Author Archive for Tadias

COVID-19: Africa’s Case-fatality Ratio 2.7%

Ethiopia, Tunisia, Kenya, South Africa and Libya are the countries that reported the highest number of new cases, says Africa CDC. (Photo: In Ethiopia religious leaders receiving COVID-19 vaccine on April 9th, 2021/shared via Twitter MoH ETHIOPIA @FMoHealth)

Anadolu Agency

By Addis Getachew

114,000 deaths recorded out of 4.3M confirmed cases, says Africa CDC

ADDIS ABABA – Africa’s COVID-19 case-fatality ratio is 2.7%, more than the global average of 2.2%, head of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) said on Thursday.

In a weekly press briefing held virtually, Africa CDC Director John Nkengasong said 114,000 COVID-19 patients have died, while more than 4.3 million cases have been registered across the continent – 3.3% of the total cases globally.

The number of recoveries stands at 3.8 million – 90% of the overall infections, he said, adding that more than 41 million tests have been conducted to date.

Sharing the trends, Nkengasong said Africa in the past week saw 80,000 new cases, a 4% increase compared to the previous week.

Ethiopia, Tunisia, Kenya, South Africa and Libya are the countries that reported the highest number of new cases, he said.

He said 19 countries are reporting the presence of the B.1.1.7, commonly known as the UK or Kent COVID-19 variant, while 18 states have confirmed the B.1.351, or the South African strain of coronavirus.

Regarding vaccination, he said a total of 33.8 million vaccine doses have been acquired by member states, with approximately 12.9 million doses administered. “As of today, 31 members have received their consignment of COVID vaccines from the [WHO-led] COVAX facility – over 16 million doses.”

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Business: Ethiopia Seeks Market-Friendly Solution to Debt Restructuring

Ethiopia's Minister for Finance Eyob Tekalign Tolina set out the state’s intentions on a call with investors on Thursday to discuss the proposed reorganization of Ethiopia’s loans under a Group-of-20 initiative. (Getty)

Bloomberg

By Alonso Soto and Samuel Gebre

Ethiopia’s government wants to find a “market friendly” solution for a planned debt restructuring to ensure it has access to the markets for more capital in coming years, State Minister for Finance Eyob Tekalign Tolina said.

Eyob set out the state’s intentions on a call with investors on Thursday to discuss the proposed reorganization of Ethiopia’s loans under a Group-of-20 initiative.

“We want this liability exercise to not affect our ability to raise more capital,” Eyob said by text message Friday. “It’s the government’s intention to “find a market friendly solution given Ethiopia’s interest to raise significant capital from the market in the next couple of years,” he said.

Yields on Ethiopia’s $1 billion of 2024 Eurobonds soared to nine-month highs after the government’s said on Jan. 29 it intends to restructure its external debt. The announcement led Fitch Ratings to downgrade the nation’s credit and warn of an increased risk of default.

Pandemic Fallout

Ethiopia, like other African nations, is looking to offset the fallout from the coronavirus pandemic on its economy. Its position has been exacerbated by fighting in the northern Tigray region and a border dispute with Sudan that’s disrupting trade flows.

Eyob said the state will pay a coupon on the debt that falls due in June.

Two investors who attended Thursday’s call said the government indicated it will include include Eurobonds in an overhaul of its external debt. That would mark a shift in the government’s position after the state earlier this year said it would only as a last resort include private creditors in the planned restructuring.

Eyob denied the government has made any decision on how Eurobond holders will be treated.

“There is no indication whatsoever from us one way or the other,” he said. “We did indicate that given the phrase ‘comparable treatment’ in the common framework, the issue may come up at the creditors committee,” Eyob said, adding that the government is awaiting advice from the Paris Club of creditors on the matter.

Yields on the 2024 dollar bonds dropped one basis point on Friday to 8.98%.

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UPDATE: Ethiopia Hires More Help in Washington, DC to Lobby U.S Government

Holland & Knight - an international law firm with more 27 offices in the United States, Europe, and Latin America - has been retained by the Ethiopian government to provide “strategic counsel and federal government relations” before both Congress and the White House, according to documents filed with the U.S. Justice Department. The six-month contract is worth $270,000. (Photo: Holland & Knight LLP)

Politico

Ethiopian Peace Ministry hires Holland & Knight

The Ethiopian government has hired more help in Washington as the Biden administration continues to issue warnings and reports of atrocities against the Tigrayan people continue to trickle out. Holland & Knight’s Michael Cavanaugh, Rich Gold, Michael Galano and Ronald Oleynik will assist Ethiopia’s Ministry of Peace with “strategic counsel and federal government relations” before both Congress and the White House, according to documents filed with the Justice Department.

— The six-month contract is worth $270,000, and was disclosed the same day national security adviser Jake Sullivan spoke with Ethiopian Deputy Prime Minister Demeke Mekonnen, according to the White House, to convey the administration’s “grave concern” over the unfolding humanitarian crisis in the country, which Secretary of State Tony Blinken has said amounts to “ethnic cleansing” by the government in Addis Ababa against the Tigray people.

— President Joe Biden dispatched one of his top congressional allies, Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) to the Ethiopian capital last month. Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed told Coons during the visit that he is “deeply concerned” about reported atrocities, and is “fully committed to investigating all allegations of human rights abuses” and bringing to justice those responsible for the brutalities, according to a letter from Ethiopia’s ambassador to the United States to the heads of the House Foreign Affairs Committee that was disclosed to the Justice Department by the lobbying firm Venable, which is representing the Ethiopian embassy.

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Related:

UPDATE: DOJ Documents Show Who is Lobbying U.S Officials on Ethiopia Issues

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ART TALK: Julie Mehretu – A Decade of Printmaking at Gemini G.E.L. in NYC

Julie Mehretu’s engagement with the Gemini workshop began with a small drypoint etching created in 2008 to raise funds for Senator Obama’s presidential campaign. Aptly titled Amulets – a good luck charm for the Senator - that print, along with another small-scale print benefitting the Guggenheim Museum published 2010, were Mehretu and Gemini’s equivalence of a “courtship.” (Photograph by Case Hudson)

Press Release

Gemini G.E.L. at Joni Moisant Weyl is pleased to present Julie Mehretu: A Decade of Printmaking at Gemini G.E.L. on view March 25th through July 30th, 2021. This survey presents every edition that Mehretu has created in collaboration with Gemini G.E.L., the renowned artists’ workshop and creator of fine-art limited edition prints. The exhibition coincides with Mehretu’s mid-career retrospective on view at the Whitney Museum of American Art, which was previously shown at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) and The High Museum in Atlanta.

Mehretu’s engagement with the Gemini workshop began with a small drypoint etching created in 2008 to raise funds for Senator Obama’s presidential campaign. Aptly titled Amulets – a good luck charm for the Senator – that print, along with another small-scale print benefitting the Guggenheim Museum published 2010, were Mehretu and Gemini’s equivalence of a “courtship.” Ever since, the artist has challenged the technical and visual limits of the workshop, with three monumental bodies of work. This exhibition provides a comprehensive look at Mehretu’s evolution as a dedicated and skilled printmaker, featuring Auguries and Myriads, Only By Dark, where the deconstruction of architectural imagery, maps, and diagrams are layered with abstract signs and symbols, and concluding with her latest series, Six Bardos, which utilizes layers of calligraphic marks, political graffiti, and colorful abstract forms.

Scholars have noted Mehretu’s longstanding engagement with printmaking, most recently by Leslie Jones, Curator of Prints and Drawings at LACMA, in the catalogue accompanying Mehretu’s retrospective. Jones contends that since Mehretu’s early years in graduate school at RISD, intaglio printmaking has informed the line quality present in her paintings. Oftentimes prints by artists are treated as somehow separate from the rest of the artist’s unique output; this is not the case with Julie Mehretu. Printmaking informs her paintings and the paintings inform her printmaking in a reciprocal and intertwined manner – explicitly in the use of screenprinting in her paintings, and implicitly in the way that printmaking forces a slowed-down deliberation and dissection of the personal mark-making for which Mehretu is celebrated. Mehretu states, “[it’s] in the printmaking that new things are invented, which I then want to bring into the painting and drawing,” and her insistence that her prints are included her many gallery and museum exhibitions is proof of this seamlessness. The technical parallels between constructing an image in layers, as is necessary with printmaking, and the way that Mehretu builds her paintings through a stratum of imagery that is blurred and transformed, underscores the symbiotic relationship between the two mediums.

Mehretu’s paintings are usually large scale, but all her prints up until Auguries in 2010 were modestly sized. In working with Gemini, she knew she wanted to make a massive etching. The solution to the technical difficulty of producing such a scale was worked out with Case Hudson, Gemini’s Masterprinter, and Auguries measures 7 x 15 feet in twelve panels, hung in a grid. The title alludes to the ancient Roman practice of interpreting omens from the study of avian flight patterns, and that reference is supported by the imagery – the dashes and daubs of spit-bite aquatint marks layered upon sweeping multi colored lines. Auguries, in its scale and visual complexity, cemented printmaking as an essential medium in Mehetu’s oeuvre. As Leslie Jones notes, “while references to architecture rarely appear in her prints, it is notable that diagrams – graphic renderings – form the basis of her paintings, while gestural marks – the language of painting – predominate in her prints. Mehretu’s printerly paintings and painterly prints suggest the intermediary nature of her practice overall.”

Mehretu’s second large-scale project with Gemini, Myriads, Only By Dark (2014), is comprised of four 81×45-inch panels, each with three sections of embossments determined by the size of the copper plates. Originally conceived when press-bed limitations necessitated the abutting of separate sheets to achieve the desired large scale (as was the case with Auguries), the workshop acquired a larger press which would eliminate any divisions. Nevertheless, Mehretu elected to maintain the aesthetic of the division, even emphasizing it with thin white embossments to evoke the kinds of folds found in an oversized map. All of the imagery – except for the portion that was spit-bite directly onto the copper plates – was created on tall sheets of Mylar. The color lines, created using Adobe Illustrator, came first, and guided the artist as she painted imagery on subsequent Mylars. The inking of the lines is “à la poupée,” in which multiple ink colors are hand-applied and blended on one plate to create a multicolor appearance within a single etched line, and the other imagery is printed in a range of silver, gray and black inks. Mehretu employed a variety of drawing techniques, including airbrush and transfers from the patterning of paper toweling which suggest a newsprint imagepixilation. The handprints and even some of the graphic “swipes” that are apparent on several of the panels are the result of Mehretu dipping her hands and forearm in India ink.

The mark-making is loose, dynamic, and dense with layers obscuring each other, evoking “primordial expression.” Jones argues that the verticality of Myriads is reminiscent of portraiture, which is further suggested by the title, (unfolding body map), of the left-most panel. Reading Myriads as progressing from left to right, an expansion and contraction culminates in the central white voided shape in (origin). Mehretu has continuously explored her own identity, migration, and ancestral/political connections to geography as an Ethiopian American through repetitive mark-making and profound use of erasure.

Following a small etching, Haka, donated to President Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign, in 2014 and 2015 Mehretu and Gemini were asked once again to contribute editions, and examples of these are include in the exhibition. One, titled vertiginous fold, was given to FAPE for distribution to US Embassies worldwide, and one, titled Achille (epoch) benefitted Studio in a School, a visual arts organization partnering with public schools in the New York area. Complex and rich in their appearance, both measure 33×47 inches – a scale manageable for these two beneficiaries.

In 2017, continuing her desire to challenge herself and the Gemini workshop, Mehretu embarked on her most recent series of large-scale prints, Six Bardos. Influenced by a trip to the Mogao Caves in the Gobi desert, the title comes from the Tibetan Buddhist philosophy of the transition of consciousness from life to death. The titles of the six individual works, which follow the sequence of the Bardos, further the theme of migration and transformation present throughout Mehretu’s work. The prints are multi-colored aquatints, sometimes with as many as 31 different colors. Ink was applied “a la poupée”, requiring Gemini’s printers to reference a Mylar key that dictated the location of different colors on a single copper plate. Instead of printing by color separation, the colors are lightly dabbed onto the plate, resulting in a gradient of colors that blend the lines in a manner seemingly impossible in an aquatint. This extraordinarily complex technique, again overseen by Case Hudson, took three years to develop and complete. While four works from this series are comparatively modest in their scale (50×73 inches), two prints, Luminous Appearance and Transmigration are once again monumental, this time consisting of two abutting panels for a final dimension of over 8×6-feet. The profusion of colors and the mark-making has noticeably shifted in appearance from her prior projects, this time without the strict lines present in Myriads and Auguries to anchor the gestural strokes. The lines scribble and scrawl, forming recognizable shapes that dissolve, evoking stenciled graffiti on urban walls, sections of which appear to be partially wiped away, with marks that stubbornly refuse to be fully erased. Their immense visual complexity, as with all of Mehretu’s work, requires time to fully contemplate and comprehend. This process of looking, where the forms and ideas emerge slowly over time, creates a new kind of space for thinking about the possibilities of printmaking.

More info at WWW.JONIWEYL.COM.

Related:

ART TALK: Julie Mehretu Makes Art Big Enough to Get Lost In

Julie Mehretu’s Mid-Career Survey at LA County Museum of Art

Julie Mehretu’s Mid-Career Survey To Open at LACMA

Julie Mehretu at Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), November 3, 2019 – March 22, 2020 (Level 1) and May 17, 2020 (Level 3)

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ETHIOPIA UPDATE: U.S. Announces More Than $152 Million in Additional Assistance

U.S. Embassy Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. (Courtesy photo)

Press Release

Office of Press Relations
press@usaid.gov

UNITED STATES ANNOUNCES MORE THAN $152 MILLION IN ADDITIONAL HUMANITARIAN ASSISTANCE FOR THE PEOPLE AFFECTED BY TIGRAY CRISIS

In response to growing needs in Ethiopia’s Tigray region, the United States, through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), is providing more than $152 million in additional humanitarian assistance. The United States is the largest donor of humanitarian assistance in Ethiopia, and this latest announcement brings the total contributed by the American people for the people in Tigray to nearly $305 million.

The humanitarian situation in Tigray continues to be dire, with approximately 4.5 million people in need of assistance and the UN warning that there could be a risk of famine. This new funding will address life-threatening hunger and acute malnutrition, as well as provide safe drinking water, urgently needed medical and health support, and shelter for some of the estimated one million people who have fled their homes. USAID support will also provide protection for the most vulnerable—including safe spaces and psychosocial support for women and girls, case management for survivors of gender-based violence, training for social workers and community case workers, and programs to reunite children separated from their families.

Amidst considerable insecurity and humanitarian access constraints, USAID support will provide life-saving aid to more than 3 million people most in need in Ethiopia’s Tigray region. In addition to providing critical humanitarian aid, USAID deployed a Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART), which has been on the ground since March 1, 2021, to lead the U.S. Government’s response efforts.

The United States remains deeply concerned about the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Tigray and the lack of sufficient humanitarian funding to address it. Large-scale assistance is urgently needed to prevent conditions in Tigray from worsening. The United States urges other donors to immediately increase their contributions to address Ethiopia’s critical humanitarian needs, and to help the most vulnerable people in the Tigray region. While the U.S.’s humanitarian assistance will help alleviate urgent needs, it will not address the root causes of the ongoing conflict and human rights violations in Ethiopia. An immediate cessation of fighting, dialogue, reconciliation, and accountability measures are needed to stop the suffering in Tigray.

Related:

UPDATE: The Weeknd Donates $1 Million to Relief Efforts in Ethiopia

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Ethiopian Airlines Celebrates 75 Years Of Flights

As Ethiopian Airlines announced [this week] April 8th, 2021 marked the 75th anniversary of the carrier’s first-ever commercial flight. This inaugural service flew from the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa to its Egyptian counterpart, Cairo. (Photo: Ethiopian was the first African airline to order the Boeing 787 ‘Dreamliner.’/Getty Images)

Simple Flying

Yesterday marked a significant anniversary in the airline industry, as Ethiopian Airlines marked 75 years since its inaugural commercial flight. In the three-quarters of a century since then, the carrier has become the largest in Africa. Let’s take a look at the airline’s history, and how it has celebrated this special anniversary this week.

How did it all start?

As Ethiopian Airlines announced yesterday, April 8th, 2021 marked the 75th anniversary of the carrier’s first-ever commercial flight. This inaugural service flew from the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa to its Egyptian counterpart, Cairo.

The flight was operated by a Douglas C-47 Skytrain, and flew via the Eritrean capital of Asmara. Ethiopian’s initial fleet consisted of five C-47s acquired from the US government. These previously served as military transport aircraft, and were a development of Douglas’s popular DC-3. Ethiopian’s C-47s had a mixed configuration, carrying passengers and cargo.

In the 75 years that have followed, Ethiopian has experienced impressive and consistent growth. According to Planespotters.net, its fleet today consists of 127 aircraft. These include some of the most modern and efficient twinjets in the skies, namely the Boeing 787 and Airbus A350. With this fleet, Ethiopian serves the fourth-largest number of countries of any airline.


Ethiopian eventually operated the popular Douglas DC-3 as well as its military counterpart, the C-47. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

Anniversary celebrations

The ongoing coronavirus is continuing to significantly impact the world of commercial aviation. As such, Ethiopian’s 75th birthday probably did not play out how the airline might previously have imagined. Nonetheless, the carrier was able to mark the occasion with a special event on a flight to Cairo. As established, this was Ethiopian’s first commercial route.

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Maryland: Fantahun Girma Woldesenbet Photo – Frederick Police Release First Picture of Shooting Suspect

The Frederick Police Department, Fort Detrick and the Federal Bureau of Investigations Baltimore Field Office released an image of Fantahun Girma Woldesenbet on the afternoon of April 7, 2021, more than 24 hours after he allegedly opened fire at Riverside Tech Park in Frederick and then died after reportedly brandishing a gun at Fort Detrick. (Photo: Getty/Frederick Police Department)

Heavy

Frederick Police released the first photo of shooting suspect Fantahun Girma Woldesenbet this afternoon, the day after they say he shot two Navy sailors and was fatally gunned down at Fort Detrick.

Woldesenbet, a U.S. Navy hospital corpsman, allegedly wounded two people at a military installation about 10 minutes from Fort Detrick, a U.S. Army base where he worked Tuesday, April 6, 2021. He was shot and killed at the base when officials said he fled a stop at a checkpoint and brandished a gun at about 8:45 a.m. He was 38 and lived in Frederick. The two injured victims survived. Their names have not been released.

Here’s what you need to know:

Law Enforcement Released a Joint Statement April 7 Releasing the First Photo of Woldesenbet But Added No New Information

The Frederick Police Department, Fort Detrick and the Federal Bureau of Investigations Baltimore Field Office released an image of Woldesenbet on the afternoon of April 7, 2021, more than 24 hours after he allegedly opened fire at Riverside Tech Park in Frederick and then died after reportedly brandishing a gun at Fort Detrick.

“Frederick Police Department, in coordination with cooperating agencies investigating an active shooter incident Tuesday, is releasing the photo of subject Fantahun Girma Woldesenbet, 38, of Frederick, who was shot and killed by Fort Detrick’s civilian military police after initially shooting two people in the 8400 Block of Progress Drive and then driving onto Fort Detrick,” the press release said.

The statement continued with an acknowledgment of the limited information that has been released, but said they want to maintain the integrity of the investigation. It further said that the public should rely on information from trusted sources and avoid rumors.

The statement said:

Additionally, our agencies know the public and the media want answers regarding this incident and the subsequent investigation. We do as well. Investigations take time. When the agencies have information that we have confirmed we will release it via the FPD’s news alert system, which everyone, including media partners, can sign up for at cityoffrederickmd.gov/alerts.

Until then, we want to ensure the public we are investigating this incident from all angles and we encourage all residents and media partners to avoid speculation or rumors regarding details of the investigation. Unverified misinformation can prove harmful to the investigation.

Read more »

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Vogue: Liya Kebede & Her Daughter Bring A Touch Of Ethiopia’s Artisanship To H&M

Liya Kebede says working with her daughter was wonderfully emotional and a proud moment in her career. (Vogue)

Vogue

Liya Kebede & Her Daughter Bring A Touch Of Ethiopia’s Artisanship To H&M

Liya Kebede has been quietly working to preserve the art of weaving in her native Ethiopia since she founded her artisanal brand Lemlem, which means “to bloom” and “flourish” in Amharic, in 2007. By employing traditional weavers and breaking their cycle of poverty – the once thriving industry creating custom habesha kemis garments suffered as young Africans turned to modern imported fashion – Kebede has reinvigorated a community, and kept an important element of the culture of Addis Ababa, where she was born.


Kebede is working with H&M on ways the high-street giant can benefit the Lemlem Foundation. Community is at the core of Lemlem and it was crucial that this was reflected in the H&M collaboration. (Vogue

The UN ambassador and maternal health advocate’s craft-focused business model can be seen as a lesson in sustainability – one that is spoken about less frequently than eco-friendly textile innovations and circularity initiatives. “Lemlem is about the human element of sustainability,” explains Kebede over Zoom, still as radiant as when she started modelling at the age of 18. “In philanthropy, there’s always this issue of making something sustainable. For me, enabling and educating people, giving them jobs and making them independent is a sustainable way of doing aid.”

The work of the Lemlem Foundation, which runs in tandem with the clothing brand and connects female artisans in Africa to healthcare, education and jobs, struck a chord with H&M, a pioneer in the high-street sustainable fashion movement. When the Swedish fast-fashion giant invited Kebede to design a capsule collection, she didn’t balk at the prospect, but saw it as an opportunity to spread the word about Lemlem’s mission. “The idea of H&M collaborating with a brand like ours, which is very much based on sustainability, brings that kind of awareness to their customers,” Kebede explains of H&M’s mammoth outreach. “I think that’s really important and great to be a part of.”


Effortless-yet-elegant is the style takeaway from the edit. Jewellery is to be worn stacked and passed down through generations. (Vogue)

After deciding that the shipping of fabrics back and forth between Ethiopia and Europe would pose major carbon footprint issues and that the quantity of stock would overwhelm Lemlem’s weavers, Kebede agreed to create a line of effortless daywear in the spirit of Lemlem’s archive, but made in Europe. Sustainably sourced organic cotton and linen and recycled polyester were selected to give the same texture as Lemlem’s artisanal pieces, while the joyful mood of the striped beachwear and breezy separates emulates the brand’s signature colourful aesthetic. “I love the whole energy of layering and everything sort of going with each other, even though it’s not the same,” says Kebede, who has been living in the samples.

Jewellery, a new category for Lemlem and one Kebede is thrilled to experiment with, comes in the form of stacking trinkets made from recycled zinc, among other materials. It’s designed, like the rest of the sunny edit, to be passed down from generation to generation, and Kebede chose her daughter Raee to star in the lookbook with her – an experience she describes as emotional. “These classic pieces are wonderful items that you can always wear forever,” she says of the seasonless Lemlem ethos she extended to H&M.

Raee, who loves the sustainable Lemlem X H&M crop tops and swimwear, and her friends, who mostly shop vintage, are indicative of the shift in consciousness around fashion’s negative impact on the environment. Kebede, who says there were no conversations around sustainability when she began modelling, is buoyed by this. “When people first started talking about it, everybody said, ‘If I make [clothing] sustainable, I’m going to be limited, so I won’t be able to make it as gorgeous as I want.’ Now that has completely changed,” she asserts. The healthy food movement, she believes, is helpful at illustrating this: organic food was once conceived as good for you, but lacking in flavour. Now, it is widely-accepted. With change-makers like Kebede spreading the message about quality, beautiful and ethical fashion, sustainability is firmly on the menu.

result - 2021-04-08T124156.776
Liya Kebede, who oversaw every finish, has been living in the samples since developing the collection. (Vogue)

Shop Lemlem x H&M, which is priced from £7.99 to £39.99, from 22 April. As part of the collaboration H&M has made a donation to the Lemlem Foundation to bolster its important work.

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Science: Meet the Newly Discovered Chameleon in Ethiopia’s Bale Mountains

The newly discovered Ethiopian chameleon "lives in bushes and small trees, often at the edges of the forest in the Bale Mountains, a biodiversity hotspot that’s also home to the endemic Ethiopian wolf as well as lions, leopards and warthogs," according to the U.S.-based non-profit conservation and environmental science news platform Mongabay. (Photo from Koppetsch et al 2021)

Mongabay

Spiny new chameleon species described from Bale Mountains of Ethiopia

Researchers have described a new chameleon species from the Bale Mountains of south-central Ethiopia and say it’s likely that more will emerge.

Wolfgang Böhme’s Ethiopian chameleon is around 15 centimeters (6 inches) long and has a distinct crest of large spiny scales along its back and tail.

It lives in bushes and small trees, often at the edges of the forest in the Bale Mountains, a biodiversity hotspot that’s also home to the endemic Ethiopian wolf as well as lions, leopards and warthogs.

The conservation status of the new chameleon is unknown, but due to its small distribution range and human-caused habitat disturbance and agriculture in the area, it is likely that it will be classified as threatened.

Named Wolfgang Böhme’s Ethiopian chameleon (Trioceros wolfgangboehmei), in honor of the senior herpetologist at the Zoological Research Museum Alexander Koenig (ZMFK) in Bonn, Germany, the chameleon is around 15 centimeters (6 inches) long and has a distinctive crest of large spiny scales along its back and tail. The species has been described in the journal Zoosystematics and Evolution.

Researchers uncovered the new reptile while examining variations in Ethiopian chameleons (Trioceros affinis). After careful study of the internal and external features of both preserved and wild chameleons, researchers decided there were enough differences to warrant a new species.

The researchers suggest that the Ethiopian chameleon be considered a species complex, a group with an unknown number of species, rather than a single species. They expect more species to be described from the group.

“Given the variation in colour patterns and morphology between different populations of these chameleons in Ethiopia, it is likely that these groups still bear a higher hidden diversity than expected, which might be revealed by further ongoing investigations,” said Thore Koppetsch, a zoologist from the ZMFK who was part of the team that described the species.


The new Ethiopian chameleon, Trioceros wolfgangboehmei, in muted tone. Chameleons can change the arrangement of specialized skin cell to blend in with their surroundings. (Photo from Koppetsch et al. CC-BY 4.0)

Wolfgang Böhme’s Ethiopian chameleons live in bushes and small trees, often at the edges of the forest in the Bale Mountains, 2,500 meters (8,200 feet) above sea level. Many of Ethiopia’s endemic animals are found in the Bale Mountains, including the Ethiopian wolf (Canis simensis). The area is also home to lions, leopards, warthogs, and many other endemic reptiles.

“Although the region from which the new chameleon is known from, the Bale Mountains, can be considered as a hotspot of species diversity and a center of endemism,” Koppetsch said, “it is quite astonishing to find an unknown chameleon in this region since two chameleon species endemic to this area are already known.”

The conservation status of the new chameleon is unknown, Koppetsch says, but due to its small distribution range and human-caused habitat disturbance and agriculture in the area, it is likely that it will be classified as threatened with extinction.


Head details of Trioceros wolfgangboehmei. (Photo from Koppetsch et al 2021. CC-BY 4.0)

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Fashion Spotlight: AMSALE Unveils Archive Collection Spring 2022

Founded by Amsale Aberra and Neil Brown, The Amsale Group is one of the world’s leading luxury bridal houses, and widely credited as the inventor of the modern wedding dress. (Photo: Courtesy of Amsale)

Press Release

AMSALE RELEASES AMSALE ARCHIVE, A REVIVAL COLLECTION THAT PAYS HOMAGE TO ITS DESIGN DNA, DURING BRIDAL FASHION WEEK

NEW YORK — Luxury bridal fashion house AMSALE today unveiled the AMSALE Archive collection, a revival of five iconic gowns from the past three decades that embody the unique brand DNA established by its late founder, Amsale Aberra, the first Black female member of the Council of Fashion Designers, widely credited as the inventor of the modern wedding dress. The collection is one of storytelling and showcasing the history of AMSALE, but it’s also about writing the future—a future that prioritizes equality in the fashion industry. A portion of proceeds from each archival gown will go toward the Amsale Aspire Initiative at the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT). Launching this spring, Amsale Aspire is a transformative program dedicated to eradicating racism in the fashion industry by providing scholarships and opportunities for Black students to develop entrepreneurial skills and build successful fashion careers.

“The gowns selected for the Archive collection showcase Amsale’s true design philosophy and the power of her simplicity,” said Chief Creative Officer Sarah Swann. “Each tells a beautiful story of her craftsmanship and attention to a sole focal point.”

The inaugural collection contains five gowns:

A101

As the singular dress with which Amsale launched her first collection three decades ago—and inspired by her own wedding gown—A101 is the icon of AMSALE. Tailored in the house’s signature Duchess satin fabric, the gown has a classic column silhouette and sheer illusion back, and a row of hand-rolled silk rosettes at the low back tops a dramatic pleated train.

BLUE SASH

A signature piece from Amsale’s Spring 2002 collection, this piece represents the ideal something blue. A clean, structured ballgown in lustrous Duchess satin with a drop waist bodice, the statement style has an oversized blue silk taffeta sash that trails down the voluminous skirt.

HARBOR

An icon from the Spring 2013 collection, Harbor features a wide diagonal band across the neckline that creates a one-shoulder cap sleeve, cutting a cool silhouette in silk radzimir. A signature structured bow above a sweeping train and an impeccably tailored fit-to-flare silhouette are nods to Amsale’s design ethos.

LENOX

Embellished by hand and made in AMSALE’s New York atelier, the Lenox gown, revived from the Spring 2014 collection, showcases the dedication to craft instilled by the label’s founder.
Intricately hand beaded straps are the focal point, coming together to form a keyhole opening at the back. The silhouette is statuesque and structured in a soft silk magnolia.

DEMI

An effortless fit-to-flare from the Fall 2015 collection, Demi features a pretty peplum above a figure-flattering crepe skirt that drapes into a sleek train. The sheer illusion back—with a column of covered buttons down the middle—is made with a stretch tulle that molds beautifully to the body, a fabric development inspired by the original A101 style.

“Each of these gowns is still mentioned today by our retail partners as iconic Amsale,” Swann said. AMSALE Archive is more than a seasonal collection; going forward, AMSALE will periodically re-introduce gowns from previous seasons in reaction to demand. With the launch of Amsale Aspire in partnership with the Social Justice Collaborative at FIT, this collection serves a broader purpose: The sale of each AMSALE Archive gown—whether purchased through a partner retailer, online or at the Madison Avenue salon—will be a step toward equality in the fashion industry.

The collection was unveiled during Bridal Fashion Week through an impactful video celebrating the craftsmanship of the design house. Interweaving dramatic imagery of the iconic gowns inside the Manhattan atelier, where each piece is handmade, with archival footage of the late founder discussing her design philosophy, the film pays tribute to the past and looks toward the future of fashion.

AMSALE Archive will be available in AMSALE’s Madison Avenue salon in late April. Chief Creative Officer Sarah Swann and CEO Neil Brown are available for virtual press appointments during Bridal Fashion Week beginning April 5; to set up an appointment, email fallon@amsale.com.

About AMSALE

Founded by Amsale Aberra and Neil Brown, The Amsale Group is one of the world’s leading luxury bridal houses, and widely credited as the inventor of the modern wedding dress. A Black-owned business headquartered in New Your City, with a salon on Madison Avenue, the collections including Amsale, Nouvelle Amsale, Amsale Bridesmaids, Little White Dress and Evening are carried in some of the finest bridal salons and specialty stores worldwide.

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In Virginia, Ethio-American Meronne Teklu Launches Campaign for Alexandria Council

“A lot of my family, a lot of my community in terms of the Ethiopian American diaspora that lives here — it’s really a hub for us and for our small businesses that I frequent often,” Meronne Teklu, whose immigrant parents moved to Alexandria following the downfall of Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie in 1974, said. “I’m excited to be a part of it, and I’m excited to do what I can to help our local economy.” (Alextimes)

The Alexandria Times

Candidate profile: Meronne Teklu enters council race

At 25, Meronne Teklu has worked as a tech consultant, nonprofit manager and advisory board member. She’s also launched her first campaign for Alexandria City Council.

Teklu said she doesn’t view her age as a drawback but rather as an opportunity to bring a fresh, multigenerational lens to the council.

“As residents of this community, we have an opportunity to serve at all levels. I don’t think it matters what your age is, gender identification, race identification, class — we all have that opportunity,” Teklu said. “I definitely don’t think [my age] is a negative thing; it’s more so ensuring that we have varying representation and perspectives that we bring.”

Although she was born in Alexandria and currently lives in the West End, Teklu grew up down the road in Springfield, having graduated from West Springfield High School. She said that, despite this, Alexandria always felt like home.

“A lot of my family, a lot of my community in terms of the Ethiopian American diaspora that lives here — it’s really a hub for us and for our small businesses that I frequent often,” Teklu, whose immigrant parents moved to Alexandria following the downfall of Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie in 1974, said. “I’m excited to be a part of it, and I’m excited to do what I can to help our local economy.”

Teklu currently works as a technology management consultant in Northern Virginia, where she aids clients from the public service to government sectors in designing and launching digital products. Teklu said this technology background helps her bring an innovative, “future-forward lens” to the table — something she feels is a principal ingredient in moving the needle toward data-driven, long-term change.

Her experience also includes mentoring students of immigrant backgrounds at the D.C. nonprofit IEA Councils on Higher Education as well as an advisory position on the Wegene Ethiopian Foundation, a nonprofit organization cofounded by her mother that focuses on poverty alleviation support in Ethiopia through fundraising and identification of vulnerable populations.

Teklu received a bachelor’s degree in Africana studies with a focus on computer science from the College of William & Mary. During her time there, Teklu and several peers created a media project called The Real William & Mary that published videos tackling issues related to inclusion on campus and centering minority student voices. The project’s aim was to foster conversations about ways to develop a diverse office and support programs like Pacific Islander and Asian studies.

The project spread through social media like wildfire, eventually capturing the attention of the community race relations task force and culminating in a newly implemented freshman year required course at William & Mary that examines social inequities in America.

“That only happens when you’re able to show others who are not part of your immediate community issue that, ‘Here are the perspectives. Here’s what we can do.’ And maybe that doesn’t happen immediately, maybe that’s a one month or two month or five year effort, but I think it’s amazing,” Teklu said.

Teklu said this experience not only played a role in demonstrating how perseverance leads to tangible social change — “I live and breathe the intersections of race, class and gender on policy and our general American history,” she said — but also in igniting her passion for equity.

Teklu said her primary goal is to connect Alexandria’s marginalized and underrepresented communities with city leadership. For Teklu, this demographic ranges from the voices of minority, low income and young people.

“I’m here to elevate those communities [through an] emphasis on equity,” Teklu said. “I’m approaching things from the lens of, ‘How can we be better for all of our communities, not just one particular one?’ How we can elevate diverse minority perspectives within that is something I’m very passionate about.”

According to Teklu, one crucial issue plaguing the city is its longstanding housing affordability crisis. With equity placed squarely at the heart of her campaign, Teklu said she always wants to support minority and immigrant tenants – especially during COVID-19 when many “disproportionately affected communities of color” cannot pay rent and need city support in eviction protection.

And it’s not just housing that COVID-19 has impacted, Teklu said. Another topic of interest for Teklu is lifting up the city’s youth, not only from an educational standpoint in schools but also through emotional and social support during the pandemic.

“We know it’s been quite isolating, so ensuring that they’re set up to thrive will be equally as important for council to work [on] with the School Board and the private school community as well,” Teklu said.

Although Teklu acknowledged that she plans to do “more digging” regarding the controversial proposed stream restoration at Taylor Run, she emphasized the importance of listening to grassroots organizations and environmental advocacy groups regarding the best path forward.

She also noted that while many arguments surrounding flooding in Alexandria are pointed at over-densification and development, she believes the root is more of an environmental issue.

“We know that we have a ways to go in ensuring that the city of Alexandria meets our environmental sustainability goals, and I think investing in long-term mitigation strategies against flooding will be key,” Teklu said.

Whether it’s rebuilding the local economy, supporting environmental justice, providing COVID-19 relief or investing in public modernization efforts, Teklu said the notion of equity for all should serve as a “north star” in every action City Council takes.

“I really do feel like Alexandria coming out of this pandemic has an opportunity to reimagine what it is to be a community and to be advocates of change,” Teklu said. “We have a lot of momentum to reimagine what it looks like to operate as a city, to incorporate technology and incorporate the perspective of young people in that – and to push for equity for all. That’s something that is very exciting to me.”

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UPDATE: The Weeknd Donates $1 Million to Relief Efforts in Ethiopia

The Weeknd, born Abel Makkonen Tesfaye, is the child of two Ethiopian parents who immigrated to Canada. (Photo: The Weeknd performs during the Pepsi Super Bowl LV Halftime Show at Raymond James Stadium on February 07, 2021 in Tampa, Florida/Getty Images)

RollingStone

The Weeknd announced Sunday that he would donate $1 million to relief efforts in Ethiopia, where an ongoing conflict between the government and the Tigray region has resulted in thousands of deaths and over a million displaced people.

“My heart breaks for my people of Ethiopia as innocent civilians ranging from small children to the elderly are being senselessly murdered and entire villages are being displaced out of fear and destruction,” Abel Tesfaye, the Toronto-born son of two Ethiopian immigrants, wrote Sunday on Instagram.

“I will be donating $1 million to provide 2 million meals through the United Nations World Food Program and encourage those who can to please give as well,” providing a link for his fans to contribute.

“The outbreak of conflict in Tigray last November coincided with the peak harvest period, leading to lost employment and incomes, disrupted markets, a rise in food prices, and limited access to cash and fuel,” the U.N. World Food Programme said, adding that they aim “to support 1.4 million of these vulnerable people before it’s too late.”

In June 2020, during the coronavirus pandemic, the Weeknd donated $1 million in Covid-19 relief, with $500,000 going to MusiCares and $500,000 to an Ontario, Canada hospital. Two months later, Tesfaye also gave $300,000 to a fund helping those impacted by the devastating explosion in Beirut, Lebanon.

Related:

UPDATE: Why the Weeknd is Boycotting Future Grammy Awards

Video: The Weeknd Rocks Tampa with Super Bowl Halftime Show

The Weeknd: “My Natural Singing Voice Was Inspired, Shaped By Ethiopian Music”

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Spotlight: Scientist Sossina Haile Focuses on Social Good on a Global Scale

Fuel cell pioneer Sossina Haile focuses on social good on a global scale. Born in Ethiopia, [Sossina’s] family fled the country in the ’70s after a military coup. They settled in Minnesota, and Haile went on to earn academic degrees in materials science and engineering on both coasts, at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of California, Berkeley.(Northwestern Magazine)

Northwestern Magazine

Basic Science Leads to Sustainable Solutions

Materials scientist and engineer Sossina Haile couldn’t have predicted that the cost of solar and wind energy would plummet in recent years, or that places like California would start paying customers to take electricity because their supply outstripped demand. But once those things happened, she had a solution.

Haile’s team developed a way to convert electricity into hydrogen, store it and convert it back to electricity when more is needed. This breakthrough offers a way to rebalance, and even stabilize, the U.S. energy grid.

“That’s the benefit of doing work on fundamental materials,” says Haile, a professor in Northwestern’s McCormick School of Engineering. “You can switch gears because you understand the properties of your materials and their potential applications.”

Equipped with this technology, a storage company could take excess electricity from ComEd or PG&E, for example, and store it as hydrogen, Haile says. And when ComEd needs more electricity to power its customers’ air conditioners in the middle of summer, it would pay that storage company to convert hydrogen back to electricity. “That firm will make a killing,” Haile says.

“I had to learn that quiet persistence only got you so far.”

BACK TO BASICS

In 2001 Haile created the first solid acid fuel cell, which converts hydrogen, or a fuel like natural gas, into electricity. In recognition of this breakthrough, Newsweek magazine named Haile one of 12 people to watch. She was also featured, along with 11 other women in science and technology, on the ceiling of Grand Central Station in New York City.

Haile made a subsequent world-first discovery in 2010, when she converted solar energy into hydrogen more efficiently than photosynthesis, the process by which living plants build their organic matter. This work, which she described in a 2012 TEDx talk and for which she was awarded the 2012 International Prize in Ceramics, opened the door to larger-scale efforts to use sunlight to directly make renewable fuels.

And then the cost of solar and wind energy plummeted, and Haile’s basic science background proved invaluable, enabling her to switch her research focus back and forth between electricity and hydrogen.

Now, Haile’s lab is reconfiguring their solid acid fuel cells so the devices can convert ammonia into high-purity hydrogen. “This would make it possible to use ammonia as a hydrogen carrier,” Haile says, “avoiding the cost of building a new delivery infrastructure to supply hydrogen to fuel cell vehicles.”


Sossina Haile works with a student in her lab before the COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo: Northwestern Magazine)

ENERGY INNOVATOR

Born in Ethiopia, Haile’s family fled the country in the ’70s after a military coup. They settled in Minnesota, and Haile went on to earn academic degrees in materials science and engineering on both coasts, at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of California, Berkeley.

Haile’s work in sustainable energy was recognized early on, with a National Young Investigator Award from the National Science Foundation (NSF) and a Fulbright Fellowship, among other honors. But just a few years into teaching, she found herself “in a very big ocean with lots of very big fish.”

“I had to learn that quiet persistence only got you so far,” Haile says. “Success required focusing on the most important problems in my field, finding the right questions to ask and convincing the world, with just a bit of fanfare, that I could solve those problems.”

Read more at magazine.northwestern.edu »

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ART TALK: Tadesse Mesfin, Tsedaye Makonnen, Addis Gezehagn & Tizta Berhanu at Dubai 2021

Tadesse Mesfin, Pillars of Life: My Sisters Keeper II, 2021, Oil on canvas, 165 x 170 cm; Tizta Berhanu, Rest in the arms of trust, 2020, Oil on canvas, 120 x 120 cm; Addis Gezehagn, Floating City XXII, 2021, Acrylic and mixed media on canvas, 122 x 122 cm; Tsedaye Makonnen, Astral Sea II, 2019, Acrylic mirror and fabric, 457.2 x 91.44 cm. (Photos courtesy of Addis Fine Art)

Tadias Magazine

By Tadias Staff

Updated: April 9th, 2021

New York (TADIAS) — This month the 14th edition of Art Dubai took place at Dubai International Financial Centre featuring several artists from Ethiopia and the Diaspora including Tadesse Mesfin, Addis Gezehagn, Tsedaye Makonnen and Tizta Berhanu.

The Ethiopian artists were represented by Addis Fine Art — marking the fourth year in a row that the Addis Ababa and London-based gallery had participated in the global art fair, which was also the first major in-person group exhibition of its kind since the COVID-19 pandemic.

Below are bios of the Ethiopian artists courtesy of Addis Fine Art:

TADESSE MESFIN B. 1953

Tadesse Mesfin (1953) is a giant of the Ethiopian art scene. He holds a unique position as both a figurehead of the Ethiopian modernist movement, and as a long-time educator through his role as a professor at the influential Alle School of Fine Art and Design in Addis Ababa. Among the generations of painters he has taught are Addis Gezehagn, Ermias Kifleyesus, Merikokeb Berhanu and Tesfaye Urgessa.

Mesfin’s latest work is a continuation of his ongoing series celebrating the women who work as small-holder vendors in markets scattered across Ethiopian cities, who can typically be found standing or crouched down with their agricultural produce scattered in front of them, hoping to entice the eye of potential customers. As a visual paean to them, Tadesse places their occupations and personae front and centre, and the viewer is encouraged to appreciate their importance to the communities they serve.

The paintings, at times, resist the limitations of perspective, with the distant figures appearing to float in space between those in the foreground, their forms often abstracted through loosely defined brush strokes. Only their regal, statuesque poses and facial expressions are clearly discernible. Mesfin has stated that his previous fascination with the West-African tradition of mask-making prompted him to create his own “Ethiopian masks” from the expressions found in the faces of the women occupying his canvases. Their pointed chins and captivating stares are a nod to West-African masks; however, the distinctly Ethiopian features give them their own unique appearance. Each figure is carefully weighted in these paintings with a methodical precision born of decades of practise. There is often a central protagonist who is the focal point, slightly off-centre in accordance with the golden section rules of proportion, counter-balancing the figures in the background.

Tadesse Mesfin’s artistic career spans more than five decades. His painterly style has been greatly influenced by his early education under Gebre Kiristos Desta, the pioneer of Ethiopian Modernism and from his seven-year stint in the USSR during the 1980s, where he studied architecture and sculpture in St. Petersburg.

TSEDAYE MAKONNEN ETHIOPIAN-AMERICAN, B. 1984


Tsedaye Makonnen. (Photo: The Artist and Addis Fine Art)

Tsedaye Makonnen is a multidisciplinary artist whose studio, curatorial, and research-based practice threads together her identity as a daughter of Ethiopian immigrants, a Black American woman, doula and a mother. Makonnen invests in the transhistorical forced migration of Black communities across the globe and Feminism. Her work is both an intimate memorialization and protective sanctuary for Black lives. She is the recent recipient of a Smithsonian Artist Research Fellowship, DC Public Library Maker Residency and Art on the Vine’s Savage-Lewis Artist Residency (Martha’s Vineyard).

She has performed at the Venice Biennale, Art Basel Miami, Chale Wote (Ghana), El Museo del Barrio, Fendika (Ethiopia), FIAP (Martinique), Queens Museum, the Smithsonian’s and more. Her light monuments memorializing Black womxn exhibited at the August Wilson Center and National Gallery of Art. In 2019 she was on the front cover of the Washington City Paper’s People Issue. She recently curated a group show with Washington Project for the Arts in DC titled Black Women as/and the Living Archive and is publishing an exhibition book. This August she is exhibiting for Park Avenue Armory’s ’100 Years | 100 Women’ with NYU Tisch & Deb Willis, which was recently featured in Vogue Magazine.

ADDIS GEZEHAGN B. 1978

Addis Gezehagn (b.1978), a long-time artistic presence in Addis Ababa, is known for portraying the multifaceted characteristics of the city’s residents by detailing the external facades of their homes. In his “Floating Cities/ Floating Towers” series, Gezehagn depicts dreamlike deconstructed and layered renderings of the urban landscapes rising above the ground. These compositions made by layering magazine cut outs with acrylic paint, blend the boundaries of fantasy and reality of urban life, blurring the lines between the past, present and future.

Flattened and reductive, Gezehagn’s works imagine cityscapes as towers, or patchworks of colourful doors and gates, the architectural structures seeming to signify a natural, organic network of living spaces. The rootless and ephemeral nature of the layered towers call into question the lives of the inhabitants. Examining the personal and public spaces, the works archive walls and towers destined to crumble, tracing a pattern of classism and social injustice. Gezehagn’s works urge us to think beyond homes as functional entities and offer commentary on the socio-economic context of urban life.

Gezehagn currently lives and works in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. He graduated from the Addis Ababa University School of Fine Arts and Design with a Diploma and BFA in 2011. His first international exhibtion was in 2017 at 1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair in London which was received with great acclaim. Since then, he has gone from strength to strength, garnering more international interest after having his first sold out solo show at Addis Fine Art’s main gallery in Addis Ababa in 2018 followed by 1-54 Contemporary Art Fair London (2018) and Art Dubai (2019).

TIZTA BERHANU ETHIOPIAN, B. 1991


Tizta Berhanu, Different Life in a Setting, 2019. (Addis Fine Art)

Tizta Berhanu was born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in 1991 where she has lived and worked her entire life. She graduated in 2013 from the Addis Ababa University, Alle School of Fine Arts and Design where she studied under the influential modernist painter Tadesse Mesfin.

Trained as a figurative painter, Tizta uses the medium to introspectively delve into human emotions. The figures in her work often express an array of sentiments, some comfort and embrace one another, whilst others are found isolated and searching in the backdrop of the enigmatic canvases. Her paintings are awash with lucid colours which flow across the canvases through the use of heavy undefined brush strokes. By portraying her subjects expressing love, hate, sadness, and loneliness, the observer is invited into moments of vulnerability and intimacy.

Learn more at addisfineart.com.

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GERD UPDATE: Egypt, Ethiopia, Sudan Resume Talks on Big Dam Amid Tensions

Foreign and irrigation ministers of the three nations were attending the talks [this weekend], along with experts from the African Union, according to Ethiopia’s Irrigation Minister Seleshi Bekele. (Photo: Satellite image of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam on the Nile River in Ethiopia/Handout photo)

The Associated Press

A new round of talks between three African nations began Saturday, officials said, aimed at resolving a yearslong dispute over a giant dam Ethiopia is building on the Nile River’s main tributary.

The three-day talks are taking place in Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo, the current chair of the African Union. The AU is mediating the negotiations between Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam.

Egypt’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement that Cairo wants the negotiations to eventually lead to a legally binding agreement over the operation and filling of the dam’s massive reservoir.

Foreign and irrigation ministers of the three nations were attending the talks, along with experts from the African Union, according to Ethiopia’s Irrigation Minister Seleshi Bekele.

A Sudanese diplomat said experts from the three countries and the African Union met Saturday, ahead of ministers who would meet Sunday and Monday. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not allowed to brief media.

Sudan said it would take part in the Kinshasa round with an aim of agreeing on a “negotiating approach” to ensure the talks would be constructive. That would include an Egyptian-backed Sudanese proposal to include the U.S., European Union and United Nations as mediators along with the AU, the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

Ethiopia has rejected the proposal, saying it “believes in resolving African problems by Africans.”

The dispute centers on the speed at which a planned reservoir is filled behind the dam, the method of its annual replenishment, and how much water Ethiopia will release downstream if a multi-year drought occurs. Another point of difference is how the three countries would settle any future disputes.

Egypt and Sudan want a legally binding agreement on the dam’s filling and operation, while Ethiopia insists on guidelines.

The talks in Kinshasa come a few days after Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi said his country’s share of Nile River waters were “untouchable” — a stark warning apparently to Ethiopia, which is preparing for another stage of the dam’s filling later this year.

El-Sissi warned Tuesday of “instability that no one can imagine” in the region if the dam’s is filled and operated without a legally binding agreement.

Bekele, the Ethiopian minister, said his country “as always is determined for principled, equitable and reasonable utilization without causing significant harm,” according to Ethiopia’s official news agency.

Egypt is a mostly desert country that depends on the Nile for almost all of its water needs. It fears that a quick fill would drastically reduce the Nile’s flow, with potentially severe effects on its agriculture and other sectors.

Ethiopia says the $5 billion dam is essential, arguing that the vast majority of its population lacks electricity. The dam will generate over 6,400 megawatts of electricity, a massive boost to the country’s current production of 4,000 megawatts.

Sudan wants Ethiopia to coordinate and share data on the dam’s operation to avoid flooding and protect its own power-generating dams on the Blue Nile, the main tributary of the Nile River. The Blue Nile meets with the White Nile in central Sudan. From there the Nile winds northward through Egypt and flows into the Mediterranean Sea.

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Video: Tadias Conversation With Tigist Kebede of Habeshaview

Tigist Kebede, Co-Founder & Operations Director of Habeshaview and Journalist Tsedey Aragie. (Photo: Tadias Magazine)

Tadias Magazine

By Tadias Staff

Updated: April 3rd, 2021

New York (TADIAS) — Tadias recently had a conversation with Tigist Kebede, Co-Founder and Operations Director of Habeshaview — the first international Ethiopian film distribution and online streaming company.

As Tigist explains, Habeshaview works with filmmakers both in Ethiopia and the Diaspora to curate, produce, screen and distribute high-quality original Ethiopian films. Their current offerings include the feature film Enkopa, which is based on the true story of a young Ethiopian migrant at the mercy of unscrupulous traffickers; as well as Enchained, an award-winning movie that reflects on Ethiopia’s ancient and culturally-rooted legal system.

The interview was conducted by journalist Tsedey Aragie for Tadias.

Watch: Tadias Conversation with Tigist Kebede of Habeshaview

You can access the Habeshaview App at user.habeshaview.com.

Related:

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

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

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Spotlight: Rediet Abebe Tackles Social Problems With Computer Science

Rediet Abebe uses the tools of theoretical computer science to understand pressing social problems — and try to fix them. Rediet, who holds a doctorate in computer science from Cornell University, is a co-founder of the organizations Black in AI. (Photo: Quanta Magazine)

Quanta Magazine

A Computer Scientist Who Tackles Inequality Through Algorithms

When Rediet Abebe arrived at Harvard University as an undergraduate in 2009, she planned to study mathematics. But her experiences with the Cambridge public schools soon changed her plans.

Abebe, 29, is from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia’s capital and largest city. When residents there didn’t have the resources they needed, she attributed it to community-level scarcity. But she found that argument unconvincing when she learned about educational inequality in Cambridge’s public schools, which she observed struggling in an environment of abundance.

To learn more, Abebe started attending Cambridge school board meetings. The more she discovered about the schools, the more eager she became to help. But she wasn’t sure how that desire aligned with her goal of becoming a research mathematician.

“I thought of these interests as different,” said Abebe, a junior fellow of the Harvard Society of Fellows and an assistant professor at the University of California, Berkeley. “At some point, I actually thought I had to choose, and I was like, ‘OK, I guess I’ll choose math and the other stuff will be my hobby.’”

After college Abebe was accepted into a doctoral program in mathematics, but she ended up deferring to attend an intensive one-year math program at the University of Cambridge. While there, she decided to switch her focus to computer science, which allowed her to combine her talent for mathematical thinking with her strong desire to address social problems related to discrimination, inequity and access to opportunity. She ended up getting a

Today, Abebe uses the tools of theoretical computer science to help design algorithms and artificial intelligence systems that address real-world problems. She has modeled the role played by income shocks, like losing a job or government benefits, in leading people into poverty, and she’s looked at ways of optimizing the allocation of government financial assistance. She’s also working with the Ethiopian government to better account for the needs of a diverse population by improving the algorithm the country uses to match high school students with colleges.

Abebe is a co-founder of the organizations Black in AI — a community of Black researchers working in artificial intelligence — and Mechanism Design for Social Good, which brings together researchers from different disciplines to address social problems.

Quanta Magazine spoke with Abebe recently about her childhood fear that she’d be forced to become a medical doctor, the social costs of bad algorithmic design, and how her background in math sharpens her work. This interview is based on multiple phone interviews and has been condensed and edited for clarity.

You’re currently involved in a project to reform the Ethiopian national educational system. The work was born in part from your own negative experiences with it. What happened?

In the Ethiopian national system, when you finished 12th grade, you’d take this big national exam and submit your preferences for the 40-plus public universities across the country. There was a centralized assignment process that determined what university you were going to and what major you would have. I was so panicked about this.

Why?

I realized I was a high-scoring student when I was in middle school. And the highest-scoring students tended to be assigned to medicine. I was like 12 and super panicked that I might have to be a medical doctor instead of studying math, which is what I really wanted to do.

What did you end up doing?

I thought, “I may have to go abroad.” I learned that in the U.S., you can get full financial aid if you do really well and get into the top schools.

So you went to Harvard as an undergraduate and planned to become a research mathematician. But then you had an experience that changed your plans. What happened?

I was excited to study math at Harvard. At the same time, I was interested in what was going on in the city of Cambridge. There was a massive achievement gap in elementary schools in Cambridge. A lot of students who were Black, Latinx, low-income or students with disabilities, or immigrant students, were performing two to four grades below their peers in the same classroom. I was really interested in why this was happening.

Read the full Q & A at quantamagazine.org »

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Profile: Yohannes Haile-Selassie of the Cleveland Museum of Natural History

“Yohannes Haile-Selassie is one of the leading paleoanthropologists today,” says Donald Johanson of Arizona State University (ASU), who was working for the Cleveland museum in 1974 while finding the famous Lucy in Ethiopia. “He and his team have made some very important discoveries.” (Photo courtesy of the Cleveland Museum of Natural History)

Fresh Water Cleveland

The bone hunter: Anthropologist searches the globe to understand the human family tree

Yohannes Haile-Selassie of the Cleveland Museum of Natural History has become perhaps the world’s top hunter of ancient hominins today, boosting Northeast Ohio’s long-time prominence in that field.

Not bad for a guy who started out in history instead of prehistory. In his native Ethiopia, Haile-Selassie became a historian at the national museum, which had many fossils. “It’s opportunity, mostly,” he says of his success. “Seeing the fossils and going to the field and finding them triggered my interest in human origins.”

Haile-Selassie (no relation to his homeland’s long-time emperor) has helped discover three new species of ancient hominins, the tribe that includes our own species, Homo sapiens. He has also found important fossils from our species and from Homo erectus. What’s more, he has shaken beliefs about our evolution.

John Gurche developed this possible face to fit the cranium discovered for a human ancestor called MRD.

“Yohannes is one of the leading paleoanthropologists today,” says Donald Johanson of Arizona State University (ASU), who was working for the Cleveland museum in 1974 while finding the famous Lucy in Ethiopia. “He and his team have made some very important discoveries.”


Yohannes Haile-Selassie in Ethiopia. (Photo courtesy of the Cleveland Museum of Natural History)

“Dr. Yohannes Haile-Selassie is one of the world’s foremost experts in paleoanthropology,” according to a Wikipedia entry. “His continued contributions to this scientific discipline are helping to reshape understanding of humanity’s ancient family tree and change conventional thinking about human evolution.”

The prestigious journal Nature named Haile-Selassie one of the world’s “ten people who mattered in science in 2019.” That’s when he and his team announced finding one of the most complete hominin craniums ever.

When asked to evaluate himself, Haile-Selassie is confident, but not smug. “I could be considered one of the leading anthropologists in our field,” he says. “I made a lot of contributions with our finds, particularly in making some paradigm shifts. How people judge me, it’s up to them.”

Besides Haile-Selassie and ASU’s Johanson, leading hominin explorers based in Northeast Ohio have included former museum head Bruce Latimer and Kent State University professor C. Owen Lovejoy.

Haile-Selassie studied history at Ethiopia’s Addis Ababa University and began in 1990 to dig up fossils. Two years later, he began working toward master’s and doctoral degrees at the University of California, Berkeley.

Starting in 1997 as a graduate student, he found fossils from a previously unknown species, now called Ardipithecus kadabba. That species lived an estimated 5.8 million to 5.5 million years ago—dating nearly back to when humans and chimps apparently diverged.

Yohannes Haile-Selassie examines a hominin fossil in his office at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History
In 2002, Haile-Selassie joined the Cleveland museum as curator and head of physical anthropology. Three years later, he began leading a team that scoured some 500 square miles of exclusive territory each year in Ethiopia’s Woranso-Mille area.

By 2019, the team had found about 230 hominin fossils as well as more than 12,600 fossils from about 85 other species of mammals, including monkeys, pigs, and antelopes.

That year, the team announced perhaps its greatest find so far—nearly all the pieces of a male hominin cranium from the species Australopithecus anamensis.
They called the creature MRD-VP-1/1, or MRD for short. The name isn’t nearly as catchy as Lucy’s, inspired by the Beatles’ “Lucy in the Sky with? Diamonds.” It stands for Miro Dora, the part of Haile-Selassie’s territory where the cranium was found.

After the discovery, team member Beverly Saylor, professor of stratigraphy and sedimentology at Case Western Reserve University (CWRU), led the analysis of plant and volcanic material found with the cranium. Others designed a face for that cranium—considered the likeliest hominin face yet proposed.

Scientists used to think that hominins descended from anamensis through Lucy’s species, Australopithecus afarensis, to Homo sapiens. without much overlap. But MRD appears to be about 3.8 million years old—some 100,000 years younger than the oldest known members of afarensis. So Haile-Selassie says anamensis might turn out to be our more direct ancestor…

“That’s how science goes, a lot of hypothesizing and testing. The more sample size you have, the better.”

Read the full article at freshwatercleveland.com »

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UPDATE: Ethiopia Receives $500M World Bank Financing for Electricity Projects

New World Bank financing supports Ethiopia's goal of universal electricity access by 2025. (Photo: The World Bank Group headquarters building in Washington, D.C./Wikimedia)

Press Release

World Bank Group

ADDIS ABABA — The World Bank approved a $500 million International Development Association (IDA)* credit to support Ethiopia’s goal of achieving universal electricity access by 2025.

Over the past decade, the Government of Ethiopia has made encouraging progress on its electrification program and expanded the grid network coverage to nearly 60 percent of towns and villages. Despite this progress, Ethiopia has the third largest energy access deficit in Sub-Saharan Africa with more than half the population still without access to reliable electricity especially in deep-rural areas which are dependent on biomass and kerosene. The electricity deficit in Ethiopia continues to exacerbate the poverty situation, preventing far too many people from fulfilling their basic socio-economic needs and limiting access to opportunity.

The Access to Distributed Electricity and Lighting in Ethiopia (ADELE) Project is an important component of Ethiopia’s National Electrification Program (NEP), which aims to strategically change direction from infrastructure development to the delivery of adequate, reliable and affordable electricity services with a vision to reach universal electrification by 2025. ADELE will focus on access to new and improved electricity services for households, smallholder farmers, commercial and industrial users, and social institutions in urban, peri-urban, rural, and deep-rural areas. The first phase of the NEP was supported by the World Bank-financed Ethiopia Electrification Program (ELEAP) approved in 2018.

‘With a goal of providing electricity services for nearly 5 million people, 11,500 enterprises and 1,400 health and education facilities, the project represents the World Bank’s continued support to the Government of Ethiopia’s NEP and is aligned with our commitment to support Ethiopia’s resilient recovery from the COVID 19 pandemic. It is also an important step towards improving service delivery and addressing drivers of fragility and conflict’ said Ousmane Dione, World Bank Country Director for Ethiopia.

An important feature of ADELE will be the deployment of innovative solutions such as decentralized renewable energy technologies, particularly solar photovoltaic (PV) mini-grids and individual solar system for both household and productive use, deployed through a combined approach of public and private delivery modalities that further enhance affordability and inclusion. The project also has a strong focus on closing the gender gap in the energy sector and increasing the percentage of women participating in the mini-grid sector and off-grid technology value chain.

‘ADELE can contribute to achieving near universal electrification of secondary schools and health centers. Closing the energy gap and enabling the productive use of renewable energy in rural and deep-rural areas will be crucial in the post-COVID-19 recovery phase,’said Riccardo Puliti, World Bank Africa Regional Director for Infrastructure.

The ADELE project will be implemented by Ethiopia’s Ministry of Water, Irrigation, and Electricity, the Ethiopian Electric Utility, and the Development Bank of Ethiopia.

*The International Development Association (IDA) is the World Bank’s fund for the poorest. Established in 1960, it provides grants and low to zero-interest loans for projects and programs that boost economic growth, reduce poverty, and improve poor people’s lives. IDA is one of the largest sources of assistance for the world’s 76 poorest countries, 39 of which are in Africa. IDA resources help effect positive change in the lives of the 1.6 billion people living in the countries that are eligible for its assistance. Since its inception, IDA has supported development work in 113 countries. Annual commitments are constantly on the rise and have averaged $21 billion over the past three years, with about 61% going to Africa.

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COVID-19: Ethiopia Rates Spiking

Health Minister Dr. Lia Tadesse announcing that Ethiopia this week received a donation of 300,000 doses of COVID19 sinopharm vaccine from China. According to a "Health Alert" by the U.S. Embassy in Addis Ababa: "Community transmission of the coronavirus in Ethiopia is widespread and accelerating rapidly. Public and private hospitals in Addis Ababa are reporting that their COVID bedspace is full." (Photo: Image via Twitter)

THE LATEST UPDATE:

Updated: March 30th, 2021

  • Health Alert: COVID-19 Rates Spiking; Hospital Beds for COVID Patients Full
  • Ethiopia Coronavirus Cases Reach 204, 521
  • Ethiopia reports 1,724 new COVID-19 cases
  • Ethiopia begins COVID-19 vaccine rollout
  • Ethiopian Airlines Delivers First Batches Of Vaccine In Ethiopia
  • COVID-19 limits activities of “Timket” celebration in Ethiopia
  • COVID-19: New Study on Preventive Practice Among Pregnant Women in Northwest Ethiopia
  • Aid Groups Warn of COVID-19 Outbreak at Ethiopian Refugee Camp in Sudan
  • Ethiopia to launch 6-month COVID-19 prevention campaign
  • Survey identifies troubling effect of pandemic on where women give birth in Ethiopia
  • US shifts to speed vaccinations; won’t hold back 2nd doses
  • MAP: Covid-19 vaccination tracker across the U.S.
  • ‘Relieved’: US health workers start getting COVID-19 vaccine
  • FDA authorizes the first coronavirus vaccine, a rare moment of hope in pandemic
  • US panel endorses widespread use of Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine
  • In U.S. every state has its own COVID-19 vaccine distribution plan. Find the one for yours here.
  • Only half in US want shots as vaccine nears
  • US regulators post positive review of Pfizer vaccine data
  • Britain launches the West’s first mass coronavirus vaccination
  • Cases and deaths in the U.S. | Cases and deaths worldwide
  • Ethiopia Coronavirus Cases Reach 117,242
  • Ethiopia’s month-long conflict hampers efforts in fighting COVID-19 outbreaks
  • How Ethiopia prepared its health workforce for the COVID-19 response
  • Assessing Ethiopian women’s vulnerability to the COVID-19 pandemic
  • Pfizer CEO confident of getting U.S. advisory panel nod for COVID-19 vaccine
  • Demand for COVID-19 tests to outstrip supply for months, says Roche CEO
  • A year into COVID-19, U.N. declares a day of ‘epidemic preparedness’
  • WHO sees limited COVID-19 vaccine doses in early 2021
  • 2nd virus vaccine shows overwhelming success in U.S. tests
  • Pfizer’s Covid Vaccine: 11 Things You Need to Know
  • Ethiopia Coronavirus Cases Reach 100,327
  • Virus cases surpass 90K as schools reopen in Ethiopia
  • Refusing to wear a mask in Ethiopia could cost you two years in jail
  • Ethiopia: Schools to Start Regular Face to Face Classes With Covid-19 Precautions
  • 5 Ethiopian footballers contract coronavirus
  • WHO: 10% of world’s people may have been infected with virus
  • Global coronavirus death toll tops 1 million as U.N. chief warns that ‘misinformation kills’
  • ‘I feel sorry for Americans’: Baffled world watches USA
  • U.S. Covid-19 death toll surpasses 200,000
  • China’s BGI wins 1.5 million coronavirus test kit order from Ethiopia
  • Ethiopia Braces for Election Amid COVID19
  • The pandemic appears to have spared Africa so far. Scientists are struggling to explain why
  • Ethiopia opens facility to make coronavirus test kits
  • Ethiopia to make and export COVID-19 test kits
  • IN PICTURES: On the Frontline Against Covid-19 in Ethiopia – A Photo Essay
  • Oxford vaccine trial on hold because of potential safety issue
  • In Canada, EthioCare Volunteers Help Calgary Church Members After COVID-19 Outbreak
  • How Ethiopian Airlines’ Agility Saw It Through COVID With No Bailout
  • COVID-19: US Retailer Cancels Millions of Dollars of Garment Orders from Ethiopia
  • COVID-19 reveals risky life on the buses for Ethiopia’s child conductors
  • Ethiopians fight pandemic by early morning exercises
  • One of Ethiopia’s main coronavirus centres ‘nearly full’
  • A vision for post-pandemic mobility in African cities
  • COVID-19 Spreads Inside Ethiopian Detention Centers
  • Turkish factory in Ethiopia plans output amid COVID-19
  • Eritrean refugees in Ethiopia resist camp closure amid COVID-19 fears
  • COVID-19 is crushing Ethiopian entertainers, just when we need them the most
  • Chinese first lady donates medical supplies to Ethiopia
  • Over 25500 migrant Ethiopians return home in four months amid COVID-19 pandemic: IOM
  • In Jamaica Ethiopian Consulate Donates 1,000 Care Packages
  • Global coronavirus cases top 20M as Russia approves vaccine
  • In Ethiopia extreme Poverty Rises due to the coronavirus
  • U.S. infections surpass 5 million
  • Africa’s cases of COVID-19 top 1 million
  • Ethiopians struggle to cope with COVID-19 fears
  • 15,000 Ethiopian returnees receive emergency Covid-19 assistance at quarantine sites
  • The United States Provides Ventilators to Ethiopia to Respond to COVID-19
  • In Ethiopia, Health Ministry To Conduct 17 Million COVID-19 Tests Via Month-Long Campaign
  • Ethiopia Starts Covid Test Campaign; Cases Spike After Protests
  • As COVID starts to surge, Ethiopia battles complacency
  • Coronavirus – Ethiopia: COVID-19 Response Overview
  • Ethiopian Workers Are Forced to Return Home, Some With Coronavirus
  • Africa’s confirmed COVID-19 cases exceed 750,000
  • Coronavirus Deaths on the Rise in Almost Every Region of the U.S.
  • Ethiopian farmers slaughter thousands of chicks as COVID hits demand
  • 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 3.2 million reported cases
  • US Deaths From Coronavirus Surpass 134,000 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 begins COVID-19 vaccine rollout


    A healthcare personnel receives the first dose of the AstraZeneca/Oxford coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine at the EKA Kottebe hospital as vaccination process begins in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on March 13, 2021. (Photo: Minasse Wondimu Hailu – Anadolu Agency)

    By Addis Getachew | Anadolu Agency

    ADDIS ABABA — Hoping to curb a recent spike in infections, Ethiopia kicked off its COVID-19 vaccination drive on Saturday. Jabs were administered in several major cities, including the capital Addis Ababa, where top government officials and UN representatives attended a ceremony at the Eka General Hospital. Doctors, nurses, and support staff at the hospital, one of Ethiopia’s main COVID-19 treatment centers, were given shots of the AstraZeneca vaccine. Ethiopia received its first batch of 2.2 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine last week under the COVAX initiative, a project co-led by the World Health Organization (WHO) that aims to ensure equitable distribution of vaccines around the world. Speaking at the ceremony, Education Minister Getahun Mekuria said Ethiopia has been experiencing an alarming increase in infections over recent days. “Negligence is costing the nation dearly,” he warned.

    Read more »

    Survey identifies troubling effect of pandemic on where women give birth in Ethiopia

    In urban areas, delivery rates in lower-level health facilities increased and hospital deliveries decreased after social distancing restrictions were put in place

    By Johns Hopkins Magazine

    A new study from the Bloomberg School of Public Health and researchers at Addis Ababa University in Ethiopia has found that as of June, the proportion of women in urban areas—where COVID-19 rates were highest—who delivered in lower-level health facilities significantly increased while deliveries in hospitals declined. A pregnant woman’s place of delivery is a key maternal health service component that has a direct impact on pregnancy and newborn outcomes, and researchers have been monitoring how the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting women’s delivery patterns. The analysis was conducted using data from the Performance Monitoring for Action Ethiopia survey, led by Linnea Zimmerman, assistant professor in the Department of Population, Family, and Reproductive Health at the Bloomberg School, and Solomon Shiferaw and Assefa Seme at Addis Ababa University. The project is managed by Johns Hopkins global health affiliate Jhpiego and the Gates Institute. Results from the analysis also showed that at the national level, there was no difference in the proportion of women who delivered in a hospital and home delivery rates remained unchanged. Looking within urban areas, women who delivered during May and June, after COVID-19 restrictions started, were significantly less likely to deliver in a hospital relative to women who delivered prior to the pandemic.

    Read more »

    Ethiopia Coronavirus Cases Reach 204, 521

    By Ministry of Health

    In Ethiopia, as of March 30th, 2021, there have been 204, 521 confirmed cases of COVID-19. Read more »

    Assessing Ethiopian women’s vulnerability to the COVID-19 pandemic

    By World Bank

    The novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) has devastating health and economic impacts globally and has disproportionately affected vulnerable groups. As highlighted in a blog published at the onset of the pandemic, the coronavirus is not gender-blind and pre-existing gender gaps may intensify during and after the pandemic due to worsening human capital, economic, and women’s agency outcomes.

    What can high-frequency phone survey data tell us about the gendered effects of the pandemic in Ethiopia?

    The short answer: A lot!

    Read more »

    How Ethiopia prepared its health workforce for the COVID-19 response


    Photo via the World Health Organization

    By The World Health Organization

    In a busy intensive care unit in Eka Kotebe General Hospital, Addis Ababa, Dr Samuel Getnet, 28, a newly-recruited young and energetic physician anxiously monitors the mechanical ventilators, an indispensable form of life support for COVID-19 patients with respiratory distress.

    “I never thought my professional journey would bring me to the place where I’m today—at the center of COVID-19 pandemic management team—treating and caring for the most severely ill patients who critically need my support and care. Despite the challenges and risks, I am grateful for the opportunity to serve my people at this critical time,” he said.

    Dr Getnet is a general practitioner who came on board as part of the surge capacity planning for human resources announced by the Ethiopian Ministry of Health in February 2020. Before starting his duty in the intensive care unit, he received in-person training from the World Health Organization (WHO), with practical sessions taking place in the hospital. The topics he covered include case management, use of personal protective equipment (PPE), infection prevention and control (IPC), and the application and use of mechanical ventilation. He also benefited from online WHO resources such as Open WHO.org.

    Read more »

    ‘Relieved’: US health workers start getting COVID-19 vaccine


    Sandra Lindsay, left, a nurse at Long Island Jewish Medical Center, is inoculated with the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine by Dr. Michelle Chester, Monday, Dec. 14, 2020, in the Queens borough of New York. (AP Photo)

    By The Associated Press

    The biggest vaccination campaign in U.S. history kicked off Monday as health workers rolled up their sleeves for shots to protect them from COVID-19 and start beating back the pandemic — a day of optimism even as the nation’s death toll closed in on 300,000.

    “I feel hopeful today. Relieved,” critical care nurse Sandra Lindsay said after getting a shot in the arm at Long Island Jewish Medical Center in New York.

    With a countdown of “3-2-1,” workers at Ohio State University’s Wexner Medical Center gave the first injections to applause.

    And in New Orleans, Steven Lee, an intensive care unit pharmacist at Ochsner Medical Center, summed up the moment as he got his own vaccination: “We can finally prevent the disease as opposed to treating it.”

    Other hospitals around the country, from Rhode Island to Texas, unloaded precious frozen vials of vaccine made by Pfizer Inc. and its German partner BioNTech, with staggered deliveries set throughout the day and Tuesday. A few other countries have authorized the vaccine, including Britain, which started vaccinating people last week, and Canada, which began doing so on Monday.

    For health care workers, who along with nursing home residents will be first in line for vaccination, hope is tempered by grief and the sheer exhaustion of months spent battling a coronavirus that still is surging in the U.S. and around the world.

    Read more »

    IN PICTURES: On the Frontline Against Covid-19 in Ethiopia – A Photo Essay


    Frontline workers at the Eka Kotebe hospital. (Photo by Yonas Tadesse)

    By Yonas Tadesse

    The first case of Covid-19 in Ethiopia was reported on 13 March, when a team of first responders took in a 48-year-old Japanese man. Having never seen anything like his condition, they did not know what to prepare for, and thus started their new normal of battling the coronavirus in Ethiopia.

    Doctors, nurses, janitors, security guards and drivers donned hats they had never dreamed of wearing as they worked to develop systems and techniques to minimise the damage from the virus – often at the cost of their health, their home lives, their reputations, and sometimes their lives.

    Read more and see the photos at theguardian.com »

    FACTBOX- Worldwide coronavirus cases cross 67.72 million, death toll at 1,548,575

    By Reuters

    More than 67.72 million people have been reported to be infected by the novel coronavirus globally and 1,548,575​ have died, according to a Reuters tally. Infections have been reported in more than 210 countries and territories since the first cases were identified in China in December 2019.

    Read more »

    Africa’s cases of COVID-19 top 1 million

    By Reuters

    Africa’s confirmed cases of COVID-19 have surpassed 1 million, a Reuters tally showed on Thursday, as the disease began to spread rapidly through a continent whose relative isolation has so far spared it the worst of the pandemic. The continent recorded 1,003,056 cases, of which 21,983 have died and 676,395 recovered. South Africa – which is the world’s fifth worst-hit nation and makes up more than half of sub-Saharan Africa’s case load – has recorded 538,184 cases since its first case on March 5, the health ministry said on Thursday. Low levels of testing in several countries, apart from South Africa, mean Africa’s infection rates are likely to be higher than reported, experts say. 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 »


    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.

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

  • UPDATE: U.S. & Ethiopia Launch $2.2 Billion Productive Safety Net Program

    The United States has supported the Productive Safety Net Program (PSNP) initiative since its inception and remains Ethiopia’s largest bilateral assistance partner, investing over $4 billion in the last five years alone. (Photo courtesy of U.S. Embassy in Ethiopia)

    Press Release

    U.S. Embassy in Ethiopia

    U.S. and Ethiopia Launch New $2.2 Billion Phase of the Productive Safety Net Program

    Addis Ababa, March 29, 2021 – Today, the United States joined the Government of Ethiopia and development partners to launch the next five-year phase of the Productive Safety Net Program (PSNP). The PSNP is the Government of Ethiopia’s multi-billion dollar food security, public works, and social safety net program for millions in need across Ethiopia.The PSNP was first established with U.S. support in 2005. As the largest donor, USAID’s contribution accounts for over $550 million.

    Today’s launch represents a total additional $2.2 billion investment by the government and Ethiopia’s international partners in PSNP. Over the next five years, the PSNP will reach up to nine million people each year as it provides food assistance and services that will lift vulnerable families out of poverty. Minister of Finance Ato Ahmed Shide and Minister of Agriculture Ato Oumer Hussein launched the new, fifth phase of PSNP with heads of agencies from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), World Bank, UK Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office, World Food Programme, UNICEF, Irish Aid, and the Netherlands at a ceremony in Addis Ababa.

    USAID Mission Director Sean Jones said, “The American people’s commitment to this Ethiopian-led program is long-standing. We are pleased to continue our work together to build upon the success of the PSNP in improving food security and nutrition, and resilience in poor and vulnerable communities. We applaud the Ethiopian government’s commitment, leadership, and increased ownership under this initiative. The American people greatly appreciate the opportunity to be a partner of the Ethiopian people in the coming years.”

    The United States has supported the PSNP initiative since its inception and remains Ethiopia’s largest bilateral assistance partner, investing over $4 billion in the last five years alone.

    Related:

    UPDATE: U.S. Creates Special Envoy For Horn of Africa

    UPDATE: U.S. Senator Chris Coons Says Ethiopia Trip Was ‘Constructive’

    UPDATE: DOJ Documents Show Who is Lobbying U.S Officials on Ethiopia Issues

    U.S. Announces Additional Humanitarian Assistance for the Tigray Crisis Response

    FP EXCLUSIVE: Biden Sends Closest Ally Senator Chris Coons to Ethiopia

    UPDATE: U.N. Rights Chief Agrees to Ethiopia Request for Joint Tigray Inquiry

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    Q&A: 5 Questions With R&B Singer Mélat

    An Austin, Texas native and proud Ethiopian, Mélat is a shining musical anomaly, crafting songs about the many forms of love as a way to empower herself and her fans. (Austin Monthly Magazine)

    Austin Monthly Magazine

    The soulful R&B singer spoke with [Austin Monthly] about her heritage, her future, and what motivates her right now.

    An Austin native and proud Ethiopian, Mélat is a shining musical anomaly, crafting songs about the many forms of love as a way to empower herself and her fans.

    Mélat spoke to us about everything from the solitude of COVID-19 shutdowns and how it’s affected her writing process to what it’s like being an R&B singer in a city dominated by guitar heroes and folksy singer-songwriters.

    How did you first get started as a vocalist and songwriter?

    I would always write as a kid. My parents were super strict so I wasn’t able to go hang out with my friends. And I didn’t want to tell my parents how I was feeling or whatever. So I just resorted to my journal. And so I would journal all the time. But I had also been put into piano lessons for four years of my really young life. I had that musical sensibility, so sometimes I would write little songs and things. But it wasn’t until I got a little bit older, like in high school, probably to where the things that I was writing in my journal, the feelings I was feeling, would translate into more of a poem and more into song. And it took a while before I was really confident. It took a while to admit that I was writing songs and to feel okay with that. But, you know, once I made my first project, which is called Canon Aphaea, I received a message back from a girl saying she was contemplating suicide, and this EP helped her out and made her change her mind. And I had been going through a lot of stuff personally, at that point. And so I was like, Wow, my struggles, my issues, my lack of confidence, my lack of all of that, allowed someone else to feel like they weren’t alone in their own struggles as well. So I was like, Okay, maybe this is where I’m supposed to be. I continued making music because my goal, my lifelong goal, for as long as I could remember was just to help people. And if this is a vehicle that I can use to make people feel less alone (and in turn, make myself feel less alone), then I’m just going to continue doing it.

    How has your lyrical approach changed since your earlier releases?What inspired you early in your career and what is inspiring you now?

    I think earlier on it was harder—it still is—but it was harder to be more vulnerable and more transparent. I was a little bit more vague in what I was talking about, or how I talked about things, rather. And it was very focused on what I was going through. And I think through the years of doing it, I’ve started to incorporate more and more of other people’s stories into my music, reflecting what I see. As well as being a little more transparent with the things that I’m going through or the way that I’m writing these things. They’re not as vague as they used to be. I’m a little more like this is what I’m going through, this is what it is. The more I’ve done it, the more I’ve realized there will always be people who relate to your story. And sometimes being more specific about your story helps someone else relate to it even better. So that’s probably one of the main differences of how, just in general, how all my music has evolved.

    What impact has your Ethiopian heritage had on your musical style?

    Oh, it’s imbued in everything that I do. It’s how I was raised. It’s who I am. It’s the first language I spoke. It was difficult at first to embrace my heritage. I didn’t want to be pigeonholed as a world artist. So it was hard for me to embrace that without being like, people aren’t gonna understand what I’m trying to do. And as I’ve evolved through my career, so has the world. People have become more accepting of like, not genre-bonding somebody. You don’t have to be this one little thing. As far as, like, the public’s eyes. So I think it’s something that I’ve always treasured, but had a hard time expressing. As I’ve gone through my career, I’ve grown to embrace it. And hopefully later this year, you guys will be able to see more of that side of me. That’s all I’m gonna say about that. But hopefully, you’ll be able to see more of my Ethiopian heritage come through my work.

    What’s on the horizon for you in 2021?

    Well, definitely a lot of new music–a lot of stuff that I’ve just been cooking up after being in quarantine for about a year at this point. So a lot of new music and a lot of new visuals and things like that. The manifestation of the creativity I was able to explore during quarantine would be the short way to say it.

    How do you think R&B will fit into Austin’s music scene in the future?

    I hope it’ll be seen. I hope it’ll be understood. I think that’s one of the biggest issues R&B has in Austin at this point—the fact that people are so used to rock, Americana, and blues that they don’t quite understand what R&B is. Because I’ve been lumped into hip hop so many times, it just makes me want to throw up…and it’s not a knock on hip hop. There’s a huge difference between R&B and hip hop. And the fact that people don’t understand that is a big learning curve that needs to happen in the music scene. So, what I hope for R&B is that there is a bigger understanding of what it is and what it sounds like, the variances that it can have that. I mean, if there’s one thing that I could ask for it, it would be for an understanding of what it actually is.

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    Spotlight: Ethiopian American Ainae Nielsen, Howard University Student Competing on ‘The Voice’

    Ainae Nielsen, a Washington, D.C., native and Silver Spring, Maryland, resident, made it onto Team Kelly in the final blind audition last week. She grew up in an Ethiopian American family that loves music. She said she's always known she wanted to be a singer. It wasn’t until the pandemic hit that she began to make her dream a reality. (Photo: Ainae Nielsen on stage during season 20 of “The Voice”/NBC)

    NBC Washington

    ‘You Got This’: Howard University Student Competing on ‘The Voice’

    A 21-year-old Howard University student is competing on “The Voice” and may advance Monday night.

    Ainae Nielsen, a Washington, D.C., native and Silver Spring, Maryland, resident, sang her own arrangement of “Best Part” by H.E.R. and Daniel Caesar and made it onto judge Kelly Clarkson’s team last week in the final blind audition.

    Nielsen told News4 she could hardly believe her eyes as she saw Clarkson’s chair begin to turn to see her.

    “The whole time, I was saying to myself, ‘You got this, you got this,’” she said. “I was nervous, but I was confident that all that practice that I did would come through in that moment.”

    Nielsen majors in business marketing at Howard and is set to graduate this spring. She grew up in an Ethiopian American family that loves music. She said she’s always known she wanted to be a singer. It wasn’t until the pandemic hit that she began to make her dream a reality.

    Nielsen said a casting director from “The Voice” asked her to audition. She took it as a “sign,” as she had been dreaming of moving to California to pursue a music career.

    Nielsen’s advice to others who may want to audition for a singing competition was to “know yourself” and “be confident.”
    “Now that I’m here, I know this is the road I’m supposed to be going on,” she said.

    After the blind audition, Clarkson said Nielsen is “a competitor” and “different from anyone else in the show.” Clarkson said she believes Nielsen is ready to take on the challenge.

    Nielsen said she has had a great experience on the show so far.

    “The amount of growth that I’ve had within a week is insane,” she said.

    Nielsen’s advice to others who may want to audition for a singing competition was to “know yourself” and “be confident.”

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    In Denver, 12-Year-Old Joshua Haileyesus In Critical Condition After Trying ‘Blackout Challenge’

    Joshua Haileyesus. (Photo courtesy of Nebiyu Asfaw and Hirut Yitayew)

    CBS4

    12-Year-Old Joshua Haileyesus In Critical Condition After Trying ‘Blackout Challenge’

    AURORA, Colo. — Ethiopian community members will gather outside Children’s Hospital on Monday to pray for 12-year-old Joshua Haileyesus. Haileyesus is in critical condition after trying a game called the “Blackout Challenge” which dares participants to choke themselves until they lose consciousness.

    On Monday, March 22, Joshua’s twin brother found him unconscious and not breathing on the bathroom floor.

    “His twin brother is devastated and misses him very much and can only talk about bringing him home,” organizers told CBS4.

    The communal prayer gathering will be from 6-7 p.m. on the lawn of Children’s Hospital Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus.

    “Joshua has a love for people that you wouldn’t expect in a child. Since he was very young, he always expressed compassion for others,” a family representative said.

    “He would pray for people who were sick, stand up for others who were bullied at school, and practice CPR in case he ever needed to save someone else’s life.”

    Now, they are praying for his recovery and warning others in the community about the danger of the “game.”

    Read more and watch the video at denver.cbslocal.com »

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    Three Ethiopian Films Featured at New African Film Festival in U.S.

    According to organizers the annual film festival, which is usually held at AFI Silver Theatre and Cultural Center in downtown Silver Spring, Maryland, will be held online this year (April 1–18) highlighting 33 films from 26 Countries including Ethiopian movies "Running Against The Wind, Finding Sally and Min Alesh [ምን አለሽ. (Courtesy photos)

    Tadias Magazine

    By Tadias Staff

    Updated: March 30th, 2021

    New York (TADIAS) — This year’s U.S.-based New African Film Festival features three award-winning Ethiopian films including the 2020 Oscar Selection Running Against The Wind; filmmaker Tamara Dawit’s timely documentary Finding Sally and the inspiring new film Min Alesh [ምን አለሽ], a story set in Merkato about a young woman who overcomes adversity through athletics.

    According to organizers the annual film festival, which is usually held at AFI Silver Theatre and Cultural Center in downtown Silver Spring, Maryland, will be held online this year (April 1–18) highlighting 33 films from 26 Countries.

    The 2021 New African Film Festival “showcases the vibrancy of African filmmaking from all corners of the
    continent and across the diaspora,” the announcement stated. “This year, for its 17th edition, the festival goes virtual, presenting a lineup of outstanding contemporary African cinema online for audiences in the Washington, DC, area and beyond.”

    Below are descriptions and trailers of the Ethiopian films courtesy of AFI Silver Theatre.

    Special Presentation

    2020 Oscar® Selection, Ethiopia

    RUNNING AGAINST THE WIND

    Available starting Friday, April 2

    Ethiopia’s 2020 Oscar® submission traces the lives of two brothers pursuing big dreams along very different paths. As children, Abdi (Ashenafi Nigusu) wants to become a long-distance runner, while Solomon (Mikias Wolde) desires nothing more than to become a professional photographer. Early in their childhood, the brothers part ways. Solomon escapes his remote hometown to seek his fortune as a photographer in Addis Ababa, eventually ending up on the streets in the city’s vast slums. Abdi remains in his village, training to become an Olympian in the hopes of following in the footsteps of Ethiopian legend and gold medalist Haile Gebrselassie (who has a cameo in the film). When fate reunites the brothers as adults in Addis Ababa, can the distance that has grown between them be bridged? DIR/SCR/PROD Jan Philipp Weyl; SCR Michael Wogh; PROD Samerawit Seid Kekebo, Chris Naumann, Andreas Seck. Ethiopia/Germany, 2019, color, 116 min. In Amharic with English subtitles. NOT RATED

    Special Presentation

    FINDING SALLY

    Available starting Thursday, April 8

    Followed by a recorded Q&A with filmmaker Tamara Mariam Dawit

    FINDING SALLY tells the incredible story of a 23-year-old woman from an upper-class family who became a communist rebel with the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Party in the 1970s. Idealistic and in love, Sally got caught up in her country’s revolutionary fervor and landed on the military government’s most wanted list. She went underground and her family never saw her again. Four decades after Sally’s disappearance, filmmaker Tamara Mariam Dawit pieces together the mysterious life of her aunt Sally. She revisits the Ethiopian Revolution and the terrible massacre that followed, which resulted in nearly every Ethiopian family losing a loved one. Her quest leads her to question notions of belonging, personal convictions and political ideals at a time when Ethiopia is going through important political changes once again. (Note adapted from Catbird Productions.) Official Selection, 2020 Göteborg Film Festival, African Diaspora International Film Festival and Film Africa; 2021 Pan African Film Festival. DIR/SCR Tamara Mariam Dawit; PROD Isabelle Couture. Canada, 2020, color, 78 min. In English and Amharic with English subtitles. NOT RATED

    MIN ALESH? [ምን አለሽ]

    Available starting Thursday, April 8

    Set in Merkato, a sprawling, open-air market in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, MIN ALESH? tells the inspiring story of 21-year-old Selam (Amleset Muchie, who also wrote and directed), whose perseverance transforms her life for the better. Having grown up amid poverty and hardships, Selam is determined to change her own and her family’s circumstances through her passion for running. An international race offers her a chance to achieve her dream. (Note adapted from New York African Film Festival.) DIR/SCR Amleset Muchie; PROD Selamawit Mare. Ethiopia, 2019, color, 84 min. In Amharic with English subtitles. NOT RATED

    Learn more at AFI.com and get festival access at https://naff.eventive.org/.

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    UPDATE: U.S. Creates Special Envoy For Horn of Africa

    The envoy, who is expected to be appointed in the coming weeks, will focus on the conflict in Ethiopia’s Tigray region and tensions between Sudan and Ethiopia over a disputed border area, the department said in a statement Wednesday. (Image: DOS)

    Bloomberg

    By Samuel Gebre

    US Creates Special Envoy Post to Address Crisis in Ethiopia

    U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken approved the establishment of a special envoy for the Horn of Africa, where multiple political crises are unfolding.

    The envoy, who is expected to be appointed in the coming weeks, will focus on the conflict in Ethiopia’s Tigray region and tensions between Sudan and Ethiopia over a disputed border area, the department said in a statement Wednesday. The person will also tackle a disagreement between Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, it said.

    Read more »

    Related:

    UPDATE: U.S. Senator Chris Coons Says Ethiopia Trip Was ‘Constructive’

    UPDATE: DOJ Documents Show Who is Lobbying U.S Officials on Ethiopia Issues

    U.S. Announces Additional Humanitarian Assistance for the Tigray Crisis Response

    FP EXCLUSIVE: Biden Sends Closest Ally Senator Chris Coons to Ethiopia

    UPDATE: U.N. Rights Chief Agrees to Ethiopia Request for Joint Tigray Inquiry

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    CNBC Africa: Ethiopia’s Economy Grew by 6% Despite COVID-19 Shocks

    "Six percent is a very good performance considering what was going on around the world," says Zemedeneh Negatu, Chairman of the U.S.-based Fairfax Africa Fund. (Image via CNBC)

    CNBC Africa

    Ethiopia’s economy grew by 6% despite COVID-19 shocks

    Ethiopia’s economy grew by 6 per cent in the 2020 financial year despite the COVID-19 pandemic.

    “Six percent is a very good performance considering what was going on around the world,” Zemedeneh Negatu, Chairman of the U.S.-based Fairfax Africa Fund, tells CNBC Africa.

    What did Ethiopia do right?

    “Last year [Ethiopia] took rapid early remedial actions against COVID and interestingly, according to the Prime Minister, they actually took a contrarian view to combat it,” Zemedeneh says. “They did not lockdown the economy although they did take measures to safeguard the public from the COVID pandemic.”

    Zemedeneh adds: “Despite all kinds of other challenges for example the export market, flower and other things had slowed down globally, but sectors like mining did extremely well, very significant increase in mining gold and other things. The manufacturing [and] the agriculture sector had also performed well.”

    Read more and watch the video at cnbcafrica.com »

    Related:

    Business: Ethiopian Economy Regaining Momentum in 2021

    CNBC Africa

    Fairfax Africa Fund Chair, Negatu sees Ethiopian economy regaining momentum in 2021

    March 15th, 2021

    Ethiopia’s economy saw a slowdown in the fourth quarter of 2020 despite the country having some of the laxest COVID-19 measures in the region.

    “Overall considering what’s going on around the world and in Africa and based on data from the African Development Bank and IMF comparatively speaking Ethiopia is doing better than most African countries [and regaining its momentum],” says Chairman of the U.S.-based Fairfax Africa Fund Zemedeneh Negatu.

    Read more and watch the video at cnbcafrica.com »

    African Development Bank: African Economic Outlook 2021

    Recent macroeconomic and financial developments in Ethiopia

    Ethiopia’s economy grew by 6.1% in 2020, down from 8.4% in 2019, largely because of the COVID–19 pandemic. Growth was led by the services and industry sectors, whereas the hospitability, transport, and communications sectors were adversely affected by the pandemic and the associated containment measures to prevent the spread of the virus. The fiscal deficit, including grants, increased slightly during 2020, financed mainly by treasury bills. Tax revenue increased by 16%, but the tax-to-GDP ratio declined to 9.2% in 2020 from 10% in 2019 due to delayed implementation of tax reforms. Total public spending remained stable, in line with the country’s fiscal consolidation strategy.

    In 2020 inflation reached 20.6%, well above the 8% target, due to pandemic-induced supply chain disruptions and expansionary monetary policy. In November 2020, the official exchange rate was devalued by about 8% to 35.0 birr per US dollar. Export revenues increased by 12% in 2020, as exports of gold, flowers, coffee, and chat increased while imports declined by 8.1%. This helped narrow the current account deficit to 4.4% in 2020 from 5.3% in 2019. Service sector exports declined by about 6%, mostly because of lower revenue from Ethiopian Airlines. Foreign direct investment (FDI) fell 20% to 2.2% of GDP, and personal remittances declined by 10% to 5.3% of GDP. Poverty was projected to decline from 23.5% in 2016 to 19% by end of 2020. But pandemic-driven job losses, estimated at as many as 2.5 million, will impede poverty reduction.

    Outlook and risks

    The medium-term economic outlook is contingent on the resolution of the COVID–19 crisis, the pace of the economic recovery, and such other shocks as civil strife and climate change. Real GDP growth in 2021 is projected to fall to 2%, then recover to about 8% in 2022, led by a rebound in industry and services. Monetary policy is expected to remain flexible in response to the government’s financing requirements. Increased use of open-market operations is expected to reduce inflation gradually. The fiscal deficit is projected to increase as tax policy reforms are delayed due to COVID–19. The current account is likely to deteriorate in 2021 before improving in 2022 as service exports gradually pick up. The key downside risks to the economic outlook include low investor confidence, in part due to sporadic domestic conflicts, weakness in global growth, and climate change.

    Financing issues and options

    Ethiopia’s financing requirements are significant given its large physical and social infrastructure needs and low tax-to-GDP ratio, which averaged 10% from 2017 to 2020. The primary deficit plus debt service was estimated at nearly 4% of GDP. As of June 2020, total public debt was about 57% of GDP, slightly more than half of which was external. Since 2017, Ethiopia has been classified at high risk of public debt distress due to weak export performance coupled with increased import-intensive public infrastructure investments. The International Monetary Fund’s 2019 debt sustainability analysis estimated the net present value of debt-to-exports at 247.6% and debt service-to-exports at 24.6%; the highest sustainable levels are 180% and 15%, respectively. Ethiopia benefited from the G20 Debt Service Suspension Initiative, and the government is taking measures to contain the debt burden as part of the so-called Home-Grown Economic Reform agenda, which includes fiscal consolidation, expanding public financing sources, a moratorium on nonconcessional borrowing, harnessing grants and concessional loans, and debt restructuring. Gross reserves amounted to $3.1 billion in 2020, or 2.5 months of imports and are unlikely to provide an alternative source of development financing in the short term. Expansion of public debt in the context of large public expenditure requirements could constrict the fiscal space and lead to repayment risks, especially since $1 billion in eurobonds come due in December 2024. Further reforms in public finance and investment management are needed to improve the efficiency of public expenditures.

    Read the full report »

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    UPDATE: U.S. Senator Chris Coons Says Ethiopia Trip Was ‘Constructive’

    U.S. Senator Chris Coons, who met with Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and other officials during his recent trip to Ethiopia, said his visit was "constructive." (Getty Images)

    Tadias Magazine

    By Tadias Staff

    Updated: March 24th, 2021

    New York (TADIAS) — U.S. Senator Chris Coons has returned home after a special trip to Ethiopia on behalf of President Joe Biden to discuss the current crises in the Tigray region.

    Senator Coons, who met with Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and other officials during his stay in Addis Ababa, said his visit to Ethiopia was positive and encouraging.

    “I just returned from a weekend spent as President Joe Biden’s personal emissary meeting with Prime Minister Abiy and a whole range of senior Ethiopian officials and others in the international community, which I believe was constructive,” Senator Coons said during the Senate Foreign Relations Committee business meeting on Wednesday. “I want to note that there has already been positive public statements by PM Abiy in the last 24-hours recognizing the need for accountability for human rights violations, the first public acknowledgment of the presence of Eritrean troops and just in the last few hours positive statements about the possible resolution of the border dispute with Sudan and the path forward on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam.”

    Coons, who is a close Biden ally and a member of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, added: “There are other issues we must address: full humanitarian access, the cessation of hostilities, the path forward for free and fair elections. I look forward to working with each of you on these issues and hopefully there being more progress.”

    Watch: Sen. Coons Speaks at SFRC Business Meeting – March 24, 2021

    Related:

    UPDATE: DOJ Documents Show Who is Lobbying U.S Officials on Ethiopia Issues

    U.S. Announces Additional Humanitarian Assistance for the Tigray Crisis Response

    FP EXCLUSIVE: Biden Sends Closest Ally Senator Chris Coons to Ethiopia

    UPDATE: U.N. Rights Chief Agrees to Ethiopia Request for Joint Tigray Inquiry

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    Music: Rare Hailu Mergia & The Walias Band Album ‘Tezeta’ to Be Reissued

    Hailu Mergia & The Walias Band. (Photo courtesy of Awesome Tapes From Africa)

    Pitchfork

    Originally released on cassette tape in 1975, the reissue arrives this June via Awesome Tapes From Africa

    Ethiopian music legend Hailu Mergia has announced a new reissue of his 1975 album with the Walias Band, Tezeta. The rare, initially cassette-only release has been remastered by restoration engineer Jessica Thompson and arrives June 4 via Awesome Tapes From Africa. Check out “Nefas New Zemedie,” as well as the album artwork and full tracklist, below.

    Tezeta was recorded at the Hilton Hotel in Addis Ababa, where Mergia and the Walias Band were the resident backing band for some of the most influential names in Ethiopian music. It was the group’s first proper full-length release and was originally released under its own Ethio Sound label. At the time of the recording, the Walias Band lineup featured Moges Habte (saxophone and flute), Mahmoud Aman (guitar), Yohannes Tekola (trumpet), Melake Gebre (bass guitar), Girma Beyene (piano), Temare Haregu (drums), and Abebe Kassa (alto saxophone).

    Read Pitchfork’s review of Hailu Mergia’s 2020 album Yene Mircha.

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    Spotlight: In Minnesota Abenezer Ayana Wins St. Thomas Business Plan Competition

    Coming from Ethiopia, Abenezer Ayana couldn’t find a quality platform that allowed him to watch movies from his home country. [So he] started designing Fendesha [the Ethiopian film streaming service] and connected with producers in the Ethiopian community through LinkedIn. “I’m a computer science student, so the coding was easy for me” Ayana said. (Photo courtesy of Abenezer Ayana)

    Tommie Media

    St. Thomas senior Abenezer Ayana won the undergraduate student track of the St. Thomas Business Plan Competition [last month] with Fendesha, a streaming platform for Ethiopian movies and shows.

    Coming from Ethiopia, Ayana couldn’t find a quality platform that allowed him to watch movies and shows from his home country.

    “Whenever I wanted to watch an Ethiopean movie, I would find it on YouTube, and as a watcher, that’s disheartening because you have a lot of advertisements, the quality is not as good as you want it to be, and the Ethiopean producers weren’t making as much revenue as they would if they had a streaming service like Netflix,” Ayana said.

    Ayana then started designing Fendesha and connected with producers in the Ethiopian community through LinkedIn.

    With the approval and encouragement of Ethiopian producers, Ayana started coding the platform.

    “I’m a computer science student, so the coding was easy for me to grasp even though I was new to coding on an app,” Ayana said.

    Ayana used his computer skills to add viewing features onto Fendesha.

    “It was a fun project for me, and I was adding a lot of features like seeing where the movie stopped and playing it from there, downloading it for offline viewing, and all the things you can see on Netflix,” Ayana said.


    The team behind Fendesha, the Ethiopian streaming service. (Photo courtesy of Abenezer Ayana)


    Fendesha’s main streaming page. (Photo courtesy of Abenezer Ayana)

    Ayana took his business plan of Fendesha and competed in the St. Thomas Business Plan Competition, which hosted undergraduate students, graduate students and recent alumni. The undergraduate students competed in one competition and the graduate students and recent alumni competed in another competition.

    “In each track, the competition brought in five judges, people who are experienced entrepreneurs, investors, business folk, who are working in innovation and understand how to evaluate an opportunity,” St. Thomas Schulze School of Entrepreneurship Associate Dean Laura Dunham said.

    Participants pitched their business plans for 10 minutes virtually this year, due to COVID-19, and had about eight minutes of Q&A afterward. The judges then had the difficult task of determining the winner.

    The entrepreneurs competed for a total of $38,000 in cash prizes, and Ayana took $10,000 with his first-place win.

    Ayana looks forward to using the prize money to start putting movies on his platform.

    “We created the platform, and it is fully built on the cloud, so we can easily add movies in from different producers and update it for the users,” Ayana said. “But right now, there are no licensed movies in Fendesha, so the money would help us get licensing for the movies.”

    The prize money will also be used to help the team advertise Fendesha to the Ethiopian community, both abroad and in Ethiopia.

    “Fendesha itself will be free for those in Ethiopia with advertisements, but for those abroad, it would be like Netflix where you pay around an $8 subscription fee every month,” Ayana said.

    Along with Fendesha, Ayana has competed in business competitions in the past, including coming in second place in the 2019 Fowler Business Concept Challenge with BraillEasy.

    “BraillEasy was an idea of a smartphone case that teaches Braille. It’s very novel that you don’t have to move your fingertips, the case does the Braille by itself, so that gained a lot of traction,” Ayana said.

    Dunham worked with Ayana both during the 2019 Fowler Business Concept Challenge and the 2021 Business Plan Competition.

    “He’s done a fantastic job taking advantage of everything. He is studying computer science, and he is also a creative guy, always wanting to solve problems,” Dunham said.

    Ayana expresses his gratitude to St. Thomas and the business school for the resources provided.

    “I’m not even an entrepreneurship major, so I was a complete outsider to these competitions, but everyone was super helpful,” Ayana said. “St. Thomas has all of these resources, and so many people that were happy to help out with projects, and I’m very fortunate to be at St. Thomas.”

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    Women’s History Month: Hewan Teshome, Senior VP for Climate Pledge Arena in Seattle

    Hewan Teshome, senior vice president and general counsel for Climate Pledge Arena and the Kraken [in Seattle, Washington], is the daughter of parents who came to the U.S. for higher education, planning to return to Ethiopia afterward. A military coup made it unsafe to remain in their home country. (NHL.com)

    NHL

    ‘Committed to Doing It Differently’

    March is Gender Equality Month across the globe. Three Kraken and Climate Pledge Arena colleagues provide insights about lessons learned, measuring progress and innovative thinking

    A brief gender equality primer from the UN:

    “There has been progress over the last decades: More girls going to school, fewer girls forced into early marriage, more women serving in parliament and positions of leadership and laws being reformed to advance gender equality … Challenges remain: discriminatory laws and social norms remain pervasive, women continue to be underrepresented at all levels of political leadership and one in five women (ages 15 to 49) report experiencing physical violence by an intimate partner within a 12-month period … the COVID-19 outbreak exacerbates existing inequalities for women and girls across every sphere from health to economy to security and social protection.”

    Hewan Teshome, senior vice president and general counsel for Climate Pledge Arena and the Kraken, is the daughter of parents who came to the U.S. for higher education, planning to return to Ethiopia afterward. A military coup made it unsafe to remain in their home country.

    Like many immigrant parents, they hoped Teshome would become a doctor, lawyer or engineer. But Teshome said when she chose to pursue an undergraduate degree in journalism at New York University, “my parents encouraged me to do what I love.”

    It turned out Teshome did earn a law degree from Stanford, then landed a job with a firm in New York working a young lawyer’s marathon days and weeks. Her father returned to Ethiopia on an annual basis during those days as part of a Rotary Club program to provide polio vaccinations. Teshome managed to find the time to join those trips.


    Photo of Hewan with her parents at graduation and photo of Hewan and other Kraken and CPA colleagues at CPA. (Courtesy of Hewan Teshome)

    “Everything changed so much in a year,” recalls Teshome. “I thought, ‘there’s got to be some way to contribute. I met a lot of people in the [Ethiopian] business community. I started thinking about maybe finding a job in the private sector there.”

    Three years into her work at the law firm in Manhattan, the CEO of SouthWest Holdings (hotels, real estate, beverages) in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, offered a VP/corporate and legal affairs position Teshome couldn’t turn down. Her parents were less inclined.

    “My parents have always been super supportive of my career,” says Teshome, laughing gently. “This was the one time they said, ‘Are you sure?’ … I was going back to a business community not fully developed.”

    Per the UN findings, social norms regarding gender in Ethiopia were “not as open and progressive as a city like Seattle” when Teshome accepted the job in 2011.

    “Gender was a factor in the professional and legal culture,” she says. “It was assumed women would be paralegals and eventually stay home to raise kids. I was in a senior position and still experienced pushback and dismissiveness.”

    Click here to read the full article »

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    COVID-19 New Cases Rising in Ethiopia

    According to the Ministry of Health the number of coronavirus cases in Ethiopia has reached 188,902 as of March 22nd, 2021. (Photo: Image via Twitter @lia_tadesse)

    THE LATEST UPDATE:

    Updated: March 22nd, 2021

  • Ethiopia Coronavirus Cases Reach 188, 902
  • Ethiopia reports 1,724 new COVID-19 cases
  • Ethiopia begins COVID-19 vaccine rollout
  • Ethiopian Airlines Delivers First Batches Of Vaccine In Ethiopia
  • COVID-19 limits activities of “Timket” celebration in Ethiopia
  • COVID-19: New Study on Preventive Practice Among Pregnant Women in Northwest Ethiopia
  • Aid Groups Warn of COVID-19 Outbreak at Ethiopian Refugee Camp in Sudan
  • Ethiopia to launch 6-month COVID-19 prevention campaign
  • Survey identifies troubling effect of pandemic on where women give birth in Ethiopia
  • US shifts to speed vaccinations; won’t hold back 2nd doses
  • MAP: Covid-19 vaccination tracker across the U.S.
  • ‘Relieved’: US health workers start getting COVID-19 vaccine
  • FDA authorizes the first coronavirus vaccine, a rare moment of hope in pandemic
  • US panel endorses widespread use of Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine
  • In U.S. every state has its own COVID-19 vaccine distribution plan. Find the one for yours here.
  • Only half in US want shots as vaccine nears
  • US regulators post positive review of Pfizer vaccine data
  • Britain launches the West’s first mass coronavirus vaccination
  • Cases and deaths in the U.S. | Cases and deaths worldwide
  • Ethiopia Coronavirus Cases Reach 117,242
  • Ethiopia’s month-long conflict hampers efforts in fighting COVID-19 outbreaks
  • How Ethiopia prepared its health workforce for the COVID-19 response
  • Assessing Ethiopian women’s vulnerability to the COVID-19 pandemic
  • Pfizer CEO confident of getting U.S. advisory panel nod for COVID-19 vaccine
  • Demand for COVID-19 tests to outstrip supply for months, says Roche CEO
  • A year into COVID-19, U.N. declares a day of ‘epidemic preparedness’
  • WHO sees limited COVID-19 vaccine doses in early 2021
  • 2nd virus vaccine shows overwhelming success in U.S. tests
  • Pfizer’s Covid Vaccine: 11 Things You Need to Know
  • Ethiopia Coronavirus Cases Reach 100,327
  • Virus cases surpass 90K as schools reopen in Ethiopia
  • Refusing to wear a mask in Ethiopia could cost you two years in jail
  • Ethiopia: Schools to Start Regular Face to Face Classes With Covid-19 Precautions
  • 5 Ethiopian footballers contract coronavirus
  • WHO: 10% of world’s people may have been infected with virus
  • Global coronavirus death toll tops 1 million as U.N. chief warns that ‘misinformation kills’
  • ‘I feel sorry for Americans’: Baffled world watches USA
  • U.S. Covid-19 death toll surpasses 200,000
  • China’s BGI wins 1.5 million coronavirus test kit order from Ethiopia
  • Ethiopia Braces for Election Amid COVID19
  • The pandemic appears to have spared Africa so far. Scientists are struggling to explain why
  • Ethiopia opens facility to make coronavirus test kits
  • Ethiopia to make and export COVID-19 test kits
  • IN PICTURES: On the Frontline Against Covid-19 in Ethiopia – A Photo Essay
  • Oxford vaccine trial on hold because of potential safety issue
  • In Canada, EthioCare Volunteers Help Calgary Church Members After COVID-19 Outbreak
  • How Ethiopian Airlines’ Agility Saw It Through COVID With No Bailout
  • COVID-19: US Retailer Cancels Millions of Dollars of Garment Orders from Ethiopia
  • COVID-19 reveals risky life on the buses for Ethiopia’s child conductors
  • Ethiopians fight pandemic by early morning exercises
  • One of Ethiopia’s main coronavirus centres ‘nearly full’
  • A vision for post-pandemic mobility in African cities
  • COVID-19 Spreads Inside Ethiopian Detention Centers
  • Turkish factory in Ethiopia plans output amid COVID-19
  • Eritrean refugees in Ethiopia resist camp closure amid COVID-19 fears
  • COVID-19 is crushing Ethiopian entertainers, just when we need them the most
  • Chinese first lady donates medical supplies to Ethiopia
  • Over 25500 migrant Ethiopians return home in four months amid COVID-19 pandemic: IOM
  • In Jamaica Ethiopian Consulate Donates 1,000 Care Packages
  • Global coronavirus cases top 20M as Russia approves vaccine
  • In Ethiopia extreme Poverty Rises due to the coronavirus
  • U.S. infections surpass 5 million
  • Africa’s cases of COVID-19 top 1 million
  • Ethiopians struggle to cope with COVID-19 fears
  • 15,000 Ethiopian returnees receive emergency Covid-19 assistance at quarantine sites
  • The United States Provides Ventilators to Ethiopia to Respond to COVID-19
  • In Ethiopia, Health Ministry To Conduct 17 Million COVID-19 Tests Via Month-Long Campaign
  • Ethiopia Starts Covid Test Campaign; Cases Spike After Protests
  • As COVID starts to surge, Ethiopia battles complacency
  • Coronavirus – Ethiopia: COVID-19 Response Overview
  • Ethiopian Workers Are Forced to Return Home, Some With Coronavirus
  • Africa’s confirmed COVID-19 cases exceed 750,000
  • Coronavirus Deaths on the Rise in Almost Every Region of the U.S.
  • Ethiopian farmers slaughter thousands of chicks as COVID hits demand
  • 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 3.2 million reported cases
  • US Deaths From Coronavirus Surpass 134,000 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 begins COVID-19 vaccine rollout


    A healthcare personnel receives the first dose of the AstraZeneca/Oxford coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine at the EKA Kottebe hospital as vaccination process begins in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on March 13, 2021. (Photo: Minasse Wondimu Hailu – Anadolu Agency)

    By Addis Getachew | Anadolu Agency

    ADDIS ABABA — Hoping to curb a recent spike in infections, Ethiopia kicked off its COVID-19 vaccination drive on Saturday. Jabs were administered in several major cities, including the capital Addis Ababa, where top government officials and UN representatives attended a ceremony at the Eka General Hospital. Doctors, nurses, and support staff at the hospital, one of Ethiopia’s main COVID-19 treatment centers, were given shots of the AstraZeneca vaccine. Ethiopia received its first batch of 2.2 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine last week under the COVAX initiative, a project co-led by the World Health Organization (WHO) that aims to ensure equitable distribution of vaccines around the world. Speaking at the ceremony, Education Minister Getahun Mekuria said Ethiopia has been experiencing an alarming increase in infections over recent days. “Negligence is costing the nation dearly,” he warned.

    Read more »

    Survey identifies troubling effect of pandemic on where women give birth in Ethiopia

    In urban areas, delivery rates in lower-level health facilities increased and hospital deliveries decreased after social distancing restrictions were put in place

    By Johns Hopkins Magazine

    A new study from the Bloomberg School of Public Health and researchers at Addis Ababa University in Ethiopia has found that as of June, the proportion of women in urban areas—where COVID-19 rates were highest—who delivered in lower-level health facilities significantly increased while deliveries in hospitals declined. A pregnant woman’s place of delivery is a key maternal health service component that has a direct impact on pregnancy and newborn outcomes, and researchers have been monitoring how the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting women’s delivery patterns. The analysis was conducted using data from the Performance Monitoring for Action Ethiopia survey, led by Linnea Zimmerman, assistant professor in the Department of Population, Family, and Reproductive Health at the Bloomberg School, and Solomon Shiferaw and Assefa Seme at Addis Ababa University. The project is managed by Johns Hopkins global health affiliate Jhpiego and the Gates Institute. Results from the analysis also showed that at the national level, there was no difference in the proportion of women who delivered in a hospital and home delivery rates remained unchanged. Looking within urban areas, women who delivered during May and June, after COVID-19 restrictions started, were significantly less likely to deliver in a hospital relative to women who delivered prior to the pandemic.

    Read more »

    Ethiopia Coronavirus Cases Reach 188,902

    By Ministry of Health

    In Ethiopia, as of March 22nd, 2021, there have been 188,902 confirmed cases of COVID-19. Read more »

    Assessing Ethiopian women’s vulnerability to the COVID-19 pandemic

    By World Bank

    The novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) has devastating health and economic impacts globally and has disproportionately affected vulnerable groups. As highlighted in a blog published at the onset of the pandemic, the coronavirus is not gender-blind and pre-existing gender gaps may intensify during and after the pandemic due to worsening human capital, economic, and women’s agency outcomes.

    What can high-frequency phone survey data tell us about the gendered effects of the pandemic in Ethiopia?

    The short answer: A lot!

    Read more »

    How Ethiopia prepared its health workforce for the COVID-19 response


    Photo via the World Health Organization

    By The World Health Organization

    In a busy intensive care unit in Eka Kotebe General Hospital, Addis Ababa, Dr Samuel Getnet, 28, a newly-recruited young and energetic physician anxiously monitors the mechanical ventilators, an indispensable form of life support for COVID-19 patients with respiratory distress.

    “I never thought my professional journey would bring me to the place where I’m today—at the center of COVID-19 pandemic management team—treating and caring for the most severely ill patients who critically need my support and care. Despite the challenges and risks, I am grateful for the opportunity to serve my people at this critical time,” he said.

    Dr Getnet is a general practitioner who came on board as part of the surge capacity planning for human resources announced by the Ethiopian Ministry of Health in February 2020. Before starting his duty in the intensive care unit, he received in-person training from the World Health Organization (WHO), with practical sessions taking place in the hospital. The topics he covered include case management, use of personal protective equipment (PPE), infection prevention and control (IPC), and the application and use of mechanical ventilation. He also benefited from online WHO resources such as Open WHO.org.

    Read more »

    ‘Relieved’: US health workers start getting COVID-19 vaccine


    Sandra Lindsay, left, a nurse at Long Island Jewish Medical Center, is inoculated with the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine by Dr. Michelle Chester, Monday, Dec. 14, 2020, in the Queens borough of New York. (AP Photo)

    By The Associated Press

    The biggest vaccination campaign in U.S. history kicked off Monday as health workers rolled up their sleeves for shots to protect them from COVID-19 and start beating back the pandemic — a day of optimism even as the nation’s death toll closed in on 300,000.

    “I feel hopeful today. Relieved,” critical care nurse Sandra Lindsay said after getting a shot in the arm at Long Island Jewish Medical Center in New York.

    With a countdown of “3-2-1,” workers at Ohio State University’s Wexner Medical Center gave the first injections to applause.

    And in New Orleans, Steven Lee, an intensive care unit pharmacist at Ochsner Medical Center, summed up the moment as he got his own vaccination: “We can finally prevent the disease as opposed to treating it.”

    Other hospitals around the country, from Rhode Island to Texas, unloaded precious frozen vials of vaccine made by Pfizer Inc. and its German partner BioNTech, with staggered deliveries set throughout the day and Tuesday. A few other countries have authorized the vaccine, including Britain, which started vaccinating people last week, and Canada, which began doing so on Monday.

    For health care workers, who along with nursing home residents will be first in line for vaccination, hope is tempered by grief and the sheer exhaustion of months spent battling a coronavirus that still is surging in the U.S. and around the world.

    Read more »

    IN PICTURES: On the Frontline Against Covid-19 in Ethiopia – A Photo Essay


    Frontline workers at the Eka Kotebe hospital. (Photo by Yonas Tadesse)

    By Yonas Tadesse

    The first case of Covid-19 in Ethiopia was reported on 13 March, when a team of first responders took in a 48-year-old Japanese man. Having never seen anything like his condition, they did not know what to prepare for, and thus started their new normal of battling the coronavirus in Ethiopia.

    Doctors, nurses, janitors, security guards and drivers donned hats they had never dreamed of wearing as they worked to develop systems and techniques to minimise the damage from the virus – often at the cost of their health, their home lives, their reputations, and sometimes their lives.

    Read more and see the photos at theguardian.com »

    FACTBOX- Worldwide coronavirus cases cross 67.72 million, death toll at 1,548,575

    By Reuters

    More than 67.72 million people have been reported to be infected by the novel coronavirus globally and 1,548,575​ have died, according to a Reuters tally. Infections have been reported in more than 210 countries and territories since the first cases were identified in China in December 2019.

    Read more »

    Africa’s cases of COVID-19 top 1 million

    By Reuters

    Africa’s confirmed cases of COVID-19 have surpassed 1 million, a Reuters tally showed on Thursday, as the disease began to spread rapidly through a continent whose relative isolation has so far spared it the worst of the pandemic. The continent recorded 1,003,056 cases, of which 21,983 have died and 676,395 recovered. South Africa – which is the world’s fifth worst-hit nation and makes up more than half of sub-Saharan Africa’s case load – has recorded 538,184 cases since its first case on March 5, the health ministry said on Thursday. Low levels of testing in several countries, apart from South Africa, mean Africa’s infection rates are likely to be higher than reported, experts say. 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 »


    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.

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

  • Ethiopian Diaspora Trust Fund Announces Board Vacancy and Request for Proposal

    The Ethiopian Diaspora Trust Fund is a U.S.-based non-profit organization established to mobilize the Ethiopian Diaspora to raise funds and support Ethiopian projects at home. (Courtesy image)

    Press Release

    Board Vacancy at the Friends of EDTF (FEDTF)

    We are excited to invite you to apply or nominate to be a member of the Board of the Friends of Ethiopia Diaspora Trust Fund (FEDTF). FEDTF is a US incorporated non-profit entity with the primary mission of mobilizing resources from the Diaspora and channel them to projects that promote inclusive development of Ethiopia and impact livelihoods. It is governed by the Board of Directors in conformity to best governance practices under US laws.

    More info at ethiopiatrustfund.org »

    Request for Proposal

    Operations and Management at Friends of EDTF, INC.

    Issued by: Friends of EDTF, INC.
    Submissions to be sent to: Lulite Ejigu (Email: Board@EthiopiaTrustFund.org)

    Introduction & Background

    Friends of EDTF, INC. a non-profit organization organized to mobilize the Ethiopian Diaspora to raise funds and support Ethiopian projects at home. As part of the FEDTF’s renewed organizational initiative to be more visible, responsive and transparent and to increase its operational capability, it is looking to hire a management and operations support team. To this end it is issuing a Request for Proposal (“RFP”).

    We invite and encourage qualified persons or firms who can provide high quality support in fundraising, administration, and other general day-to-day management of the organization to apply.

    This management and operations support would help implement FEDTF’s enhanced vision and strategy to raise more funds to have meaningful impact in the lives of our brothers’ and sisters’ back in Ethiopia. In response to this RFP, qualified applicants must be capable to provide the following:

    1. Develop a fundraising strategy engaging the diverse Ethiopian Diaspora Communities, including milestones and a timeline for targeted growth for FEDTF;
    2. Develop a grant strategy to raise funds from national and global grant giving organizations
    3. Develop a strategy to raise funds from corporations as part of their CSR programs
    4. Develop a timely and transparent communication plan to reach out to its donors and all stakeholders and manage donor relationships effectively
    5. Increase its fundraising dollars as well as develop a global core of strategic partners and donors
    6. Propose, organize, and implement fundraising events including assisting EDTF chapters across the globe;
    7. Manage and Oversee the execution of new large scale multi-million dollar development projects on the ground in Ethiopia.

    The objective of this RFP is to identify and select a candidate that will provide the best overall value – both financial and programmatic, to the Foundation. While cost is a significant factor, other criteria will also be considered as the basis of the award decision, as fully described in the Evaluation Factors section below.

    Submission Guidelines & Requirements

    The following submission guidelines & requirements apply to this RFP:

    1. Only qualified individuals or firms with prior experience in the required activities listed above.
    2. Potential bidders must notify the Foundation with a letter of intent no later than March 26, 2021.
    3. Bidders should have experience working on the African continent and/or have experience running projects with stakeholders across the globe.
    4. Bidders should be able to highlight how they have mobilized both volunteers and fundraised resources for projects of similar scale.
    5. Bidders must list projects that are substantially similar to this project as part of their response. Examples of work and references will be requested if chosen.
    6. A technical proposal must be provided that doesn’t exceed four pages. This technical
    proposal must provide an overview of the proposed solution including, milestones and
    time tables as applicable.
    7. A cost breakdown must be provided on a separate sheet, not more than one page. This should indicate the overall fixed cost for the project as well as any potential variable costs.
    8. Proposals must be signed by the applicant or, if for a company, by a representative that is authorized to commit company.
    9. If you have a standard set of terms and conditions, please submit them with your proposal.
    10. Proposals must be received on or before March 31, 2021 to be considered.
    11. Proposals and financial quotations must remain valid for a period of 60 days.
    12. Friends of EDTF, INC. would select the winner of the awards after completing its in depth discussions and negotiations with bidders.

    Project Description

    The purpose of this project is as follows:

    The purpose of this project is to improve our management and operations efficiency and productivity so that we can expand our capabilities to implement our mission to connect the large Ethiopian diaspora community from across the globe fulfill its desire to support socio-economic development projects in Ethiopia.

    The description of the project is as follows:

    To manage the day-to-day operations overseeing grant management, administration activities, and improve fundraising efforts; including identifying and soliciting new strategic partners and expanding the donor base.

    The criteria set forth below should be met to achieve successful completion of the RFP:

    1. Strategic Plan for (2021-2025)
    2. Expansion of donor base including significant strategic partners
    3. Refinement of grant & fundraising management as well as reporting processes, including enhancing reporting with key data elements to highlight performance
    4. Enhanced operations procedures based on strategic plan assessment

    Acceptance of the work is contingent on the following acceptance criteria:

    1. Effective action plan that is adopted by the Board of Directors
    2. Updated and adopted operations procedures by the Board of Directors

    RFP & Project Timelines

    The Contract period shall commence as soon as practicable following the date of award. The minimum length of the contract is until December 31, 2021. The Board of Directors, at its sole discretion, may elect to extend for an additional four (4) one (1) year option periods.

    Evaluation Factors

    Friends of EDTF, Inc. will rate proposals based on the following factors, with cost being the most important factor:

    1. Responsiveness to the requirements set forth in this RFP
    2. Relevant past performance/experience
    3. Cost, including an assessment of total cost of ownership
    4. Technical expertise/experience of bidder and bidder’s staff

    Friends of EDTF, Inc. reserves the right to award to the bidder that presents the best value to Friends of EDTF, INC. as determined solely by Friends of EDTF, INC. in its absolute discretion.

    The FEDTF Board of Directors also reserves the right to cancel this RFP, in whole or in part, at its own discretion

    Learn more at ethiopiatrustfund.org »

    Related:

    EDTF Launches Emergency COVID19 Fund

    Update: EDTF procures $1.173 Million medical supplies for campaign against COVID-19 in Ethiopia

    Ethiopian Diaspora Trust Fund: Q&A with Dr. Bisrat Aklilu

    EDTF Ethiopia Board Announced

    Ways to Boost Donor Participation for the Ethiopian Diaspora Trust Fund

    Few Takeaways From EDTF Press Conference at Ethiopian Embassy in DC

    Interview: Dr. Lemma Senbet on the Diaspora Trust Fund & Chapter Formation

    Interview with Dr. Bisrat Aklilu About the Ethiopian Diaspora Trust Fund

    A Diaspora Trust Fund for Ethiopia (Tadias Editorial/July 10th, 2018)

    You can learn more at https://www.ethiopiatrustfund.org/

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    Columbia University News Series: Meet Etsegenet Kedir Mohammed

    Etsegenet Kedir Mohammed is a student at Columbia University's School of Social Work and is from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. (Columbia News)

    Columbia News

    This is part of a Columbia News series introducing members of the University’s Scholarship for Displaced Students, a program administered by Columbia Global Centers.

    Etsegenet Kedir Mohammed is a student at Columbia University’s School of Social Work and is from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. We checked in with her to learn more about her studies and her plans for the future.

    What are you studying?

    I’m currently studying for my master’s degree in social work. I am hoping to go for the clinical social work track.

    Where are you currently living?

    In Alexandria, Virginia.

    What are your goals for the future?

    My future goal is to serve marginalized groups of people in society through direct practice, advocacy, and activism on social policies that need to be amended or even created.

    What do you wish more people knew about Ethiopia?

    Ethiopia is one of the first countries in the world that officially accepted Christianity. Out of the various Christian denominations followed in the country, the Ethiopian Orthodox Church is one of the largest and oldest.

    Ethiopia has its own calendar that has 13 months. For this reason, Ethiopia is called a country of 13 months of sunshine. Ethiopians also measure hours of the day differently from most other countries in the world. Ethiopia is one of the very few countries that has never been colonized during the colonial era.

    Learn more about Columbia Global Centers at globalcenters.columbia.edu.

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    Ethiopia-born Minister on Immigration Amid COVID ‘Even in Wars, We Didn’t Stop’

    Pnina Tamano-Shata, who immigrated when she was 3, says her firsthand knowledge of the ‘difficulties there are in coming to Israel’ made her want to help new arrivals. (Photo: Immigration and Absorption Minister Pnina Tamano-Shata in an undated photo/Natan Weil/Government Press Office)

    Times of Israel

    JTA — To immigrate to Israel from Ethiopia, Pnina Tamano-Shata’s family had to trek on foot through the desert to Sudan in the middle of a famine.

    Later, the truck bringing her mother and two of her sisters to the airfield broke down. It wasn’t until the plane doors closed that Tamano-Shata realized that they would not be traveling with her, her father and the rest of her family. She was 3 years old. It would be a year before she saw her mother again.

    But Tamano-Shata still describes the experience in magical terms. So when, 36 years later, as Israel’s immigration and absorption minister, she was tasked with deciding whether to allow immigration to Israel during the pandemic last year, it was a no-brainer. She kept the gates open.

    “Even in wars, we didn’t stop aliyah,” Tamano-Shata, 40, said recently in a Zoom interview with the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, using the Hebrew term for Jewish immigration. “We came here from the Iron Curtain, from Arab countries, from Ethiopia. The corona is going to stop us?”


    In this photo from the Jewish Agency, Immigration Minister Pnina Tamano-Shata (left) and Jewish Agency Chairman Isaac Herzog (center) greet 119 new immigrants from Ethiopia at Ben Gurion Airport, May 21, 2020. (Shlomi Amsalem)

    When Tamano-Shata tells her story, and connects it to Israel’s present challenges, it doesn’t come across as overwrought. The first Ethiopian Jew to serve in an Israeli cabinet, she came to Israel on Operation Moses, the secret 1984 mission to bring Jews who had crossed the border into Sudan to Israel. The harrowing experience, and her joy upon reaching Israel, irrevocably shaped her.

    Read more »

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    UPDATE: DOJ Documents Show Who is Lobbying U.S Officials on Ethiopia Issues

    According to documents filed with the U.S. Justice Department: "Last month, the Ethiopian Embassy hired the lobbying firm Venable for government relations help through the end of April at a monthly rate of $35,000. [And] Last week, the Alexandria, Va.,-based Tigray Center for Information and Communication retained the lobbying firm Von Batten-Montague-York to apply pressure on the Ethiopian government." - Politico. (Photo: Venable offices in Washington, D.C/ALM and Montagueyork.com)

    Politico

    Who is lobbying in the Ethiopia conflict as Coons heads to Addis Ababa

    — Both the Ethiopian government and Tigrayan advocates have enlisted help in Washington in recent months. Last month, the Ethiopian Embassy hired the lobbying firm Venable for government relations help through the end of April at a monthly rate of $35,000, according to documents filed with the Justice Department. Their work has included outreach to at least three Democratic senators, including at least one call between Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) and Ethiopian Ambassador Fitsum Arega, according to DOJ filings. Venable declined to comment on their representation of the embassy.

    — Last week, the Alexandria, Va.,-based Tigray Center for Information and Communication retained the lobbying firm Von Batten-Montague-York to push the Biden administration and Congress “for the removal of all Eritrean military personnel and militia from Tigray,” as well as to apply pressure to the Ethiopian government to allow open access to humanitarian assistance and the appointment of an independent investigator to prove claims of war crimes against the Tigray people.

    — Another lobbying disclosure filed earlier this week revealed that Platinum Advisors DC hired former Rep. Connie Mack (R-Fla.) back in December as a subcontractor to lobby for support for increased humanitarian assistance for Ethiopia on behalf of JM International, a real estate development and petroleum distribution company based in Virginia.

    Read the full article at politico.com »

    Related:

    U.S. Announces Additional Humanitarian Assistance for the Tigray Crisis Response

    FP EXCLUSIVE: Biden Sends Closest Ally Senator Chris Coons to Ethiopia

    UPDATE: U.N. Rights Chief Agrees to Ethiopia Request for Joint Tigray Inquiry

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    Meet Hana Getachew: The Textile Designer Bringing Ethiopian Craft to New Audience

    NYC-based Textile designer and owner of Bolé Road Textiles Hana Getachew collaborates with artisans living and working in Ethiopia. (Courtesy of Bolé Road Textiles)

    Business of Home

    The textile designer bringing Ethiopian craft to a new audience

    It might not seem ideal to split a small business across two continents—but for textile designer Hana Getachew it’s essential. To produce her collections of ethically sourced handwoven pillows, throws and linens, the Kingston, New York–based owner of Bolé Road Textiles collaborates with artisans living and working in Ethiopia. For Getachew, the thread has always been there.

    Her family left their home in Ethiopia when she was 3, relocating first to Canada for a few years before settling in New York. It wasn’t until Getachew was in college that she returned to her home country to visit family and experienced a deeper cultural immersion. “It ended up being this pretty powerful homecoming that I didn’t anticipate,” she tells Business of Home. “It was seeing all that in its original form, in its undiluted and un-Americanized form, that was really powerful—to go to the source.”

    After graduating from Cornell University with a degree in interior design, Getachew spent 11 years at an architecture firm designing commercial interiors and office spaces. Still, she couldn’t shake the impression her trip to Ethiopia had made on her. In 2014, she quit her job and took the plunge—traveling down Bolé Road in her birthplace of Addis Ababa, she hit the pavement to find the partners with whom she would launch her textile business.

    “Here I am, I don’t have any credentials, I don’t have a business, and I don’t have a lot of funds. … In retrospect, it’s kind of comical,” she says. “I stuck with the people who were curious and interested and didn’t brush me away.”

    Those same artisans and vendors Getachew encountered on that trip are still working with Bolé Road Textiles today. The decision to partner with artisans based in Ethiopia was partly a matter of quality—the weaving looms there differ from those commonly used in the West, requiring a high skill level to create the intricate geometric patterns featured on many of the brand’s pillows. Plus, there’s no formal training for this method—the weavers and artisans, who are predominantly male, are taught by their fathers and grandfathers. Women more frequently serve as the business owners of textile workshops, many of which are formed as collectives that divide labor and share profits equally—including Bolé Road’s partner company.

    In most cases, Getachew’s design process begins with a place. Take, for example, the Harar collection, inspired by a city in eastern Ethiopia. The vibrancy of the town’s bustling markets and colorful dress is juxtaposed with the centuries-old walls surrounding it. “How would I create a collection that tells the story of Harar?” says Getachew. “It became these geometric forms from the rigid architecture, to a lot of bold, bright colors from the streetscape.” The result is a striking collection of textiles in vibrant, deeply saturated hues—think fuchsia, cobalt and maroon—marked with lively patterns of intersecting lines.

    Since Bolé Road made its debut at the Brooklyn Designs show in 2015, the company’s growth has varied from year to year. However, according to Getachew, that changed this summer—largely due to the push to support Black-owned businesses in the wake of George Floyd’s death and the racial reckoning that followed. She experienced such an outpouring of press inquiries, orders, and requests for partnerships beginning in June 2020 that she began to have frank conversations with those reaching out to her about issues of equity and representation.

    “My response has evolved,” she says. “At first, I was just overwhelmed. I came to the conclusion that it will start to feel manageable and digestible if the cards were out on the table—if we were more transparent [in] talking about the bigger context about why this person was across the screen from me.”


    Textile designer Hana Getachew in her studio. (Courtesy of Bolé Road Textiles)

    Getachew also began to reflect on her own experiences—including the lack of representation during her early years in corporate architecture. She called some of her old colleagues and clients and began a series of conversations that would form the basis of the International Interior Design Association of New York’s newly founded Equity Council, whose mission is “to achieve equity and accountability toward increased diversity and inclusion in the design industry.” Though still in its early stages, the group recently brought on consultants from Racial Equity Partners. It also plans to distribute a pledge later this year, which Getachew says will borrow inspiration from the 15 Percent Pledge (a commitment by retailers to buy 15 percent of their merchandise from Black-owned businesses), while also including steps companies can take to create a more equitable workplace.

    Read more »

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    Video: U.S. Mission to the AU in Ethiopia

    Jessica Lapenn (left) is the U.S. Ambassador to the African Union in Addis Ababa. This week Ambassador Lapenn, who is also the U.S. Permanent Representative to the UN Economic Commission for Africa, spoke to African students at the 2021 African Leadership Academy Model African Union Conference (ALAMAU), which is inspired by the similar Model UN program. Watch the video below. (Photo courtesy of U.S. Mission to AU)

    Press Release

    U.S. Mission to the African Union

    Ambassador Lapenn addressed an amazing group of young African students at the opening ceremony of the African Leadership Academy Model African Union Conference (ALAMAU). ALAMAU is an annual conference for young leaders around Africa and across the world, simulating the activities of the AU. ALAMAU was established in 2013 as a platform for young leaders to develop practicable solutions to African developmental challenges through diplomacy and international cooperation, in a Model UN inspired format. Amb. Lapenn’s remarks focused on the importance of pan-Africanism and the huge role young people will have in shaping the future of Africa.

    Video: ALAMAU 2021 Opening Ceremony (ALA Model African Union)

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    Spotlight: Ethiopian-Canadian R&B/Neo-Soul Artist Liza

    Born and raised in Toronto, Liza grew up in a traditional Ethiopian household immersed with the Ethiopian musical culture. (Photo: Liza © Zachary Zewudia)

    Atwood Magazine

    TODAY’S SONG: LIZA’S “DONE IS DONE” BRINGS SOULFUL NEW MEANING TO DESOLATION

    R&B and Neo-Soul artist Liza tells the story of love fading away and how much of it is worth saving in her hauntingly cathartic single, “DONE IS DONE.”

    For artists who leave trails of their talent behind in bright, lively, feel-good music, a venture into the world of melancholy songs can sometimes be surprising. However, when the song comes from Ethiopian-Canadian R&B/Neo-Soul artist Liza, it is far from shocking. Liza is a voice for the R&B sound today, blending rhythm with soul, no matter what stage of living her soul might be in. From her first few singles off February 29 (2017) to her latest 2021 release, “ROLLA,” it’s always been evident that the writing, the sound, and the music that go into Liza’s tracks are authentic, and for the first time, so is her new haunting, desolate single, “DONE IS DONE.”


    DONE IS DONE – Liza

    Her switch from upbeat R&B songs to a track like “DONE IS DONE” isn’t surprising because of the artist’s truthfulness in her art. With enchanting vocals, melodic trills, and captivating, soul-soothing melodies, the song is a pathway to Liza’s up-and-coming eclectic sound. “Just like the words said / They can’t be unsaid / Tears can’t be unshed,” Liza sings. As a listener, it is easy to follow her story, whether she’s singing of a newfound romance or a love that’s dying out. “DONE IS DONE,” is the sequel to the artist’s previous single, “ROLLA.” Where “ROLLA” narrates the excitement of falling in love, her newest single tells of the yearning for closure after a broken heart is left behind.

    Produced by Akeel Henry (Jeremih, dvsn, and Ty Dolla $ign) and Kofo (Wizkid and Kaash Paige), Liza’s soulful vocals paired with harmonies from vocalist Nevon Sinclair bring the sound of heartache drowned in R&B to light on the track. Initially writing “DONE IS DONE” as a poem, Liza has since been able to eloquently articulate her feelings in retrospect. Drawing from her upbringing in Toronto, Canada where a mix of different cultures inspired her sound, artists like Brandy, Sade, Aster Aweke, and traditional Ethiopian sounds can often be found in a lot of the artist’s music. On “DONE IS DONE,” you’ll hear a perfect blend of all of the above where Liza’s open lyricism and questions of where love went wrong are synced to the song’s wandering, heartfelt sound.


    Liza © Zachary Zewudia

    “I find that sometimes I have a hard time learning to let go of things, and people. I tend to let good memories overshadow the present reality of a given situation and, as a result, I don’t immediately recognize when something is no longer working. When I wrote this song, I initially wrote it as a poem and I was going through many life transitions at the time – dealing with the end of some really important relationships. It was months later where Nevon read my poem and told me that it should be a song. We worked together to bring it to what it is now and it was a really deep and beautiful experience. Through the making of this song, I realized and accepted that even though relationships may come to an end, that doesn’t mean that it didn’t serve its purpose.”

    “Dead roses don’t come back to life,” she sings. The magic of hearing an artist embrace something like the sadness you’re left wondering “When did we go down?” especially after a discography of light, carefree songs is in the fact that they’re embracing every emotional part of the human experience. “DONE IS DONE” showcases Liza’s darker, more sorrowful side, and it’s something that listeners will be able to relate to, just as much as they relate to her songs about giving up everything for the one you love. Her artistry is versatile and entering a new phase, one that shows how soul – as a genre and as a human experience – has a place in every kind of music.

    Liza has been most recently featured on Daniel Caesar‘s latest project, CASE STUDY 01 as well as Michelle Obama’s Higher Ground Official Spotify Playlist. Her original music serves as the soundtracks for hit TV shows like “Twenties” on BET and “Grown-ish” on ABC. Her plans to release more new music are forthcoming in the Spring of 2021. In the meantime, stream “DONE IS DONE,” and keep up to date with all things Liza by following her socials below!

    Stream: “DONE IS DONE” – Liza

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    Spotlight: College Friends Ephrem Abebe & Steve Chu, Co-founders of Ekiben in Baltimore

    College friends Ephrem Abebe & Steve Chu are Co-founders of Ekiben, an up-and-coming Asian fusion restaurant in Baltimore, Maryland. Their business "has become known, not only for its legendary steamed buns, but also for uniting the community." (Baltimore Magazine)

    Baltimore Magazine

    How Ekiben Went From a Modest Start-Up to the Toast of the Town

    As the pounding beat from a hip-hop heavy playlist fills the room, the Ekiben team gets to work: Chicken gets dropped in the deep fryer, broccoli is battered, and the kitchen staff hustles at the line, piling pork shoulder and mango-papaya slaw into cardboard containers scrawled with a handdrawn heart and the words, “Thank you! Ekiben Fam.” The pulsing music sets the tone, and the air is electric with energy, as the mostly young staff steadily works to fill orders for steamed bun sandwiches and rice bowls brimming with Thai chicken meatballs or tofu in spicy peanut sauce.

    By nightfall, beneath the black-and-white awning at the Hampden eatery’s entrance, the line continues to grow, and not just because COVID-19 has forced the spot to allow only one customer inside at a time. Beginning at 11 a.m., when the lunch shift starts, the joint is jumping. And by night’s end, some hundreds of Neighborhood Bird sandwiches—that is, Ekiben’s legendary Taiwanese curried chicken on a steamed bun—will fly past the vestibule plastered with manga and out the double glass doors. Of course, an equivalent scene is also unfolding at the Ekiben in Fells Point, the first brick-and-mortar location of this Asian-fusion street food spot that opened on Eastern Avenue in 2016.

    This second location of Ekiben opened in February 2020, on a scrappy, off-the-beaten-path alley in Hampden just weeks before the pandemic hit, though that hasn’t stopped patrons from finding it. And while the past year has led to a major loss of revenue from their sizeable events business—some 172 catering gigs were canceled in 2020 alone—the nightly takeout grind at both locations has largely stayed steady, in part because Ekiben was already geared toward grab-and-go.

    “It took eight months to build in Hampden what took us five years to build in Fells Point,” says Steve Chu, who co-owns Ekiben with his college friend Ephrem Abebe. “It’s kind of crazy.”

    Since the opening of the original space, the restaurant has earned praise from Travel & Leisure, Vogue, and Eater, in addition to landing a spot on Yelp’s coveted list of top 100 restaurants in the United States and being named a Rising Star by StarChefs D.C.-Chesapeake. And while Chu says the national recognition is great, it’s the locals who keep the place going. “I’ve come here once a week since it opened,” says Hampden resident Jeff Crumb. “Every time we get it, the food is consistently great.”

    “This all comes from the support of the city and the people who live here,” says Abebe, 31, who oversees operations, while Chu serves as chef/CFO/marketing maven—“basically, everything else,” says Chu. “Baltimore is a true blue-collar city and likes seeing the success of small-time businesses and people growing and grinding it out. We get tourists coming in, but it’s the people two doors down who are sustaining us. The community has allowed us to get to this point.”

    Case in point: Baltimore resident Tony Trapp was a customer long before he started working at the Ekiben in Fells Point three years ago. “I loved the food,” says Trapp, who is now a manager at the Hampden location. “But I also love working here—everyone here is like family.”

    In fact, the culturally diverse staff, hailing from all over the world—the Philippines, Mexico, Honduras, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, China, Korea, Taiwan—refers to Chu and Abebe as “mom” and “dad,” respectively. “I guess I’m dad because my jokes are like dad jokes,” says Abebe, who is a dad to a toddler boy. “And Steve is super nurturing and helpful. He’s always there for you and gives good advice.”

    Chu’s own dad, who immigrated from Taiwan in the ’70s and opened Pikesville’s Jumbo Seafood in 1993, practically raised his only son in the Chinese food restaurant, though, Chu, whose parents were divorced by the time he was 2, hated hanging out there.

    “When you’re an immigrant running a restaurant, you definitely can’t afford childcare,” says Chu, whose uncle also owns a restaurant, Sonny Lee’s in Reisterstown. “I hated going to the restaurant because I didn’t have anything to do. I would roll glasses off the table until a busser told me to stop or my dad would stick me in his office, which is smaller than Harry Potter’s closet. During dinner service, my dad would tell me to lay down and go to sleep and I’d have a tablecloth as blankets, which were starched and very cold. And, once in a while, he’d open the door and all of this light would come rushing in and he’d drop this big plate of food that no 4-year-old could ever finish, and I’d eat in the dark because I couldn’t reach the light switch.”

    But reading Anthony Bourdain’s Kitchen Confidential at the ripe old age of 13 gave him a new perspective. “I was like, ‘I think I can do this, minus the hard drugs,’” cracks the 30-year-old Chu. “That book convinced me that it was going to be a fun ride.”

    In the meantime, Chu’s dad put his growing son to work at Jumbo Seafood, running paper ticket orders to the kitchen, working the register, and answering the phones throughout his teen years. “At 14, I was awkward and chubby, and shy,” says Chu. “I didn’t want to be talking to people. I hated it, because I wasn’t learning anything. I was like, ‘I don’t f**king want to be here.’ It was awful.”

    When Chu reminisces about his past, it’s clear that those years spent at Jumbo were formative. And though he tells it with a sense of humor, and peppers his stories with expletives, the pain is still palpable, as he recounts facing an age-old issue—the tug between putting family first versus the desire to chase one’s own dreams.

    By the time he attended University of Maryland Baltimore County in 2008, he was majoring in economics and contemplating a career in law or teaching economics. Instead, he had an epiphany. “I realized that I loved restaurants,” he says. “I love going to them. That’s kind of like my theater. Running a restaurant is like putting on a show for your clientele. This business is so labor-intensive, I figured I’d do it while I still had the energy.”

    It was also at UMBC where he met Abebe and Nick Yesupriya, a third Ekiben founder who has since left the business, while working for Habitat for Humanity. The trio shared a dream about opening a restaurant together, though it was Chu who really put himself on the path to pursue a career in hospitality.

    “It pissed my family off so much,” says Chu, who landed a job as a line cook at Chipotle Mexican Grill his junior year. “The whole idea behind going to college is you are learning skills to take you to a higher-paying job. In our family, if you’re studying economics, you’d better go into banking or doing something white collar, not graduating with college debt and making nine dollars an hour at Chipotle, which is what I did—they were so mad.”

    While still at UMBC, he became obsessed with not only working at Chipotle, but reflecting on why it was such a success story. “It was just all the flavor profiles. The rice was delicious, the smokiness of the chicken, how the sour cream balances out all the heaviness but still adds fat to it, having that romaine lettuce in there instead of iceberg—all the things they did there was pretty life-changing,” says Chu. “What Chipotle showed me was that Americans are ready for this food culture revolution. I don’t have to go get prime rib if I want a good meal.”

    By his senior year, Chu had landed a job at ShopHouse, a Southeast Asian spinoff concept by Chipotle founder Steve Ells. At ShopHouse, he worked alongside luminary chefs such as the Michelin-starred Kyle Connaughton and James Beard Award-winning Nate Appleman. “I was head toilet-scrubber and mop lord,” he says with a laugh. “Eventually, they brought me up to management.” But the killer commute from his dad’s home in Reisterstown to D.C. led him to quit after a year.

    In 2013, Chu was working as a server at Petit Louis, which he says was one of the most formative restaurant experiences he’s ever had. From the maître d’ Patrick Del Valle, he learned “intense attention to detail and taking care of every guest who walks in the door,” he says. “Patrick and [then] sommelier John Kelley also taught me how to taste.”


    Photography by Matt Roth

    At Louis, Chu also learned that not every chef communicated by screaming. “Every chef I ever worked for prior to going to Louis was fire and brimstone,” he says. “My dad was fiery—if the delivery guys were late, he’d shout obscene things. But Ben Lefenfeld [the chef at the time, who is now the owner of La Cuchara] was the calmest chef I’ve ever met. I never saw him yell at anyone, and if he got really mad, he’d get really quiet and you could see it on his face. I had a lot of respect for that.”

    After only a few months, Chu reluctantly quit when his father’s manager fell ill and he was needed back at Jumbo. Once the crisis was resolved, he applied for restaurant jobs in New York and got a coveted gig as a line cook at Kin Shop, a Greenwich Village restaurant owned by Harold Dieterle, a Top Chef winner from season one. It was his dream job, but once again, family duty beckoned when his grandparents both got sick and he came back to Maryland to help his father with the business. When things settled down, he had the itch to pursue his own dreams.

    “I wanted to have a creative outlet, but Jumbo wasn’t the right place for that.” He reached out to Abebe and Yesupriya to see if they were still interested in opening a restaurant. “I was like, ‘I know that we talk about this all the time. Are you guys in?’ And they were like, ‘Let’s do it.’”

    Abebe, an Ethiopian immigrant who had studied IT at UMBC, was eager to join forces with his friend whose early lessons of watching his father work at Jumbo served him well. “Steve is a hard worker,” says Abebe. “He will outwork anyone, and I appreciate that in people. Going into business with him was a no-brainer for me.”

    Initially, they set out to get a food truck. “But a food truck is like $80,000,” says Chu. “I did some research and found a hot-dog cart. That was $3,000 and we didn’t have the money. Still, we had to work and save up for it and asked our friends for micro loans. We’d be like, ‘Can we borrow 50 bucks?’ and they’re like, ‘What the f**k? Just take it.’”

    The concept for steamed buns came about organically because Chu says he’s always loved steamed bun sandwiches. “The buns themselves are a staple of my childhood,” he says. “My grandparents ate them every morning. I just felt like they were underutilized in America. You have a lot of really bad steamed bun sandwiches here. I thought that it was a disservice to our culture. I was like, ‘I’m going to make this a lot better.’”

    In the early days at the Fells Point Farmers Market, using the kitchen at Jumbo Seafood to test recipes during off hours and a hot-dog cart they ended up building themselves, business got off to a slow start.

    “Day one was awful,” recalls Chu, who continued to work at Jumbo six days a week while running the cart on the weekends. “On paper, we had the best spot right by the Inner Harbor water taxis where 16,000 tourists a day would walk by. And we were like, ‘Hey, would you like some of our Asian steamed bun sandwiches filled with chicken meatballs, mango-papaya slaw, and roasted garlic aromatics?’ And they’d be like, ‘Do you have crabcakes?’”

    But over time, thanks to exposure at local events like Artscape and the Emporiyum, word traveled locally that their buns were a must-try.

    By March 2016, close to a year after the Baltimore Uprising, they opened Ekiben in Fells Point, a speck of a spot with a counter, a closet-sized kitchen, and a bunch of barstools on the site of a former Mexican restaurant.

    “We realized that the city was super divided at that time,” says Chu. “But when you travel a lot, you realize that people are just people. We all want the same thing. We all want to be happy. We all want to be taken care of and be heard. In America, you can have a very divided culture, and if you just sat down and talked to someone for five minutes, you’d realize we are not very different. We built this space around the idea that everyone listens to the same music and everyone eats the same food.”

    One look at the community board in Hampden plastered with photos, picture everything from catering gigs for the Ravens to photos of Ekiben staff members feeding the health care heroes at area hospitals, and it’s clear that the eatery has, in fact, been a unifier.

    “It’s been amazing to see the growth,” says Ekiben Hampden’s general manager, Mary Ann Delano, who is also a friend from the UMBC days. “I remember when this was just an idea. I was an environmental science major in college, and I wasn’t sure I was going to stick with this, but they’ve put so much trust in me and we’re like family here in our own little world.”

    “Steve is just one of the most genuine people I’ve ever worked with,” says Lefenfeld. “He’s always trying to bring the people up around him, which is really important in this industry and at this time. He’s a great representation of the cooking scene in Baltimore.”

    Though he’s finally broken out on his own, for Chu, who still works the dinner shift at Jumbo Seafood on Christmas—the restaurant’s busiest day of the year—all roads lead back to family.

    “As a kid, riding around in the backseat of my dad’s car, one of the first lessons he ever taught me was ‘whatever you do, you have to be the best,’” recounts Chu. “At the time, I was like, ‘Okay, whatever, I’m like 3 years old.’”

    Decades later, the throngs outside the restaurant’s doors are living proof that he’s done just that.

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    Science: Gigantic Stone Stripes Etched Across Ethiopia Pose an Ancient Mystery

    What created the gigantic stone stripes across the central Sanetti Plateau in the Bale Mountains? As part of the research, scientists looked at moraine boulder samples in the Bale and Arsi Mountains, rocks that would once have been carried along by glaciers. (Image: Groos et al., Earth Surface Dynamics, 2021)

    Science Alert

    ENVIRONMENT

    Gigantic Stone ‘Tiger Stripes’ Etched Across Ethiopia Pose an Ancient Mystery

    If we want to predict our planet’s future under climate change, we must better understand what has happened on Earth before, even hundreds of thousands of years in the past.

    New research into the Ethiopian Highlands during the Last Glacial Period helps do just that. As well as answering some geological questions, it has also raised up a new one: What created the gigantic stone stripes across the central Sanetti Plateau in the Bale Mountains?

    As part of the research, scientists looked at moraine boulder samples in the Bale and Arsi Mountains, rocks that would once have been carried along by glaciers.

    By studying their physical arrangement and measuring the extent of decay in an isotope of chlorine, they determined that past glaciations would not have been in sync with other similar stretches of mountains.


    (Groos et al., Earth Surface Dynamics, 2021)

    “Our results show that glaciers in the southern Ethiopian Highlands reached their maximum extent between 40,000 and 30,000 years ago, several thousand years earlier than in other mountainous regions in Eastern Africa and worldwide,” says glaciologist Alexander Groos from the University of Bern in Switzerland.

    While these highlands aren’t packed with ice today, between 42,000 and 28,000 years ago – thousands of years before the most recent period in which ice sheets stretched far from the poles – they would have been topped by glaciers that covered as much as 350 square kilometres (about 135 square miles). The relatively early cooling and glacier onset is likely caused by variations in rainfall and mountain features, the researchers say.

    In other words, temperature wasn’t the only driver of glacier movement across Eastern Africa during this time. Such insights can help us understand what might happen next, and what the impact on biodiversity and ecosystems is likely to be.

    As for the massive stone stripes formed by boulders and basalt columns, they were discovered during the course of the research, just outside the area of the former ice cap. The stripes measure up to 1,000 meters (3,281 feet) long, 15 meters (49 feet) wide, and 2 meters (6.5 feet) deep, and haven’t been seen before in the tropics.


    (Groos et al., Earth Surface Dynamics, 2021)

    “The existence of these stone stripes on a tropical plateau surprised us, as so-called periglacial landforms of this magnitude were previously only known from the temperate zone and polar regions and are associated with ground temperatures around freezing point,” says Groos.

    Another way in which the Ethiopian Highlands are different to their immediate neighbors then, in terms of what went down during the last ice age. The scientists think these stripes are the natural result of periodic freezing and thawing of the ground near the ice cap, which would have drawn similar rocks together.


    (Alexander R. Groos/Digital Globe Foundation)

    That would have required substantial drops in the ground and air temperature, however – and what’s less clear is whether this is typical of the way tropical high mountains cooled at the time, or whether it was a regional phenomenon.

    We’ll need to wait for future studies of other regions to find out, but the research gives plenty for scientists to go on. Understanding climate shifts in the tropics is crucial – it’s where much of the circulation of the world’s atmosphere and oceans is driven from – and it would seem these mountainous regions might have experienced the Last Glacial Period in a variety of different ways.

    “Our findings highlight the importance of understanding the local climatic setting when attempting to draw wider climatic interpretations from glacial chronologies,” conclude the researchers in one of their newly published papers.

    The research has been published in Science Advances and Earth Surface Dynamics.

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    U.S. Announces Additional Humanitarian Assistance for the Tigray Crisis Response

    The U.S. Department of State. (AP Photo)

    PRESS STATEMENT

    ANTONY J. BLINKEN, SECRETARY OF STATE

    MARCH 18, 2021

    The United States is providing an additional nearly $52 million in assistance to respond to the humanitarian crisis in Ethiopia’s Tigray region. The United States has provided a total of nearly $153 million in humanitarian assistance since the crisis began.

    This assistance from the American people will enable our international humanitarian partners to help some of the estimated 4.5 million people in need in Tigray and nearly 62,000 refugees who have fled to Sudan. It will allow our partners to provide lifesaving protection, shelter, essential health care, emergency food aid, water, sanitation, and hygiene services. This funding will also help our partners re-establish contact between family members who have been separated due to the conflict. U.S. Agency for International Development’s Disaster Assistance Response Team remains deployed in support of U.S. humanitarian response efforts.

    We remain gravely concerned about the worsening humanitarian crisis in Tigray. While we acknowledge public commitments and progress made by the Government of Ethiopia on increasing humanitarian access, the international community must see follow-through on all commitments, including lifting restrictions on the import and use of communications equipment by humanitarian organizations and providing extended visas for international humanitarian workers. Immediate, full, safe, and unhindered access for humanitarian organizations and workers is essential to provide timely, needs-based assistance to those affected by the conflict.

    The humanitarian situation will continue to worsen without a political solution.

    Read more »

    Related:

    FP EXCLUSIVE: Biden Sends Closest Ally Senator Chris Coons to Ethiopia

    UPDATE: U.N. Rights Chief Agrees to Ethiopia Request for Joint Tigray Inquiry

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    FP EXCLUSIVE: Biden Sends Closest Ally Senator Chris Coons to Ethiopia

    President Joe Biden is sending one of his closest allies in the U.S. Senate -- his hometown Senator Chris Coons of Delaware -- to Ethiopia where he will meet with Prime Minster Abiy Ahmed and officials from the African Union over several days to discuss the situation in Tigray, according to Foreign Policy magazine. Coons is a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and chairman of the powerful Senate appropriations subcommittee that oversees funding for diplomacy and foreign-aid programs. (Getty Images)

    Biden Dispatches Senate Ally to Ethiopia to Address Crisis

    Foreign Policy

    Delaware Sen. Chris Coons, once a top contender to be Biden’s secretary of state, is departing on a temporary diplomatic mission to meet with Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed to address the crisis in Ethiopia’s northern region of Tigray.

    Coons is expected to depart on Thursday for Ethiopia, where he will meet with Abiy and officials from the African Union over several days to discuss the situation in Tigray, according to a senior White House official who spoke on condition of anonymity…

    Coons told Foreign Policy in a statement: “I look forward to engaging with Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali and conveying the President’s concern,” he said.

    Read the full article at foreignpolicy.com »

    Press Release

    White House

    Updated: March 18th, 2021

    Statement by National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan on Senator Christopher Coons (D-DE) Travel to Ethiopia

    Senator Christopher Coons is traveling to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia to meet with Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali at President Biden’s request. Senator Coons will convey President Biden’s grave concerns about the humanitarian crisis and human rights abuses in the Tigray region and the risk of broader instability in the Horn of Africa. He will also consult with the African Union on how to advance the region’s shared interests in peace and prosperity.

    Related:

    UPDATE: U.N. Rights Chief Agrees to Ethiopia Request for Joint Tigray Inquiry

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    UPDATE: U.N. Rights Chief Agrees to Ethiopia Request for Joint Tigray Inquiry

    United Nations human rights chief Michelle Bachelet “responded positively” to a request from the state-run Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC) for joint investigations in Tigray, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights spokesman Jonathan Fowler said on Wednesday. (Reuters)

    Reuters

    NEW YORK – United Nations human rights chief Michelle Bachelet has agreed to an Ethiopian request for a joint investigation in the country’s northern Tigray region, where Bachelet says possible war crimes may have been committed.

    Fighting between government troops and the region’s former ruling party, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands from their homes in the mountainous region of about 5 million.

    The United Nations has raised concerns about atrocities being committed in Tigray, while U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken has described acts carried out in the region as ethnic cleansing. Ethiopia has rejected Blinken’s allegation.

    Bachelet “responded positively” to a request from the state-run Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC) for joint investigations in Tigray, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights spokesman Jonathan Fowler said on Wednesday.

    “The U.N. Human Rights Office and the EHRC are now developing an investigation plan, which includes resources needed and practical modalities, in order to launch the missions as soon as possible,” Fowler said.

    Ethiopia’s foreign ministry said on Saturday it was ready to work with international human rights experts to conduct investigations on allegations of abuses.

    Amnesty International last month accused Eritrean forces of killing hundreds of civilians over 24 hours in Axum city last year. Eritrea denied that, but the EHRC also described such killings in a rare acknowledgment from the Ethiopian side that Eritrean troops have participated in the conflict.

    The United Nations and the United States have demanded that Eritrean troops leave Tigray.

    Both the Ethiopian and Eritrean governments have denied Eritrean troops are in Tigray, despite dozens of eyewitness accounts and admissions that Eritreans are there from Tigray’s federally-appointed regional administration.

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    Chef Shumu Adem’s Journey From Ethiopia to America’s Heartland

    Shimelis "Shumu" Adem is the executive chef at Lucas Oil Stadium and the Indiana Convention Center. CENTERPLATE

    Forbes

    Chef Shumu Adem’s Journey From Ethiopia To The Final Four

    Ethiopia was in chaos. In 1974, Emperor Haile Selassie was overthrown and the Ethiopian monarchy was abolished. Military leaders responsible for the coup not only sought to consolidate power, but also to eliminate any and all opposition.

    From 1976-78, the Red Terror reigned throughout the African nation, particularly in major cities including the capital of Addis Ababa, targeting members and supporters of the Ethopian People’s Revolutionary Party (EPRP). Homes were searched and people, many of whom were students, were detained, tortured and executed without trial or cause.

    One of the most systematic uses of mass murder by the state ever witnessed in Africa resulted in at least 10,000 deaths, though the total death toll is still unknown to this day.

    “When I saw my friends starting to get arrested, I decided to flee Ethiopia to try to forge a future for myself,” said Shimelis “Shumu” Adem, executive chef at Lucas Oil Stadium and Indiana Convention Center.

    In 1977, at the height of the Red Terror, Adem sought refuge at a convent in neighboring Djibouti. For the next three years Adem, who was equally as intrigued with taste and texture as he was bucking the cultural trend that only Ethiopian women were permitted in the kitchen, honed his culinary craft by cooking for a dozen nuns as well as other workers and residents of the convent, including fellow Ethiopian refugees.

    Despite not speaking French, Adem communicated with two British nuns and one from Ethiopia during this time there, where he was taught French and Italian cuisine.

    “The experience was great,” Adem said. “It made me decide to continue my future career in the culinary arts. I look back at this time fondly, and value it as a foundational pillar to making me the chef I am today.

    “At its core, I am still doing the same thing now as I was then—helping make the time people spend together more memorable.”

    Adem came to the United States in 1980 to create his own American Dream. Over the next 25 years, he worked in a variety of roles up and down the East Coast including in Baltimore and Philadelphia, serving as executive sous chef at the Pennsylvania Convention Center. He received his Pro Chef Certification Level III from the Culinary Institute of America in February 2004, and three years later moved to Indianapolis for a new opportunity.

    Today, Adem is the executive chef at Lucas Oil Stadium, home to the Indianapolis Colts, and the Indiana Convention Center. Through the venues’ food and beverage provider Centerplate, Adem has developed, led and executed the culinary programs for major sporting events including Super Bowl XLVI, Big Ten Championship Game, NCAA Final Four (2010, 2015) and NFL Combine.


    Chef Shumu CENTERPLATE

    His two venues will serve as focal points for the upcoming NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, with the First Four to be played March 17. Lucas Oil Stadium will host the Elite Eight (March 29-30), Final Four (April 3) and Championship Game (April 5), while the one-million-square-foot Indiana Convention Center will be used as a practice facility with 12 courts set up inside the venue.

    “No matter the event, the approach stays the same—paying attention to detail, tapping into our local suppliers and delivering creative menus that delight the guests who come to eat with us,” Adem said. “To borrow a basketball term, that’s the game plan for success.”

    Adem said he and his team have utilized the learnings over the past year during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic to safely provide food and beverage offerings for players, staff and fans; the NCAA in February confirmed venues will operate at 25% capacity and all attendees are required to wear face masks and practice social distancing.

    For the NCAA Tournament, all points of sale will be cashless to reduce contact, while condiment stands in the concourse and vendors walking up and down aisles are eliminated. Pre-packaged items will be available in all-inclusive clubs in lieu of buffets. All food service employees are required to wear gloves and masks, while social distance markings will promote distancing guidelines in common areas.


    The half-pound bracket burger is a double cheeseburger topped with house-made applewood smoked bacon … [+] CENTERPLATE

    Not only will Adem and Co. be whipping up fan favorites including Indiana whiskey sour pork wings and the Heartland beer cheese steak sandwich, the chef is compiling digital recipe cards featuring the house-made whiskey and orange marmalade, mango habanero madness sauce and applewood smoked bacon jam for fans watching at home.

    “From my experience, my advice for young chefs is to set your future goal now,” Adem said. “Connect with chefs that can help you achieve your goal and always have a positive attitude. Understand you are learning not only from the chefs in your field, but also from everyone around you. Do not ever think you’re above learning. Do not be afraid to try new skills or cuisines. Develop and hone your own personal style.”

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    Business: Ethiopian Economy Regaining Momentum in 2021

    Based on data from the African Development Bank and IMF "comparatively speaking Ethiopia is doing better than most African countries [and regaining its momentum]," Chairman of the U.S.-based Fairfax Africa Fund Zemedeneh Negatu tells CNBC. (Image via CNBC Africa)

    CNBC Africa

    Fairfax Africa Fund Chair, Negatu sees Ethiopian economy regaining momentum in 2021

    Ethiopia’s economy saw a slowdown in the fourth quarter of 2020 despite the country having some of the laxest COVID-19 measures in the region.

    “Overall considering what’s going on around the world and in Africa and based on data from the African Development Bank and IMF comparatively speaking Ethiopia is doing better than most African countries [and regaining its momentum],” says Chairman of the U.S.-based Fairfax Africa Fund Zemedeneh Negatu.

    Read more and watch the video at cnbcafrica.com »

    Related:

    African Development Bank: African Economic Outlook 2021

    Recent macroeconomic and financial developments in Ethiopia

    Ethiopia’s economy grew by 6.1% in 2020, down from 8.4% in 2019, largely because of the COVID–19 pandemic. Growth was led by the services and industry sectors, whereas the hospitability, transport, and communications sectors were adversely affected by the pandemic and the associated containment measures to prevent the spread of the virus. The fiscal deficit, including grants, increased slightly during 2020, financed mainly by treasury bills. Tax revenue increased by 16%, but the tax-to-GDP ratio declined to 9.2% in 2020 from 10% in 2019 due to delayed implementation of tax reforms. Total public spending remained stable, in line with the country’s fiscal consolidation strategy.

    In 2020 inflation reached 20.6%, well above the 8% target, due to pandemic-induced supply chain disruptions and expansionary monetary policy. In November 2020, the official exchange rate was devalued by about 8% to 35.0 birr per US dollar. Export revenues increased by 12% in 2020, as exports of gold, flowers, coffee, and chat increased while imports declined by 8.1%. This helped narrow the current account deficit to 4.4% in 2020 from 5.3% in 2019. Service sector exports declined by about 6%, mostly because of lower revenue from Ethiopian Airlines. Foreign direct investment (FDI) fell 20% to 2.2% of GDP, and personal remittances declined by 10% to 5.3% of GDP. Poverty was projected to decline from 23.5% in 2016 to 19% by end of 2020. But pandemic-driven job losses, estimated at as many as 2.5 million, will impede poverty reduction.

    Outlook and risks

    The medium-term economic outlook is contingent on the resolution of the COVID–19 crisis, the pace of the economic recovery, and such other shocks as civil strife and climate change. Real GDP growth in 2021 is projected to fall to 2%, then recover to about 8% in 2022, led by a rebound in industry and services. Monetary policy is expected to remain flexible in response to the government’s financing requirements. Increased use of open-market operations is expected to reduce inflation gradually. The fiscal deficit is projected to increase as tax policy reforms are delayed due to COVID–19. The current account is likely to deteriorate in 2021 before improving in 2022 as service exports gradually pick up. The key downside risks to the economic outlook include low investor confidence, in part due to sporadic domestic conflicts, weakness in global growth, and climate change.

    Financing issues and options

    Ethiopia’s financing requirements are significant given its large physical and social infrastructure needs and low tax-to-GDP ratio, which averaged 10% from 2017 to 2020. The primary deficit plus debt service was estimated at nearly 4% of GDP. As of June 2020, total public debt was about 57% of GDP, slightly more than half of which was external. Since 2017, Ethiopia has been classified at high risk of public debt distress due to weak export performance coupled with increased import-intensive public infrastructure investments. The International Monetary Fund’s 2019 debt sustainability analysis estimated the net present value of debt-to-exports at 247.6% and debt service-to-exports at 24.6%; the highest sustainable levels are 180% and 15%, respectively. Ethiopia benefited from the G20 Debt Service Suspension Initiative, and the government is taking measures to contain the debt burden as part of the so-called Home-Grown Economic Reform agenda, which includes fiscal consolidation, expanding public financing sources, a moratorium on nonconcessional borrowing, harnessing grants and concessional loans, and debt restructuring. Gross reserves amounted to $3.1 billion in 2020, or 2.5 months of imports and are unlikely to provide an alternative source of development financing in the short term. Expansion of public debt in the context of large public expenditure requirements could constrict the fiscal space and lead to repayment risks, especially since $1 billion in eurobonds come due in December 2024. Further reforms in public finance and investment management are needed to improve the efficiency of public expenditures.

    Read the full report »

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    COVID-19: Ethiopia Begins Vaccine Rollout

    A healthcare personnel receives the first dose of the AstraZeneca/Oxford coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine at the EKA Kottebe hospital as vaccination process begins in Addis Ababa on March 13, 2021. (Photo: Minasse Wondimu Hailu - Anadolu Agency )

    AA

    By Addis Getachew

    Alarming increase in infections over recent days, negligence costing Ethiopia dearly, says minister

    ADDIS ABABA — Hoping to curb a recent spike in infections, Ethiopia kicked off its COVID-19 vaccination drive on Saturday.

    Jabs were administered in several major cities, including the capital Addis Ababa, where top government officials and UN representatives attended a ceremony at the Eka General Hospital.

    Doctors, nurses, and support staff at the hospital, one of Ethiopia’s main COVID-19 treatment centers, were given shots of the AstraZeneca vaccine.

    Ethiopia received its first batch of 2.2 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine last week under the COVAX initiative, a project co-led by the World Health Organization (WHO) that aims to ensure equitable distribution of vaccines around the world.

    Speaking at the ceremony, Education Minister Getahun Mekuria said Ethiopia has been experiencing an alarming increase in infections over recent days.

    “Negligence is costing the nation dearly,” he warned.

    According to official data, Ethiopia’s COVID-19 case count is now over 172,500, including more than 2,500 fatalities and close to 142,000 recoveries.

    Authorities have sounded the alarm over declining treatment capacity in hospitals, with more than 600 intensive care units across the Horn of Africa nation still full of COVID-19 patients.

    The minister said the country’s first coronavirus case was detected exactly a year ago – a Japanese educator who came from Burkina Faso.

    “Today, more than 2,200 people have died due to the virus, and over 10,000 families have been directly affected by these deaths,” he said.

    Dereje Deguma, the country’s deputy health minister, spoke about how Ethiopia has worked hard to combat the coronavirus pandemic.

    “A year ago, our COVID-19 capacity was nil,” he said, referring to the fact that Ethiopia had no testing facilities and had to send specimens to South Africa.

    “Today, we have tested more than 2.2 million people using our own laboratories.”

    Boureima Hama Sambo, the WHO representative in the country, also lauded Ethiopia’s efforts to stem the spread of the virus.

    “COVID-19 has affected all aspects of our lives. Globally, its impact on the economy and the society is something that we will have to deal with in the years to come; and Ethiopia is no exception,” he said.

    “As a result of the high level of commitment from the government and the Health Ministry, Ethiopia has done well in mitigating the consequences of the pandemic.”

    Related:

    Ethiopia reports 1,483 new COVID-19 cases (March 14th, 2021)</strong>

    COVID-19: Ethiopian Airlines Delivers First Batches Of Vaccine In Ethiopia

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    UPDATE: How Timnit Gebru’s Exit Shook Google and the AI Industry

    Timnit Gebru’s exit from Google's ethical AI team kickstarted a months-long crisis for the tech giant's AI division, including employee departures, a leadership shuffle, and widening distrust of the company's historically well-regarded scholarship in the larger AI community. (Getty Images)

    CNN Business

    How one employee’s exit shook Google and the AI industry

    In September, Timnit Gebru, then co-leader of the ethical AI team at Google, sent a private message on Twitter to Emily Bender, a computational linguistics professor at the University of Washington.

    “Hi Emily, I’m wondering if you’ve written something regarding ethical considerations of large language models or something you could recommend from others?” she asked, referring to a buzzy kind of artificial intelligence software trained on text from an enormous number of webpages.

    The question may sound unassuming but it touched on something central to the future of Google’s foundational product: search. This kind of AI has become increasingly capable and popular in the last couple years, driven largely by language models from Google and research lab OpenAI. Such AI can generate text, mimicking everything from news articles and recipes to poetry, and it has quickly become key to Google Search, which the company said responds to trillions of queries each year. In late 2019, the company started relying on such AI to help answer one in 10 English-language queries from US users; nearly a year later, the company said it was handling nearly all English queries and is also being used to answer queries in dozens of other languages.

    “Sorry, I haven’t!” Bender quickly replied to Gebru, according to messages viewed by CNN Business. But Bender, who at the time mostly knew Gebru from her presence on Twitter, was intrigued by the question. Within minutes she fired back several ideas about the ethical implications of such state-of-the-art AI models, including the “Carbon cost of creating the damn things” and “AI hype/people claiming it’s understanding when it isn’t,” and cited some relevant academic papers.

    Gebru, a prominent Black woman in AI — a field that’s largely White and male — is known for her research into bias and inequality in AI. It’s a relatively new area of study that explores how the technology, which is made by humans, soaks up our biases. The research scientist is also cofounder of Black in AI, a group focused on getting more Black people into the field. She responded to Bender that she was trying to get Google to consider the ethical implications of large language models.

    Bender suggested co-authoring an academic paper looking at these AI models and related ethical pitfalls. Within two days, Bender sent Gebru an outline for a paper. A month later, the women had written that paper (helped by other coauthors, including Gebru’s co-team leader at Google, Margaret Mitchell) and submitted it to the ACM Conference on Fairness, Accountability, and Transparency, or FAccT. The paper’s title was “On the Dangers of Stochastic Parrots: Can Language Models Be Too Big?” and it included a tiny parrot emoji after the question mark. (The phrase “stochastic parrots” refers to the idea that these enormous AI models are pulling together words without truly understanding what they mean, similar to how a parrot learns to repeat things it hears.)

    The paper considers the risks of building ever-larger AI language models trained on huge swaths of the internet, such as the environmental costs and the perpetuation of biases, as well as what can be done to diminish those risks. It turned out to be a much bigger deal than Gebru or Bender could have anticipated.
    Timnit Gebru said she was fired by Google after criticizing its approach to minority hiring and the biases built into today's artificial intelligence systems.

    Before they were even notified in December about whether it had been accepted by the conference, Gebru abruptly left Google. On Wednesday, December 2, she tweeted that she had been “immediately fired” for an email she sent to an internal mailing list. In the email she expressed dismay over the ongoing lack of diversity at the company and frustration over an internal process related to the review of that not-yet-public research paper. (Google said it had accepted Gebru’s resignation over a list of demands she had sent via email that needed to be met for her to continue working at the company.)

    Gebru’s exit from Google’s ethical AI team kickstarted a months-long crisis for the tech giant’s AI division, including employee departures, a leadership shuffle, and widening distrust of the company’s historically well-regarded scholarship in the larger AI community. The conflict quickly escalated to the top of Google’s leadership, forcing CEO Sundar Pichai to announce the company would investigate what happened and to apologize for how the circumstances of Gebru’s departure caused some employees to question their place at the company. The company finished its months-long review in February.

    Academics should be able to critique these companies without repercussion.

    —TIMNIT GEBRU, FORMER CO-LEADER OF GOOGLE’S ETHICAL AI TEAM

    But her ousting, and the fallout from it, reignites concerns about an issue with implications beyond Google: how tech companies attempt to police themselves. With very few laws regulating AI in the United States, companies and academic institutions often make their own rules about what is and isn’t okay when developing increasingly powerful software. Ethical AI teams, such as the one Gebru co-led at Google, can help with that accountability. But the crisis at Google shows the tensions that can arise when academic research is conducted within a company whose future depends on the same technology that’s under examination.

    “Academics should be able to critique these companies without repercussion,” Gebru told CNN Business.
    Google declined to make anyone available to interview for this piece. In a statement, Google said it has hundreds of people working on responsible AI, and has produced more than 200 publications related to building responsible AI in the past year. “This research is incredibly important and we’re continuing to expand our work in this area in keeping with our AI Principles,” a company spokesperson said.
    “A constant battle from day one”

    Gebru joined Google in September 2018, at Mitchell’s urging, as the co-leader of the Ethical AI team. According to those who have worked on it, the team was a small, diverse group of about a dozen employees including research and social scientists and software engineers — and it was initially brought together by Mitchell about three years ago. It researches the ethical repercussions of AI and advises the company on AI policies and products.

    Gebru, who earned her doctorate degree in computer vision at Stanford and held a postdoctoral position at Microsoft Research, said she was initially unsure about joining the company.

    Read more »

    Related:

    Spotlight: The Media Firestorm Concerning AI Researcher Timnit Gebru & Google

    Timnit Gebru: Among Incredible Women Advancing A.I. Research

    Spotlight: Blacks in AI Co-Founders Timnit Gebru & Rediet Abebe

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    UPDATE: Why the Weeknd is Boycotting Future Grammy Awards

    From left: Beyoncé, the Grammys’ most nominated artist this year; the Weeknd, who was shut out of the 2021 awards; and Taylor Swift, whose quarantine album “Folklore” received five of her six nods. For the Weeknd, the entire process has proved unacceptable. In a statement to The New York Times, he said he would boycott the awards from now on. “Because of the secret committees,” the Weeknd said, “I will no longer allow my label to submit my music to the Grammys.” (Credit...Getty Images/NBC/NBCU/Reuters)

    The New York Times

    Grammys Ready Pandemic Show, as the Weeknd Boycotts Future Awards​: The event on Sunday will address the challenges of a music industry hit hard by the pandemic. The Weeknd, who was snubbed, says he will boycott the awards going forward, in a sign of continuing friction with artists.

    When music fans tune in to the 63rd annual Grammy Awards on Sunday night, with Trevor Noah as host and performances by nearly two dozen stars including Taylor Swift, Cardi B, Dua Lipa and BTS, they will see the music world coming together in celebration and friendly competition after a grueling year.

    Beyoncé, who has nine nominations, will be aiming for her first win in a major category since 2010, while Swift has five nominations connected to “Folklore,” an album made entirely in quarantine. The show will also address the pandemic’s painful impact on music, with an extended “in memoriam” segment and a spotlight on the independent venues that represent music history, but which have suffered devastating blows after a year of lost business.

    But behind the scenes, the industry is waging a war for the soul of the Grammys, after years of accusations of bias against women and Black artists, and complaints over an opaque voting system that critics say is unfair and out of touch.

    Every year there are winners and losers. But this year’s biggest controversy highlights the way names get on the ballot in the first place. It involves the Weeknd, the Canadian pop star whose sleek, high-concept earworms like “Blinding Lights” have broken chart records and drawn wide critical acclaim; last month he also played the Super Bowl halftime show, perhaps pop music’s biggest big-tent moment. Yet when it came time for Grammy nominations, the Weeknd got nothing.

    Why? Scrutiny has zeroed in on a little-understood part of the Grammy process: the role of anonymous expert committees, which review initial nomination choices by the thousands of music professionals who make up the voting membership of the Recording Academy, the nonprofit group behind the awards, and — for 61 of the Grammys’ 84 categories — have the final say about who makes the cut. To the Grammy leadership, the committees are a check-and-balance step to preserve the integrity of the awards. To suspicious artists, they are unaccountable star chambers that can subvert the will of the voters.

    For the Weeknd, the entire process has proved unacceptable. In a statement to The New York Times, he said he would boycott the awards from now on. “Because of the secret committees,” the Weeknd said, “I will no longer allow my label to submit my music to the Grammys.”

    Read more »

    Related:

    Video: The Weeknd Rocks Tampa with Super Bowl Halftime Show


    Abel rocked Raymond James Stadium Sunday in between halves, headlining the Pepsi Halftime Show solo … as promised. For starters, almost 80% of his set was done on an elevated platform from high up in the bleachers — away from pretty much everyone below. (TMZ)

    TMZ

    The Weeknd came, he saw, and he conquered his Super Bowl halftime performance … and, boy, was this one different in the midst of a pandemic.

    Abel rocked Raymond James Stadium Sunday in between halves, headlining the Pepsi Halftime Show solo … as promised. For starters, almost 80% of his set was done on an elevated platform from high up in the bleachers — away from pretty much everyone below.

    They built an elaborate stage for the guy — complete with a makeshift cityscape made in the fashion of Las Vegas and kinda NYC too. Weeknd was surrounded by a bunch of would-be clones that changed costumes throughout, but started out with masks and glowing red eyes.

    Of course, TW was in his signature red blazer, black gloves and MJ-esque shoes. He ran through a few of his hits, including ‘Starboy,’ ‘The Hills’ and ‘Can’t Feel My Face.’ He then ran backstage into a house of mirrors type of set, reminiscent of his ‘Blinding Lights’ music vid.

    Weeknd continued to sing snippets of ‘I Feel It Coming,’ ‘Save Your Tears,’ and ‘Earned It’ — that’s when the party got on the move … down to the field level where he kept the show going.

    Almost the entire gridiron was flooded with Abel lookalikes, but all of them had their faces bandaged … with the OG eventually joining them as they wrapped a choreographed dance routine. He then led them into a march down field, and went on to sing ‘BL,’ which was capped off with a crazy firework show and the so-called clones running around him in elaborate circles before falling to the ground and lying still, with only Weeknd left standing.

    It was pretty neat — but perhaps most noteworthy … the fact fans couldn’t come on down and join in on the fun. Still, Weeknd made the most of it … and the crowd seemed to love every minute, as they could be heard screaming from the stands.

    The whole thing ran about 14 minutes, and seemed to go off without a hitch. Well done, all!

    Related:

    Spotlight: 5 Things to Know About The Weeknd


    It’s Super Bowl Weeknd (not a typo). Canadian singer The Weeknd (Abel Tesfaye) will be on the biggest stage of his career when he performs the Super Bowl halftime show on Sunday, February 7, 2021 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida., and he’s taking no chances on its success. (AP photo)

    WUSA9

    From The Weeknd’s unusual stage name to his musical influences, here are a few things you may not know about the Super Bowl halftime performer.

    It’s Super Bowl Weeknd (not a typo). Canadian singer The Weeknd will be on the biggest stage of his career when he performs the halftime show at Super Bowl LV between the Kansas City Chiefs and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and he’s taking no chances on its success.

    “We all grow up watching the world’s biggest acts playing the Super Bowl and one can only dream of being in that position,” the singer said when it was announced in November. “I’m humbled, honored and ecstatic to be the center of that infamous stage.”

    How honored? The Weeknd told Billboard last week that he’s put up $7 million of his own money to “make this halftime show be what he envisioned.”

    The Weeknd broke though into mainstream with his smash hit “Can’t Feel My Face” that was featured on his second studio album, “Beauty Behind the Madness,” which topped the Billboard 200 in 2015 and won a Grammy. He’s had three other chart-topping albums including his recent offering “After Hours,” which was released in March 2020.

    The Weeknd’s 2020 hit single “Blinding Lights” became his fifth song to peak at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. He’s also won Grammys for his album “Starboy” and the song “Earned It.” That song also earned him an Oscar nomination after it appeared in the movie “Fifty Shades Of Grey.”

    If you’re unfamiliar with The Weeknd, an artist known for being somewhat press averse, here are five things to know before he takes the field in Tampa.

    What is The Weeknd’s real name?

    Abel Tesfaye. He was born in Toronto, Canada, on February 16, 1990.

    Why is he The Weeknd and not The Weekend?

    Tesfaye wanted to call himself The Weekend, according to E!, but an Ontario band already had dibs on the name. So, he just dropped a vowel.

    He did crossword puzzles to improve his vocabulary

    Tesfaye was a high school dropout, according to a 2015 Rolling Stone interview. He did crossword puzzles to up his vocabulary. He said then he wished he was a more eloquent speaker. “Me not finishing school — in my head, I still have this insecurity when I’m talking to someone educated,” he said.

    Michael Jackson was a huge influence due to The Weeknd’s heritage

    Tesfaye said Michael Jackson was an influence on his career not only for the King of Pop’s music, but due to Tesfaye’s family roots. Although he was born in Toronto, his parents were from Ethiopia.

    “People forget — ‘We Are the World’ is for Ethiopia,” he told Rolling Stone, referencing the 1985 song Jackson wrote with Lionel Richie to raise money to combat famine in Africa. “At home, if it wasn’t Ethiopian music, it was Michael. He was our icon.” He told Vanity Fair that Jackson’s “Don’t Stop ‘til You Get Enough” helped him find his voice.

    A run-in with police helped him ‘smarten up’

    In a 2016 interview with The Guardian, Tesfaye said he had a “near-miss” with the law that he described as “bad enough for me to smarten up, to focus.” While he didn’t elaborate, he said he knew he was given a second chance. “And you either take the experience and think, ‘This is it, final straw’, or you don’t. And the next move after that? It’s your entire life. You become who you become because of the next move you make.”

    Tesfaye joins a list of celebrated musicians who have played during Super Bowl halftime shows, including Madonna, Beyoncé, Coldplay, Katy Perry, U2, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Lady Gaga, Michael Jackson and last year’s duo of Shakira and Jennifer Lopez.

    Jay-Z’s Roc Nation company is executive producing the halftime show for a second year. Jesse Collins, who has produced the BET Awards and is working on this year’s Grammys and Oscars telecasts, will serve as an executive producer.

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    Senior U.S. Commerce Official Discusses Trade and Entrepreneurship With American & Ethiopian Businesswomen

    The U.S. Department of Commerce office building in Washington, D.C. (Getty Images)

    Press Release

    U.S. Embassy in Ethiopia

    Senior U.S. Commerce Official Discusses Trade and Entrepreneurship with U.S. and Ethiopian Businesswomen, and Encourages Prosperity through Mutually Beneficial Commercial Engagement

    Addis Ababa – U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary (DAS) of Commerce for Middle East and Africa Global Markets Camille Richardson participated in a Women’s Empowerment Through Trade Initiative Coffee Chat Series (“The Series”) on March 9. The event occurred during Women’s History Month. The virtual meeting featured speakers and panelists from the private sector and government from Ethiopia and the United States.

    The panel featured two Ethiopian female entrepreneurs, Felekeche Biratu and Sara Yirga, and Business Development Specialist at the Export-Import Bank of the United States (EX-IM) LaTaunya Darden. Felekeche Biratu is the co-founder of the Yenae Collection and a member of the Association of Women in Boldness/Business. Sara Yirga is the founder of Ya Coffee Roasters and Ethiopian Women in Coffee. Both shared valuable perspectives on opportunities in Ethiopia, female entrepreneurship, and potential for business relations between women-led businesses in the United States and Ethiopia. LaTaunya Darden outlined the important role that EX-IM can play in supporting U.S. exporters.

    The Ethiopia Coffee Chat was the second of ten such engagements planned throughout the year by the Office of Middle East and Africa at the U.S. Department of Commerce. “The Series” is one component of the Women’s Empowerment Through Trade Initiative, which will include another webinar on March 31, 2021 organized in conjunction with the President’s Advisory Council on Doing Business in Africa, and which will focus on women’s entrepreneurship throughout the African continent. “The Series” will culminate in a multi-region event in Dubai in conjunction with Trade Winds Dubai, in March 2022, that will coincide with International Women’s Day 2022.

    This Ethiopia Coffee Chat reflects the high priority that the U.S. Department of Commerce places on the commercial relationship between the United States and Ethiopia. The U.S. International Trade Administration also maintains a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Ethiopian Ministry of Finance and Economic Development. This MOU was signed in 2018 and is intended to facilitate information-sharing and collaboration on commercial opportunities in priority sectors.

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    Profile: Ethiopia’s Segenet Kelemu Among Breakthrough Scientists You Need to Know

    After watching a near-biblical swarm of locusts destroy the crops in her Ethiopian village, Segenet Kelemu turned to science and changed the world. Segenet, who studied plant pathology and genetics at Montana State, Kansas State and Cornell University in the U.S. now leads the International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology in Nairobi, which is at the forefront of global efforts to defeat food insecurity. (OZY Media)

    OZY

    BREAKTHROUGH SCIENTISTS YOU NEED TO KNOW

    WHY YOU SHOULD CARE

    Because great science is about more than fighting COVID-19.

    Scientists have rarely played such a pivotal and public role in society, and certainly never before in the digital age. But the centrality of science is about much more than the pandemic. Today’s Daily Dose explores scientists who do more than just keep us alive, from the climatologist who could become a president to researchers rectifying racial disparities and discovering the tunes that make sharks shout “That’s my jam!” OK, so sharks don’t really shout; they communicate with body language. We know this because, well, science.

    Segenet Kelemu. You know you’re doing something right when Bill Gates calls you one of his heroes. After watching a near-biblical swarm of locusts destroy the crops in her Ethiopian village, Kelemu turned to science and changed the world. First as the first woman from her region to get a college degree, which she earned from Addis Ababa University, then, while studying plant pathology and genetics at Montana State, Kansas State and Cornell University in the U.S. She returned to Africa in 2007, determined to keep farmers from devastating losses by better understanding the symbiotic relationship between plants and insects. The 63-year-old now leads the International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology in Nairobi, which is at the forefront of global efforts to defeat food insecurity.

    Read more »

    Related:

    Scientific American: You Should Know: Segenet Kelemu, Plant Pathologist


    Dr. Segenet Kelemu. (Courtesy photo)

    INTRODUCING… DR. SEGENET KELEMU

    Dr. Segenet Kelemu has a very impressive CV that includes many well deserved accolades from colleagues from around the world. In 2014 was named Director General of the International Center for Insect Physiology and Ecology (ICIPE) in Nairobi and was also awarded L’Oréal-UNESCO Awards for Women in Science in 2014.

    She studies the microorganisms that live inside of plains plants. This research helps us understand how these plants endure so many challenges – drought, herbivores, pests, and climate change. With this information we can understand how to use biotechnology to aid the region – East Africa to feed its people and perserve its ecosystems.

    I especially love how Dr. Kelemu embraces her entire experience and her affinity for her home region to inspire her research. It is something I write about often — who we are and our relationships with places and events shapes our scientific interests and missions.

    In her own words:

    “I’d observed how the people around me spent their time concerned with how to feed themselves. So I felt a calling to do something to help. I saw how two university students had made a direct difference in a village they had been sent to teach by helping the people improve their farming practices, and I decided to study agriculture.” from an interview with her published in The East African, May 30, 2014, Dr Kelemu’s rise: From climbing trees in rural Ethiopia to excelling in science

    She earned her graduate degrees in the United States and also completed a post doctoral research assignment at Cornell University (I’m convinced that everyone has a Cornell connection). From there, Dr. Kelemu has been on a stellar trajectory. She has served as Vice President for Programs at the Alliance for Green Revolution African, Director of Biosciences at the International Livestock Research Instirture. She was a Senior Scientist, then later named Leader of Cropr and Agroecosystem Health Management the International Center for Tropical Agriculture.

    Learn more about the Amazing Dr. Kelemu by visiting her wiki page.

    Director General, International Center for Insect Physiology and Ecology (ICIPE)


    After twenty-five years of studying and successfully applying cutting-edge science outside of Africa, Dr. Kelemu returned from the diaspora to contribute to Africa’s development. (Photo: Wikimedia)

    Dr. Segenet Kelemu is the Director General of the International Center for Insect Physiology and Ecology (ICIPE) Nairobi, Kenya. She is the fourth Chief Executive Officer, and the first woman to lead ICIPE.

    Dr. Kelemu (a native of Ethiopia) is a molecular plant pathologist with emphasis on elucidation of molecular determinants of host-pathogen interactions, development of novel plant disease control strategies including biopesticides, pathogen population genetics and dynamics, endophytic microbes and their role in plant development. She has experienced the challenges and successes associated with African agriculture first-hand, from tending the field to directing a world-class laboratories.

    Following her post-doctoral work at Cornell University, USA, Segenet joined the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) as a Senior Scientist in 1992. She was later appointed Leader of Crop and Agroecosystem Health Management at CIAT until her departure in August, 2007, to become Director of BecA. CIAT recognized her numerous contributions to the centre and its mission with the Outstanding Senior Scientist Award.

    After twenty-five years of studying and successfully applying cutting-edge science outside of Africa, Dr. Kelemu returned from the diaspora to contribute to Africa’s development. In 2007, she became the Director of the Biosciences eastern and central Africa (BecA) Hub at the International Livestock Research Institute, Nairobi, Kenya. Under her leadership, the BecA initiative has transformed from a contentious idea into a driving force that is changing the face of African biosciences. BecA’s research capacity, staff, facilities, funding, partners and training programs have expanded at an ever accelerating pace. She has assembled and inspired a scientific and technical team bound by a common passion for using science to enhance Africa’s biosciences development.

    Prior to becoming the Director General of icipe, she has been the Vice President for Programs at the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) for about a year.

    She is one of the five Laureates of the 2014 L’Oréal-UNESCO for Women in Science Awards. She is also one of the 2013 elected Fellows of the African Academy of Sciences. She has also received other awards, including the prestigious Friendship Award granted by the People’s Republic of China. The award is granted to foreign experts who have made outstanding contributions to China’s economic and social development. The Academy of Sciences for the Developing World (TWAS) is awarding the 2011 TWAS Prize for Agricultural Sciences. She is the first African to win the prize for Agricultural Sciences since its inception. TWAS Prizes are awarded to individual scientists in developing countries in recognition of an outstanding contribution to knowledge in eight fields of science: agricultural sciences, biology, chemistry, earth sciences, engineering sciences, mathematics, medical sciences and physics.

    Segenet has published widely in refereed journals, book chapters, manuals, conference/workshop papers, working documents, and others. Segenet has served on a number of Governing Boards, Technical Advisory Panels and Steering Committees of key organizations and major science and technology initiatives. Segenet is also an innate teacher and has supervised and mentored a number of BSc, MSc, and Ph.D. students.

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    UPDATE: U.S. Company Visa Ready To Digitize Payments In Ethiopia

    Marking a one-year anniversary since opening its Addis Ababa office, the U.S. company announced a series of partnerships during its inaugural Ethiopian Visa Payments Forum. The event brought together key stakeholders from the digital payments industry to explore opportunities to further advance Ethiopia’s growing payments ecosystem. (CIO East Africa)

    CIO

    By Staff Writer

    Visa Affirms Commitment To Digitise Payments In Ethiopia During Inaugural Visa Payments Forum

    Digitised payments are coming to Ethiopia soon.

    Visa Inc, the leading global payments technology company, has affirmed its commitment to expanding digital payments in Ethiopia by working closely with the financial ecosystem to bring the benefits of digital commerce and money movement to consumers, merchants, financial institutions and government partners.

    Marking a one-year anniversary since opening its Addis Ababa office, the company announced a series of partnerships during its inaugural Ethiopian Visa Payments Forum. The event brought together key stakeholders from the digital payments industry to explore opportunities to further advance Ethiopia’s growing payments ecosystem.

    Over the past year, Visa has been building and strengthening partnerships and agreements that will accelerate digital payments, including:

    – An agreement with Ethiopian Airlines to launch a co-branded card to ShebaMiles members across the Continent.

    – An agreement and introduction with Bank of Abyssinia and Dashen Bank/Moneta (Amole) Technologies focused on supporting eCommerce growth and enabling wider acceptance of digital payments.

    – A partnership with leading fintech Kifiya Financial Technology, providing local digital payments across mobile and online payments.

    – Partnership with BelCash Technologies that will support the development of cross-border payment solutions for the East-African financial institutions and helping grow eCommerce to unlock the country’s digital potential.

    – Licensing partnership with Cooperative bank & Oromia International Bank.

    In addition to partnerships, Visa outlined two previously announced initiatives to drive financial inclusion and job creation within Ethiopia with STEMPower, and to support the development of innovative fintechs with its Visa Everywhere Initiative.

    “At Visa, we are extremely pleased to have a local presence in one of the most exciting countries in Africa, and to have established strong partnerships to help enable digital commerce. We are excited to support the goals of the Ethiopian economy, where financial inclusion will play an important part in the overall growth journey. We see great tremendous opportunity and are committed to playing our part in bringing more people into the financial system and supporting economic progress,” said Aida Diarra, Senior Vice President & Head of Visa in Sub Saharan Africa.

    As a sign of commitment to the digital transformation agenda, the Ethiopian government outlined Ethiopia’s first Digital Transformation Strategy, in June 2020, followed by a series of regulations for its implementation including the proclamation on Electronic Transactions.

    “Fast-tracking digitization of payments has multiple benefits for Ethiopians. Enhanced digital infrastructure enables support to local people and small businesses to enjoy the fast, seamless and secure payment experiences that we know are so important. Digitizing payments can also play an important part in driving economic inclusion, which underpins sustained economic growth,” added Diarra.

    Related:

    In Ethiopia ArifPay Closes A $3.5 M Private Placement Round From 31 Investors

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    Economist Review: Jessica Beshir’s Mesmerising Ethiopia Film “Faya Dayi”

    NYC-based Ethiopian-American filmmaker Jessica Beshir's new movie “Faya Dayi” about life in Ethiopia’s eastern highlands "is less a documentary than a poem," the Economist observes in a review published this week. "The experience is as intoxicating as qat, but beneath the surface is a sombre evocation of the boredom, frustration and anger which afflict a generation of Ethiopian youth." (Photo courtesy Jessica Beshir)

    The Economist

    Qat and conflict: “Faya Dayi” evokes what it means to be young in Ethiopia

    CHILDREN BATHING in a shrinking lake. Incense wafting through an open door. The wet slap of mud against a wall. Two boys lying on the ground, staring wistfully at the sky. Like snatches of memory, the images are displayed one after the other.

    “Faya Dayi”, a hypnotic new film about life in Ethiopia’s eastern highlands, is less a documentary than a poem, its lyrics set against a sequence of monochrome pictures which languidly unfurl across the screen. The experience is as intoxicating as the leaves of qat, a mild stimulant native to this part of Africa, which is a recurring motif. But beneath the luscious surface is a sombre evocation of the boredom, frustration and anger which afflict a generation of Ethiopian youth.

    Read more »

    Related:

    IndieWire Review: ‘Faya Dayi,’ Jessica Beshir’s Ethiopia Docu-Drama About Legend of Khat

    IndieWire

    ‘Faya Dayi’ Review: A Hallucinatory Documentary About Ethiopia’s Most Lucrative Cash Crop

    Updated: Jan 30, 2021

    Ethiopian legend has it that khat, a stimulant leaf, was found by Sufi Imams in search of eternity. Inspired by this myth, Jessica Beshir’s “Faya Dayi” is a spiritual journey into the highlands of the walled city of Harar, a place immersed in the rituals surrounding this plant, Ethiopia’s most lucrative cash crop today. Through the prism of the khat trade, the film weaves a tapestry of intimate stories of people caught between government repression, khat-induced reverie, and treacherous journeys across the Red Sea, and offers a window into the dreams of the youth who long for better lives elsewhere.

    For centuries in Ethiopia, the Sufi Muslims of Harar have chewed the khat leaf for the purposes of religious meditation. Over the past three decades, khat consumption has broken out of Sufi circles and entered the mainstream to become a daily ritual among people of all ages, religions and ethnicities, for whom chewing khat is a means to achieve Merkhana — a term that describes the high one gets from what is effectively a psychoactive drug not all that different from Cannabis. It has various mental and physical effects, which include euphoria and altered states of mind. For many, Merkhana is provides an escape from everyday realities, and the only place where their hopes, and dreams can actually exist.

    Khat, for most unemployed youth, has become a way to overcome the sense of hopelessness, a way to tune out reality. They are all searching for a seemingly elusive sense of agency, as well as living with the contradictions of loving a land that makes it difficult for them to live in peace.

    In the last decade, the crops that Ethiopia primarily exported — teff, sorghum, and coffee — have been replaced by the leafy green. With social significance, it has sustained so many who have worked in the fields for generations. However familiar the work is, some young people who have grown up in its shadow want more for themselves — life away from the fields; life without khat; life entirely elsewhere. They consider leaving home and all they have ever known for something new, far away, and, while perhaps more economically beneficial, lonelier and more isolating.

    Shot entirely in stunning black and white, “Faya Dayi” opens with a long shot of a somewhat amorphous, barren landscape, nighttime, dark, crickets providing the only soundtrack, and in the distance a lone figure running playfully, starts to come into view. We see that it’s a child, as he or she runs past the camera. Cut to bewitching shots of elders indoors, some faceless, some not, chanting, giving thanks to God, separating khat leaves from their stems, and, in some cases, pounding them, as incense burns in a pot, the smoke it emits, thick and intense.

    And then a lengthy shot of an open doorway, on the other side, an ambiguous view — smoky, cavernous, vast, dark depths — a haunting score providing an exclamation mark. It’s interrupted by a meek female voiceover, almost like that of a child, beginning a story about the Harari legend of a man named Azuekherlaini, who was tasked by God to find the Maoul Hayat (water of eternal life). The fable stretches the length of the film, as the voiceover interrupts intermittently to continue where she previously ended.

    But that’s just the dressing on this striking, if enigmatic, transgenerational journey into the highlands of Harar, immersed in the rituals of khat, weaving a tapestry of hallucinatory stories that offer a window into the dreams of youth.

    Unfolding more like a hybrid scripted narrative and documentary, the central story of “Faya Dayi” doesn’t follow a straight line, as it occasionally checks in on Mohammed, a 14-year-old, and the film’s presumed primary character, who works as an errand boy for the khat users in Harar. He lives with his father who, like so many in town, chews khat daily and often fights with Mohammed due to the mood swings caused by his addiction. Mohammed becomes anxious for a better life, but to have it, he must make a treacherous journey across the Red Sea to Saudi Arabia.

    Read more »

    Related:

    Ethiopia: Director Jessica Beshir’s ‘Hairat’ Selected for Sundance Film Festival 2017

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    Business: In Ethiopia ArifPay Raises $3.5m, Taxi-hailing Company ‘Feres’ Launches E-commerce Service Called ‘Feresegna’

    ArifPay is a mobile point of sale system which will allow ATM cardholders to make electronic transactions via their smartphones. (Shega Media)

    Shega

    ArifPay Closes A $3.5 M Private Placement Round From 31 Investors

    ArifPay ( ArifPay Financial Technologies Share Company ), an upcoming fintech company in Ethiopia, raised $3.5M / 140M ETB from 31 investors in a private placement round. From the total raised capital, the paid capital is $1M while the rest $2.5M is a subscribed capital. Investors are expected to pay the subscribed capital in the period of 2 years.

    ArifPay is a mobile point of sale system which will allow ATM cardholders to make electronic transactions via their smartphones.

    The company intends to launch M-pos and gateway-related digital financial products. It aims to allow people to use their mobile phones for conducting financial services including payments.

    ArifPay sold 140,000 shares to the 31 investors with each share having a value of 1000 ETB. The shares are sold in a primary market. However, this was not a public offering rather a private placement as ArifPay hasn’t made a call to the public to buy the shares. The company plans to raise a fund through a public offering in the coming years. All investors are Ethiopian or Ethiopian Born Foreign Nationals as National Bank doesn’t allow non-Ethiopian foreign citizens to invest in Ethiopia’s financial sector.

    ArifPay is founded by similar founders of Zay Ride, which is one of the pioneer ride-hailing platforms in Ethiopia.

    Speaking to Shega about the fundraising, Habtamu Tadesse, Founder, and CEO of ArifPay said, ” We are able to raise $3.5M from 31 shareholders within a short period of time. We believe ArifPay will change the financial industry for the better.”

    ArifPay is currently in the process to receive a Payment System Operator License ( For POS and Online gateway business ) from the National Bank of Ethiopia. ArifPay aims to launch its services by the end of May 2021.

    Officially referred to as “Licensing and Authorization of Payment System Operators Directive (ONPS/02/2020), It is remembered that National Bank has issued a new directive that allows non-traditional financial institutions also known as financial technology (Fintech) companies to start offering payment processing and related services in the Ethiopia market by acquiring a payment system operator license issued by the regulator.

    There are five licenses under the payment system operator directive. These licenses are National Switch, Switch Operator, ATM operator, POS operator, and payment gateway license. Read Our Guide: How to Get Started As A Payment System Operator in Ethiopia

    In a statement sent to Shega, the company said, “Once operational, ArifPay aspires to make a significant contribution to the financial sector by offering digital-based payments services that meet the needs of consumers and merchants towards cash-lite transactions in line with the national agenda of the digital economy.”

    Related:

    Feres to Expand to the Ecommerce Space


    Taxi-hailing Company ‘Feres’ launches an e-commerce service called Feresegna. (Shega Media)

    Shega

    Feres, a taxi-hailing company that has become a major player in the ride-hailing sector after joining the market a year ago is now moving to the e-commerce space and is launching an online marketplace and delivery service.

    The platform is called Feresegna. Feresegna is a new e-commerce and delivery service that plans to join the market with different value-added features. Feresegna is a sister brand of Feres. Feres will be taking over the logistics and delivery side while E-birr serves as a payment solution.

    Ebirr which is the latest entrant to the mobile money space in Ethiopia is also integrated with Feres and claims to have 2 million users, 15,000 + and 5000 + Agents and resellers.

    Feresegna aims to capitalize on Fere’s driver and cab network to deliver orders to the customer.

    Semir Nasir, Feresgnya manager says, “Feresegna, after understanding the growing demand of the eCommerce, the delivery service and the limitation of the options provided, is planning to join the market and fill the gaps between the huge demand and few offer.”

    Feresegna will be a marketplace for merchants and plans to provide access to an online shop for businesses that are offline. In the new platform, Online shop is going to be anything from restaurants to apparel stores.

    Semir added, “With the services we are planning to offer, that is tech efficient, fast, and effective; we plan to create many job opportunities, create accessible products for customers and be a platform for local business.”

    Fersegna will first start delivering in Addis Abeba and aim to cover other cities outside of the capital soon.

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    Video: Professor Lemma Senbet Explains Africa’s New Free Trade Area

    Dr. Lemma W. Senbet is the William E. Mayer Chair Professor of Finance at the University of Maryland, College Park. In this video, which is part of the University's 'Global Pulse' series released this week, Professor Lemma explains the new Africa Continental Free Trade Area. (Photo: Smith Business School)

    Smith Business School

    The Global Pulse is a short, 2-3 minute video series released on Wednesdays featuring Maryland Smith faculty who break down a trending global topic and why it matters to you.

    In the following video Lemma Senbet, William E. Mayer Chair professor of finance, outlines the details of the AfCFTA, or the Africa Continental Free Trade Area, and what it means for both the present and future of the continent.

    Watch: Global Pulse: Africa’s New Free Trade Area

    Related:

    Profile: Professor Lemma Senbet’s Uncharted Journey


    Dr. Lemma W. Senbet is the William E. Mayer Chair Professor of Finance at the University of Maryland, College Park. Beyond his academic career, Professor Lemma has been an influential member of the global finance community. He has advised the World Bank, IMF, the UN and other international institutions on issues of financial sector reform and capital market development. (Photo: UMD)

    University at Buffalo

    As the William E. Mayer Chair Professor of Finance, Lemma Senbet, PhD ’76, has helped transform the finance program at the University of Maryland into one of the best in the world.

    He’s made such an impact that the Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland recently named an undergraduate finance program after him—The Lemma Senbet Fund, which gives undergrads hands-on experience in portfolio management and equity analysis.

    But Senbet never planned to earn a PhD. He came to the U.S. from Ethiopia to earn an MBA at UCLA, which he selected because they offered a fast-track program he could complete in a year and keep his expenses down.

    Senbet had planned to go home after completing his MBA, but didn’t want to leave after just one year in the U.S. Determined to find a way to earn an income so he could stay another year, Senbet turned to a trusted professor at UCLA who encouraged him to pursue a PhD.

    “I got accepted to the PhD program at UCLA, but there wasn’t much money for students,” says Senbet. “So, I went back to my professor and he told me that Governor Rockefeller was handing out tuition waivers to foreign students, and encouraged me to apply to a finance program in New York—particularly UB.”

    He got accepted into Columbia University and the University at Buffalo, but decided UB was the better fit. Still, he wasn’t fully committed to spending three or four years in a doctoral program, since he had passion to go back home. But civil unrest in Ethiopia forced him to stay longer in the program.

    “This path turned out to be the correct one,” he says. “I didn’t know it then, but UB had one of the best finance programs—better than the Big Ten schools at the time. But since the program was so small, we got very close mentorship. We were like colleagues with faculty.”

    After earning his doctorate, Senbet joined the University of Wisconsin–Madison as an assistant professor of finance. There, he progressed rapidly along the tenure track, earning the rank of full professor after just seven years, followed by the Charles Albright Chaired Professorship, before joining the University of Maryland.

    Beyond his academic career, Senbet has been an influential member of the global finance community. He has advised the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the United Nations and other international institutions on issues of financial sector reform and capital market development. He is a past president of the Western Finance Association and a two-time director of the American Finance Association.

    He also took a five-year leave from the University of Maryland to serve as executive director and CEO of the African Economic Research Consortium, the largest and oldest economic research and training network in Africa. He is succeeded by the former governor of the Central Bank of Kenya.

    Senbet has received numerous recognitions for his impact on the profession. In 2000 he was inducted into the Financial Economists Roundtable, was named a Fellow of the Financial Management Association International in 2006 and was awarded an honorary doctorate by Addis Ababa University in 2005. In 2012, he was awarded the Ethiopian Diaspora (SEED) award for exemplary lifetime achievements and community service.

    Throughout his career, Senbet has mentored a generation of doctoral students who have become distinguished professors around the country, including at Carnegie Mellon University and Vanderbilt University.

    “So, UB has PhD ‘grandchildren’ so to speak,” he says.

    When his students come to him seeking advice about what to do in their life, Senbet offers a simple response: Do your best.

    “You don’t know where an opportunity will lead or who is watching you,” he says. “This uncharted journey has defined my life—from my college major to Wisconsin to Maryland to Africa. No matter what path is given to you—whether by luck or by plan—give it your all.”

    Related:

    COVID-19 & Its Impact on Africa: Q&A with Prof. Lemma Senbet

    Brookings Institution Appoints Lemma Senbet to Africa Board

    Professor Lemma Senbet Focuses on Ethiopian Diaspora After Successfully Leading AERC

    Professor Lemma Senbet Leads AERC to Top Global Index Ranking

    Tadias Interview with Professor Lemma Senbet: New Head of African Economic Research Consortium

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    Spotlight: Saron Simon Mechale, Founder and CEO of goTeff

    Ethiopian American entrepreneur Saron Simon Mechale is the founder and CEO of goTeff, a Providence, Rhode Island-based startup that makes and sells a nutritious snack crisp made from teff. (The Providence Journal)

    The Providence Journal

    Saron Simon Mechale is an accidental entrepreneur.

    The 26-year old from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, is founder and CEO of goTeff, a deliciously nutritious crisp made from an ancient supergrain called teff. Mechale doesn’t have a background in business. She’s never studied culinary arts. But her unwavering conviction to reshape the West’s perceptions of her home country was incentive enough to launch her own startup.

    “When it comes to Ethiopia or Africa, we are not the ones telling our story,” she said.

    That reality became crystal clear to Mechale when she first came to the United States in 2013 to study at Brown University. Her knowledge of the U.S. was largely drawn from the movies and television shows she had grown up watching.

    America is known as the best country in the world,” she said. “Its brand is very powerful.”

    But just as the Hollywood version didn’t tell the whole story (she was shocked to learn that homelessness and poverty exist in this country), she also became acutely aware of the stereotypical way that Western media portray Ethiopia, and Africa at large.

    “It was very one-sided storytelling,” she said. “I felt I wanted to tell an authentic, contemporary story for Ethiopia.”

    Ironically, Mechale’s more modern messaging about her homeland centers on a supergrain that’s been cultivated in Ethiopia for thousands of years. Teff is an integral part of the Ethiopian diet. Rich in protein, fiber, iron and calcium, it has long fueled the country’s famous long-distance runners. From Mechale’s perspective, each tiny grain of teff packs the power and promise of a new Ethiopia.

    “When I started this, it was almost like a social-justice project in my head,” she said. “I know that Ethiopia is sometimes known for two things: famine and malnourished kids, or freakishly good endurance athletes. The Ethiopian athlete angle is super powerful. That was strongly connected to teff.”

    What was equally imperative to Mechale was making sure her country would benefit financially from teff, beyond just exporting the grain. While 95% of the world’s teff is grown in Ethiopia, it was a Dutch company that for years held a patent on products made with teff flour.

    “I looked at it as secondhand colonization,” she said of the practice of Africa exporting raw materials cheaply to richer nations that transform them into consumer products with higher profit margins.

    “Cocoa comes from Ghana or West African countries, but chocolate is associated with Switzerland. Why can’t West Africans produce chocolate and be part of the market in a stronger way that returns more value to farmers and to the economy of the country?”

    From vision to startup

    With her vision for a rebranded Ethiopia, Mechale started taking more entrepreneurship courses at Brown, learning important lessons about starting a business. Slowly, goTeff began taking shape. In 2019, she competed in Brown’s Venture Prize, hosted by the Jonathan M. Nelson Center for Entrepreneurship; goTeff came in second place.

    “I was privileged to start this idea at a place like Brown,” Mechale said. “The university created a great ecosystem for me when I first started this company.”

    goTeff’s trajectory continued to rise. The startup also won the 2019 MassChallenge Rhode Island and became a two-time finalist for the Rhode Island Business Plan competition. At every turn, Mechale was making significant connections to networks of entrepreneurs who would become valuable mentors.

    “Rhode Island does an amazing job of supporting small businesses and getting young people to stay here and start new things,” she said.

    Mechale had her vision. She also had her star ingredient. But she still needed to come up with a recipe that would prove irresistible to customers. One of her first stops was Hope & Main, an incubator for food businesses, located in Warren. It would take years of trial and error for Mechale to develop the crunchy snack food she sells today.

    “She’s the quintessential entrepreneur,” said Lisa Raiola, president and founder of Hope & Main. “She iterates. She learns. For her to have transformed this ancient grain in a way that’s very accessible to us, and build this brand, is pretty remarkable. She’s a powerhouse.”


    Saron’s goTeff snak products come in a variety of flavors. (The Providence Journal)

    Joe Loberti is equally impressed. A longtime businessman and entrepreneur himself, Loberti has mentored Mechale since 2019 through the RIHub Venture Mentoring Service. The nonprofit relies on industry veterans who volunteer to mentor entrepreneurs who want to launch startups in the Ocean State.

    “She really is a remarkable individual,” he said about Mechale. “At the first meeting, we were wowed by her communication skills and knowledge of the product.”

    With the help of the mentoring sessions, Mechale expanded her target customer beyond the purely athletic to the health-conscious. She made sure that her goTeff snacks — which can also be used as a cereal, granola or topping for yogurt or salad — were not only gluten-, dairy- and nut-free, but they only contained a handful of healthy ingredients.

    She perfected her logo and packaging to “communicate the joy and essence of Ethiopian culture.” The company’s tagline: go long, go strong, goTeff!

    Empowering girls in Ethiopia

    And staying true to her focus on social impact, she is partnering with Girls Gotta Run, an organization in Ethiopia that uses sports to empower girls and keep them in school.

    For now, Mechale has moved production to an industrial kitchen in Providence. She’s streamlined the production process and is focusing more on sales.

    “Before COVID, we’d let customers [at farmers markets and events] sample it,” she said. “We know that once people try our product, they buy it. But because most people don’t know what teff is, they’re more cautious.”


    Saron Simon Mechale breaks up sheets of baked teff products into snack-size portions. Now working in an industrial kitchen in Providence, she dreams of one day moving production to her native Ethiopia to boost its economy. (The Providence Journal)

    Mechale has been selling her teff crisps at farmers markets, at Plant City (a vegan restaurant in Providence) and on the goTeff website. She just joined WhatsGood, an online “market” that connects local growers and food businesses to customers. And, she’s hoping to get a big boost from renowned “superfoods hunter” Darin Olien. The wellness author recently recorded an interview with Mechale about goTeff for an upcoming episode of his podcast, “The Darin Olien Show.”

    For the foreseeable future, Mechale plans to keep working 80-hour weeks to grow goTeff in the American marketplace. Her dream is to one day move production to Ethiopia and help lift the local economy.

    “In a lot of ways, I’ve looked up to Saron,” said Mary Magdalene Langat, a close friend from Brown who helps Mechale with goTeff. “She’s very brave, and she goes for what she wants. When someone believes in themselves and their vision so much, they take you in with them.”


    Brown University graduate Saron Simon Mechale says she sees goTeff as a way to help rebrand and lift the economy of her native Ethiopia, while empowering women. (The Providence Journal)

    Not everyone is born knowing what they’re passionate about or what they want to do,” Mechale said. “I think passion comes after you invest a significant amount of time in something. For me, I am passionate about rebranding Ethiopia. I’m passionate about empowering women. And, I’m passionate about making teff and healthy food options accessible to people.”

    Go long, go strong, go Saron Mechale!

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    UPDATE: Biden Signs $1.9 Trillion ‘American Rescue Package’ into Law

    President Joe Biden signs the American Rescue Plan Act on Thursday in the Oval Office of the White House. (Getty Images)

    The Washington Post

    President Biden signed a $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package into law on Thursday, setting in motion a vast effort on the part of his administration to implement one of the largest stimulus measures in U.S. history, and some stimulus payments could be delivered this weekend.

    “This historic legislation is about rebuilding the backbone of this country,” the president said during the bill signing.

    The first round of stimulus payments of up to $1,400 could go out this weekend to Americans whose direct deposit bank account information is already on hand at the IRS, said White House press secretary Jen Psaki on Thursday.

    The bill, known as the American Rescue Package, authorizes a third round of one-time stimulus payments up to $1,400 for most Americans; extends additional unemployment support to millions still out of work; and makes major changes to the tax code to benefit families with children. It also sets aside new federal money to help schools reopen, aid cities and states facing budget shortfalls, and assist in the distribution of coronavirus vaccine doses.

    Democrats have pledged to promote the bill heavily in the coming months, touting it as one of the most significant anti-poverty proposals that Congress has adopted in a generation. Biden, meanwhile, is expected to embark on a cross-country tour to sell the rescue plan to voters, including a trip to Pennsylvania scheduled for Tuesday. Vice President Harris and her husband are set to deliver the same message out west, although details of the trip are not yet clear.

    For now, Biden’s signature on the law puts the U.S. government on track to start delivering some of the total $1.9 trillion in new coronavirus support, including stimulus checks. Administration officials have said a large number of Americans could receive their checks before the end of the month since the IRS, which is tasked with implementing the program, has delivered such aid in the past.

    Other elements of the sweeping law may prove much tougher to implement, as the U.S. government must grapple with complex new mandates to deliver it in a tight time frame. That includes some of the changes to unemployment benefits and the new payments to be provided to Americans who have children, meaning it could be weeks or months before some families start to see the full scope of support authorized under the law. The White House said this week it would task an official to oversee stimulus spending across government.

    Its passage offered an early economic jolt: Two airline giants, United Airlines and American Airlines, said this week they would cancel tens of thousands of layoffs as a result of aid they are set to receive under the stimulus law. The Metropolitan Transit Authority of New York, which oversees the city’s buses and trains, said the money would help stave off layoffs and other service cuts in the face of a rapidly dwindling budget situation.

    Biden had initially intended to sign the bill on Friday, but White House aides said they received a copy of the legislation from Congress earlier than anticipated, allowing the president to put his signature on the proposal hours before he is set to deliver his first-ever prime time television address.

    Related Videos:

    Watch: Pelosi touts American Rescue Plan ahead of House vote


    House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) praised the American Rescue Plan on March 9 ahead of its expected passage. (The Washington Post)


    Economic stimulus or economic relief: Here’s what we know about who might qualify for the next round of coronavirus checks and how much they’ll get. (The Washington Post)

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    UPDATE: Ethiopian 737 MAX Crash Families Set to Obtain Key Documents

    At a memorial service for the crew of Ethiopian Airlines Flight ET302 at the Ethiopian Pilots Association in Addis Ababa. The Boeing 737 Max crashed near Ethiopia's capital on 10 March 2019 killing all 157 on board. (Photo by Mulugeta Ayene/AP)

    Reuters

    Updated: March 12th, 2021

    Ethiopian 737 MAX crash families set to obtain key Boeing documents

    Families of victims of the deadly 2019 Ethiopian Airlines jet crash may obtain as soon as Thursday Boeing’s reports to U.S. regulators that helped keep its 737 MAX flying after a prior disaster with the same jet in Indonesia five months earlier.

    The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), an independent U.S. government investigative agency, told Boeing Co in a letter on Monday it should turn over nearly 2,000 documents to lawyers representing families who want to determine what the company knew about its flight systems after the Indonesian crash on Lion Air.

    The agency said international rules mandate the release of the documents after two years from the crash date, even though Ethiopia has yet to produce a final crash report which the agency cited in blocking the documents until now, according to the letter reviewed by Reuters.

    Boeing said it plans to produce the investigation-related information to the plaintiffs beginning today following the NTSB guidance that, at the second anniversary of the Ethiopian accident, the restrictions would be lifted.

    The plaintiffs lawyers said they expect the papers to show what Boeing executives knew of defects in the flight system of the newly designed aircraft following the Indonesian crash. An automated flight-control system called MCAS has been implicated in both crashes, which together killed 346 people.

    The plane continued to fly until the Ethiopian crash prompted a global grounding.

    “What we want to see are the documents upon which Boeing resisted the grounding of the airplane and based its assertion to its customers that the airplane was safe,” plaintiffs’ attorney Justin Green told Reuters.

    Related:

    UPDATE: Ethiopia to Release Final Boeing Max Report in ‘Near Future’

    Bloomberg

    By Samuel Gebre

    Updated: March 10th, 2021

    (Bloomberg) — The Ethiopian Accident Investigation Bureau said Wednesday it plans to release a final report on the fatal crash of the Boeing Co. jet in the “near future” after lockdowns to contain the Covid-19 pandemic hampered the investigation.

    The work is in the final stages, the Transport Ministry said in a statement on its Facebook page Wednesday, without giving a publication date. The update coincided with the two-year anniversary of the Ethiopian Airlines jet disaster outside Addis Ababa, which killed all 157 people on board.

    The incident followed another fatal Max crash in Indonesia the previous year and led to regulators grounding the model worldwide, plunging Boeing into crisis. The U.S. planemaker has since made revisions to the model and addressed safety concerns, and the jet was cleared to return to the skies in its home market late last year.

    While regulators in the European Union, U.K., U.A.E. and others have since followed suit, others are more circumspect. China, a major market for Boeing, still has safety concerns and said this month it’s awaiting conclusions from the Ethiopia probe.

    Ethiopia’s final report will build on interim findings released a year ago. Investigators had then planned to say Boeing’s design and inadequate pilot training led to the crash, but those conclusions were dropped after push back from the U.S. and France, Bloomberg reported at the time.

    The interim conclusions did highlight the role of a malfunctioning safety feature known as the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System, to which Boeing has since made several changes.

    Meanwhile, families of the crash victims are planning a series of events to commemorate the second anniversary. Representatives are planning to meet with Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg in Washington, protest outside a Boeing office in nearby Virginia and hold an hour-long vigil outside the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration offices.

    Related:

    UPDATE: In Court Filing Ethiopia 737 MAX Crash Lawyers ask Boeing CEO to Testify


    Families have called for testimony from Boeing Chief Executive Dave Calhoun, his predecessor [Dennis Muilenburg, pictured above] and other current and former employees as part of their legal case in Chicago, court documents show. (Reuters)

    Reuters

    Updated: February 27th, 2021

    Relatives of victims of a Boeing Co 737 MAX crash in Ethiopia that occurred five months after an Indonesian Lion Air disaster are stepping up pressure on the American planemaker and the federal government, according to a court filing and a letter to U.S. lawmakers.

    Families have called for testimony from Boeing Chief Executive Dave Calhoun, his predecessor and other current and former employees as part of their legal case in Chicago, court documents show.

    Separately, the families urged lawmakers in letter to demand that the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration turn over internal emails and documents spanning the Lion Air crash and one month after the Ethiopian crash. Together, 346 people died.

    The letter was sent to members of the House and Senate transportation committees on Friday, including committee head Representative Peter DeFazio and aviation subcommittee chair Representative Rick Larsen.

    A Congressional official said: “I can confirm that this week Chairs DeFazio and Larsen re-upped their request to DOT (Department of Transportation) for FAA records that have gone unfulfilled to date.”

    A Senate report in December detailed lapses in aviation safety oversight and failed leadership in the FAA. It found that FAA leaders obstructed that report as well as a DOT watchdog review of the regulator’s oversight, the results of which were released on Wednesday.

    “There is serious unfinished business,” the families said in the letter, reviewed by Reuters.

    Boeing has mostly settled civil litigation stemming from the Lion Air crash, but still faces over 100 lawsuits in Chicago federal court related to the second crash.

    The plaintiffs’ lawyers are focusing on what Boeing knew about the causes of the first crash and why the plane continued to fly. They want to schedule depositions of Calhoun and Muilenburg between May 3 and June 18.

    Those victims’ families also want to know what FAA management, which in November lifted a 20-month safety ban of the MAX, understood about the first crash.

    Boeing’s board faces a separate investor lawsuit in Delaware Chancery Court, where a complaint unsealed this month alleged breach of fiduciary duties and gross negligence by failing “to monitor the safety of Boeing’s 737 MAX airplanes.”

    Last month, Boeing reached a $2.5 billion settlement with the Justice Department over the 737 MAX crashes, including a $243.6 million fine.

    Related:

    Boeing Reaches $2.5 Billion Settlement in 737 MAX Crashes in Ethiopia & Indonesia


    Ethiopian officials deliver the Black Box for Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 to the headquarters of France’s BEA air accident investigation agency in Le Bourget, France on March 14, 2019. As NPR reports the families of the passengers who died in the crash will be compensated from a fund of $500 million. (Reuters photo)

    NPR

    Updated: January 7th, 2021

    Boeing To Pay $2.5 Billion Over 737 Max Fraud, Faces No Other Charges

    Boeing will pay more than $2.5 billion to settle criminal charges that it repeatedly concealed and lied about the 737 Max’s engineering problems that led to two catastrophic crashes claiming hundreds of lives.

    The company admitted to one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States as part of the deferred prosecution agreement announced on Thursday and will face no further charges from the U.S. Department of Justice.

    “Boeing’s employees chose the path of profit over candor by concealing material information from the FAA concerning the operation of its 737 Max airplane and engaging in an effort to cover up their deception,” Acting Assistant Attorney General David Burns of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, wrote in a statement.

    Boeing, which is the country’s second-biggest defense contractor behind Lockheed Martin, will pay the DOJ a criminal penalty of $243.6 million.

    The families and legal beneficiaries of the 346 passenger victims who died in the Lion Air Flight 610 in Indonesia in October 2018 and the Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 in Ethiopia five months later will be paid from a fund of $500 million. If split equally among them, that amounts to a little over $1.4 million for each family.

    The vast majority of the settlement is allocated for airline companies that had purchased the faulty 737 Max aircraft and were subsequently forced to ground the planes following the crashes. Together they will receive $1.77 billion in compensation for their financial losses, according to the DOJ.

    “The tragic crashes of Lion Air Flight 610 and Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 exposed fraudulent and deceptive conduct by employees of one of the world’s leading commercial airplane manufacturers,” Burns added in the statement.

    In both cases, the crashes were caused by changes to the jet’s Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System that forced the nose of the 737 Max toward the ground and left pilots unable to control the planes.

    In a note to employees, Boeing President and Chief Executive Officer David Calhoun said, “I firmly believe that entering into this resolution is the right thing for us to do—a step that appropriately acknowledges how we fell short of our values and expectations.”

    He added: “This resolution is a serious reminder to all of us of how critical our obligation of transparency to regulators is, and the consequences that our company can face if any one of us falls short of those expectations.”

    Internal Boeing documents revealed during a U.S.House panel’s inquiry showed that engineers notified the company of the MCAS “egregious” problems as early as 2016.

    Related:

    Ethiopian Report Blames Boeing for 737 MAX Plane Crash

    Boeing to Stop 737 Max Production (AP)

    Internal FAA review saw high risk of 737 MAX crashes

    Boeing Was Aware of 737 Max Problem Long Before Ethiopia Crash – Report

    Boeing CEO Apologizes to Victims of Ethiopia, Indonesia Crashes

    Ethiopian Airlines Slams Bloomberg’s Ex-Pilot Story as ‘Baseless & False Allegation’

    Read Excerpt From Ethiopia Crash Report

    Ethiopian Airlines Expresses Disappointment – Calls Out Media Outlets Eager to Blame Pilot

    Watch: Ethiopian CEO on The Future of Boeing 737 Max Planes — NBC Exclusive

    Watch: Ethiopia Releases 737 Max Preliminary Crash Report

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    UPDATE: New U.S. Ambassador to Ethiopia Ms. Geeta Pasi Visits Tigray

    Ambassador Pasi, who replaced the former U.S. Ambassador to Ethiopia Michael Raynor, arrived in Ethiopia last week presenting her credentials to President Sahle-Work Zewde on March 5th, 2021. (Photo: @USEmbassyAddis/Twitter)

    Tadias Magazine

    By Tadias Staff

    Updated: March 10th, 2021

    New York (TADIAS) – This week the U.S. Embassy in Addis Ababa announced that new U.S. Ambassador to Ethiopia Ms. Geeta Pasi is visiting Tigray to assess the situation on the ground.

    “Ambassador Pasi and members of the U.S. Embassy will travel to Tigray today,” the Embassy said in a social media post on Wednesday. “This is her first official trip, and it underscores America’s partnership with the people of Ethiopia.”

    Ambassador Pasi, who replaced the former U.S. Ambassador to Ethiopia Michael Raynor, arrived in Ethiopia last week presenting her credentials to President Sahle-Work Zewde on March 5th.

    Ms. Pasi, an Indian American from New York, is a career Foreign Service Officer and most recently served as the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for African Affairs at the Department of State.

    Related:

    Ethiopia frees workers with foreign media detained in Tigray, official says

    Reuters

    By Reuters Staff

    Updated: March 3rd, 2021

    NAIROBI (Reuters) – Four Ethiopians working with foreign journalists in the northern Tigray region have been released without charges, an official and media outlets said on Wednesday.

    A reporter for the BBC’s Tigrinya language service, Girmay Gebru, two translators with Agence France-Presse and the Financial Times, and a journalist working with the New York Times were detained in recent days, their outlets said.

    “All journalists and translators have been released without charges,” Abebe Gebrehiwot Yihdego, deputy head of Tigray’s interim administration, told Reuters.

    The BBC confirmed Girmay’s release in a tweet, while AFP and the New York Times also confirmed in emails to Reuters that those working with them had been freed.

    “We are pleased that the local journalist we had worked with was released and that no charges were filed,” said the New York Times’ communications vice-president Danielle Rhoades Ha.

    Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has overseen sweeping reforms since taking office in 2018, including the unbanning of more than 250 media outlets and release of dozens of journalists.

    However, rights groups say press freedom has suffered during outbreaks of violence including in Tigray, where thousands have died in fighting since last year between federal troops and the former local ruling party.

    Watchdogs reported the arrests of at least 13 journalists in Ethiopia last year, including Reuters cameraman Kumerra Gemechu who was held without charge for 12 days.

    Abiy’s government declared victory over the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) after its forces withdrew from major cities and towns at the end of November.

    However, low-level fighting has continued in parts.

    UPDATE: U.S. Deploys Diaster Response Team to Tigray, Urges End of Hostilities


    The USAID team will lead the U.S. Government’s humanitarian response. The press release said: “The team includes disaster experts who are assessing the situation, identifying priority needs to scale up assistance, and working with partners to provide urgently needed assistance to communities affected by the conflict.” The U.S. is the largest humanitarian donor in Ethiopia, having given more than $652 million last year alone. (Photo: USAID Headquarters in D.C./Shutterstock.com)

    Press Release

    Office of Press Relations: press@usaid.gov

    USAID DEPLOYS DISASTER ASSISTANCE RESPONSE TEAM TO RESPOND TO HUMANITARIAN NEEDS IN TIGRAY, ETHIOPIA

    The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) is deploying a Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) to respond to growing humanitarian needs stemming from conflict in Ethiopia’s Tigray region. After nearly four months of fighting between armed groups, hundreds of thousands have been forced to flee their homes and more than four million people are in need of food assistance.

    USAID’s DART will lead the U.S. Government’s humanitarian response. The team includes disaster experts who are assessing the situation, identifying priority needs to scale up assistance, and working with partners to provide urgently needed assistance to communities affected by the conflict.

    Since the outbreak of conflict, USAID’s partners have been pivoting existing programs to provide life-saving assistance in the few areas of Tigray that can be reached. While USAID has been working with partners to overcome many access challenges, an estimated 80 percent of Tigray remains cut off from assistance.

    The United States remains committed to supporting the people of Ethiopia and is the largest humanitarian donor in Ethiopia. In FY 2020, the U.S. provided more than $652 million in humanitarian assistance to respond to acute food needs, conflict-driven displacement, flooding, a desert locust infestation, and the COVID-19 pandemic.

    U.S. Urges Ethiopia to End Hostilities in Tigray

    By Reuters

    Published March 2, 2021

    WASHINGTON — Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken on Tuesday pressed the leader od Ethiopia to end hostilities in the northern Tigray region, citing a “growing number of credible reports of atrocities and human rights violations and abuses.”

    In a phone call with Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, Mr. Blinken pushed for Ethiopia to withdraw outside forces from Tigray, and for an immediate end to the violence, according to a State Department spokesman, Ned Price.

    The Biden administration is seeking an end to what it describes as a deepening humanitarian crisis. It was the second time in less than a week that Mr. Blinken cited reports of atrocities in the region.

    “The secretary urged the Ethiopian government to take immediate, concrete steps to protect civilians, including refugees, and to prevent further violence,” Mr. Price said in a statement Tuesday.

    Speaking to reporters, he said, “We strongly condemn the killings, the forced removals and displacement, the sexual assaults, and other human rights violations and abuses by several parties that multiple organizations have now reported.”

    Mr. Blinken also asked that Mr. Abiy allow independent international investigations.

    A spokeswoman for Mr. Abiy, Billene Seyoum, pointed to a statement made late last month in which Ethiopia’s Foreign Affairs Ministry called American attempts to intervene in its internal affairs “regrettable.”

    The statement said that Ethiopia’s government took its responsibility for the safety, security, and well-being of all citizens “very seriously” and that it was “fully committed to undertake thorough investigations” into reports of abused.

    But it added the government had a duty to hold the nation together in the face of “treasonous and divisive forces.”

    The Ethiopians military ousted the former local ruling party, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front, from the regional capital in November, after what it described as a surprise assault on its forces in Tigray.

    Thousands of people have died, hundreds of thousands have been forced from homes and there are shortages of food, water and medicine around the region of more than five million people.

    Related:

    UPDATE: Ethiopia Responds to U.S. Criticism Over Tigray


    People receive services from a mobile health and nutrition clinic in Freweyni town, north of Mekele, Monday, Feb. 22, 2021. (Zerihun Sewunet/UNICEF via AP)

    The Associated Press

    Ethiopia rebuffs US call to pull outside forces from Tigray

    Ethiopia’s government is rebuffing calls by the United States to withdraw troops from the embattled Tigray region.

    In response to U.S Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s call for Ethiopia to immediately withdraw troops from Tigray, Ethiopia’s foreign ministry said that it is an issue to be decided by the Addis Ababa government, not a foreign power.

    “It should be clear that such matters are the sole responsibility of the Ethiopian government,” Ethiopia’s foreign ministry said in a statement issued Sunday. “The Ethiopian government, like any government of a sovereign nation, has in place various organizing principles in its federal and regional structures which are solely accountable only to the Ethiopian people.”

    No foreign country should try to “dictate a sovereign nation’s internal affairs,” said the Ethiopian statement.

    Alarm is growing over the fate of Tigray’s 6 million people as fierce fighting reportedly continues between Ethiopian and allied forces and those supporting the now-fugitive Tigray leaders who once dominated Ethiopia’s government.

    The United Nations in its latest humanitarian report on the situation in Tigray says the “humanitarian situation continues to deteriorate” as fighting intensifies across the northern region.

    “Aid workers on the ground have reported hearing gunshots from the main cities, including in Mekelle and Shire,” the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs reported on Sunday. “Residents and aid workers on the ground continue reporting incidents of house searches and indiscriminate looting, including of household items, farming equipment, ambulances and office vehicles, allegedly by various armed actors.”

    No one knows how many thousands of civilians have been killed. Humanitarian officials have warned that a growing number of people might be starving to death in Tigray.

    Accounts of atrocities by Ethiopian and allied forces against residents of Tigray were detailed in reports by The Associated Press and by Amnesty International. Ethiopia’s federal government and regional officials in Tigray both believe that each other’s governments are illegitimate after the pandemic disrupted elections.

    Related:

    Ethiopia slams US for urging pullout of Amhara forces


    The Ethiopian Foreign Ministry said in a statement: “The Ethiopian government, like any government of a sovereign nation, has in place various organizing principles in its Federal and Regional structures which are solely accountable only to the Ethiopian people.” (Anadolu Agency)

    AA

    Addis Getachew Tadesse

    Forces from Amhara region were on frontlines of law enforcement operations against Tigray rebels last November

    ADDIS ABABA – The Ethiopian government on Monday lashed out at the US for demanding the withdrawal of forces from the region of Amhara in the country’s northernmost Tigray region.

    Force from the Amhara region were on the frontlines of law enforcement operations launched against the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) last November after the group’s deadly attack on the Northern Command of the Ethiopian National Defense Forces.

    On Saturday, US Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken issued a statement saying that Amhara and the neighboring country of Eritrea need to pull their troops out of the Tigray region.

    The US remarks followed a report by Amnesty International that hundreds of civilians were shot dead in the town of Axum in Tigray — a report that alleged the involvement of Eritrean forces in the killings, which, if proved, could amount to crimes against humanity.

    “[The] attempt by the US to make pronouncements on Ethiopia’s internal affairs and specifically the reference to the Amhara regional forces’ redeployment is regrettable,” the Ethiopian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

    “It should be clear that such matters are the sole responsibility of the Ethiopian government, which, as a sovereign nation, is responsible to deploy the necessary security structures and means available in ensuring the rule of law within all corners of its borders,” it said.

    It added: “The Ethiopian government, like any government of a sovereign nation, has in place various organizing principles in its Federal and Regional structures which are solely accountable only to the Ethiopian people.”

    The Horn of Africa country said it would investigate the alleged killings and other human rights abuses in Tigray.

    Ethiopia’s War Leads to Ethnic Cleansing in Tigray Region, U.S. Report Says


    Children playing in front a house in the Tigray region that was damaged in fighting in December. (Getty Images)

    The New York Times

    Updated: Feb. 27, 2021

    An internal U.S. government report found that people in Tigray are being driven from their homes in a war begun by Ethiopia, an American ally — posing President Biden’s first major test in Africa.

    Ethiopian officials and allied militia fighters are leading a systematic campaign of ethnic cleansing in Tigray, the war-torn region in northern Ethiopia, according to an internal United States government report obtained by The New York Times.

    The report, written earlier this month, documents in stark terms a land of looted houses and deserted villages where tens of thousands of people are unaccounted for…

    On Friday afternoon, in response to the Amnesty International report, Mr. Abiy’s office said it was ready to collaborate in an international investigation into atrocities in Tigray. The government “reiterates its commitment to enabling a stable and peaceful region,” it said in a statement.

    Read the full article at nytimes.com »

    Related:

    UPDATE: In Ethiopia Premier Launches Campaign to Support Tigray


    “In an online meeting held this afternoon [Thursday, February 18th 2021], Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, the regional presidents, and city administrators launched a solidarity initiative for the Tigray Regional Provisional Administration and the people of the region,” said a statement by the office of the prime minister. (AA)

    AA

    By Addis Getachew

    Updated: February 18th 2021

    ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia — The Ethiopian prime minister and regional authorities have launched a campaign to support the rehabilitation and reconstruction of the restive Tigray region.

    “In an online meeting held this [Thursday] afternoon, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, the regional presidents, and city administrators launched a solidarity initiative for the Tigray Regional Provisional Administration and the people of the region,” said a statement by the office of the prime minister.

    “The solidarity initiative aims at mobilizing the contribution of regions and federal institutions as well as other stakeholders in supporting humanitarian efforts underway, in addition to food and non-food items to be directed to the people of Tigray,” it said.

    It added that “the regional presidents also pledged direct support to strengthen the provisional administration to carry out public service delivery duties.”

    Vehicles, various equipment, input seeds for farmers, ambulances, medicines, and monetary support were pledged by each region and would be handed over to the provisional administration within the coming days.

    “Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed further called upon all sections of society to make whatever contributions they can towards the #RebuildTigray solidarity initiative,” the statement noted.

    On Nov. 3, 2020, the now-outlawed Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) and its special forces attacked the Northern Command of the Ethiopian National Defense Forces, killing soldiers and looting military hardware.

    The following day, the federal government launched what has been dubbed as a large-scale law enforcement operation in Tigray in which the TPLF was largely defeated and some of its top leaders and fighters were either neutralized or captured.

    Although the prime minister declared the military operations were over on Nov. 28, there have been sporadic clashes between the government forces and fighters loyal to TPLF.

    More than 60,000 Ethiopians fled the fighting to neighboring Sudan while international organizations have been calling for scaled-up humanitarian assistance in the region for civilians affected by the conflict.

    Hundreds of thousands of civilians have also been reported to have become internally displaced and in dire need of emergency assistance.

    The international media have been kept out of the scene, making it difficult to give total pictures of the humanitarian tribulations and suffering in an objective and impartial manner.

    An Addis Ababa resident with relatives living in Tigray told Anadolu Agency, asking to remain anonymous, that humanitarian assistance in support of suffering civilians has not been sufficient.

    Last week, the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission revealed that 108 rape cases were reported in two months across the region.

    Related:

    UPDATE: UN Ethiopia Tweeted ‘Progress’ on Humanitarian Front in Tigray

    UN, Ethiopia Strike a Deal Over Aid Workers’ Access to Tigray

    ANALYSIS: In Ethiopia’s Digital Battle Over the Tigray Region, Facts Are Casualties

    UPDATE: PM Abiy Ahmed’s Message to the World on the Situation in Ethiopia

    Doctors Without Borders on the Humanitarian Crisis

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    NPR: How Minnesota Pharmacist Elias Usso Rebuilt After George Floyd Protests

    The George Floyd murder trial begins Monday. NPR speaks with pharmacist Elias Usso, whose neighborhood shop was destroyed by rioters and has now reopened. (Photo: Star Tribune)

    NPR

    Neighbors Help Minneapolis Pharmacist Rebuild Shop After George Floyd Protests

    The George Floyd murder trial begins Monday. NPR’s Scott Simon speaks with pharmacist Elias Usso, whose neighborhood shop was destroyed by rioters and has now reopened.

    SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

    The city of Minneapolis is on edge. The trial of the former police officer charged in the killing of George Floyd begins on Monday. Barbed wire and fencing has been put up around the courthouse. The video of George Floyd with a policeman’s knee on his neck is painful to see. There are also hard memories of some of the unrest that followed.

    Seward Pharmacy was destroyed. It is owned by Elias Usso, who didn’t live far away but who had to watch helplessly as looters smashed the shop that he and his wife had opened months before. But the pharmacy is now back with the help of neighbors and nonprofit groups, and they are even giving COVID-19 vaccine shots. Elias Usso joins us from Minneapolis. Mr. Usso, thanks so much for being with us.

    ELIAS USSO: Thank you, Scott, for having me.

    SIMON: I have to ask you to tell us if you could, please, what happened months ago. I understand your store is just a few blocks from the 3rd District police station that burned down. What happened that night to your pharmacy?

    USSO: It was a traumatic situation for us to just watch it live. The morning that we went to the pharmacy, it was hard for us to just get up. We couldn’t even sleep. It was, like, totally destroyed. You cannot recognize something that I left that night before. Drugs, all these pills on the floor, water, ashes – so it was just horrible. And then I looked around – it was the whole neighborhood – and I said, this is again is – you know, the injustice happened. It’s not only us. We are in it together.

    Once we start cleaning, neighbors just came out, just flooded. How we can help? There was this gentleman that brought his brooms and vacuums in to clean with us. That’s when I felt like, you know what? We can’t give up on this. I mean, this is my home, and I feel great, you know, being a part of this neighborhood. Regardless whatever happened, we’re here to reopen and continue giving service.

    SIMON: Tell us about your community, your neighborhood, your customers.

    USSO: So our neighbor is very diverse. And majority of my community, Oromo community here from Ethiopia, lives here. It’s one of the most wonderful, welcoming immigrant state. And it’s willing to embrace you. It’s where you can thrive. You leave your refugee life behind you and just move forward to grow and to open your own business, like I did.

    SIMON: Mr. Usso, I have to ask, as this significant trial is about to begin, what are your feelings about the police?

    USSO: As a Black person, as an immigrant, you know, as owner of a business, it kind of makes you feel sad, you know? Something happened at my business. Should I call the police or not? That’s getting to a question that – should I do that, you know? And then if I call, is something bad going to happen? So we have to fix this. This is – it’s not only one person who can fix this. It’s all of us together. So not all police are bad. That’s not the perception that I personally have. But these days, you know, we’ve stretching police officers also to the point that we give them a call for everything – for mental health, for all kinds of stuff – while that money could be allocated to a different avenue of helping the society.

    SIMON: How do you feel as the trial is about to open, Mr. Usso?

    USSO: I hope to see justice will be served, and we hope the George Floyd family will get justice, you know, for what happened to George Floyd. It’s – it’s just – it’s hard to think about it, you know, someone kneeling on your neck and for eight minutes and 40-something second and getting away.

    SIMON: Do you have – as the trial is about to open, do you have any concerns about your family, your business?

    USSO: My priority now is to make sure that my patients get their prescription. But, you know, when I look back, you know, if that destruction didn’t happen at all, would the world have heard us? Would there be any cry-out? I wonder that. Maybe, you know, for me, you know, as a business owner, for our business to be like that, maybe that’s just the little price that we pay for justice. I see it that way.

    SIMON: Elias Usso – pharmacist, and he owns the Seward Pharmacy in Minneapolis – thanks so much for being with us, sir.

    USSO: Thank you very much.

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    NASA Set to Launch a Space Mission Named After ‘Lucy’ (Dinkinesh)

    Lucy is named for the famous two-million-year-old fossil found in Ethiopia in the 1970s that, as a relative of modern humans, helped illuminate the evolution of our species. It is hoped that the spacecraft Lucy will similarly elucidate our solar system's earliest days. (Photo: An artist's concept of NASA's Lucy mission, which will study Jupiter's Trojan asteroids/Image credit: Southwest Research Institute)

    Space.com

    Lucy mission: NASA’s visit to the Trojan asteroids

    The Lucy mission is a NASA probe scheduled to launch in October 2021 that will explore a set of asteroids near Jupiter known as the Trojans. These ancient space rocks hold important clues to the creation of our solar system and, potentially, the origin of life on Earth.

    Along with a mission called Psyche, Lucy was approved in January 2017 as part of NASA’s Discovery program, which supports focused and relatively cheap planetary missions whose development costs are capped at around $450 million. A year after approval, the mission was officially given a schedule and a set of eight asteroid targets.

    Lucy is named for a famous female Australopithecus afarensis fossil found in Ethiopia that, as a relative of modern humans, helped illuminate the evolution of our species. It is hoped that the spacecraft Lucy will similarly elucidate our solar system’s earliest days.

    LUCY SPACECRAFT SIZE AND INSTRUMENTS

    Lucy spans more than 46 feet (14 meters) from tip to tip, larger than a 4-story building, though much of that width will be the enormous solar panels used to power the spacecraft, according to NASA. The spacecraft will carry an instrument that can measure the surface temperatures of its target asteroids, providing information about their composition, two high-resolution cameras, and a device that uses infrared light to inspect and identify ice, organic material, and different minerals in each asteroid.

    NASA is scheduled to launch Lucy on its 12-year mission in October 2021 on an Atlas V 401 rocket from Cape Canaveral in Florida, according to the agency. The total cost to launch the spacecraft is approximately $148.3 million, which includes the launch service and other mission related costs.


    An artist’s depiction of the Lucy spacecraft with extended solar panels, studying asteroids. (Image credit: SwRI)

    LUCY MISSION TARGETS: THE TROJAN ASTEROIDS

    The probe’s main objects of study are the Trojan asteroids. These objects are thought to be remnants from the primordial disk that formed the sun and planets, which were captured by Jupiter’s gravity sometime near the beginning of the solar system.

    Lucy will be the first mission to visit the Trojans, which are each named for famous figures from the Trojan war in Greek mythology.

    According to NASA, the Trojans share Jupiter’s orbit around the sun in two loose groups, with one set slightly ahead of the gas giant and another behind it. “The Trojans are stabilized by the sun and its largest planet in a gravitational balancing act,” the agency wrote.

    After being launched from Earth, the spacecraft will first make a quick flyby of a main belt asteroid in 2025. The small space rock is named 52246 Donaldjohanson after the paleontologist who discovered the fossil Lucy. Situated between Mars and Jupiter, the fly-by will serve primarily as a test for the spacecraft’s instruments, according to the Southwest Research Institute (SwRI), which helps oversee the craft.


    A diagram of Lucy’s itinerary among the Trojan asteroids that trail and lead Jupiter. (Image credit: Southwest Research Institute)

    If all goes according to plan, between 2027 and 2033, Lucy will then fly past six Trojan asteroids, including three different asteroid subclasses and two objects that rotate around each other. NASA has said that “no other space mission in history has been launched to as many different destinations in independent orbits around our sun.”

    The mission’s targets include C-type, D-type, and P-type asteroids, each of which will help scientists better understand the solar system’s genesis, according to SwRI.

    WHAT ARE C-TYPE ASTEROIDS?

    Lucy will fly by two C-type asteroids: the previously mentioned main asteroid belt object Donaldjohanson and a Trojan named Eurybates.

    C-type asteroids are rich in carbon and are where most meteorites on Earth originated. The OSIRIS-REx and Hayabusa 2 missions have previously collected samples from C-type asteroids to bring back to our planet for study.

    WHAT ARE D-TYPE AND P-TYPE ASTEROIDS?

    It will also inspect two D-type asteroids, which are named Leucus and Orus, and three P-type asteroids, one named Polymele and a binary asteroid pair orbiting one another called Patroclus and Menoetius.

    D-type and P-type asteroids are much redder than C-type asteroids and are hypothesized to be rich in organic and volatile elements. No mission has ever flown past a D- or P-type asteroid before.

    The asteroids are expected to provide a wealth of information, especially about the organic material that would have rained down on our planet in its earliest days and potentially helped trigger the creation of living organisms. Each target is also thought to contain water ice underneath its rocky surface.

    The final encounter with Patroclus and Menoetius is considered particularly special because the pair spend most of their time orbiting high above the main ecliptic plane of the solar system and are therefore hard to reach. The elusive asteroid pair will be passing through a region that is accessible to Lucy in March of 2033, when the spacecraft is scheduled to reach them.

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    Academy Museum to Honor Sophia Loren, Haile Gerima at Gala

    Screen legend Sophia Loren and independent filmmaker Haile Gerima will be honored with special awards by the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures during its opening gala in September in Los Angeles, California. (AP)

    The Associated Press

    The Academy Museum of Motion Pictures is assembling a star-studded cast for its opening gala in September. Italian screen legend Sophia Loren and independent filmmaker Haile Gerima will be honored with special awards, and Tom Hanks, Annette Bening and Bob Iger are being saluted for their efforts to raise $388 million for the long gestating museum, the organization said Monday.

    The gala will be held on Sept. 25 as the kick-off to a week of celebrations leading up to the museum’s opening to the public on Sept. 30.

    Bill Kramer, the director and president of the Academy Museum, said in a statement that the museum is “committed to celebrating and championing the work of film artists, scholars and professions through our exhibitions, screenings, programs, collections and now, through our annual gala.”

    Gerima is acclaimed for his portraits of Black urban life in films like “Bush Mama” and “Ashes & Embers.” The Ethiopian-born filmmaker will be receiving the inaugural Vantage Award, recognizing artists who have contextualized or challenged dominant narratives in film. Loren will be getting the Visionary Award for artists whose work has advanced the art of cinema.

    Gala co-chairs include Ava DuVernay, Ryan Murphy and Jason Blum.

    Designed by architect Renzo Piano, The Academy Museum of Motion Pictures is located at the corner of Wilshire Boulevard and Fairfax Avenue in the historic Saban Building. Inaugural attractions include an exhibit celebrating legendary Japanese animator Hayao Miyazaki, and Bruce, the 1,208 pound, 25-foot-long, 45-year-old fiberglass shark made from the “Jaws” mold.

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    COVID-19: Ethiopian Airlines Delivers First Batches Of Vaccine In Ethiopia

    Ethiopian Airlines conducted a major service this week amid progress with the vaccination program in Ethiopia. The airline delivered over two million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to the country. (Getty Images)

    Simple Flying

    [This week] marked a milestone moment for Ethiopia and its flag carrier. The country received 2.184 million doses of the coronavirus vaccine through the COVAX global vaccine-sharing initiative. These doses were brought in by Ethiopian Airlines.

    Getting the ball rolling

    In December, Ethiopian Airlines struck a deal with Cainiao Network, which is the logistics branch of the Alibaba Group. This agreement formed an international cold chain from China for the supply of pharmaceuticals, including vaccines. Subsequently, temperature-controlled pharmaceuticals are being delivered twice a week from Shenzhen, China, to Africa and beyond, via hubs in Dubai, UAE, and Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

    Following this progress, millions of doses of the vaccine landed in Ethiopia today. Ethiopian Airlines shared the following about the delivery on its Twitter.

    “We have transported and delivered the first batch of COVID-19 Vaccines to Ethiopia. The shipment has arrived today and delivered to the Ethiopian MoH in a ceremony held in our cargo terminal. We will keep on providing this mission-critical service to save lives”

    A vital service

    WHO Ethiopia also tweeted how the delivery was a landmark event. The group confirmed the product that arrived is the University of Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine. It added that this move is a big step towards ensuring equitable distribution of vaccines amid the pandemic.

    Today, Ethiopian Airlines’ leadership said that the company is prepared to take a lead role in transporting vaccines across the globe. The airline’s cargo division expects demand for these operations to last for up to three years.

    Fitsum Abadi, the managing director of Ethiopian Cargo, told Reuters the following:

    “We have aircrafts converted from passengers by removing their seats, 16 of them, which are very wide aircrafts converted to transport vaccines.”


    The airline has been supporting its cargo department by utilizing otherwise dormant passenger aircraft amid the pandemic. (Getty Images)

    Rising to the task

    Altogether, Ethiopian’s cargo division has been scaling up services amid the global health crisis. Shipping has been a lifeline for carriers amid the severe downturn in passenger activity, and Ethiopian recognizes the potential.

    The airline swirly adapting its operations amid the rise of new opportunities. Early on in the pandemic, the operator took seats out of 25 of its passenger planes to increase capacity for cargo. As the world becomes more reliant on the delivery of products, the carrier is prepared to take on the challenge.

    Simple Flying reached out to Ethiopian Airlines for further comment on this landmark delivery this weekend. We will update the article with any further updates from the carrier.

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    UPDATE: IOM Releases 1st Survey on Internally Displaced Persons in Tigray

    In a statement Tuesday, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) said its Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM) survey is the first official data of this type on the crisis in Northern Ethiopia. (Photo: IOM)

    Anadolu Agency

    Over 131,000 people are displaced in 39 accessible locations in Ethiopia’s Tigray region and neighbouring Afar and Amhara, UN Migration’s Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM) survey finds.

    @IOMEthiopia

    Over 131,000 displaced in northern Ethiopia crisis: IOM

    More than 131,000 people are displaced in 39 accessible locations of Ethiopia’s Tigray region and neighboring Afar and Amhara, according to a survey.

    In a statement Tuesday, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) said its Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM) survey is the first official data of this type on the crisis in Northern Ethiopia, which began in November 2020.

    On Nov. 3, 2020, the now-outlawed Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) and its special forces attacked the Northern Command of the Ethiopian National Defense Forces, killing soldiers and looting military hardware.

    The following day, the country launched what has been dubbed as a large-scale law enforcement operation in Tigray in which the TPLF was largely defeated and some of its top leaders and fighters either neutralized or captured.

    Although Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed declared that the military operation was over on Nov. 28, there have been sporadic clashes between government forces and fighters loyal to the TPLF.

    More than 60,000 Ethiopians fled the fighting to neighboring Sudan, while international organizations have been calling for scaled-up humanitarian assistance in the region for civilians affected by the conflict.

    “The data are not indicators of the total number of persons displaced due to the crisis but rather represent only the number of internally displaced persons (IDPs) in sites accessible to DTM surveyors,” according to the IOM.

    “Almost 70% (91,046) are in Tigray, 26% (34,091) are in Afar and 5% (6,453) are in Amhara. Many displaced persons – including women and children – reportedly are in need of emergency shelter, food and access to clean and safe drinking water,” it added.

    The IOM said its Displacement Tracking Matrix will continue to expand its assessment coverage in the northern part of the country so that the needs of more internally displaced persons can be assessed.

    “The assessment was conducted in Western, Northwestern, Southeastern and Southern zones of Tigray region, as Central and Eastern zones were not accessible during the time of data collection,” it added.

    Ethiopia frees workers with foreign media detained in Tigray, official says

    Reuters

    By Reuters Staff

    Updated: March 3rd, 2021

    NAIROBI (Reuters) – Four Ethiopians working with foreign journalists in the northern Tigray region have been released without charges, an official and media outlets said on Wednesday.

    A reporter for the BBC’s Tigrinya language service, Girmay Gebru, two translators with Agence France-Presse and the Financial Times, and a journalist working with the New York Times were detained in recent days, their outlets said.

    “All journalists and translators have been released without charges,” Abebe Gebrehiwot Yihdego, deputy head of Tigray’s interim administration, told Reuters.

    The BBC confirmed Girmay’s release in a tweet, while AFP and the New York Times also confirmed in emails to Reuters that those working with them had been freed.

    “We are pleased that the local journalist we had worked with was released and that no charges were filed,” said the New York Times’ communications vice-president Danielle Rhoades Ha.

    Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has overseen sweeping reforms since taking office in 2018, including the unbanning of more than 250 media outlets and release of dozens of journalists.

    However, rights groups say press freedom has suffered during outbreaks of violence including in Tigray, where thousands have died in fighting since last year between federal troops and the former local ruling party.

    Watchdogs reported the arrests of at least 13 journalists in Ethiopia last year, including Reuters cameraman Kumerra Gemechu who was held without charge for 12 days.

    Abiy’s government declared victory over the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) after its forces withdrew from major cities and towns at the end of November.

    However, low-level fighting has continued in parts.

    UPDATE: U.S. Deploys Diaster Response Team to Tigray, Urges End of Hostilities


    The USAID team will lead the U.S. Government’s humanitarian response. The press release said: “The team includes disaster experts who are assessing the situation, identifying priority needs to scale up assistance, and working with partners to provide urgently needed assistance to communities affected by the conflict.” The U.S. is the largest humanitarian donor in Ethiopia, having given more than $652 million last year alone. (Photo: USAID Headquarters in D.C./Shutterstock.com)

    Press Release

    Office of Press Relations: press@usaid.gov

    USAID DEPLOYS DISASTER ASSISTANCE RESPONSE TEAM TO RESPOND TO HUMANITARIAN NEEDS IN TIGRAY, ETHIOPIA

    The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) is deploying a Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) to respond to growing humanitarian needs stemming from conflict in Ethiopia’s Tigray region. After nearly four months of fighting between armed groups, hundreds of thousands have been forced to flee their homes and more than four million people are in need of food assistance.

    USAID’s DART will lead the U.S. Government’s humanitarian response. The team includes disaster experts who are assessing the situation, identifying priority needs to scale up assistance, and working with partners to provide urgently needed assistance to communities affected by the conflict.

    Since the outbreak of conflict, USAID’s partners have been pivoting existing programs to provide life-saving assistance in the few areas of Tigray that can be reached. While USAID has been working with partners to overcome many access challenges, an estimated 80 percent of Tigray remains cut off from assistance.

    The United States remains committed to supporting the people of Ethiopia and is the largest humanitarian donor in Ethiopia. In FY 2020, the U.S. provided more than $652 million in humanitarian assistance to respond to acute food needs, conflict-driven displacement, flooding, a desert locust infestation, and the COVID-19 pandemic.

    U.S. Urges Ethiopia to End Hostilities in Tigray

    By Reuters

    Published March 2, 2021

    WASHINGTON — Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken on Tuesday pressed the leader od Ethiopia to end hostilities in the northern Tigray region, citing a “growing number of credible reports of atrocities and human rights violations and abuses.”

    In a phone call with Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, Mr. Blinken pushed for Ethiopia to withdraw outside forces from Tigray, and for an immediate end to the violence, according to a State Department spokesman, Ned Price.

    The Biden administration is seeking an end to what it describes as a deepening humanitarian crisis. It was the second time in less than a week that Mr. Blinken cited reports of atrocities in the region.

    “The secretary urged the Ethiopian government to take immediate, concrete steps to protect civilians, including refugees, and to prevent further violence,” Mr. Price said in a statement Tuesday.

    Speaking to reporters, he said, “We strongly condemn the killings, the forced removals and displacement, the sexual assaults, and other human rights violations and abuses by several parties that multiple organizations have now reported.”

    Mr. Blinken also asked that Mr. Abiy allow independent international investigations.

    A spokeswoman for Mr. Abiy, Billene Seyoum, pointed to a statement made late last month in which Ethiopia’s Foreign Affairs Ministry called American attempts to intervene in its internal affairs “regrettable.”

    The statement said that Ethiopia’s government took its responsibility for the safety, security, and well-being of all citizens “very seriously” and that it was “fully committed to undertake thorough investigations” into reports of abused.

    But it added the government had a duty to hold the nation together in the face of “treasonous and divisive forces.”

    The Ethiopians military ousted the former local ruling party, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front, from the regional capital in November, after what it described as a surprise assault on its forces in Tigray.

    Thousands of people have died, hundreds of thousands have been forced from homes and there are shortages of food, water and medicine around the region of more than five million people.

    Related:

    UPDATE: Ethiopia Responds to U.S. Criticism Over Tigray


    People receive services from a mobile health and nutrition clinic in Freweyni town, north of Mekele, Monday, Feb. 22, 2021. (Zerihun Sewunet/UNICEF via AP)

    The Associated Press

    Ethiopia rebuffs US call to pull outside forces from Tigray

    Ethiopia’s government is rebuffing calls by the United States to withdraw troops from the embattled Tigray region.

    In response to U.S Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s call for Ethiopia to immediately withdraw troops from Tigray, Ethiopia’s foreign ministry said that it is an issue to be decided by the Addis Ababa government, not a foreign power.

    “It should be clear that such matters are the sole responsibility of the Ethiopian government,” Ethiopia’s foreign ministry said in a statement issued Sunday. “The Ethiopian government, like any government of a sovereign nation, has in place various organizing principles in its federal and regional structures which are solely accountable only to the Ethiopian people.”

    No foreign country should try to “dictate a sovereign nation’s internal affairs,” said the Ethiopian statement.

    Alarm is growing over the fate of Tigray’s 6 million people as fierce fighting reportedly continues between Ethiopian and allied forces and those supporting the now-fugitive Tigray leaders who once dominated Ethiopia’s government.

    The United Nations in its latest humanitarian report on the situation in Tigray says the “humanitarian situation continues to deteriorate” as fighting intensifies across the northern region.

    “Aid workers on the ground have reported hearing gunshots from the main cities, including in Mekelle and Shire,” the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs reported on Sunday. “Residents and aid workers on the ground continue reporting incidents of house searches and indiscriminate looting, including of household items, farming equipment, ambulances and office vehicles, allegedly by various armed actors.”

    No one knows how many thousands of civilians have been killed. Humanitarian officials have warned that a growing number of people might be starving to death in Tigray.

    Accounts of atrocities by Ethiopian and allied forces against residents of Tigray were detailed in reports by The Associated Press and by Amnesty International. Ethiopia’s federal government and regional officials in Tigray both believe that each other’s governments are illegitimate after the pandemic disrupted elections.

    Related:

    Ethiopia slams US for urging pullout of Amhara forces


    The Ethiopian Foreign Ministry said in a statement: “The Ethiopian government, like any government of a sovereign nation, has in place various organizing principles in its Federal and Regional structures which are solely accountable only to the Ethiopian people.” (Anadolu Agency)

    AA

    Addis Getachew Tadesse

    Forces from Amhara region were on frontlines of law enforcement operations against Tigray rebels last November

    ADDIS ABABA – The Ethiopian government on Monday lashed out at the US for demanding the withdrawal of forces from the region of Amhara in the country’s northernmost Tigray region.

    Force from the Amhara region were on the frontlines of law enforcement operations launched against the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) last November after the group’s deadly attack on the Northern Command of the Ethiopian National Defense Forces.

    On Saturday, US Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken issued a statement saying that Amhara and the neighboring country of Eritrea need to pull their troops out of the Tigray region.

    The US remarks followed a report by Amnesty International that hundreds of civilians were shot dead in the town of Axum in Tigray — a report that alleged the involvement of Eritrean forces in the killings, which, if proved, could amount to crimes against humanity.

    “[The] attempt by the US to make pronouncements on Ethiopia’s internal affairs and specifically the reference to the Amhara regional forces’ redeployment is regrettable,” the Ethiopian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

    “It should be clear that such matters are the sole responsibility of the Ethiopian government, which, as a sovereign nation, is responsible to deploy the necessary security structures and means available in ensuring the rule of law within all corners of its borders,” it said.

    It added: “The Ethiopian government, like any government of a sovereign nation, has in place various organizing principles in its Federal and Regional structures which are solely accountable only to the Ethiopian people.”

    The Horn of Africa country said it would investigate the alleged killings and other human rights abuses in Tigray.

    Ethiopia’s War Leads to Ethnic Cleansing in Tigray Region, U.S. Report Says


    Children playing in front a house in the Tigray region that was damaged in fighting in December. (Getty Images)

    The New York Times

    Updated: Feb. 27, 2021

    An internal U.S. government report found that people in Tigray are being driven from their homes in a war begun by Ethiopia, an American ally — posing President Biden’s first major test in Africa.

    Ethiopian officials and allied militia fighters are leading a systematic campaign of ethnic cleansing in Tigray, the war-torn region in northern Ethiopia, according to an internal United States government report obtained by The New York Times.

    The report, written earlier this month, documents in stark terms a land of looted houses and deserted villages where tens of thousands of people are unaccounted for…

    On Friday afternoon, in response to the Amnesty International report, Mr. Abiy’s office said it was ready to collaborate in an international investigation into atrocities in Tigray. The government “reiterates its commitment to enabling a stable and peaceful region,” it said in a statement.

    Read the full article at nytimes.com »

    Related:

    UPDATE: In Ethiopia Premier Launches Campaign to Support Tigray


    “In an online meeting held this afternoon [Thursday, February 18th 2021], Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, the regional presidents, and city administrators launched a solidarity initiative for the Tigray Regional Provisional Administration and the people of the region,” said a statement by the office of the prime minister. (AA)

    AA

    By Addis Getachew

    Updated: February 18th 2021

    ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia — The Ethiopian prime minister and regional authorities have launched a campaign to support the rehabilitation and reconstruction of the restive Tigray region.

    “In an online meeting held this [Thursday] afternoon, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, the regional presidents, and city administrators launched a solidarity initiative for the Tigray Regional Provisional Administration and the people of the region,” said a statement by the office of the prime minister.

    “The solidarity initiative aims at mobilizing the contribution of regions and federal institutions as well as other stakeholders in supporting humanitarian efforts underway, in addition to food and non-food items to be directed to the people of Tigray,” it said.

    It added that “the regional presidents also pledged direct support to strengthen the provisional administration to carry out public service delivery duties.”

    Vehicles, various equipment, input seeds for farmers, ambulances, medicines, and monetary support were pledged by each region and would be handed over to the provisional administration within the coming days.

    “Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed further called upon all sections of society to make whatever contributions they can towards the #RebuildTigray solidarity initiative,” the statement noted.

    On Nov. 3, 2020, the now-outlawed Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) and its special forces attacked the Northern Command of the Ethiopian National Defense Forces, killing soldiers and looting military hardware.

    The following day, the federal government launched what has been dubbed as a large-scale law enforcement operation in Tigray in which the TPLF was largely defeated and some of its top leaders and fighters were either neutralized or captured.

    Although the prime minister declared the military operations were over on Nov. 28, there have been sporadic clashes between the government forces and fighters loyal to TPLF.

    More than 60,000 Ethiopians fled the fighting to neighboring Sudan while international organizations have been calling for scaled-up humanitarian assistance in the region for civilians affected by the conflict.

    Hundreds of thousands of civilians have also been reported to have become internally displaced and in dire need of emergency assistance.

    The international media have been kept out of the scene, making it difficult to give total pictures of the humanitarian tribulations and suffering in an objective and impartial manner.

    An Addis Ababa resident with relatives living in Tigray told Anadolu Agency, asking to remain anonymous, that humanitarian assistance in support of suffering civilians has not been sufficient.

    Last week, the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission revealed that 108 rape cases were reported in two months across the region.

    Related:

    UPDATE: UN Ethiopia Tweeted ‘Progress’ on Humanitarian Front in Tigray

    UN, Ethiopia Strike a Deal Over Aid Workers’ Access to Tigray

    ANALYSIS: In Ethiopia’s Digital Battle Over the Tigray Region, Facts Are Casualties

    UPDATE: PM Abiy Ahmed’s Message to the World on the Situation in Ethiopia

    Doctors Without Borders on the Humanitarian Crisis

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    International Women’s Day: Spotlight on GGRF’s Work Empowering Girls in Ethiopia

    Girls Gotta Run, a non-profit in Ethiopia, currently invests in and empowers 195 girls through running programs and education. (Photo: Girls Gotta Run)

    Press Release

    Girls Gotta Run Receives the Catherine Bertini Trust Fund for Girls Education Award!

    This International Women’s Day is especially exciting as Girls Gotta Run celebrates it’s Catherine Bertini Trust Fund for Girls Education award from the World Food Program USA.

    In recent years, only about 50 percent of Ethiopian girls who enroll in primary school ever made it to Grade 5. COVID-19 has further threatened girls’ access to school and has made them increasingly vulnerable to child marriage due to nation-wide school closures for several months in 2020. As a result of this grant, Girls Gotta Run will be able to bring on a new cohort of girls who will not only attend school but get the unique training they need as leaders and changemakers through local run clubs and life skills classes. The creation of these safe spaces is critical in reducing girls’ sense of isolation and increases their capacity to assert their right to choose to stay in school and when to marry.

    About the Catherine Bertini Trust Fund for Girls’ Education

    After winning the World Food Prize in 2003, Catherine Bertini, the former Executive Director for the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), recognized an opportunity to leave a lasting legacy for women’s empowerment. Bertini used her winnings to establish the Catherine Bertini Trust Fund for Girls’ Education, a fund that supports innovative grassroots initiatives around the globe that boost access to training and educational opportunities for girls.

    I am impressed with the innovative model Girls Gotta Run has developed of using sport to build girls’ confidence and to guide them in setting and obtaining goals. These are critical skills for girls to be able to succeed in school anywhere, including for the girls this grant will support in some of the most vulnerable areas of Ethiopia.”

    - Catherine Bertini*

    Girls Gotta Run

    Girls Gotta Run is a non-profit that’s mission is to invest in girls by using running and education to empower themselves and their communities. Girls Gotta Run works with adolescent girls living in economically and socially disadvantaged families in two rural Ethiopian communities.

    Their Athletic Scholarship Program targets girls who are at acute risk of dropping out of school, becoming socially isolated, entering early marriage and/or experiencing harmful cultural practices like female genital cutting. Mothers of girls in the program are also equipped with the knowledge, tools and mentorship needed to build financially resilient futures for themselves and their families. They currently reach 195 girls across two program sites in Ethiopia.


    (Photo: Girls Gotta Run)

    Upon completion of the three-year Athletic Scholarship Program, girls who are interested in continuing their education are invited to join the Alumni Project which provides tuition and a basic living stipend to girls in high school and university.

    The Bertini Fund has supported dozens of girl-centered education programs over the years, ensuring that thousands of young women could access the schooling they deserve. You can see all of their stories here.

    You can learn more and support GGRF at girlsgottarun.org.

    Related:

    Ethiopia: Girls Gotta Run Foundation Announces New Leadership

    In Sodo & Bekoji, New GGRF Athletic Scholarship Keeps Girls in School

    Why Girls Gotta Run: Tadias Interview with Dr. Patricia E. Ortman

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    Video: The Ethiopian Food Truck In Denver

    Established in 2015, The Ethiopian Food Truck is the first Ethiopian Food Truck in Colorado serving the Denver-Metro area. (Photo: konjoethiopianfood.com)

    KWGN-TV

    Yoseph Assefa and Fetien Gebre-Michale created the Ethiopian Food Truck back in 2015 and it was the first Ethiopian food truck in Colorado serving traditional recipes fresh and quick all over the Denver metro area.

    The colorful menu features some of the mos popular Ethiopian vegetarian dishes alongside chicken and beef options.

    You can find out where the Ethiopian Food Truck is by following them on their website at konjoethiopianfood.com/food-truck.

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    Fire Kills Ethiopian Migrants at Yemen Detention Center

    The majority of those held in the immigration holding facility “were Ethiopian so we can assume that the dead are mostly of that nationality,” said an official with the International Organization for Migration. (Photo: Ethiopian migrants in the Yemeni capital, Sana last year/Getty Images)

    Bloomberg

    By Samuel Gebre

    Fire in Yemen Migrant Detention Center Kills 8 and Injures 170

    At least eight people, mainly of Ethiopian origin, died in a fire in detention center for migrants in Yemen’s capital, Sana’a, on Sunday.

    There were more than 350 migrants in a hanger near the main building of the center at the time the blaze broke out and at least 170 of them were injured, with many still in critical condition, the International Organization for Migration said in an emailed statement.

    “While the cause of the fire is still unconfirmed, its impact is clearly horrific,” said Carmela Godeau, IOM’s Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa, said in a statement.

    The majority of those held in the immigration holding facility “were Ethiopian so we can assume that the dead are mostly of that nationality,” another IOM official said, adding that the death toll could climb much higher.

    Most of the migrants were arrested in Yemen, while trying to cross to Saudi Arabia. More than 170,000 migrants have crossed from the Horn of Africa to Yemen since 2019, according to IOM data.

    Last week, at least 20 people drowned after smugglers threw them into the sea while on a journey from Djibouti to Yemen. Similar incidents claimed 50 lives in October last year. More migrants are waiting to cross, and thousands of migrants are stranded in Yemen, according to IOM.

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    Q&A: Ethiopia’s High Flying Female Pilots Amsale Gualu and Tigist Kibret

    March is International Women’s Month and in the following timely interview the British national Afro-Caribbean weekly newspaper, The Voice, features Ethiopian pilots Captain Amsale Gualu and Capt. Tigist Kibret. As the publication notes these two women "have defied the statistics to get their wings – and hope that more young females across the world will be inspired by their success." (The Voice Online)

    The Voice

    International Women’s Month: Meet Ethiopia’s high flying female pilots Amsale Gualu and Tigist Kibret

    Captain Amsale Gualu is inspired by the female pioneers who came before her, and would like to change society’s perceptions

    IN A male-dominated field, to become a female pilot is a feat in itself. The International Society of Women Female Pilots estimates that of the world’s 130,000 pilots, just 4,000 – or three per cent – are women.

    But two Ethiopian women – Captain Amsale Gualu and Capt. Tigist Kibret – have defied the statistics to get their wings – and hope that more young females across the world will be inspired by their success.

    In December 2017, the pair made history in being part of the world’s first-ever all-female crew for a special Ethiopian Airlines flight from Bole International Airport in Addis Ababa to Murtala Mohammed International Airport in Lagos, Nigeria.

    The 13-member crew, supervised by Captain Amsale Gualu and then-First Officer Tigist Kibret, flew 391 passengers to the Nigerian capital on Boeing B777-300 ER, in a groundbreaking journey that took four and a half hours.

    As part of The Voice’s feature celebrating incredible black women, we speak to the two trailblazers and discuss their ambitions, personal lives and hopes for the future.

    First, we spoke with Captain Amsale Gualu, who says she is inspired by the female pioneers who came before her, and would like to change society’s perceptions.

    What are your hobbies?

    I have several hobbies. I love travelling and discovering new places. I enjoy staying physically active by doing yoga and occasionally swim. I also like design and decorating in my spare time.

    What advice would you give to a young girl who is aspiring for a male dominated career?
    I would advise that being a girl or woman should not stop them from doing what they want. It’s not that things are difficult, but we don’t dare to try it in the first place. If something has not been done before, it doesn’t mean it can’t be done – it’s just a matter of perspective and practice.

    If you were asked to name three role models in your life who would they be and why?
    Firstly, my parents who were very supportive, encouraging and gave me the confidence to achieve my dream. Secondly, Muluembet Emiru was the first Ethiopian woman who flew an aeroplane in the 1930s, in a time where such things were unthinkable. And Dr Catherine Hamlin, an Australian obstetrician, and gynaecologist doctor, who came to Ethiopia in 1959 and settled. She dedicated her life to providing free fistula treatment for a poor woman suffering from early childbirth.

    Why did you decide to become a pilot?

    Since I was a kid, I was always curious about planes, watching them fly; I knew early on this was a profession that fascinated me.

    Please share with our readers one of your greatest achievements outside of aviation?

    Before joining pilot training school, I graduated from Addis Ababa University with BSc in Architecture and Urban planning and still practice it as a hobby and enjoy it.

    How do you conquer your fears?

    I overcame my fears by taking the time to immerse myself in the comprehensive training and understanding of the aircraft’s operation and systems. By doing so, I built up my confidence and conquered my fears.

    What is your favourite song and why?

    I enjoy listening to Ethiopian and international songs, especially the 90s music. I particularly like Mariah Carey, Whitney Houston, and also enjoy more modern artists like Ed Sheeran.

    What’s your favourite traditional Ethiopian dish?

    Doro Wot is my favourite traditional Ethiopian food prepared from chicken with different homemade organic spices.

    If you could meet a celebrity, who would it be and why?

    Generally, I admire celebrities who go forward from obstacles and difficulties, but there is no specific celebrity that I would like to meet.

    What has been the greatest challenge?

    The biggest challenge, aside from being a working mum, is changing society’s perception toward women’s leadership capability.

    Captain Tigist Kibret says she is proud and honoured to be considered a role model for others – and uses each day to learn and grow further.

    Who inspires you to succeed?

    My success resulted from support and love from my family and various people that I came across in my life.

    Although I have had different people who have inspired me, my ultimate inspiration is my mother, who embodies strength and open-mindedness.

    She never placed limitations or ideas on what I could be and who I could become.

    What has been your greatest career challenge and how did you overcome it?

    As a pilot, our day-to-day life is full of challenges, as I am responsible for passengers and crew’s lives on board and the operation of multi-million- dollar equipment.

    I usually have to deal with rapidly changing situations, which I overcome by putting my training and skills in effect.

    Besides that, my most significant career challenge has been during the pandemic, especially in the first season.

    It was tough for us to fly to different parts of the world under restrictions and leave our families behind.

    How do you relax in your spare time?

    I am a wife and a mother, so I spend most of my spare hours having quality time with my husband and the kids. But when I am not with my family, my extra hours will be a selection of reading, a coffee get-together with friends, going to the spa or a movie.

    Please share with our readers one of your greatest achievements.

    Being told that I am an inspiration by my peers and those I encounter is my greatest achievement.

    You are a role model for many women across the world, how do you feel about that and what would you say to them?

    I feel very proud and honoured for being a role model for others. And I would say to them; it’s never late to become the person you want to be.

    Stumbling should not stop you from owning what is yours.

    How do you keep motivated?

    Being a pilot is motivation as there’s always something new to learn. The latest updates to company training and courses keep me motivated and the varied people I encounter and learn from daily – be it my senior or junior team members.

    How do you balance family life with your career?

    I try to make the best of my time; as I mentioned earlier, I spend most of my spare time with my family. But if no one is at home during my days off, I spend it reading, checking emails and being up-to-date with my work.

    What is your favourite food/ dish and do you cook it?

    I love almost all Ethiopian food. But my favourite would be Kechin Shiro with Tikus Injera. And yes, I sometimes cook it, it’s easy to cook.

    Do you listen to any inspirational music before flying?

    No.

    Tell us a little about the training you had to undergo to become a pilot.

    I went to one of the best aviation schools in Africa (Ethiopian Aviation Academy), which gives several training types under Aviation, Cargo, Catering, Ground services, and Maintenance and Overhaul.

    After the recruitment, I joined the school for thorough theoretical, computer-based, simulator, and actual flight training and several aiding courses.

    It was one of the unforgettable experiences of my career.

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    ART TALK: Julie Mehretu Makes Art Big Enough to Get Lost In

    Starting March 25, Julie Mehretu’s paintings, drawings and prints will be on view in a midcareer retrospective at New York’s Whitney Museum of American Art, before moving to the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis. (PHOTO: JULIE MEHRETU)

    Wall Street Journal

    The abstract painter uses architectural drawings and photographs to create works on a grand scale

    The artist Julie Mehretu, 51, likes to work on a grand scale. A silent short film by the British artist Tacita Dean shows Ms. Mehretu at work on her monumental painting “Mural” at the New York headquarters of Goldman Sachs in 2009, high up on a cherry picker as she grapples with a canvas 80 feet long and 23 feet high. “The scale of the Goldman Sachs painting was the reason why I decided to take that challenge on,” Ms Mehretu says. “It was scary, but exhilarating and wonderful to do.”

    Starting March 25, Ms. Mehretu’s paintings, drawings and prints will be on view in a midcareer retrospective at New York’s Whitney Museum of American Art, before moving to the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis. The show includes one of her best-known paintings, “Retopistics: A Renegade Excavation,” which at nearly 20 feet wide was Ms. Mehretu’s largest painting when she made it in 2001. The multilayered work reflects on the transitory nature of a global existence, with an initial layer of architectural drawings of airports around the world almost obscured by painted motifs, drips, lines and colorful streamers, in a precise yet cartoon-like dynamic.

    Ms. Mehretu says that she wanted people “to not see the edges and get lost in the minutiae of the drawing and then be able to move back to see the whole picture.” As she explains, “That’s why my paintings became bigger, so you couldn’t see both [aspects] at the same time.” “Retopistics,” which is being lent to the Whitney by Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, fetched a record auction price for the artist in 2013 when it was sold by Christie’s New York for $4.6 million.

    As a child growing up in East Lansing, Mich., Ms. Mehretu often accompanied her father, a geography teacher, to the Detroit Institute of Arts Museum. It was there that she discovered Diego Rivera’s 27-painting fresco known as the “Detroit Industry Murals,” depicting workers at the Ford Motor Company. The large-scale work is a touchstone: “Seeing it again is always better than the memory of it,” Ms. Mehretu says. “Every time it’s more than whatever I remembered it to be.”

    But Ms. Mehretu was never enchanted with the idea of becoming a figurative artist like Rivera. Abstraction provided her with a creative space to make sense of her place in the world as an Ethiopian-American who arrived in the U.S. at the age of six. “It’s in this complex, contradictory and rich mix of the two that I find myself,” Ms. Mehretu says. “It’s one reason why abstraction has always been more interesting to me, because you can invent that in-between place and this other way of being rather than trying to call on just a particular set of cultural imagery and signifiers.”

    Read more »

    Related:

    Ethiopian-American Artist Julie Mehretu’s First Career Survey to Open in Atlanta


    The Ethiopian-American artist’s first career survey arrives at Atlanta’s High Museum of Art this month, before traveling to the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York next year. (Photo: Julie Mehretu’s Mogamma [A Painting in Four Parts], 2012 © JULIE MEHRETU, PHOTOGRAPH BY RYSZARD KASIEWICZ, COURTESY OF THE ARTIST, MARIAN GOODMAN GALLERY, NEW YORK, AND WHITE CUBE.

    Harper’s BAZAAR

    JULIE MEHRETU AT THE HIGH MUSEUM OF ART
    (OPENING OCTOBER 24)

    Julie Mehretu’s richly layered paintings, often formed through the accretion of colorful lines and brushstrokes over architectural plans and drawings, have explored themes such as race, history, migration, revolution, global capitalism, and technology for more than two decades.

    Now, the Ethiopian-American artist’s first career survey arrives at Atlanta’s High Museum of Art this month, before traveling to the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York next year. It showcases the evolution of Mehretu’s abstract style through a selection of works, including a reunited cycle of monumental ink-and-acrylic canvases from 2012 called “Mogamma (A Painting in Four Parts),” each of which stands 15 feet tall.

    Read more »

    Related:

    Julie Mehretu’s Mid-Career Survey at LA County Museum of Art


    Julie Mehretu – Stadia II, 2004. Ink and acrylic on canvas, 108 x 144 in. Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh, gift of Jeanne Greenberg Rohatyn and Nicolas Rohatyn and A. W. Mellon Acquisition Endowment Fund 2004.50. © Julie Mehretu, photograph courtesy of the Carnegie Museum of Art

    Tadias Magazine

    By Tadias Staff

    October 31st, 2019

    New York (TADIAS) — This weekend the highly anticipated traveling exhibition — featuring a mid-career survey of Ethiopian-American artist Julie Mehretu’s work dating back to 1996 to the present — will open at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) in California.

    “The first-ever comprehensive retrospective of Mehretu’s career, it covers over two decades of her examination of history, colonialism, capitalism, geopolitics, war, global uprising, diaspora, and displacement through the artistic strategies of abstraction, architecture, landscape, movement, and, most recently, figuration. Mehretu’s play with scale, as evident in her intimate drawings and large canvases and complex techniques in printmaking, will be explored in depth,” LACMA stated in its announcement, noting that the show brings together about “40 works on paper with 35 paintings along with a print by Rembrandt and a film on Mehretu by the artist Tacita Dean.”

    The traveling exhibition, which is co-organized by the LACMA and The Whitney Museum of American Art, will subsequently come to New York for a display at the Whitney from June 26th to September 20, 2020, before moving to Atlanta at the High Museum of Art from October 24th 2020 to January 31, 2021, and finally the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis from March 13–July 11, 2021.

    Julie lives and works in New York. She was born in Addis Ababa in 1970 and immigrated to the United States with her family in 1977. As LACMA notes: “Mehretu received her MFA from the Rhode Island School of Design, and, among many awards and honors, is a recipient of a MacArthur Foundation “Genius Grant” (2005) and a U.S. State Department National Medal of Arts (2015).”


    Julie Mehretu, Untitled 2, 2001, ink and acrylic on canvas, 60 × 84 in., private collection, courtesy of Salon 94, New York, © Julie Mehretu, photograph by Tom Powel Imaging. (Courtesy Los Angeles County Museum of Art)


    Julie Mehretu, Black City, 2007, ink and acrylic on canvas, 120 × 192 in., Pinault Collection, © Julie Mehretu, photograph by Tim Thayer. (Courtesy Los Angeles County Museum of Art)


    Julie Mehretu, Haka (and Riot), 2019, ink and acrylic on canvas, 144 × 180 in., courtesy of the artist and Marian Goodman Gallery, New York, © Julie Mehretu, photograph by Tom Powel Imaging.


    Related:

    Julie Mehretu’s Mid-Career Survey To Open at LACMA

    Julie Mehretu at Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), November 3, 2019 – March 22, 2020 (Level 1) and May 17, 2020 (Level 3)

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    Theater: Weyni Mengesha Directs New Play Inspired by Meghan, Duchess of Sussex

    Weyni Mengesha is the director of the show “Duchess! Duchess! Duchess!,” which is produced by Chicago’s renowned Steppenwolf Theatre Company. The play starts streaming online this week at steppenwolf.org/now. According to Leelai Demoz, Steppenwolf’s associate artistic director and the project's lead producer: "Scripts as short as [this] aren’t staples at major U.S. theaters. But Steppenwolf Now [their newly launched digital platform], a response to the pandemic, allowed for format inventiveness." (WaPo)

    The Washington Post

    Images of two duchesses linger in playwright Vivian J.O. Barnes’s mind: Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, standing at a lectern, with a portrait of Queen Elizabeth II looming behind her. Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, looking glamorous soon after giving birth. The appearances by Meghan Markle and Kate Middleton — as the titled women are better known — intrigued Barnes all the more because, at least in memory, they were voiceless.

    “I can remember how they looked, but I can never remember anything I’ve heard them say,” she says.

    Reflecting on those missing words — and on Meghan’s experience as a biracial woman joining a hidebound, traditionally White institution — Barnes wrote “Duchess! Duchess! Duchess!,” a short play that imagines a private conversation between a Black royal and a Black royal-to-be. The play, which was filmed in a no-contact shoot by Chicago’s renowned Steppenwolf Theatre Company, begins streaming Wednesday at steppenwolf.org/now, the Steppenwolf Now virtual stage.

    Its paparazzi-lens inspirations notwithstanding, “Duchess! Duchess! Duchess!” is no piece of gossipy fluff. For one thing, the characters are not Kate and Meghan, but fictional figures. For another, the play speaks to deep issues around inclusion, equity and society’s resistance to change.

    Prince Harry and Meghan lose their patronages, won’t return as ‘working royals’

    “It’s a relatable investigation into how many women feel high up in institutions, specifically if you are in a historically White institution as a Black woman,” says Weyni Mengesha, the show’s director and artistic director of Toronto’s Soulpepper Theatre Company.

    Awareness of Meghan’s significance for the British monarchy infused the play, Barnes says. “To see this person — who looks like no one else who’s been in that institution so far — enter it, that to me is a fascinating story and entry point,” the playwright says.

    Barnes, 26, caught the performing-arts bug during the lively, dance-infused evangelical church services she attended as a child in Stafford, Va. Later, while enrolled at the University of Richmond, she would study in London, where she binged on theater — a revelation.

    A few years ago, the duchess of Cambridge’s soigné appearance right after childbirth — hinting at stringent expectations for her looks and behavior — inspired Barnes to write a monologue for a fictional duchess. Later, Meghan’s marriage to Prince Harry spurred further thought. What if a future Meghan-like figure, after adjusting to oppressive palace norms, were to welcome another woman who looked like her into the royal clan? How would that conversation go? For an assignment at University of California at San Diego, where she is now a third-year MFA student, Barnes turned her monologue into a two-hander.

    For research, she delved into scandal-sheet journalism about Britain’s royal women, not so much to fact-find as to understand the reporting’s tone and approach. She was struck by a shift after Harry’s engagement. With Meghan, says Barnes, “the coverage is very different and very racist and invasive in a very different kind of way.”

    “Duchess! Duchess! Duchess!” arrives in a culture much besotted with the House of Windsor, as evidenced by Netflix series “The Crown,” as well as the Broadway musical “Diana,” shut down by the pandemic last March. (A Netflix version of “Diana” has been announced.) But Barnes stresses that her characters are merely inspired by the wives of Princes William and Harry. The idea of writing about the real clickbait fixtures, she says, “wasn’t very interesting.”

    Instead, Barnes dreamed up the unsettling encounter between her Duchess and Soon-to-Be-Duchess, who spar and commune over the merciless rules, scrutiny and conformism that their rank requires.

    Scripts as short as “Duchess! Duchess! Duchess!” (about 35 minutes) aren’t staples at major U.S. theaters. But Steppenwolf Now, a response to the pandemic, allowed for format inventiveness, says Leelai Demoz, Steppenwolf’s associate artistic director and the initiative’s lead producer. Already premiered, for example, and still available to stream with a Steppenwolf Now membership, is “Red Folder,” a 10-minute animated monologue written, directed and illustrated by Rajiv Joseph (“Guards at the Taj”) and voiced by Carrie Coon (FX series ­“Fargo”).

    Succinct as it was, Barnes’s one-act appealed to Mengesha, who admired its imaginative vision and felt a personal connection. Mengesha, of Ethiopian heritage, is among the leaders of color who have added diversity to the top ranks of North American theater in recent years. The director says she identifies with Barnes’s characters, who are “trying to bring themselves to their new position, but also fit into the mold that has been around for centuries but that never looked like them.”

    Performers Sydney Charles (the Duchess) and Celeste M. Cooper (the Soon-to-Be-Duchess) also say they understand the pressures the characters feel — to fit in, to toe the line, to self-censor as necessary and even to establish automatic mutual camaraderie.

    “Theater spaces, most of them are run by non-Black individuals. How comfortable can I be — how Black can I be — in this space? If there is another Black person, are they going to be like me?” Charles asks. “Vivian did a great job in touching on the emotions wrapped up in that specific experience, which translates across the board for any Black American, and Black women specifically.”

    “As I came up in this career, there was a lot of silence,” Cooper recalls. “There was a lot of not wanting to ruffle feathers.” Barnes’s play, she adds, asks really hard questions about that kind of quandary.

    Read more »

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    Film & Culture: Is Hollywood Ready to Stop Stereotyping Africa?

    “Coming 2 America,” the sequel was released this week on Amazon Prime. "Coming To America set the tone [within mainstream Western cinema] for Black Panther with the African garments and the culture," says Gabrielle Tesfaye, a US director of Ethiopian and Jamaican heritage whose 2019 film Yene Fikir, Ethiopia (My Love, Ethiopia) was nominated for a Film Africa award. [People] want to see themselves within an imagined state of being that is also connected to truth, like Black Panther was. BBC (Paramount Pictures)

    BBC

    However, more broadly, Tesfaye believes that “Africa” is still constantly misunderstood and generalised about, in film and otherwise, because it remains such an unknown location to most Westerners. “Never seeing it for themselves,” she says, “they really don’t know how diverse it is. In the US it’s not as travelled [to] as Asia, South America or even Europe.”…The real answer, of course, is to look to African cinema itself. As Tesfaye says, “there’s a lot of films set in Africa by actual African filmmakers who are portraying their people in their country in such an amazing imaginative, empowering light.”

    — Ethiopian American director Gabrielle Tesfaye,

    The Eddie Murphy film Coming to America busted some clichés about the continent. But, as a sequel comes out, David Jesudason asks if Western cinema will more fully change its attitude.

    Released in 1988, Coming to America was a brash romantic comedy; a box-office juggernaut for Hollywood comic actor Eddie Murphy. But, despite its contrived plot and fairy-tale schmaltz, it was, in its own way, revolutionary.

    Still one of Murphy’s biggest successes, it told the story of Akeem Joffer, the prince of the fictional African nation of Zamunda, as he headed to the US to find a wife and avoid an arranged marriage. In the late 1980s, it was remarkable among mainstream Western films for its depiction of Zamunda: a wealthy African country that was entirely self-reliant, worlds away from the kind of downtrodden stereotypes found elsewhere. Now, as a sequel to the film, Coming 2 America, is released, 33 years on, it is astonishing to consider how little has changed. In the intervening years, only one other widely-watched US film has depicted an empowered African society in such a manner: Marvel’s Black Panther (2018), which again featured a fictional kingdom, Wakanda.


    Comedy sequel Coming 2 America sees Eddie Murphy’s King Akeem of Zamunda returning to the US in search of his heir (Jermaine Fowler) (Credit: Amazon Prime)

    Coming to America was only commissioned because of the star power Eddie Murphy commanded after a string of hits, including Beverly Hills Cop (1984) and 48 Hours (1982). He hired director John Landis through his own production company and fought with Paramount over the casting as the studio remained sceptical that a mainstream audience would accept a film with African characters. Only this week, Murphy revealed on the US chat show Jimmy Kimmel Live that he was told that “there has to be a white person in the movie”, resulting in the comedian Louie Anderson joining the black cast.

    How Coming to America changed the game

    After all, Western cinema has a long and continuing history of relegating Africans to the sidelines in films about Africa, using the continent as a backdrop for white characters’ journeys of self-discovery or moral reckoning, from The African Queen (1951) to Out of Africa (1985) to more modern thrillers like Blood Diamond (2006) and The Constant Gardener (2005). Or, if films have centred on African characters, they have done so predominantly in stories of distress and suffering, such as genocide dramas like Hotel Rwanda (2004) and Beasts of No Nation (2015).

    Coming to America set the tone [within mainstream Western cinema] for Black Panther – Gabrielle Tesfaye
    But Murphy was determined to depict Africans as rich, equal to white people and proud of their roots. He assembled a stellar, though wholly African-American, cast around him that included fledging black talent such as Arsenio Hall and Eriq La Salle alongside trailblazers James Earl Jones and John Amos.

    The film was so successful that, with a $288 million (£224 million) worldwide gross, it remains one of the most commercially successful movies ever to have a predominantly black cast (a record now held by Black Panther) and is still cherished today by many people of colour for its humour and its empowered characters. It certainly showed that global audiences wanted to see more stories about a different sort of Africa from that they were used to watching on screen.

    “Coming To America set the tone [within mainstream Western cinema] for Black Panther with the African garments and the culture,” says Gabrielle Tesfaye, a US director of Ethiopian and Jamaican heritage whose 2019 film Yene Fikir, Ethiopia (My Love, Ethiopia) was nominated for a Film Africa award. “It [was] the highest grossing [black] film because black people are craving that representation. They want to see themselves more than just working on a plantation. And they also want to see themselves within an imagined state of being that is also connected to truth, like Black Panther was. It was exciting for us and we deserve to have that type of content.”


    Black Panther subverted stereotypes by depicting a progressive African kingdom with strong roles for women (Alamy)

    Now, Coming 2 America’s plot centres not around the search for a wife, but instead for a new heir to Zamunda – Murphy’s Akeem, having returned to Zamunda and married New York love interest Lisa (Shari Headley) at the end of the first film, is now king, but tradition states that the crown should be passed to a son and he only has daughters. However, he discovers that he does have a male successor, Lavelle (Jermaine Fowler), who was the result of a one-night stand that took place when Akeem and his best friend Semmi (Hall) visited New York in the first film. (Facial de-aging technology is used to depict this time in flashbacks). The contrived plot enables more back and forth between continents than in the first film, which was mostly set in the US, with Akeem visiting the Big Apple before returning with his newfound son back to the royal court in Zamunda.

    The persistent problem of generalisation

    Part of the fun of the New York section of the sequel, set as before in the borough of Queens, is to see the effect gentrification has on proceedings. But fans of the original can breathe a sigh of relief as the Queens’ My-T-Sharp barbershop has somehow withstood market forces and barber Clarence (one of the many characters played by Murphy) is still in situ arguing about boxing with Jewish customer Saul (also Murphy). What also hasn’t changed in the intervening decades, however, is the Queens’ contingent of characters retrograde attitudes to “Africa”: they still refer to it as a homogeneous entity and again a lot of humour is derived from their assumptions about the continent. For example, when the Zamundan court servants are commanded to clean and bathe the US visitors, it is accepted as an “African” custom by them.

    It’s open to debate how to interpret these jokes: on one hand, they may seem to exploit cheap stereotypes, but says Tesfaye, the perception of Africa as a monolith arguably accurately reflects part of the African-American psyche when it comes to the continent. “For the black diaspora,” Tesfaye says, “Africa becomes just one word for an entire continent. It’s important to understand that people who are a part of the history of the transatlantic slave trade don’t know where in Africa they are from. And that’s why the word Africa is a vague thing for them, because they don’t know.”

    Africa is often depicted as monolithic. And I do not think there is any excuse for any filmmaker to treat the African continent in this way – Lindiwe Dovey
    However, more broadly, Tesfaye believes that “Africa” is still constantly misunderstood and generalised about, in film and otherwise, because it remains such an unknown location to most Westerners. “Never seeing it for themselves,” she says, “they really don’t know how diverse it is. In the US it’s not as travelled [to] as Asia, South America or even Europe.” This ignorance is evidently what the two films in the Coming to America franchise are playing on, lampooning people’s prejudices about this “mysterious” continent.

    And yet are they simply indulging in such “othering” themselves? It is perhaps telling that, unlike Black Panther, Coming 2 America, like its prequel, was entirely shot in the US, with Zamunda’s palace actually being rapper Rick Ross’s mansion in Georgia. Lindiwe Dovey, professor of film at SOAS University of London, where she runs the African Screen Worlds project, believes that such inauthentic, generalised depictions are indefensible in 2021. “Africa is often depicted as monolithic,” she says. “And I do not think there is any excuse for any filmmaker to treat the African continent in this way.”


    Beyoncé’s recent film Black is King is an epic visual and musical celebration of African cultures (Alamy)

    As well as spending more time in “Africa” than in the first film, Coming 2 America also boasts stronger female roles and actors native to the continent, such as Nomzamo Mbatha and Trevor Noah, who were both born in South Africa. Meanwhile the writing team (which this time includes an African-American writer, Black-ish creator Kenya Barris, alongside the original white screenwriters, Barry W Blaustein, and David Sheffield) have obviously tried to give Zamunda more depth by including more details of the African society and how it’s governed. Unfortunately, these details paint the kingdom as a regressive one, in which women can’t own businesses and male-only royalty is obligatory. “It sounds as though Zamunda could come to stand in for ‘Africa’ as a homogenous entity,” says Dovey, “And I worry that such ideas will simply translate into the re-confirmation of stereotypes about the African continent that aren’t true.”

    More progressive portrayals

    By contrast, Black Panther did deal with these kinds of stereotypes head on, and subvert them, by depicting Wakanda as a progressive kingdom that had strong roles for women in its hierarchy. Wakanda could also not be construed as standing-in for the whole of Africa. Rather, it is a nation whose rulers have cut it off from the rest of the continent, while also pretending to the outside world that it is poor to prevent other countries stealing its stocks of the precious mineral vibranium – another comment on Western expectations. At the same time, unlike Zamunda’s Akeem, its ruler king T’Challa, aka the titular superhero, understands Western countries and views himself as a global player.

    Another notable recent attempt to buck stereotypes about Africa was Beyoncé’s film Black is King (2020) a visual companion to her soundtrack for the 2019 reboot of The Lion King. The film slickly employs the best talent from many different countries in Africa – including Ghanaian director Blitz Bazawule – to weave together an epic musical celebrating black identity and female empowerment, specifically, and serves as a manifesto for black Americans to recover their heritage.

    However, Black Panther and Black is King are both allegorical fantasies, leading to the question: where can you find inspiring representations of Africa in a real-life setting?

    It’s worth mentioning Queen of Katwe (2016), about the real-life Ugandan chess prodigy Phiona Mutesi, that featured an all-black cast including Lupita Nyong’o and was directed by Indian-American film-maker Mira Nair. Sadly, unlike Black Panther and Black is King, this feelgood movie did not gain much global traction.

    The real answer, of course, is to look to African cinema itself. As Tesfaye says, “there’s a lot of films set in Africa by actual African filmmakers who are portraying their people in their country in such an amazing imaginative, empowering light.”

    And if the profile given to African cinema on an international platform is still paltry compared to what it deserves, then things might be changing with the advent of streaming services that allow for the wider distribution of great new films from the continent such as Ghanaian works The Burial of Kojo (directed by Bazawule) and Azali, Nigeria’s The Delivery Boy and Senegal’s Atlantique, all on Netflix. Also positive is the broadening of Oscar voting membership to include more African members, including last year, Nigerian-born actor, film director and writer Akin Omotoso and Atlantique’s French-Senegalese director Mati Diop. With such steps taking place to amplify African filmmakers’ voices, the hope is that broad-brush misrepresentations of the continent can become a relic of the past.

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    Q&A: Amen Temesgen, Founder of BeNu Foods, on His Ethiopian Startup Business

    Ethiopian company BeNu Foods, founded in 2018, produces nutritious biscuits from local raw materials. Founder Amen Temesgen (27) answers our questions. (How We Made It in Africa)

    How We Made It in Africa

    High-protein biscuits: Ethiopian food startup founder gives snapshot of his business

    1. Give us your elevator pitch.

    BeNu Foods is a startup that aims to tackle malnutrition in Ethiopia by manufacturingnutritious, high-protein BeNu biscuits for kids.

    Ethiopia severely lacks affordable protein-rich products. Two out of five children in Ethiopia are undernourished and the country loses a staggering 17% of its GDP due to malnutrition. BeNu aims to tackle this problem with an integrated approach that brings together different stakeholders in the food sector.

    2. How did you finance your startup?

    My co-founder and I initially put in a small amount of money. Although access to finance has remained a great challenge, we raised funds from different organisations and individuals like Reach for Change Ethiopia.

    3. If you were given $1 million to invest in your company now, where would it go?

    Part of it would go towards R&D facilities where we could develop, design and manufacture on a small scale to test our products. Part of it would go to establishing a distribution chain and a small portion would help strengthen the digital platform we are developing to revitalise and enable different stakeholders in the food sector to work in partnership.

    4. What risks does your business face?

    Our sector is a low-risk one. But what has been a challenge is the unpredictable inflation of raw materials. It makes it harder to determine prices and to have a stable operation.


    BeNu Foods’ biscuits

    5. So far, what has proven to be the most successful form of marketing?

    Word of mouth. Our pilot project was on a Melka Oba School feeding programme with an American donor and we recorded tremendous results like illness reduction, improvement in academic performance and class attendance. The fact that we had a proven pilot project enabled us to receive interest from places we didn’t even expect like Nicaragua.

    6. Describe your most exciting entrepreneurial moment.

    Just days ago, we received a confirmation of the caloric content of our product. Before this, our claims were from our own analysis. According to recent results from a top laboratory, we learnt our product is 548Kcal/100g with 25% protein content. To put things into perspective, a child would get their protein requirement for an entire day. This is crucial information for me and those we need to reach out to in the future.

    7. Tell us about your biggest mistake and what you’ve learnt from it?

    Eighteen months ago, we received an urgent order and didn’t have the manufacturing capacity. We approached an accomplished manufacturer who informed us that with his baking machine, he could meet our production needs. We went ahead and scheduled production without checking his machine or organising the delivery logistics beforehand.

    Our delivery was supposed to be on a Tuesday and the manufacturer seemed confident he would meet the delivery timelines but by the Sunday, it was clear it was not going to happen. We had to find another manufacturing facility in our neighbourhood and do the production overnight.

    We learnt to ensure any business is formalised and we always do our due diligence before we go ahead with orders.

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    UPDATE: Ethiopian Employees of International Media Held in Tigray Released

    “All journalists and translators have been released without charges,” Abebe Gebrehiwot Yihdego, deputy head of Tigray’s interim administration, told Reuters. (Getty Images)

    Reuters

    By Reuters Staff

    Ethiopia frees workers with foreign media detained in Tigray, official says

    NAIROBI (Reuters) – Four Ethiopians working with foreign journalists in the northern Tigray region have been released without charges, an official and media outlets said on Wednesday.

    A reporter for the BBC’s Tigrinya language service, Girmay Gebru, two translators with Agence France-Presse and the Financial Times, and a journalist working with the New York Times were detained in recent days, their outlets said.

    “All journalists and translators have been released without charges,” Abebe Gebrehiwot Yihdego, deputy head of Tigray’s interim administration, told Reuters.

    The BBC confirmed Girmay’s release in a tweet, while AFP and the New York Times also confirmed in emails to Reuters that those working with them had been freed.

    “We are pleased that the local journalist we had worked with was released and that no charges were filed,” said the New York Times’ communications vice-president Danielle Rhoades Ha.

    Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has overseen sweeping reforms since taking office in 2018, including the unbanning of more than 250 media outlets and release of dozens of journalists.

    However, rights groups say press freedom has suffered during outbreaks of violence including in Tigray, where thousands have died in fighting since last year between federal troops and the former local ruling party.

    Watchdogs reported the arrests of at least 13 journalists in Ethiopia last year, including Reuters cameraman Kumerra Gemechu who was held without charge for 12 days.

    Abiy’s government declared victory over the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) after its forces withdrew from major cities and towns at the end of November.

    However, low-level fighting has continued in parts.

    UPDATE: U.S. Deploys Diaster Response Team to Tigray, Urges End of Hostilities


    The USAID team will lead the U.S. Government’s humanitarian response. The press release said: “The team includes disaster experts who are assessing the situation, identifying priority needs to scale up assistance, and working with partners to provide urgently needed assistance to communities affected by the conflict.” The U.S. is the largest humanitarian donor in Ethiopia, having given more than $652 million last year alone. (Photo: USAID Headquarters in D.C./Shutterstock.com)

    Press Release

    Office of Press Relations: press@usaid.gov

    USAID DEPLOYS DISASTER ASSISTANCE RESPONSE TEAM TO RESPOND TO HUMANITARIAN NEEDS IN TIGRAY, ETHIOPIA

    The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) is deploying a Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) to respond to growing humanitarian needs stemming from conflict in Ethiopia’s Tigray region. After nearly four months of fighting between armed groups, hundreds of thousands have been forced to flee their homes and more than four million people are in need of food assistance.

    USAID’s DART will lead the U.S. Government’s humanitarian response. The team includes disaster experts who are assessing the situation, identifying priority needs to scale up assistance, and working with partners to provide urgently needed assistance to communities affected by the conflict.

    Since the outbreak of conflict, USAID’s partners have been pivoting existing programs to provide life-saving assistance in the few areas of Tigray that can be reached. While USAID has been working with partners to overcome many access challenges, an estimated 80 percent of Tigray remains cut off from assistance.

    The United States remains committed to supporting the people of Ethiopia and is the largest humanitarian donor in Ethiopia. In FY 2020, the U.S. provided more than $652 million in humanitarian assistance to respond to acute food needs, conflict-driven displacement, flooding, a desert locust infestation, and the COVID-19 pandemic.

    U.S. Urges Ethiopia to End Hostilities in Tigray

    By Reuters

    Published March 2, 2021

    WASHINGTON — Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken on Tuesday pressed the leader od Ethiopia to end hostilities in the northern Tigray region, citing a “growing number of credible reports of atrocities and human rights violations and abuses.”

    In a phone call with Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, Mr. Blinken pushed for Ethiopia to withdraw outside forces from Tigray, and for an immediate end to the violence, according to a State Department spokesman, Ned Price.

    The Biden administration is seeking an end to what it describes as a deepening humanitarian crisis. It was the second time in less than a week that Mr. Blinken cited reports of atrocities in the region.

    “The secretary urged the Ethiopian government to take immediate, concrete steps to protect civilians, including refugees, and to prevent further violence,” Mr. Price said in a statement Tuesday.

    Speaking to reporters, he said, “We strongly condemn the killings, the forced removals and displacement, the sexual assaults, and other human rights violations and abuses by several parties that multiple organizations have now reported.”

    Mr. Blinken also asked that Mr. Abiy allow independent international investigations.

    A spokeswoman for Mr. Abiy, Billene Seyoum, pointed to a statement made late last month in which Ethiopia’s Foreign Affairs Ministry called American attempts to intervene in its internal affairs “regrettable.”

    The statement said that Ethiopia’s government took its responsibility for the safety, security, and well-being of all citizens “very seriously” and that it was “fully committed to undertake thorough investigations” into reports of abused.

    But it added the government had a duty to hold the nation together in the face of “treasonous and divisive forces.”

    The Ethiopians military ousted the former local ruling party, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front, from the regional capital in November, after what it described as a surprise assault on its forces in Tigray.

    Thousands of people have died, hundreds of thousands have been forced from homes and there are shortages of food, water and medicine around the region of more than five million people.

    Related:

    UPDATE: Ethiopia Responds to U.S. Criticism Over Tigray


    People receive services from a mobile health and nutrition clinic in Freweyni town, north of Mekele, Monday, Feb. 22, 2021. (Zerihun Sewunet/UNICEF via AP)

    The Associated Press

    Ethiopia rebuffs US call to pull outside forces from Tigray

    Ethiopia’s government is rebuffing calls by the United States to withdraw troops from the embattled Tigray region.

    In response to U.S Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s call for Ethiopia to immediately withdraw troops from Tigray, Ethiopia’s foreign ministry said that it is an issue to be decided by the Addis Ababa government, not a foreign power.

    “It should be clear that such matters are the sole responsibility of the Ethiopian government,” Ethiopia’s foreign ministry said in a statement issued Sunday. “The Ethiopian government, like any government of a sovereign nation, has in place various organizing principles in its federal and regional structures which are solely accountable only to the Ethiopian people.”

    No foreign country should try to “dictate a sovereign nation’s internal affairs,” said the Ethiopian statement.

    Alarm is growing over the fate of Tigray’s 6 million people as fierce fighting reportedly continues between Ethiopian and allied forces and those supporting the now-fugitive Tigray leaders who once dominated Ethiopia’s government.

    The United Nations in its latest humanitarian report on the situation in Tigray says the “humanitarian situation continues to deteriorate” as fighting intensifies across the northern region.

    “Aid workers on the ground have reported hearing gunshots from the main cities, including in Mekelle and Shire,” the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs reported on Sunday. “Residents and aid workers on the ground continue reporting incidents of house searches and indiscriminate looting, including of household items, farming equipment, ambulances and office vehicles, allegedly by various armed actors.”

    No one knows how many thousands of civilians have been killed. Humanitarian officials have warned that a growing number of people might be starving to death in Tigray.

    Accounts of atrocities by Ethiopian and allied forces against residents of Tigray were detailed in reports by The Associated Press and by Amnesty International. Ethiopia’s federal government and regional officials in Tigray both believe that each other’s governments are illegitimate after the pandemic disrupted elections.

    Related:

    Ethiopia slams US for urging pullout of Amhara forces


    The Ethiopian Foreign Ministry said in a statement: “The Ethiopian government, like any government of a sovereign nation, has in place various organizing principles in its Federal and Regional structures which are solely accountable only to the Ethiopian people.” (Anadolu Agency)

    AA

    Addis Getachew Tadesse

    Forces from Amhara region were on frontlines of law enforcement operations against Tigray rebels last November

    ADDIS ABABA – The Ethiopian government on Monday lashed out at the US for demanding the withdrawal of forces from the region of Amhara in the country’s northernmost Tigray region.

    Force from the Amhara region were on the frontlines of law enforcement operations launched against the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) last November after the group’s deadly attack on the Northern Command of the Ethiopian National Defense Forces.

    On Saturday, US Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken issued a statement saying that Amhara and the neighboring country of Eritrea need to pull their troops out of the Tigray region.

    The US remarks followed a report by Amnesty International that hundreds of civilians were shot dead in the town of Axum in Tigray — a report that alleged the involvement of Eritrean forces in the killings, which, if proved, could amount to crimes against humanity.

    “[The] attempt by the US to make pronouncements on Ethiopia’s internal affairs and specifically the reference to the Amhara regional forces’ redeployment is regrettable,” the Ethiopian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

    “It should be clear that such matters are the sole responsibility of the Ethiopian government, which, as a sovereign nation, is responsible to deploy the necessary security structures and means available in ensuring the rule of law within all corners of its borders,” it said.

    It added: “The Ethiopian government, like any government of a sovereign nation, has in place various organizing principles in its Federal and Regional structures which are solely accountable only to the Ethiopian people.”

    The Horn of Africa country said it would investigate the alleged killings and other human rights abuses in Tigray.

    Ethiopia’s War Leads to Ethnic Cleansing in Tigray Region, U.S. Report Says


    Children playing in front a house in the Tigray region that was damaged in fighting in December. (Getty Images)

    The New York Times

    Updated: Feb. 27, 2021

    An internal U.S. government report found that people in Tigray are being driven from their homes in a war begun by Ethiopia, an American ally — posing President Biden’s first major test in Africa.

    Ethiopian officials and allied militia fighters are leading a systematic campaign of ethnic cleansing in Tigray, the war-torn region in northern Ethiopia, according to an internal United States government report obtained by The New York Times.

    The report, written earlier this month, documents in stark terms a land of looted houses and deserted villages where tens of thousands of people are unaccounted for…

    On Friday afternoon, in response to the Amnesty International report, Mr. Abiy’s office said it was ready to collaborate in an international investigation into atrocities in Tigray. The government “reiterates its commitment to enabling a stable and peaceful region,” it said in a statement.

    Read the full article at nytimes.com »

    Related:

    UPDATE: In Ethiopia Premier Launches Campaign to Support Tigray


    “In an online meeting held this afternoon [Thursday, February 18th 2021], Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, the regional presidents, and city administrators launched a solidarity initiative for the Tigray Regional Provisional Administration and the people of the region,” said a statement by the office of the prime minister. (AA)

    AA

    By Addis Getachew

    Updated: February 18th 2021

    ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia — The Ethiopian prime minister and regional authorities have launched a campaign to support the rehabilitation and reconstruction of the restive Tigray region.

    “In an online meeting held this [Thursday] afternoon, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, the regional presidents, and city administrators launched a solidarity initiative for the Tigray Regional Provisional Administration and the people of the region,” said a statement by the office of the prime minister.

    “The solidarity initiative aims at mobilizing the contribution of regions and federal institutions as well as other stakeholders in supporting humanitarian efforts underway, in addition to food and non-food items to be directed to the people of Tigray,” it said.

    It added that “the regional presidents also pledged direct support to strengthen the provisional administration to carry out public service delivery duties.”

    Vehicles, various equipment, input seeds for farmers, ambulances, medicines, and monetary support were pledged by each region and would be handed over to the provisional administration within the coming days.

    “Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed further called upon all sections of society to make whatever contributions they can towards the #RebuildTigray solidarity initiative,” the statement noted.

    On Nov. 3, 2020, the now-outlawed Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) and its special forces attacked the Northern Command of the Ethiopian National Defense Forces, killing soldiers and looting military hardware.

    The following day, the federal government launched what has been dubbed as a large-scale law enforcement operation in Tigray in which the TPLF was largely defeated and some of its top leaders and fighters were either neutralized or captured.

    Although the prime minister declared the military operations were over on Nov. 28, there have been sporadic clashes between the government forces and fighters loyal to TPLF.

    More than 60,000 Ethiopians fled the fighting to neighboring Sudan while international organizations have been calling for scaled-up humanitarian assistance in the region for civilians affected by the conflict.

    Hundreds of thousands of civilians have also been reported to have become internally displaced and in dire need of emergency assistance.

    The international media have been kept out of the scene, making it difficult to give total pictures of the humanitarian tribulations and suffering in an objective and impartial manner.

    An Addis Ababa resident with relatives living in Tigray told Anadolu Agency, asking to remain anonymous, that humanitarian assistance in support of suffering civilians has not been sufficient.

    Last week, the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission revealed that 108 rape cases were reported in two months across the region.

    Related:

    UPDATE: UN Ethiopia Tweeted ‘Progress’ on Humanitarian Front in Tigray

    UN, Ethiopia Strike a Deal Over Aid Workers’ Access to Tigray

    ANALYSIS: In Ethiopia’s Digital Battle Over the Tigray Region, Facts Are Casualties

    UPDATE: PM Abiy Ahmed’s Message to the World on the Situation in Ethiopia

    Doctors Without Borders on the Humanitarian Crisis

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    Spotlight: Zion Taddese Introduces Teff to California’s Famous Farm Industry

    Zion Taddese, owner of the Queen Sheeba Ethiopian restaurant in Sacramento, California, is introducing Teff to California's internationally renowned agriculture industry. The restaurant owner started a new organization called Sheba Farms that will bring jobs to Sacramento. “Creating the processing center where we can mill it, clean it and distribute it,” says Zion Taddese. (Photo: ABC10)

    ABC10

    This Ethiopian grain could be California’s new superfood

    SACRAMENTO, Calif. — The people who make Northern California Strong are those who inspire us and make our communities a great place to live. ABC10 wants to highlight their strength by recognizing what they do. This week we want to introduce you to Zion Taddese.

    California is the Nation’s leader in food production, a third of the fruits and two-thirds of all vegetables are grown here, but there is one plant that golden state grows very little of until now. It’s called Teff and it’s a Gluten-free gain, high in iron and fiber. It’s also the main ingredient that Zion Taddese uses at her restaurant, Queen Sheeba Ethiopian Food in Sacramento.

    “We use it in our injera, all gluten-free made from Teff,” said Taddese. “This is Teff growing in California for the first time.”

    Teff is an African grain that Taddese grew up eating in Ethiopia, but after migrating to Sacramento and starting her restaurant she found that Teff was difficult to buy in the US.

    “There is a high demand for Teff, but there is not enough supply,” explained Taddese.

    To remedy her supply problem, Zion enlisted the help of UC Davis to find a strain of Teff that would grow in California.

    “I am working with UC Davis to create the knowledge, the training, the technology to share with farmers,” said Zion.

    The technology is well on its way. UC Davis researchers had a successful crop last year and now farmers William and John Gilbert are preparing to plant Teff in their vacant Walnut orchard in Wheatland.

    “We are interested in Healthy food. The incentive to grow it is the healthier the food the more people buy it,” says William Gilbert.

    Taddese is on a mission to make Teff California’s new Super Grain. The restaurant owner started a new organization called Sheba Farms that will bring jobs to Sacramento. “Creating the processing center where we can mill it, clean it and distribute it,” says Taddese

    Through Teff, Taddese wants to make her community Northern California strong and someday share that strength with her homeland of Ethiopia.

    “I hope to feed the world through Sheba Farms because no child should be left behind when it comes to food and nutrition.”

    Helping to diversify California agriculture and create new jobs, Zion Taddese is NorCal Strong. If you want to nominate a strong Northern Californian send a text (916) 321-3310 and put NorCal Strong in the text. Feel free to send pictures and or web links in the submission.

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    UPDATE: US Deploys Diaster Response Team to Tigray, Ethiopia Answers Criticism

    The USAID team will lead the U.S. Government’s humanitarian response. The press release said: "The team includes disaster experts who are assessing the situation, identifying priority needs to scale up assistance, and working with partners to provide urgently needed assistance to communities affected by the conflict." The U.S. is the largest humanitarian donor in Ethiopia, having given more than $652 million last year alone. (Photo: USAID Headquarters in D.C./Shutterstock.com)

    Press Release

    Office of Press Relations: press@usaid.gov

    USAID DEPLOYS DISASTER ASSISTANCE RESPONSE TEAM TO RESPOND TO HUMANITARIAN NEEDS IN TIGRAY, ETHIOPIA

    The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) is deploying a Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) to respond to growing humanitarian needs stemming from conflict in Ethiopia’s Tigray region. After nearly four months of fighting between armed groups, hundreds of thousands have been forced to flee their homes and more than four million people are in need of food assistance.

    USAID’s DART will lead the U.S. Government’s humanitarian response. The team includes disaster experts who are assessing the situation, identifying priority needs to scale up assistance, and working with partners to provide urgently needed assistance to communities affected by the conflict.

    Since the outbreak of conflict, USAID’s partners have been pivoting existing programs to provide life-saving assistance in the few areas of Tigray that can be reached. While USAID has been working with partners to overcome many access challenges, an estimated 80 percent of Tigray remains cut off from assistance.

    The United States remains committed to supporting the people of Ethiopia and is the largest humanitarian donor in Ethiopia. In FY 2020, the U.S. provided more than $652 million in humanitarian assistance to respond to acute food needs, conflict-driven displacement, flooding, a desert locust infestation, and the COVID-19 pandemic.

    U.S. Urges Ethiopia to End Hostilities in Tigray

    By Reuters

    Published March 2, 2021

    WASHINGTON — Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken on Tuesday pressed the leader od Ethiopia to end hostilities in the northern Tigray region, citing a “growing number of credible reports of atrocities and human rights violations and abuses.”

    In a phone call with Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, Mr. Blinken pushed for Ethiopia to withdraw outside forces from Tigray, and for an immediate end to the violence, according to a State Department spokesman, Ned Price.

    The Biden administration is seeking an end to what it describes as a deepening humanitarian crisis. It was the second time in less than a week that Mr. Blinken cited reports of atrocities in the region.

    “The secretary urged the Ethiopian government to take immediate, concrete steps to protect civilians, including refugees, and to prevent further violence,” Mr. Price said in a statement Tuesday.

    Speaking to reporters, he said, “We strongly condemn the killings, the forced removals and displacement, the sexual assaults, and other human rights violations and abuses by several parties that multiple organizations have now reported.”

    Mr. Blinken also asked that Mr. Abiy allow independent international investigations.

    A spokeswoman for Mr. Abiy, Billene Seyoum, pointed to a statement made late last month in which Ethiopia’s Foreign Affairs Ministry called American attempts to intervene in its internal affairs “regrettable.”

    The statement said that Ethiopia’s government took its responsibility for the safety, security, and well-being of all citizens “very seriously” and that it was “fully committed to undertake thorough investigations” into reports of abused.

    But it added the government had a duty to hold the nation together in the face of “treasonous and divisive forces.”

    The Ethiopians military ousted the former local ruling party, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front, from the regional capital in November, after what it described as a surprise assault on its forces in Tigray.

    Thousands of people have died, hundreds of thousands have been forced from homes and there are shortages of food, water and medicine around the region of more than five million people.

    Related:

    UPDATE: Ethiopia Responds to U.S. Criticism Over Tigray


    People receive services from a mobile health and nutrition clinic in Freweyni town, north of Mekele, Monday, Feb. 22, 2021. (Zerihun Sewunet/UNICEF via AP)

    The Associated Press

    Ethiopia rebuffs US call to pull outside forces from Tigray

    Ethiopia’s government is rebuffing calls by the United States to withdraw troops from the embattled Tigray region.

    In response to U.S Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s call for Ethiopia to immediately withdraw troops from Tigray, Ethiopia’s foreign ministry said that it is an issue to be decided by the Addis Ababa government, not a foreign power.

    “It should be clear that such matters are the sole responsibility of the Ethiopian government,” Ethiopia’s foreign ministry said in a statement issued Sunday. “The Ethiopian government, like any government of a sovereign nation, has in place various organizing principles in its federal and regional structures which are solely accountable only to the Ethiopian people.”

    No foreign country should try to “dictate a sovereign nation’s internal affairs,” said the Ethiopian statement.

    Alarm is growing over the fate of Tigray’s 6 million people as fierce fighting reportedly continues between Ethiopian and allied forces and those supporting the now-fugitive Tigray leaders who once dominated Ethiopia’s government.

    The United Nations in its latest humanitarian report on the situation in Tigray says the “humanitarian situation continues to deteriorate” as fighting intensifies across the northern region.

    “Aid workers on the ground have reported hearing gunshots from the main cities, including in Mekelle and Shire,” the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs reported on Sunday. “Residents and aid workers on the ground continue reporting incidents of house searches and indiscriminate looting, including of household items, farming equipment, ambulances and office vehicles, allegedly by various armed actors.”

    No one knows how many thousands of civilians have been killed. Humanitarian officials have warned that a growing number of people might be starving to death in Tigray.

    Accounts of atrocities by Ethiopian and allied forces against residents of Tigray were detailed in reports by The Associated Press and by Amnesty International. Ethiopia’s federal government and regional officials in Tigray both believe that each other’s governments are illegitimate after the pandemic disrupted elections.

    Related:

    Ethiopia slams US for urging pullout of Amhara forces


    The Ethiopian Foreign Ministry said in a statement: “The Ethiopian government, like any government of a sovereign nation, has in place various organizing principles in its Federal and Regional structures which are solely accountable only to the Ethiopian people.” (Anadolu Agency)

    AA

    Addis Getachew Tadesse

    Forces from Amhara region were on frontlines of law enforcement operations against Tigray rebels last November

    ADDIS ABABA – The Ethiopian government on Monday lashed out at the US for demanding the withdrawal of forces from the region of Amhara in the country’s northernmost Tigray region.

    Force from the Amhara region were on the frontlines of law enforcement operations launched against the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) last November after the group’s deadly attack on the Northern Command of the Ethiopian National Defense Forces.

    On Saturday, US Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken issued a statement saying that Amhara and the neighboring country of Eritrea need to pull their troops out of the Tigray region.

    The US remarks followed a report by Amnesty International that hundreds of civilians were shot dead in the town of Axum in Tigray — a report that alleged the involvement of Eritrean forces in the killings, which, if proved, could amount to crimes against humanity.

    “[The] attempt by the US to make pronouncements on Ethiopia’s internal affairs and specifically the reference to the Amhara regional forces’ redeployment is regrettable,” the Ethiopian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

    “It should be clear that such matters are the sole responsibility of the Ethiopian government, which, as a sovereign nation, is responsible to deploy the necessary security structures and means available in ensuring the rule of law within all corners of its borders,” it said.

    It added: “The Ethiopian government, like any government of a sovereign nation, has in place various organizing principles in its Federal and Regional structures which are solely accountable only to the Ethiopian people.”

    The Horn of Africa country said it would investigate the alleged killings and other human rights abuses in Tigray.

    Ethiopia’s War Leads to Ethnic Cleansing in Tigray Region, U.S. Report Says


    Children playing in front a house in the Tigray region that was damaged in fighting in December. (Getty Images)

    The New York Times

    Updated: Feb. 27, 2021

    An internal U.S. government report found that people in Tigray are being driven from their homes in a war begun by Ethiopia, an American ally — posing President Biden’s first major test in Africa.

    Ethiopian officials and allied militia fighters are leading a systematic campaign of ethnic cleansing in Tigray, the war-torn region in northern Ethiopia, according to an internal United States government report obtained by The New York Times.

    The report, written earlier this month, documents in stark terms a land of looted houses and deserted villages where tens of thousands of people are unaccounted for…

    On Friday afternoon, in response to the Amnesty International report, Mr. Abiy’s office said it was ready to collaborate in an international investigation into atrocities in Tigray. The government “reiterates its commitment to enabling a stable and peaceful region,” it said in a statement.

    Read the full article at nytimes.com »

    Related:

    UPDATE: In Ethiopia Premier Launches Campaign to Support Tigray


    “In an online meeting held this afternoon [Thursday, February 18th 2021], Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, the regional presidents, and city administrators launched a solidarity initiative for the Tigray Regional Provisional Administration and the people of the region,” said a statement by the office of the prime minister. (AA)

    AA

    By Addis Getachew

    Updated: February 18th 2021

    ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia — The Ethiopian prime minister and regional authorities have launched a campaign to support the rehabilitation and reconstruction of the restive Tigray region.

    “In an online meeting held this [Thursday] afternoon, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, the regional presidents, and city administrators launched a solidarity initiative for the Tigray Regional Provisional Administration and the people of the region,” said a statement by the office of the prime minister.

    “The solidarity initiative aims at mobilizing the contribution of regions and federal institutions as well as other stakeholders in supporting humanitarian efforts underway, in addition to food and non-food items to be directed to the people of Tigray,” it said.

    It added that “the regional presidents also pledged direct support to strengthen the provisional administration to carry out public service delivery duties.”

    Vehicles, various equipment, input seeds for farmers, ambulances, medicines, and monetary support were pledged by each region and would be handed over to the provisional administration within the coming days.

    “Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed further called upon all sections of society to make whatever contributions they can towards the #RebuildTigray solidarity initiative,” the statement noted.

    On Nov. 3, 2020, the now-outlawed Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) and its special forces attacked the Northern Command of the Ethiopian National Defense Forces, killing soldiers and looting military hardware.

    The following day, the federal government launched what has been dubbed as a large-scale law enforcement operation in Tigray in which the TPLF was largely defeated and some of its top leaders and fighters were either neutralized or captured.

    Although the prime minister declared the military operations were over on Nov. 28, there have been sporadic clashes between the government forces and fighters loyal to TPLF.

    More than 60,000 Ethiopians fled the fighting to neighboring Sudan while international organizations have been calling for scaled-up humanitarian assistance in the region for civilians affected by the conflict.

    Hundreds of thousands of civilians have also been reported to have become internally displaced and in dire need of emergency assistance.

    The international media have been kept out of the scene, making it difficult to give total pictures of the humanitarian tribulations and suffering in an objective and impartial manner.

    An Addis Ababa resident with relatives living in Tigray told Anadolu Agency, asking to remain anonymous, that humanitarian assistance in support of suffering civilians has not been sufficient.

    Last week, the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission revealed that 108 rape cases were reported in two months across the region.

    Related:

    UPDATE: UN Ethiopia Tweeted ‘Progress’ on Humanitarian Front in Tigray

    UN, Ethiopia Strike a Deal Over Aid Workers’ Access to Tigray

    ANALYSIS: In Ethiopia’s Digital Battle Over the Tigray Region, Facts Are Casualties

    UPDATE: PM Abiy Ahmed’s Message to the World on the Situation in Ethiopia

    Doctors Without Borders on the Humanitarian Crisis

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    Q&A: Raie Gessesse – Born in Minnesota, a Child of Immigrants: ‘The Story of My Life is the Product of My Parents’ Dreams’

    Raie Gessesse, a Minnesota social justice advocate who served as a member of her state's first-ever Young Women's Cabinet, is the first in the Star Tribune's 'Inspired Conversations' dialogue about race. Her story begins with her parents, born and raised in Ethiopia. (Star Tribune)

    Star Tribune

    At 22, Raie Gessesse isn’t waiting to inspire change. Appointed by former Gov. Mark Dayton, she served as a member of the first-ever Young Women’s Cabinet, working to elevate the voices of future female leaders, and received a $2,500 microgrant to invest in her vision as a Women’s Foundation of Minnesota Innovator. She currently trains young women to run for office as Midwest Program Manager for IGNITE National, and aspires to run for office herself someday. She graduated in May from Hamline University with a double major in public health and political science, and hopes to begin law and public policy school this fall. Gessesse is Minnesota-born, but her story begins in a different place.

    Q: Let’s start at the beginning. How would you describe your childhood?

    A: I was born in Minnesota, but I like to start with my parents’ story. My parents were born and raised in Ethiopia. When my mother was pregnant with me, they received notice that they had won a diversity visa; this is a lottery program that allows people to gain permanent residency in the United States. They first came to Boston in 1998 but heard Minnesota was the place to be to start a job. They arrived here with nothing but a vision and a dream and a baby.

    Q: Your lovely name certainly attests to that dream.

    A: Raie (pronounced Rah-EE) means “God’s vision.”

    Q: I’m guessing that in 1998, your parents faced challenges as emigrants. What have they told you?

    A: We have a thriving community now but when my parents came, they were among few Ethiopians. For seven years, they lived in St. Paul in the heart of the Ethiopian community. Growing up, I felt surrounded by my extended family. Then we moved to Cottage Grove, where we’ve been ever since.

    Q: Is this when you got an inkling that you were different from your classmates?

    A: I grew up believing that this is the land of opportunity. Moving to the suburbs, I still didn’t know I was different until I was made to feel that way because of my braids, complexion, traditional foods. In elementary school, I got pulled out for English Language Learners (ELL). But I spoke fluent English, along with Amharic. My parents had to fight to get me out of ELL. As the only Black girl, I started to feel lonely, isolated, awkward. My household was my safe harbor. I was a smart kid but it was always, “How did you get to be so smart?” Up to college, there was always skepticism about what I could accomplish, always the question, “Are you sure?”

    Q: How did your parents comfort you, mitigate that?

    A: I remember one conversation with my mom. I was telling her how lonely and isolated I was. She said, “Your identity is your gift.” That was a shattering moment for me. Why am I sacrificing my story and experiences for folks who don’t matter? The story of my life is the product of my parents’ dreams. For four years, I had been straightening my hair every single day. In 10th grade, I let my hair be natural for the first time. I said, no more! I need to re-center myself to when I was 4 or 6, feeling like I could be anyone I wanted.

    Q: And?

    A: I signed up for a talent show doing traditional dance. I joined the step team. And I founded my high school’s first Students for Justice club, becoming its inaugural president. Shortly after graduating, I was appointed to the first Young Women’s Cabinet.

    Q: Tell us about a Cabinet project you spearheaded.

    A: In 2019, we championed the Women of Color Opportunity Act at the state Legislature. I wrote and introduced an amendment for paid job internship opportunities; so many internships are offered but I, and many others like me, can’t afford to take on an unpaid position. These are pipelines to future jobs. The act didn’t pass but we’re advocating again this year. No more unpaid internships!

    Q: Where were you when you heard that George Floyd had been killed?

    A: A friend texted me and I was so overwhelmed. This is in a part of Minneapolis that a lot of us are very familiar with. I was feeling grief, but also was very angry. The Minneapolis Police Department has a history of misconduct. I just couldn’t believe it had to get to this point. For the next few days, I posted to social media e-mails and phone numbers for senators, City Council members, the mayors, attorney general, governor. I saw my role as sharing resources to make sure that everyone knows this is not OK.

    Q: Why do you think race is such a fraught topic? Do tragedies such as the death of George Floyd make it easier or more difficult to begin conversations?

    A: Those who are not racially oppressed say, “Since I haven’t experienced it, I don’t know what to do with this information.” Yes, this is a land of opportunity and a place of refuge for my family, but it has also not acknowledged an ugly past. That’s hard for a white person — to be part of centuries-long oppression. On the other hand, when we finally get to a place where we can acknowledge the truth, we can move forward. My mom always said, the truth shall set you free. That speaks so profoundly to the moment we’re in right now.

    Q: How might you help us engage in this essential conversation in a productive way?

    A: Learning is so important. Make sure you’re reading books by authors of color. I’d recommend “How To Be An Antiracist,” by Ibram X. Kendi, and “Hood Feminism: Notes From the Women That a Movement Forgot,” by Mikki Kendall. In your organizations, be conscious about how many people of color are present. Where are they in the leadership line? In meetings, are they participating or hesitant? If it’s the latter, that might mean that it’s not a safe space for them to talk. Create change where you’re at.

    Q: Would you share your story about your pre-COVID encounter on a plane? It’s a good lesson.

    A: I was on a plane from Chicago to Minneapolis, chatting with a woman. She asked me what my name was. I told her “Raie,” and she said, “That’s more American than I thought.” Like, boom! She couldn’t even see me as a person born and raised in America. I took this as an educational opportunity. I told her all about my childhood.

    Q: Did she catch on?

    A: She was mortified. She later apologized and realized how her comments were misguided and harmful. As a movement-builder, we need as many allies as we can get. If someone makes a mistake, I can respond in a graceful way that brings her into the conversation. We ended up having this great conversation.

    About this series

    Beginning today and continuing throughout the year, the Star Tribune’s Inspired section will engage in regular conversations with a variety of Minnesotans on the topic of race.

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    Ethiopia Election: Board Calls for Civil Society & Media Proposals to Host Debates

    The announcement noted that the National Electoral Board of Ethiopia (NEBE) is inviting "expression of interest" from public associations and the press, either as a group or individually, indicating their plans and capacity to host the national event. (Image via @NEBEthiopia/Twitter)

    Tadias Magazine

    By Tadias Staff

    Updated: March 2nd, 2021

    New York (TADIAS) – This past weekend in Ethiopia the Election Board said it’s calling on media and civil society organizations to help host debates in advance of the country’s upcoming general elections.

    The announcement noted that the National Electoral Board of Ethiopia (NEBE) is inviting “expression of interest” from public associations and the press, either as a group or individually, indicating their plans and capacity to host the national event.

    In a social media post on Saturday NEBE shared that once it has confirmed all the participating candidates and opposition parties it would like to organize debates among the registered contestants in collaboration with non-governmental civilian organizations.

    The press release emphasized that the proposal from the public should include “transparent objectives, mode of engagement, code of conduct, number of debates, method of selecting participants and moderators, the language in which the debates will be conducted, plans for public broadcasting,” as well as “budget and source of funding.” The board added that it will work in setting up the debates but it will not cover expenses.

    The Ethiopia election, which was originally scheduled for last year, was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic and has since been re-scheduled for June 2021.

    Related:

    UPDATE: Carter Center Battles Online Misinformation Ahead of Ethiopia Elections


    “Social media has offered us a means to organize, networking, and expressing ourselves safely, easily and cheaply,” democracy activist Befeqadu Hailu explained to VOA during a Skype interview from his office in Addis Ababa. “But on the other hand, the political organizations and political groups are using social media in an organized manner so they can disseminate any information in the interest of their political advantage, so that is manipulating their followers.” (VOA News)

    VOA News

    Updated: February 26th, 2021

    CHICAGO – As Ethiopia prepares for parliamentary elections scheduled to take place in June, the contest to win the hearts and minds of voters is already under way on social media, which democracy activist Befeqadu Hailu is closely watching.

    “Social media has offered us a means to organize, networking, and expressing ourselves safely, easily and cheaply,” he explained to VOA during a Skype interview from his office in Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa. “But on the other hand, the political organizations and political groups are using social media in an organized manner so they can disseminate any information in the interest of their political advantage, so that is manipulating their followers.”

    Ethiopian elections come as unrest flares in its northern Tigray region, where ethnic and political tensions are exploited online. Facebook is the dominant social media platform in the country, although less than 20% of the overall population has internet access.

    “People disseminate whatever they hear on social media through mouth-to-mouth communication,” Hailu explained.

    In October 2019, a disputed Facebook post by a well-known Ethiopian media figure went viral, prompting outrage that led to violence and the deaths of almost 80 people in the Oromia region. The killing of a popular singer in Addis Ababa in 2020 also triggered a wave of posts on the social media site, followed by violence in the capital and beyond.

    As national elections approach and social media use expands, Hailu said his country is ripe for online disinformation campaigns that could lead to further bloodshed.

    “They disseminate ethnic biases, hatred and prejudices so they might instigate conflict in ethnic clashes and political clashes. So, this is of concern to us,” Hailu said.

    “We work with partners to flag activity that could potentially thwart participation, exacerbate tensions or contribute to unwarranted perceptions that the voting process or the outcome are illegitimate,” said Michael Baldassaro, senior adviser with the Carter Center’s digital threats monitoring team, a relatively new program in the organization’s global democracy and peace initiatives.

    Baldassaro, who spoke to VOA via Skype, said with internet access increasing in many emerging democracies, use of social media is changing the ways candidates and voters interact.

    It is also changing how the global nonprofit Carter Center, founded by former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and his wife, Rosalynn, assesses elections.

    “We typically do this work in environments that are characterized by deep political polarization where citizens distrust government institutions or election authorities to varying degrees, and their primary sources of media are either unprofessional or hyper-partisan, or both,” Baldassaro explained.

    “We find in these environments that people turn to social media, where they find themselves in echo chambers, and encounter bias-confirming content — a good portion of which is false and misleading or demonizes those with different perspectives or beliefs.”

    The Carter Center, together with partners in countries where they are monitoring elections, not only flag dangerous online activity, but press tech companies to act.

    “If that information is indeed false, we might relate that to Facebook and the human rights policy team or to our counterparts in the country office to take action,” said Baldassaro. “Maybe at that point, they might take action to either downrank or deplatform that content all together. We want to be able to mitigate potential harms in real time.”

    Hailu’s Center for Advancement of Rights and Democracy (CARD) is one of several organizations in Ethiopia monitoring and acting on potential harmful online activity.

    “We try to identify those profiles who are repeatedly disseminating false information and demand or advocate for the social media platforms to remove that content as soon as possible,” he said.

    In a 2020 report, the United Nations outlined the dangers in Ethiopia of unmoderated content on Facebook. The tech giant said it is increasing content moderation staff in Africa, but Hailu said there are many challenges monitoring and moderating enormous amounts of content in different languages from different locations, including from diaspora communities outside the continent.

    “It requires the efforts of multiple organizations and multiple stakeholders,” he told VOA.

    With Carter Center support, CARD has expanded its mission beyond Amharic-only language content in Ethiopia.

    “We are also now observing at least three local languages,” Hailu said.

    But Hailu admits it is still an enormous task monitoring users and content that increases daily, reaching audiences in dozens of different languages or dialects throughout Ethiopia.

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    Smithsonian: Two Black Aviators & Ethiopia

    Left: Hubert Julian poses on the wheel of his plane named "Abyssinia" at Floyd Bennett Field, Long Island, New York, circa September 1933. Right: John C. Robinson in Addis Ababa, circa 1935-6. (Smithsonian)

    Smithsonian Air and Space Museum

    By: Elizabeth Borja

    Archives Division

    On October 3, 1935 the forces of Italian dictator Benito Mussolini began their advance upon Ethiopia, known in earlier times as Abyssinia. Italy had long coveted the territory to expand their colonial influence in East Africa. In 1896, Ethiopians had turned back an Italian invasion at Adwa, serving as an example of a Black-led country’s defiance of Europe. Taking inspiration from Ethiopia’s long history as an independent Black nation, two Black aviators—Hubert Julian and John C. Robinson—were drawn to Ethiopia by the events of 1935.

    Hubert Julian

    Hubert Fauntleroy Julian was born in Trinidad a year after the Ethiopian victory at Adwa. He moved to Canada after World War I, where he claims he learned to fly. In 1921, Julian traveled to New York where he found many references to Ethiopia. The Abyssinian Baptist Church in New York City was formed in 1808 by a group of Black members of the First Baptist Church who refused to accept segregated seating. The Mayor of Addis Ababa was among a party of Ethiopian dignitaries welcomed to Harlem in 1919. After Julian met Marcus Garvey, another Caribbean émigré, he joined the Universal Negro Improvement Association. Garvey often used Ethiopia as a metonym for Africa and the official anthem of the UNIA was entitled, “Ethiopia, Thou Land of Our Fathers.”

    Julian adopted the title of “Lieutenant Julian of the Royal Canadian Air Force” as he performed parachute stunts, which learning to better fly an airplane from Clarence Chamberlin. Boasting a new nickname, “The Black Eagle of Harlem,” he announced a daring project on January 10, 1924—he would become the first man (Black or White) to fly solo to Africa, a much more dangerous route that than the northern Atlantic flights previously completed. The goal was to leave New York in his Boeing seaplane (acquired with Chamberlin’s assistance) and head south to Brazil. From there he would fly the aspirationally titled Ethiopia I to Liberia (another independent Black nation) with the final destination being Ethiopia.

    Julian encountered nothing but trouble on the way to his July 4th flight. He failed to gain the support of the NAACP. His advertisements for funding in Black newspapers attracted the attention of the US government, accusing him of fraud. His investors only released the aircraft to him after additional funds were raised on the spot in the name of Marcus Garvey. The flight itself was a spectacular failure, lasting only five minutes before Julian and Ethiopia I crashed into Flushing Bay.

    Julian survived the flight but his transatlantic efforts were soon overshadowed by Charles Lindbergh and Julian’s own legal troubles. But his actions were noted by Ras Tafari, who was to be crowned Emperor of Ethiopia. In April 1930, Tafari sent his cousin, studying at Howard University, a historically Black institution, to request that Julian perform at the Emperor’s coronation. Within a week, Julian was on a ship across the Atlantic.

    Tafari had been building an Ethiopian Imperial Air Force with French pilots, paid by the French government; two German Junkers; and a British Gypsy Moth, the newly assembled unflown prize of the collection, a coronation gift from the owners of Selfridge’s department store. Amid tensions with the white pilots, Julian demonstrated his abilities in a Junkers and was rewarded with a commission as a colonel in the air force and the Emperor’s private pilot.

    After a trip to New York to drum up American support for Ethiopia with mixed results, Julian returned to Ethiopia for the coronation. During a dress rehearsal for the ceremony, Ethiopian-trained pilots successfully demonstrated their flying abilities in the Junkers planes. Then Julian took to the air in the Emperor’s off-limits prized Gypsy Moth. The crash destroyed not only the plane but Julian’s relationship with Ras Tafari. Julian was already banished and out of the country when Tarafi was crowned Haile Selassie I.

    Unbowed, Julian returned to the United States, where he earned his government pilot’s license and formed a Black barnstorming troupe “The Five Black Birds.” He also developed a relationship with aircraft manufacturer Giuseppe M. Bellanca, who refitted a Bellanca J-2 (registration NR-782W). The aircraft had been used by Walter Lees and Frederick Bossy in 1931 to set a new world endurance record for non-refueled flight—84 hours and 32 minutes (not to be broken until the Rutan Voyager in 1986). The aircraft proudly boasted its heritage under the front windows.


    Aviator Hubert Julian poses for photographers in front of his Bellanca J-2 at Floyd Bennett Field, Long Island, New York. The aircraft’s propeller is draped with an American flag. Peggy Harding Shannon, holding a bouquet of roses and a bottle of champagne, stands behind Julian on a second chair as a crowd looks on from either side. Date is presumed to be September 29, 1933, when the aircraft was christened “Abyssinia” at a press conference. NASM-XRA-8234

    On September 29, 1933 Julian held a press conference at Floyd Bennett Field, New York, christening the plane Abyssinia, Emperor Haile Salassi [sic] I King of Kings and announcing his intentions for another transatlantic flight. But he still needed to pay off the airplane and travelled across the United States and even to London with Amy Ashwood Garvey (Marcus Garvey’s ex-wife) to raise additional funds. By the end of 1934, it did not appear that Julian would attempt his flight anytime soon. (As a footnote, the airplane itself was later sold to the Portuguese Monteverde brothers who wrecked it at Floyd Bennett Field during their June 1935 transatlantic attempt.)


    Hubert Julian poses with his Bellanca J-2 “Abyssinia” (“Emperor Haile Salassi I King of Kings”, r/n 782W) on the ground at Floyd Bennett Field, Long Island, New York, 1934. NASM-XRA-3274

    John C. Robinson

    In 1934, John C. Robinson was contemplating visiting his alma mater, the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama, for his 10th reunion and to propose an aviation school there for Black pilots. Robinson, born in Florida and raised in Mississippi, had been one of the first Black pilots to complete his training at the Curtiss-Wright Aeronautical University in Chicago. He and Cornelius Coffey formed the Challenger Air Pilots Association, opened their own airfield, and created an aviation school to support Black pilots.


    John C. Robinson’s Chicago business card. Text reads: “J.C. Robinson, U.S. Government Licensed Pilot and Mechanic. Instructor for Aeronautical University, Founded by Curtiss-Wright Flying Service.” NASM-9A16697-018C

    Italy made incursions into Ethiopia in late 1934, clearly announcing its intentions. The League of Nations did not act upon Ethiopian appeals in a way that discouraged Italy at all. David Robinson, editor of the Black newspaper the Chicago Defender, wrote in an April 6, 1935 editorial, “News about the dispute between Ethiopia and Italy as published in your neswaper [sic] and also the white papers should bring to our hearts a feeling of sympathy for the last monarchy of our race….Men of our race who are more acquainted with the international sea are faced with a responsibility which stares us in our faces this very hour…we are responsible for the future of our boys and girls who will grow up to find out that they have no chance of existing in a purely dominant white world.”

    John C. Robinson’s efforts in Chicago on behalf of Black citizens impressed Haile Selassie’s nephew. After Julian’s time in Africa, the Ethiopians were wary of another American-based pilot, but Robinson’s reputation won them over and he was asked to go to Ethiopia to serve in the Imperial Ethiopian Air Force. Robinson accepted, wanting to prove the mettle of Black pilots, both American and Ethiopian. He stated in a 1936 interview: “I am glad to know that they realize that Ethiopia is fighting not only for herself, but also for black men in every part of the world and that Americans, especially black Americans are willing to anything to help us to carry on and to win.”

    In May 1935, Robinson was on his way to Ethiopia. In their first meeting, Haile Selassie offered the American the rank of Colonel in the Imperial Ethiopian Air Force. Robinson also accepted Ethiopian citizenship, so that he could claim dual citizenship and not run afoul of a 19th century law forbidding American citizens to serve in a foreign army when the United States is at peace. He was quickly dubbed “The Brown Condor of Ethiopia.” Robinson found the 1935 Ethiopian Air Force with a few more airplanes and trained pilots than Julian in 1930, but not many. Akaki Field, just outside Addis Ababa, housed a few Potez 25s, a Farman F.192, a couple of Junkers (the same as flown by Julian), and a Fokker F.VII. There were only a few Ethiopian pilots; most of the experienced pilots were still French and would be discouraged from directly supporting war efforts (a 1936 Pittsburgh Courier article even mentioned a Ethiopian woman pilot named Mobin Gretta).


    Business card for John C. Robinson, circa 1935. “Col J. C. Robinson, Imperiale Ethiopienne Air Force. Addis Ababa, (Ethiopia).” Imperial standard of Emperor Haile Selassie I, featuring the Lion of Judah, appears in the upper left hand corner. Handwritten inscription to fellow Chicago pilot Dale L. White on lower half of card reads, “To Dale / Say How is the old Chrysler / Hope to get a ride in it again — If I don’t go West / Johnny.” NASM-9A16697-014B

    Robinson also found Hubert Julian, who had returned to Ethiopia in April, hoping still to serve Haile Selassie. The Emperor would not permit Julian to rejoin the Air Force, but he restored Julian’s rank of Colonel and assigned him to train employees of the Ministry of Public Works. Julian also appointed himself as a press liaison. Things came to a head on August 9 when Robinson and Julian came to blows in a hotel lobby. The incident was even covered in white newspapers and Julian was immediately stripped of his military command (though he was quietly reinstated and assigned to a far-off outpost). Julian left Ethiopia for good in November 1935, bitter after the loss of stature and additional court intrigue named him in a possible assassination plan against the Emperor.

    Robinson continued to serve with the Air Force. His exploits were closely followed by his fellow Black pilots back in Chicago via Black newspapers. According to clippings in Dale White’s Challenger Air Pilots Association scrapbook, six Black aviators began the process to join him in Ethiopia, but were not granted passports. The Pittsburgh Courier published a list of licensed Black fighters acquired from the Negro Affairs Division of the Bureau of Foreign and Domestic Commerce. A photo feature on Willa Brown was headlined “Wants to Fight for Ethiopia.”

    John Robinson was in the air on October 3, 1935 when the Italians crossed the Mareb River to begin their ground assault on Ethiopia. He was on the ground in Adwa when Italian Capronis bombed the town into rubble, returning to Addis Ababa to report. Italy took the town on October 6, claiming what they could not in 1896.

    An October 12, 1935 article in the Baltimore Afro-American quoted a letter from Robinson to his fellow Chicago pilots cautioning them to stay where they were: “If we have to face the Italians in our present planes, airworthy though they are, it will be no less than murder….It will be better for you to remain in America and carry on the good work which we have begun in interesting our people in aviation.” He was resolved to stay himself. He was gassed and wounded several times, but continued to fly orders between locations, observe troop movements, and guide Red Cross missions.

    Towards the end of April 1936, Robinson took Haile Selassie in a Beech Staggerwing for one last aerial look at Ethiopia. Emperor Haile Selassie fled Addis Ababa on May 2 via train. Robinson flew the Staggerwing to Djibouti where it was impounded. He returned to the United States to acclaim and immediately began his work to develop the aviation school at Tuskegee.

    Postscript

    Hubert Julian did not return to Ethiopia, but he lived a long life, becoming an arms dealer in Central American and Pakistan under the company name “Black Eagle Associates.” He kept in touch with Giuseppe Bellanca, requesting price quotes for airplanes and sending location updates. Julian ran afoul of the United Nations in the Congo in the 1960s. Although he moved out of the spotlight, he continued to rack up a large file in FBI headquarters until his death in New York in 1983. Although Hubert Julian gained a reputation for self-aggrandizement and empty showmanship, the fact remains that he promoted Ethiopia and supported its continued existence as a Black-ruled sovereign nation.

    Emperor Haile Selassie returned to Ethiopia in May 1941. He asked John C. Robinson to join him in rebuilding the Ethiopian Air Force. In 1944, Robinson and five Black pilots and mechanics made their way across war-torn seas to Addis Ababa where they established an aviation training school. Robinson continued to draw on his Chicago aviation ties, helping Ethiopian students attend school in the United States, recommending many to Janet Waterford Bragg. Robinson believed that he was being pushed out by an influx of white Swedish support and was arrested for attacking a Swedish representative. He resigned his commission in 1948. He remained in Ethiopia to work to build Ethiopian Airlines, as he had been instrumental establishing a relationship between Ethiopia and TWA Airlines to send a fleet of DC-3 aircraft and personnel in 1946.

    John C. Robinson died in 1954, when he crashed a Stinson L-5 outside of Addis Ababa. His name survives in Ethiopia, including the John C. Robinson American Center at the National Archives and Library Agency in Addis Ababa.

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    UPDATE: Ethiopia Responds to U.S. Criticism Over Tigray

    People receive services from a mobile health and nutrition clinic in Freweyni town, north of Mekele, Monday, Feb. 22, 2021. (Zerihun Sewunet/UNICEF via AP)

    The Associated Press

    Ethiopia rebuffs US call to pull outside forces from Tigray

    Ethiopia’s government is rebuffing calls by the United States to withdraw troops from the embattled Tigray region.

    In response to U.S Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s call for Ethiopia to immediately withdraw troops from Tigray, Ethiopia’s foreign ministry said that it is an issue to be decided by the Addis Ababa government, not a foreign power.

    “It should be clear that such matters are the sole responsibility of the Ethiopian government,” Ethiopia’s foreign ministry said in a statement issued Sunday. “The Ethiopian government, like any government of a sovereign nation, has in place various organizing principles in its federal and regional structures which are solely accountable only to the Ethiopian people.”

    No foreign country should try to “dictate a sovereign nation’s internal affairs,” said the Ethiopian statement.

    Alarm is growing over the fate of Tigray’s 6 million people as fierce fighting reportedly continues between Ethiopian and allied forces and those supporting the now-fugitive Tigray leaders who once dominated Ethiopia’s government.

    The United Nations in its latest humanitarian report on the situation in Tigray says the “humanitarian situation continues to deteriorate” as fighting intensifies across the northern region.

    “Aid workers on the ground have reported hearing gunshots from the main cities, including in Mekelle and Shire,” the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs reported on Sunday. “Residents and aid workers on the ground continue reporting incidents of house searches and indiscriminate looting, including of household items, farming equipment, ambulances and office vehicles, allegedly by various armed actors.”

    No one knows how many thousands of civilians have been killed. Humanitarian officials have warned that a growing number of people might be starving to death in Tigray.

    Accounts of atrocities by Ethiopian and allied forces against residents of Tigray were detailed in reports by The Associated Press and by Amnesty International. Ethiopia’s federal government and regional officials in Tigray both believe that each other’s governments are illegitimate after the pandemic disrupted elections.

    Related:

    Ethiopia slams US for urging pullout of Amhara forces


    The Ethiopian Foreign Ministry said in a statement: “The Ethiopian government, like any government of a sovereign nation, has in place various organizing principles in its Federal and Regional structures which are solely accountable only to the Ethiopian people.” (Anadolu Agency)

    AA

    Addis Getachew Tadesse

    Forces from Amhara region were on frontlines of law enforcement operations against Tigray rebels last November

    ADDIS ABABA – The Ethiopian government on Monday lashed out at the US for demanding the withdrawal of forces from the region of Amhara in the country’s northernmost Tigray region.

    Force from the Amhara region were on the frontlines of law enforcement operations launched against the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) last November after the group’s deadly attack on the Northern Command of the Ethiopian National Defense Forces.

    On Saturday, US Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken issued a statement saying that Amhara and the neighboring country of Eritrea need to pull their troops out of the Tigray region.

    The US remarks followed a report by Amnesty International that hundreds of civilians were shot dead in the town of Axum in Tigray — a report that alleged the involvement of Eritrean forces in the killings, which, if proved, could amount to crimes against humanity.

    “[The] attempt by the US to make pronouncements on Ethiopia’s internal affairs and specifically the reference to the Amhara regional forces’ redeployment is regrettable,” the Ethiopian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

    “It should be clear that such matters are the sole responsibility of the Ethiopian government, which, as a sovereign nation, is responsible to deploy the necessary security structures and means available in ensuring the rule of law within all corners of its borders,” it said.

    It added: “The Ethiopian government, like any government of a sovereign nation, has in place various organizing principles in its Federal and Regional structures which are solely accountable only to the Ethiopian people.”

    The Horn of Africa country said it would investigate the alleged killings and other human rights abuses in Tigray.

    Ethiopia’s War Leads to Ethnic Cleansing in Tigray Region, U.S. Report Says


    Children playing in front a house in the Tigray region that was damaged in fighting in December. (Getty Images)

    The New York Times

    Updated: Feb. 27, 2021

    An internal U.S. government report found that people in Tigray are being driven from their homes in a war begun by Ethiopia, an American ally — posing President Biden’s first major test in Africa.

    Ethiopian officials and allied militia fighters are leading a systematic campaign of ethnic cleansing in Tigray, the war-torn region in northern Ethiopia, according to an internal United States government report obtained by The New York Times.

    The report, written earlier this month, documents in stark terms a land of looted houses and deserted villages where tens of thousands of people are unaccounted for…

    On Friday afternoon, in response to the Amnesty International report, Mr. Abiy’s office said it was ready to collaborate in an international investigation into atrocities in Tigray. The government “reiterates its commitment to enabling a stable and peaceful region,” it said in a statement.

    Read the full article at nytimes.com »

    Related:

    UPDATE: In Ethiopia Premier Launches Campaign to Support Tigray


    “In an online meeting held this afternoon [Thursday, February 18th 2021], Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, the regional presidents, and city administrators launched a solidarity initiative for the Tigray Regional Provisional Administration and the people of the region,” said a statement by the office of the prime minister. (AA)

    AA

    By Addis Getachew

    Updated: February 18th 2021

    ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia — The Ethiopian prime minister and regional authorities have launched a campaign to support the rehabilitation and reconstruction of the restive Tigray region.

    “In an online meeting held this [Thursday] afternoon, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, the regional presidents, and city administrators launched a solidarity initiative for the Tigray Regional Provisional Administration and the people of the region,” said a statement by the office of the prime minister.

    “The solidarity initiative aims at mobilizing the contribution of regions and federal institutions as well as other stakeholders in supporting humanitarian efforts underway, in addition to food and non-food items to be directed to the people of Tigray,” it said.

    It added that “the regional presidents also pledged direct support to strengthen the provisional administration to carry out public service delivery duties.”

    Vehicles, various equipment, input seeds for farmers, ambulances, medicines, and monetary support were pledged by each region and would be handed over to the provisional administration within the coming days.

    “Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed further called upon all sections of society to make whatever contributions they can towards the #RebuildTigray solidarity initiative,” the statement noted.

    On Nov. 3, 2020, the now-outlawed Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) and its special forces attacked the Northern Command of the Ethiopian National Defense Forces, killing soldiers and looting military hardware.

    The following day, the federal government launched what has been dubbed as a large-scale law enforcement operation in Tigray in which the TPLF was largely defeated and some of its top leaders and fighters were either neutralized or captured.

    Although the prime minister declared the military operations were over on Nov. 28, there have been sporadic clashes between the government forces and fighters loyal to TPLF.

    More than 60,000 Ethiopians fled the fighting to neighboring Sudan while international organizations have been calling for scaled-up humanitarian assistance in the region for civilians affected by the conflict.

    Hundreds of thousands of civilians have also been reported to have become internally displaced and in dire need of emergency assistance.

    The international media have been kept out of the scene, making it difficult to give total pictures of the humanitarian tribulations and suffering in an objective and impartial manner.

    An Addis Ababa resident with relatives living in Tigray told Anadolu Agency, asking to remain anonymous, that humanitarian assistance in support of suffering civilians has not been sufficient.

    Last week, the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission revealed that 108 rape cases were reported in two months across the region.

    Related:

    UPDATE: UN Ethiopia Tweeted ‘Progress’ on Humanitarian Front in Tigray

    UN, Ethiopia Strike a Deal Over Aid Workers’ Access to Tigray

    ANALYSIS: In Ethiopia’s Digital Battle Over the Tigray Region, Facts Are Casualties

    UPDATE: PM Abiy Ahmed’s Message to the World on the Situation in Ethiopia

    Doctors Without Borders on the Humanitarian Crisis

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    UPDATE: Motown Promotes Ethiopia Habtemariam to Chair & CEO

    After six years as president of Motown Records, Ethiopia Habtemariam has been promoted to chairman/CEO of the iconic label. (Billboard)

    Billboard

    Ethiopia Habtemariam joins a small circle of women currently holding the title of chairman at a major label.

    After six years as president of Motown Records, Ethiopia Habtemariam has been promoted to chairman/CEO of the iconic label.

    Habtemariam now reports directly to Universal Music Group chairman/CEO Sir Lucian Grainge as Motown becomes a standalone label.

    In a release announcing Habtemariam’s appointment, Grainge said, “Motown is such an important voice and, just as when it was founded by Berry Gordy, its impact continues to be felt around the world. Motown’s resurgence and powerful partnerships under Ethiopia’s leadership has advanced the label’s legacy as home to some of today’s biggest hitmakers and most meaningful voices in music.”

    Since overseeing Motown’s move from New York to Los Angeles in 2014, Habtemariam has orchestrated creative and entrepreneurial ventures with various partners including Quality Control Music. In addition to Migos, City Girls, Lil Yachty and Layton Greene, QC’s roster includes Lil Baby whose second album My Turn closed out 2020 as the most popular album of the year in the U.S. with 2.63 million equivalent album units, according to MRC Data.

    Motown is also home to Blacksmith Records (Ted When, Vince Staples) and Since the 80s (Asiahn, Njomza) as well as Erykah Badu, Kem and Tiana Major9, among other artists. Both Major9 and Lil Baby are current Grammy Award nominees. “Collide” by Major9 with Earthgang, featured on the Queen & Slim soundtrack, is up for best R&B song. Lil Baby’s “The Bigger Picture” received nominations in two categories: best rap song and best rap performance.

    Calling it an “incredible honor to represent and define what Motown is today,” Habtemariam thanked Grainge “for his constant support and guidance over the years; my Motown team for all they have done and continue to do; the Capitol team for their help in building Motown over these past six years; Clarence Avant who has always taught me about the power of responsibility; and Mr. Berry Gordy, for his faith in me to carry on his legacy.”

    With her promotion, Habtemariam joins the small circle of women currently holding the title of chairman at a major label including Julie Greenwald, chairman/COO of Atlantic Records, and Sylvia Rhone, chairman/CEO of Epic Records. Jody Gerson is chairman/CEO of Universal Music Publishing Group, while Desiree Perez is CEO of Roc Nation.

    “I’m so grateful for this huge opportunity,” Habtemariam tells Billboard, “because there’s been a lot of incredible hard work put in to allow me to get to this space. Coming into this industry, there were so many incredible women that I looked up to within its various business sectors. They gave me confidence and never made me question what I would be able to achieve. And I’m thankful I got to see that. This opportunity is really me standing on their shoulders.

    Habtemariam adds, “My goal and my hope is that there’ll be a lot more women that look like me in leadership positions going forward.”

    Noting also that Motown “will be a standalone label going forward with some shared services,” Habtemariam says the imprint’s upcoming release slate includes new music from Migos, Tiana Major9, Tiwa Savage, Ne-Yo, Kem, new signee Bree Runway and Erykah Badu, “who has some interesting things that are lining up.” Motown also established Motown U.K. last summer and recently relaunched its Black Forum label, beginning with the Feb. 26 reissue of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s 1971 Grammy-winning album for best spoken word, Why I Oppose the War in Vietnam.

    Before joining Motown and being named president of the label as well as executive vp of Capitol Music Group, Habtemariam served as president of urban music & co-head of creative at Universal Music Publishing Group.

    Related:

    TIME: Motown President Ethiopia Habtemariam on Steering the Legendary Label Through the Pandemic


    Ethiopia Habtemariam, the president of Motown Records, has spent the past year assisting her artists in navigating the painful reality of life offstage while retooling album-release plans. Below is Time Magazine’s interview with Ethiopia. (Photo: Camera Press/Redux)

    TIME

    Updated: February 7th, 2021

    The pandemic rocked the music industry. Live performances, which are such a critical part of driving the business (and making fans euphoric) were quickly shut down last year. Concerts are going to be slow to return. (Who’s up for crowding next to sweaty strangers, yelling at the top of their lungs?) Ethiopia Habtemariam, the president of Motown Records, has spent the past year assisting her artists in navigating the painful reality of life offstage while retooling album-release plans. She helped one artist cope with depression when a much anticipated record was postponed and, in the outbreak’s early days, counseled another to take the virus more seriously. “There was a lot of misinformation about COVID and communities that it was hitting,” she said. Habtemariam remembers one young artist who was still going out on the town telling her, “Oh no, that’s a rich-people thing.”

    While live shows floundered, music delivered comfort to people stuck in their homes and apartments. Total audio consumption, which includes streaming and album sales, was up 11.6 % in 2020, according to MRC Data. And for Habtemariam, 41, the past year helped her ongoing mission to make the legendary Motown brand relevant in today’s culture. Back in 2015, she signed a joint venture with Quality Control Music, an influential hip-hop label based in Atlanta, leading to a string of megahits from hot young artists including the Migos, Lil Yachty and Lil Baby. Lil Baby, an Atlanta rapper, singer and songwriter, had the best-selling album of 2020, according to MRC Data, beating out Taylor Swift and the Weeknd. And Lil Baby’s single “The Bigger Picture,” released after the murder of George Floyd, became an unofficial protest anthem played at marches and rallies throughout the country. It has more than 112 million views on YouTube.

    Habtemariam, who started her music career as an unpaid intern at 14, recently joined TIME for a video conversation on the pressures of taking over a storied label, the perils of social media for artists and her favorite live venues.

    (This interview with Motown Records president Ethiopia Habtemariam has been condensed and edited for clarity.)

    So, what have you been listening to, to get through the pandemic?

    I went through a phase around April, May, when I was like going down memory lane of my childhood, reminiscing on songs that I grew up on. Middle school, high school years. And it was actually therapeutic in many ways. It kind of helped me get through a lot of the different emotions and feelings that I was having, and also it reminded me of why I fell in love with music.

    Rumor has it that you were a big TLC fan.

    I still think that they don’t get the credit they deserve because they were so huge! TLC, Aaliyah, Missy [Elliott], Lauryn Hill—I was a massive Janet Jackson fan as well.

    I’m a huge fan of music, period. I’m a daughter of immigrants. My parents are both Ethiopian, and I’m Ethiopian American. I grew up in the South. So here I am, this young girl, with a name like Ethiopia; I was a bit of an alien, but music was my salvation. It was my escape, but it was also a bridge for me to connect and build friendships.

    How did the pandemic disrupt your release schedule? You still managed to have one of the biggest albums of the year, with Lil Baby’s My Turn.

    I remember it vividly because we scheduled some in-stores for him. I remember coming to Atlanta and making sure everyone had hand sanitizer. And then everything shut down, and we had to really come together to figure out how we were going to move forward.

    We put it out Feb. 28, and it was massive. The response was incredible; everything was great. And two weeks later, the world shuts down. One of the things that was in the plan was, of course, a huge tour.

    Read more »

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    UPDATE: In Court Filing Ethiopia 737 MAX Crash Lawyers ask Boeing CEO to Testify

    Families have called for testimony from Boeing Chief Executive Dave Calhoun, his predecessor [Dennis Muilenburg, pictured above] and other current and former employees as part of their legal case in Chicago, court documents show. (Reuters)

    Reuters

    Relatives of victims of a Boeing Co 737 MAX crash in Ethiopia that occurred five months after an Indonesian Lion Air disaster are stepping up pressure on the American planemaker and the federal government, according to a court filing and a letter to U.S. lawmakers.

    Families have called for testimony from Boeing Chief Executive Dave Calhoun, his predecessor and other current and former employees as part of their legal case in Chicago, court documents show.

    Separately, the families urged lawmakers in letter to demand that the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration turn over internal emails and documents spanning the Lion Air crash and one month after the Ethiopian crash. Together, 346 people died.

    The letter was sent to members of the House and Senate transportation committees on Friday, including committee head Representative Peter DeFazio and aviation subcommittee chair Representative Rick Larsen.

    A Congressional official said: “I can confirm that this week Chairs DeFazio and Larsen re-upped their request to DOT (Department of Transportation) for FAA records that have gone unfulfilled to date.”

    A Senate report in December detailed lapses in aviation safety oversight and failed leadership in the FAA. It found that FAA leaders obstructed that report as well as a DOT watchdog review of the regulator’s oversight, the results of which were released on Wednesday.

    “There is serious unfinished business,” the families said in the letter, reviewed by Reuters.

    Boeing has mostly settled civil litigation stemming from the Lion Air crash, but still faces over 100 lawsuits in Chicago federal court related to the second crash.

    The plaintiffs’ lawyers are focusing on what Boeing knew about the causes of the first crash and why the plane continued to fly. They want to schedule depositions of Calhoun and Muilenburg between May 3 and June 18.

    Those victims’ families also want to know what FAA management, which in November lifted a 20-month safety ban of the MAX, understood about the first crash.

    Boeing’s board faces a separate investor lawsuit in Delaware Chancery Court, where a complaint unsealed this month alleged breach of fiduciary duties and gross negligence by failing “to monitor the safety of Boeing’s 737 MAX airplanes.”

    Last month, Boeing reached a $2.5 billion settlement with the Justice Department over the 737 MAX crashes, including a $243.6 million fine.

    Related:

    Boeing Reaches $2.5 Billion Settlement in 737 MAX Crashes in Ethiopia & Indonesia


    Ethiopian officials deliver the Black Box for Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 to the headquarters of France’s BEA air accident investigation agency in Le Bourget, France on March 14, 2019. As NPR reports the families of the passengers who died in the crash will be compensated from a fund of $500 million. (Reuters photo)

    NPR

    Updated: January 7th, 2021

    Boeing To Pay $2.5 Billion Over 737 Max Fraud, Faces No Other Charges

    Boeing will pay more than $2.5 billion to settle criminal charges that it repeatedly concealed and lied about the 737 Max’s engineering problems that led to two catastrophic crashes claiming hundreds of lives.

    The company admitted to one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States as part of the deferred prosecution agreement announced on Thursday and will face no further charges from the U.S. Department of Justice.

    “Boeing’s employees chose the path of profit over candor by concealing material information from the FAA concerning the operation of its 737 Max airplane and engaging in an effort to cover up their deception,” Acting Assistant Attorney General David Burns of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, wrote in a statement.

    Boeing, which is the country’s second-biggest defense contractor behind Lockheed Martin, will pay the DOJ a criminal penalty of $243.6 million.

    The families and legal beneficiaries of the 346 passenger victims who died in the Lion Air Flight 610 in Indonesia in October 2018 and the Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 in Ethiopia five months later will be paid from a fund of $500 million. If split equally among them, that amounts to a little over $1.4 million for each family.

    The vast majority of the settlement is allocated for airline companies that had purchased the faulty 737 Max aircraft and were subsequently forced to ground the planes following the crashes. Together they will receive $1.77 billion in compensation for their financial losses, according to the DOJ.

    “The tragic crashes of Lion Air Flight 610 and Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 exposed fraudulent and deceptive conduct by employees of one of the world’s leading commercial airplane manufacturers,” Burns added in the statement.

    In both cases, the crashes were caused by changes to the jet’s Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System that forced the nose of the 737 Max toward the ground and left pilots unable to control the planes.

    In a note to employees, Boeing President and Chief Executive Officer David Calhoun said, “I firmly believe that entering into this resolution is the right thing for us to do—a step that appropriately acknowledges how we fell short of our values and expectations.”

    He added: “This resolution is a serious reminder to all of us of how critical our obligation of transparency to regulators is, and the consequences that our company can face if any one of us falls short of those expectations.”

    Internal Boeing documents revealed during a U.S.House panel’s inquiry showed that engineers notified the company of the MCAS “egregious” problems as early as 2016.

    Related:

    Ethiopian Report Blames Boeing for 737 MAX Plane Crash

    Boeing to Stop 737 Max Production (AP)

    Internal FAA review saw high risk of 737 MAX crashes

    Boeing Was Aware of 737 Max Problem Long Before Ethiopia Crash – Report

    Boeing CEO Apologizes to Victims of Ethiopia, Indonesia Crashes

    Ethiopian Airlines Slams Bloomberg’s Ex-Pilot Story as ‘Baseless & False Allegation’

    Read Excerpt From Ethiopia Crash Report

    Ethiopian Airlines Expresses Disappointment – Calls Out Media Outlets Eager to Blame Pilot

    Watch: Ethiopian CEO on The Future of Boeing 737 Max Planes — NBC Exclusive

    Watch: Ethiopia Releases 737 Max Preliminary Crash Report

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    Spotlight: Girmay Zahilay, King County Councilman From District 2 in Seattle

    Girmay Hadish Zahilay is a Sudan-born Ethiopian-American attorney who serves as a member of the King County Council from District 2 in Seattle, Washington. The following is a spotlight on Girmay by The South Seattle Emerald in honor of Black History Month. (Photo: Girmay Zahilay speaks at the opening of a pop-up resource center in the Skyway neighborhood, south of Seattle/by Susan Fried)

    South Seattle Emerald

    By Marcus Harden

    BLACK HISTORY TODAY: GIRMAY ZAHILAY, A DREAM MANIFESTED

    “One voice can change a room, and if one voice can change a room, then it can change a city, and if it can change a city, it can change a state, and if it change a state, it can change a nation, and if it can change a nation, it can change the world. Your voice can change the world.”

    —Barack Obama

    As I’ve grown older, I’ve become more and more fascinated by the African Diaspora and the connection to the African American experience. I’ve especially been fascinated with learning more about the countries in Africa such as Ethiopia, as it stands as one of the only countries to not be colonized by European “settlers.” It’s begged the question: What lay in the culture of those people? What portions of that culture permeate from generation to generation and how do they show up today?

    The answer is complex, yet if I had to take a personal wager, I’d bet that ancestral depth lives in people like Girmay Zahilay. Girmay is the “American Dream” personified, in that he’s uniquely bridged the gap of culture from continent to continent and has become a possibility for so many on both sides of that bridge.

    Born in Sudan and of Ethiopian descent, his parents Ethiopian Refugees who themselves escaped military conflict, he arrived in the United States at the tender age of 3. Girmay’s family settled in the historic Rainier Valley of Seattle, and it was here that he learned about the world and came to understand others, turning his family’s trials into triumphs. Whether moving from the International District to Skyway, getting by temporarily without stable housing, living in shelters in downtown Seattle, or finally settling in the Rainier Vista, his humility and leadership were being crafted at every step.

    Girmay graduated from Franklin High School before going on to Stanford University and the University of Pennsylvania, where his natural instincts in fighting for justice would be sharpened into the skill of understanding and interpreting the law. Girmay’s journey took him to Washington D.C. and New York City, yet no matter where he surfaced on the map, his spirit of bridging the gap and liberating people would never change.

    His return home to Seattle saw more of the same, as he founded a nonprofit that created opportunities for young people to practice their innate leadership skills. The spirit and culture of leadership and liberation never left him, beating steady like a drum, speaking louder and louder as he saw the needs of the community through the eyes of the youth who looked like him. Soon those voices were crying out louder and louder throughout the Rainier Vista and other communities whose fight for public housing deserved to finally be heard.

    In 2019, Girmay decided to become that megaphone that resonated change.

    It wasn’t an easy path, of course. Girmay chose to pursue a coveted city council seat held by Larry Gossett, a local legend who blazed the trail for Girmay and many others. What was most notable about Girmay’s approach was that it was rooted in the culture of class and respect, never diminishing the accomplishments of Gossett and his place in history, yet as he had times before, wanting to be the bridge to and for the next generation that would stand on the shoulders of those before him.

    Before he was a councilman, to me Girmay was just “Lull’s little big cousin.” Lull Mengesha, a close friend of mine, told me I just had to meet his cousin. It happened one day at Empire Espresso in South Seattle, and I talked for hours with Girmay about education and social change. I learned that he wanted to utilize his passion for law to support youth — specifically those disenfranchised and trapped in the System in the Rainier Valley and Skyway. Even over great coffee and greater waffles, Girmay’s purpose shined through.

    Girmay’s commitment to public service shows up in the small details, like his social media that ensures people from all walks of life can celebrate, or through continuing to demystify public service for cultures and people who traditionally haven’t gotten an inside look. In constantly honoring those throughout the Diaspora in word and actions, Girmay embodies the spirit of liberation his ancestors passed down. He is a humble servant with the ear to listen to the past and the voice that changes the future. He is the dream manifested. Girmay Zahilay is undoubtedly Black History Today!

    Related:

    Ethiopian American Girmay Zahilay, a New Councilman in King County, Washington

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    Virginia Furniture with Ethiopian Roots: Garden & Gun Magazine on Jomo Tariku

    Raised in Ethiopia, Jomo Tariku came to the United States in 1987. After studying industrial design at the University of Kansas, he eventually moved to the suburbs of D.C., where he works as a data scientist. He based his earliest furniture designs on the three-legged Jimma stools of Ethiopia that he remembered from childhood. (Garden & Gun Magazine)

    Garden & Gun Magazine

    Two and a half hours south of Washington, D.C., outside of Columbia, Virginia, in a former three-car garage on the north side of the James River, the designer Jomo Tariku and the woodworker David Bohnhoff are redefining contemporary African furniture. In the studio, African mahogany shavings cover a section of the floor as they collaborate on museum-worthy chairs and stools, and the smell the wood casts off as the day heats up permeates the space.

    Born in Kenya and raised in Ethiopia, Tariku came to the United States in 1987. After studying industrial design at the University of Kansas, he eventually moved to the suburbs of D.C., where he works as a data scientist. He based his earliest furniture designs on the three-legged Jimma stools of Ethiopia that he remembered from childhood. All of his pieces tie back to the African diaspora in some way, and many center on his East African upbringing. “When people define African art,” he says, “they think of masks and handcrafts, and old things. There is no space for people like me.”

    Tariku bucks against the modern definition of African furniture, usually relegated to pieces with a Eurocentric aesthetic with a twist, such as colorful batik upholstery. Instead, the large spiral horns of the male mountain antelope found in Ethiopia’s Bale region, for instance, inspired his Nyala chair. Highly sculptural in nature, the curving wooden back of the chair seems to defy gravity, serving as a functional marvel. And his MeQuamya chair riffs on the T-shaped prayer staffs used in Ethiopian Orthodox ceremonies, found in rock-hewn churches in the region that date back to the sixteenth century. “I love history,” Tariku explains. “Ethiopia is the only African country that was never colonized. So, my perspective is a little different. Our religious art is still there. So are our old manuscripts in our language, in our handwriting. All of that informs my ideas.”

    Tariku had all of these designs in his mind but could not find someone with the skills to build them—he had trouble bringing them to fruition with his own hands. For several years, he sent out emails, hundreds of them, to woodworkers up and down the East Coast, searching for someone to collaborate with who had the talent to build the graceful, elegant minimalist designs that have become his signature. In 2017, Bohnhoff, a regionally renowned furniture maker and woodworker based in Columbia, received Tariku’s email, and the pair decided to meet at a furniture show in Richmond.

    When Bohnhoff saw Tariku’s sketch of the Nyala chair, he knew he had to try to build it. Quickly, Tariku saw that Bohnhoff understood the intentions behind his designs, and could take them from two-dimensional renderings to pieces that fine furniture lovers would be proud to have in their living rooms. “I saw the challenge in it,” Bohnhoff says. “I saw the beauty in it. I’m always pulling from nautical culture in my work, and every region has its own seafaring aesthetic. I appreciate learning the details of Jomo’s culture and how it helps him generate ideas.”

    Bohnhoff’s own creative journey began at a potter’s wheel in middle school. Struggling with academics, he found solace in using his hands to create beautiful and unusual shapes. When he finished high school, he took to boatbuilding, eventually earning a BFA from Virginia Commonwealth University, and started a career as a boatbuilder, working in shipyards along the way from Maine to North Carolina, studying the art of the curve. Eventually he returned to Virginia, intent on transferring his skills to furniture, freeing complicated pieces from cherry, mahogany, and ash. In his workshop, maple burl logs become masterpieces. The draketail hull of a boat inspired a chair. The interior framework of a canoe transformed into a steam-bent throne.

    Designers like Tariku need highly skilled craftsmen like Bohnhoff. The designer works with a few others on certain furniture pieces, but boatbuilding gave Bohnhoff an intimate knowledge of a variety of wood species, and how to bend them to his will without breaking. That technical skill serves him well as his artisanship dovetails with Tariku’s more intricate, curving chair designs, and as they go back and forth on prototypes to refine until form and function perfectly align. While COVID-19 has halted Tariku’s access to furniture shows and showrooms, the duo is currently making each chair to order for interested clients and interior designers—who can inquire at jomofurniture.com—and Tariku is preparing new designs for 2021.

    A change in the tide—what they see as the younger generation’s lack of access to apprenticeships and opportunities—has both men worried that relationships like theirs, forged out of mutual admiration for art and a respect for technical skills, are fading. For now, they find solace in creating heirlooms that tell a global story—of Ethiopia, of the Atlantic, and of Virginia. —

    Related:

    Spotlight: New York Times Features Jomo Tariku

    Opening the Doors of Design (The New York Times)

    Contemporary Design Africa Book Features Jomo Tariku’s Ethiopia Furniture

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    Biden Discusses Crisis in Ethiopia’s Tigray Region With Kenyan Leader – White House

    Getty Images

    Reuters

    Biden Discusses Crisis in Ethiopia’s Tigray Region With Kenyan Leader -White House

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Joe Biden, in a call with Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta on Thursday, discussed the crisis in Ethiopia’s Tigray region, the White House said.

    Biden and Kenyatta “discussed the deteriorating humanitarian and human rights crises in Ethiopia’s Tigray region and the need to prevent further loss of life and ensure humanitarian access,” the White House said in a statement.

    The United States has expressed concern over the crisis in Tigray, where the Ethiopian government has claimed victory over a rebellious regional government in a conflict that began in November.

    Related:

    VOA News: US Restoration of Foreign Aid to Ethiopia Signals New Course


    Ethiopian Ambassador to the U.S. Fitsum Arega celebrated the move, saying the GERD has the potential to provide electricity to 60 million people and lift them out of poverty. (Photo via Reuters)

    Voice of America

    By Salem Solomon

    WASHINGTON – The Biden administration’s reversal of policy that foreign aid to Ethiopia will not be linked to its Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) hydropower project signals a decided change in U.S. relations with Ethiopia, analysts say.

    “It is a fairly predictable move, as the Trump administration aid freeze had not achieved anything other than further antagonizing the Ethiopians,” William Davison, International Crisis Group’s senior analyst for Ethiopia told VOA.

    Former President Donald Trump cut $100 million in aid to Ethiopia in September 2020 saying it would be withheld until the country agreed to a deal following a mediation effort led by U.S. Treasury Department and the World Bank.

    The relationship further deteriorated when Trump said Egypt would “end up blowing up the dam” during a conference call. This resulted in Ethiopia’s foreign minister summoning the U.S. ambassador in Addis Ababa and calling the comments an “incitement of war” between Ethiopia and Egypt.

    U.S. State Department spokesman Ned Price said the total amount of aid to Ethiopia affected by the pause was $270 million. He told reporters last week that the U.S. is reviewing the paused aid money to ensure it goes where it is needed most.

    “We are committed to providing life-saving assistance to those in need, and humanitarian assistance does remain exempt from the pause,” Price said.

    Price added that the U.S. will try to play a constructive role in ongoing discussions between Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt over Nile River water usage issues.

    “We understand the GERD is a major issue for the three parties,” he said. “We’re reviewing our GERD policy and assessing the role that we can play in facilitating a solution between those parties.”

    Ethiopian Ambassador to the U.S. Fitsum Arega celebrated the move, saying the GERD has the potential to provide electricity to 60 million people and lift them out of poverty.

    “GERD is fully financed by Ethiopians & it represents the Ethiopian renaissance!” Fitsum wrote in a tweet. “It is a sustainable socio-economic project replacing fossil fuels & reducing CO2 emissions. It’ll significantly contribute to the economic & social dev’t of Ethiopia & the region. De-linking GERD is good!”

    Negotiations between the three Nile River countries hit an impasse over how quickly Ethiopia would fill the dam’s reservoir and what mechanisms would be put in place to stop the filling in the event of drought or water level drops.

    “It’s certainly a stop-start process, and I think one of the dynamics that recurs is that the parties come together, and they stitch together something, which is more of a kind of political agreement than it is any sort of technical or legal agreement,” analyst Davison said. “And of course, when you have a political agreement that opens up whatever text they’ve agreed on four different interpretations.”

    Egypt relies on the Nile for roughly 90 percent of its fresh water and is concerned that the dam and its reservoir, with a capacity of 74 billion cubic meters, will diminish its water supply. Egypt has warned that it could lose about 22 percent of its water flow making thousands of acres of farmland unusable.

    In July, as negotiations were ongoing, Ethiopia began filling the dam leading to angry denunciations from Egyptian leaders.

    Ethiopia has said it will fill the dam over four to seven years.

    Mirette Mabrouk, director of the Egypt program at the Middle East Institute, said there is a disagreement between the parties over whether Ethiopia has the right to unilaterally begin filling the dam.

    “The very, very least one would expect that the negotiations would be over before Ethiopia started filling unilaterally,” she said. “Ethiopia has always said it has always maintained that it does not need the agreement of Egypt and Sudan to start filling. That’s directly contradicted by Egypt and Sudan, who say that the 2015 Declaration of Principles agreement signed by Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan specifically says that shouldn’t have unilateral action on the filling.”

    Mabrouk said tensions remain high between the countries, but she does not think a military confrontation is inevitable.

    “Nobody wants that kind of conflict,” she said. “But I do think that if Egypt and Sudan have their backs up against the wall, it may be a final option. But Egypt understands very, very well that any military option is really not going to be in anyone’s favor.”

    Related:

    UPDATE: US to Unlink Trump Era Aid Cut to Ethiopia From GERD, Plans Special Envoy for Horn of Africa


    Ethiopians were furious after former President Donald Trump last year directed the suspension of aid to their country in a rare example of his direct involvement in an African issue. Ethiopia had left a U.S.-led attempt to mediate the dispute with Egypt, alleging bias. Trump also caused an uproar by saying downstream Egypt would “blow up” the dam project that Cairo considers an existential threat. – AP (Getty Images)

    Reuters

    Updated: February 18th, 2021

    US to Unlink Paused Ethiopian Aid from Dam Policy

    WASHINGTON – The U.S. State Department on Friday said Washington will unlink its pause on some aid to Ethiopia from its policy on the giant Blue Nile hydropower dam that sparked a long-running dispute between Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan.

    U.S. State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters that President Joe Biden’s administration will review U.S. policy on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) and will assess the role the administration can play in facilitating a solution between the countries.

    Filling started in July

    A bitter dispute between Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan over the filling and operation of the dam remains unresolved even after the reservoir behind the dam began filling in July.

    “We continue to support collaborative and constructive efforts by Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan to reach an agreement on the GERD,” Price said.

    The temporary pause on certain U.S. foreign assistance to Ethiopia affects $272 million in development and security assistance to Ethiopia, Price said, adding that the resumption of assistance will be assessed on a number of factors and that the decision has been shared with Addis Ababa.

    Among the factors assessed will be “whether each paused program remains appropriate and timely in light of developments in Ethiopia that occurred subsequent to the pause being put in place,” a State Department spokesperson said.

    Trouble in Tigray region

    The United States has expressed concern over the humanitarian crisis in the Tigray region of Ethiopia, where the central government has claimed victory over a rebellious regional government in a conflict that began in November.

    Ethiopia began filling the reservoir behind the dam after the summer rains last year despite demands from Egypt and Sudan that it should first reach a binding agreement on the dam’s operation.

    Egypt views the dam as a major threat to its fresh water supplies, more than 90% of which come from the Nile. The Blue Nile flows north into Sudan then Egypt and is the Nile’s main tributary.

    Aid cut to Ethiopia

    Ethiopia says the dam is crucial to its economic development.

    Then-U.S. President Donald Trump said Ethiopia had broken a U.S.-brokered agreement to resolve the dispute, forcing him to cut funds. The United States cut $100 million in aid to Ethiopia in September.

    Ethiopia in October summoned the U.S. ambassador over what it called an “incitement of war” between Ethiopia and Egypt from Trump over their dispute.

    Related:

    US: Aid pause to Ethiopia no longer linked to dam dispute (AP)

    Biden Mulls Special Envoy for Horn of Africa (FP)


    The post, if created, would bring more diplomatic firepower to the brewing crisis in Ethiopia as members of Biden’s cabinet and other senior State Department nominees await confirmation. (Photo: U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks to staff during the first visit of President Joe Biden to the State Department in Washington on Feb. 4./ GETTY IMAGES)

    Foreign Policy Magazine

    Updated: February 17th,2021

    This article is part of Foreign Policy’s ongoing coverage of U.S. President Joe Biden’s first 100 days in office, detailing key administration policies as they get drafted—and the people who will put them into practice.

    The Biden administration is weighing plans to establish a new special envoy for the Horn of Africa to address political instability and conflict in the East African region, including a brewing civil war and humanitarian crisis in northern Ethiopia, current and former officials familiar with the matter told Foreign Policy.

    The new special envoy post could fill a diplomatic leadership gap in the administration’s foreign-policy ranks as it works to install other senior officials in the State Department, a process that could take weeks or even months to complete, as they require presidential nomination and Senate confirmation. Special envoy posts do not require Senate confirmation.

    A new Horn of Africa envoy would have their work cut out for them: Sudan is undergoing a delicate political transition after three decades under a dictatorship, South Sudan is wracked by chronic instability and corruption, and the fragile government of Somalia is grappling with ongoing threats from the al-Shabab terrorist group and political gridlock that has delayed national elections. An ongoing dispute between Ethiopia, Egypt, and Sudan over a major dam project adds another layer of complexity to the tensions in the region.

    The most pressing crisis in the eyes of many U.S. policymakers, however, is in Ethiopia. In November 2020, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed launched a military campaign against the ruling party in the country’s northern Tigray region, after accusing it of attacking a government military base. Conflict has ravaged the region since then, marked by thousands of deaths, millions in need of humanitarian assistance, and widespread reports of interethnic violence. U.S. officials fear that the conflict could turn into a full-blown regional crisis, with turmoil spilling over into neighboring Eritrea and Sudan.

    While officials cautioned no final decision has yet been made, one top contender for the potential job is Donald Booth, a seasoned diplomatic troubleshooter in the region who currently serves as U.S. special envoy for Sudan and has previously served as U.S. ambassador to Liberia, Zambia, and Ethiopia.

    Some experts welcomed more attention to the Horn of Africa but cautioned against the new administration relying too heavily on special envoy posts. “I don’t want us to get back into the practice of throwing special envoys at every problem set. It often saps the State Department’s resources and authorities in ways that aren’t productive,” said Judd Devermont, director of the Africa Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a think tank, and a former senior U.S. intelligence analyst. “But in this case, it is urgent, and there aren’t enough senior people in the region.”

    With less than a month in office, President Joe Biden doesn’t yet have his full cabinet in place, let alone many senior posts across the State Department that require Senate confirmation. Biden has yet to name a nominee for the assistant secretary of state for African affairs, and the U.S. ambassador posts in Eritrea and Sudan are unfilled, held in an acting capacity by lower-ranking diplomats. The next U.S. ambassador to Ethiopia, Geeta Pasi, is expected to arrive at her post shortly.

    A State Department spokesperson did not confirm the administration was set on creating the new special envoy post when asked for comment. “Africa is a priority for the Biden-Harris administration, and we are committed to re-invigorating our relationships throughout Africa from a position of mutual respect and partnership. This includes deepening our engagement on the challenging issues present in the Horn of Africa,” the spokesperson said. “Senior-level engagement on a consistent basis will be a signal of our commitment. The Administration is actively considering a range of options to ensure that our staffing, including any use of Special Envoys, supports implementation of our strategy.”

    One big question would be whether the new special envoy post would report directly to the president or secretary of state, or to the assistant secretary of state for African affairs. The former would be viewed as more empowered to negotiate on behalf of Washington, with a direct line to the president or his cabinet.

    Some administration insiders have also floated the idea of tapping a former senior U.S. lawmaker for the job, arguing someone with political clout could engage directly with senior African leaders, including Ethiopia’s Abiy. (Biden has eyed former Republican Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake for a senior diplomatic post, such as an ambassadorship in South Africa or Europe, according to Axios.)

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    UPDATE: Carter Center Battles Online Misinformation Ahead of Ethiopia Elections

    “Social media has offered us a means to organize, networking, and expressing ourselves safely, easily and cheaply,” democracy activist Befeqadu Hailu explained to VOA during a Skype interview from his office in Addis Ababa. “But on the other hand, the political organizations and political groups are using social media in an organized manner so they can disseminate any information in the interest of their political advantage, so that is manipulating their followers.” (VOA News)

    VOA News

    CHICAGO – As Ethiopia prepares for parliamentary elections scheduled to take place in June, the contest to win the hearts and minds of voters is already under way on social media, which democracy activist Befeqadu Hailu is closely watching.

    “Social media has offered us a means to organize, networking, and expressing ourselves safely, easily and cheaply,” he explained to VOA during a Skype interview from his office in Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa. “But on the other hand, the political organizations and political groups are using social media in an organized manner so they can disseminate any information in the interest of their political advantage, so that is manipulating their followers.”

    Ethiopian elections come as unrest flares in its northern Tigray region, where ethnic and political tensions are exploited online. Facebook is the dominant social media platform in the country, although less than 20% of the overall population has internet access.

    “People disseminate whatever they hear on social media through mouth-to-mouth communication,” Hailu explained.

    In October 2019, a disputed Facebook post by a well-known Ethiopian media figure went viral, prompting outrage that led to violence and the deaths of almost 80 people in the Oromia region. The killing of a popular singer in Addis Ababa in 2020 also triggered a wave of posts on the social media site, followed by violence in the capital and beyond.

    As national elections approach and social media use expands, Hailu said his country is ripe for online disinformation campaigns that could lead to further bloodshed.

    “They disseminate ethnic biases, hatred and prejudices so they might instigate conflict in ethnic clashes and political clashes. So, this is of concern to us,” Hailu said.

    “We work with partners to flag activity that could potentially thwart participation, exacerbate tensions or contribute to unwarranted perceptions that the voting process or the outcome are illegitimate,” said Michael Baldassaro, senior adviser with the Carter Center’s digital threats monitoring team, a relatively new program in the organization’s global democracy and peace initiatives.

    Baldassaro, who spoke to VOA via Skype, said with internet access increasing in many emerging democracies, use of social media is changing the ways candidates and voters interact.

    It is also changing how the global nonprofit Carter Center, founded by former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and his wife, Rosalynn, assesses elections.

    “We typically do this work in environments that are characterized by deep political polarization where citizens distrust government institutions or election authorities to varying degrees, and their primary sources of media are either unprofessional or hyper-partisan, or both,” Baldassaro explained.

    “We find in these environments that people turn to social media, where they find themselves in echo chambers, and encounter bias-confirming content — a good portion of which is false and misleading or demonizes those with different perspectives or beliefs.”

    The Carter Center, together with partners in countries where they are monitoring elections, not only flag dangerous online activity, but press tech companies to act.

    “If that information is indeed false, we might relate that to Facebook and the human rights policy team or to our counterparts in the country office to take action,” said Baldassaro. “Maybe at that point, they might take action to either downrank or deplatform that content all together. We want to be able to mitigate potential harms in real time.”

    Hailu’s Center for Advancement of Rights and Democracy (CARD) is one of several organizations in Ethiopia monitoring and acting on potential harmful online activity.

    “We try to identify those profiles who are repeatedly disseminating false information and demand or advocate for the social media platforms to remove that content as soon as possible,” he said.

    In a 2020 report, the United Nations outlined the dangers in Ethiopia of unmoderated content on Facebook. The tech giant said it is increasing content moderation staff in Africa, but Hailu said there are many challenges monitoring and moderating enormous amounts of content in different languages from different locations, including from diaspora communities outside the continent.

    “It requires the efforts of multiple organizations and multiple stakeholders,” he told VOA.

    With Carter Center support, CARD has expanded its mission beyond Amharic-only language content in Ethiopia.

    “We are also now observing at least three local languages,” Hailu said.

    But Hailu admits it is still an enormous task monitoring users and content that increases daily, reaching audiences in dozens of different languages or dialects throughout Ethiopia.

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    VOA News: US Restoration of Foreign Aid to Ethiopia Signals New Course

    Ethiopian Ambassador to the U.S. Fitsum Arega celebrated the move, saying the GERD has the potential to provide electricity to 60 million people and lift them out of poverty. (Photo via Reuters)

    Voice of America

    By Salem Solomon

    WASHINGTON – The Biden administration’s reversal of policy that foreign aid to Ethiopia will not be linked to its Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) hydropower project signals a decided change in U.S. relations with Ethiopia, analysts say.

    “It is a fairly predictable move, as the Trump administration aid freeze had not achieved anything other than further antagonizing the Ethiopians,” William Davison, International Crisis Group’s senior analyst for Ethiopia told VOA.

    Former President Donald Trump cut $100 million in aid to Ethiopia in September 2020 saying it would be withheld until the country agreed to a deal following a mediation effort led by U.S. Treasury Department and the World Bank.

    The relationship further deteriorated when Trump said Egypt would “end up blowing up the dam” during a conference call. This resulted in Ethiopia’s foreign minister summoning the U.S. ambassador in Addis Ababa and calling the comments an “incitement of war” between Ethiopia and Egypt.

    U.S. State Department spokesman Ned Price said the total amount of aid to Ethiopia affected by the pause was $270 million. He told reporters last week that the U.S. is reviewing the paused aid money to ensure it goes where it is needed most.

    “We are committed to providing life-saving assistance to those in need, and humanitarian assistance does remain exempt from the pause,” Price said.

    Price added that the U.S. will try to play a constructive role in ongoing discussions between Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt over Nile River water usage issues.

    “We understand the GERD is a major issue for the three parties,” he said. “We’re reviewing our GERD policy and assessing the role that we can play in facilitating a solution between those parties.”

    Ethiopian Ambassador to the U.S. Fitsum Arega celebrated the move, saying the GERD has the potential to provide electricity to 60 million people and lift them out of poverty.

    “GERD is fully financed by Ethiopians & it represents the Ethiopian renaissance!” Fitsum wrote in a tweet. “It is a sustainable socio-economic project replacing fossil fuels & reducing CO2 emissions. It’ll significantly contribute to the economic & social dev’t of Ethiopia & the region. De-linking GERD is good!”

    Negotiations between the three Nile River countries hit an impasse over how quickly Ethiopia would fill the dam’s reservoir and what mechanisms would be put in place to stop the filling in the event of drought or water level drops.

    “It’s certainly a stop-start process, and I think one of the dynamics that recurs is that the parties come together, and they stitch together something, which is more of a kind of political agreement than it is any sort of technical or legal agreement,” analyst Davison said. “And of course, when you have a political agreement that opens up whatever text they’ve agreed on four different interpretations.”

    Egypt relies on the Nile for roughly 90 percent of its fresh water and is concerned that the dam and its reservoir, with a capacity of 74 billion cubic meters, will diminish its water supply. Egypt has warned that it could lose about 22 percent of its water flow making thousands of acres of farmland unusable.

    In July, as negotiations were ongoing, Ethiopia began filling the dam leading to angry denunciations from Egyptian leaders.

    Ethiopia has said it will fill the dam over four to seven years.

    Mirette Mabrouk, director of the Egypt program at the Middle East Institute, said there is a disagreement between the parties over whether Ethiopia has the right to unilaterally begin filling the dam.

    “The very, very least one would expect that the negotiations would be over before Ethiopia started filling unilaterally,” she said. “Ethiopia has always said it has always maintained that it does not need the agreement of Egypt and Sudan to start filling. That’s directly contradicted by Egypt and Sudan, who say that the 2015 Declaration of Principles agreement signed by Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan specifically says that shouldn’t have unilateral action on the filling.”

    Mabrouk said tensions remain high between the countries, but she does not think a military confrontation is inevitable.

    “Nobody wants that kind of conflict,” she said. “But I do think that if Egypt and Sudan have their backs up against the wall, it may be a final option. But Egypt understands very, very well that any military option is really not going to be in anyone’s favor.”

    Related:

    UPDATE: US to Unlink Trump Era Aid Cut to Ethiopia From GERD, Plans Special Envoy for Horn of Africa


    Ethiopians were furious after former President Donald Trump last year directed the suspension of aid to their country in a rare example of his direct involvement in an African issue. Ethiopia had left a U.S.-led attempt to mediate the dispute with Egypt, alleging bias. Trump also caused an uproar by saying downstream Egypt would “blow up” the dam project that Cairo considers an existential threat. – AP (Getty Images)

    Reuters

    Updated: February 18th, 2021

    US to Unlink Paused Ethiopian Aid from Dam Policy

    WASHINGTON – The U.S. State Department on Friday said Washington will unlink its pause on some aid to Ethiopia from its policy on the giant Blue Nile hydropower dam that sparked a long-running dispute between Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan.

    U.S. State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters that President Joe Biden’s administration will review U.S. policy on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) and will assess the role the administration can play in facilitating a solution between the countries.

    Filling started in July

    A bitter dispute between Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan over the filling and operation of the dam remains unresolved even after the reservoir behind the dam began filling in July.

    “We continue to support collaborative and constructive efforts by Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan to reach an agreement on the GERD,” Price said.

    The temporary pause on certain U.S. foreign assistance to Ethiopia affects $272 million in development and security assistance to Ethiopia, Price said, adding that the resumption of assistance will be assessed on a number of factors and that the decision has been shared with Addis Ababa.

    Among the factors assessed will be “whether each paused program remains appropriate and timely in light of developments in Ethiopia that occurred subsequent to the pause being put in place,” a State Department spokesperson said.

    Trouble in Tigray region

    The United States has expressed concern over the humanitarian crisis in the Tigray region of Ethiopia, where the central government has claimed victory over a rebellious regional government in a conflict that began in November.

    Ethiopia began filling the reservoir behind the dam after the summer rains last year despite demands from Egypt and Sudan that it should first reach a binding agreement on the dam’s operation.

    Egypt views the dam as a major threat to its fresh water supplies, more than 90% of which come from the Nile. The Blue Nile flows north into Sudan then Egypt and is the Nile’s main tributary.

    Aid cut to Ethiopia

    Ethiopia says the dam is crucial to its economic development.

    Then-U.S. President Donald Trump said Ethiopia had broken a U.S.-brokered agreement to resolve the dispute, forcing him to cut funds. The United States cut $100 million in aid to Ethiopia in September.

    Ethiopia in October summoned the U.S. ambassador over what it called an “incitement of war” between Ethiopia and Egypt from Trump over their dispute.

    Related:

    US: Aid pause to Ethiopia no longer linked to dam dispute (AP)

    Biden Mulls Special Envoy for Horn of Africa (FP)


    The post, if created, would bring more diplomatic firepower to the brewing crisis in Ethiopia as members of Biden’s cabinet and other senior State Department nominees await confirmation. (Photo: U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks to staff during the first visit of President Joe Biden to the State Department in Washington on Feb. 4./ GETTY IMAGES)

    Foreign Policy Magazine

    Updated: February 17th,2021

    This article is part of Foreign Policy’s ongoing coverage of U.S. President Joe Biden’s first 100 days in office, detailing key administration policies as they get drafted—and the people who will put them into practice.

    The Biden administration is weighing plans to establish a new special envoy for the Horn of Africa to address political instability and conflict in the East African region, including a brewing civil war and humanitarian crisis in northern Ethiopia, current and former officials familiar with the matter told Foreign Policy.

    The new special envoy post could fill a diplomatic leadership gap in the administration’s foreign-policy ranks as it works to install other senior officials in the State Department, a process that could take weeks or even months to complete, as they require presidential nomination and Senate confirmation. Special envoy posts do not require Senate confirmation.

    A new Horn of Africa envoy would have their work cut out for them: Sudan is undergoing a delicate political transition after three decades under a dictatorship, South Sudan is wracked by chronic instability and corruption, and the fragile government of Somalia is grappling with ongoing threats from the al-Shabab terrorist group and political gridlock that has delayed national elections. An ongoing dispute between Ethiopia, Egypt, and Sudan over a major dam project adds another layer of complexity to the tensions in the region.

    The most pressing crisis in the eyes of many U.S. policymakers, however, is in Ethiopia. In November 2020, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed launched a military campaign against the ruling party in the country’s northern Tigray region, after accusing it of attacking a government military base. Conflict has ravaged the region since then, marked by thousands of deaths, millions in need of humanitarian assistance, and widespread reports of interethnic violence. U.S. officials fear that the conflict could turn into a full-blown regional crisis, with turmoil spilling over into neighboring Eritrea and Sudan.

    While officials cautioned no final decision has yet been made, one top contender for the potential job is Donald Booth, a seasoned diplomatic troubleshooter in the region who currently serves as U.S. special envoy for Sudan and has previously served as U.S. ambassador to Liberia, Zambia, and Ethiopia.

    Some experts welcomed more attention to the Horn of Africa but cautioned against the new administration relying too heavily on special envoy posts. “I don’t want us to get back into the practice of throwing special envoys at every problem set. It often saps the State Department’s resources and authorities in ways that aren’t productive,” said Judd Devermont, director of the Africa Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a think tank, and a former senior U.S. intelligence analyst. “But in this case, it is urgent, and there aren’t enough senior people in the region.”

    With less than a month in office, President Joe Biden doesn’t yet have his full cabinet in place, let alone many senior posts across the State Department that require Senate confirmation. Biden has yet to name a nominee for the assistant secretary of state for African affairs, and the U.S. ambassador posts in Eritrea and Sudan are unfilled, held in an acting capacity by lower-ranking diplomats. The next U.S. ambassador to Ethiopia, Geeta Pasi, is expected to arrive at her post shortly.

    A State Department spokesperson did not confirm the administration was set on creating the new special envoy post when asked for comment. “Africa is a priority for the Biden-Harris administration, and we are committed to re-invigorating our relationships throughout Africa from a position of mutual respect and partnership. This includes deepening our engagement on the challenging issues present in the Horn of Africa,” the spokesperson said. “Senior-level engagement on a consistent basis will be a signal of our commitment. The Administration is actively considering a range of options to ensure that our staffing, including any use of Special Envoys, supports implementation of our strategy.”

    One big question would be whether the new special envoy post would report directly to the president or secretary of state, or to the assistant secretary of state for African affairs. The former would be viewed as more empowered to negotiate on behalf of Washington, with a direct line to the president or his cabinet.

    Some administration insiders have also floated the idea of tapping a former senior U.S. lawmaker for the job, arguing someone with political clout could engage directly with senior African leaders, including Ethiopia’s Abiy. (Biden has eyed former Republican Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake for a senior diplomatic post, such as an ambassadorship in South Africa or Europe, according to Axios.)

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    Spike Lee’s New Action Movie to Feature the Fictional Princess Zenebe of Ethiopia

    Set in East Africa in 1928, the story follows the titular character, a roguish Black American gunslinger as he teams up with the elite warrior princess Zenebe of Ethiopia to rescue their kidnapped regent from an ancient evil. (Cinema Express)

    Cinema Express

    Updated: February 24th, 2021

    Spike Lee to back Netflix’s Gordon Hemingway & the Realm of Cthulhu

    Academy Award-winner Spike Lee is set to produce director Stefon Bristol’s Gordon Hemingway & the Realm of Cthulhu for Netflix.

    Based on an original screenplay by Hank Woon, the film is Bristol’s second project with Netflix after See You Yesterday, which was also produced by Lee.

    Set in East Africa in 1928, the story follows the titular character, a roguish Black American gunslinger as he teams up with the elite warrior princess Zenebe of Ethiopia to rescue their kidnapped regent from an ancient evil.

    Lee will produce the film with Lloyd Levin and Beatriz Levin, both of whom worked with the filmmaker on his Netflix feature Da 5 Bloods.

    Oliver Oftedal and Tom Olsson will serve as co-producers for Goodbye Kansas’ production arm Infinite Entertainment.

    Related:

    Spike Lee to Produce Netflix’s ‘Gordon Hemingway & The Realm of Cthulhu,’ Directed by Stefon Bristol

    Variety

    Feb 23, 2021

    Spike Lee has set his latest project with Netflix; the Oscar-winning filmmaker is set to produce “Gordon Hemingway & the Realm of Cthulhu” for the streamer, directed by Stefon Bristol.

    Lee partnered with Netflix for his latest film “Da 5 Bloods,” which debuted to critical acclaim last June. The movie has since been named the best film 2020 by the National Board of Review, among other accolades.

    The new feature, based on an original screenplay by Hank Woon, is set in East Africa in 1928 and centers on Gordon Hemingway, a roguish Black American gunslinger, who teams up with the elite warrior Princess Zenebe of Ethiopia to rescue the country’s kidnapped regent from an ancient evil.

    Lee will produce the film alongside “Da 5 Bloods” producers Lloyd Levin and Beatriz Levin, who initially optioned the spec screenplay for “Gordon Hemingway” from Woon before bringing the project to Bristol and Lee.

    The new project is also Bristol’s second film with the streamer, following “See You Yesterday,” the Independent Spirit Award winner for Best First Screenplay, which Lee also produced. Bristol made his directorial debut with the time-travel adventure drama, which premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival. He also co-wrote that film’s script with Fredrica Bailey, who also contributed revisions to the script for “Gordon Hemingway.”

    The award-winning visual effects company Goodbye Kansas will lead visual effects on the film, while Oliver Oftedal and Tom Olsson will co-produce the project on behalf of Goodbye Kansas’ production arm Infinite Entertainment.

    Bristol is repped by UTA and Ellipsis Entertainment Group; Bailey is repped by UTA and Lighthouse Management.

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    Video: Did You See What Miriam Won in the Bonus Round? | Wheel of Fortune

    Did you see what Miriam won in the bonus round of Wheel of Fortune (February 23, 2021)? Watch the video below to find out. (Photo: Wheel Of Fortune)

    Fikkle Fame

    Yesterday on the Wheel of Fortune

    It’s Wheel of Fortune, America’s Game and we’re posting the Bonus Puzzle with the winner’s final prize..

    Miriam on Wheel of Fortune (2-23-2021)

    Miriam got it on the first try and won herself a brand new Ford Mustang convertible…

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    Photo: Satellite Image of Bale Mountains – Ethiopia’s Forest in the Clouds

    Bale Mountains' Harenna Forest is one of the few places where people still harvest wild arabica beans to make coffee. The forest is also noted for being one of the few places where people still practice a traditional style of beekeeping that involves scaling trees to maintain hand-carved hives. (NASA Earth Observatory image)

    NASA Earth Observatory

    There are few places in Ethiopia—or the world—quite like the Harenna Forest. Spread across the southern slopes of the Bale Mountains, it is the second-largest stand of moist tropical forest in Ethiopia and the largest cloud forest in the country.

    The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite acquired this natural-color image of the forest on February 5, 2021. The forest grows in highland areas at elevations of 1400 to 3200 meters (4,600 to 10,500 feet) above sea level. From the mostly treeless Sanetti Plateau, an escarpment drops sharply into a series of forested ecosystems defined by altitude, including areas where bamboo, tree heather, fig, fern pines, hagenia, and wild coffee thrive. Forest wildlife includes monkeys, baboons, bushbucks, warthogs, lions, leopards, hyena, and wild dogs.

    While there are dense tracts of forest south of the Sanetti Plateau, a Global Forest Watch analysis of satellite data indicates that there was significant deforestation along roads and stream valleys in Hawo, Kumbi, Likimisa Bokore, and Soriba between 2000 and 2019. The data also show many small-scale forest clearings along the escarpment. Common causes for deforestation in this area include charcoal production, firewood collection, and clearing for agriculture. The analysis is led by a team of University of Maryland scientists and derived from data on tree cover loss collected by Landsat satellites.


    (NASA Earth Observatory image)

    Loss of forest cover in this region could affect some distinctive cultural practices. Harenna Forest is one of the few places where people still harvest wild arabica beans to make coffee. The forest is also noted for being one of the few places where people still practice a traditional style of beekeeping that involves scaling trees to maintain hand-carved hives.

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    UPDATE: U.S. Senate Confirms Linda Thomas-Greenfield as UN Ambassador

    “This confirmation sends a message that the United States is back and that our foreign service is back,” said Rep. Karen Bass, D-Calif., who chairs a House Foreign Affairs subcommittee on Africa. “We as a country and as a world are safer with Linda Thomas-Greenfield serving as the United States ambassador to the United Nations.” (AP photo)

    The Associated Press

    WASHINGTON (AP) — Linda Thomas-Greenfield was confirmed as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations on Tuesday, a victory for the Biden administration as it seeks to reengage with the world body after four years of President Donald Trump’s “America First” posture left the U.S. isolated internationally.

    Senators voted 78-20 to confirm Thomas-Greenfield to the post, which will be a Cabinet-level position.

    Thomas-Greenfield, a retired 35-year veteran of the foreign service who resigned during the Trump administration, will be the third African American, and the second African American woman, to hold the job. Her confirmation was hailed by Democrats and advocates of the United Nations, who had lamented the Trump administration’s unilateral approach to international affairs.

    “This confirmation sends a message that the United States is back and that our foreign service is back,” said Rep. Karen Bass, D-Calif., who chairs a House Foreign Affairs subcommittee on Africa, global health and global human rights. “We as a country and as a world are safer with Linda Thomas-Greenfield serving as the United States ambassador to the United Nations.”

    “We can count on Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield to work with international partners to confront our collective challenges head on, and play an active role in ensuring the U.N. evolves with the demands of our era as an essential forum for collective problem-solving and catalyst for global progress,” said Elizabeth Cousens, president of the United Nations Foundation, a private group that supports the world body’s endeavors. “Hers is the leadership America needs at the UN at this critical moment for the U.S. and world.”

    Republicans who opposed her said she was soft on China and would not stand up for U.S. principles at the United Nations. Thomas-Greenfield had rejected those concerns during her confirmation hearing, telling senators that a 2019 speech she gave to the Chinese-funded Confucius Institute had been a mistake and was not intended to be an endorsement of Chinese government policies.

    In the speech, she had praised China’s $1 trillion Belt and Road global infrastructure program in Africa and called for “a win-win-win situation” where the U.S. and China would promote good governance and the rule of law.

    She told senators that China is a strategic adversary and that “their actions threaten our security, they threaten our values and they threaten our way of life, and they are a threat to their neighbors and they are a threat across the globe.”

    Thomas-Greenfield spoke of China’s diplomatic inroads during the Trump administration, which pursued an “America First” policy that weakened international alliances. And she made clear there would be a change under Biden to reengage internationally and promote American values.

    She stressed that American leadership must be rooted in the country’s core values — “support for democracy, respect for universal human rights, and the promotion of peace and security.” And she said that effective diplomacy means developing “robust relationships,” finding common ground and managing differences, and “doing genuine, old-fashioned, people-to-people diplomacy.”

    At her hearing, she recalled attending a segregated high school and then Louisiana State University “as a consequence of a lawsuit.” She said she was “not the norm” among the Ivy League graduates who also joined the Foreign Service in 1982.

    “And yet, I had an extraordinary 35-year career that culminated as the assistant secretary of state of African affairs,” Thomas-Greenfield said. “To me, that represents the progress, and promise, of America.”

    Related:

    UPDATE: US to Unlink Trump Era Aid Cut to Ethiopia From GERD, Plans Special Envoy for Horn of Africa


    Ethiopians were furious after former President Donald Trump last year directed the suspension of aid to their country in a rare example of his direct involvement in an African issue. Ethiopia had left a U.S.-led attempt to mediate the dispute with Egypt, alleging bias. Trump also caused an uproar by saying downstream Egypt would “blow up” the dam project that Cairo considers an existential threat. – AP (Getty Images)

    Reuters

    Updated: February 18th, 2021

    US to Unlink Paused Ethiopian Aid from Dam Policy

    WASHINGTON – The U.S. State Department on Friday said Washington will unlink its pause on some aid to Ethiopia from its policy on the giant Blue Nile hydropower dam that sparked a long-running dispute between Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan.

    U.S. State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters that President Joe Biden’s administration will review U.S. policy on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) and will assess the role the administration can play in facilitating a solution between the countries.

    Filling started in July

    A bitter dispute between Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan over the filling and operation of the dam remains unresolved even after the reservoir behind the dam began filling in July.

    “We continue to support collaborative and constructive efforts by Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan to reach an agreement on the GERD,” Price said.

    The temporary pause on certain U.S. foreign assistance to Ethiopia affects $272 million in development and security assistance to Ethiopia, Price said, adding that the resumption of assistance will be assessed on a number of factors and that the decision has been shared with Addis Ababa.

    Among the factors assessed will be “whether each paused program remains appropriate and timely in light of developments in Ethiopia that occurred subsequent to the pause being put in place,” a State Department spokesperson said.

    Trouble in Tigray region

    The United States has expressed concern over the humanitarian crisis in the Tigray region of Ethiopia, where the central government has claimed victory over a rebellious regional government in a conflict that began in November.

    Ethiopia began filling the reservoir behind the dam after the summer rains last year despite demands from Egypt and Sudan that it should first reach a binding agreement on the dam’s operation.

    Egypt views the dam as a major threat to its fresh water supplies, more than 90% of which come from the Nile. The Blue Nile flows north into Sudan then Egypt and is the Nile’s main tributary.

    Aid cut to Ethiopia

    Ethiopia says the dam is crucial to its economic development.

    Then-U.S. President Donald Trump said Ethiopia had broken a U.S.-brokered agreement to resolve the dispute, forcing him to cut funds. The United States cut $100 million in aid to Ethiopia in September.

    Ethiopia in October summoned the U.S. ambassador over what it called an “incitement of war” between Ethiopia and Egypt from Trump over their dispute.

    Related:

    US: Aid pause to Ethiopia no longer linked to dam dispute (AP)

    Biden Mulls Special Envoy for Horn of Africa (FP)


    The post, if created, would bring more diplomatic firepower to the brewing crisis in Ethiopia as members of Biden’s cabinet and other senior State Department nominees await confirmation. (Photo: U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks to staff during the first visit of President Joe Biden to the State Department in Washington on Feb. 4./ GETTY IMAGES)

    Foreign Policy Magazine

    Updated: February 17th,2021

    This article is part of Foreign Policy’s ongoing coverage of U.S. President Joe Biden’s first 100 days in office, detailing key administration policies as they get drafted—and the people who will put them into practice.

    The Biden administration is weighing plans to establish a new special envoy for the Horn of Africa to address political instability and conflict in the East African region, including a brewing civil war and humanitarian crisis in northern Ethiopia, current and former officials familiar with the matter told Foreign Policy.

    The new special envoy post could fill a diplomatic leadership gap in the administration’s foreign-policy ranks as it works to install other senior officials in the State Department, a process that could take weeks or even months to complete, as they require presidential nomination and Senate confirmation. Special envoy posts do not require Senate confirmation.

    A new Horn of Africa envoy would have their work cut out for them: Sudan is undergoing a delicate political transition after three decades under a dictatorship, South Sudan is wracked by chronic instability and corruption, and the fragile government of Somalia is grappling with ongoing threats from the al-Shabab terrorist group and political gridlock that has delayed national elections. An ongoing dispute between Ethiopia, Egypt, and Sudan over a major dam project adds another layer of complexity to the tensions in the region.

    The most pressing crisis in the eyes of many U.S. policymakers, however, is in Ethiopia. In November 2020, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed launched a military campaign against the ruling party in the country’s northern Tigray region, after accusing it of attacking a government military base. Conflict has ravaged the region since then, marked by thousands of deaths, millions in need of humanitarian assistance, and widespread reports of interethnic violence. U.S. officials fear that the conflict could turn into a full-blown regional crisis, with turmoil spilling over into neighboring Eritrea and Sudan.

    While officials cautioned no final decision has yet been made, one top contender for the potential job is Donald Booth, a seasoned diplomatic troubleshooter in the region who currently serves as U.S. special envoy for Sudan and has previously served as U.S. ambassador to Liberia, Zambia, and Ethiopia.

    Some experts welcomed more attention to the Horn of Africa but cautioned against the new administration relying too heavily on special envoy posts. “I don’t want us to get back into the practice of throwing special envoys at every problem set. It often saps the State Department’s resources and authorities in ways that aren’t productive,” said Judd Devermont, director of the Africa Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a think tank, and a former senior U.S. intelligence analyst. “But in this case, it is urgent, and there aren’t enough senior people in the region.”

    With less than a month in office, President Joe Biden doesn’t yet have his full cabinet in place, let alone many senior posts across the State Department that require Senate confirmation. Biden has yet to name a nominee for the assistant secretary of state for African affairs, and the U.S. ambassador posts in Eritrea and Sudan are unfilled, held in an acting capacity by lower-ranking diplomats. The next U.S. ambassador to Ethiopia, Geeta Pasi, is expected to arrive at her post shortly.

    A State Department spokesperson did not confirm the administration was set on creating the new special envoy post when asked for comment. “Africa is a priority for the Biden-Harris administration, and we are committed to re-invigorating our relationships throughout Africa from a position of mutual respect and partnership. This includes deepening our engagement on the challenging issues present in the Horn of Africa,” the spokesperson said. “Senior-level engagement on a consistent basis will be a signal of our commitment. The Administration is actively considering a range of options to ensure that our staffing, including any use of Special Envoys, supports implementation of our strategy.”

    One big question would be whether the new special envoy post would report directly to the president or secretary of state, or to the assistant secretary of state for African affairs. The former would be viewed as more empowered to negotiate on behalf of Washington, with a direct line to the president or his cabinet.

    Some administration insiders have also floated the idea of tapping a former senior U.S. lawmaker for the job, arguing someone with political clout could engage directly with senior African leaders, including Ethiopia’s Abiy. (Biden has eyed former Republican Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake for a senior diplomatic post, such as an ambassadorship in South Africa or Europe, according to Axios.)

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    The Guardian: Jember Teferra Obituary

    Jember Teferra, who died at a hospital in London last month at the age of 77, studied and worked in the UK for a number of years before returning to her homeland, where she was devoted to efforts to combat poverty and poor health in Addis Ababa. (The Guardian)

    The Guardian

    Wed 24 Feb 2021

    Jember Teferra, who has died aged 77, was a remarkable woman who lived to help others, despite enormous challenges in her own life. An Ethiopian, she studied and worked in the UK for a number of years before returning to her homeland, where she was devoted to efforts to combat poverty and poor health in Addis Ababa.

    Jember was born in Madagascar, where her Ethiopian parents, Gebremariam Teferra, a diplomat, and his wife, Shiferra (nee Etsegenet), who was a third cousin to the Ethiopian emperor Haile Selassie, were living in exile during the second world war.

    Her father died in 1949 after the family had returned to Ethiopia, and she received her secondary education in the UK at Clarendon school for girls near Abergele in north Wales. She trained as a nurse at Tunbridge Wells School of Nursing in Kent, qualifying in 1965.

    Jember then worked as an agency nurse at hospitals in London, but in 1967 she moved back to Ethiopia to become ward sister and then matron at St Paul’s Hospital in Addis Ababa, which provided free medical care. Dissatisfied with the standards she found there, she planned and costed radical improvements, and then discovered she had a gift as a fundraiser, as well as a talent for overcoming resistance to change.

    In 1968 she married Haile-Giorgis Workneh, an eminent civil engineer who was minister of public works and subsequently mayor of Addis Ababa. They were both deeply committed members of the Ethiopian Orthodox church, and raised four children.

    The following year she became health education and social services coordinator for the Red Cross in Ethiopia. She was in that post in 1974 when the military overthrow of Haile Selassie led to the emergence of the repressive regime of the Marxist Dergue, which imprisoned her husband for eight years. In 1976 Jember herself was jailed, spending five years separated from her young children, in appalling conditions. Typically, however, she used her skills to provide medical care for inmates, and helped to establish a school for convicts and prison guards.

    When she was released in 1981, Jember continued to work to alleviate poverty, initially with Save the Children, then setting up and running the Integrated Holistic Approach-Urban Development Project, a scheme that eventually improved housing, health, education and employment opportunities for more than 50,000 people in the slums of Addis Ababa. Her work received international recognition and funding, and the project still operates today.

    Her husband died in 1996 on the same day her younger son, Abi, killed himself. Her book Abi’s Story (2009) uses this trauma to reflect on the mental health problems caused by conflict, oppression and isolation. In recent years she spent time in London caring for her other son, Worqneh, who was incapacitated by a stroke.

    Jember is survived by Worqneh, by two daughters, Memmenasha and Lelo, and a brother, Dawit, who looked after her children while she was in prison.

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    WATCH: Habitam Alemu Meet Record 1:58 800m | 2021 World Indoor Tour Madrid

    Ethiopia's Habitam Alemu wins the Indoor 800m race at the 2021 World Athletics Indoor Tour in Madrid, Spain on Wednesday, Feb 24, 2021. (FloTrack)

    FloTrack

    Updated: February 24th,2021

    Habitam Alemu drops an impressive 1:58​ at the 2021 World Athletics Indoor Tour Madrid Meeting.

    Related:

    WATCH: 19-Year-Old Lemlem Hailu Beats World Champion In Fastest 3K of 2021

    FloTrack

    Feb 18, 2021

    19-year-old Lemlem Hailu showed her Lievin victory wasn’t a fluke and sprinted away from steeplechase world record-holder Beatrice Chepkoech on the final lap of the 2021 World Indoor Tour Torun Meeting in a 2021 world leading 8:31.24 3,000m.

    Video: 19-Year-Old Lemlem Hailu Beats World Champion In Fastest 3K of 2021


    Ethiopia’s Lemlem Hailu wins the 3,000m race at the 2021 World Athletics Indoor Tour in Torun, Poland, on Thursday, February 18, 2021. (FloTrack)

    Related:

    Watch: Habitam Alemu dominated the women’s 800m | 2021 World Indoor Tour Torun

    FloTrack

    Feb 19, 2021

    Habitam Alemu dominated the women’s 800m at the 2021 World Athletics Indoor Tour Torun Meeting. After going through the first 400m in 57.63, she finished in a meet record of 1:58​.19. It would have been an Ethiopian indoor record, had Gudaf Tsegay not ran 1:57​.52 a week earlier.

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    Music Diplomacy: Artists From Ethiopia Among Eligible to Apply for US Exchange Program ‘OneBeat’

    International music exchange platform OneBeat [sponsored by the U.S. State Department] is calling on artists to apply for its 2021 virtual cross-cultural collaborative program. (Photo: Brilliant-ethiopia.com)

    Music in Africa

    Call for applications: 2021 OneBeat virtual exchange program in the US

    The program is sponsored by the US State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and produced by Bang on a Can’s Found Sound Nation. It celebrates musical collaboration and social engagement.

    This year’s virtual edition is in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Fellows will receive a $1 500 honorarium as well as a small subsidy for purchasing necessary audio equ