2018. Oromo ethnic group, which have historically faced discrimination, led the the mass protests.

    Abiy’s rise to power ended decades of political dominance by ethnic Tigray leaders in this multi-ethnic African nation.

    His rule has ushered in greater political and economic freedoms in what had long been one of the continent’s most repressive states. He was awarded the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize for ending conflict with neighbouring Eritrea and his reforms.

    But the rise in political activism has also led to an increase in unrest in a country made up of more than 80 ethnic groups. Abiy’s rule has been frequently challenged by local powerbrokers demanding more access to land, power and resources.

    His pan-Ethiopian politics have sparked a backlash from some elements of his own Oromo powerbase, spearheaded by a media magnate, Jawar Mohammed.

    “They did not just kill Hachalu. They shot at the heart of the Oromo Nation, once again !!…You can kill us, all of us, you can never ever stop us!! NEVER !!” Jawar posted on his Facebook page on Tuesday.

    Clashes between police and Jawar’s supporters killed at least 78 people in October last year after the government tried to withdraw Jawar’s security detail.

    Elections due this year have been postponed until next year due to COVID-19 in a deal agreed with the major opposition parties.


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    Interview: Helen Amelga, California State Senate Field Rep & Founder of Ethiopian Democratic Club of LA

    Helen Amelga, Field Representative at California State Senate and Founder of Ethiopian Democratic Club of Los Angeles. (Courtesy Photo)

    Tadias Magazine

    By Tadias Staff

    Updated: July 11th, 2020

    New York (TADIAS) — Helen Amelga is a Field Representative at California State Senate working for Senator Holly Mitchell of Los Angeles, whose district includes the city’s famous Little-Ethiopia neighborhood. Helen, who is also the founder of the Ethiopian Democratic Club of Los Angeles is part of a new generation of Ethiopian Americans actively pushing for more civic engagement in our community.

    Helen says civic engagement is “critically important” noting that in the U.S. “power does lie with the people and the strength of our numbers.”

    In Los Angeles — where Helen was born and raised by her Ethiopian immigrant parents — there is a sizable Ethiopian population, and the community is beginning to translate that into political power, which includes the launch of the Ethiopian Democratic Club of Los Angeles.

    “I hope that energy is transferred and carried on into the presidential and local elections in November,” Helen told Tadias in a recent interview. “If we want to see changes in terms of policy, in terms of leadership and administration it’s essential that we register, we register our friends and families and that we show up and actually vote on election day.”

    Helen attended high school in Prince George County in Maryland after briefly living in Addis, and later attended college at Bowie State University in Maryland to study political science.

    “Something that was interesting to me was how people lived in different places and how that was dictated by policy and the law of that land,” she says. “So that kind of sparked my interest in government.”


    The Ethiopian Democratic Club of Los Angeles (EDCLA) board and Helen Amelga’s boss, State Senator Holly Mitchell (middle). Courtesy photo.

    Regarding the formation of the Ethiopian Democratic Club of Los Angeles, Helen says that their platform is to educate, empower and engage. “We want to make sure that folks are [informed] about the voting process, how the power structure is distributed, and for us to be actively engaged in shaping policies, decisions and elections that directly affect our lives here.” She adds: “Ideally, we will serve as a blue print. I would like to see the Ethiopian Democratic Club of Oakland, San Diego and Washington, D.C. because it’s the local folks that know what their needs are. It’s important for us to be active where we are. Even if it’s not the Ethiopian Democratic Club there is definitely a need for some type of a national Ethiopian civic engagement platform. A number of us have talked to people in different cities on what that would look like but definitely civic engagement is needed across the country.”

    Below is the audio of our interview with Helen Amelga:

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    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    ‘Several’ Killed in Ethiopia Unrest After Singer Shot Dead (The Associated Press)

    Hachalu Hundessa, well known for his political songs, was shot dead on Monday in Addis ababa. The 34-year-old had been a prominent voice in anti-government protests that led to a change in leadership in 2018, with Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed taking office. (Photo: YouTube music video screenshot)

    The Associated Press

    By ELIAS MESERET

    Updated: July 1st, 2020

    Ethiopia’s prime minister says “several people” have been killed in unrest that followed the killing of a popular singer this week.

    Angry protests were reported Tuesday in the capital, Addis Ababa, after Hachalu Hundessa was shot dead on Monday. He had been a prominent voice in anti-government protests that led to a change in leadership in 2018, with Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed taking office.

    The killing was a “tragedy,” Abiy said Tuesday, vowing that the perpetrators would be brought to justice and declaring that “our enemies will not succeed.”

    Three bombs exploded in the capital Tuesday, police said. It was not clear whether anyone was killed.

    Internet service has been cut again in Ethiopia, where tensions continue after the government delayed this year’s national election, citing the coronavirus pandemic.

    The singer Hachalu is set to be buried Thursday in his hometown in the Oromia region.

    A well-known Oromo activist, Jawar Mohammed, was among 35 people arrested during the latest unrest.

    There was no immediate sign of protests in Addis Ababa on Wednesday and roads were empty.

    Internet cut off in Ethiopia amid outcry over death of singer-activist

    By Bethlehem Feleke, CNN

    Updated: June 30th, 2020

    (CNN) Internet access was cut across Ethiopia on Tuesday amid national protests over the shooting death of singer and activist Hachalu Hundessa.

    Hachalu, a prominent figure in the Oromo ethnic group, was shot Monday night at the Gelan Condominiums area of the capital Addis Ababa, according to state broadcaster EBC citing the Addis Ababa police commissioner, Getu Argaw.

    On Tuesday, images of protesters in the capital and in Oromia region circulated on social media and the US Embassy in Ethiopia released a security alert saying the embassy was “monitoring reports of protests and unrest, including gunfire, throughout Addis Ababa.”

    Demonstrators also protested the singer’s death in front of the US embassy, the alert said, describing the situation as “volatile at this time.”

    A blanket shutdown

    Netblocks, an internet-monitoring NGO, reported that internet “has been cut across most of Ethiopia from just after 9am local time on Tuesday.”

    Read more »

    Hachalu Hundessa: Killing of Ethiopian singer sparks unrest (DW)

    Hachalu Hundessa — famed for his political songs — had been considered a voice for Ethiopia’s largest ethnic group, the Oromo, during years of anti-government protest. Heavy violence has been reported after his killing.

    ‘Voice of a generation’

    The context to the singer’s death was not immediately clear, although the embassy said Hundessa’s supporters had blamed security forces and “assume a political motive” for the crime.

    Ethiopia’s prime minister, Abiy Ahmed, expressed his condolences and tweeted that an investigation was currently under way.

    Hundessa in 2017 was described by OPride.com as an “electrifying voice of a generation that is revolting” after being awarded the portal’s Oromo Person.

    “For capturing and expressing the frustration, anger, and hope of Oromo protesters through revolutionary lyrics; for courageously defying forcible suppression of dissent and boldly proclaiming ‘we are here and not going anywhere’; for providing a stirring soundtrack to the budding Oromo revolution; for breaking down fear and structural barriers through rousing musical storytelling, and for uniting the Oromo masses and amplifying their collective yearning for change, Haacaaluu Hundeessaa is OPride’s Oromo Person of 2017.”

    The Oromo, Ethiopia’s largest ethnic group, had taken to the streets to complain about what they perceive as marginalization and persecution by the central government.

    Oromo protests made international headlines when Ethiopian long-distance runner Feyisa Lilesa — a member of the Oromo community — reached the finishing line raising his crossed hands at the Rio 2016 Olympics. The crossed hands have become the symbol of the anti-government movement that started in the Oromia region and spread north to the Amhara region.

    Ethiopia is no stranger to ethnic violence. With over 80 different ethnic groups and Africa’s second-largest country based on population, the country is extremely diverse and disagreements between various groups often spiral into communal violence.

    kw/stb (dpa, Reuters)

    ‘More than an entertainer’

    By Bekele Atoma, BBC Afaan Oromo

    Updated: June 30th, 2020

    Hachalu was more than just a singer and entertainer.

    He was a symbol for the Oromo people who spoke up about the political and economic marginalisation that they had suffered under consecutive Ethiopian regimes.

    In one of his most famous songs, he sang: “Do not wait for help to come from outside, a dream that doesn’t come true. Rise, make your horse ready and fight, you are the one close to the palace.”

    The musician had also been imprisoned for five years when he was 17 for taking part in protests.

    Many like him fled into exile fearing persecution but he remained in the country and encouraged the youth to struggle.

    Read more »

    Hachalu Hundessa: Popular Ethiopian protest singer shot dead (BBC)


    Musician Hachalu Hundessa was killed in Addis Ababa on Monday, June 29th, 2020. (BBC)

    BBC News

    Updated: June 30th, 2020

    Ethiopian musician Hachalu Hundessa, well known for his political songs, has been shot dead in the capital

    The 34-year-old had said that he had received death threats and the police are now holding a number of suspects.

    Hachalu’s lyrics often focused on the rights of the country’s Oromo ethnic group and became anthems in a wave of protests that led to the downfall of the previous prime minister.

    Demonstrations broke out in response to the news of the musician’s death.

    Gunshots have been heard in Addis Ababa and people set fire to tyres.

    Thousands of his fans headed to the hospital in the city where the body of the singer was taken on Monday night, BBC Afaan Oromo’s Bekele Atoma reports.

    To them, he was a voice of his generation that protested against decades of government repression, he says.

    Police used tear gas to disperse the crowd.

    The internet was also shut down in parts of the country as protests spread in Oromia regional state.

    Hachalu’s body has now been taken to the town of Ambo, about 100km (62 miles) west of the capital.

    Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has expressed his condolences saying in a tweet that Ethiopia “lost a precious life today” and describing the singer as “marvellous”

    Read more »

    Popular Ethiopian singer Hachalu Hundessa shot dead in Addis Ababa (Al Jazeera)

    Updated: June 30th, 2020

    A popular Ethiopian musician has been shot dead in the country’s capital, Addis Ababa, local media reported, quoting police. He was 36.

    Hachalu Hundessa, an ethnic Oromo also known as Haacaaluu Hundeessaa, was shot in the city’s Gelan Condominiums area late on Monday, Addis Ababa’s police commissioner said.

    Geta Argaw said police had arrested several suspects, state-affiliated Fana broadcaster reported on Tuesday.

    Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed expressed his condolences, saying Ethiopia had “lost a precious life”.

    “I express my deep condolences for those of us who are in deep sorrow since the news of the death of the shining young Artist Hachalu Hundesa,” Fana reported the prime minister as saying. “We are expecting full investigation reports of this evil act.”

    “Let us express our condolences by keeping ourselves safe and preventing further crime,” Abiy said.

    Ethiopians on social media, including the country’s ambassador to Washington, expressed their shock at the killing of the popular musician.

    On Tuesday, youths enraged by the killing of the musician, who was known for his protest songs, burned tyres during demonstrations in Addis Ababa.

    Hachalu, a former political prisoner, rose to prominence during prolonged anti-government protests, which propelled Abiy, a fellow Oromo, into office in 2018. Oromo ethnic group, which have historically faced discrimination, led the the mass protests.

    Abiy’s rise to power ended decades of political dominance by ethnic Tigray leaders in this multi-ethnic African nation.

    His rule has ushered in greater political and economic freedoms in what had long been one of the continent’s most repressive states. He was awarded the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize for ending conflict with neighbouring Eritrea and his reforms.

    But the rise in political activism has also led to an increase in unrest in a country made up of more than 80 ethnic groups. Abiy’s rule has been frequently challenged by local powerbrokers demanding more access to land, power and resources.

    His pan-Ethiopian politics have sparked a backlash from some elements of his own Oromo powerbase, spearheaded by a media magnate, Jawar Mohammed.

    “They did not just kill Hachalu. They shot at the heart of the Oromo Nation, once again !!…You can kill us, all of us, you can never ever stop us!! NEVER !!” Jawar posted on his Facebook page on Tuesday.

    Clashes between police and Jawar’s supporters killed at least 78 people in October last year after the government tried to withdraw Jawar’s security detail.

    Elections due this year have been postponed until next year due to COVID-19 in a deal agreed with the major opposition parties.


    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    WHO Director: U.S. Ignoring Global Health

    An employee with the Sao Paulo state government works near a screen showing a World Health Organization dashboard on the coronavirus outbreak around the world on June 23. (Reuters photo)

    The Washington Post

    Opinion by Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus

    July 1, 2020

    I’m director-general of the WHO. The U.S. is turning its back on global health.

    The United States has been a vital partner to the World Health Organization since its creation in 1948. Together, we have worked to improve the lives of hundreds of millions of people around the world.

    If the United States steps back on that essential work, we shouldn’t just think in terms of who will be hurt but also what will be lost. Why? Because the consequences affect everyone.

    The covid-19 pandemic has starkly revealed how we need more international cooperation to address global health crises, not less. Not only are we far from addressing all the risks that this insidious virus presents, but the vast majority of people remain susceptible to infection.

    Consider the vital role that international cooperation is already playing around the development of a covid-19 vaccine. This began almost as soon as the coronavirus’s sequence was shared online, and there are now 141 vaccines in development. Leading candidates may be only months from success. Of course, there is no guarantee of full protection, but we are hopeful.

    Read more »

    Related:

    Interview: Yoseph Seyoum on How to Find Job as COVID-19 Contact Tracer in U.S. Ethiopian Community

    If you are interested in becoming a COVID-19 Contact Tracer, you can learn more and register here: https://tracers.ethiodiasporacovid.com/

    U.S. tops 2.6 million reported cases

    US Deaths From Coronavirus Surpass 127,000 and Growing

    In Ethiopia, A Monk Said to Be 114 Years Old Survives Coronavirus

    Ethiopia Coronavirus Cases Reach 5,846

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    DC: Admas Band’s 1984 Album ‘Sons of Ethiopia’ Being Reissued For The First Time This July

    Emerging from members of the Ethiopian community in Washington D.C. Admas was comprised Tewodros ‘Teddy’ Aklilu, Henock Temesgen, and Abegasu Shiota. (The Vinyl Factory)

    The Vinyl Factory

    Admas weave Ethiopian pop with soul on 1984 LP Sons of Ethiopia: A Sonic Time Capsule From Washington D.C.’s Ethiopian Expat Community

    Admas’ 1984 album Sons of Ethiopia is being reissued for the first time, via Frederiksberg Records this July.

    Emerging from members of the Ethiopian community in Washington D.C. who fled to escape the violence of the Derg regime, Admas was comprised Tewodros ‘Teddy’ Aklilu, Henock Temesgen, and Abegasu Shiota.

    Taking up a residency at D.C.’s Red Sea restaurant during the early ’80s, Admas drew on the diverse sounds of the city for Sons of Ethiopia, alongside Ethiopian pop music, and elements of soul, jazz, highlife, samba and roots reggae.

    Frederiksberg Records’ release of Sons of Ethiopia marks the album’s first reissue, and includes interviews with Admas alongside previously unpublished photographs.

    Head here to pre-order a copy in advance of Admas’s 27th July reissue, check out the artwork and tracklist below.

    Tracklist:

    1. Anchi Bale Game
    2. Bahta’s Highlife
    3. Tez Alegn Yetintu
    4. Kalatashew Waga
    5. Wed Enate
    6. Samba Shegitu
    7. Astawesalehu


    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    ETHIOPIA UPDATE: Protests in Adama kill Eight, Injure 80 After Popular Singer Killed

    Hachalu Hundessa, well known for his political songs, was shot dead on Monday in Addis ababa. The 34-year-old had said that he had received death threats and the police are now holding a number of suspects. Thousands of his fans headed to the hospital in the city where his body was taken, BBC Afaan Oromo's Bekele Atoma reports. (BBC News)

    Reuters

    Protests in Adama kill eight, injure 80 – doctor

    ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) – At least eight people have been killed and 80 injured in protests in the Ethiopian town of Adama after a popular singer was killed in the capital the day before, a doctor told Reuters on Tuesday.

    Six people died on their way to hospital and two died in intensive care, said Dr Mekonnen Feyissa, the medical director of Adama’s main hospital. The hospital received around 80 injured patients, he said. Most had been shot but some had been hit with rocks or stabbed.

    Adama is about 90 km (56 miles) southeast of the capital, Addis Ababa.

    Reporting by Dawit Endeshaw

    Internet cut off in Ethiopia amid outcry over death of singer-activist

    By Bethlehem Feleke, CNN

    (CNN) Internet access was cut across Ethiopia on Tuesday amid national protests over the shooting death of singer and activist Hachalu Hundessa.

    Hachalu, a prominent figure in the Oromo ethnic group, was shot Monday night at the Gelan Condominiums area of the capital Addis Ababa, according to state broadcaster EBC citing the Addis Ababa police commissioner, Getu Argaw.

    On Tuesday, images of protesters in the capital and in Oromia region circulated on social media and the US Embassy in Ethiopia released a security alert saying the embassy was “monitoring reports of protests and unrest, including gunfire, throughout Addis Ababa.”

    Demonstrators also protested the singer’s death in front of the US embassy, the alert said, describing the situation as “volatile at this time.”

    A blanket shutdown

    Netblocks, an internet-monitoring NGO, reported that internet “has been cut across most of Ethiopia from just after 9am local time on Tuesday.”

    Read more »

    Hachalu Hundessa: Killing of Ethiopian singer sparks unrest (DW)

    Hachalu Hundessa — famed for his political songs — had been considered a voice for Ethiopia’s largest ethnic group, the Oromo, during years of anti-government protest. Heavy violence has been reported after his killing.

    ‘Voice of a generation’

    The context to the singer’s death was not immediately clear, although the embassy said Hundessa’s supporters had blamed security forces and “assume a political motive” for the crime.

    Ethiopia’s prime minister, Abiy Ahmed, expressed his condolences and tweeted that an investigation was currently under way.

    Hundessa in 2017 was described by OPride.com as an “electrifying voice of a generation that is revolting” after being awarded the portal’s Oromo Person.

    “For capturing and expressing the frustration, anger, and hope of Oromo protesters through revolutionary lyrics; for courageously defying forcible suppression of dissent and boldly proclaiming ‘we are here and not going anywhere’; for providing a stirring soundtrack to the budding Oromo revolution; for breaking down fear and structural barriers through rousing musical storytelling, and for uniting the Oromo masses and amplifying their collective yearning for change, Haacaaluu Hundeessaa is OPride’s Oromo Person of 2017.”

    The Oromo, Ethiopia’s largest ethnic group, had taken to the streets to complain about what they perceive as marginalization and persecution by the central government.

    Oromo protests made international headlines when Ethiopian long-distance runner Feyisa Lilesa — a member of the Oromo community — reached the finishing line raising his crossed hands at the Rio 2016 Olympics. The crossed hands have become the symbol of the anti-government movement that started in the Oromia region and spread north to the Amhara region.

    Ethiopia is no stranger to ethnic violence. With over 80 different ethnic groups and Africa’s second-largest country based on population, the country is extremely diverse and disagreements between various groups often spiral into communal violence.

    kw/stb (dpa, Reuters)

    ‘More than an entertainer’

    By Bekele Atoma, BBC Afaan Oromo

    Hachalu was more than just a singer and entertainer.

    He was a symbol for the Oromo people who spoke up about the political and economic marginalisation that they had suffered under consecutive Ethiopian regimes.

    In one of his most famous songs, he sang: “Do not wait for help to come from outside, a dream that doesn’t come true. Rise, make your horse ready and fight, you are the one close to the palace.”

    The musician had also been imprisoned for five years when he was 17 for taking part in protests.

    Many like him fled into exile fearing persecution but he remained in the country and encouraged the youth to struggle.

    Read more »

    Hachalu Hundessa: Popular Ethiopian protest singer shot dead (BBC)


    Musician Hachalu Hundessa was killed in Addis Ababa on Monday, June 29th, 2020. (BBC)

    BBC News

    Ethiopian musician Hachalu Hundessa, well known for his political songs, has been shot dead in the capital

    The 34-year-old had said that he had received death threats and the police are now holding a number of suspects.

    Hachalu’s lyrics often focused on the rights of the country’s Oromo ethnic group and became anthems in a wave of protests that led to the downfall of the previous prime minister.

    Demonstrations broke out in response to the news of the musician’s death.

    Gunshots have been heard in Addis Ababa and people set fire to tyres.

    Thousands of his fans headed to the hospital in the city where the body of the singer was taken on Monday night, BBC Afaan Oromo’s Bekele Atoma reports.

    To them, he was a voice of his generation that protested against decades of government repression, he says.

    Police used tear gas to disperse the crowd.

    The internet was also shut down in parts of the country as protests spread in Oromia regional state.

    Hachalu’s body has now been taken to the town of Ambo, about 100km (62 miles) west of the capital.

    Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has expressed his condolences saying in a tweet that Ethiopia “lost a precious life today” and describing the singer as “marvellous”

    Read more »

    Popular Ethiopian singer Hachalu Hundessa shot dead in Addis Ababa (Al Jazeera)

    A popular Ethiopian musician has been shot dead in the country’s capital, Addis Ababa, local media reported, quoting police. He was 36.

    Hachalu Hundessa, an ethnic Oromo also known as Haacaaluu Hundeessaa, was shot in the city’s Gelan Condominiums area late on Monday, Addis Ababa’s police commissioner said.

    Geta Argaw said police had arrested several suspects, state-affiliated Fana broadcaster reported on Tuesday.

    Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed expressed his condolences, saying Ethiopia had “lost a precious life”.

    “I express my deep condolences for those of us who are in deep sorrow since the news of the death of the shining young Artist Hachalu Hundesa,” Fana reported the prime minister as saying. “We are expecting full investigation reports of this evil act.”

    “Let us express our condolences by keeping ourselves safe and preventing further crime,” Abiy said.

    Ethiopians on social media, including the country’s ambassador to Washington, expressed their shock at the killing of the popular musician.

    On Tuesday, youths enraged by the killing of the musician, who was known for his protest songs, burned tyres during demonstrations in Addis Ababa.

    Hachalu, a former political prisoner, rose to prominence during prolonged anti-government protests, which propelled Abiy, a fellow Oromo, into office in 2018. Oromo ethnic group, which have historically faced discrimination, led the the mass protests.

    Abiy’s rise to power ended decades of political dominance by ethnic Tigray leaders in this multi-ethnic African nation.

    His rule has ushered in greater political and economic freedoms in what had long been one of the continent’s most repressive states. He was awarded the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize for ending conflict with neighbouring Eritrea and his reforms.

    But the rise in political activism has also led to an increase in unrest in a country made up of more than 80 ethnic groups. Abiy’s rule has been frequently challenged by local powerbrokers demanding more access to land, power and resources.

    His pan-Ethiopian politics have sparked a backlash from some elements of his own Oromo powerbase, spearheaded by a media magnate, Jawar Mohammed.

    “They did not just kill Hachalu. They shot at the heart of the Oromo Nation, once again !!…You can kill us, all of us, you can never ever stop us!! NEVER !!” Jawar posted on his Facebook page on Tuesday.

    Clashes between police and Jawar’s supporters killed at least 78 people in October last year after the government tried to withdraw Jawar’s security detail.

    Elections due this year have been postponed until next year due to COVID-19 in a deal agreed with the major opposition parties.


    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    Ethiopia to Set Up Regulator for First Stock Exchange This Year (Bloomberg)

    A pedestrian looks out over commercial and residential buildings on the city skyline in Addis Ababa. (Bloomberg)

    Bloomberg

    By Samuel Gebre

    Ethiopia has drafted a bill to create a stock market authority that will come into effect before the end of the year, according to the Ministry of Finance.

    Ethiopia is among the biggest five economies in sub-Saharan Africa and the second-largest by population, but doesn’t have a stock market. Since Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed came to power in 2018, the country has pursued economic reforms, including opening up formerly closed-off sectors such as telecommunications.

    “As we are at a stage where a vibrant private sector is starting to emerge, we have companies that are ready to be listed in the stock exchange,” Eyob Tekalign, the state minister for finance, said in an emailed response to questions. “We are on a good track to commence the implementation.”

    The ministry is working on building the infrastructure and human skills needed to introduce a stock market, he said.

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    Ethiopian Airlines Stays Profitable Despite Covid-19 Travel Bans

    Revenue generated from the transportation of goods has allowed Ethiopian to keep up monthly fixed payments of $120 million to $150 million, the CEO said. The carrier is still flying about 40 charter repatriations a week while commercial flights are mostly grounded. (Getty Images)

    Bloomberg

    By Samuel Gebre

    Ethiopian Airlines Group, Africa’s largest and only consistently profitable carrier, expects to stay in the black for the fiscal year that ends next week, even after the coronavirus upended the global aviation industry.

    “We may not be as profitable as we expected but we registered some profit,” Chief Executive Officer Tewolde Gebre-Mariam said in an interview. “The first half of the year was good and the cargo business has also done very well.”

    Revenue generated from the transportation of goods has allowed Ethiopian to keep up monthly fixed payments of $120 million to $150 million, including servicing loans, aircraft leases, salaries and rentals, the CEO said. The carrier is still flying about 40 charter repatriations a week while commercial flights are mostly grounded.

    The airline still expects to be down almost $1 billion in ticket revenue for the year ending July 7. That’s in line with carriers worldwide, which are expected to lose a combined $84 billion this year, The International Air Transport Association said earlier this month. Many have had to seek bailouts to avoid collapse, including regional rivals South African Airways and Kenya Airways.

    Negotiations between Ethiopian and Boeing NA over compensation for the Max jet may be finalized in the next two months, Tewolde said. The model was grounded around the world last year following a second fatal crash outside Addis Ababa in March 2019.

    “We want the compensation as soon as possible,” the CEO said.

    Related:

    Ethiopian welcomes back business and leisure customers with emphasis on wellness

    By: AJOT | Jun 29 2020 at 08:06 AM | Air Cargo News

    During the pandemic, Ethiopian Airlines, Africa’s largest airline, was the go-to airline for essential travel, repatriation flights and airlift of medical and personal protective equipment (PPE). With the easing of travel restrictions across the globe, Ethiopian announced that it’s happy to welcome back business and leisure travelers with programs aimed at safeguarding their health and safety.

    The program reinforces Ethiopian pledge to protect the health and safety of its customers and staff. It includes the steps the airline is taking to maintain customer and staff wellbeing through-out the service chain beginning from the first interaction with customers during ticketing/reservation and up to arrival at destination.

    Ato Tewolde G. Mariam, Group CEO of Ethiopian, noted that “Ethiopian is proud to be there when the world needed it most – repatriating citizens, re-uniting families, facilitating essential travel and transporting much needed medical and personal protective equipment (PPE) for health professionals and the general public under very difficult and challenging circumstances. We are proud to be an integral part of the fight against COVID-19. Now we want to play a leading role in the new-normal. To a very large extent, it’s about getting back the confidence of business and leisure travelers. With the protective measures we are taking in line with CDC, IATA, ICAO and WHO guidelines, customers and staff can rest assured that their safety and health are well looked after when flying with us”.

    Customers are advised to check travel restrictions of destination countries prior to arriving at the airport for a flight. Facemasks will be mandatory for travel. Except children under the age 2, all customers must keep their masks on throughout their journey.

    All customer-facing staff will wear Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs). This includes ticket offices, airport and lounge staff, as well as cabin crew. Onboard service is redesigned to minimize contact while maintaining our African flavored Ethiopian hospitality. Items, such as magazines, menus and other reading materials, that were traditionally shared will no longer be available.


    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    WHO: Countries Complaining About Contact Tracing Are ‘Lame’

    Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director General of the World Health Organization (WHO), attends a press conference at the UN agency's headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland on June 25, 2020. Dr. Tedros dismissed complaints from countries complaining that contact tracing is too difficult to implement as a control strategy for the pandemic as “lame.” (AP photo)

    The Associated Press

    LONDON (AP) — The head of the World Health Organization on Monday dismissed complaints from countries complaining that contact tracing is too difficult to implement as a control strategy for the coronavirus pandemic as “lame.”

    The U.N. health agency has repeatedly advised countries that shutting down their COVID-19 outbreaks requires having a strong contact tracing program in place, a labor-intensive process of tracking down contacts of people with coronavirus to ensure those at risk isolate themselves.

    In recent months, countries with large outbreaks of COVID-19, including Britain and the U.S., have said there are simply too many contacts to trace for an effective system to be put into place.

    Britain had vowed to have a “world-class” contact tracing system in place earlier this month. But the U.K. ultimately ditched the digital app it developed for that purpose and politicians have acknowledged the program is not yet running at full strength despite recruiting thousands of workers. In recent weeks, British health officials have said their contact tracers are failing to reach about one quarter of people with the virus — leaving thousands of people free to pass on COVID-19.

    At a media briefing on Monday, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus pointed to his emergencies director Dr. Michael Ryan as an example of someone willing to go to extraordinary lengths to conduct contact tracing, citing Ryan’s work — while wearing a bulletproof helmet and vest — during an Ebola outbreak in a part of Congo where armed groups had attacked and killed health workers.

    “He believed he had to do everything to stop Ebola and to show that saving lives actually requires that level of commitment,” Tedros said.

    Tedros said it wasn’t acceptable that some countries claimed there were too many contacts to trace and that the process itself was too difficult. He has previously lauded the contact tracing programs adopted by countries like South Korea, Singapore and China, which involved teams of health workers tracing tens of thousands of people and ensuring that those exposed to the virus were isolated.

    Tedros said that well-resourced countries that aren’t fighting wars have little excuse for not carrying out good contact tracing.

    “If contact tracing helps you to win the fight, you do it, even (when) risking your life,” he said. “If any country is saying contact tracing is difficult, it is a lame excuse.”

    He noted that Tuesday would mark six months since WHO was first informed by China of an unusual cluster of pneumonia cases, the first sign of coronavirus’ emergence. The disease has since sickened more than 10 million people and killed about 500,000.

    WHO said the pandemic was “accelerating,” particularly in the Americas.

    “The hard reality is that this is not even close to being over,” Tedros said. “The worst is yet to come.”

    Related:

    Interview: Yoseph Seyoum on How to Find Job as COVID-19 Contact Tracer in U.S. Ethiopian Community

    If you are interested in becoming a COVID-19 Contact Tracer, you can learn more and register here: https://tracers.ethiodiasporacovid.com/

    U.S. tops 2.5 million reported cases

    US Deaths From Coronavirus Surpass 126,000 and Growing

    In Ethiopia, A Monk Said to Be 114 Years Old Survives Coronavirus

    Ethiopia Coronavirus Cases Reach 5,846

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    ‘It’s my dam’: Ethiopians Unite Around Nile River Mega-Project

    The Blue Nile flowing through the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam. The project is passionately supported by the Ethiopian public despite the tensions it has stoked with Egypt and Sudan downstream. (AFP)

    AFP

    Updated: June 29th, 2020

    Last week, Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s press secretary took a break from official statements to post something different to her Twitter feed: a 37-line poem defending her country’s massive dam on the Blue Nile River.

    “My mothers seek respite/From years of abject poverty/Their sons a bright future/And the right to pursue prosperity,” Billene Seyoum wrote in her poem, entitled “Ethiopia Speaks”.

    As the lines indicate, Ethiopia sees the $4.6 billion (four-billion-euro) Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam as crucial for its electrification and development.

    But the project, set to become Africa’s largest hydroelectric installation, has sparked an intensifying row with downstream neighbours Egypt and Sudan, which worry that it will restrict vital water supplies.

    Addis Ababa plans to start filling next month, despite demands from Cairo and Khartoum for a deal on the dam’s operations to avoid depletion of the Nile.

    The African Union is assuming a leading role in talks to resolve outstanding legal and technical issues, and the UN Security Council could take up the issue Monday.

    With global attention to the dam on the rise, its defenders are finding creative ways to show support — in verse, in Billene’s case, through other art forms and, most commonly, in social media posts demanding the government finish construction.

    To some observers, the dam offers a rare point of unity in an ethnically-diverse country undergoing a fraught democratic transition and awaiting elections delayed by the coronavirus pandemic.

    Abebe Yirga, a university lecturer and expert in water management, compared the effort to finish the dam to Ethiopia’s fight against Italian would-be colonisers in the late 19th century.

    “During that time, Ethiopians irrespective of religion and different backgrounds came together to fight against the colonial power,” he said.

    “Now, in the 21st century, the dam is reuniting Ethiopians who have been politically and ethnically divided.”

    -Hashtag activism-

    Ethiopia broke ground on the dam in 2011 under then-Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, who pitched it as a catalyst for poverty eradication.

    Civil servants contributed one month’s salary towards the project that year, and the government has since issued dam bonds targeting Ethiopians at home and abroad.

    Nearly a decade later, the dam remains a source of hope for a country where more than half the population of 110 million lives without electricity.

    With Meles dead nearly eight years, perhaps the most prominent face of the project these days is water minister Seleshi Bekele, a former academic whose publications include articles with titles like “Estimation of flow in ungauged catchments by coupling a hydrological model and neural networks: Case study”.

    As a government minister, though, Seleshi has demonstrated an ear for the catchy soundbite.

    At a January press conference in Addis Ababa, he fielded a question from a journalist wondering whether countries besides Ethiopia might play a role in operating the dam.

    With an amused expression on his face, Seleshi looked the journalist dead in the eye and responded simply, “It’s my dam.”

    In those five seconds, a hashtag was born.

    Coverage of the exchange went viral, and today a Twitter search for #ItsMyDam turns up seemingly endless posts hailing the project.

    At recent events officials have even distributed T-shirts bearing the slogan to Ethiopian journalists, who proudly wear them around town.

    -Banana boosterism-

    Some non-Ethiopians have also gotten in on #ItsMyDam fever.

    Anna Chojnicka spent four years living in Ethiopia working for an organisation supporting social entrepreneurs, though she recently moved to London.

    In March, holed up with suspected COVID-19, she began using a comb and thread-cutter to imprint designs on bananas.

    Her #BananaOfTheDay series has included bruises portraying the London skyline, iconic scenes from Disney movies and the late singer Amy Winehouse.

    But by far the most popular are her bananas related to the dam, the first of which she posted last week showing water rushing through the concrete colossus.

    On Thursday she posted a banana featuring a woman carrying firewood, noting that once the dam starts operating “fewer women will need to collect firewood for fuel”.

    The image was quickly picked up by an Ethiopian television station.


    Ethiopia, Egypt & Sudan Agree to Restart Talks Over Disputed Dam


    Early Saturday, Seleshi Bekele, Ethiopia’s water and energy minister, confirmed that the countries had decided during an African Union summit to restart stalled negotiations and finalize an agreement over the contentious mega-project within two to three weeks, with support from the AU. (Satellite image via AP)

    The Associated Press

    Updated: June 27th, 2020

    The leaders of Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia agreed late Friday to return to talks aimed at reaching an accord over the filling of Ethiopia’s new hydroelectric dam on the Blue Nile, according to statements from the three nations.

    Early Saturday, Seleshi Bekele, Ethiopia’s water and energy minister, confirmed that the countries had decided during an African Union summit to restart stalled negotiations and finalize an agreement over the contentious mega-project within two to three weeks, with support from the AU.

    The announcement was a modest reprieve from weeks of bellicose rhetoric and escalating tensions over the $4.6 billion Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, which Ethiopia had vowed to start filling at the start of the rainy season in July.

    Egypt and Sudan said Ethiopia would refrain from filling the dam next month until the countries reached a deal. Ethiopia did not comment explicitly on the start of the filling period.

    Ethiopia has hinged its development ambitions on the colossal dam, describing it as a crucial lifeline to bring millions out of poverty.

    Egypt, which relies on the Nile for more than 90% of its water supplies and already faces high water stress, fears a devastating impact on its booming population of 100 million. Sudan, which also depends on the Nile for water, has played a key role in bringing the two sides together after the collapse of U.S.-mediated talks in February.

    Just last week, Ethiopian Foreign Minister Gedu Andargachew warned that his country could begin filling the dam’s reservoir unilaterally, after the latest round of talks with Egypt and Sudan failed to reach an accord governing how the dam will be filled and operated.

    After an AU video conference chaired by South Africa late Friday, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi said that “all parties” had pledged not to take “any unilateral action” by filling the dam without a final agreement, said Bassam Radi, Egypt’s presidency spokesman.

    Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok also indicated the impasse between the Nile basin countries had eased, saying the nations had agreed to restart negotiations through a technical committee with the aim of finalizing a deal in two weeks. Ethiopia won’t fill the dam before inking the much-anticipated deal, Hamdok’s statement added.

    African Union Commission Chairman Moussa Faki Mahamat said the countries “agreed to an AU-led process to resolve outstanding issues,” without elaborating.

    Sticking points in the talks have been how much water Ethiopia will release downstream from the dam if a multi-year drought occurs and how Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan will resolve any future disagreements.

    Both Egypt and Sudan have appealed to the U.N. Security Council to intervene in the years-long dispute and help the countries avert a crisis. The council is set to hold a public meeting on the issue Monday.

    Filling the dam without an agreement could bring the stand-off to a critical juncture. Both Egypt and Ethiopia have hinted at military steps to protect their interests, and experts fear a breakdown in talks could lead to open conflict.

    Related:

    Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan to agree Nile dam in weeks

    Ethiopia agrees to delay filling Nile mega-dam, say Egypt, Sudan

    Clock Ticks On Push to Resolve Egypt-Ethiopia Row Over Nile Dam

    The Grand Renaissance Dam is seen as it undergoes construction on the river Nile in Guba Woreda, Benishangul Gumuz Region, Ethiopia. (REUTERS photo/Tiksa Negeri)

    Reuters

    Updated: June 26th, 2020

    CAIRO (Reuters) – Egypt is counting on international pressure to unlock a deal it sees as crucial to protecting its scarce water supplies from the Nile river before the expected start-up of a giant dam upstream in Ethiopia in July.

    Tortuous, often acrimonious negotiations spanning close to a decade have left the two nations and their neighbour Sudan short of an agreement to regulate how Ethiopia will operate the dam and fill its reservoir.

    Though Egypt is unlikely to face any immediate, critical shortages from the dam even without a deal, failure to reach one before the filling process starts could further poison ties and drag out the dispute for years, analysts say.

    “There is the threat of worsening relations between Ethiopia and the two downstream countries, and consequently increased regional instability,” said William Davison, a senior analyst at the International Crisis Group.

    The latest round of talks left the three countries “closer than ever to reaching an agreement”, according to a report by Sudan’s foreign ministry seen by Reuters.

    But it also said the talks, which were suspended last week, had revealed a “widening gap” over the key issue of whether any agreement would be legally binding, as Egypt demands.

    The stakes for largely arid Egypt are high, for it draws at least 90% of its fresh water from the Nile.

    With Ethiopia insisting it will use seasonal rains to begin filling the dam’s reservoir next month, Cairo has appealed to the U.N. Security Council in a last-ditch diplomatic move.

    ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

    The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) is being built about 15 km (nine miles) from the border with Sudan on the Blue Nile, the source of most of the Nile’s waters.

    Ethiopia says the $4 billion hydropower project, which will have an installed capacity of 6,450 megawatts, is essential to its economic development. Addis Ababa told the U.N. Security Council in a letter this week that it is “designed to help extricate our people from abject poverty”.

    The letter repeated accusations that Egypt was trying to maintain historic advantages over the Nile and constrict Ethiopia’s pursuit of future upstream projects. It argued that Ethiopia had accommodated Egyptian demands to allow recent talks to move forward before Egypt unnecessarily escalated by taking the issue to the Security Council.

    Ethiopia’s government was not immediately available for comment.

    Egypt says it is focused on securing a fair deal limited to the GERD, and that Ethiopia’s talk of righting colonial-era injustice is a ruse meant to distract attention from a bid to impose a fait accompli on its downstream neighbours.

    Both accuse each other of trying to sabotage the talks and of blocking independent studies on the impact of the GERD. Egypt requested U.S. mediation last year, leading to talks over four months in Washington that broke down in February.

    “PROGRESS”

    The resort to outside mediation came because the two sides had been “going round in vicious cycles for years”, said an Egyptian official. The stand-off is a chance for the international community to show leadership on the issue of water, and help broker a deal that “could unlock a lot of cooperation possibilities”, he said.

    Talks this month between water ministers led by Sudan, and observed by the United States, South Africa and the European Union, produced a draft deal that Sudan said made “significant progress on major technical issues”.

    It listed outstanding technical issues however, including how the dam would operate during “dry years” of reduced rainfall, as well as legal issues on whether the agreement and its mechanism for resolving disputes should be binding.

    Sudan, for its part, sees benefits from the dam in regulating its Blue Nile waters, but wants guarantees it will be safely and properly operated.

    Like Egypt it is seeking a binding deal before filling starts, but its increasing alignment with Cairo has not proved decisive.

    Technical compromises are still available, said Davison, but “there’s no reason to think that Ethiopia is going to bow to increased international pressure”.

    “We need to move away from diplomatic escalation and instead the parties need to sit themselves once again around the table and stay there until they reach agreement.”

    UN to Hear Ethiopia-Egypt Nile Dam Dispute


    The behind-closed-doors meeting [set for Monday in New York] was requested by France, according to diplomats, who spoke on condition of anonymity. It came after the latest talks between Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan ended without an agreement. (Bloomberg)

    Bloomberg

    (Bloomberg) — The United Nations Security Council will discuss for the first time Monday a growing dispute between Egypt and Ethiopia over a giant hydropower dam being built on the Nile River’s main tributary, diplomats said. The behind-closed-doors meeting was requested by France, according to the diplomats, who spoke on condition of anonymity. It came after the latest talks between Egypt, Ethi

    The behind-closed-doors meeting was requested by France, according to the diplomats, who spoke on condition of anonymity. It came after the latest talks between Egypt, Ethiopia and mutual neighbor Sudan ended last week with Ethiopia refusing to accept a permanent, minimum volume of water that the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam should release downstream in the event of severe drought.

    Egypt’s Foreign Ministry subsequently asked the UNSC to intervene, calling for a fair and balanced solution. Ethiopia has threatened to start filling the dam’s reservoir when the rainy season begins in July, with or without a deal. That’s a step that Egypt, which relies on the Nile for almost all its fresh water, considers both unacceptable and illegal.

    Ethiopia remains resolute that a so-called declaration of principles agreement signed by Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan in 2015 allows it to proceed with damming the GERD.


    Dear Ethiopia & Egypt: Nile Dam Update


    Nefartari with Simbel and St. Yared holding a Simbel, which is called Tsenatsil in Amharic and Ge’ez.

    The Africa Report

    By Meklit Berihun, a civil engineer and aspiring researcher in systems thinking and its application in the water/environment sector.

    Dear Egypt

    My dear, how are you holding up in these trying times? I hope you are faring well as much as one can given the circumstances. And I pray we will not be burdened with more than we can bear and that this time will soon come to pass for the both of us.

    Dearest, I hear of your frustration about the progress—or lack thereof—on the negotiations over my dam. That is a frustration I also share. I look forward to the day we settle things and look to the future together.

    Beloved, though your approach has recently metamorphosed in addressing your right to our water—officially stating you never held on to any past agreements—the foundation, that you do not want to settle for anything less than 66 percent of what is shared by 10 of your fellow African states, remains unchanged. I must be honest: I cannot fathom how you still hold on to this.

    Read more »

    Dear Ethiopia,

    By Nervana Mahmoud, Doctor and independent political commentator on Middle East issues. BBC’s 100 women 2013.

    Thank you for your letter.

    The fate of our two countries has been linked since ancient times, as described in Herodotus’s book An Account of Egypt, Egypt is the “gift of the Nile,” “it has soil which is black and easily breaks up, seeing that it is in truth mud and silt brought down from Ethiopia by the river.”

    It is sad you question Egypt’s African identity. It may sound surprising to you, but the vast majority of Egyptians are proud Africans. In 1990, my entire family was glued to the television, showing our support for Cameroon against England, in the World Cup. Last year, Egypt hosted the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations. Many Egyptians supported Senegal and Nigeria, who played Arab teams, in the final rounds because we see ourselves as Africans.

    Unfortunately, I do not believe that you — our African brothers — appreciate the potential disastrous impacts of your Grand Renaissance Dam (GERD) on our livelihood in Egypt.

    Read more »

    AP Interview: Egypt Says UN Must Stop Ethiopia on Dam Fill

    AP Interview:: Ethiopia To Fill Disputed Dam, Deal or No Deal


    This satellite image taken May 28, 2020, shows the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) on the Blue Nile river in the Benishangul-Gumuz region. In an interview with The Associated Press Friday, June 19, 2020, Foreign Minister Gedu Andargachew said that Ethiopia will start filling the $4.6 billion dam next month. (AP)

    The Associated Press

    By ELIAS MESERET

    Updated: June 19th, 2020

    ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (AP) — It’s a clash over water usage that Egypt calls an existential threat and Ethiopia calls a lifeline for millions out of poverty. Just weeks remain before the filling of Africa’s most powerful hydroelectric dam might begin, and tense talks between the countries on its operation have yet to reach a deal.

    In an interview with The Associated Press, Ethiopian Foreign Minister Gedu Andargachew on Friday declared that his country will go ahead and start filling the $4.6 billion Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam next month, even without an agreement. “For us it is not mandatory to reach an agreement before starting filling the dam, hence we will commence the filling process in the coming rainy season,” he said.

    “We are working hard to reach a deal, but still we will go ahead with our schedule whatever the outcome is. If we have to wait for others’ blessing, then the dam may remain idle for years, which we won’t allow to happen,” he said. He added that “we want to make it clear that Ethiopia will not beg Egypt and Sudan to use its own water resource for its development,” pointing out that Ethiopia is paying for the dam’s construction itself.

    He spoke after the latest round of talks with Egypt and Sudan on the dam, the first since discussions broke down in February, failed to reach agreement.

    No date has been set for talks to resume, and the foreign minister said Ethiopia doesn’t believe it’s time to take them to a head of state level.

    The years-long dispute pits Ethiopia’s desire to become a major power exporter and development engine against Egypt’s concern that the dam will significantly curtail its water supply if filled too quickly. Sudan has long been caught between the competing interests.

    The arrival of the rainy season is bringing more water to the Blue Nile, the main branch of the Nile, and Ethiopia sees an ideal time to begin filling the dam’s reservoir next month.

    Both Egypt and Ethiopia have hinted at military steps to protect their interests, and experts fear a breakdown in talks could lead to conflict.

    Ethiopia’s foreign minister would not say whether his country would use military action to defend the dam and its operations.

    “This dam should have been a reason for cooperation and regional integration, not a cause for controversies and warmongering,” he said. “Egyptians are exaggerating their propaganda on the dam issue and playing a political gamble. Some of them seem as if they are longing for a war to break out.”

    Gedu added: “Our reading is that the Egyptian side wants to dictate and control even future developments on our river. We won’t ask for permission to carry out development projects on our own water resources. This is both legally and morally unacceptable.”

    He said Ethiopia has offered to fill the dam in four to seven years, taking possible low rainfall into account.

    Sticking points in the talks have been how much water Ethiopia will release downstream from the dam during a multi-year drought and how Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan will resolve any future disputes.

    The United States earlier this year tried to broker a deal, but Ethiopia did not attend the signing meeting and accused the Trump administration of siding with Egypt. This week some Ethiopians felt vindicated when the U.S. National Security Council tweeted that “257 million people in east Africa are relying on Ethiopia to show strong leadership, which means striking a fair deal.”

    In reply to that, Ethiopia’s foreign minister said: “Statements issued from governments and other institutions on the dam should be crafted carefully not to take sides and impair the fragile talks, especially at this delicate time. They should issue fair statements or just issue no statements at all.”

    He also rejected the idea that the issue should be taken to the United Nations Security Council, as Egypt wants. Egypt’s foreign ministry issued a statement Friday saying Egypt has urged the Security Council to intervene in the dispute to help the parties reach a “fair and balanced solution” and prevent Ethiopia from “taking any unilateral actions.”

    The latest talks saw officials from the U.S., European Union and South Africa, the current chairman of the African Union, attending as observers.

    Sudan’s Irrigation Minister Yasser Abbas told reporters after talks ended Wednesday that the three counties’ irrigation leaders have agreed on “90% or 95%” of the technical issues but the dispute over the “legal points” in the deal remains dissolved.

    The Sudanese minister said his country and Egypt rejected Ethiopia’s attempts to include articles on water sharing and old Nile treaties in the dam deal. Egypt has received the lion’s share of the Nile’s waters under decades-old agreements dating back to the British colonial era. Eighty-five percent of the Nile’s waters originate in Ethiopia from the Blue Nile.

    “The Egyptians want us to offer a lot, but they are not ready to offer us anything,” Gedu said Friday. “They want to control everything. We are not discussing a water-sharing agreement.”

    The countries should not get stuck in a debate about historic water rights, William Davison, senior analyst on Ethiopia with the International Crisis Group, told reporters this week. “During a period of filling, yes, there’s reduced water downstream. But that’s a temporary period,” he said.

    Initial power generation from the dam could be seen late this year or in early 2021, he said.

    Ethiopia’ foreign minister expressed disappointment in Egypt’s efforts to find backing for its side.

    “Our African brotherly countries should have supported us, but instead they are tainting our country’s name around the world, and especially in the Arab world,” he said. “Egypt’s monopolistic approach to the dam issue will not be acceptable for us forever.”


    Tussle for Nile Control Escalates as Dam Talks Falter


    The Blue Nile river passes through the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam near Guba, Ethiopia. (Getty Images)

    Bloomberg

    Updated: June 18th, 2020

    A last ditch attempt to resolve a decade-long dispute between Egypt and Ethiopia over a huge new hydropower dam on the Nile has failed, raising the stakes in what – for all the public focus on technical issues – is a tussle for control over the region’s most important water source.

    The talks appear to have faltered over a recurring issue: Ethiopia’s refusal to accept a permanent, minimum volume of water that the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, or GERD, should release downstream in the event of severe drought.

    What happens next remains uncertain. Both Ethiopia and Sudan – a mutual neighbor that took part in the talks – said that progress had been made and left the door open to further negotiation. Yet the stakes in a region acutely vulnerable to the impact of climate change are disconcertingly clear.

    Ethiopia has threatened to start filling the dam’s reservoir when the rainy season begins in July, with or without a deal, a step Egypt considers both unacceptable and illegal. In a statement late Wednesday, Egypt’s irrigation ministry accused Ethiopia of refusing to accept any effective drought provision or legally binding commitments, or even to refer the talks to the three prime ministers in an effort to break the deadlock. Ethiopia was demanding “an absolute right” to build further dams behind the GERD, the ministry said.

    Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry threatened on Monday to call for United Nations Security Council intervention to protect “international peace and security” if no agreement was reached. A day later his Ethiopian opposite, Gedu Andargachew, accused Egypt of “acting as if it is the sole owner of the Nile waters.”

    Egyptian billionaire Naguib Sawiris even warned of a water war. “We will never allow any country to starve us, if Ethiopia doesn’t come to reason, we the Egyptian people will be the first to call for war,” he said in a tweet earlier this week.

    Although both sides have played down the prospect of military conflict, they have occasionally rattled sabers and concern at the potential for escalation helped draw the U.S. and World Bank into the negotiating process last year. When that attempt floundered in February, the European Union and South Africa, as chair of the African Union, joined in.

    “This is all about control,” said Asfaw Beyene, a professor of mechanical engineering at San Diego State University, California, whose work Egypt cited in support of a May 1 report to the UN. The so-called aide memoire argued that the GERD and its 74 billion cubic meter reservoir are so vastly oversized relative to the power they will produce that it “raises questions about the true purpose of the dam.”

    National Survival

    Egypt’s concern is that once the dam’s sluices can control the Nile’s flow, Ethiopia could in times of drought say “I am not releasing water, I need it,” or dictate how the water released is used, says Asfaw. Yet he backs Ethiopia’s claims that once filled, the dam won’t significantly affect downstream supplies. He also agrees with their argument that climate change could render unsustainable any water guarantees given to Egypt.

    Both sides describe the future of the hydropower dam that will generate as much as 15.7 gigawatts of electricity per year as a matter of national survival. Egypt relies on the Nile for as much as 97% of an already strained water supply. Ethiopia says the dam is vital for development, because it would increase the nation’s power generation by about 150% at a time when more than half the population have no access to electricity.

    Read more »


    UPDATE: Ethiopian Army Official Says Country Will Defend Itself Over Dam (AP)


    A general view of the Blue Nile river as it passes through the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), near Guba in Ethiopia. (Getty Images)

    The Associated Press

    By ELIAS MESERET

    Updated: June 12th, 2020

    ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (AP) — Ethiopia’s deputy army chief on Friday said his country will strongly defend itself and will not negotiate its sovereignty over the disputed $4.6 billion Nile dam that has caused tensions with Egypt.

    “Egyptians and the rest of the world know too well how we conduct war whenever it comes,” Gen. Birhanu Jula said in an interview with the state-owned Addis Zemen newspaper, adding that Egyptian leaders’ “distorted narrative” on Africa’s largest hydroelectric dam is attracting enemies.

    He accused Egypt of using its weapons to “threaten and tell other countries not to touch the shared water” and said “the way forward should be cooperation in a fair manner.”

    He spoke amid renewed talks among Ethiopian, Sudanese and Egyptian water and irrigation ministers after months of deadlock. Ethiopia wants to begin filling the dam’s reservoir in the coming weeks, but Egypt worries a rapid filling will take too much of the water it says its people need to survive. Sudan, caught between the competing interests, pushed the two sides to resume discussions.

    The general’s comments were a stark contrast to Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s remarks to lawmakers earlier this week that diplomacy should take center stage to resolve outstanding issues.

    “We don’t want to hurt anyone else, and at the same time it will be difficult for us to accept the notion that we don’t deserve to have electricity,” the Nobel Peace Prize laureate said. “We are tired of begging others while 70% of our population is young. This has to change.”

    Talks on the dam have struggled. Egypt’s Irrigation Ministry on Wednesday called for Ethiopia to “clearly declare that it had no intention of unilaterally filling the reservoir” and that a deal prepared by the U.S. and the World Bank in February serves as the starting point of the resumed negotiations.

    Ethiopia refused to sign that deal and accused the U.S. of siding with Egypt.

    Egypt said that in Tuesday’s talks, Ethiopia showed it wanted to re-discuss “all issues” including “all timetables and figures” negotiated in the U.S.-brokered talks.

    President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi discussed the latest negotiations in a phone call with President Donald Trump on Wednesday, el-Sissi’s office said, without elaborating.

    Egypt’s National Security Council, the highest body that makes decisions in high-profile security matters in the country, has accused Ethiopia of “buying time” and seeking to begin filling the dam’s reservoir in July without reaching a deal with Egypt and Sudan.

    Ethiopia Seeks to Limit Outsiders’ Role in Nile Dam Talks (AFP)


    Ethiopia sees the dam as essential for its electrification and development, while Sudan and Egypt see it as a threat to essential water supplies (AFP Photo)

    AFP

    Updated: June 11th, 2020

    Addis Ababa (AFP) – Ethiopia said Thursday it wants to limit the role of outside parties in revived talks over its Nile River mega-dam, a sign of lingering frustration over a failed attempt by the US to broker a deal earlier this year.

    The Grand Ethiopia Renaissance Dam has been a source of tension in the Nile River basin ever since Ethiopia broke ground on it nearly a decade ago.

    Ethiopia sees the dam as essential for its electrification and development, while Sudan and Egypt see it as a threat to essential water supplies.

    The US Treasury Department stepped in last year after Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi put in a request to his ally US President Donald Trump.

    But the process ran aground after the Treasury Department urged Ethiopia to sign a deal that Egypt backed as “fair and balanced”.

    Ethiopia denied a deal had been reached and accused Washington of being “undiplomatic” and playing favourites.

    On Tuesday Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan resumed talks via videoconference with representatives of the United States, the European Union and South Africa taking part.

    The talks resumed Wednesday and were expected to pick up again Thursday.

    In a statement aired Thursday by state-affiliated media, Ethiopia’s water ministry said the role of the outside parties should not “exceed that of observing the negotiation and sharing good practices when jointly requested by the three countries.”

    The statement also criticised Egypt for detailing its grievances over the dam in a May letter to the UN Security Council — a move it described as a bad faith attempt to “exert external diplomatic pressure”.

    Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed reiterated Monday that his country plans to begin filling the dam’s reservoir in the coming weeks, giving the latest talks heightened urgency.

    The short window makes it “more necessary than ever that concessions are made so a deal can be struck that will ease potentially dangerous tensions,” said William Davison of the International Crisis Group, a conflict prevention organisation.

    One solution could involve Ethiopia “proposing a detailed cooperative annual drought-management scheme that takes Egypt and Sudan’s concerns into account, but does not unacceptably constrain the dam’s potential,” he said.

    The EU sees the resumption of talks as “an important opportunity to restore confidence among the parties, build on the good progress achieved and agree on a mutually beneficial solution,” said spokeswoman Virginie Battu-Henriksson.

    “Especially in this time of global crisis, it is important to appease tensions and find pragmatic solutions,” she said.

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    SPOTLIGHT: Yemen to Lebanon Plight of Ethiopian Migrants Amid Pandemic

    Ethiopian migrants in the Yemeni capital, Sana, being forced to quarantine by security forces in April over fears that they could spread the coronavirus. (Getty Images)

    The New York Times

    By Vivian Yee and Tiksa Negeri

    BEIRUT, Lebanon — The Yemeni militiamen rumbled up to the settlement of Al Ghar in the morning, firing their machine guns at the Ethiopian migrants caught in the middle of somebody else’s war. They shouted at the migrants: Take your coronavirus and leave the country, or face death.

    Fatima Mohammed’s baby, Naa’if, was screaming. She grabbed him and ran behind her husband as bullets streaked overhead.

    “The sound of the bullets was like thunder that wouldn’t stop,” said Kedir Jenni, 30, an Ethiopian waiter who also fled Al Ghar, near the Saudi border in northern Yemen, on that morning in early April. “Men and women get shot next to you, you see them die and move on.”

    This scene and others were recounted in phone interviews with a half-dozen migrants now in Saudi prisons. Their accounts could not be independently verified, but human rights groups have corroborated similar episodes.

    Read more »


    ‘No-one Wants to Stay’: Ethiopia Under Pressure to Rescue Maids in Lebanon


    Birtukan Mekuanint, 23, says she was trapped and exploited after she went to work in Lebanon as a maid. (AFP Photo)

    AFP

    Updated: June 24th, 2020

    Addis Ababa (AFP) – After she flew to Lebanon in 2017 to work as a maid for a family of eight, Birtukan Mekuanint managed to call her own relatives in Ethiopia only a handful of times.

    So her father, Abiye Yefru, did not know what to think when Birtukan emerged unannounced from a taxi outside their home in Addis Ababa last week.

    “Everyone was very emotional when she came to meet us,” Abiye told AFP, describing their reunion. “Me, I didn’t hold back my tears, and my wife cried even more.”

    Soon, though, Abiye’s joy turned to anger as Birtukan recounted her hardship in Lebanon — an all-too-common tale of uncompensated labour in abusive conditions.

    Now he’s joining the chorus of Ethiopians pleading with the government to bring back thousands of domestic workers stranded in Lebanon.

    “It’s too difficult over there,” he said. “Of course they should be brought home.”

    A quarter of a million migrants are employed as domestic workers in Lebanon, the majority of them Ethiopian.

    A sponsorship system known as “kafala” leaves maids, nannies and carers outside the remit of Lebanese labour law and at the mercy of their employers.

    The workers’ plight has come under the spotlight in recent weeks as Lebanon grapples with its worst economic crisis in decades, with dozens of women kicked out by their employers and dumped outside the Ethiopian consulate in Beirut.

    Yet Ethiopian women have for years endured nonpayment of wages, forced confinement and physical and sexual violence, activists say.

    Making matters worse, Ethiopian authorities have turned a blind eye to the abuses, said Banchi Yimer, founder of an NGO that advocates for migrant workers’ rights.

    “I would say they do nothing,” she said. “Nothing has been done by the Ethiopian government.”

    Like many Ethiopian women, Birtukan believed the brokers who told her moving to Lebanon would be an easy way to improve her family’s fortunes.

    For 7,000 Ethiopian birr (around $200), they promised to arrange her travel and place her with a family that would pay $200 (177 euros) a month while covering her expenses.

    Upon reaching Beirut, however, she learned the brokers would pocket her earnings for the first two months.

    The brokers then cut off contact, and her Lebanese boss refused to pay her.

    Under the kafala system, migrant workers can’t terminate contracts without the consent of their employers, meaning Birtukan was effectively trapped.

    She spent long hours mopping floors, ironing clothes and cleaning bathrooms, all while tallying the days on a piece of cardboard she hid under her mattress.

    “I didn’t see other people. Even if I tried to talk on the phone, they would stop me,” she told AFP as tears rolled down her cheeks.

    She seized the first chance she could to escape, swiping a key to the compound gate left behind by one of the family’s children.

    She then secured a spot on one of the flights organised last month by the Ethiopian government and state-owned Ethiopian Airlines.

    But only around 650 women have been flown home so far.

    As the coronavirus pandemic exacerbates Lebanon’s economic woes, Birtukan wants to see more repatriations.

    “I think the government should bring back all the women there,” she said. “They’re sleeping under bridges. They don’t have enough to eat.”

    Ethiopia’s foreign affairs ministry and the consulate in Beirut did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

    -Tough times ahead-

    For all the horror stories out of Lebanon, some women are glad they made the journey.

    Almaz Gezaheng, 32, travelled to Lebanon in 2008, moving in with a family of four.

    She found the pay too low and the conditions too strenuous, but after she left she landed a job as a cleaner at a beauty parlour that paid $400 per month.

    She sent half that money home, enabling her parents to buy their own house.

    “At least I changed my family’s life, even if I haven’t done anything for myself.”

    But after the Lebanese economy tanked, Almaz lost her job, and she exhausted her savings before securing a spot on a repatriation flight this month.

    “I think the future will be very difficult for Lebanon. I would advise young Ethiopians to stay here and do their own work rather than go there,” she said.

    She urged the Ethiopian government to step in and help those still stuck there.

    “Most of their madams are throwing them out of the house,” she said. “Before anything worse happens, it would be good for the government to bring back all of our girls from Lebanon.”

    The call is echoed by Banchi, founder of the migrants workers’ rights NGO, who said she is receiving reports of Ethiopian women in Lebanon who are in such despair that they drink bleach or try to jump off balconies.

    “The inaction of the Ethiopian government is leading domestic workers to depression,” she said. “Everybody wants to go home. No-one wants to stay in Lebanon.”


    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    COVID-19 Cases Pass 10 Million Worldwide

    A worker of the Ethiopian Public Health Institute (EPHI) works at a temperature control point at the Bole International Airport, in Addis Ababa. (Getty Images)

    The Associated Press

    Confirmed coronavirus infections have surpassed the 10 million mark worldwide.

    A tally compiled by Johns Hopkins University registered the grim milestone Sunday, after India and Russia added thousands of new cases. The United States has confirmed more than 2.5 million infections, the most in the world.

    Globally, the Hopkins tally has reported nearly 500,000 deaths.

    While Hopkins reports only confirmed coronavirus cases, experts believe the true number of people who have been infected could be as much as 10 times that figure, given that so many people can’t get tested or may have the virus without showing any symptoms.

    Related:

    Interview: Yoseph Seyoum on How to Find Job as COVID-19 Contact Tracer in U.S. Ethiopian Community

    In Ethiopia, A Monk Said to Be 114 Years Old Survives Coronavirus

    Ethiopia Coronavirus Cases Reach 5,846

    Sponsor network gives lifeline to Ethiopians struggling under pandemic

    WHO warns of ‘new and dangerous phase’ as coronavirus accelerates; Americas now hardest hit

    World Bank Provides Additional Support to Help Ethiopia Mitigate Economic Impacts of COVID-19

    As coronavirus cases rise in U.S., public health experts urge caution

    Once the coronavirus epicenter in the U.S., New York City begins to reopen

    Winter is coming south of the equator, along with predictions of the coronavirus’s spread

    US Deaths From Coronavirus Surpass 125,000 and Growing With Over 2.5 Million Infections

    Spotlight: Ethiopia’s First Private Ambulance System Tebita Adds Services Addressing COVID19

    Interview with Dr. Tsion Firew, Doctor on the Frontline in NYC

    COVID-19 and Its Impact on African Economies: Q&A with Prof. Lemma Senbet

    Webinar on COVID-19 and Mental Health: Interview with Dr. Seble Frehywot

    Ethiopia COVID-19 Response Team: Interview with Mike Endale

    Ethio-American Tech Company PhantomALERT Offers Free App to Track & Map COVID-19 Outbreak

    ‘Your Safety is Our Priority’: How Ethiopian Airlines is Navigating the Global Virus Crisis

    Inspiring Amharic Poetry: A Reflection by Shimelis Amare (YouTube)

    Getting Through COVID 19: ECMAA Shares Resources With Ethiopian Community

    Maryland Issues COVID-19 Fact Sheet in Amharic for Ethiopian Community

    Art in the Time of Coronavirus: Guide to Virtual Exhibitions from Ethiopia to U.S.

    We Need Seismic Change, Right Now: by Marcus Samuelsson

    City Sleeps: A Look At The Empty NYC Streets Amid The Virus – In Pictures

    Ethiopia enforces 14-day quarantine for all travelers

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    Amid COVID-19 Pandemic Hopeful & Inspiring Stories Shared by Obama

    Pleas to Diaspora to Assist Coronavirus First Responders in Ethiopia

    Coronavirus Sparks an Epidemic of People Helping People in Seattle

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    Ethiopian Filmmakers Abraham Gezahagne and Yared Zeleke Selected for 2020 Realness Screenwriter’s Residency

    “While the format may have changed, the pedagogical team, framework and spirit of creative incubation will remain the same,” says Mehret Mandefro, co-founder of Realness Institute. (courtesy photo)

    Press Release

    REALNESS ANNOUNCES 2020 RESIDENCY SELECTION & ONLINE ADAPTION

    Realness Institute celebrates the 5th year anniversary of Realness Screenwriters’ Residency in a time of fluidity and many changes, which seems fitting. Since its inception in 2015, Realness has grown from strength to strength, adapting along the way in pursuit of one singular objective: bringing Africa to the world and fostering the new wave of Africa’s filmmaking talent. In that time, Realness has supported 30 feature film projects from all over Africa. “We are extremely proud that the first two films to be realised after taking part in the programme have gone on to screen at Venice, TIFF, Sundance, IFFR and Berlinale, winning awards and securing international sales.” says Realness Institute co-founder, Cait Pansegrouw.

    The residency will take place online over from the 1 July 2020 to 1 September 2020. “While the format may have changed, the pedagogical team, framework and spirit of creative incubation will remain the same,” says Mehret Mandefro, co-founder of Realness Institute and of Realness Institute Partner, Truth Aid Media. “The adapted format has given the Residency scope to expand its selection, resulting in 8 residents being selected in 2020.”

    The 2020 residents are:

    ● Abraham Gezahagne – Median (Ethiopia)

    ● hajooj kuka – African Titanics (Sudan)

    ● Leslie To- About a Girl (Burkina Faso)

    ● Palesa Shongwe – Mubi (South Africa)

    ● Rene van Rooyen – Fear (South Africa)

    ● Rim Mejdi – Plum Season (Morocco)

    ● Thati Peele – Brace Yourself (South Africa)

    ● Yared Zeleke – Sunbirds (Ethiopia)

    “Although we are disappointed to not be returning to our creative home at Nirox due to the Covid-19 pandemic, it did not seem like an option to postpone the residency. Cinema and the arts at large are more in need of support than ever before and with so many of us in national lockdowns, we wanted to surge ahead and use this difficult time to cultivate new stories,” says Programme Manager, Asanda Biyana.

    After the residency, the residents will present their projects at the first-ever virtual edition of the Durban Film Mart, taking place from 4-13 September 2020. They will also take one to one meetings online with potential partners.

    This year, Realness Institute will be piloting a new ‘training the trainer’ initiative. For the first time, the residents will be joined by three Development Executive Trainees, who will shadow script consultant, Mmabatho Kau and Head of Programming (Residency), Selina Ukwuoma. This traineeship has been created with the purpose of fostering this integral role in development and expanding this expertise across the continent. There will be an open call to apply for this traineeship in 2021.

    Realness Institute has also expanded with the addition of Creative Producer Indaba, which will take place later in the year. “In supporting African producers, we see this program as a catalyst for more Realness projects to be realised and take their place on the world stage,” says Realness Institute co-founder, Elias Ribeiro. “We are committed to building more dynamic ecosystems in Cinema in Africa, investigating new business practices, innovative financing and co-production structures between Africa, Europe and North America.”

    Realness Institute would also like to thank its partners and volunteers, past and present, for their continued commitment developing cinematic talent in Africa.

    Realness Institute presents Realness Screenwriters’ Residency in partnership with: Urucu, A51 Pictures, Truth Aid Media, Berlinale Talents, CNC (Le Centre National du Cinéma et de L’image Animée), Cocoon Productions, Deuxieme Ligne Films, Durban FilmMart, The Durban International Film Festival, Durban Talents, EAVE, IEFTA, Institute Français, The French Institute of South Africa, International Film Festival Rotterdam’s IFFR Pro, Toronto International Film Festival, TIFF Filmmaker Lab, Locarno Filmmaker’s Academy, Nirox Foundation, Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie, Sundance Institute and TorinoFilmLab.


    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    GERD UPDATE: Ethiopia, Egypt & Sudan Agree to Restart Talks Over Disputed Dam

    Early Saturday, Seleshi Bekele, Ethiopia’s water and energy minister, confirmed that the countries had decided during an African Union summit to restart stalled negotiations and finalize an agreement over the contentious mega-project within two to three weeks, with support from the AU. (Satellite image via AP)


    Ethiopia, Egypt & Sudan Agree to Restart Talks Over Disputed Dam


    Early Saturday, Seleshi Bekele, Ethiopia’s water and energy minister, confirmed that the countries had decided during an African Union summit to restart stalled negotiations and finalize an agreement over the contentious mega-project within two to three weeks, with support from the AU. (Satellite image via AP)

    The Associated Press

    Updated: June 27th, 2020

    The leaders of Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia agreed late Friday to return to talks aimed at reaching an accord over the filling of Ethiopia’s new hydroelectric dam on the Blue Nile, according to statements from the three nations.

    Early Saturday, Seleshi Bekele, Ethiopia’s water and energy minister, confirmed that the countries had decided during an African Union summit to restart stalled negotiations and finalize an agreement over the contentious mega-project within two to three weeks, with support from the AU.

    The announcement was a modest reprieve from weeks of bellicose rhetoric and escalating tensions over the $4.6 billion Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, which Ethiopia had vowed to start filling at the start of the rainy season in July.

    Egypt and Sudan said Ethiopia would refrain from filling the dam next month until the countries reached a deal. Ethiopia did not comment explicitly on the start of the filling period.

    Ethiopia has hinged its development ambitions on the colossal dam, describing it as a crucial lifeline to bring millions out of poverty.

    Egypt, which relies on the Nile for more than 90% of its water supplies and already faces high water stress, fears a devastating impact on its booming population of 100 million. Sudan, which also depends on the Nile for water, has played a key role in bringing the two sides together after the collapse of U.S.-mediated talks in February.

    Just last week, Ethiopian Foreign Minister Gedu Andargachew warned that his country could begin filling the dam’s reservoir unilaterally, after the latest round of talks with Egypt and Sudan failed to reach an accord governing how the dam will be filled and operated.

    After an AU video conference chaired by South Africa late Friday, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi said that “all parties” had pledged not to take “any unilateral action” by filling the dam without a final agreement, said Bassam Radi, Egypt’s presidency spokesman.

    Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok also indicated the impasse between the Nile basin countries had eased, saying the nations had agreed to restart negotiations through a technical committee with the aim of finalizing a deal in two weeks. Ethiopia won’t fill the dam before inking the much-anticipated deal, Hamdok’s statement added.

    African Union Commission Chairman Moussa Faki Mahamat said the countries “agreed to an AU-led process to resolve outstanding issues,” without elaborating.

    Sticking points in the talks have been how much water Ethiopia will release downstream from the dam if a multi-year drought occurs and how Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan will resolve any future disagreements.

    Both Egypt and Sudan have appealed to the U.N. Security Council to intervene in the years-long dispute and help the countries avert a crisis. The council is set to hold a public meeting on the issue Monday.

    Filling the dam without an agreement could bring the stand-off to a critical juncture. Both Egypt and Ethiopia have hinted at military steps to protect their interests, and experts fear a breakdown in talks could lead to open conflict.

    Related:

    Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan to agree Nile dam in weeks

    Ethiopia agrees to delay filling Nile mega-dam, say Egypt, Sudan

    Clock Ticks On Push to Resolve Egypt-Ethiopia Row Over Nile Dam

    The Grand Renaissance Dam is seen as it undergoes construction on the river Nile in Guba Woreda, Benishangul Gumuz Region, Ethiopia. (REUTERS photo/Tiksa Negeri)

    Reuters

    Updated: June 26th, 2020

    CAIRO (Reuters) – Egypt is counting on international pressure to unlock a deal it sees as crucial to protecting its scarce water supplies from the Nile river before the expected start-up of a giant dam upstream in Ethiopia in July.

    Tortuous, often acrimonious negotiations spanning close to a decade have left the two nations and their neighbour Sudan short of an agreement to regulate how Ethiopia will operate the dam and fill its reservoir.

    Though Egypt is unlikely to face any immediate, critical shortages from the dam even without a deal, failure to reach one before the filling process starts could further poison ties and drag out the dispute for years, analysts say.

    “There is the threat of worsening relations between Ethiopia and the two downstream countries, and consequently increased regional instability,” said William Davison, a senior analyst at the International Crisis Group.

    The latest round of talks left the three countries “closer than ever to reaching an agreement”, according to a report by Sudan’s foreign ministry seen by Reuters.

    But it also said the talks, which were suspended last week, had revealed a “widening gap” over the key issue of whether any agreement would be legally binding, as Egypt demands.

    The stakes for largely arid Egypt are high, for it draws at least 90% of its fresh water from the Nile.

    With Ethiopia insisting it will use seasonal rains to begin filling the dam’s reservoir next month, Cairo has appealed to the U.N. Security Council in a last-ditch diplomatic move.

    ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

    The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) is being built about 15 km (nine miles) from the border with Sudan on the Blue Nile, the source of most of the Nile’s waters.

    Ethiopia says the $4 billion hydropower project, which will have an installed capacity of 6,450 megawatts, is essential to its economic development. Addis Ababa told the U.N. Security Council in a letter this week that it is “designed to help extricate our people from abject poverty”.

    The letter repeated accusations that Egypt was trying to maintain historic advantages over the Nile and constrict Ethiopia’s pursuit of future upstream projects. It argued that Ethiopia had accommodated Egyptian demands to allow recent talks to move forward before Egypt unnecessarily escalated by taking the issue to the Security Council.

    Ethiopia’s government was not immediately available for comment.

    Egypt says it is focused on securing a fair deal limited to the GERD, and that Ethiopia’s talk of righting colonial-era injustice is a ruse meant to distract attention from a bid to impose a fait accompli on its downstream neighbours.

    Both accuse each other of trying to sabotage the talks and of blocking independent studies on the impact of the GERD. Egypt requested U.S. mediation last year, leading to talks over four months in Washington that broke down in February.

    “PROGRESS”

    The resort to outside mediation came because the two sides had been “going round in vicious cycles for years”, said an Egyptian official. The stand-off is a chance for the international community to show leadership on the issue of water, and help broker a deal that “could unlock a lot of cooperation possibilities”, he said.

    Talks this month between water ministers led by Sudan, and observed by the United States, South Africa and the European Union, produced a draft deal that Sudan said made “significant progress on major technical issues”.

    It listed outstanding technical issues however, including how the dam would operate during “dry years” of reduced rainfall, as well as legal issues on whether the agreement and its mechanism for resolving disputes should be binding.

    Sudan, for its part, sees benefits from the dam in regulating its Blue Nile waters, but wants guarantees it will be safely and properly operated.

    Like Egypt it is seeking a binding deal before filling starts, but its increasing alignment with Cairo has not proved decisive.

    Technical compromises are still available, said Davison, but “there’s no reason to think that Ethiopia is going to bow to increased international pressure”.

    “We need to move away from diplomatic escalation and instead the parties need to sit themselves once again around the table and stay there until they reach agreement.”

    UN to Hear Ethiopia-Egypt Nile Dam Dispute


    The behind-closed-doors meeting [set for Monday in New York] was requested by France, according to diplomats, who spoke on condition of anonymity. It came after the latest talks between Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan ended without an agreement. (Bloomberg)

    Bloomberg

    (Bloomberg) — The United Nations Security Council will discuss for the first time Monday a growing dispute between Egypt and Ethiopia over a giant hydropower dam being built on the Nile River’s main tributary, diplomats said. The behind-closed-doors meeting was requested by France, according to the diplomats, who spoke on condition of anonymity. It came after the latest talks between Egypt, Ethi

    The behind-closed-doors meeting was requested by France, according to the diplomats, who spoke on condition of anonymity. It came after the latest talks between Egypt, Ethiopia and mutual neighbor Sudan ended last week with Ethiopia refusing to accept a permanent, minimum volume of water that the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam should release downstream in the event of severe drought.

    Egypt’s Foreign Ministry subsequently asked the UNSC to intervene, calling for a fair and balanced solution. Ethiopia has threatened to start filling the dam’s reservoir when the rainy season begins in July, with or without a deal. That’s a step that Egypt, which relies on the Nile for almost all its fresh water, considers both unacceptable and illegal.

    Ethiopia remains resolute that a so-called declaration of principles agreement signed by Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan in 2015 allows it to proceed with damming the GERD.


    Dear Ethiopia & Egypt: Nile Dam Update


    Nefartari with Simbel and St. Yared holding a Simbel, which is called Tsenatsil in Amharic and Ge’ez.

    The Africa Report

    By Meklit Berihun, a civil engineer and aspiring researcher in systems thinking and its application in the water/environment sector.

    Dear Egypt

    My dear, how are you holding up in these trying times? I hope you are faring well as much as one can given the circumstances. And I pray we will not be burdened with more than we can bear and that this time will soon come to pass for the both of us.

    Dearest, I hear of your frustration about the progress—or lack thereof—on the negotiations over my dam. That is a frustration I also share. I look forward to the day we settle things and look to the future together.

    Beloved, though your approach has recently metamorphosed in addressing your right to our water—officially stating you never held on to any past agreements—the foundation, that you do not want to settle for anything less than 66 percent of what is shared by 10 of your fellow African states, remains unchanged. I must be honest: I cannot fathom how you still hold on to this.

    Read more »

    Dear Ethiopia,

    By Nervana Mahmoud, Doctor and independent political commentator on Middle East issues. BBC’s 100 women 2013.

    Thank you for your letter.

    The fate of our two countries has been linked since ancient times, as described in Herodotus’s book An Account of Egypt, Egypt is the “gift of the Nile,” “it has soil which is black and easily breaks up, seeing that it is in truth mud and silt brought down from Ethiopia by the river.”

    It is sad you question Egypt’s African identity. It may sound surprising to you, but the vast majority of Egyptians are proud Africans. In 1990, my entire family was glued to the television, showing our support for Cameroon against England, in the World Cup. Last year, Egypt hosted the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations. Many Egyptians supported Senegal and Nigeria, who played Arab teams, in the final rounds because we see ourselves as Africans.

    Unfortunately, I do not believe that you — our African brothers — appreciate the potential disastrous impacts of your Grand Renaissance Dam (GERD) on our livelihood in Egypt.

    Read more »

    AP Interview: Egypt Says UN Must Stop Ethiopia on Dam Fill

    AP Interview:: Ethiopia To Fill Disputed Dam, Deal or No Deal


    This satellite image taken May 28, 2020, shows the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) on the Blue Nile river in the Benishangul-Gumuz region. In an interview with The Associated Press Friday, June 19, 2020, Foreign Minister Gedu Andargachew said that Ethiopia will start filling the $4.6 billion dam next month. (AP)

    The Associated Press

    By ELIAS MESERET

    Updated: June 19th, 2020

    ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (AP) — It’s a clash over water usage that Egypt calls an existential threat and Ethiopia calls a lifeline for millions out of poverty. Just weeks remain before the filling of Africa’s most powerful hydroelectric dam might begin, and tense talks between the countries on its operation have yet to reach a deal.

    In an interview with The Associated Press, Ethiopian Foreign Minister Gedu Andargachew on Friday declared that his country will go ahead and start filling the $4.6 billion Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam next month, even without an agreement. “For us it is not mandatory to reach an agreement before starting filling the dam, hence we will commence the filling process in the coming rainy season,” he said.

    “We are working hard to reach a deal, but still we will go ahead with our schedule whatever the outcome is. If we have to wait for others’ blessing, then the dam may remain idle for years, which we won’t allow to happen,” he said. He added that “we want to make it clear that Ethiopia will not beg Egypt and Sudan to use its own water resource for its development,” pointing out that Ethiopia is paying for the dam’s construction itself.

    He spoke after the latest round of talks with Egypt and Sudan on the dam, the first since discussions broke down in February, failed to reach agreement.

    No date has been set for talks to resume, and the foreign minister said Ethiopia doesn’t believe it’s time to take them to a head of state level.

    The years-long dispute pits Ethiopia’s desire to become a major power exporter and development engine against Egypt’s concern that the dam will significantly curtail its water supply if filled too quickly. Sudan has long been caught between the competing interests.

    The arrival of the rainy season is bringing more water to the Blue Nile, the main branch of the Nile, and Ethiopia sees an ideal time to begin filling the dam’s reservoir next month.

    Both Egypt and Ethiopia have hinted at military steps to protect their interests, and experts fear a breakdown in talks could lead to conflict.

    Ethiopia’s foreign minister would not say whether his country would use military action to defend the dam and its operations.

    “This dam should have been a reason for cooperation and regional integration, not a cause for controversies and warmongering,” he said. “Egyptians are exaggerating their propaganda on the dam issue and playing a political gamble. Some of them seem as if they are longing for a war to break out.”

    Gedu added: “Our reading is that the Egyptian side wants to dictate and control even future developments on our river. We won’t ask for permission to carry out development projects on our own water resources. This is both legally and morally unacceptable.”

    He said Ethiopia has offered to fill the dam in four to seven years, taking possible low rainfall into account.

    Sticking points in the talks have been how much water Ethiopia will release downstream from the dam during a multi-year drought and how Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan will resolve any future disputes.

    The United States earlier this year tried to broker a deal, but Ethiopia did not attend the signing meeting and accused the Trump administration of siding with Egypt. This week some Ethiopians felt vindicated when the U.S. National Security Council tweeted that “257 million people in east Africa are relying on Ethiopia to show strong leadership, which means striking a fair deal.”

    In reply to that, Ethiopia’s foreign minister said: “Statements issued from governments and other institutions on the dam should be crafted carefully not to take sides and impair the fragile talks, especially at this delicate time. They should issue fair statements or just issue no statements at all.”

    He also rejected the idea that the issue should be taken to the United Nations Security Council, as Egypt wants. Egypt’s foreign ministry issued a statement Friday saying Egypt has urged the Security Council to intervene in the dispute to help the parties reach a “fair and balanced solution” and prevent Ethiopia from “taking any unilateral actions.”

    The latest talks saw officials from the U.S., European Union and South Africa, the current chairman of the African Union, attending as observers.

    Sudan’s Irrigation Minister Yasser Abbas told reporters after talks ended Wednesday that the three counties’ irrigation leaders have agreed on “90% or 95%” of the technical issues but the dispute over the “legal points” in the deal remains dissolved.

    The Sudanese minister said his country and Egypt rejected Ethiopia’s attempts to include articles on water sharing and old Nile treaties in the dam deal. Egypt has received the lion’s share of the Nile’s waters under decades-old agreements dating back to the British colonial era. Eighty-five percent of the Nile’s waters originate in Ethiopia from the Blue Nile.

    “The Egyptians want us to offer a lot, but they are not ready to offer us anything,” Gedu said Friday. “They want to control everything. We are not discussing a water-sharing agreement.”

    The countries should not get stuck in a debate about historic water rights, William Davison, senior analyst on Ethiopia with the International Crisis Group, told reporters this week. “During a period of filling, yes, there’s reduced water downstream. But that’s a temporary period,” he said.

    Initial power generation from the dam could be seen late this year or in early 2021, he said.

    Ethiopia’ foreign minister expressed disappointment in Egypt’s efforts to find backing for its side.

    “Our African brotherly countries should have supported us, but instead they are tainting our country’s name around the world, and especially in the Arab world,” he said. “Egypt’s monopolistic approach to the dam issue will not be acceptable for us forever.”


    Tussle for Nile Control Escalates as Dam Talks Falter


    The Blue Nile river passes through the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam near Guba, Ethiopia. (Getty Images)

    Bloomberg

    Updated: June 18th, 2020

    A last ditch attempt to resolve a decade-long dispute between Egypt and Ethiopia over a huge new hydropower dam on the Nile has failed, raising the stakes in what – for all the public focus on technical issues – is a tussle for control over the region’s most important water source.

    The talks appear to have faltered over a recurring issue: Ethiopia’s refusal to accept a permanent, minimum volume of water that the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, or GERD, should release downstream in the event of severe drought.

    What happens next remains uncertain. Both Ethiopia and Sudan – a mutual neighbor that took part in the talks – said that progress had been made and left the door open to further negotiation. Yet the stakes in a region acutely vulnerable to the impact of climate change are disconcertingly clear.

    Ethiopia has threatened to start filling the dam’s reservoir when the rainy season begins in July, with or without a deal, a step Egypt considers both unacceptable and illegal. In a statement late Wednesday, Egypt’s irrigation ministry accused Ethiopia of refusing to accept any effective drought provision or legally binding commitments, or even to refer the talks to the three prime ministers in an effort to break the deadlock. Ethiopia was demanding “an absolute right” to build further dams behind the GERD, the ministry said.

    Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry threatened on Monday to call for United Nations Security Council intervention to protect “international peace and security” if no agreement was reached. A day later his Ethiopian opposite, Gedu Andargachew, accused Egypt of “acting as if it is the sole owner of the Nile waters.”

    Egyptian billionaire Naguib Sawiris even warned of a water war. “We will never allow any country to starve us, if Ethiopia doesn’t come to reason, we the Egyptian people will be the first to call for war,” he said in a tweet earlier this week.

    Although both sides have played down the prospect of military conflict, they have occasionally rattled sabers and concern at the potential for escalation helped draw the U.S. and World Bank into the negotiating process last year. When that attempt floundered in February, the European Union and South Africa, as chair of the African Union, joined in.

    “This is all about control,” said Asfaw Beyene, a professor of mechanical engineering at San Diego State University, California, whose work Egypt cited in support of a May 1 report to the UN. The so-called aide memoire argued that the GERD and its 74 billion cubic meter reservoir are so vastly oversized relative to the power they will produce that it “raises questions about the true purpose of the dam.”

    National Survival

    Egypt’s concern is that once the dam’s sluices can control the Nile’s flow, Ethiopia could in times of drought say “I am not releasing water, I need it,” or dictate how the water released is used, says Asfaw. Yet he backs Ethiopia’s claims that once filled, the dam won’t significantly affect downstream supplies. He also agrees with their argument that climate change could render unsustainable any water guarantees given to Egypt.

    Both sides describe the future of the hydropower dam that will generate as much as 15.7 gigawatts of electricity per year as a matter of national survival. Egypt relies on the Nile for as much as 97% of an already strained water supply. Ethiopia says the dam is vital for development, because it would increase the nation’s power generation by about 150% at a time when more than half the population have no access to electricity.

    Read more »


    UPDATE: Ethiopian Army Official Says Country Will Defend Itself Over Dam (AP)


    A general view of the Blue Nile river as it passes through the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), near Guba in Ethiopia. (Getty Images)

    The Associated Press

    By ELIAS MESERET

    Updated: June 12th, 2020

    ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (AP) — Ethiopia’s deputy army chief on Friday said his country will strongly defend itself and will not negotiate its sovereignty over the disputed $4.6 billion Nile dam that has caused tensions with Egypt.

    “Egyptians and the rest of the world know too well how we conduct war whenever it comes,” Gen. Birhanu Jula said in an interview with the state-owned Addis Zemen newspaper, adding that Egyptian leaders’ “distorted narrative” on Africa’s largest hydroelectric dam is attracting enemies.

    He accused Egypt of using its weapons to “threaten and tell other countries not to touch the shared water” and said “the way forward should be cooperation in a fair manner.”

    He spoke amid renewed talks among Ethiopian, Sudanese and Egyptian water and irrigation ministers after months of deadlock. Ethiopia wants to begin filling the dam’s reservoir in the coming weeks, but Egypt worries a rapid filling will take too much of the water it says its people need to survive. Sudan, caught between the competing interests, pushed the two sides to resume discussions.

    The general’s comments were a stark contrast to Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s remarks to lawmakers earlier this week that diplomacy should take center stage to resolve outstanding issues.

    “We don’t want to hurt anyone else, and at the same time it will be difficult for us to accept the notion that we don’t deserve to have electricity,” the Nobel Peace Prize laureate said. “We are tired of begging others while 70% of our population is young. This has to change.”

    Talks on the dam have struggled. Egypt’s Irrigation Ministry on Wednesday called for Ethiopia to “clearly declare that it had no intention of unilaterally filling the reservoir” and that a deal prepared by the U.S. and the World Bank in February serves as the starting point of the resumed negotiations.

    Ethiopia refused to sign that deal and accused the U.S. of siding with Egypt.

    Egypt said that in Tuesday’s talks, Ethiopia showed it wanted to re-discuss “all issues” including “all timetables and figures” negotiated in the U.S.-brokered talks.

    President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi discussed the latest negotiations in a phone call with President Donald Trump on Wednesday, el-Sissi’s office said, without elaborating.

    Egypt’s National Security Council, the highest body that makes decisions in high-profile security matters in the country, has accused Ethiopia of “buying time” and seeking to begin filling the dam’s reservoir in July without reaching a deal with Egypt and Sudan.

    Ethiopia Seeks to Limit Outsiders’ Role in Nile Dam Talks (AFP)


    Ethiopia sees the dam as essential for its electrification and development, while Sudan and Egypt see it as a threat to essential water supplies (AFP Photo)

    AFP

    Updated: June 11th, 2020

    Addis Ababa (AFP) – Ethiopia said Thursday it wants to limit the role of outside parties in revived talks over its Nile River mega-dam, a sign of lingering frustration over a failed attempt by the US to broker a deal earlier this year.

    The Grand Ethiopia Renaissance Dam has been a source of tension in the Nile River basin ever since Ethiopia broke ground on it nearly a decade ago.

    Ethiopia sees the dam as essential for its electrification and development, while Sudan and Egypt see it as a threat to essential water supplies.

    The US Treasury Department stepped in last year after Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi put in a request to his ally US President Donald Trump.

    But the process ran aground after the Treasury Department urged Ethiopia to sign a deal that Egypt backed as “fair and balanced”.

    Ethiopia denied a deal had been reached and accused Washington of being “undiplomatic” and playing favourites.

    On Tuesday Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan resumed talks via videoconference with representatives of the United States, the European Union and South Africa taking part.

    The talks resumed Wednesday and were expected to pick up again Thursday.

    In a statement aired Thursday by state-affiliated media, Ethiopia’s water ministry said the role of the outside parties should not “exceed that of observing the negotiation and sharing good practices when jointly requested by the three countries.”

    The statement also criticised Egypt for detailing its grievances over the dam in a May letter to the UN Security Council — a move it described as a bad faith attempt to “exert external diplomatic pressure”.

    Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed reiterated Monday that his country plans to begin filling the dam’s reservoir in the coming weeks, giving the latest talks heightened urgency.

    The short window makes it “more necessary than ever that concessions are made so a deal can be struck that will ease potentially dangerous tensions,” said William Davison of the International Crisis Group, a conflict prevention organisation.

    One solution could involve Ethiopia “proposing a detailed cooperative annual drought-management scheme that takes Egypt and Sudan’s concerns into account, but does not unacceptably constrain the dam’s potential,” he said.

    The EU sees the resumption of talks as “an important opportunity to restore confidence among the parties, build on the good progress achieved and agree on a mutually beneficial solution,” said spokeswoman Virginie Battu-Henriksson.

    “Especially in this time of global crisis, it is important to appease tensions and find pragmatic solutions,” she said.

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    In Ethiopia, A Monk Said to Be 114 Years Old Survives Coronavirus

    Centenarian Aba Tilahun Woldemichael at his house in Addis Ababa on Saturday, June 27, 2020. The Ethiopian monk believed to be 114 years old has survived the coronavirus and was discharged from a hospital on Thursday, having received oxygen and dexamethasone, a cheap and widely available steroid that researchers in England have said reduced deaths by up to one third in severely ill hospitalized patients. (AP Photo/Mulugeta Ayene)

    The Associated Press

    Updated: June 27, 2020

    ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (AP) — An Ethiopian Orthodox monk whose family says he is 114 years old has survived the coronavirus.

    Tilahun Woldemichael was discharged from a hospital on Thursday after almost three weeks. He received oxygen and dexamethasone, a cheap and widely available steroid that researchers in England have said reduced deaths by up to one third in severely ill hospitalized patients.

    Ethiopia’s health minister has said the ministry recommends the emergency use of the drug for COVID-19 patients who require ventilation or oxygen.

    Tilahun’s grandson Biniam Leulseged said he has no birth certificate to prove the monk’s age, but he showed a photo of him celebrating his 100th birthday.

    “He was looking young back then, too,” Biniam told The Associated Press on Saturday.

    He said he was emotional when his grandfather was taken to the hospital but “I am very happy because we are together again.”

    Ethiopia has more than 5,200 confirmed cases of the virus.


    Coronavirus in Ethiopia: ‘Incredible Recovery of Man Aged Over 100′ (BBC)


    Aba Tilahun Woldemichael’s family says he is 114, which would make him the world’s oldest man, but there is no birth certificate to confirm his age. (Photo: HANA ATSBEHA)

    BBC

    Updated: June 26th, 2020

    The recovery from coronavirus of an Ethiopian man who is believed to be at least 100 years old was “incredible”, one of the doctors who treated him told the BBC.

    Aba Tilahun Woldemichael’s family says he is 114, which would make him the world’s oldest man, but there is no birth certificate to confirm his age.

    The centenarian is now being looked after at home by his grandson.

    Aba Tilahun tested positive for the virus when a random screening process took place in his neighbourhood in the capital, Addis Ababa, and was admitted to hospital before the symptoms showed, Dr Hiluf Abate told the BBC’s Newsday programme.

    This allowed the medical team to be pro-active with its treatment and closely monitor the old man, he added.

    Within four days of his admission to the severe coronavirus ward in Yeka Kotebe hospital, Aba Tilahun’s condition deteriorated as the virus took hold and he was put on oxygen, Dr Hiluf said.

    In all he spent 14 days at the hospital, and was treated with oxygen for more than a week.

    Ethiopia, which has strict coronavirus restrictions, has recorded more than 5,000 confirmed cases and 81 deaths.

    Tumultuous times

    Although Yeka Kotebe cannot confirm that its patient is 114 years old, the medical team says that he is definitely older than 100 and has estimated that he is 109.

    In his youth, he moved to Addis Ababa from southern Ethiopia when he was young and has lived through tumultuous times in his country.

    He witnessed the Italian occupation between 1935 and 1941, the overthrow of Emperor Haile Selassie in 1974, the collapse of the Marxist Derg regime in 1991 and now he has survived Covid-19.

    For years he has lived a simple life as a monk with the Ethiopian Orthodox Church. “Aba” is a title meaning “Father”.

    But when he was younger he worked as an electrician, house painter and general handyman, his 24-year-old grandson Binyam Lulseged Tilahun told the BBC.


    BINYAM LULSEGED TILAHUN, Aba Tilahun’s grandson, seen here with his grandfather several years ago, is now looking after him at home.

    His grandfather was doing well and looked healthy despite his age, however the after-effects of the virus had weakened his voice, Mr Binyam added.

    In order to curb the spread of coronavirus, Ethiopia introduced a state of emergency in April that closed schools and playgrounds, banned large gatherings and sporting events, and reduced passenger numbers on public transport. But businesses have remained open.

    Related:

    Ethiopia Coronavirus Cases Reach 5,689

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    Interview: Yoseph Seyoum on How to Find Job as COVID-19 Contact Tracer in U.S. Ethiopian Community

    Yoseph Seyoum, CEO of PhantomALERT, is leading a new initiative that "seeks to hire, train and deploy thousands of Ethiopian Diaspora members to do contact tracing.” (Courtesy photo)

    Tadias Magazine

    By Tadias Staff

    Updated: July 1st, 2020

    New York (TADIAS) — Below is an audio of our follow up interview with Yoseph Seyoum, CEO of PhantomALERT, a Washington D.C.-based technology company that we had previously featured when they offered a free application service to track and map the COVID-19 outbreak in real time. Now they have repurposed their app to create a national database that will help Ethiopians in the U.S. especially those with multilingual skills to find jobs as contact tracers in the community.

    According to the New York State Department of Health contact tracing is “the process of contacting all people who’ve had contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19. Contact Tracers have been hired and trained to work with state-of-the-art software to gather information on the spread of the infection.”

    The method has long been a major public health tool to prevent the resurgence of infectious diseases. Experts estimate that the U.S. will need to hire hundreds of thousands of contact tracers in the months and years ahead to help control the spread of coronavirus.

    Yoseph Seyoum, who is collaborating with Ethiopian-American healthcare professional groups, the Ethiopian Embassy and other community organizations on the initiative shares that this project “is managed and executed by a team of volunteers. We are all contributing based on our expertise and none of us expect any monetary compensation. We are responding to the global call to action to fight the pandemic. We are doing it for our families, for our country, and for the world. We are all in it together. We all must work together.”

    Below is an audio of our interview with Yoseph Seyoum:

    If you are interested in becoming a COVID-19 Contact Tracer, you can learn more and register here: https://tracers.ethiodiasporacovid.com/

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    Ethiopia Coronavirus Cases Reach 5,846

    The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Ethiopia has reached 5,846 as of June 29th, 2020. (Photo: A worker of the Ethiopian Public Health Institute (EPHI) at Bole airport in Addis Ababa/Getty Images)

    THE LATEST UPDATE:

    Updated: June 29th, 2020

  • Sponsor network gives lifeline to Ethiopians struggling under pandemic
  • WHO warns of ‘new and dangerous phase’ as coronavirus accelerates; Americas now hardest hit
  • World Bank Provides Additional Support to Help Ethiopia Mitigate Economic Impacts of COVID-19
  • Africa outperforms world economies in coronavirus mayhem
  • As coronavirus cases rise in U.S., public health experts urge caution
  • U.S. tops 2.5 million reported cases
  • US Deaths From Coronavirus Surpass 125,000 and Growing
  • Ethiopia Coronavirus Cases Reach 5,846
  • Once the coronavirus epicenter in the U.S., New York City begins to reopen
  • Winter is coming south of the equator, along with predictions of the coronavirus’s spread
  • NYT honors coronavirus victims with powerful front page
  • Spotlight: Ethiopia’s First Private Ambulance System Tebita Adds Services Addressing COVID19
  • WHO reports most coronavirus cases in a day as cases approach five million
  • World Health Organization warns against hydroxychloroquine use for covid-19
  • Experts: Trump’s threats to WHO could undercut global health
  • Why Cape Town has 10 percent of Africa’s confirmed coronavirus cases
  • WHO head says vaccines, medicines must be fairly shared to beat COVID-19
  • U.S. coronavirus death toll tops 80,000
  • U.S. Jobless Rate Spikes to 14.7%, Highest Since Great Depression
  • Doctors face new urgency to solve children and coronavirus puzzle
  • In Ethiopia, Abiy Warns of Opposition Power Grab Amid Pandemic
  • Q&A: How Ethiopia’s Health Minister is Preparing for Coronavirus
  • Young Inventor Helps Ethiopia’s COVID-19 Crisis
  • Hospitalizations continue to decline in New York, Cuomo says
  • Researchers double U.S. COVID-19 death forecast, citing eased restrictions
  • Ethiopia: PM Abiy Writes COVID-19 Related Op-Ed on World Economic Forum Blog
  • Virus deaths in D.C., Virginia and Maryland surpass 2,000
  • IMF Approves $411M in Coronavirus Aid for Ethiopia
  • COVID-19 and Its Impact on African Economies: Q&A with Prof. Lemma Senbet
  • Los Angeles becomes first major U.S. city to offer free coronavirus testing for all residents
  • Global coronavirus death toll surpasses 200,000, as world leaders commit to finding vaccine
  • City demolitions expose Ethiopian families to coronavirus
  • In Maryland, Wogene Debele Gave Birth Before Dying of Covid-19. She Never Got to See Her Newborn.
  • Germany to start first coronavirus vaccine trial
  • U.S. coronavirus deaths top 51,000, with fatalities expected to climb
  • Young and middle-aged people, barely sick with covid-19, are dying from strokes
  • Ethiopia’s Ministry of Health Holds Webinar With Diaspora on COVID-19 Response
  • Webinar on COVID-19 and Mental Health: Interview with Dr. Seble Frehywot
  • CDC director warns second wave of coronavirus is likely to be even more devastating
  • Americans at World Health Organization transmitted real-time info. about coronavirus to Trump admin.
  • In Ethiopia, Dire Dawa Emerges as Newest Coronavirus Hot Spot
  • COVID-19: Interview with Dr. Tsion Firew, an Ethiopian Doctor on the Frontline in NYC
  • UN COVID-19 Major airlift operation reaches ‘most vulnerable’ African nations
  • Ethiopia Cases of Coronavirus Surpass 100
  • In U.S., New York’s Cuomo attacks Trump’s pandemic response
  • Doctor who sounded the alarm about covid-19 is now a children’s book hero
  • Ethiopia Opens Aid Transport Hub to Fight Covid-19
  • Ethiopia to buy life insurance for health workers
  • IMF says COVID-19 pandemic is causing worst global economic downturn since Great Depression
  • U.N. says Saudi deportations of Ethiopian migrants risks spreading coronavirus
  • Ethiopia’s capital launches door-to-door Covid-19 screening
  • Worldwide deaths from the coronavirus hit 100,000
  • Ethiopia COVID-19 Response Team: Interview with Mike Endale
  • Ethiopia eyes replicating China’s successes in applying traditional medicine to contain COVID-19
  • WHO Director Slams ‘Racist’ Comments About COVID-19 Vaccine Testing
  • Ethiopia Declares State of Emergency, Recruits Health Workers to Fight Virus
  • The virus is infecting and killing black Americans at an alarmingly high rate, a Post analysis shows
  • In China, Wuhan’s lockdown officially ends after 11 weeks
  • U.S. coronavirus deaths surpass 10,000
  • U.S. Government urged to release race, ethnicity data on covid-19 cases
  • Ethio-American Tech Company PhantomALERT Offers Free App to Track & Map COVID-19 Outbreak
  • 2nd COVID-19 death confirmed in Ethiopia
  • The Next Coronavirus Test Will Tell You If You Are Now Immune. And It’s Fast.
  • New York City mayor calls for national enlistment of health-care workers
  • ‘Your Safety is Our Priority’: How Ethiopian Airlines is Navigating the Global Virus Crisis
  • Ethiopia races to bolster ventilator stockpile for coronavirus fight
  • Potential COVID-19 Vaccine Shows Promise
  • Over 10 million Americans applied for unemployment benefits in March as economy collapsed
  • U.N. Chief Calls Pandemic Biggest Global Challenge Since World War II
  • US death toll eclipses China’s as reinforcements head to NYC
  • Getting Through COVID 19: ECMAA Shares Timely Resources With Ethiopian Community
  • 2020 Ethiopia Election Canceled Due to COVID-19
  • DC Metro Area Goes on Lockdown
  • U.S. Approves Malaria Drug to Treat Coronavirus Patients
  • U.S. Deaths Could Reach 200,000
  • The Curious Case of Ethiopian Traditional Medicine Covid-19 Treatment & Need for Caution
  • Ethiopia: PM Abiy spoke with Dr. Tedros regarding the Coronavirus response in Africa
  • COVID-19: Fire brigades disinfect Ethiopian capital
  • The Doctor Who Helped Defeat Smallpox Explains What’s Coming
  • In Tunisia Factory Workers Making 50k Masks a Day While in Voluntary Lockdown
  • Virus infections top 600,000 globally with long fight ahead
  • Maryland Issues COVID-19 Fact Sheet in Amharic for Ethiopian Community
  • Gouged prices, middlemen and medical supply chaos: Why governors are so upset with Trump
  • Worshippers in Ethiopia Defy Ban on Large Gatherings Despite Coronavirus
  • A record 3.3 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits as the coronavirus slams economy
  • Ethiopia: Parents fear for missing students as universities close over Covid-19
  • Ethiopia pardons more than 4,000 prisoners to help prevent coronavirus spread

    Coronavirus cases in the U.S. surpass 2.5 million

    By The Washington Post

    June 28th, 2020

    Confirmed coronavirus cases in the United States surpassed 2.5 million on Sunday morning as a devastating new wave of infections continued to bear down throughout the country’s South and West. Florida, Texas and Arizona are fast emerging as the country’s latest epicenters after reporting record numbers of new infections for weeks in a row. Positivity rates and hospitalizations have also spiked. Global cases of covid-19 exceeded 10 million, according to a count maintained by Johns Hopkins University, a measure of the power and spread of a pandemic that has caused vast human suffering, devastated the world’s economy and still threatens vulnerable populations in rich and poor nations alike.
    Read more »

    WHO warns of ‘new and dangerous phase’ as coronavirus accelerates; Americas now hardest hit

    By The Washington Post

    The World Health Organization warned Friday that “the world is in a new and dangerous phase” as the global pandemic accelerates. The world recorded about 150,000 new cases on Thursday, the largest rise yet in a single day, according to the WHO. Nearly half of these infections were in the Americas, as new cases continue to surge in the United States, Brazil and across Latin America. More than 8.5 million coronavirus cases and at least 454,000 deaths have been reported worldwide. As confirmed cases and hospitalizations climb in the U.S., new mask requirements are prompting faceoffs between officials who seek to require face coverings and those, particularly conservatives, who oppose such measures. Several studies this month support wearing masks to curb coronavirus transmission, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend their use as a protective measure. Read more »

    World Bank Provides Additional Support to Help Ethiopia Mitigate Economic Impacts of COVID-19

    JUNE 18, 2020

    The World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors today approved $250 million ($125 million grant and $125 million credit) in supplemental financing for the ongoing Second Ethiopia Growth and Competitiveness Programmatic Development Policy Financing. This funding is geared towards helping Ethiopia to revitalize the economy by broadening the role of the private sector and attaining a more sustainable development path.

    “The COVID 19 pandemic is expected to severely impact Ethiopia’s economy. The austerity of the required containment measures, along with disruptions to air travel and the collapse in international demand for goods exported by Ethiopia are already taking a toll on the economy,” said Carolyn Turk, World Bank Country Director for Ethiopia, Sudan, South Sudan and Eritrea. “Additionally, an estimated 1.8 million jobs are at risk, and the incomes and livelihoods of several million informal workers, self-employed individuals and farmers are expected to be affected.”

    The supplemental financing will help to mitigate the impact of the ongoing COVID-19 crisis on the Government’s reform agenda. Specifically, the program is intended to help address some of the unanticipated financing needs the Government of Ethiopia is facing due to the COVID-19 crisis. Additional financing needs are estimated to be approximately $1.5 billion, as revenue collection is expected to weaken, and additional expenditure is needed to mitigate the public health and economic impacts of the crisis.

    Read more »

    Once the coronavirus epicenter in the U.S., New York City begins to reopen


    After three months of a coronavirus crisis followed by protests and unrest, New York City is trying to turn a page when a limited range of industries reopen Monday, June 8, 2020. (AP Photo)

    100 days after the first coronavirus case was confirmed there, the city that was once the epicenter of America’s coronavirus pandemic began to reopen. The number of cases in New York has plunged, but health officials fear that a week of protests on the streets could bring a new wave.

    Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) estimated that between 200,000 to 400,000 workers returned to work throughout the city’s five boroughs.

    “All New Yorkers should be proud you got us to this day,” de Blasio said at a news conference at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, a manufacturing hub.

    Read more »

    US Deaths From Coronavirus Surpass 100,000 Milestone

    By The Associated Press

    The U.S. surpassed a jarring milestone Wednesday in the coronavirus pandemic: 100,000 deaths. That number is the best estimate and most assuredly an undercount. But it represents the stark reality that more Americans have died from the virus than from the Vietnam and Korea wars combined. “It’s a striking reminder of how dangerous this virus can be,” said Josh Michaud, associate director of global health policy with the Kaiser Family Foundation in Washington. The true death toll from the virus, which emerged in China late last year and was first reported in the U.S. in January, is widely believed to be significantly higher, with experts saying many victims died of COVID-19 without ever being tested for it. Read more »

    Ethiopia Coronavirus Cases Reach 5,846

    By Dr. Lia Tadesse, Minister of Health

    Report #111 የኢትዮጵያ የኮሮና ቫይረስ ሁኔታ መግለጫ. Status update on #COVID19Ethiopia. Total confirmed cases [as of June 29th, 2020]: 5,846 Read more »

    New York Times Memorializes Coronavirus Victims as U.S. Death Toll Nears 100,000

    America is fast approaching a grim milestone in the coronavirus outbreak — each figure here represents one of the nearly 100,000 lives lost so far. Read more »

    Spotlight: Ethiopia’s First Private Ambulance System Tebita Adds Services Addressing COVID19

    By Liben Eabisa | TADIAS

    Twelve year ago when Kibret Abebe quit his job as a nurse anesthetist at Black Lion Hospital and sold his house to launch Tebita Ambulance — Ethiopia’s First Private Ambulance System — his friends and family were understandably concerned about his decisions. But today Tebita operates over 20 advanced life support ambulances with approval from the Ministry of Health and stands as the country’s premier Emergency Medical Service (EMS). Tebita has since partnered with East Africa Emergency Services, an Ethiopian and American joint venture that Kibret also owns, with the aim “to establish the first trauma center and air ambulance system in Ethiopia.” This past month Tebita announced their launch of new services in Addis Abeba to address the COVID-19 pandemic and are encouraging Ethiopians residing in the U.S. to utilize Tebita for regular home check-ins on elderly family members as well as vulnerable individuals with pre-existing conditions. The following is an audio of the interview with Kibret Abebe and Laura Davis of Tebita Ambulance and East Africa Emergency Services: Read more »

    WHO reports most coronavirus cases in a day as cases approach five million

    By Reuters

    GENEVA (Reuters) – The World Health Organization expressed concern on Wednesday about the rising number of new coronavirus cases in poor countries, even as many rich nations have begun emerging from lockdown. The global health body said 106,000 new cases of infections of the novel coronavirus had been recorded in the past 24 hours, the most in a single day since the outbreak began. “We still have a long way to go in this pandemic,” WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a news conference. “We are very concerned about rising cases in low and middle income countries.” Dr. Mike Ryan, head of WHO’s emergencies programme, said: “We will soon reach the tragic milestone of 5 million cases.” Read more »

    WHO head says vaccines, medicines must be fairly shared to beat COVID-19

    By Reuters

    Scientists and researchers are working at “breakneck” speed to find solutions for COVID-19 but the pandemic can only be beaten with equitable distribution of medicines and vaccines, the head of the World Health Organization said on Friday. “Traditional market models will not deliver at the scale needed to cover the entire globe,” WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a briefing in Geneva.

    Read more »

    Doctors face new urgency to solve children and coronavirus puzzle

    By Axios

    Solving the mystery of how the coronavirus impacts children has gained sudden steam, as doctors try to determine if there’s a link between COVID-19 and kids with a severe inflammatory illness, and researchers try to pin down their contagiousness before schools reopen. New York hospitals have reported 73 suspected cases with two possible deaths from the inflammatory illness as of Friday evening. Read more »

    COVID-19 and Its Impact on African Economies: Q&A with Prof. Lemma Senbet


    Prof. Lemma Senbet. (Photo: @AERCAFRICA/Twitter)

    By Liben Eabisa | TADIAS

    Last week Professor Lemma Senbet, an Ethiopian-American financial economist and the William E. Mayer Chair Professor at University of Maryland, moderated a timely webinar titled ‘COVID-19 and African Economies: Global Implications and Actions.’ The well-attended online conference — hosted by the Center for Financial Policy at University of Maryland Robert H. Smith School of Business on Friday, April 24th — featured guest speakers from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) as well as the World Bank who addressed “the global implications of the COVID-19 economic impact on developing and low-income countries, with Africa as an anchor.” In the following Q&A with Tadias Prof. Lemma, who is also the immediate former Executive Director of the African Economic Research Consortium based in Nairobi, Kenya, explains the worldwide economic fallout of the Coronavirus pandemic and its impact on the African continent, including Ethiopia. Read more »

    US unemployment surges to a Depression-era level of 14.7%

    By The Associated Press

    The coronavirus crisis has sent U.S. unemployment surging to 14.7%, a level last seen when the country was in the throes of the Depression and President Franklin D. Roosevelt was assuring Americans that the only thing to fear was fear itself…The breathtaking collapse is certain to intensify the push-pull across the U.S. over how and when to ease stay-at-home restrictions. And it robs President Donald Trump of the ability to point to a strong economy as he runs for reelection. “The jobs report from hell is here,” said Sal Guatieri, senior economist at BMO Capital Markets, “one never seen before and unlikely to be seen again barring another pandemic or meteor hitting the Earth.” Read more »

    Hospitalizations continue to decline in New York, Cuomo says

    By CBS News

    New York Governor Andrew Cuomo says the number of people newly diagnosed and hospitalized with COVID-19 has continued to decrease. “Overall the numbers are coming down,” he said. But he said 335 people died from the virus yesterday. “That’s 335 families,” Cuomo said. “You see this number is basically reducing, but not at a tremendous rate. The only thing that’s tremendous is the number of New Yorkers who’ve still passed away.” Read more »

    Los Angeles offers free testing to all county residents

    By The Washington Post

    All residents of Los Angeles County can access free coronavirus testing at city-run sites, Mayor Eric Garcetti (D) said on Wednesday. Previously, the city had only offered testing to residents with symptoms as well as essential workers and people who lived or worked in nursing homes and other kinds of institutional facilities. In an announcement on Twitter, Garcetti said that priority would still be given to front-line workers and anyone experiencing symptoms, including cough, fever or shortness of breath. But the move, which makes Los Angeles the first major city in the country to offer such widespread testing, allows individuals without symptoms to be tested. Health experts have repeatedly said that mass testing is necessary to determine how many people have contracted the virus — and in particular, those who may not have experienced symptoms — and then begin to reopen the economy. Testing is by appointment only and can be arranged at one of the city’s 35 sites. Read more »

    Researchers Double U.S. COVID-19 Death Forecast

    By Reuters

    A newly revised coronavirus mortality model predicts nearly 135,000 Americans will die from COVID-19 by early August, almost double previous projections, as social-distancing measures for quelling the pandemic are increasingly relaxed, researchers said on Monday. The ominous new forecast from the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) reflect “rising mobility in most U.S. states” with an easing of business closures and stay-at-home orders expected in 31 states by May 11, the institute said. Read more »

    Global coronavirus death toll surpasses 200,000, as world leaders commit to finding vaccine

    By NBC News

    The global coronavirus death toll surpassed 200,000 on Saturday, according to John Hopkins University data. The grim total was reached a day after presidents and prime ministers agreed to work together to develop new vaccines, tests and treatments at a virtual meeting with both the World Health Organization (WHO) and Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. “We will only halt COVID-19 through solidarity,” said Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General. “Countries, health partners, manufacturers, and the private sector must act together and ensure that the fruits of science and research can benefit everybody. As the U.S. coronavirus death tollpassed 51,000 people, according to an NBC News tally, President Donald Trump took no questions at his White House briefing on Friday, after widespread mockery for floating the idea that light, heat and disinfectants could be used to treat coronavirus patients.”

    Read more »

    Germany to start first coronavirus vaccine trial

    By DW

    German Health Minister Jens Spahn has announced the first clinical trials of a coronavirus vaccine. The Paul Ehrlich Institute (PEI), the regulatory authority which helps develop and authorizes vaccines in Germany, has given the go-ahead for the first clinical trial of BNT162b1, a vaccine against the SARS-CoV-2 virus. It was developed by cancer researcher and immunologist Ugur Sahin and his team at pharmaceutical company BioNTech, and is based on their prior research into cancer immunology. Sahin previously taught at the University of Mainz before becoming the CEO of BioNTech. In a joint conference call on Wednesday with researchers from the Paul Ehrlich Institute, Sahin said BNT162b1 constitutes a so-called RNA vaccine. He explained that innocuous genetic information of the SARS-CoV-2 virus is transferred into human cells with the help of lipid nanoparticles, a non-viral gene delivery system. The cells then transform this genetic information into a protein, which should stimulate the body’s immune reaction to the novel coronavrius.

    Read more »

    Webinar on COVID-19 and Mental Health: Interview with Dr. Seble Frehywot

    By Liben Eabisa | TADIAS

    Dr. Seble Frehywot, an Associate Professor of Global Health & Health Policy at George Washington University in Washington, D.C. and her colleague Dr. Yianna Vovides from Georgetown University will host an online forum next week on April 30th focusing on the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on mental health. Dr. Seble — who is also the Director of Global Health Equity On-Line Learning at George Washington University – told Tadias that the virtual conference titled “People’s Webinar: Addressing COVID-19 By Addressing Mental Health” is open to the public and available for viewing worldwide. Read more »

    Young and middle-aged people, barely sick with covid-19, are dying from strokes

    By The Washington Post

    Doctors sound alarm about patients in their 30s and 40s left debilitated or dead. Some didn’t even know they were infected. Read more »

    CDC director warns second wave of coronavirus is likely to be even more devastating

    By The Washington Post

    Even as states move ahead with plans to reopen their economies, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned Tuesday that a second wave of the novel coronavirus will be far more dire because it is likely to coincide with the start of flu season. “There’s a possibility that the assault of the virus on our nation next winter will actually be even more difficult than the one we just went through,” CDC Director Robert Redfield said in an interview with The Washington Post. “And when I’ve said this to others, they kind of put their head back, they don’t understand what I mean…We’re going to have the flu epidemic and the coronavirus epidemic at the same time,” he said. Having two simultaneous respiratory outbreaks would put unimaginable strain on the health-care system, he said. The first wave of covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, has already killed more than 42,000 people across the country. It has overwhelmed hospitals and revealed gaping shortages in test kits, ventilators and protective equipment for health-care workers.

    Read more »

    Americans at World Health Organization transmitted real-time information about coronavirus to Trump administration

    By The Washington Post

    More than a dozen U.S. researchers, physicians and public health experts, many of them from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, were working full time at the Geneva headquarters of the World Health Organization as the novel coronavirus emerged late last year and transmitted real-time information about its discovery and spread in China to the Trump administration, according to U.S. and international officials. A number of CDC staff members are regularly detailed to work at the WHO in Geneva as part of a rotation that has operated for years. Senior Trump-appointed health officials also consulted regularly at the highest levels with the WHO as the crisis unfolded, the officials said. The presence of so many U.S. officials undercuts President Trump’s assertion that the WHO’s failure to communicate the extent of the threat, born of a desire to protect China, is largely responsible for the rapid spread of the virus in the United States. Read more »

    In Ethiopia, Dire Dawa Emerges as Newest Coronavirus Hot Spot

    By Africa News

    The case count as of April 20 had reached 111 according to health minister Lia Tadesse’s update for today. Ethiopia crossed the 100 mark over the weekend. All three cases recorded over the last 24-hours were recorded in the chartered city of Dire Dawa with patients between the ages of 11 – 18. Two of them had travel history from Djibouti. Till date, Ethiopia has 90 patients in treatment centers. The death toll is still at three with 16 recoveries. A patient is in intensive care. Read more »

    COVID-19: Interview with Dr. Tsion Firew, an Ethiopian Doctor on the Frontline in NYC


    Dr. Tsion Firew is Doctor of Emergency Medicine and Assistant Professor at Columbia University. She is also Special Advisor to the Ministry of Health in Ethiopia. (Courtesy photo)

    By Liben Eabisa

    In New York City, which has now become the global epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic, working as a medical professional means literally going to a “war zone,” says physician Tsion Firew, a Doctor of Emergency Medicine and Assistant Professor at Columbia University, who has just recovered from COVID-19 and returned to work a few days ago. Indeed the statistics coming out of New York are simply shocking with the state recording a sharp increase in death toll this months surpassing 10,000 and growing. According to The New York Times: “The numbers brought into clearer focus the staggering toll the virus has already taken on the largest city in the United States, where deserted streets are haunted by the near-constant howl of ambulance sirens. Far more people have died in New York City, on a per-capita basis, than in Italy — the hardest-hit country in Europe.” At the heart of the solution both in the U.S. and around the world is more testing and adhering to social distancing rules until such time as a proper treatment and vaccine is discovered, says Dr. Tsion, who is also a Special Advisor to the Ministry of Health in Ethiopia. Dr. Tsion adds that at this moment “we all as humanity have one enemy: the virus. And what’s going to win the fight is solidarity.” Listen to the interview »

    Ethiopia Opens Aid Transport Hub to Fight Covid-19

    By AFP

    Ethiopia and the United Nations on Tuesday opened a humanitarian transport hub at Addis Ababa airport to move supplies and aid workers across Africa to fight coronavirus. The arrangement, which relies on cargo services provided by Ethiopian Airlines, could also partially offset heavy losses Africa’s largest carrier is sustaining because of the pandemic. An initial shipment of 3 000 cubic metres of supplies – most of it personal protective equipment for health workers – will be distributed within the next week, said Steven Were Omamo, Ethiopia country director for the World Food Programme (WFP). “This is a really important platform in the response to Covid-19, because what it does is it allows us to move with speed and efficiency to respond to the needs as they are unfolding,” Omamo said, referring to the disease caused by the coronavirus. The Addis gateway is one of eight global humanitarian hubs set up to facilitate movement of aid to fight Covid-19, according to WFP.

    Read more »

    Covid-19: Ethiopia to buy life insurance for health workers

    By TESFA-ALEM TEKLE | AFP

    The Ethiopian government is due to buy life insurance for health professionals in direct contact with Covid-19 patients. Health minister Lia Tadesse said on Tuesday that the government last week reached an agreement with the Ethiopian Insurance Corporation but did not disclose the value of the cover. The two sides are expected to sign an agreement this week to effect the insurance grant. According to the ministry, the life insurance grant is aimed at encouraging health experts who are the most vulnerable to the deadly coronavirus. Members of the Rapid Response Team will also benefit.

    Read more »

    U.N. says Saudi deportations of Ethiopian migrants risks spreading coronavirus

    By Reuters

    The United Nations said on Monday that deportations of illegal migrant workers by Saudi Arabia to Ethiopia risked spreading the coronavirus and it urged Riyadh to suspend the practice for the time being.

    Read more »

    Ethiopia’s capital launches door-to-door Covid-19 screening


    Getty Images

    By TESFA-ALEM TEKLE | AFP

    Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa is due to begin a door-to-door mass Covid-19 screening across the city, Addis Ababa city administration has announced. City deputy Mayor, Takele Uma, on Saturday told local journalists that the mass screening and testing programme will be started Monday (April 13) first in districts which are identified as potentially most vulnerable to the spread of the highly infectious coronavirus. The aggressive city-wide screening measure intends to identify Covid-19 infected patients and thereby to arrest a potential virus spread within communities. He said, the mass screening will eventually be carried out in all 117 districts, locally known as woredas, of the city, which is home to an estimated 7 million inhabitants. According to the Mayor, the door-to-door mass Covid-19 screening will be conducted by more than 1,200 retired health professionals, who responded to government’s call on the retired to join the national fight against the coronavirus pandemic.

    Read more »

    Worldwide deaths from the coronavirus hit 100,000

    By The Associated Press

    The worldwide death toll from the coronavirus has hit 100,000, according to the running tally kept by Johns Hopkins University. The sad milestone comes as Christians around the globe mark a Good Friday unlike any other — in front of computer screens instead of in church pews. Meanwhile, some countries are tiptoeing toward reopening segments of their battered economies. Public health officials are warning people against violating the social distancing rules over Easter and allowing the virus to flare up again. Authorities are using roadblocks and other means to discourage travel.

    Read more »

    Ethiopia COVID-19 Response Team: Interview with Mike Endale

    By Liben Eabisa | TADIAS

    A network of technology professionals from the Ethiopian Diaspora — known as the Ethiopia COVID-19 Response Team – has been assisting the Ethiopian Ministry of Health since the nation’s first Coronavirus case was confirmed on March 13th. The COVID-19 Response Team has since grown into an army of more than a thousand volunteers. Mike Endale, a software developer based in Washington, D.C., is the main person behind the launch of this project. Read more »

    Ethiopia eyes replicating China’s successes in applying traditional medicine to contain COVID-19

    By CGTN Africa

    The Ethiopian government on Thursday expressed its keen interest to replicate China’s positive experience in terms of effectively applying traditional Chinese medicine to successfully contain the spread of COVID-19 pandemic in the East African country.

    This came after high-level officials from the Ethiopian Ministry of Innovation and Technology (MoIT) as well as the Ethiopian Ministry of Health (MoH) held a video conference with Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) practitioners and researchers on ways of applying the TCM therapy towards controlling the spread of coronavirus pandemic in the country, the MoIT disclosed in a statement issued on Thursday.

    “China, in particular, has agreed to provide to Ethiopia the two types of Chinese traditional medicines that the country applied to successfully treat the first two stages of the novel coronavirus,” a statement from the Ethiopian Ministry of Innovation and Technology read.

    Read more »

    WHO Director Slams ‘Racist’ Comments About COVID-19 Vaccine Testing


    The Director General of the World Health Organization, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, has angrily condemned recent comments made by scientists suggesting that a vaccine for COVID-19 should be tested in Africa as “racist” and a hangover from the “colonial mentality”. (Photo: WHO)

    By BBC

    The head of the World Health Organization (WHO) has condemned as “racist” the comments by two French doctors who suggested a vaccine for the coronavirus could be tested in Africa.

    “Africa can’t and won’t be a testing ground for any vaccine,” said Director General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

    The doctors’ remarks during a TV debate sparked outrage, and they were accused of treating Africans like “human guinea pigs”.

    One of them later issued an apology.

    When asked about the doctors’ suggestion during the WHO’s coronavirus briefing, Dr Tedros became visibly angry, calling it a hangover from the “colonial mentality”.

    “It was a disgrace, appalling, to hear during the 21st Century, to hear from scientists, that kind of remark. We condemn this in the strongest terms possible, and we assure you that this will not happen,” he said.

    Read more »

    Ethiopia declares state of emergency to curb spread of COVID-19

    By Reuters

    Ethiopia’s prime minister, Abiy Ahmed, on Wednesday declared a state of emergency in the country to help curb the spread of the new coronavirus, his office said on Twitter. “Considering the gravity of the #COVID19, the government of Ethiopia has enacted a State of Emergency,” Abiy’s office said.

    Ethiopia virus cases hit 52, 9-month-old baby infected

    By TESFA-ALEM TEKLE | AFP

    Ethiopia on Tuesday reported eight new Covid-19 cases, the highest number recorded so far in one day since the country confirmed its first virus case on March 12. Among the new patients that tested positive for the virus were a 9-month-old infant and his mother who had travelled to Dubai recently. “During the past 24 hours, we have done laboratory tests for a total of 264 people and eight out of them have been diagnosed with coronavirus, raising the total confirmed number of Covid-19 patients in Ethiopia to 52,” said Health Minister Dr Lia Tadese. According to the Minister, seven of the newly confirmed patients had travel histories to various countries. They have been under forced-quarantine in different designated hotels in the capital, Addis Ababa. “Five of the new patients including the 9-month-old baby and the mother came from Dubai while the two others came from Thailand and the United Kingdom,” she said

    Read more »

    The coronavirus is infecting and killing black Americans at an alarmingly high rate

    By The Washington Post

    As the novel coronavirus sweeps across the United States, it appears to be infecting and killing black Americans at a disproportionately high rate, according to a Washington Post analysis of early data from jurisdictions across the country. The emerging stark racial disparity led the surgeon general Tuesday to acknowledge in personal terms the increased risk for African Americans amid growing demands that public-health officials release more data on the race of those who are sick, hospitalized and dying of a contagion that has killed more than 12,000 people in the United States. A Post analysis of what data is available and census demographics shows that counties that are majority-black have three times the rate of infections and almost six times the rate of deaths as counties where white residents are in the majority.

    Read more »

    In China, Wuhan’s lockdown officially ends after 11 weeks

    After 11 weeks — or 76 days — Wuhan’s lockdown is officially over. On Wednesday, Chinese authorities allowed residents to travel in and out of the besieged city where the coronavirus outbreak was first reported in December. Many remnants of the months-long lockdown, however, remain. Wuhan’s 11 million residents will be able to leave only after receiving official authorization that they are healthy and haven’t recently been in contact with a coronavirus patient. To do so, the Chinese government is making use of its mandatory smartphone application that, along with other government surveillance, tracks the movement and health status of every person.

    Read more »

    U.S. hospitals facing ‘severe shortages’ of equipment and staff, watchdog says

    By The Washington Post

    As the official U.S. death toll approached 10,000, U.S. Surgeon General Jerome M. Adams warned that this will be “the hardest and saddest week of most Americans’ lives.”

    Read more »

    Ethio-American Tech Company PhantomALERT Offers Free App to Track & Map COVID-19 Outbreak

    By Tadias Staff

    PhantomALERT, a Washington D.C.-based technology company announced, that it’s offering a free application service to track, report and map COVID-19 outbreak hotspots in real time. In a recent letter to the DC government as well as the Ethiopian Embassy in the U.S. the Ethiopian-American owned business, which was launched in 2007, explained that over the past few days, they have redesigned their application to be “a dedicated coronavirus mapping, reporting and tracking application.” The letter to the Ethiopian Embassy, shared with Tadias, noted that PhantomALERT’s technology “will enable the Ethiopian government (and all other countries across the world) to locate symptomatic patients, provide medical assistance and alert communities of hotspots for the purpose of slowing down the spread of the Coronavirus.”

    Read more »

    2nd COVID-19 death confirmed in Ethiopia

    By Dr. Lia Tadesse (Minister, Ministry of Health, Ethiopia)

    It is with great sadness that I announce the second death of a patient from #COVID19 in Ethiopia. The patient was admitted on April 2nd and was under strict medical follow up in the Intensive Care Unit. My sincere condolences to the family and loved ones.

    Read more »

    The Next Coronavirus Test Will Tell You If You Are Now Immune. And It’s Fast.


    People line up in their cars at the COVID-19 testing area at Roseland Community Hospital on April 3, 2020, in Chicago. (E. Jason Wambsgans / Chicago Tribune)

    By Chicago Tribune

    A new, different type of coronavirus test is coming that will help significantly in the fight to quell the COVID-19 pandemic, doctors and scientists say. The first so-called serology test, which detects antibodies to the virus rather than the virus itself, was given emergency approval Thursday by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. And several more are nearly ready, said Dr. Elizabeth McNally, director of the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine Center for Genetic Medicine.

    Read more »

    ‘Your Safety is Our Priority’: How Ethiopian Airlines is Navigating the Global Virus Crisis

    By Tadias Staff

    Lately Ethiopian Airlines has been busy delivering much-needed medical supplies across Africa and emerging at the forefront of the continent’s fight against the coronavirus pandemic even as it has suspended most of its international passenger flights.

    Read more »

    Ethiopia races to bolster ventilator stockpile for coronavirus fight

    By AFP

    Ethiopia’s government — like others in Africa — is confronting a stark ventilator shortage that could hobble its COVID-19 response. In a country of more than 100 million people, just 54 ventilators — out of around 450 total — had been set aside for COVID-19 patients as of this week, said Yakob Seman, director general of medical services at the health ministry.

    Read more »

    New York City mayor calls for national enlistment of health-care workers


    New York Mayor Bill de Blasio. (AP photo)

    By The Washington Post

    New York Mayor Bill de Blasio on Friday called for a national enlistment of health-care workers organized by the U.S. military.

    Speaking on CNN’s New Day, he lamented that there has been no effort to mobilize doctors and nurses across the country and bring them to “the front” — first New York City and then other areas that have been hardest hit by the coronavirus outbreak.

    “If there’s not action by the president and the military literally in a matter of days to put in motion this vast mobilization,” de Blasio said, “then you’re going to see first hundreds and later thousands of Americans die who did not need to die.”

    He said he expects his city to be stretched for medical personnel starting Sunday, which he called “D-Day.” Many workers are out sick with the disease, he added, while others are “just stretched to the limit.”

    The mayor said he has told national leaders that they need to get on “wartime footing.”

    “The nation is in a peacetime stance while were actually in the middle of a war,” de Blasio said. “And if they don’t do something different in the next few days, they’re going to lose the window.”

    Read more »

    Over 10 million Americans applied for unemployment benefits in March as economy collapsed

    By The Washington Post

    More than 6.6 million Americans applied for unemployment benefits last week — a new record — as political and public health leaders put the economy in a deep freeze, keeping people at home and trying to slow the spread of the deadly coronavirus. The past two weeks have seen more people file for unemployed claims than during the first six months of the Great Recession, a sign of how rapid, deep and painful the economic shutdown has been on many American families who are struggling to pay rent and health insurance costs in the midst of a pandemic. Job losses have skyrocketed as restaurants, hotel, gyms, and travel have shut down across the nation, but layoffs are also rising in manufacturing, warehousing and transportation, a sign of how widespread the pain of the coronavirus recession is. In March alone, 10.4 million Americans lost their jobs and applied for government aid, according to the latest Labor Department data, which includes claims filed through March 28. Many economists say the real number of people out work is likely even higher, since a lot of newly unemployed Americans haven’t been able to fill out a claim yet.

    Read more »

    U.N. Chief Calls Pandemic Biggest Global Challenge Since World War II

    By The Washington Post

    The coronavirus outbreak sickening hundreds of thousands around the world and devastating the global economy is creating a challenge for the world not seen since World War II, United Nations Secretary General António Guterres said late Tuesday. Speaking in a virtual news conference, Guterres said the world needs to show more solidarity and cooperation in fighting not only the medical aspects of the crisis but the economic fallout. The International Monetary Fund is predicting an economic recession worse than in 2008.

    Read more »

    US death toll eclipses China’s as reinforcements head to NYC

    By The Associated Press

    The U.S. death toll from the coronavirus climbed past 3,800 Tuesday, eclipsing China’s official count, as hard-hit New York City rushed to bring in more medical professionals and ambulances and parked refrigerated morgue trucks on the streets to collect the dead.

    Read more »

    Getting Through COVID 19: ECMAA Shares Timely Resources With Ethiopian Community

    By Tadias Staff

    The Ethiopian Community Mutual Assistance Association (ECMAA) in the New York tri-state area has shared timely resources including COVID-19 safety information as well as national sources of financial support for families and small business owners.

    Read more »

    2020 Ethiopia Election Canceled Due to COVID-19

    By Tadias Staff

    The highly anticipated 2020 national election in Ethiopia has been canceled for now due to the coronavirus outbreak. The National Election Board of Ethiopia (NEBE) announced that it has shelved its plans to hold the upcoming nationwide parliamentary polls on August 29th after an internal evaluation of the possible negative effect of the virus pandemic on its official activities.

    Read more »

    Washington, D.C., Maryland, Virginia on lockdown as coronavirus cases grow

    By The Washington Post

    Maryland, Virginia and the District issued “stay-at-home” orders on Monday, joining a growing list of states and cities mandating broad, enforceable restrictions on where residents can go in an effort to limit the spread of the novel coronavirus.

    Read more »

    U.S. Approves Malaria Drug to Treat Coronavirus Patients

    By The Washington Post

    The Food and Drug Administration has given emergency approval to a Trump administration plan to distribute millions of doses of anti-malarial drugs to hospitals across the country, saying it is worth the risk of trying unproven treatments to slow the progression of the disease in seriously ill coronavirus patients.

    Read more »

    U.S. Deaths Could Reach 200,000

    By Bloomberg News

    A top U.S. infectious disease scientist said U.S. deaths could reach 200,000, but called it a moving target. New York’s fatalities neared 1,000, more than a third of the U.S. total.

    Read more »

    Ethiopia: PM, WHO Director Discuss Coronavirus Response


    @fanatelevision/twitter

    By Tadias Staff

    Ethiopian PM Abiy Ahmed spoke with Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization, over the weekend regarding the Coronavirus response in Ethiopia and Africa in general.

    Read more »

    Virus infections top 600,000 globally with long fight ahead

    By The Associated Press

    The number of confirmed coronavirus infections worldwide topped 600,000 on Saturday as new cases stacked up quickly in Europe and the United States and officials dug in for a long fight against the pandemic. The latest landmark came only two days after the world passed half a million infections, according to a tally by John Hopkins University, showing that much work remains to be done to slow the spread of the virus. It showed more than 607,000 cases and over 28,000 deaths. While the U.S. now leads the world in reported infections — with more than 104,000 cases — five countries exceed its roughly 1,700 deaths: Italy, Spain, China, Iran and France.

    Read more »

    Maryland Issues COVID-19 Fact Sheet in Amharic for Ethiopian Community

    By Tadias Staff

    The state of Maryland Department of Health has issued a COVID-19 Fact Sheet in Amharic for its large Ethiopian community.

    Read more »

    Gouged prices, middlemen and medical supply chaos: Why governors are so upset with Trump

    By The Washington Post

    Masks that used to cost pennies now cost several dollars. Companies outside the traditional supply chain offer wildly varying levels of price and quality. Health authorities say they have few other choices to meet their needs in a ‘dog-eat-dog’ battle.

    Read more »

    Worshippers in Ethiopia Defy Ban on Large Gatherings Despite Coronavirus

    By VOA

    ADDIS ABABA – Health experts in Ethiopia are raising concern, as some religious leaders continue to host large gatherings despite government orders not to do so in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak. Earlier this week, Ethiopia’s government ordered security forces to enforce a ban on large gatherings aimed at preventing the spread of COVID-19. Ethiopia has seen only 12 cases and no deaths from the virus, and authorities would like to keep it that way. But enforcing the orders has proven difficult as religious groups continue to meet and, according to religious leaders, fail to treat the risks seriously.

    Read more »

    U.S. deaths from coronavirus top 1,000

    By The Washington Post

    It began as a mysterious disease with frightening potential. Now, just two months after America’s first confirmed case, the country is grappling with a lethal reality: The novel coronavirus has killed more than 1,000 people in the United States, a toll that is increasing at an alarming rate.

    Read more »

    A record 3.3 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits as the coronavirus slams economy

    By The Washington Post

    A record 3.3 million Americans applied for unemployment benefits last week, the Labor Department said Thursday, as restaurants, hotels, barber shops, gyms and more shut down in a nationwide effort to slow the spread of the deadly coronavirus.

    Last week saw the biggest jump in new jobless claims in history, surpassing the record of 695,000 set in 1982. Many economists say this is the beginning of a massive spike in unemployment that could result in over 40 million Americans losing their jobs by April.

    Laid off workers say they waited hours on the phone to apply for help. Websites in several states, including New York and Oregon, crashed because so many people were trying to apply at once.

    “The most terrifying part about this is this is likely just the beginning of the layoffs,” said Martha Gimbel, a labor economist at Schmidt Futures. The nation’s unemployment rate was 3.5 percent in February, a half-century low, but that has likely risen already to 5.5 percent, according to calculations by Gimbel. The nation hasn’t seen that level of unemployment since 2015.

    Read more »

    Ethiopia: Parents fear for missing students as universities close over Covid-19


    Photo via amnesty.org

    As universities across Ethiopia close to avert spread of the COVID-19 virus, Amnesty International is calling on the Ethiopian authorities to disclose measures they have taken to rescue 17 Amhara students from Dembi Dolo University in Western Oromia, who were abducted by unidentified people in November 2019 and have been missing since.

    The anguish of the students’ families is exacerbated by a phone and internet shutdown implemented in January across the western Oromia region further hampering their efforts to get information about their missing loved ones.

    “The sense of fear and uncertainty spreading across Ethiopia because of COVID-19 is exacerbating the anguish of these students’ families, who are desperate for information on the whereabouts of their loved ones four months after they were abducted,” said Seif Magango, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for East Africa.

    “The Ethiopian authorities’ move to close universities in order to protect the lives of university students is commendable, but they must also take similarly concrete actions to locate and rescue the 17 missing students so that they too are reunited with their families.”

    Read more »

    UPDATE: New York City is now reporting 26,697 COVID-19 cases and 450 deaths.

    BY ABC7 NY

    Temporary hospital space in New York City will begin opening on Monday and more supplies are on the way as an already overwhelmed medical community anticipates even more coronavirus patients in the coming days. Mayor Bill de Blasio tweeted 20 trucks were on the road delivering protective equipment to hospitals, including surgical masks, N95 masks, and hundreds more ventilators.

    Governor Cuomo added the temporary hospital in the Javits Center will open on Monday the same day that the USNS Comfort will arrive in New York City.

    Read more »

    Related: New York sees some signs of progress against coronavirus as New Orleans hit hard (REUTERS)

    L.A. mayor says residents may have to shelter at home for two months or more

    By Business Insider

    Los Angeles residents will be confined to their homes until May at the earliest, Mayor Eric Garcetti told Insider on Wednesday.

    “I think this is at least two months,” he said. “And be prepared for longer.”

    In an interview with Insider, Garcetti pushed back against “premature optimism” in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, saying leaders who suggest we are on the verge of business as usual are putting lives at risk.

    “I can’t say that strongly enough,” the mayor said. Optimism, he said, has to be grounded in data. And right now the data is not good.

    “Giving people false hope will crush their spirits and will kill more people,” Garcetti said, adding it would change their actions by instilling a sense of normality at the most abnormal time in a generation.

    Read more »

    Ethiopia pardons more than 4,000 prisoners to help prevent coronavirus spread

    By CNN

    Ethiopian President Sahle-Work Zewde has granted pardon to more than 4,000 prisoners in an effort to contain the spread of coronavirus.

    Sahle-Work Zewde announced the order in a tweet on Wednesday and said it would help prevent overcrowding in prisons.

    The directive only covers those given a maximum sentence of three years for minor crimes and those who were about to be released from jail, she said.

    There are 12 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in Ethiopia, the World Health Organization said Wednesday.
    Authorities in the nation have put in place a raft of measures, including the closure of all borders except to those bringing in essential goods to contain the virus. The government has directed security officials to monitor and enforce a ban on large gatherings and overcrowded public transport to ensure social distancing.

    Read more »


    U.S. House passes $2 trillion coronavirus emergency spending bill


    Watch: Senator Chuck Schumer of New York breaks down massive coronavirus aid package (MSNBC Video)

    By The Washington Post

    The House of Representatives voted Friday [March 27th] to approve a massive $2 trillion stimulus bill that policy makers hope will blunt the economic destruction of the coronavirus pandemic, sending the legislation to President Trump for enactment. The legislation passed in dramatic fashion, approved on an overwhelming voice vote by lawmakers who’d been forced to return to Washington by a GOP colleague who had insisted on a quorum being present. Some lawmakers came from New York and other places where residents are supposed to be sheltering at home.

    Read more »

    In Ethiopia, Abiy seeks $150b for African virus response

    By AFP

    Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed on Tuesday urged G20 leaders to help Africa cope with the coronavirus crisis by facilitating debt relief and providing $150 billion in emergency funding.
    The pandemic “poses an existential threat to the economies of African countries,” Abiy’s office said in a statement, adding that Ethiopia was “working closely with other African countries” in preparing the aid request.

    The heavy debt burdens of many African countries leave them ill-equipped to respond to pandemic-related economic shocks, as the cost of servicing debt exceeds many countries’ health budgets, the statement said.

    Read more »

    Worried Ethiopians Want Partial Internet Shutdown Ended (AP)


    Ethiopians have their temperature checked for symptoms of the new coronavirus, at the Zewditu Memorial Hospital in the capital Addis Ababa, Ethiopia Wednesday, March 18, 2020. For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms such as fever and cough and the vast majority recover in 2-6 weeks but for some, especially older adults and people with existing health issues, the virus that causes COVID-19 can result in more severe illness, including pneumonia. (AP Photo/Mulugeta Ayene)

    By Elias Meseret | AP

    March 24, 2020

    ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia — Rights groups and citizens are calling on Ethiopia’s government to lift the internet shutdown in parts of the country that is leaving millions of people without important updates on the coronavirus.

    The months-long shutdown of internet and phone lines in Western Oromia and parts of the Benishangul Gumuz region is occurring during military operations against rebel forces.

    “Residents of these areas are getting very limited information about the coronavirus,” Jawar Mohammed, an activist-turned-politician, told The Associated Press.

    Ethiopia reported its first coronavirus case on March 13 and now has a dozen. Officials have been releasing updates mostly online. Land borders have closed and national carrier Ethiopian Airlines has stopped flying to some 30 destinations around the world.

    Read more »

    In Global Fight vs. Virus, Over 1.5 Billion Told: Stay Home


    A flier urging customers to remain home hangs at a turnstile as an MTA employee sanitizes surfaces at a subway station with bleach solutions due to COVID-19 concerns, Friday, March 20, 2020, in New York. (AP)

    The Associated Press

    NEW YORK (AP) — With masks, ventilators and political goodwill in desperately short supply, more than one-fifth of the world’s population was ordered or urged to stay in their homes Monday at the start of what could be a pivotal week in the battle to contain the coronavirus in the U.S. and Europe.

    Partisan divisions stalled efforts to pass a colossal aid package in Congress, and stocks fell again on Wall Street even after the Federal Reserve said it will lend to small and large businesses and local governments to help them through the crisis.

    Warning that the outbreak is accelerating, the head of the World Health Organization called on countries to take strong, coordinated action.

    “We are not helpless bystanders,” Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said, noting that it took 67 days to reach 100,000 cases worldwide but just four days to go from 200,000 to 300,000. “We can change the trajectory of this pandemic.”

    Read more »

    China’s Coronavirus Donation to Africa Arrives in Ethiopia (Reuters)


    An Ethiopian Airlines worker transports a consignment of medical donation from Chinese billionaire Jack Ma and Alibaba Foundation to Africa for coronavirus disease (COVID-19) testing, upon arrival at the Bole International Airport in Addis Ababa, March 22, 2020. (REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri)

    The first batch of protective and medical equipment donated by Chinese billionaire and Alibaba co-founder Jack Ma was flown into the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa on Sunday, as coronavirus cases in Africa rose above 1,100.

    The virus has spread more slowly in Africa than in Asia or Europe but has a foothold in 41 African nations and two territories. So far it has claimed 37 lives across the continent of 1.3 billion people.

    The shipment is a much-needed boost to African healthcare systems that were already stretched before the coronavirus crisis, but nations will still need to ration supplies at a time of global scarcity.

    Only patients showing symptoms will be tested, the regional Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) said on Sunday.

    “The flight carried 5.4 million face masks, kits for 1.08 million detection tests, 40,000 sets of protective clothing and 60,000 sets of protective face shields,” Ma’s foundation said in a statement.

    “The faster we move, the earlier we can help.”

    The shipment had a sign attached with the slogan, “when people are determined they can overcome anything”.

    Read more »


    Related:

    We Need Seismic Change, Right Now: by Marcus Samuelsson

    City Sleeps: A Look At The Empty NYC Streets Amid The Virus – In Pictures

    Ethiopia enforces 14-day quarantine for all travelers

    Diaspora-based Tech Professionals Launch Ethiopia COVID-19 Response Task Force

    Amid COVID-19 Pandemic Hopeful & Inspiring Stories Shared by Obama

    Pleas to Diaspora to Assist Coronavirus First Responders in Ethiopia

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

  • NYC Marathon Cancelled Due to COVID-19

    The New York Road Runners (NYRR), in partnership with the mayor’s office, said the decision to cancel the world’s largest marathon was made due to novel coronavirus-related health and safety concerns for runners, spectators, volunteers and staff. (Reuters)

    Reuters

    The New York City Marathon, one of the most prestigious events on the global running calendar, has been cancelled this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, race organisers said on Wednesday.

    The New York Road Runners (NYRR), in partnership with the mayor’s office, said the decision to cancel the world’s largest marathon was made due to novel coronavirus-related health and safety concerns for runners, spectators, volunteers and staff.

    The race was scheduled to take place on Nov. 1.

    “Canceling this year’s TCS New York City Marathon is incredibly disappointing for everyone involved, but it was clearly the course we needed to follow from a health and safety perspective,” said NYRR Chief Executive Michael Capiraso.

    The 26.2-mile race (42km), which traverses all five boroughs of the city, routinely attracts over 50,000 runners and more than one million spectators.

    Former New York City Marathon winner Meb Keflezighi said the race held a special place in his heart and he was sad to hear that this year’s edition had been cancelled.

    “These decisions are never easy, but keeping people healthy and safe is always the right call. I will see you in NYC for the 50th running in 2021!” Keflezighi said on Twitter.

    Runners who signed up for this year’s marathon, which would have celebrated its 50th anniversary, can either receive a full refund or choose to run the race in any of the next three years.

    “As the latest U.S. major on the calendar for the year, this one stings,” former Boston Marathon winner Des Linden wrote on Twitter.

    “It also offers clarity for season goals and allows for patience and intelligence in mapping the way forward. It’s the right call.”

    Of the six World Marathon Majors, three have been canceled this year due to the virus with the Boston Marathon and Berlin Marathon also opting to shelve plans for their 2020 races.

    The Boston Marathon, originally due to be held in April and then postponed until September, was cancelled this year for the first time in its 124-year history.

    The Tokyo Marathon went ahead on March 1 with elite runners only, London was postponed to Oct. 4 from April 26 and the Chicago Marathon is currently scheduled for Oct. 11.


    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    Spotlight: California-based Ethiopian-American Artist Netsanet Tesfay

    Netsanet Tesfay poses for a photograph at home in Walnut Creek, California on Saturday, May 16, 2020. The artist finds inspiration for her paintings and drawings in nature and her Ethiopian culture. (Bay Area News Group)

    Mercury News

    Ethiopian-American artist Netsanet Tesfay on art as stress relief, connection

    As a child growing up in Ambo, Ethiopia, Netsanet Tesfay recalls sitting at the kitchen table for hours at a time, drawing everything her eyes fell upon: pots, pans, a long-necked jebana — or kettle — for coffee.

    Today, the Walnut Creek artist and mother of two known for her bold and bright female imagery — “Resist: Frida in pussy hat” was featured in the Bedford Gallery’s “World of Frida” exhibition —- is finding inspiration in much the same way, especially during spring’s shelter-in-place. Tesfay, 43, recently illustrated a 32-page coloring book celebrating Walnut Creek open space and talked to us about art as a tool for mental health.

    Q: Can you tell us about the Ethiopian women in your work and why they speak to you as an artist?

    A: Women in Africa play a huge role in families. They’re powerful in that way. We carry our families metaphorically and literally on our backs. The women of Southern Ethiopia’s Omo Valley, in particular, are members of a group of indigenous tribes that have lived peacefully for centuries. In the Suri tribe, it is customary to adorn the body with floral arrangements, clay accessories and paint. I find inspiration in their beauty and grace. And right now, these populations are being forcibly displaced, and it breaks my heart.

    Q: Is there a place for art not just as creative expression, but as stress relief?

    A: Yes, this is something artists think about a lot. A recent study in the Journal of American Art Therapy Association found that 45 minutes of making art reduces stress hormones. And this is at any level. There’s no talent required. If you can draw a line, you’re good. When I find my kids fighting — it’s always around 4:30 p.m. — I get out the art supplies, and we have a sort of Zen moment. After 45 minutes, they are happy. They are relaxed. And they are kinder to each other.


    Netsanet Tesfay poses for a photograph at home in Walnut Creek, on Saturday, May 16, 2020. (Bay Area News Group)

    Q: What is the role of art amid crisis?

    A: In the middle of catastrophe, especially during times of loss, we’re at our most vulnerable and looking to experience that together. Catastrophe calls for connection, and art allows for that to happen. We’re looking for something positive, the best in ourselves. People are finding solace, inspiration and refuge in that.

    Art is a savior for a lot of people. And it doesn’t have to be art as we think of it. People are baking more. Gardening. Anything where we use our brains differently.

    Q: Does coloring count? What do you make of the rise in coloring books for adults?

    A: I think it’s a fantastic practice for our mental health, like meditation or exercise. It switches off the brain and requires zero skills. It immediately puts you at ease and in a safe zone. It’s about finding an activity that comes with no judgment. I don’t think a lot of people realize that we spend most of our time in our left brain. I think switching to the other side brings about consciousness.

    WALNUT CREEK, CA – MAY 16: Art work by Ethiopian illustrator Net Tesfay is photographed in Walnut Creek, on Saturday, May 16, 2020. (Anda Chu/Bay Area News Group)

    Q: You recently helped create a coloring book for your community. How did that come about?

    A: When the pandemic happened, it felt like a rug was pulled out from under me. I wanted to make sure people were OK, that they had something to do during shelter-in-place. Our PTA at Walnut Heights Elementary School came to me with the idea of doing a coloring book to celebrate the 50th anniversary of The Nature Area, a three-acre open space behind the school with a pond, pollinator garden, edible garden and amphitheater. It is a treasure and resource for the community.

    The book, which is inspired by the Walnut Heights Nature Area coloring book
    originally published by the PTA in 1982, has 32 pages and 60 images of the native plant and wildlife, along with blurbs. Every child at the school received a coloring book. We’re hoping it will motivate them to care about nature.


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    ‘No-one Wants to Stay’: Ethiopia Under Pressure to Rescue Maids in Lebanon

    Birtukan Mekuanint, 23, says she was trapped and exploited after she went to work in Lebanon as a maid. (AFP Photo)

    AFP

    Addis Ababa (AFP) – After she flew to Lebanon in 2017 to work as a maid for a family of eight, Birtukan Mekuanint managed to call her own relatives in Ethiopia only a handful of times.

    So her father, Abiye Yefru, did not know what to think when Birtukan emerged unannounced from a taxi outside their home in Addis Ababa last week.

    “Everyone was very emotional when she came to meet us,” Abiye told AFP, describing their reunion. “Me, I didn’t hold back my tears, and my wife cried even more.”

    Soon, though, Abiye’s joy turned to anger as Birtukan recounted her hardship in Lebanon — an all-too-common tale of uncompensated labour in abusive conditions.

    Now he’s joining the chorus of Ethiopians pleading with the government to bring back thousands of domestic workers stranded in Lebanon.

    “It’s too difficult over there,” he said. “Of course they should be brought home.”

    A quarter of a million migrants are employed as domestic workers in Lebanon, the majority of them Ethiopian.

    A sponsorship system known as “kafala” leaves maids, nannies and carers outside the remit of Lebanese labour law and at the mercy of their employers.

    The workers’ plight has come under the spotlight in recent weeks as Lebanon grapples with its worst economic crisis in decades, with dozens of women kicked out by their employers and dumped outside the Ethiopian consulate in Beirut.

    Yet Ethiopian women have for years endured nonpayment of wages, forced confinement and physical and sexual violence, activists say.

    Making matters worse, Ethiopian authorities have turned a blind eye to the abuses, said Banchi Yimer, founder of an NGO that advocates for migrant workers’ rights.

    “I would say they do nothing,” she said. “Nothing has been done by the Ethiopian government.”

    Like many Ethiopian women, Birtukan believed the brokers who told her moving to Lebanon would be an easy way to improve her family’s fortunes.

    For 7,000 Ethiopian birr (around $200), they promised to arrange her travel and place her with a family that would pay $200 (177 euros) a month while covering her expenses.

    Upon reaching Beirut, however, she learned the brokers would pocket her earnings for the first two months.

    The brokers then cut off contact, and her Lebanese boss refused to pay her.

    Under the kafala system, migrant workers can’t terminate contracts without the consent of their employers, meaning Birtukan was effectively trapped.

    She spent long hours mopping floors, ironing clothes and cleaning bathrooms, all while tallying the days on a piece of cardboard she hid under her mattress.

    “I didn’t see other people. Even if I tried to talk on the phone, they would stop me,” she told AFP as tears rolled down her cheeks.

    She seized the first chance she could to escape, swiping a key to the compound gate left behind by one of the family’s children.

    She then secured a spot on one of the flights organised last month by the Ethiopian government and state-owned Ethiopian Airlines.

    But only around 650 women have been flown home so far.

    As the coronavirus pandemic exacerbates Lebanon’s economic woes, Birtukan wants to see more repatriations.

    “I think the government should bring back all the women there,” she said. “They’re sleeping under bridges. They don’t have enough to eat.”

    Ethiopia’s foreign affairs ministry and the consulate in Beirut did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

    -Tough times ahead-

    For all the horror stories out of Lebanon, some women are glad they made the journey.

    Almaz Gezaheng, 32, travelled to Lebanon in 2008, moving in with a family of four.

    She found the pay too low and the conditions too strenuous, but after she left she landed a job as a cleaner at a beauty parlour that paid $400 per month.

    She sent half that money home, enabling her parents to buy their own house.

    “At least I changed my family’s life, even if I haven’t done anything for myself.”

    But after the Lebanese economy tanked, Almaz lost her job, and she exhausted her savings before securing a spot on a repatriation flight this month.

    “I think the future will be very difficult for Lebanon. I would advise young Ethiopians to stay here and do their own work rather than go there,” she said.

    She urged the Ethiopian government to step in and help those still stuck there.

    “Most of their madams are throwing them out of the house,” she said. “Before anything worse happens, it would be good for the government to bring back all of our girls from Lebanon.”

    The call is echoed by Banchi, founder of the migrants workers’ rights NGO, who said she is receiving reports of Ethiopian women in Lebanon who are in such despair that they drink bleach or try to jump off balconies.

    “The inaction of the Ethiopian government is leading domestic workers to depression,” she said. “Everybody wants to go home. No-one wants to stay in Lebanon.”


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    Biden Selects Yohannes Abraham as Member of Transition Team (UPDATE)

    Yohannes Abraham, who is the first Ethiopian American to serve in a senior White House role served as Chief of Staff for the Office of Public Engagement and Intergovernmental Affairs (Courtesy Photo)

    Tadias Magazine

    By Tadias Staff

    Updated: July 1st, 2020

    New York (TADIAS) — Former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee in the 2020 presidential election, has hired Yohannes Abraham, a former Obama administration official, to oversee the day-to-day operation of his newly formed post-election transition team. The group led by former Delaware Sen. Ted Kaufman will focus on building a governing infrastructure in the event of a Biden victory in November.

    According to NBC News Yohannes, who is the first Ethiopian American to serve in a senior White House role, “as chief of staff for the Office of Public Engagement and Intergovernmental Affairs, led by Valerie Jarrett. He also served as chief operating officer of the Obama Foundation before joining the faculty of the Harvard Kennedy School.”

    “Given the nature of the challenges that will await (Biden) in January, I know how important it is that he selects the very best team,” Jarrett told NBC, adding of Abraham: “I can’t think of anybody more qualified to hit the ground running.”

    At the end of his White House tenure four years ago Yohannes told Tadias in an interview that he credits his Ethiopian immigrant parents for instilling in him a sense of hard work and civic duty. “First and foremost, it’s my parents who are my mentors,” Yohannes told us.

    “I think an important way for my generation to honor our parents and the foundation they have created for us is to be active, engaged citizens here in America. Think about it. Our parents moved to a new country, in most cases knowing no one, having nothing, and speaking little English.” He continued: They did so in the hopes of finding a better life for their families, and by and large they did. We are the beneficiaries of their choices, and we owe it to them to make the most of the opportunities they unlocked for us. We also owe it to our communities, and America writ large, to contribute to the diverse fabric of civic life. Doing so makes the country stronger, and it makes our community’s voice stronger within it.”

    Yohannes also shared more about his drive to promote civic engagement and leadership adding that “as a newer immigrant community, we owe it to those who fought for justice in the country before we ever got here — Latino farmworkers, civil rights organizers, foot soldiers in the women’s suffrage movement, and so on — to be good stewards of the duty of citizenship. If a civil rights organizer could risk their life for the right to vote, what excuse do we have to not be first in line at the polls? What excuse do we have to be unregistered or apathetic? What excuse do we have to ignore the plight of other communities that may find themselves in need of allies in the face of injustice? To my mind, none. That’s why I’ve been so happy to see a surge of civic engagement amongst younger Ethiopian Americans in the past few years. I hope it’s something that will continue.”

    Yohannes, who was born in the U.S., attended the Thomas Jefferson High School for Science & Technology in Virginia and later studied Political Science at Yale, before joining the historic 2008 Obama campaign and ultimately working for the Obama administration.

    Related:

    Biden builds out his presidential transition operation (NBC News)

    Michelle Obama on Why You Should Vote

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    LATEST UPDATE: Coronavirus Pandemic

    The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Ethiopia has reached 5,425 as of June 26th, 2020. (Photo: A worker of the Ethiopian Public Health Institute (EPHI) at Bole airport in Addis Ababa/Getty Images)

    Ethiopia Coronavirus Cases Reach 5,425

    THE LATEST UPDATE:

    Updated: June 26th, 2020

  • Sponsor network gives lifeline to Ethiopians struggling under pandemic
  • WHO warns of ‘new and dangerous phase’ as coronavirus accelerates; Americas now hardest hit
  • World Bank Provides Additional Support to Help Ethiopia Mitigate Economic Impacts of COVID-19
  • Africa outperforms world economies in coronavirus mayhem
  • Ethiopia Coronavirus Cases Reach 5,425
  • As coronavirus cases rise in U.S., public health experts urge caution
  • U.S. nears 2 million reported cases
  • ‘A big test’: Hard-hit New York City begins reopening
  • Winter is coming south of the equator, along with predictions of the coronavirus’s spread
  • US Deaths From Coronavirus Surpass 100,000 Milestone
  • NYT honors coronavirus victims with powerful front page
  • Spotlight: Ethiopia’s First Private Ambulance System Tebita Adds Services Addressing COVID19
  • WHO reports most coronavirus cases in a day as cases approach five million
  • World Health Organization warns against hydroxychloroquine use for covid-19
  • Experts: Trump’s threats to WHO could undercut global health
  • Why Cape Town has 10 percent of Africa’s confirmed coronavirus cases
  • WHO head says vaccines, medicines must be fairly shared to beat COVID-19
  • U.S. coronavirus death toll tops 80,000
  • U.S. Jobless Rate Spikes to 14.7%, Highest Since Great Depression
  • Doctors face new urgency to solve children and coronavirus puzzle
  • In Ethiopia, Abiy Warns of Opposition Power Grab Amid Pandemic
  • Q&A: How Ethiopia’s Health Minister is Preparing for Coronavirus
  • Young Inventor Helps Ethiopia’s COVID-19 Crisis
  • Hospitalizations continue to decline in New York, Cuomo says
  • Researchers double U.S. COVID-19 death forecast, citing eased restrictions
  • Ethiopia: PM Abiy Writes COVID-19 Related Op-Ed on World Economic Forum Blog
  • Virus deaths in D.C., Virginia and Maryland surpass 2,000
  • IMF Approves $411M in Coronavirus Aid for Ethiopia
  • COVID-19 and Its Impact on African Economies: Q&A with Prof. Lemma Senbet
  • Los Angeles becomes first major U.S. city to offer free coronavirus testing for all residents
  • Global coronavirus death toll surpasses 200,000, as world leaders commit to finding vaccine
  • City demolitions expose Ethiopian families to coronavirus
  • In Maryland, Wogene Debele Gave Birth Before Dying of Covid-19. She Never Got to See Her Newborn.
  • Germany to start first coronavirus vaccine trial
  • U.S. coronavirus deaths top 51,000, with fatalities expected to climb
  • Young and middle-aged people, barely sick with covid-19, are dying from strokes
  • Ethiopia’s Ministry of Health Holds Webinar With Diaspora on COVID-19 Response
  • Webinar on COVID-19 and Mental Health: Interview with Dr. Seble Frehywot
  • CDC director warns second wave of coronavirus is likely to be even more devastating
  • Americans at World Health Organization transmitted real-time info. about coronavirus to Trump admin.
  • In Ethiopia, Dire Dawa Emerges as Newest Coronavirus Hot Spot
  • COVID-19: Interview with Dr. Tsion Firew, an Ethiopian Doctor on the Frontline in NYC
  • UN COVID-19 Major airlift operation reaches ‘most vulnerable’ African nations
  • Ethiopia Cases of Coronavirus Surpass 100
  • In U.S., New York’s Cuomo attacks Trump’s pandemic response
  • Doctor who sounded the alarm about covid-19 is now a children’s book hero
  • Ethiopia Opens Aid Transport Hub to Fight Covid-19
  • Ethiopia to buy life insurance for health workers
  • IMF says COVID-19 pandemic is causing worst global economic downturn since Great Depression
  • U.N. says Saudi deportations of Ethiopian migrants risks spreading coronavirus
  • Ethiopia’s capital launches door-to-door Covid-19 screening
  • Worldwide deaths from the coronavirus hit 100,000
  • Ethiopia COVID-19 Response Team: Interview with Mike Endale
  • Ethiopia eyes replicating China’s successes in applying traditional medicine to contain COVID-19
  • WHO Director Slams ‘Racist’ Comments About COVID-19 Vaccine Testing
  • Ethiopia Declares State of Emergency, Recruits Health Workers to Fight Virus
  • The virus is infecting and killing black Americans at an alarmingly high rate, a Post analysis shows
  • In China, Wuhan’s lockdown officially ends after 11 weeks
  • U.S. coronavirus deaths surpass 10,000
  • U.S. Government urged to release race, ethnicity data on covid-19 cases
  • Ethio-American Tech Company PhantomALERT Offers Free App to Track & Map COVID-19 Outbreak
  • 2nd COVID-19 death confirmed in Ethiopia
  • The Next Coronavirus Test Will Tell You If You Are Now Immune. And It’s Fast.
  • New York City mayor calls for national enlistment of health-care workers
  • ‘Your Safety is Our Priority’: How Ethiopian Airlines is Navigating the Global Virus Crisis
  • Ethiopia races to bolster ventilator stockpile for coronavirus fight
  • Potential COVID-19 Vaccine Shows Promise
  • Over 10 million Americans applied for unemployment benefits in March as economy collapsed
  • U.N. Chief Calls Pandemic Biggest Global Challenge Since World War II
  • US death toll eclipses China’s as reinforcements head to NYC
  • Getting Through COVID 19: ECMAA Shares Timely Resources With Ethiopian Community
  • 2020 Ethiopia Election Canceled Due to COVID-19
  • DC Metro Area Goes on Lockdown
  • U.S. Approves Malaria Drug to Treat Coronavirus Patients
  • U.S. Deaths Could Reach 200,000
  • The Curious Case of Ethiopian Traditional Medicine Covid-19 Treatment & Need for Caution
  • Ethiopia: PM Abiy spoke with Dr. Tedros regarding the Coronavirus response in Africa
  • COVID-19: Fire brigades disinfect Ethiopian capital
  • The Doctor Who Helped Defeat Smallpox Explains What’s Coming
  • In Tunisia Factory Workers Making 50k Masks a Day While in Voluntary Lockdown
  • Virus infections top 600,000 globally with long fight ahead
  • Maryland Issues COVID-19 Fact Sheet in Amharic for Ethiopian Community
  • Gouged prices, middlemen and medical supply chaos: Why governors are so upset with Trump
  • Worshippers in Ethiopia Defy Ban on Large Gatherings Despite Coronavirus
  • A record 3.3 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits as the coronavirus slams economy
  • Ethiopia: Parents fear for missing students as universities close over Covid-19
  • Ethiopia pardons more than 4,000 prisoners to help prevent coronavirus spread

    WHO warns of ‘new and dangerous phase’ as coronavirus accelerates; Americas now hardest hit

    By The Washington Post

    The World Health Organization warned Friday that “the world is in a new and dangerous phase” as the global pandemic accelerates. The world recorded about 150,000 new cases on Thursday, the largest rise yet in a single day, according to the WHO. Nearly half of these infections were in the Americas, as new cases continue to surge in the United States, Brazil and across Latin America. More than 8.5 million coronavirus cases and at least 454,000 deaths have been reported worldwide. As confirmed cases and hospitalizations climb in the U.S., new mask requirements are prompting faceoffs between officials who seek to require face coverings and those, particularly conservatives, who oppose such measures. Several studies this month support wearing masks to curb coronavirus transmission, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend their use as a protective measure. Read more »

    World Bank Provides Additional Support to Help Ethiopia Mitigate Economic Impacts of COVID-19

    JUNE 18, 2020

    The World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors today approved $250 million ($125 million grant and $125 million credit) in supplemental financing for the ongoing Second Ethiopia Growth and Competitiveness Programmatic Development Policy Financing. This funding is geared towards helping Ethiopia to revitalize the economy by broadening the role of the private sector and attaining a more sustainable development path.

    “The COVID 19 pandemic is expected to severely impact Ethiopia’s economy. The austerity of the required containment measures, along with disruptions to air travel and the collapse in international demand for goods exported by Ethiopia are already taking a toll on the economy,” said Carolyn Turk, World Bank Country Director for Ethiopia, Sudan, South Sudan and Eritrea. “Additionally, an estimated 1.8 million jobs are at risk, and the incomes and livelihoods of several million informal workers, self-employed individuals and farmers are expected to be affected.”

    The supplemental financing will help to mitigate the impact of the ongoing COVID-19 crisis on the Government’s reform agenda. Specifically, the program is intended to help address some of the unanticipated financing needs the Government of Ethiopia is facing due to the COVID-19 crisis. Additional financing needs are estimated to be approximately $1.5 billion, as revenue collection is expected to weaken, and additional expenditure is needed to mitigate the public health and economic impacts of the crisis.

    Read more »

    U.S. nears 2 million reported cases

    By The Centers for Disease Control (CDC)

    More than 7.1 million people worldwide – including nearly 2 million in the United States – have been infected with the new coronavirus, and the number of deaths from the outbreak continues to rise. While efforts to contain the COVID-19 outbreak continue, states have begun to shift their focus toward reopening their economies. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is tracking cases in the U.S. here.

    ‘A big test’: Hard-hit New York City begins reopening


    After three months of a coronavirus crisis followed by protests and unrest, New York City is trying to turn a page when a limited range of industries reopen Monday, June 8, 2020. (AP Photo)

    After three gloomy months and 21,000 deaths that made it the nation’s most lethal hot spot, New York City slowly began reopening Monday in the biggest test yet of Americans’ ability to keep the coronavirus in check.

    Stores previously deemed nonessential were cleared to reopen for delivery and curbside pickup, though customers cannot yet browse inside. Construction, manufacturing and wholesalers also received the go-ahead to resume work.

    “So far, so good,” construction management company owner Frank Sciame said as job sites started humming again, with new precautions such as health screening questionnaires and lower limits on the number of workers allowed in construction hoists. “Let’s hope it continues.”

    “New York,” he said, “will always come back.”

    Read more »

    US Deaths From Coronavirus Surpass 100,000 Milestone

    By The Associated Press

    The U.S. surpassed a jarring milestone Wednesday in the coronavirus pandemic: 100,000 deaths. That number is the best estimate and most assuredly an undercount. But it represents the stark reality that more Americans have died from the virus than from the Vietnam and Korea wars combined. “It’s a striking reminder of how dangerous this virus can be,” said Josh Michaud, associate director of global health policy with the Kaiser Family Foundation in Washington. The true death toll from the virus, which emerged in China late last year and was first reported in the U.S. in January, is widely believed to be significantly higher, with experts saying many victims died of COVID-19 without ever being tested for it. Read more »

    Ethiopia Coronavirus Cases Reach 5,425

    By Dr. Lia Tadesse, Minister of Health

    Report #108 የኢትዮጵያ የኮሮና ቫይረስ ሁኔታ መግለጫ. Status update on #COVID19Ethiopia. Total confirmed cases [as of June 26th, 2020]: 5,425 Read more »

    New York Times Memorializes Coronavirus Victims as U.S. Death Toll Nears 100,000

    America is fast approaching a grim milestone in the coronavirus outbreak — each figure here represents one of the nearly 100,000 lives lost so far. Read more »

    Spotlight: Ethiopia’s First Private Ambulance System Tebita Adds Services Addressing COVID19

    By Liben Eabisa | TADIAS

    Twelve year ago when Kibret Abebe quit his job as a nurse anesthetist at Black Lion Hospital and sold his house to launch Tebita Ambulance — Ethiopia’s First Private Ambulance System — his friends and family were understandably concerned about his decisions. But today Tebita operates over 20 advanced life support ambulances with approval from the Ministry of Health and stands as the country’s premier Emergency Medical Service (EMS). Tebita has since partnered with East Africa Emergency Services, an Ethiopian and American joint venture that Kibret also owns, with the aim “to establish the first trauma center and air ambulance system in Ethiopia.” This past month Tebita announced their launch of new services in Addis Abeba to address the COVID-19 pandemic and are encouraging Ethiopians residing in the U.S. to utilize Tebita for regular home check-ins on elderly family members as well as vulnerable individuals with pre-existing conditions. The following is an audio of the interview with Kibret Abebe and Laura Davis of Tebita Ambulance and East Africa Emergency Services: Read more »

    WHO reports most coronavirus cases in a day as cases approach five million

    By Reuters

    GENEVA (Reuters) – The World Health Organization expressed concern on Wednesday about the rising number of new coronavirus cases in poor countries, even as many rich nations have begun emerging from lockdown. The global health body said 106,000 new cases of infections of the novel coronavirus had been recorded in the past 24 hours, the most in a single day since the outbreak began. “We still have a long way to go in this pandemic,” WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a news conference. “We are very concerned about rising cases in low and middle income countries.” Dr. Mike Ryan, head of WHO’s emergencies programme, said: “We will soon reach the tragic milestone of 5 million cases.” Read more »

    WHO head says vaccines, medicines must be fairly shared to beat COVID-19

    By Reuters

    Scientists and researchers are working at “breakneck” speed to find solutions for COVID-19 but the pandemic can only be beaten with equitable distribution of medicines and vaccines, the head of the World Health Organization said on Friday. “Traditional market models will not deliver at the scale needed to cover the entire globe,” WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a briefing in Geneva.

    Read more »

    Doctors face new urgency to solve children and coronavirus puzzle

    By Axios

    Solving the mystery of how the coronavirus impacts children has gained sudden steam, as doctors try to determine if there’s a link between COVID-19 and kids with a severe inflammatory illness, and researchers try to pin down their contagiousness before schools reopen. New York hospitals have reported 73 suspected cases with two possible deaths from the inflammatory illness as of Friday evening. Read more »

    COVID-19 and Its Impact on African Economies: Q&A with Prof. Lemma Senbet


    Prof. Lemma Senbet. (Photo: @AERCAFRICA/Twitter)

    By Liben Eabisa | TADIAS

    Last week Professor Lemma Senbet, an Ethiopian-American financial economist and the William E. Mayer Chair Professor at University of Maryland, moderated a timely webinar titled ‘COVID-19 and African Economies: Global Implications and Actions.’ The well-attended online conference — hosted by the Center for Financial Policy at University of Maryland Robert H. Smith School of Business on Friday, April 24th — featured guest speakers from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) as well as the World Bank who addressed “the global implications of the COVID-19 economic impact on developing and low-income countries, with Africa as an anchor.” In the following Q&A with Tadias Prof. Lemma, who is also the immediate former Executive Director of the African Economic Research Consortium based in Nairobi, Kenya, explains the worldwide economic fallout of the Coronavirus pandemic and its impact on the African continent, including Ethiopia. Read more »

    US unemployment surges to a Depression-era level of 14.7%

    By The Associated Press

    The coronavirus crisis has sent U.S. unemployment surging to 14.7%, a level last seen when the country was in the throes of the Depression and President Franklin D. Roosevelt was assuring Americans that the only thing to fear was fear itself…The breathtaking collapse is certain to intensify the push-pull across the U.S. over how and when to ease stay-at-home restrictions. And it robs President Donald Trump of the ability to point to a strong economy as he runs for reelection. “The jobs report from hell is here,” said Sal Guatieri, senior economist at BMO Capital Markets, “one never seen before and unlikely to be seen again barring another pandemic or meteor hitting the Earth.” Read more »

    Hospitalizations continue to decline in New York, Cuomo says

    By CBS News

    New York Governor Andrew Cuomo says the number of people newly diagnosed and hospitalized with COVID-19 has continued to decrease. “Overall the numbers are coming down,” he said. But he said 335 people died from the virus yesterday. “That’s 335 families,” Cuomo said. “You see this number is basically reducing, but not at a tremendous rate. The only thing that’s tremendous is the number of New Yorkers who’ve still passed away.” Read more »

    Los Angeles offers free testing to all county residents

    By The Washington Post

    All residents of Los Angeles County can access free coronavirus testing at city-run sites, Mayor Eric Garcetti (D) said on Wednesday. Previously, the city had only offered testing to residents with symptoms as well as essential workers and people who lived or worked in nursing homes and other kinds of institutional facilities. In an announcement on Twitter, Garcetti said that priority would still be given to front-line workers and anyone experiencing symptoms, including cough, fever or shortness of breath. But the move, which makes Los Angeles the first major city in the country to offer such widespread testing, allows individuals without symptoms to be tested. Health experts have repeatedly said that mass testing is necessary to determine how many people have contracted the virus — and in particular, those who may not have experienced symptoms — and then begin to reopen the economy. Testing is by appointment only and can be arranged at one of the city’s 35 sites. Read more »

    Researchers Double U.S. COVID-19 Death Forecast

    By Reuters

    A newly revised coronavirus mortality model predicts nearly 135,000 Americans will die from COVID-19 by early August, almost double previous projections, as social-distancing measures for quelling the pandemic are increasingly relaxed, researchers said on Monday. The ominous new forecast from the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) reflect “rising mobility in most U.S. states” with an easing of business closures and stay-at-home orders expected in 31 states by May 11, the institute said. Read more »

    Global coronavirus death toll surpasses 200,000, as world leaders commit to finding vaccine

    By NBC News

    The global coronavirus death toll surpassed 200,000 on Saturday, according to John Hopkins University data. The grim total was reached a day after presidents and prime ministers agreed to work together to develop new vaccines, tests and treatments at a virtual meeting with both the World Health Organization (WHO) and Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. “We will only halt COVID-19 through solidarity,” said Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General. “Countries, health partners, manufacturers, and the private sector must act together and ensure that the fruits of science and research can benefit everybody. As the U.S. coronavirus death tollpassed 51,000 people, according to an NBC News tally, President Donald Trump took no questions at his White House briefing on Friday, after widespread mockery for floating the idea that light, heat and disinfectants could be used to treat coronavirus patients.”

    Read more »

    Germany to start first coronavirus vaccine trial

    By DW

    German Health Minister Jens Spahn has announced the first clinical trials of a coronavirus vaccine. The Paul Ehrlich Institute (PEI), the regulatory authority which helps develop and authorizes vaccines in Germany, has given the go-ahead for the first clinical trial of BNT162b1, a vaccine against the SARS-CoV-2 virus. It was developed by cancer researcher and immunologist Ugur Sahin and his team at pharmaceutical company BioNTech, and is based on their prior research into cancer immunology. Sahin previously taught at the University of Mainz before becoming the CEO of BioNTech. In a joint conference call on Wednesday with researchers from the Paul Ehrlich Institute, Sahin said BNT162b1 constitutes a so-called RNA vaccine. He explained that innocuous genetic information of the SARS-CoV-2 virus is transferred into human cells with the help of lipid nanoparticles, a non-viral gene delivery system. The cells then transform this genetic information into a protein, which should stimulate the body’s immune reaction to the novel coronavrius.

    Read more »

    Webinar on COVID-19 and Mental Health: Interview with Dr. Seble Frehywot

    By Liben Eabisa | TADIAS

    Dr. Seble Frehywot, an Associate Professor of Global Health & Health Policy at George Washington University in Washington, D.C. and her colleague Dr. Yianna Vovides from Georgetown University will host an online forum next week on April 30th focusing on the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on mental health. Dr. Seble — who is also the Director of Global Health Equity On-Line Learning at George Washington University – told Tadias that the virtual conference titled “People’s Webinar: Addressing COVID-19 By Addressing Mental Health” is open to the public and available for viewing worldwide. Read more »

    Young and middle-aged people, barely sick with covid-19, are dying from strokes

    By The Washington Post

    Doctors sound alarm about patients in their 30s and 40s left debilitated or dead. Some didn’t even know they were infected. Read more »

    CDC director warns second wave of coronavirus is likely to be even more devastating

    By The Washington Post

    Even as states move ahead with plans to reopen their economies, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned Tuesday that a second wave of the novel coronavirus will be far more dire because it is likely to coincide with the start of flu season. “There’s a possibility that the assault of the virus on our nation next winter will actually be even more difficult than the one we just went through,” CDC Director Robert Redfield said in an interview with The Washington Post. “And when I’ve said this to others, they kind of put their head back, they don’t understand what I mean…We’re going to have the flu epidemic and the coronavirus epidemic at the same time,” he said. Having two simultaneous respiratory outbreaks would put unimaginable strain on the health-care system, he said. The first wave of covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, has already killed more than 42,000 people across the country. It has overwhelmed hospitals and revealed gaping shortages in test kits, ventilators and protective equipment for health-care workers.

    Read more »

    Americans at World Health Organization transmitted real-time information about coronavirus to Trump administration

    By The Washington Post

    More than a dozen U.S. researchers, physicians and public health experts, many of them from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, were working full time at the Geneva headquarters of the World Health Organization as the novel coronavirus emerged late last year and transmitted real-time information about its discovery and spread in China to the Trump administration, according to U.S. and international officials. A number of CDC staff members are regularly detailed to work at the WHO in Geneva as part of a rotation that has operated for years. Senior Trump-appointed health officials also consulted regularly at the highest levels with the WHO as the crisis unfolded, the officials said. The presence of so many U.S. officials undercuts President Trump’s assertion that the WHO’s failure to communicate the extent of the threat, born of a desire to protect China, is largely responsible for the rapid spread of the virus in the United States. Read more »

    In Ethiopia, Dire Dawa Emerges as Newest Coronavirus Hot Spot

    By Africa News

    The case count as of April 20 had reached 111 according to health minister Lia Tadesse’s update for today. Ethiopia crossed the 100 mark over the weekend. All three cases recorded over the last 24-hours were recorded in the chartered city of Dire Dawa with patients between the ages of 11 – 18. Two of them had travel history from Djibouti. Till date, Ethiopia has 90 patients in treatment centers. The death toll is still at three with 16 recoveries. A patient is in intensive care. Read more »

    COVID-19: Interview with Dr. Tsion Firew, an Ethiopian Doctor on the Frontline in NYC


    Dr. Tsion Firew is Doctor of Emergency Medicine and Assistant Professor at Columbia University. She is also Special Advisor to the Ministry of Health in Ethiopia. (Courtesy photo)

    By Liben Eabisa

    In New York City, which has now become the global epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic, working as a medical professional means literally going to a “war zone,” says physician Tsion Firew, a Doctor of Emergency Medicine and Assistant Professor at Columbia University, who has just recovered from COVID-19 and returned to work a few days ago. Indeed the statistics coming out of New York are simply shocking with the state recording a sharp increase in death toll this months surpassing 10,000 and growing. According to The New York Times: “The numbers brought into clearer focus the staggering toll the virus has already taken on the largest city in the United States, where deserted streets are haunted by the near-constant howl of ambulance sirens. Far more people have died in New York City, on a per-capita basis, than in Italy — the hardest-hit country in Europe.” At the heart of the solution both in the U.S. and around the world is more testing and adhering to social distancing rules until such time as a proper treatment and vaccine is discovered, says Dr. Tsion, who is also a Special Advisor to the Ministry of Health in Ethiopia. Dr. Tsion adds that at this moment “we all as humanity have one enemy: the virus. And what’s going to win the fight is solidarity.” Listen to the interview »

    Ethiopia Opens Aid Transport Hub to Fight Covid-19

    By AFP

    Ethiopia and the United Nations on Tuesday opened a humanitarian transport hub at Addis Ababa airport to move supplies and aid workers across Africa to fight coronavirus. The arrangement, which relies on cargo services provided by Ethiopian Airlines, could also partially offset heavy losses Africa’s largest carrier is sustaining because of the pandemic. An initial shipment of 3 000 cubic metres of supplies – most of it personal protective equipment for health workers – will be distributed within the next week, said Steven Were Omamo, Ethiopia country director for the World Food Programme (WFP). “This is a really important platform in the response to Covid-19, because what it does is it allows us to move with speed and efficiency to respond to the needs as they are unfolding,” Omamo said, referring to the disease caused by the coronavirus. The Addis gateway is one of eight global humanitarian hubs set up to facilitate movement of aid to fight Covid-19, according to WFP.

    Read more »

    Covid-19: Ethiopia to buy life insurance for health workers

    By TESFA-ALEM TEKLE | AFP

    The Ethiopian government is due to buy life insurance for health professionals in direct contact with Covid-19 patients. Health minister Lia Tadesse said on Tuesday that the government last week reached an agreement with the Ethiopian Insurance Corporation but did not disclose the value of the cover. The two sides are expected to sign an agreement this week to effect the insurance grant. According to the ministry, the life insurance grant is aimed at encouraging health experts who are the most vulnerable to the deadly coronavirus. Members of the Rapid Response Team will also benefit.

    Read more »

    U.N. says Saudi deportations of Ethiopian migrants risks spreading coronavirus

    By Reuters

    The United Nations said on Monday that deportations of illegal migrant workers by Saudi Arabia to Ethiopia risked spreading the coronavirus and it urged Riyadh to suspend the practice for the time being.

    Read more »

    Ethiopia’s capital launches door-to-door Covid-19 screening


    Getty Images

    By TESFA-ALEM TEKLE | AFP

    Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa is due to begin a door-to-door mass Covid-19 screening across the city, Addis Ababa city administration has announced. City deputy Mayor, Takele Uma, on Saturday told local journalists that the mass screening and testing programme will be started Monday (April 13) first in districts which are identified as potentially most vulnerable to the spread of the highly infectious coronavirus. The aggressive city-wide screening measure intends to identify Covid-19 infected patients and thereby to arrest a potential virus spread within communities. He said, the mass screening will eventually be carried out in all 117 districts, locally known as woredas, of the city, which is home to an estimated 7 million inhabitants. According to the Mayor, the door-to-door mass Covid-19 screening will be conducted by more than 1,200 retired health professionals, who responded to government’s call on the retired to join the national fight against the coronavirus pandemic.

    Read more »

    Worldwide deaths from the coronavirus hit 100,000

    By The Associated Press

    The worldwide death toll from the coronavirus has hit 100,000, according to the running tally kept by Johns Hopkins University. The sad milestone comes as Christians around the globe mark a Good Friday unlike any other — in front of computer screens instead of in church pews. Meanwhile, some countries are tiptoeing toward reopening segments of their battered economies. Public health officials are warning people against violating the social distancing rules over Easter and allowing the virus to flare up again. Authorities are using roadblocks and other means to discourage travel.

    Read more »

    Ethiopia COVID-19 Response Team: Interview with Mike Endale

    By Liben Eabisa | TADIAS

    A network of technology professionals from the Ethiopian Diaspora — known as the Ethiopia COVID-19 Response Team – has been assisting the Ethiopian Ministry of Health since the nation’s first Coronavirus case was confirmed on March 13th. The COVID-19 Response Team has since grown into an army of more than a thousand volunteers. Mike Endale, a software developer based in Washington, D.C., is the main person behind the launch of this project. Read more »

    Ethiopia eyes replicating China’s successes in applying traditional medicine to contain COVID-19

    By CGTN Africa

    The Ethiopian government on Thursday expressed its keen interest to replicate China’s positive experience in terms of effectively applying traditional Chinese medicine to successfully contain the spread of COVID-19 pandemic in the East African country.

    This came after high-level officials from the Ethiopian Ministry of Innovation and Technology (MoIT) as well as the Ethiopian Ministry of Health (MoH) held a video conference with Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) practitioners and researchers on ways of applying the TCM therapy towards controlling the spread of coronavirus pandemic in the country, the MoIT disclosed in a statement issued on Thursday.

    “China, in particular, has agreed to provide to Ethiopia the two types of Chinese traditional medicines that the country applied to successfully treat the first two stages of the novel coronavirus,” a statement from the Ethiopian Ministry of Innovation and Technology read.

    Read more »

    WHO Director Slams ‘Racist’ Comments About COVID-19 Vaccine Testing


    The Director General of the World Health Organization, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, has angrily condemned recent comments made by scientists suggesting that a vaccine for COVID-19 should be tested in Africa as “racist” and a hangover from the “colonial mentality”. (Photo: WHO)

    By BBC

    The head of the World Health Organization (WHO) has condemned as “racist” the comments by two French doctors who suggested a vaccine for the coronavirus could be tested in Africa.

    “Africa can’t and won’t be a testing ground for any vaccine,” said Director General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

    The doctors’ remarks during a TV debate sparked outrage, and they were accused of treating Africans like “human guinea pigs”.

    One of them later issued an apology.

    When asked about the doctors’ suggestion during the WHO’s coronavirus briefing, Dr Tedros became visibly angry, calling it a hangover from the “colonial mentality”.

    “It was a disgrace, appalling, to hear during the 21st Century, to hear from scientists, that kind of remark. We condemn this in the strongest terms possible, and we assure you that this will not happen,” he said.

    Read more »

    Ethiopia declares state of emergency to curb spread of COVID-19

    By Reuters

    Ethiopia’s prime minister, Abiy Ahmed, on Wednesday declared a state of emergency in the country to help curb the spread of the new coronavirus, his office said on Twitter. “Considering the gravity of the #COVID19, the government of Ethiopia has enacted a State of Emergency,” Abiy’s office said.

    Ethiopia virus cases hit 52, 9-month-old baby infected

    By TESFA-ALEM TEKLE | AFP

    Ethiopia on Tuesday reported eight new Covid-19 cases, the highest number recorded so far in one day since the country confirmed its first virus case on March 12. Among the new patients that tested positive for the virus were a 9-month-old infant and his mother who had travelled to Dubai recently. “During the past 24 hours, we have done laboratory tests for a total of 264 people and eight out of them have been diagnosed with coronavirus, raising the total confirmed number of Covid-19 patients in Ethiopia to 52,” said Health Minister Dr Lia Tadese. According to the Minister, seven of the newly confirmed patients had travel histories to various countries. They have been under forced-quarantine in different designated hotels in the capital, Addis Ababa. “Five of the new patients including the 9-month-old baby and the mother came from Dubai while the two others came from Thailand and the United Kingdom,” she said

    Read more »

    The coronavirus is infecting and killing black Americans at an alarmingly high rate

    By The Washington Post

    As the novel coronavirus sweeps across the United States, it appears to be infecting and killing black Americans at a disproportionately high rate, according to a Washington Post analysis of early data from jurisdictions across the country. The emerging stark racial disparity led the surgeon general Tuesday to acknowledge in personal terms the increased risk for African Americans amid growing demands that public-health officials release more data on the race of those who are sick, hospitalized and dying of a contagion that has killed more than 12,000 people in the United States. A Post analysis of what data is available and census demographics shows that counties that are majority-black have three times the rate of infections and almost six times the rate of deaths as counties where white residents are in the majority.

    Read more »

    In China, Wuhan’s lockdown officially ends after 11 weeks

    After 11 weeks — or 76 days — Wuhan’s lockdown is officially over. On Wednesday, Chinese authorities allowed residents to travel in and out of the besieged city where the coronavirus outbreak was first reported in December. Many remnants of the months-long lockdown, however, remain. Wuhan’s 11 million residents will be able to leave only after receiving official authorization that they are healthy and haven’t recently been in contact with a coronavirus patient. To do so, the Chinese government is making use of its mandatory smartphone application that, along with other government surveillance, tracks the movement and health status of every person.

    Read more »

    U.S. hospitals facing ‘severe shortages’ of equipment and staff, watchdog says

    By The Washington Post

    As the official U.S. death toll approached 10,000, U.S. Surgeon General Jerome M. Adams warned that this will be “the hardest and saddest week of most Americans’ lives.”

    Read more »

    Ethio-American Tech Company PhantomALERT Offers Free App to Track & Map COVID-19 Outbreak

    By Tadias Staff

    PhantomALERT, a Washington D.C.-based technology company announced, that it’s offering a free application service to track, report and map COVID-19 outbreak hotspots in real time. In a recent letter to the DC government as well as the Ethiopian Embassy in the U.S. the Ethiopian-American owned business, which was launched in 2007, explained that over the past few days, they have redesigned their application to be “a dedicated coronavirus mapping, reporting and tracking application.” The letter to the Ethiopian Embassy, shared with Tadias, noted that PhantomALERT’s technology “will enable the Ethiopian government (and all other countries across the world) to locate symptomatic patients, provide medical assistance and alert communities of hotspots for the purpose of slowing down the spread of the Coronavirus.”

    Read more »

    2nd COVID-19 death confirmed in Ethiopia

    By Dr. Lia Tadesse (Minister, Ministry of Health, Ethiopia)

    It is with great sadness that I announce the second death of a patient from #COVID19 in Ethiopia. The patient was admitted on April 2nd and was under strict medical follow up in the Intensive Care Unit. My sincere condolences to the family and loved ones.

    Read more »

    The Next Coronavirus Test Will Tell You If You Are Now Immune. And It’s Fast.


    People line up in their cars at the COVID-19 testing area at Roseland Community Hospital on April 3, 2020, in Chicago. (E. Jason Wambsgans / Chicago Tribune)

    By Chicago Tribune

    A new, different type of coronavirus test is coming that will help significantly in the fight to quell the COVID-19 pandemic, doctors and scientists say. The first so-called serology test, which detects antibodies to the virus rather than the virus itself, was given emergency approval Thursday by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. And several more are nearly ready, said Dr. Elizabeth McNally, director of the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine Center for Genetic Medicine.

    Read more »

    ‘Your Safety is Our Priority’: How Ethiopian Airlines is Navigating the Global Virus Crisis

    By Tadias Staff

    Lately Ethiopian Airlines has been busy delivering much-needed medical supplies across Africa and emerging at the forefront of the continent’s fight against the coronavirus pandemic even as it has suspended most of its international passenger flights.

    Read more »

    Ethiopia races to bolster ventilator stockpile for coronavirus fight

    By AFP

    Ethiopia’s government — like others in Africa — is confronting a stark ventilator shortage that could hobble its COVID-19 response. In a country of more than 100 million people, just 54 ventilators — out of around 450 total — had been set aside for COVID-19 patients as of this week, said Yakob Seman, director general of medical services at the health ministry.

    Read more »

    New York City mayor calls for national enlistment of health-care workers


    New York Mayor Bill de Blasio. (AP photo)

    By The Washington Post

    New York Mayor Bill de Blasio on Friday called for a national enlistment of health-care workers organized by the U.S. military.

    Speaking on CNN’s New Day, he lamented that there has been no effort to mobilize doctors and nurses across the country and bring them to “the front” — first New York City and then other areas that have been hardest hit by the coronavirus outbreak.

    “If there’s not action by the president and the military literally in a matter of days to put in motion this vast mobilization,” de Blasio said, “then you’re going to see first hundreds and later thousands of Americans die who did not need to die.”

    He said he expects his city to be stretched for medical personnel starting Sunday, which he called “D-Day.” Many workers are out sick with the disease, he added, while others are “just stretched to the limit.”

    The mayor said he has told national leaders that they need to get on “wartime footing.”

    “The nation is in a peacetime stance while were actually in the middle of a war,” de Blasio said. “And if they don’t do something different in the next few days, they’re going to lose the window.”

    Read more »

    Over 10 million Americans applied for unemployment benefits in March as economy collapsed

    By The Washington Post

    More than 6.6 million Americans applied for unemployment benefits last week — a new record — as political and public health leaders put the economy in a deep freeze, keeping people at home and trying to slow the spread of the deadly coronavirus. The past two weeks have seen more people file for unemployed claims than during the first six months of the Great Recession, a sign of how rapid, deep and painful the economic shutdown has been on many American families who are struggling to pay rent and health insurance costs in the midst of a pandemic. Job losses have skyrocketed as restaurants, hotel, gyms, and travel have shut down across the nation, but layoffs are also rising in manufacturing, warehousing and transportation, a sign of how widespread the pain of the coronavirus recession is. In March alone, 10.4 million Americans lost their jobs and applied for government aid, according to the latest Labor Department data, which includes claims filed through March 28. Many economists say the real number of people out work is likely even higher, since a lot of newly unemployed Americans haven’t been able to fill out a claim yet.

    Read more »

    U.N. Chief Calls Pandemic Biggest Global Challenge Since World War II

    By The Washington Post

    The coronavirus outbreak sickening hundreds of thousands around the world and devastating the global economy is creating a challenge for the world not seen since World War II, United Nations Secretary General António Guterres said late Tuesday. Speaking in a virtual news conference, Guterres said the world needs to show more solidarity and cooperation in fighting not only the medical aspects of the crisis but the economic fallout. The International Monetary Fund is predicting an economic recession worse than in 2008.

    Read more »

    US death toll eclipses China’s as reinforcements head to NYC

    By The Associated Press

    The U.S. death toll from the coronavirus climbed past 3,800 Tuesday, eclipsing China’s official count, as hard-hit New York City rushed to bring in more medical professionals and ambulances and parked refrigerated morgue trucks on the streets to collect the dead.

    Read more »

    Getting Through COVID 19: ECMAA Shares Timely Resources With Ethiopian Community

    By Tadias Staff

    The Ethiopian Community Mutual Assistance Association (ECMAA) in the New York tri-state area has shared timely resources including COVID-19 safety information as well as national sources of financial support for families and small business owners.

    Read more »

    2020 Ethiopia Election Canceled Due to COVID-19

    By Tadias Staff

    The highly anticipated 2020 national election in Ethiopia has been canceled for now due to the coronavirus outbreak. The National Election Board of Ethiopia (NEBE) announced that it has shelved its plans to hold the upcoming nationwide parliamentary polls on August 29th after an internal evaluation of the possible negative effect of the virus pandemic on its official activities.

    Read more »

    Washington, D.C., Maryland, Virginia on lockdown as coronavirus cases grow

    By The Washington Post

    Maryland, Virginia and the District issued “stay-at-home” orders on Monday, joining a growing list of states and cities mandating broad, enforceable restrictions on where residents can go in an effort to limit the spread of the novel coronavirus.

    Read more »

    U.S. Approves Malaria Drug to Treat Coronavirus Patients

    By The Washington Post

    The Food and Drug Administration has given emergency approval to a Trump administration plan to distribute millions of doses of anti-malarial drugs to hospitals across the country, saying it is worth the risk of trying unproven treatments to slow the progression of the disease in seriously ill coronavirus patients.

    Read more »

    U.S. Deaths Could Reach 200,000

    By Bloomberg News

    A top U.S. infectious disease scientist said U.S. deaths could reach 200,000, but called it a moving target. New York’s fatalities neared 1,000, more than a third of the U.S. total.

    Read more »

    Ethiopia: PM, WHO Director Discuss Coronavirus Response


    @fanatelevision/twitter

    By Tadias Staff

    Ethiopian PM Abiy Ahmed spoke with Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization, over the weekend regarding the Coronavirus response in Ethiopia and Africa in general.

    Read more »

    Virus infections top 600,000 globally with long fight ahead

    By The Associated Press

    The number of confirmed coronavirus infections worldwide topped 600,000 on Saturday as new cases stacked up quickly in Europe and the United States and officials dug in for a long fight against the pandemic. The latest landmark came only two days after the world passed half a million infections, according to a tally by John Hopkins University, showing that much work remains to be done to slow the spread of the virus. It showed more than 607,000 cases and over 28,000 deaths. While the U.S. now leads the world in reported infections — with more than 104,000 cases — five countries exceed its roughly 1,700 deaths: Italy, Spain, China, Iran and France.

    Read more »

    Maryland Issues COVID-19 Fact Sheet in Amharic for Ethiopian Community

    By Tadias Staff

    The state of Maryland Department of Health has issued a COVID-19 Fact Sheet in Amharic for its large Ethiopian community.

    Read more »

    Gouged prices, middlemen and medical supply chaos: Why governors are so upset with Trump

    By The Washington Post

    Masks that used to cost pennies now cost several dollars. Companies outside the traditional supply chain offer wildly varying levels of price and quality. Health authorities say they have few other choices to meet their needs in a ‘dog-eat-dog’ battle.

    Read more »

    Worshippers in Ethiopia Defy Ban on Large Gatherings Despite Coronavirus

    By VOA

    ADDIS ABABA – Health experts in Ethiopia are raising concern, as some religious leaders continue to host large gatherings despite government orders not to do so in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak. Earlier this week, Ethiopia’s government ordered security forces to enforce a ban on large gatherings aimed at preventing the spread of COVID-19. Ethiopia has seen only 12 cases and no deaths from the virus, and authorities would like to keep it that way. But enforcing the orders has proven difficult as religious groups continue to meet and, according to religious leaders, fail to treat the risks seriously.

    Read more »

    U.S. deaths from coronavirus top 1,000

    By The Washington Post

    It began as a mysterious disease with frightening potential. Now, just two months after America’s first confirmed case, the country is grappling with a lethal reality: The novel coronavirus has killed more than 1,000 people in the United States, a toll that is increasing at an alarming rate.

    Read more »

    A record 3.3 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits as the coronavirus slams economy

    By The Washington Post

    A record 3.3 million Americans applied for unemployment benefits last week, the Labor Department said Thursday, as restaurants, hotels, barber shops, gyms and more shut down in a nationwide effort to slow the spread of the deadly coronavirus.

    Last week saw the biggest jump in new jobless claims in history, surpassing the record of 695,000 set in 1982. Many economists say this is the beginning of a massive spike in unemployment that could result in over 40 million Americans losing their jobs by April.

    Laid off workers say they waited hours on the phone to apply for help. Websites in several states, including New York and Oregon, crashed because so many people were trying to apply at once.

    “The most terrifying part about this is this is likely just the beginning of the layoffs,” said Martha Gimbel, a labor economist at Schmidt Futures. The nation’s unemployment rate was 3.5 percent in February, a half-century low, but that has likely risen already to 5.5 percent, according to calculations by Gimbel. The nation hasn’t seen that level of unemployment since 2015.

    Read more »

    Ethiopia: Parents fear for missing students as universities close over Covid-19


    Photo via amnesty.org

    As universities across Ethiopia close to avert spread of the COVID-19 virus, Amnesty International is calling on the Ethiopian authorities to disclose measures they have taken to rescue 17 Amhara students from Dembi Dolo University in Western Oromia, who were abducted by unidentified people in November 2019 and have been missing since.

    The anguish of the students’ families is exacerbated by a phone and internet shutdown implemented in January across the western Oromia region further hampering their efforts to get information about their missing loved ones.

    “The sense of fear and uncertainty spreading across Ethiopia because of COVID-19 is exacerbating the anguish of these students’ families, who are desperate for information on the whereabouts of their loved ones four months after they were abducted,” said Seif Magango, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for East Africa.

    “The Ethiopian authorities’ move to close universities in order to protect the lives of university students is commendable, but they must also take similarly concrete actions to locate and rescue the 17 missing students so that they too are reunited with their families.”

    Read more »

    UPDATE: New York City is now reporting 26,697 COVID-19 cases and 450 deaths.

    BY ABC7 NY

    Temporary hospital space in New York City will begin opening on Monday and more supplies are on the way as an already overwhelmed medical community anticipates even more coronavirus patients in the coming days. Mayor Bill de Blasio tweeted 20 trucks were on the road delivering protective equipment to hospitals, including surgical masks, N95 masks, and hundreds more ventilators.

    Governor Cuomo added the temporary hospital in the Javits Center will open on Monday the same day that the USNS Comfort will arrive in New York City.

    Read more »

    Related: New York sees some signs of progress against coronavirus as New Orleans hit hard (REUTERS)

    L.A. mayor says residents may have to shelter at home for two months or more

    By Business Insider

    Los Angeles residents will be confined to their homes until May at the earliest, Mayor Eric Garcetti told Insider on Wednesday.

    “I think this is at least two months,” he said. “And be prepared for longer.”

    In an interview with Insider, Garcetti pushed back against “premature optimism” in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, saying leaders who suggest we are on the verge of business as usual are putting lives at risk.

    “I can’t say that strongly enough,” the mayor said. Optimism, he said, has to be grounded in data. And right now the data is not good.

    “Giving people false hope will crush their spirits and will kill more people,” Garcetti said, adding it would change their actions by instilling a sense of normality at the most abnormal time in a generation.

    Read more »

    Ethiopia pardons more than 4,000 prisoners to help prevent coronavirus spread

    By CNN

    Ethiopian President Sahle-Work Zewde has granted pardon to more than 4,000 prisoners in an effort to contain the spread of coronavirus.

    Sahle-Work Zewde announced the order in a tweet on Wednesday and said it would help prevent overcrowding in prisons.

    The directive only covers those given a maximum sentence of three years for minor crimes and those who were about to be released from jail, she said.

    There are 12 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in Ethiopia, the World Health Organization said Wednesday.
    Authorities in the nation have put in place a raft of measures, including the closure of all borders except to those bringing in essential goods to contain the virus. The government has directed security officials to monitor and enforce a ban on large gatherings and overcrowded public transport to ensure social distancing.

    Read more »


    U.S. House passes $2 trillion coronavirus emergency spending bill


    Watch: Senator Chuck Schumer of New York breaks down massive coronavirus aid package (MSNBC Video)

    By The Washington Post

    The House of Representatives voted Friday [March 27th] to approve a massive $2 trillion stimulus bill that policy makers hope will blunt the economic destruction of the coronavirus pandemic, sending the legislation to President Trump for enactment. The legislation passed in dramatic fashion, approved on an overwhelming voice vote by lawmakers who’d been forced to return to Washington by a GOP colleague who had insisted on a quorum being present. Some lawmakers came from New York and other places where residents are supposed to be sheltering at home.

    Read more »

    In Ethiopia, Abiy seeks $150b for African virus response

    By AFP

    Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed on Tuesday urged G20 leaders to help Africa cope with the coronavirus crisis by facilitating debt relief and providing $150 billion in emergency funding.
    The pandemic “poses an existential threat to the economies of African countries,” Abiy’s office said in a statement, adding that Ethiopia was “working closely with other African countries” in preparing the aid request.

    The heavy debt burdens of many African countries leave them ill-equipped to respond to pandemic-related economic shocks, as the cost of servicing debt exceeds many countries’ health budgets, the statement said.

    Read more »

    Worried Ethiopians Want Partial Internet Shutdown Ended (AP)


    Ethiopians have their temperature checked for symptoms of the new coronavirus, at the Zewditu Memorial Hospital in the capital Addis Ababa, Ethiopia Wednesday, March 18, 2020. For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms such as fever and cough and the vast majority recover in 2-6 weeks but for some, especially older adults and people with existing health issues, the virus that causes COVID-19 can result in more severe illness, including pneumonia. (AP Photo/Mulugeta Ayene)

    By Elias Meseret | AP

    March 24, 2020

    ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia — Rights groups and citizens are calling on Ethiopia’s government to lift the internet shutdown in parts of the country that is leaving millions of people without important updates on the coronavirus.

    The months-long shutdown of internet and phone lines in Western Oromia and parts of the Benishangul Gumuz region is occurring during military operations against rebel forces.

    “Residents of these areas are getting very limited information about the coronavirus,” Jawar Mohammed, an activist-turned-politician, told The Associated Press.

    Ethiopia reported its first coronavirus case on March 13 and now has a dozen. Officials have been releasing updates mostly online. Land borders have closed and national carrier Ethiopian Airlines has stopped flying to some 30 destinations around the world.

    Read more »

    In Global Fight vs. Virus, Over 1.5 Billion Told: Stay Home


    A flier urging customers to remain home hangs at a turnstile as an MTA employee sanitizes surfaces at a subway station with bleach solutions due to COVID-19 concerns, Friday, March 20, 2020, in New York. (AP)

    The Associated Press

    NEW YORK (AP) — With masks, ventilators and political goodwill in desperately short supply, more than one-fifth of the world’s population was ordered or urged to stay in their homes Monday at the start of what could be a pivotal week in the battle to contain the coronavirus in the U.S. and Europe.

    Partisan divisions stalled efforts to pass a colossal aid package in Congress, and stocks fell again on Wall Street even after the Federal Reserve said it will lend to small and large businesses and local governments to help them through the crisis.

    Warning that the outbreak is accelerating, the head of the World Health Organization called on countries to take strong, coordinated action.

    “We are not helpless bystanders,” Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said, noting that it took 67 days to reach 100,000 cases worldwide but just four days to go from 200,000 to 300,000. “We can change the trajectory of this pandemic.”

    Read more »

    China’s Coronavirus Donation to Africa Arrives in Ethiopia (Reuters)


    An Ethiopian Airlines worker transports a consignment of medical donation from Chinese billionaire Jack Ma and Alibaba Foundation to Africa for coronavirus disease (COVID-19) testing, upon arrival at the Bole International Airport in Addis Ababa, March 22, 2020. (REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri)

    The first batch of protective and medical equipment donated by Chinese billionaire and Alibaba co-founder Jack Ma was flown into the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa on Sunday, as coronavirus cases in Africa rose above 1,100.

    The virus has spread more slowly in Africa than in Asia or Europe but has a foothold in 41 African nations and two territories. So far it has claimed 37 lives across the continent of 1.3 billion people.

    The shipment is a much-needed boost to African healthcare systems that were already stretched before the coronavirus crisis, but nations will still need to ration supplies at a time of global scarcity.

    Only patients showing symptoms will be tested, the regional Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) said on Sunday.

    “The flight carried 5.4 million face masks, kits for 1.08 million detection tests, 40,000 sets of protective clothing and 60,000 sets of protective face shields,” Ma’s foundation said in a statement.

    “The faster we move, the earlier we can help.”

    The shipment had a sign attached with the slogan, “when people are determined they can overcome anything”.

    Read more »


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    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

  • UN to Hear Ethiopia-Egypt Nile Dispute

    The behind-closed-doors meeting [set for Monday in New York] was requested by France, according to diplomats, who spoke on condition of anonymity. It came after the latest talks between Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan ended without an agreement. (Bloomberg)

    Bloomberg

    (Bloomberg) — The United Nations Security Council will discuss for the first time Monday a growing dispute between Egypt and Ethiopia over a giant hydropower dam being built on the Nile River’s main tributary, diplomats said. The behind-closed-doors meeting was requested by France, according to the diplomats, who spoke on condition of anonymity. It came after the latest talks between Egypt, Ethi

    The behind-closed-doors meeting was requested by France, according to the diplomats, who spoke on condition of anonymity. It came after the latest talks between Egypt, Ethiopia and mutual neighbor Sudan ended last week with Ethiopia refusing to accept a permanent, minimum volume of water that the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam should release downstream in the event of severe drought.

    Egypt’s Foreign Ministry subsequently asked the UNSC to intervene, calling for a fair and balanced solution. Ethiopia has threatened to start filling the dam’s reservoir when the rainy season begins in July, with or without a deal. That’s a step that Egypt, which relies on the Nile for almost all its fresh water, considers both unacceptable and illegal.

    Ethiopia remains resolute that a so-called declaration of principles agreement signed by Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan in 2015 allows it to proceed with damming the GERD.


    Dear Ethiopia & Egypt: Nile Dam Update


    Nefartari with Simbel and St. Yared holding a Simbel, which is called Tsenatsil in Amharic and Ge’ez.

    The Africa Report

    By Meklit Berihun, a civil engineer and aspiring researcher in systems thinking and its application in the water/environment sector.

    Dear Egypt

    My dear, how are you holding up in these trying times? I hope you are faring well as much as one can given the circumstances. And I pray we will not be burdened with more than we can bear and that this time will soon come to pass for the both of us.

    Dearest, I hear of your frustration about the progress—or lack thereof—on the negotiations over my dam. That is a frustration I also share. I look forward to the day we settle things and look to the future together.

    Beloved, though your approach has recently metamorphosed in addressing your right to our water—officially stating you never held on to any past agreements—the foundation, that you do not want to settle for anything less than 66 percent of what is shared by 10 of your fellow African states, remains unchanged. I must be honest: I cannot fathom how you still hold on to this.

    Read more »

    Dear Ethiopia,

    By Nervana Mahmoud, Doctor and independent political commentator on Middle East issues. BBC’s 100 women 2013.

    Thank you for your letter.

    The fate of our two countries has been linked since ancient times, as described in Herodotus’s book An Account of Egypt, Egypt is the “gift of the Nile,” “it has soil which is black and easily breaks up, seeing that it is in truth mud and silt brought down from Ethiopia by the river.”

    It is sad you question Egypt’s African identity. It may sound surprising to you, but the vast majority of Egyptians are proud Africans. In 1990, my entire family was glued to the television, showing our support for Cameroon against England, in the World Cup. Last year, Egypt hosted the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations. Many Egyptians supported Senegal and Nigeria, who played Arab teams, in the final rounds because we see ourselves as Africans.

    Unfortunately, I do not believe that you — our African brothers — appreciate the potential disastrous impacts of your Grand Renaissance Dam (GERD) on our livelihood in Egypt.

    Read more »

    AP Interview: Egypt Says UN Must Stop Ethiopia on Dam Fill

    AP Interview:: Ethiopia To Fill Disputed Dam, Deal or No Deal


    This satellite image taken May 28, 2020, shows the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) on the Blue Nile river in the Benishangul-Gumuz region. In an interview with The Associated Press Friday, June 19, 2020, Foreign Minister Gedu Andargachew said that Ethiopia will start filling the $4.6 billion dam next month. (AP)

    The Associated Press

    By ELIAS MESERET

    Updated: June 19th, 2020

    ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (AP) — It’s a clash over water usage that Egypt calls an existential threat and Ethiopia calls a lifeline for millions out of poverty. Just weeks remain before the filling of Africa’s most powerful hydroelectric dam might begin, and tense talks between the countries on its operation have yet to reach a deal.

    In an interview with The Associated Press, Ethiopian Foreign Minister Gedu Andargachew on Friday declared that his country will go ahead and start filling the $4.6 billion Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam next month, even without an agreement. “For us it is not mandatory to reach an agreement before starting filling the dam, hence we will commence the filling process in the coming rainy season,” he said.

    “We are working hard to reach a deal, but still we will go ahead with our schedule whatever the outcome is. If we have to wait for others’ blessing, then the dam may remain idle for years, which we won’t allow to happen,” he said. He added that “we want to make it clear that Ethiopia will not beg Egypt and Sudan to use its own water resource for its development,” pointing out that Ethiopia is paying for the dam’s construction itself.

    He spoke after the latest round of talks with Egypt and Sudan on the dam, the first since discussions broke down in February, failed to reach agreement.

    No date has been set for talks to resume, and the foreign minister said Ethiopia doesn’t believe it’s time to take them to a head of state level.

    The years-long dispute pits Ethiopia’s desire to become a major power exporter and development engine against Egypt’s concern that the dam will significantly curtail its water supply if filled too quickly. Sudan has long been caught between the competing interests.

    The arrival of the rainy season is bringing more water to the Blue Nile, the main branch of the Nile, and Ethiopia sees an ideal time to begin filling the dam’s reservoir next month.

    Both Egypt and Ethiopia have hinted at military steps to protect their interests, and experts fear a breakdown in talks could lead to conflict.

    Ethiopia’s foreign minister would not say whether his country would use military action to defend the dam and its operations.

    “This dam should have been a reason for cooperation and regional integration, not a cause for controversies and warmongering,” he said. “Egyptians are exaggerating their propaganda on the dam issue and playing a political gamble. Some of them seem as if they are longing for a war to break out.”

    Gedu added: “Our reading is that the Egyptian side wants to dictate and control even future developments on our river. We won’t ask for permission to carry out development projects on our own water resources. This is both legally and morally unacceptable.”

    He said Ethiopia has offered to fill the dam in four to seven years, taking possible low rainfall into account.

    Sticking points in the talks have been how much water Ethiopia will release downstream from the dam during a multi-year drought and how Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan will resolve any future disputes.

    The United States earlier this year tried to broker a deal, but Ethiopia did not attend the signing meeting and accused the Trump administration of siding with Egypt. This week some Ethiopians felt vindicated when the U.S. National Security Council tweeted that “257 million people in east Africa are relying on Ethiopia to show strong leadership, which means striking a fair deal.”

    In reply to that, Ethiopia’s foreign minister said: “Statements issued from governments and other institutions on the dam should be crafted carefully not to take sides and impair the fragile talks, especially at this delicate time. They should issue fair statements or just issue no statements at all.”

    He also rejected the idea that the issue should be taken to the United Nations Security Council, as Egypt wants. Egypt’s foreign ministry issued a statement Friday saying Egypt has urged the Security Council to intervene in the dispute to help the parties reach a “fair and balanced solution” and prevent Ethiopia from “taking any unilateral actions.”

    The latest talks saw officials from the U.S., European Union and South Africa, the current chairman of the African Union, attending as observers.

    Sudan’s Irrigation Minister Yasser Abbas told reporters after talks ended Wednesday that the three counties’ irrigation leaders have agreed on “90% or 95%” of the technical issues but the dispute over the “legal points” in the deal remains dissolved.

    The Sudanese minister said his country and Egypt rejected Ethiopia’s attempts to include articles on water sharing and old Nile treaties in the dam deal. Egypt has received the lion’s share of the Nile’s waters under decades-old agreements dating back to the British colonial era. Eighty-five percent of the Nile’s waters originate in Ethiopia from the Blue Nile.

    “The Egyptians want us to offer a lot, but they are not ready to offer us anything,” Gedu said Friday. “They want to control everything. We are not discussing a water-sharing agreement.”

    The countries should not get stuck in a debate about historic water rights, William Davison, senior analyst on Ethiopia with the International Crisis Group, told reporters this week. “During a period of filling, yes, there’s reduced water downstream. But that’s a temporary period,” he said.

    Initial power generation from the dam could be seen late this year or in early 2021, he said.

    Ethiopia’ foreign minister expressed disappointment in Egypt’s efforts to find backing for its side.

    “Our African brotherly countries should have supported us, but instead they are tainting our country’s name around the world, and especially in the Arab world,” he said. “Egypt’s monopolistic approach to the dam issue will not be acceptable for us forever.”


    Tussle for Nile Control Escalates as Dam Talks Falter


    The Blue Nile river passes through the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam near Guba, Ethiopia. (Getty Images)

    Bloomberg

    Updated: June 18th, 2020

    A last ditch attempt to resolve a decade-long dispute between Egypt and Ethiopia over a huge new hydropower dam on the Nile has failed, raising the stakes in what – for all the public focus on technical issues – is a tussle for control over the region’s most important water source.

    The talks appear to have faltered over a recurring issue: Ethiopia’s refusal to accept a permanent, minimum volume of water that the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, or GERD, should release downstream in the event of severe drought.

    What happens next remains uncertain. Both Ethiopia and Sudan – a mutual neighbor that took part in the talks – said that progress had been made and left the door open to further negotiation. Yet the stakes in a region acutely vulnerable to the impact of climate change are disconcertingly clear.

    Ethiopia has threatened to start filling the dam’s reservoir when the rainy season begins in July, with or without a deal, a step Egypt considers both unacceptable and illegal. In a statement late Wednesday, Egypt’s irrigation ministry accused Ethiopia of refusing to accept any effective drought provision or legally binding commitments, or even to refer the talks to the three prime ministers in an effort to break the deadlock. Ethiopia was demanding “an absolute right” to build further dams behind the GERD, the ministry said.

    Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry threatened on Monday to call for United Nations Security Council intervention to protect “international peace and security” if no agreement was reached. A day later his Ethiopian opposite, Gedu Andargachew, accused Egypt of “acting as if it is the sole owner of the Nile waters.”

    Egyptian billionaire Naguib Sawiris even warned of a water war. “We will never allow any country to starve us, if Ethiopia doesn’t come to reason, we the Egyptian people will be the first to call for war,” he said in a tweet earlier this week.

    Although both sides have played down the prospect of military conflict, they have occasionally rattled sabers and concern at the potential for escalation helped draw the U.S. and World Bank into the negotiating process last year. When that attempt floundered in February, the European Union and South Africa, as chair of the African Union, joined in.

    “This is all about control,” said Asfaw Beyene, a professor of mechanical engineering at San Diego State University, California, whose work Egypt cited in support of a May 1 report to the UN. The so-called aide memoire argued that the GERD and its 74 billion cubic meter reservoir are so vastly oversized relative to the power they will produce that it “raises questions about the true purpose of the dam.”

    National Survival

    Egypt’s concern is that once the dam’s sluices can control the Nile’s flow, Ethiopia could in times of drought say “I am not releasing water, I need it,” or dictate how the water released is used, says Asfaw. Yet he backs Ethiopia’s claims that once filled, the dam won’t significantly affect downstream supplies. He also agrees with their argument that climate change could render unsustainable any water guarantees given to Egypt.

    Both sides describe the future of the hydropower dam that will generate as much as 15.7 gigawatts of electricity per year as a matter of national survival. Egypt relies on the Nile for as much as 97% of an already strained water supply. Ethiopia says the dam is vital for development, because it would increase the nation’s power generation by about 150% at a time when more than half the population have no access to electricity.

    Read more »


    UPDATE: Ethiopian Army Official Says Country Will Defend Itself Over Dam (AP)


    A general view of the Blue Nile river as it passes through the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), near Guba in Ethiopia. (Getty Images)

    The Associated Press

    By ELIAS MESERET

    Updated: June 12th, 2020

    ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (AP) — Ethiopia’s deputy army chief on Friday said his country will strongly defend itself and will not negotiate its sovereignty over the disputed $4.6 billion Nile dam that has caused tensions with Egypt.

    “Egyptians and the rest of the world know too well how we conduct war whenever it comes,” Gen. Birhanu Jula said in an interview with the state-owned Addis Zemen newspaper, adding that Egyptian leaders’ “distorted narrative” on Africa’s largest hydroelectric dam is attracting enemies.

    He accused Egypt of using its weapons to “threaten and tell other countries not to touch the shared water” and said “the way forward should be cooperation in a fair manner.”

    He spoke amid renewed talks among Ethiopian, Sudanese and Egyptian water and irrigation ministers after months of deadlock. Ethiopia wants to begin filling the dam’s reservoir in the coming weeks, but Egypt worries a rapid filling will take too much of the water it says its people need to survive. Sudan, caught between the competing interests, pushed the two sides to resume discussions.

    The general’s comments were a stark contrast to Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s remarks to lawmakers earlier this week that diplomacy should take center stage to resolve outstanding issues.

    “We don’t want to hurt anyone else, and at the same time it will be difficult for us to accept the notion that we don’t deserve to have electricity,” the Nobel Peace Prize laureate said. “We are tired of begging others while 70% of our population is young. This has to change.”

    Talks on the dam have struggled. Egypt’s Irrigation Ministry on Wednesday called for Ethiopia to “clearly declare that it had no intention of unilaterally filling the reservoir” and that a deal prepared by the U.S. and the World Bank in February serves as the starting point of the resumed negotiations.

    Ethiopia refused to sign that deal and accused the U.S. of siding with Egypt.

    Egypt said that in Tuesday’s talks, Ethiopia showed it wanted to re-discuss “all issues” including “all timetables and figures” negotiated in the U.S.-brokered talks.

    President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi discussed the latest negotiations in a phone call with President Donald Trump on Wednesday, el-Sissi’s office said, without elaborating.

    Egypt’s National Security Council, the highest body that makes decisions in high-profile security matters in the country, has accused Ethiopia of “buying time” and seeking to begin filling the dam’s reservoir in July without reaching a deal with Egypt and Sudan.

    Ethiopia Seeks to Limit Outsiders’ Role in Nile Dam Talks (AFP)


    Ethiopia sees the dam as essential for its electrification and development, while Sudan and Egypt see it as a threat to essential water supplies (AFP Photo)

    AFP

    Updated: June 11th, 2020

    Addis Ababa (AFP) – Ethiopia said Thursday it wants to limit the role of outside parties in revived talks over its Nile River mega-dam, a sign of lingering frustration over a failed attempt by the US to broker a deal earlier this year.

    The Grand Ethiopia Renaissance Dam has been a source of tension in the Nile River basin ever since Ethiopia broke ground on it nearly a decade ago.

    Ethiopia sees the dam as essential for its electrification and development, while Sudan and Egypt see it as a threat to essential water supplies.

    The US Treasury Department stepped in last year after Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi put in a request to his ally US President Donald Trump.

    But the process ran aground after the Treasury Department urged Ethiopia to sign a deal that Egypt backed as “fair and balanced”.

    Ethiopia denied a deal had been reached and accused Washington of being “undiplomatic” and playing favourites.

    On Tuesday Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan resumed talks via videoconference with representatives of the United States, the European Union and South Africa taking part.

    The talks resumed Wednesday and were expected to pick up again Thursday.

    In a statement aired Thursday by state-affiliated media, Ethiopia’s water ministry said the role of the outside parties should not “exceed that of observing the negotiation and sharing good practices when jointly requested by the three countries.”

    The statement also criticised Egypt for detailing its grievances over the dam in a May letter to the UN Security Council — a move it described as a bad faith attempt to “exert external diplomatic pressure”.

    Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed reiterated Monday that his country plans to begin filling the dam’s reservoir in the coming weeks, giving the latest talks heightened urgency.

    The short window makes it “more necessary than ever that concessions are made so a deal can be struck that will ease potentially dangerous tensions,” said William Davison of the International Crisis Group, a conflict prevention organisation.

    One solution could involve Ethiopia “proposing a detailed cooperative annual drought-management scheme that takes Egypt and Sudan’s concerns into account, but does not unacceptably constrain the dam’s potential,” he said.

    The EU sees the resumption of talks as “an important opportunity to restore confidence among the parties, build on the good progress achieved and agree on a mutually beneficial solution,” said spokeswoman Virginie Battu-Henriksson.

    “Especially in this time of global crisis, it is important to appease tensions and find pragmatic solutions,” she said.

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    Michelle Obama on Why You Should Vote

    This year as Ethiopian Americans we will be voting in one of the most consequential elections. In the following timely article from Harper’s Bazaar former First Lady and When We All Vote Co-Chair Michelle Obama talks to Shonda Rhimes about why voting matters - maybe now more than ever. (Harper's BAZAAR)

    Harper’s BAZAAR

    Michelle Obama Wants You to Remember the Impact of a Single Vote

    SHONDA RHIMES: The theme of this issue of Harper’s BAZAAR is hope, and I think it’s accurate to say that 2020 has been an uncomfortable year. One that I’ve found to be scary at times, frustrating at times, painful at times, and yet hopeful at times—the peaceful marches worldwide after the wrongful death of George Floyd come to mind. It’s been an important year. When you look out at the world right now, what gives you hope for the future? And is there anything that this experience we’re all living through right now has revealed to you that makes you hopeful?

    MICHELLE OBAMA: With everything that’s gone on over these past few months, I know a lot of folks out there have been confused, or scared, or angry, or just plain overwhelmed. And I’ve got to be honest, I count myself among them. I think we’ve all been there. Our foundation has been shaken—not just by a pandemic that stole more than 100,000 of our loved ones and sent tens of millions into unemployment, but also by the rumbling of the age-old fault lines of race, class, and power that our country was built on. The heartache and frustration that boiled over after the losses of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and so many others has caused a lot of us to grapple with the very essence of who we are—the kind of people we want to be. But even in that, I find hope. I think a lot about the younger generation growing up right now, about how they’re seeing just how fragile even the best-laid plans can be. In this tumultuous period, they’ve been learning something that often took previous generations years, or decades, to understand: that life can be unfair. It can be unjust. And more than anything is always uncertain. But if you live by foundational truths—like honesty, compassion, decency—and if you channel your frustration into our democracy with your vote and your voice, you can find your true north even in times of crisis. Because of all this upheaval, this generation is learning those lessons faster than folks our age did. They’re learning it together and making their voices heard. And I couldn’t be more inspired by so much of what I’ve seen. So even while there’s a lot of pain out there, and that pain is very real, that’s something that gives me hope—the hope that this generation will not only learn these lessons earlier than ours ever did, but apply them in ways that we never could. But also let me be clear: Making progress on these issues isn’t just on the shoulders of young people. It isn’t just on people of color. It’s up to all of us, no matter what we look like or where we come from. We’ve all got to do the honest, uncomfortable work of rooting out racism and fighting for real justice. It starts with self-examination and listening to those whose lives are different from our own. I hope we all have the strength to take that first step.

    SR: Yes, that is my hope as well. The first step and every step thereafter. We’ve had so many pivotal moments in history where a huge segment of this country has had to come together to promote and protect equal rights. August 18 marks the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment, which guaranteed women in the United States the right to vote. When you look back at the events that led up to the ratification of that amendment and the struggle to secure equal rights for women, how important is that moment? What does it have you thinking about right now?

    MO: I am thinking about how the story of progress in this country is written by the people who believe what should happen actually can happen. One hundred years ago, there were plenty of naysayers who thought granting women the right to vote would lead to societal decline. And there were plenty of others who were sympathetic to the cause but dismissed it with an “Oh, well, that will never happen.” But history is made by the people who show up for the fight, even when they know they might not be fully recognized for their contributions. That’s why I think it’s so important we spend this anniversary reflecting on all those women who fought for us today, but especially women of color like Sojourner Truth and Frances Ellen Watkins Harper. The suffrage movement may not have been fully welcoming to women like them, but they kept on working anyway. They weren’t thinking about themselves; they were thinking about their daughters and their granddaughters.

    Voting is so much bigger than one election, one party, or one candidate. It’s great to feel inspired by candidates and the visions they put forth, but it is by no means a prerequisite to casting a ballot.

    Read more »

    ‘Why Not a Black Woman?’ Consensus Grows Around Biden’s VP (UPDATE)


    U.S. presidential candidate, former Vice President Joe Biden, listens as Carlette Brooks, owner of Carlette’s Hideaway, a soul food restaurant, talks during a meeting with small business owners, Wednesday, June 17, 2020, in Yeadon, Pennsylvania. (AP)

    The Associated Press

    WASHINGTON (AP) — Joe Biden is facing growing calls to select a Black woman as his running mate as an acknowledgement of their critical role in the Democratic Party and a response to the nationwide protests against racism and inequality.

    The shifting dynamics were clear late Thursday when Amy Klobuchar took herself out of contention for the vice presidency. The Minnesota senator, who is white, told MSNBC that “this is a moment to put a woman of color on that ticket.”

    Biden, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, has already pledged to select a woman as his vice president to energize the party’s base with the prospect of making history. But following the outrage over the police killing of George Floyd last month, many Democratic strategists say there’s growing consensus that the pick should be a Black woman.

    “Like it or not, I think the question is starting to become, ‘Well, why not a Black woman?’” said Karen Finney, a spokesperson for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign.

    Finney, who was one of 200 Black women who signed a letter to Biden encouraging him to select a Black woman for his ticket, warned that the former vice president could face a backlash if he chose a white woman.

    “That puts a lot of pressure on Biden. It puts a lot of pressure on who he selects, no question,” she said. “The country is recognizing the gravity of this moment, the significance of this moment.”

    Biden’s team has been vetting potential candidates for weeks and has begun whittling down their list of choices. Several of the potential contenders are Black, including California Sen. Kamala Harris, Florida Rep. Val Demings, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms and Susan Rice, who served as President Barack Obama’s national security adviser. New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, a Latina, is also in the mix.

    Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who is white, is also leading contender. Another possibility who is white, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, said last month that she had opening conversations with Biden’s team about potentially serving as vice president. In a Thursday interview, she said, “Beyond that, there’s just not much new to report.”

    Antjuan Seawright, a veteran Democratic strategist, said the current moment calls for someone who understands the challenges faced by Black Americans.

    “There’s a renewed sense of urgency around the need to have someone who can speak to the experiences of today and advocate for the promises of tomorrow when it comes to populations of constituencies in this country who’ve been left out for a very long time,” he said.

    Klobuchar’s decision was in part a reflection of the fact that her own chances at getting the VP nod diminished after Floyd’s killing.

    She was a prosecutor years ago in the county that includes Minneapolis, and during that period, more than two dozen people — mostly people of color — died during encounters with police. Floyd’s death last month set off days of protests across the country and criticism that as the county’s top prosecutor, Klobuchar didn’t charge any of the officers involved in citizen deaths.

    Officer Derek Chauvin, who was charged with Floyd’s murder, was involved in a fatal October 2006 shooting of a man accused of stabbing people and aiming a shotgun at police. Klobuchar’s successor as prosecutor, Mike Freeman, sent Chauvin’s case to a grand jury, which was customary practice for the office at the time, and the grand jury in 2008 declined to prosecute. Freeman has said Klobuchar, who won election to the Senate in November 2006 and took office in January 2007, had no involvement in the Chauvin case.

    But her decision this week to endorse a woman of color is certain to complicate the pitches of other white contenders.

    In conversations with a half-dozen Democrats, none would rule out Warren, who’s been actively engaging with Black activists and leaders since exiting the Democratic presidential race and won plaudits from some former skeptics for her outreach. But privately, many acknowledged that her chances have dimmed following Klobuchar’s remarks.

    “I think Elizabeth, if she wants the job, has got to make the case for not only why she would be the best vice president of the people he’s considering, but why she would be the best person to put on the ticket electorally,” said Heidi Heitkamp, a former Democratic senator from North Dakota who served with Warren. “If she can make that persuasive argument, you can’t rule her out.

    Heitkamp said she’s long believed Biden should choose a Black woman, in part because of the current political climate, but also because Black women are some of the Democratic Party’s most loyal voters. And she suggested Klobuchar’s comments Thursday night reflected the views of many of those within the party.

    “I think it was incredibly generous of her to bow out and to say what I think a lot of us are thinking, which is that the time has come to recognize the contributions and the capabilities of a lot of women who may otherwise get passed over,” she said.

    The debate among Democrats about Biden’s vice presidential pick has divided among competing and sometimes contradictory views within the party about the best path to victory in November.

    Those who believe Biden must take into consideration geographic concerns advocate choosing a candidate from a swing state. Those who believe Biden should focus on winning over and turning out young and liberal voters suggest he should choose a progressive. And those who believe demographics are key argue in favor of a woman of color.

    Warren was long the favorite of those who felt strongest that Biden needed to win over skeptical progressives. But Seawright argued that Klobuchar’s comments helped refocus the conversation.

    “I think that when Klobuchar and others use intentional commentary like she did, I think it helps push back on some of these conversations being had about geographics, the flavor within the party, progressive versus moderate, etc.,” he said. “When intentional conversations like she had last night come about, it really turns down the noise and really focuses on the lyrics of what’s important.”

    Biden Running Mate Search Zeroes in on Four Black Women (U.S. Election Update)


    Senator Kamala Harris, former U.S. National Security Adviser Susan Rice, Rep. Val Demings and Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance are all under serious consideration to become the next U.S. Vice Presidential Nominee. The candidates reflect the growing prominence of African American women amid a national uproar over police violence and racism that has sparked protests around the country. – TWP (AP photos)

    The Washington Post

    Biden running mate search zeroes in on group that includes at least four black women

    Joe Biden’s search for a running mate has advanced to the next phase as his campaign conducts more extensive reviews of some prospects, including at least several African American women, according to people with knowledge of the situation.

    Among the candidates who have progressed to the point of more comprehensive vetting or have the potential to do so are Sen. Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.), Rep. Val Demings (D-Fla.), former national security adviser Susan E. Rice and Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, all of whom are black. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), who is white, is also in that group, as is New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, who is Latina.

    The pool of prospects remains fluid, and some close Biden allies suggested other contenders could also face the more intensive vetting process. The people describing the situation spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive private conversations and an evolving search process.

    The Biden campaign declined to comment. Biden has vowed to choose a woman, and Biden has repeatedly stressed that he wants a running mate who is “simpatico” with him.

    The candidates who continue to be under consideration by the campaign reflect in part the growing prominence of African American women amid a national uproar over police violence and racism that has sparked protests around the country. These developments have added pressure on Biden to select a black woman as his ticket mate.

    “I think that a ticket that is not reflective of the diversity of this country is a ticket that is doomed to fail,” said Rep. Marcia L. Fudge (D-Ohio), who said she has long felt Biden should pick a black woman and feels “even more so now.”

    Biden’s search is attracting even more attention than that of most candidates because at 77, he would be the oldest person ever elected to the presidency. Beyond potential health issues, some Democrats believe that if elected, Biden might not seek a second term, giving his vice president an early advantage in the race to become the next chief executive.

    Read more »


    Related:

    Obama Steps Out as America Confronts Confluence of Crises

    Joe Biden Officially Announces He is Running for U.S President in 2020

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    Spotlight: ‘Bekoji 100’ Documentary

    The short film produced by the Girls Gotta Run Foundation (GGRF) follows a 100-mile relay across Ethiopia and shows how running can change the lives of teenage girls for the better. Bekoji has a small population, but it has produced some of Ethiopia’s greatest runners. (Running Magazine)

    Running Magazine

    Looking Into the Lives of Ethiopian Girls in ‘Bekoji 100’ Documentary

    Running presents many people with the opportunity to improve their lives, and in a new short film titled Bekoji 100, that is put on display with a team of Ethiopian girls. The small Ethiopian town of Bekoji is described as a “running mecca that has produced 18 Olympic medals,” and the documentary follows a local all-girls training group as they run a 100-mile relay. The relay is the reason for the documentary (hence the film’s title), but it is hardly the focus. Instead, viewers are shown how running can help these young girls grow, not only into successful runners, but into independent and strong women.

    View this post on Instagram

    THE BEKOJI 100 FILM PREMIERE // In January 2019, GGRF organized The Bekoji 100: Ethiopia's first ultra relay for and by girls. 48 runners, 100 miles, one day. A historic relay for women's empowerment and peace. . Today we’re proud to launch the Bekoji 100 film! The film is premiering at the No Man’s Land Flagship Film Festival over March 5-8 and will continue to screen at festivals and events around the country over the next several months. Thank you to everyone who made the Bekoji 100 relay and film possible! . The Bekoji 100 short film explores the stories of Desta and Zabu, two adolescent female runners from Bekoji, Ethiopia who are supported by GGRF. As they embark on completing the first-ever 100 mile, ultra relay race across Ethiopia alongside international runners and their GGRF teammates, they share their athletic ambitions and the trials they face as young women. . Join GGRF for The Bekoji 100 film premiere and celebrations at the @nomanslandfilmfestival in Denver, Colorado from ‪March 5-8th: . ‪+ Friday, March 6th, 7:30PM: Bekoji 100 Film Premiere‬ ‪+ Saturday, March 7th, 9:45AM-11:30AM: Run, panel discussion, and celebration of International Women's Day with GGRF and @allegrocoffee‬ ‪+ Saturday, March 7th, 3:10 – 3:40PM: Presentation and Q&A with @runningonom and @kdn_ ‬ . ‪ Get more information on the GGRF events happening over the International Women's Day weekend and learn about upcoming screenings in cities near you on the GGRF Bekoji 100 Film page. Link in bio.‬

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    A running mecca

    Bekoji has a small population, but it has produced some of Ethiopia’s greatest runners, like two-time Olympic gold medallist Derartu Tulu and sisters Tirunesh and Genzebe Dibaba. Tirunesh has won six Olympic medals (three gold and three bronze) and six world championships medals (five gold and one silver), and she is the 5,000m world record-holder with a time of 14:11.15. Genzebe has two world championship medals from 2015 (gold in the 1,500m and bronze in the 5,000m) and an Olympic medal from 2016 when she won silver in the 1,500m. Kenenisa Bekele was also born near Bekoji, although he isn’t mentioned in the film.

    Girls Gotta Run

    The film was produced by the Girls Gotta Run Foundation (GGRF), an organization which “envisions a world in which every girl is able to design a future of her choosing” and invests “in girls who use running and education to empower themselves and their communities in Ethiopia.” The GGRF team is made up of girls who want to go far in running (they idolize the likes of Tulu and the Dibaba sisters), but they also want to build lives outside of the sport.

    Read more »

    Related:

    Why Girls Gotta Run: TADIAS Interview with Dr. Patricia E. Ortman

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    Dear Ethiopia & Egypt: Nile Dam Update

    Nefartari with Simbel and St. Yared holding a Simbel, which is called Tsenatsil in Amharic and Ge’ez.

    The Africa Report

    By Meklit Berihun, a civil engineer and aspiring researcher in systems thinking and its application in the water/environment sector.

    Dear Egypt

    My dear, how are you holding up in these trying times? I hope you are faring well as much as one can given the circumstances. And I pray we will not be burdened with more than we can bear and that this time will soon come to pass for the both of us.

    Dearest, I hear of your frustration about the progress—or lack thereof—on the negotiations over my dam. That is a frustration I also share. I look forward to the day we settle things and look to the future together.

    Beloved, though your approach has recently metamorphosed in addressing your right to our water—officially stating you never held on to any past agreements—the foundation, that you do not want to settle for anything less than 66 percent of what is shared by 10 of your fellow African states, remains unchanged. I must be honest: I cannot fathom how you still hold on to this.

    Read more »

    Dear Ethiopia,

    By Nervana Mahmoud, Doctor and independent political commentator on Middle East issues. BBC’s 100 women 2013.

    Thank you for your letter.

    The fate of our two countries has been linked since ancient times, as described in Herodotus’s book An Account of Egypt, Egypt is the “gift of the Nile,” “it has soil which is black and easily breaks up, seeing that it is in truth mud and silt brought down from Ethiopia by the river.”

    It is sad you question Egypt’s African identity. It may sound surprising to you, but the vast majority of Egyptians are proud Africans. In 1990, my entire family was glued to the television, showing our support for Cameroon against England, in the World Cup. Last year, Egypt hosted the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations. Many Egyptians supported Senegal and Nigeria, who played Arab teams, in the final rounds because we see ourselves as Africans.

    Unfortunately, I do not believe that you — our African brothers — appreciate the potential disastrous impacts of your Grand Renaissance Dam (GERD) on our livelihood in Egypt.

    Read more »

    AP Interview: Egypt Says UN Must Stop Ethiopia on Dam Fill

    AP Interview:: Ethiopia To Fill Disputed Dam, Deal or No Deal


    This satellite image taken May 28, 2020, shows the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) on the Blue Nile river in the Benishangul-Gumuz region. In an interview with The Associated Press Friday, June 19, 2020, Foreign Minister Gedu Andargachew said that Ethiopia will start filling the $4.6 billion dam next month. (AP)

    The Associated Press

    By ELIAS MESERET

    Updated: June 19th, 2020

    ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (AP) — It’s a clash over water usage that Egypt calls an existential threat and Ethiopia calls a lifeline for millions out of poverty. Just weeks remain before the filling of Africa’s most powerful hydroelectric dam might begin, and tense talks between the countries on its operation have yet to reach a deal.

    In an interview with The Associated Press, Ethiopian Foreign Minister Gedu Andargachew on Friday declared that his country will go ahead and start filling the $4.6 billion Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam next month, even without an agreement. “For us it is not mandatory to reach an agreement before starting filling the dam, hence we will commence the filling process in the coming rainy season,” he said.

    “We are working hard to reach a deal, but still we will go ahead with our schedule whatever the outcome is. If we have to wait for others’ blessing, then the dam may remain idle for years, which we won’t allow to happen,” he said. He added that “we want to make it clear that Ethiopia will not beg Egypt and Sudan to use its own water resource for its development,” pointing out that Ethiopia is paying for the dam’s construction itself.

    He spoke after the latest round of talks with Egypt and Sudan on the dam, the first since discussions broke down in February, failed to reach agreement.

    No date has been set for talks to resume, and the foreign minister said Ethiopia doesn’t believe it’s time to take them to a head of state level.

    The years-long dispute pits Ethiopia’s desire to become a major power exporter and development engine against Egypt’s concern that the dam will significantly curtail its water supply if filled too quickly. Sudan has long been caught between the competing interests.

    The arrival of the rainy season is bringing more water to the Blue Nile, the main branch of the Nile, and Ethiopia sees an ideal time to begin filling the dam’s reservoir next month.

    Both Egypt and Ethiopia have hinted at military steps to protect their interests, and experts fear a breakdown in talks could lead to conflict.

    Ethiopia’s foreign minister would not say whether his country would use military action to defend the dam and its operations.

    “This dam should have been a reason for cooperation and regional integration, not a cause for controversies and warmongering,” he said. “Egyptians are exaggerating their propaganda on the dam issue and playing a political gamble. Some of them seem as if they are longing for a war to break out.”

    Gedu added: “Our reading is that the Egyptian side wants to dictate and control even future developments on our river. We won’t ask for permission to carry out development projects on our own water resources. This is both legally and morally unacceptable.”

    He said Ethiopia has offered to fill the dam in four to seven years, taking possible low rainfall into account.

    Sticking points in the talks have been how much water Ethiopia will release downstream from the dam during a multi-year drought and how Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan will resolve any future disputes.

    The United States earlier this year tried to broker a deal, but Ethiopia did not attend the signing meeting and accused the Trump administration of siding with Egypt. This week some Ethiopians felt vindicated when the U.S. National Security Council tweeted that “257 million people in east Africa are relying on Ethiopia to show strong leadership, which means striking a fair deal.”

    In reply to that, Ethiopia’s foreign minister said: “Statements issued from governments and other institutions on the dam should be crafted carefully not to take sides and impair the fragile talks, especially at this delicate time. They should issue fair statements or just issue no statements at all.”

    He also rejected the idea that the issue should be taken to the United Nations Security Council, as Egypt wants. Egypt’s foreign ministry issued a statement Friday saying Egypt has urged the Security Council to intervene in the dispute to help the parties reach a “fair and balanced solution” and prevent Ethiopia from “taking any unilateral actions.”

    The latest talks saw officials from the U.S., European Union and South Africa, the current chairman of the African Union, attending as observers.

    Sudan’s Irrigation Minister Yasser Abbas told reporters after talks ended Wednesday that the three counties’ irrigation leaders have agreed on “90% or 95%” of the technical issues but the dispute over the “legal points” in the deal remains dissolved.

    The Sudanese minister said his country and Egypt rejected Ethiopia’s attempts to include articles on water sharing and old Nile treaties in the dam deal. Egypt has received the lion’s share of the Nile’s waters under decades-old agreements dating back to the British colonial era. Eighty-five percent of the Nile’s waters originate in Ethiopia from the Blue Nile.

    “The Egyptians want us to offer a lot, but they are not ready to offer us anything,” Gedu said Friday. “They want to control everything. We are not discussing a water-sharing agreement.”

    The countries should not get stuck in a debate about historic water rights, William Davison, senior analyst on Ethiopia with the International Crisis Group, told reporters this week. “During a period of filling, yes, there’s reduced water downstream. But that’s a temporary period,” he said.

    Initial power generation from the dam could be seen late this year or in early 2021, he said.

    Ethiopia’ foreign minister expressed disappointment in Egypt’s efforts to find backing for its side.

    “Our African brotherly countries should have supported us, but instead they are tainting our country’s name around the world, and especially in the Arab world,” he said. “Egypt’s monopolistic approach to the dam issue will not be acceptable for us forever.”


    Tussle for Nile Control Escalates as Dam Talks Falter


    The Blue Nile river passes through the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam near Guba, Ethiopia. (Getty Images)

    Bloomberg

    Updated: June 18th, 2020

    A last ditch attempt to resolve a decade-long dispute between Egypt and Ethiopia over a huge new hydropower dam on the Nile has failed, raising the stakes in what – for all the public focus on technical issues – is a tussle for control over the region’s most important water source.

    The talks appear to have faltered over a recurring issue: Ethiopia’s refusal to accept a permanent, minimum volume of water that the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, or GERD, should release downstream in the event of severe drought.

    What happens next remains uncertain. Both Ethiopia and Sudan – a mutual neighbor that took part in the talks – said that progress had been made and left the door open to further negotiation. Yet the stakes in a region acutely vulnerable to the impact of climate change are disconcertingly clear.

    Ethiopia has threatened to start filling the dam’s reservoir when the rainy season begins in July, with or without a deal, a step Egypt considers both unacceptable and illegal. In a statement late Wednesday, Egypt’s irrigation ministry accused Ethiopia of refusing to accept any effective drought provision or legally binding commitments, or even to refer the talks to the three prime ministers in an effort to break the deadlock. Ethiopia was demanding “an absolute right” to build further dams behind the GERD, the ministry said.

    Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry threatened on Monday to call for United Nations Security Council intervention to protect “international peace and security” if no agreement was reached. A day later his Ethiopian opposite, Gedu Andargachew, accused Egypt of “acting as if it is the sole owner of the Nile waters.”

    Egyptian billionaire Naguib Sawiris even warned of a water war. “We will never allow any country to starve us, if Ethiopia doesn’t come to reason, we the Egyptian people will be the first to call for war,” he said in a tweet earlier this week.

    Although both sides have played down the prospect of military conflict, they have occasionally rattled sabers and concern at the potential for escalation helped draw the U.S. and World Bank into the negotiating process last year. When that attempt floundered in February, the European Union and South Africa, as chair of the African Union, joined in.

    “This is all about control,” said Asfaw Beyene, a professor of mechanical engineering at San Diego State University, California, whose work Egypt cited in support of a May 1 report to the UN. The so-called aide memoire argued that the GERD and its 74 billion cubic meter reservoir are so vastly oversized relative to the power they will produce that it “raises questions about the true purpose of the dam.”

    National Survival

    Egypt’s concern is that once the dam’s sluices can control the Nile’s flow, Ethiopia could in times of drought say “I am not releasing water, I need it,” or dictate how the water released is used, says Asfaw. Yet he backs Ethiopia’s claims that once filled, the dam won’t significantly affect downstream supplies. He also agrees with their argument that climate change could render unsustainable any water guarantees given to Egypt.

    Both sides describe the future of the hydropower dam that will generate as much as 15.7 gigawatts of electricity per year as a matter of national survival. Egypt relies on the Nile for as much as 97% of an already strained water supply. Ethiopia says the dam is vital for development, because it would increase the nation’s power generation by about 150% at a time when more than half the population have no access to electricity.

    Read more »


    UPDATE: Ethiopian Army Official Says Country Will Defend Itself Over Dam (AP)


    A general view of the Blue Nile river as it passes through the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), near Guba in Ethiopia. (Getty Images)

    The Associated Press

    By ELIAS MESERET

    Updated: June 12th, 2020

    ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (AP) — Ethiopia’s deputy army chief on Friday said his country will strongly defend itself and will not negotiate its sovereignty over the disputed $4.6 billion Nile dam that has caused tensions with Egypt.

    “Egyptians and the rest of the world know too well how we conduct war whenever it comes,” Gen. Birhanu Jula said in an interview with the state-owned Addis Zemen newspaper, adding that Egyptian leaders’ “distorted narrative” on Africa’s largest hydroelectric dam is attracting enemies.

    He accused Egypt of using its weapons to “threaten and tell other countries not to touch the shared water” and said “the way forward should be cooperation in a fair manner.”

    He spoke amid renewed talks among Ethiopian, Sudanese and Egyptian water and irrigation ministers after months of deadlock. Ethiopia wants to begin filling the dam’s reservoir in the coming weeks, but Egypt worries a rapid filling will take too much of the water it says its people need to survive. Sudan, caught between the competing interests, pushed the two sides to resume discussions.

    The general’s comments were a stark contrast to Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s remarks to lawmakers earlier this week that diplomacy should take center stage to resolve outstanding issues.

    “We don’t want to hurt anyone else, and at the same time it will be difficult for us to accept the notion that we don’t deserve to have electricity,” the Nobel Peace Prize laureate said. “We are tired of begging others while 70% of our population is young. This has to change.”

    Talks on the dam have struggled. Egypt’s Irrigation Ministry on Wednesday called for Ethiopia to “clearly declare that it had no intention of unilaterally filling the reservoir” and that a deal prepared by the U.S. and the World Bank in February serves as the starting point of the resumed negotiations.

    Ethiopia refused to sign that deal and accused the U.S. of siding with Egypt.

    Egypt said that in Tuesday’s talks, Ethiopia showed it wanted to re-discuss “all issues” including “all timetables and figures” negotiated in the U.S.-brokered talks.

    President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi discussed the latest negotiations in a phone call with President Donald Trump on Wednesday, el-Sissi’s office said, without elaborating.

    Egypt’s National Security Council, the highest body that makes decisions in high-profile security matters in the country, has accused Ethiopia of “buying time” and seeking to begin filling the dam’s reservoir in July without reaching a deal with Egypt and Sudan.

    Ethiopia Seeks to Limit Outsiders’ Role in Nile Dam Talks (AFP)


    Ethiopia sees the dam as essential for its electrification and development, while Sudan and Egypt see it as a threat to essential water supplies (AFP Photo)

    AFP

    Updated: June 11th, 2020

    Addis Ababa (AFP) – Ethiopia said Thursday it wants to limit the role of outside parties in revived talks over its Nile River mega-dam, a sign of lingering frustration over a failed attempt by the US to broker a deal earlier this year.

    The Grand Ethiopia Renaissance Dam has been a source of tension in the Nile River basin ever since Ethiopia broke ground on it nearly a decade ago.

    Ethiopia sees the dam as essential for its electrification and development, while Sudan and Egypt see it as a threat to essential water supplies.

    The US Treasury Department stepped in last year after Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi put in a request to his ally US President Donald Trump.

    But the process ran aground after the Treasury Department urged Ethiopia to sign a deal that Egypt backed as “fair and balanced”.

    Ethiopia denied a deal had been reached and accused Washington of being “undiplomatic” and playing favourites.

    On Tuesday Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan resumed talks via videoconference with representatives of the United States, the European Union and South Africa taking part.

    The talks resumed Wednesday and were expected to pick up again Thursday.

    In a statement aired Thursday by state-affiliated media, Ethiopia’s water ministry said the role of the outside parties should not “exceed that of observing the negotiation and sharing good practices when jointly requested by the three countries.”

    The statement also criticised Egypt for detailing its grievances over the dam in a May letter to the UN Security Council — a move it described as a bad faith attempt to “exert external diplomatic pressure”.

    Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed reiterated Monday that his country plans to begin filling the dam’s reservoir in the coming weeks, giving the latest talks heightened urgency.

    The short window makes it “more necessary than ever that concessions are made so a deal can be struck that will ease potentially dangerous tensions,” said William Davison of the International Crisis Group, a conflict prevention organisation.

    One solution could involve Ethiopia “proposing a detailed cooperative annual drought-management scheme that takes Egypt and Sudan’s concerns into account, but does not unacceptably constrain the dam’s potential,” he said.

    The EU sees the resumption of talks as “an important opportunity to restore confidence among the parties, build on the good progress achieved and agree on a mutually beneficial solution,” said spokeswoman Virginie Battu-Henriksson.

    “Especially in this time of global crisis, it is important to appease tensions and find pragmatic solutions,” she said.

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    Elias Wondimu on Racial Inequality in Publishing

    Elias Wondimu is the CEO and President of TSEHAI Corp. Since the 2011 closure of Howard University Press, TSEHAI is the only African or African-American publisher housed in an American or European university. In this unique position, Wondimu plays a crucial role in filling the global knowledge gap on Ethiopia and Africa. (LA Review of Books)

    LA Review of Books

    By Elias Wondimu

    Racial Inequality in Publishing and #BlackPublishingPower

    Amistad Books’ Black Publishing Power Initiative encourages everyone to purchase two books written by Black authors during the week of June 13 through June 20, 2020. This is a good start, but it is only a start.

    The social media initiative of #BlackPublishingPower responds to centuries of patent inequality in the publishing industry. The call to amplify Black voices through institutions that have historically suppressed them follows a three-week period of Black Lives Matter protests, both nationwide and international, in response to the murder of George Floyd. And it has already led to a record-setting accomplishment in the publishing world; all top 10 books on The New York Times’s nonfiction bestseller list were related to the subject of antiracist activism. The issue of racial inequality is not new, and neither is the call to allyship. Yet the degree to which people are responding to that call, at least online, is unprecedented and overwhelming.

    Whether you are new to the work of antiracism or not, it is imperative to understand the imbalance of power White writers and publishers have created and sustained in the history of knowledge creation, and why buying two books by Black authors is not all we should be doing to combat it. The racial injustices that we are still fighting today reach back to the establishment of the days of Gutenberg, when knowledge production began on a mass scale in Europe.

    The number of books written about Africa and its inhabitants increased along with the total number of books being printed, but the “experts” in the subject remained White European males with an agenda. When we talk about Blackness and the continent of Africa, our perceptions and beliefs are rooted in texts that promoted the subjugation of Black people for economic purposes. The ability to exploit and enslave populations of African people was carefully devised and upheld by the same voices that crafted false narratives in order to devalue the lives of African and non-White people.

    Read more »


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    Dr. Asefa Jejaw Mekonnen: Op-Ed on COVID-19 Phase 3 Vaccine Studies

    Asefa Mekonnen, MD, FCCP, is a pulmonologist in active practice as a partner at Rockville Internal Medicine Group in Rockville, Maryland. He also serves as an Investigator with Meridian Clinical Research to oversee clinical trials. (Courtesy photo)

    By Dr. Asefa Jejaw Mekonnen

    As COVID-19 Phase 3 Vaccine Studies Begin, We Must Improve Minority Participation in Clinical Trials

    The minority community’s relationship with the medical and scientific world has not been built upon trust. This is particularly true with African Americans. Brutal and unethical historical practices in medicine subjected African American bodies to dissection and autopsy material without their consent. In addition, sterilizing Native American women without their consent, and the infamous Tuskegee syphilis experiment, led to a justifiable fear and luck of trust by people of color regarding clinical trial participation in the U.S.

    Recent publications have also indicated African Americans are overly represented in experimental and procedural studies that did not require informed consent. These are studies conducted under emergency situations when subjects cannot make an informed decision. Part of the explanation given was that African Americans represent the largest proportion of geographical catchment in areas where such experiments are done. These are primarily in inner city metro areas where academic medical centers are located. On the contrary, African Americans constituted less than 5% of patients in cancer related clinical trials that led to 24 of the cancer drugs approved between 2015 and 2018. The underrepresentation of African American in oncological clinical trials extends to cancers that have higher rates of occurrence in the African American community. If we follow the same logic for studies that did not require consent, studies on medical conditions that affect African Americans at a disproportionately higher rate (like multiple myeloma) should have a proportionate or higher ratio of African American subjects in the clinical trial.

    The system is not serving justice and must change. Clinical trials can provide earlier access to care options that can prolong life and prevent disease.

    Opinions differ in terms of the benefit of vaccines to society. I strongly believe in the positive impact of vaccines. The world eradicated small pox and controlled polio, measles, yellow fever, pertussis, etc., with vaccine intervention. We must remember how human health was affected in the pre-vaccine era, when millions died with each major epidemic.

    I grew up in a developing nation where infectious disease accounts for the majority of preventable deaths. I witnessed first-hand the impact of mass vaccination. I cannot imagine what the population demography would have looked like if public health was not armed with mass vaccination strategies for major childhood illnesses. As we progress in the fight against COVID-19, a safe and effective vaccine would give us the means to resume normal life.

    Vaccine trials will show the result of preventing disease, or modifying the course of a disease, in a population that has the highest burden of disease. People at the highest risk of the disease — like healthcare workers, frontline workers, and African American and Hispanic communities — must be included in the study design that identifies requirements for participating in the trial. But protocols will not increase participation in the study unless the trust and fear barriers for clinical trial participation are addressed.

    When it comes to COVID-19 vaccine clinical trials, early educational intervention to the underrepresented African American and Hispanic communities can improve the knowledge gap. Logistical factors that will curtail access to clinical research sites have to be considered. For example, trial managers should think about creating access to transportation, or taking clinical trial sites to where the target cohorts reside.

    While building trust takes a long time, involvement of nonmedical community leaders to champion care in their respective communities will have a positive influence. Primary care physicians who have longstanding relationships with communities should be involved in recruitment and the explanation of research protocols as they have built rapport with their communities.

    Having quantitatively and qualitatively proportionate racial, cultural, and ethnic representation on the team of clinical investigators — and among the teams who monitor the observance of rules of clinical investigation — can couple with a compassionate support staff during clinical trials to improve the trust factor. While medicine is a universal human science that assumes each of us should have commitment and care based on our common humanity, historical reasons in America have made race a major factor in care delivery. As such, we must bridge the gap so the community that needs care the most can benefit from early clinical trials and scientific progress to change the course of COVID-19 pandemic.

    Related:

    THE LATEST UPDATE: Coronavirus Pandemic

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    Ethiopia Relaxes COVID-19 Restrictions

    14 days of mandatory quarantine for inbound travelers cut to as little as 3 days for some. (Anadolu Agency)

    AA

    By Addis Getachew Tadesse

    ADDIS ABABA – Ethiopia on Friday relaxed a number of COVID-19 emergency preventative measures, including shortening a mandatory 14-day quarantine of arrivals from abroad.

    Passengers from abroad who hold COVID-19 negative certificates are mandated to isolate themselves for only three days after giving samples, and stay for 14 days at home before joining the community, local broadcaster FANA quoted Health Minister Liya Kebede as saying.

    Families of COVID-19 victims can now arrange funerals, but the number of people allowed to attend burials remains at 15, the Health Ministry said in a statement.

    The Horn of Africa country has so far confirmed 4,070 corona virus cases, 72 deaths, and 1,027 recoveries.

    Related:

    THE LATEST UPDATE: Coronavirus Pandemic

    Dr. Asefa Jejaw Mekonnen: Op-Ed on COVID-19 Phase 3 Vaccine Studies

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    AP INTERVIEW: Ethiopia To Fill Disputed Dam, Deal or No Deal

    This satellite image taken May 28, 2020, shows the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) on the Blue Nile river in the Benishangul-Gumuz region. In an interview with The Associated Press Friday, June 19, 2020, Foreign Minister Gedu Andargachew said that Ethiopia will start filling the $4.6 billion dam next month. (AP)

    The Associated Press

    By ELIAS MESERET

    Updated: June 19th, 2020

    ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (AP) — It’s a clash over water usage that Egypt calls an existential threat and Ethiopia calls a lifeline for millions out of poverty. Just weeks remain before the filling of Africa’s most powerful hydroelectric dam might begin, and tense talks between the countries on its operation have yet to reach a deal.

    In an interview with The Associated Press, Ethiopian Foreign Minister Gedu Andargachew on Friday declared that his country will go ahead and start filling the $4.6 billion Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam next month, even without an agreement. “For us it is not mandatory to reach an agreement before starting filling the dam, hence we will commence the filling process in the coming rainy season,” he said.

    “We are working hard to reach a deal, but still we will go ahead with our schedule whatever the outcome is. If we have to wait for others’ blessing, then the dam may remain idle for years, which we won’t allow to happen,” he said. He added that “we want to make it clear that Ethiopia will not beg Egypt and Sudan to use its own water resource for its development,” pointing out that Ethiopia is paying for the dam’s construction itself.

    He spoke after the latest round of talks with Egypt and Sudan on the dam, the first since discussions broke down in February, failed to reach agreement.

    No date has been set for talks to resume, and the foreign minister said Ethiopia doesn’t believe it’s time to take them to a head of state level.

    The years-long dispute pits Ethiopia’s desire to become a major power exporter and development engine against Egypt’s concern that the dam will significantly curtail its water supply if filled too quickly. Sudan has long been caught between the competing interests.

    The arrival of the rainy season is bringing more water to the Blue Nile, the main branch of the Nile, and Ethiopia sees an ideal time to begin filling the dam’s reservoir next month.

    Both Egypt and Ethiopia have hinted at military steps to protect their interests, and experts fear a breakdown in talks could lead to conflict.

    Ethiopia’s foreign minister would not say whether his country would use military action to defend the dam and its operations.

    “This dam should have been a reason for cooperation and regional integration, not a cause for controversies and warmongering,” he said. “Egyptians are exaggerating their propaganda on the dam issue and playing a political gamble. Some of them seem as if they are longing for a war to break out.”

    Gedu added: “Our reading is that the Egyptian side wants to dictate and control even future developments on our river. We won’t ask for permission to carry out development projects on our own water resources. This is both legally and morally unacceptable.”

    He said Ethiopia has offered to fill the dam in four to seven years, taking possible low rainfall into account.

    Sticking points in the talks have been how much water Ethiopia will release downstream from the dam during a multi-year drought and how Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan will resolve any future disputes.

    The United States earlier this year tried to broker a deal, but Ethiopia did not attend the signing meeting and accused the Trump administration of siding with Egypt. This week some Ethiopians felt vindicated when the U.S. National Security Council tweeted that “257 million people in east Africa are relying on Ethiopia to show strong leadership, which means striking a fair deal.”

    In reply to that, Ethiopia’s foreign minister said: “Statements issued from governments and other institutions on the dam should be crafted carefully not to take sides and impair the fragile talks, especially at this delicate time. They should issue fair statements or just issue no statements at all.”

    He also rejected the idea that the issue should be taken to the United Nations Security Council, as Egypt wants. Egypt’s foreign ministry issued a statement Friday saying Egypt has urged the Security Council to intervene in the dispute to help the parties reach a “fair and balanced solution” and prevent Ethiopia from “taking any unilateral actions.”

    The latest talks saw officials from the U.S., European Union and South Africa, the current chairman of the African Union, attending as observers.

    Sudan’s Irrigation Minister Yasser Abbas told reporters after talks ended Wednesday that the three counties’ irrigation leaders have agreed on “90% or 95%” of the technical issues but the dispute over the “legal points” in the deal remains dissolved.

    The Sudanese minister said his country and Egypt rejected Ethiopia’s attempts to include articles on water sharing and old Nile treaties in the dam deal. Egypt has received the lion’s share of the Nile’s waters under decades-old agreements dating back to the British colonial era. Eighty-five percent of the Nile’s waters originate in Ethiopia from the Blue Nile.

    “The Egyptians want us to offer a lot, but they are not ready to offer us anything,” Gedu said Friday. “They want to control everything. We are not discussing a water-sharing agreement.”

    The countries should not get stuck in a debate about historic water rights, William Davison, senior analyst on Ethiopia with the International Crisis Group, told reporters this week. “During a period of filling, yes, there’s reduced water downstream. But that’s a temporary period,” he said.

    Initial power generation from the dam could be seen late this year or in early 2021, he said.

    Ethiopia’ foreign minister expressed disappointment in Egypt’s efforts to find backing for its side.

    “Our African brotherly countries should have supported us, but instead they are tainting our country’s name around the world, and especially in the Arab world,” he said. “Egypt’s monopolistic approach to the dam issue will not be acceptable for us forever.”


    Tussle for Nile Control Escalates as Dam Talks Falter


    The Blue Nile river passes through the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam near Guba, Ethiopia. (Getty Images)

    Bloomberg

    Updated: June 18th, 2020

    A last ditch attempt to resolve a decade-long dispute between Egypt and Ethiopia over a huge new hydropower dam on the Nile has failed, raising the stakes in what – for all the public focus on technical issues – is a tussle for control over the region’s most important water source.

    The talks appear to have faltered over a recurring issue: Ethiopia’s refusal to accept a permanent, minimum volume of water that the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, or GERD, should release downstream in the event of severe drought.

    What happens next remains uncertain. Both Ethiopia and Sudan – a mutual neighbor that took part in the talks – said that progress had been made and left the door open to further negotiation. Yet the stakes in a region acutely vulnerable to the impact of climate change are disconcertingly clear.

    Ethiopia has threatened to start filling the dam’s reservoir when the rainy season begins in July, with or without a deal, a step Egypt considers both unacceptable and illegal. In a statement late Wednesday, Egypt’s irrigation ministry accused Ethiopia of refusing to accept any effective drought provision or legally binding commitments, or even to refer the talks to the three prime ministers in an effort to break the deadlock. Ethiopia was demanding “an absolute right” to build further dams behind the GERD, the ministry said.

    Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry threatened on Monday to call for United Nations Security Council intervention to protect “international peace and security” if no agreement was reached. A day later his Ethiopian opposite, Gedu Andargachew, accused Egypt of “acting as if it is the sole owner of the Nile waters.”

    Egyptian billionaire Naguib Sawiris even warned of a water war. “We will never allow any country to starve us, if Ethiopia doesn’t come to reason, we the Egyptian people will be the first to call for war,” he said in a tweet earlier this week.

    Although both sides have played down the prospect of military conflict, they have occasionally rattled sabers and concern at the potential for escalation helped draw the U.S. and World Bank into the negotiating process last year. When that attempt floundered in February, the European Union and South Africa, as chair of the African Union, joined in.

    “This is all about control,” said Asfaw Beyene, a professor of mechanical engineering at San Diego State University, California, whose work Egypt cited in support of a May 1 report to the UN. The so-called aide memoire argued that the GERD and its 74 billion cubic meter reservoir are so vastly oversized relative to the power they will produce that it “raises questions about the true purpose of the dam.”

    National Survival

    Egypt’s concern is that once the dam’s sluices can control the Nile’s flow, Ethiopia could in times of drought say “I am not releasing water, I need it,” or dictate how the water released is used, says Asfaw. Yet he backs Ethiopia’s claims that once filled, the dam won’t significantly affect downstream supplies. He also agrees with their argument that climate change could render unsustainable any water guarantees given to Egypt.

    Both sides describe the future of the hydropower dam that will generate as much as 15.7 gigawatts of electricity per year as a matter of national survival. Egypt relies on the Nile for as much as 97% of an already strained water supply. Ethiopia says the dam is vital for development, because it would increase the nation’s power generation by about 150% at a time when more than half the population have no access to electricity.

    Read more »


    UPDATE: Ethiopian Army Official Says Country Will Defend Itself Over Dam (AP)


    A general view of the Blue Nile river as it passes through the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), near Guba in Ethiopia. (Getty Images)

    The Associated Press

    By ELIAS MESERET

    Updated: June 12th, 2020

    ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (AP) — Ethiopia’s deputy army chief on Friday said his country will strongly defend itself and will not negotiate its sovereignty over the disputed $4.6 billion Nile dam that has caused tensions with Egypt.

    “Egyptians and the rest of the world know too well how we conduct war whenever it comes,” Gen. Birhanu Jula said in an interview with the state-owned Addis Zemen newspaper, adding that Egyptian leaders’ “distorted narrative” on Africa’s largest hydroelectric dam is attracting enemies.

    He accused Egypt of using its weapons to “threaten and tell other countries not to touch the shared water” and said “the way forward should be cooperation in a fair manner.”

    He spoke amid renewed talks among Ethiopian, Sudanese and Egyptian water and irrigation ministers after months of deadlock. Ethiopia wants to begin filling the dam’s reservoir in the coming weeks, but Egypt worries a rapid filling will take too much of the water it says its people need to survive. Sudan, caught between the competing interests, pushed the two sides to resume discussions.

    The general’s comments were a stark contrast to Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s remarks to lawmakers earlier this week that diplomacy should take center stage to resolve outstanding issues.

    “We don’t want to hurt anyone else, and at the same time it will be difficult for us to accept the notion that we don’t deserve to have electricity,” the Nobel Peace Prize laureate said. “We are tired of begging others while 70% of our population is young. This has to change.”

    Talks on the dam have struggled. Egypt’s Irrigation Ministry on Wednesday called for Ethiopia to “clearly declare that it had no intention of unilaterally filling the reservoir” and that a deal prepared by the U.S. and the World Bank in February serves as the starting point of the resumed negotiations.

    Ethiopia refused to sign that deal and accused the U.S. of siding with Egypt.

    Egypt said that in Tuesday’s talks, Ethiopia showed it wanted to re-discuss “all issues” including “all timetables and figures” negotiated in the U.S.-brokered talks.

    President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi discussed the latest negotiations in a phone call with President Donald Trump on Wednesday, el-Sissi’s office said, without elaborating.

    Egypt’s National Security Council, the highest body that makes decisions in h