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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.

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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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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.

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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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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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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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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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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

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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.

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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.”

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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 »

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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.

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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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

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    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

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    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/

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    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.

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    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 »

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    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.

    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

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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

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    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.

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    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.

    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.

    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.

    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.

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    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.

    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.

    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.

    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.

    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: 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.

    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.

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    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…

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    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.

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    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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    Future Development: Can Agriculture Be Ethiopia’s Growth Engine? (Brookings)

    Eighty percent of all export revenues of the country and 21 percent of total government revenues stem from the export of agri-products. However, only 1 percent of exported agri-products are in processed form. Agri-exports are dominated by unprocessed commodities while imports primarily comprise processed foods that are growing faster than exports. (Brookings Institution)

    Brookings

    Ethiopia is a net exporter of agriculture commodities. However, the low level of industrialized agriculture means that the country exports very little higher value processed food. Despite strong growth in manufacturing, agriculture remains the biggest export earner. Eighty percent of all export revenues of the country and 21 percent of total government revenues stem from the export of agri-products. However, only 1 percent of exported agri-products are in processed form. Agri-exports are dominated by unprocessed commodities while imports primarily comprise processed foods that are growing faster than exports.

    The reason for this imbalance is related to urbanization. Over the last 25 years, populations in cities tripled from less than 8 million in 1995 to around 25 million today—leading to growing demand for processed food that domestic producers cannot supply yet. Urban consumers—a rising middle class—buy imported food products at relatively high prices. To satisfy this growing domestic demand and to diversify exports, one would expect a significant supply reaction with increasing investments in the food industry. However, this has not happened at scale yet. There are three main constraints that the government needs to address to enhance investment into the domestic food industry:

    1. Unleash the potential of the private sector.

    2. Promote access to finance and mobile money solutions.

    3. Promote market integration, commercialization, and scale.

    The urgency of reforms shows the rapidly decreasing agri-food trade surplus. Without higher growth in the domestic food industry, the trade surplus will soon fade away even with further growing exports of raw products.

    Figure 1. Ethiopia’s agri-trade balance is narrowing

    First, Ethiopia needs to unleash the potential of the private sector. The sugar sector is a striking example: While there have been large public investments in sugar processing and cane supply over the last 15 years, sugar production has stagnated and sugar cane yields have declined. The government rightly considers privatization of sugar factories a priority to improve sugar sector performance and prepared a new sugar law to attract international investors.

    Figure 2. Performance of the state-dominated sugar sector


    Source: FAO-STAT

    A dominant presence of state-owned enterprises and state-owned banks led to huge productivity losses and creates distortions for private finance and investments. The financial sector is dominated by two state-owned banks with about half of total banking sector assets. State-owned enterprises have increasingly crowded out the private sector with the share of state-owned credit in total outstanding domestic credit surging from 14 percent in 2007 to almost 60 percent in 2018.

    Second, Ethiopia needs to improve access to finance for farmers and agribusinesses. This includes mobile money solutions and the improvement of the digital infrastructure through telecoms privatization. Access to finance constraints is particularly evident in the agriculture sector that is the backbone of the Ethiopian economy. It is estimated that less than 20 percent of smallholder farmers in Ethiopia have access to financial services and according to the National Bank of Ethiopia only 4.9 percent of the total outstanding credit went to the agriculture sector in 2018. At the same time, the International Finance Corporation estimated that financing seasonal working capital for cereals only (barley, maize, teff, wheat) approximately $3 billion is required annually.

    Commercial banks are mainly focusing on urban clients with limited knowledge and experience of rural clients. Capacity building for financial institutions trying to offer solutions in primary agriculture and agribusiness would be a precondition for more lending (training of credit officers in assessing sector risks, agri-benchmarking, and IT solutions). To reduce transaction costs, mobile money solutions and enhanced digital infrastructure will be crucial to reach smallholders in remote areas.

    Developing the business enabling environment around post-harvest and inventory financing models as private sector processing increases creates interesting opportunities for commercial banks. However, as the finance gap in agriculture and the food industry is large it will be challenging for domestic banks to offer sufficient credit. Selective attraction of foreign banks for agribusiness finance may help to close the finance gap. Opening of the leasing sector is a good example.

    Third, Ethiopia needs to promote market integration, commercialization and scale. Current production is primarily for subsistence and small scale with limited incentives for commercialization. A major reason is the tedious and informal land acquisition procedure. Investment promotion in rural areas starts with better and transparent procedures for access to farmland. Investors in the food industry wish to manage at least parts of their raw material supplies internally before they engage in outgrower schemes with smallholder farmers.

    To increase the level of productivity in crop and livestock production, private input dealer networks need to be encouraged to enhance competition. This will improve the availability and quality of fertilizer, seeds, plant protection products, and animal feed. The government can support investments with better access to land, land leasing procedures, and industry standards.

    For sophisticated value chains in horticulture, attraction of foreign investors to improve scale and competition is crucial. The success of the flower industry is a good example. Also, the opening of food retailing to improve the range of available food products and reduce food inflation will make a difference.

    Currently, weak supply chains, particularly for non-export commodities like teff, wheat, and maize need improvement, for example, support of farmers’ groups to improve storage, quality, marketing, and linkage with the food industry. Investment promotion may focus on cold supply chains for the commercialization of perishable horticulture and meat and dairy products complemented by investments in fast growing cereals and oil seeds processing industries.

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    COVID-19: Biden Calls 500,000 U.S. Death Toll “Heartbreaking Milestone”

    From left, President Joe Biden, First Lady Jill Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris and her husband Doug Emhoff, bow their heads during a ceremony to honor the 500,000 Americans that died from COVID-19, at the White House, Monday, Feb. 22, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo)

    The Associated Press

    WASHINGTON (AP) — With sunset remarks and a national moment of silence, President Joe Biden on Monday confronted head-on the country’s once-unimaginable loss — half a million Americans in the COVID-19 pandemic — as he tried to strike a balance between mourning and hope.

    Addressing the “grim, heartbreaking milestone” directly and publicly, Biden stepped to a lectern in the White House Cross Hall, unhooked his face mask and delivered an emotion-filled eulogy for more than 500,000 Americans he said he felt he knew.

    “We often hear people described as ordinary Americans. There’s no such thing,” he said Monday evening. “There’s nothing ordinary about them. The people we lost were extraordinary.”

    “Just like that,” he added, “so many of them took their last breath alone.”

    A president whose own life has been marked by family tragedy, Biden spoke in deeply personal terms, referencing his own losses as he tried to comfort the huge number of Americans whose lives have been forever changed by the pandemic.

    “I know all too well. I know what it’s like to not be there when it happens,” said Biden, who has long addressed grief more powerfully than perhaps any other American public figure. “I know what it’s like when you are there, holding their hands, as they look in your eye and they slip away. That black hole in your chest, you feel like you’re being sucked into it.”

    The president, who lost his first wife and baby daughter in a car collision and later an adult son to brain cancer, leavened the grief with a message of hope.

    “This nation will smile again. This nation will know sunny days again. This nation will know joy again. And as we do, we’ll remember each person we’ve lost, the lives they lived, the loved ones they left behind.”

    He said, “We have to resist becoming numb to the sorrow. We have to resist viewing each life as a statistic or a blur or, on the news. We must do so to honor the dead. But, equally important, to care for the living.”

    The president ordered flags on federal property lowered to half staff for five days and then led the moment of communal mourning for those lost to a virus that often prevents people from gathering to remember their loved ones. Monday’s bleak threshold of 500,000 deaths was playing out against contradictory crosscurrents: an encouraging drop in coronavirus cases and worries about the spread of more contagious variants.

    Biden’s management of the pandemic will surely define at least the first year of his presidency, and his response has showcased the inherent tension between preparing the nation for dark weeks ahead while also offering optimism about pushing out vaccines that could, eventually, bring this American tragedy to a close.

    After he spoke, the president along with first lady Jill Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris and her husband Doug Emhoff stood outside the White House for a moment of silence at sundown. Black bunting draped the doorway they walked through. Five hundred brilliantly lit candles — each standing for 1,000 people lost — illuminated the stairways on either side of them as the Marine Band played a mournful rendition of “Amazing Grace.”

    The milestone comes just over a year after the first confirmed U.S. fatality from the coronavirus. The pandemic has since swept across the world and the U.S., stressing the nation’s health care system, rattling its economy and rewriting the rules of everyday society.

    In one of his many symbolic breaks with his predecessor, Biden has not shied away from offering remembrances for the lives lost to the virus. His first stop after arriving in Washington on the eve of his inauguration was to attend a twilight ceremony at the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool to mourn the dead.

    That somber moment on the eve of Biden’s inauguration — typically a celebratory time when America marks the democratic tradition of a peaceful transfer of power — was a measure of the enormity of loss for the nation.

    The COVID-19 death total in the United States had just crossed 400,000 when Biden took the oath of office. An additional 100,000 have died in the past month.

    Former President Donald Trump invariably looked to play down the total, initially claiming the virus would go away on its own and later locking into a prediction that America would suffer far fewer than 100,000 deaths. Once the total eclipsed that mark, Trump shifted gears again and said that scale of loss was actually a success story because it could have been much worse.

    Outside of perfunctory tweets marking the milestones of 100,000 and 200,000 deaths, Trump oversaw no moment of national mourning, no memorial service. At the Republican National Convention, he made no mention of the suffering, leaving that to first lady Melania Trump.

    And at campaign rallies across the nation, he erroneously predicted that the nation was “rounding the corner” on the virus while he disregarded safety measures such as masks and pushed governors to lift restrictions against public health advice. In audio tapes released last fall, it was revealed that Trump told journalist Bob Woodward in March that “I wanted to always play it down. I still like playing it down because I don’t want to create a panic.”

    Biden, by contrast, has long drawn on his own personal tragedy as he comforts those who grieve. He has pledged to level with the American public on the severity of the crisis and has repeatedly warned that the nation was going through a “very dark winter,” one now challenged by the arrival of more contagious virus variants.

    Biden also has deliberately set expectations low — particularly on vaccinations and when the nation can return to normal — knowing he could land a political win by exceeding them. He is on track to far exceed his initial promise to deliver 100 million vaccinations in his first 100 days, with some public health experts now urging him to set a far more ambitious goal. The administration says it expects to have enough vaccine available for every American by the end of July.

    Biden’s reference to next Christmas for a possible return to normalcy raised eyebrows across a pandemic-weary nation and seemed less optimistic than projections made by others in his own administration, including Dr. Anthony Fauci, who has suggested a summer comeback.

    Related:

    500,000 people should not have died in a country as ‘rich and sophisticated’ as U.S., Fauci says

    U.S. Death Toll From COVID-19 Passes the 500,000 Mark (TIME)

    In Aurora, Colorado An Ethiopian Church Becomes A Trusted COVID Vaccination Site

    COVID-19: Ethiopia Says It Has Secured 9 Million Doses of Vaccines Till April

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    History: In Ethiopia AU to Honor Marcus Garvey With Planned Unveiling of a Statue

    The announcement said: "By erecting the Marcus Garvey Bronze Sculpture in Addis Ababa we will not only honor the legacy of one of the architects of the Pan African independence movement, but will also highlight Ethiopia as a focalpoint for Pan-Africanists to engage in constructing a unifying African heritage and destiny." (Photo: Public Domain)

    Tadias Magazine

    By Tadias Staff

    Updated: February 21st, 2021

    New York (TADIAS) — Marcus Garvey — the renown Jamaican political activist, publisher, journalist and businessman who today is regarded as one of the original leaders of the Pan African movement in the Western Hemisphere — is set to receive a prestigious and historical recognition with a planned unveiling of a permanent statute at the African Union Headquarters in Addis Ababa.

    “Our history began, in a sense, with Ethiopia,” Marcus Garvey’s youngest son, Dr. Julius Garvey, told NNPA Newswire. “Its history goes back to the beginning of civilization. Ethiopian history is fundamental.”

    The announcement added: “By erecting the Marcus Garvey Bronze Sculpture in Addis Ababa we will not only honor the legacy of one of the architects of the Pan African independence movement, but will also highlight Ethiopia [a country that has never been colonized except for a brief occupation by Italy's Fascist forces in the 1930s] as a focalpoint for Pan-Africanists to engage in constructing a unifying African heritage and destiny.”

    Garvey’s son emphasized that when he was alive his father never actually set foot on African soil due to the colonial era travel restrictions.

    The press release stated:

    Currently the African Union has divided the African World into six regions: north, south, east, west, central, and the sixth region, the Diaspora. Garvey galvanized the Diaspora before we knew it by that name. It is only fitting that the original architect of pan-African sovereignty be recognized in the city that houses the African Union, which owes much of its ideological foundation to the philosophies and opinions of Marcus Garvey. The founding fathers of the African independence movement were highly influenced by the Universal Negro Improvement Association and African Communities League, and their international newspaper, The Negro World [founded and led by Garvey].

    Organizers noted that the project is a collaborative initiative spearheaded by the Pan African Technical Association (PATA).

    According to NNPA Newswire:

    In commissioning the sculpture, Dr. Garvey joined with the Pan African Technical Association, Strictly Roots, and the renowned Los Angeles artist Mr. Nijel Binns to create the Marcus Garvey Bronze.

    Plans are to unveil the sculpture during a public ceremony on Aug. 17.

    [Garvey] is considered one of the central pillars of the Pan-Africa movement. Garvey’s Universal Negro Improvement Association and African Communities League boasted more than 6 million members and over 1,000 branches in 42 countries in Africa and the Americas.

    “My father was a major proponent of the redemption of Africa, but he was never allowed to go to Africa because of the colonial policies,” Dr. Julius Garvey remarked.

    “So, taking a bust of him back to Africa is significant and historical from that perspective as well,” he said.

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    UPDATE: In Ethiopia Premier Launches Campaign to Support Tigray

    "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. (AA)

    AA

    By Addis Getachew

    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: 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

    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

    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.

    Freelance Journalist Job Announcement

    We are looking for a journalism student to host a weekly news podcast on a freelance basis. (Stock image)

    Job Announcement

    Position: Freelance Journalist

    Application Deadline: 2/24/21

    Location: United States of America

    Position Description

    We are looking for a journalism student to host a weekly news podcast on a freelance basis. Responsibilities include:

  • Host podcast episode (weekly)
  • Light editing of host script
  • Read 15-30 sec ad scripts for podcast advertisers to air during weekly episodes

    Time Commitment Required: 5hrs/week

    Qualifications

  • Currently enrolled in an accredited journalism program.
  • United States based
  • Proficient in Amharic
  • Excellent communication and time management skills.
  • Capacity to work with minimal supervision.
  • Self-motivated, disciplined approach to work.

    All interested parties can send resumes via email to CallingCardLLC@gmail.com and info@Tadias.com. Please be sure to include both addresses when sending.

    Provide links to social accounts:
    Twitter:
    Instagram:
    Linkedin:
    Facebook:

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

  • U.S. Announces Young African Leaders Initiative 10th Anniversary Competition

    Established in 2010, the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) is the U.S. Government’s signature effort to invest in the next generation of African leaders. Over the past decade, YALI grew from 115 young leaders to include more than 24,000 alumni of the Mandela Washington Fellowship exchange program. (Courtesy photo)

    The Wilson Center

    In celebration of the 10th anniversary of YALI, the U.S. Department of State, in partnership with the Wilson Center, is pleased to announce the YALI 10 Year Anniversary Competition under the theme “YALI at 10: My Life, My Community, and My World.”

    Selected submissions will be showcased at the YALI 10th anniversary virtual summit in May 2021, where we will celebrate a decade of YALI change-makers and their achievements. Submissions may include videos, short essays, poems, songs, spoken word, and sketches. They may also be showcased at a Live Stream event scheduled in fall 2021 or by the Department of State.

    YALI alumni and active Network members who have demonstrated a commitment to leadership in their communities are invited to describe or demonstrate how YALI has impacted your personal and professional development, and how you’ve made a difference in your communities and around the world. Individuals or alumni groups may compete and submissions may be in written, video, audio, or multimedia format. Individual submissions should correspond to one of YALI’s three curriculum tracks. Group submissions may be cross-cutting across tracks.

    Established in 2010, the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) is the U.S. Government’s signature effort to invest in the next generation of African leaders. Over the past decade, YALI grew from 115 young leaders to include more than 24,000 alumni of the Mandela Washington Fellowship exchange program, four Regional Leadership Centers (RLCs) in Africa, and an extensive digital community called the YALI Network with more than 650,000 members. These programs aim to strengthen democratic institutions and good governance, spur economic growth and prosperity, and foster peace and security in Africa.

    Platform(s)

    Entries from this contest may be announced and promoted on various Woodrow Wilson Center, YALI, and Department of State Social Media platforms including Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn but contest entry and administration will take place through e-mail.

    Want to enter? Click here for submission content guidelines.

    Related:

    In Ethiopia, U.S. Embassy Launches Media Training for Journalists Covering Election


    The overall goal of these trainings to empower and educate journalists on their roles and responsibilities throughout the election process, which includes educating voters on diverse issues, and monitoring and reporting on electoral activities to increase the transparency and accountability of all parties involved. (U.S. Embassy in Ethiopia)

    Press Release

    U.S. Embassy Supports Ethiopian Journalists in Elections Training

    Addis Ababa, Ethiopia: On February 8, 2021 the U.S. Embassy launched the first of 25 week-long media trainings throughout Ethiopia. This comprehensive media capacity project will train approximately 500-700 journalists across the country. The U.S. Embassy has invested $450,000 (17,730,000 million birr) in this project.

    The overall goal of these trainings to empower and educate journalists on their roles and responsibilities throughout the election process, which includes educating voters on diverse issues, and monitoring and reporting on electoral activities to increase the transparency and accountability of all parties involved. At the launch, Amanda Jacobsen, Public Affairs Officer at the U.S. Embassy in Addis Ababa, underscored to journalists, “Your role as media professionals is critical in both uncovering and addressing the needs and challenges of citizens, as well as questioning sources, diversifying the types of people you interview, and countering mis- and disinformation as part of your daily responsibilities.”

    Election-related topics to be covered include effective elections reporting; identifying mis- and dis information; and COVID-19 reporting techniques. The workshops will be facilitated by experienced Ethiopian journalists and professors from leading Ethiopian schools of journalism. An American media specialist developed the curriculum for the five-day sessions.

    The initiative is implemented by the Johns Hopkins Center for Communications Programs, with support from the U.S. Embassy in Ethiopia, and in partnership with the National Electoral Board of Ethiopia (NEBE) and Addis Ababa University’s School of Journalism and Communications.

    In addition, experienced American media specialists will provide hands-on, tailored training at various Ethiopian newsrooms on investigative journalism techniques beginning in March 2021.

    The United States has invested nearly $35 million to support Ethiopia’s efforts to organize, administer, and conduct free and fair elections. U.S. assistance is helping build the capacity of the NEBE, political parties, civil society, and independent media to contribute to a free, fair, and peaceful electoral process, ensuring greater transparency and promoting meaningful participation among all citizens—with a focus on women, youth, and other traditionally marginalized groups. The United States is also supporting an international election observation effort.

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    Review: ‘Meklit Hadero’s Nourishing Music & Lecture’ at University of Washington

    The following is a review of Meklit Hadero’s recent on screen performance and lecture at the University of Washington's Meany Hall courtesy of the University's student newspaper, The Daily. (Photo by Tessa Shimizu)

    The Daily

    Meklit nourishes us through her music in Meany Center performance and lecture

    Ethiopian-American singer-songwriter Meklit Hadero’s joy is infectious. Listeners are enveloped in her warmth, even with the barrier of an electronic screen, and can’t help but feel a sense of peace while she talks and sings. Meklit invites us into her culture, and we never feel like an outsider. She is a natural storyteller who shared intimate cultural traditions in her Meany on Screen performance and lecture: “How Music Connects Us: Belonging, Wellbeing, and Sonic Lineage.”

    Meklit’s art synthesizes jazz, folk, and East African inspirations. She is the co-founder of the Nile Project, which is described as an “initiative bringing together musicians from all 11 Nile Basin countries to create music together, to tour the river and source lakes, and tour the world.” “When the People Move, The Music Moves Too,” her most recent album, was at the top of the iTunes World Music Chart.

    The multitalented artist and activist is also a National Geographic Explorer, a TED Fellow, and the chief of program at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco, where she works to uplift BIPoC artists who in turn support the health and wellbeing of their communities.

    Meklit is often placed in the category of “world music,” however, she explained in her lecture that this term can contribute to division and othering. She prefers to view the phrase as relating to “open-armed sense of curiosity,” listening, and learning. Meklit thinks of music as a “gift of life” and global connector.

    “Every single culture in the world has music,” Meklit said during the lecture. “All music is world music.”

    Meklit hoped to nourish listeners with “kitchen table songs” in her Meany on Screen performance, recorded from San Francisco at the vibrant Studio 124. The show began with “Abbay Mado,” an Amharic praise song that describes a farmer, his life on the Blue Nile River, and the nourishing food he brings to tables. When singing this folk song, Meklit said she is reminded of the millions of people who have sung it in the past. For her, the power of folk music comes from the many voices that are contained in one piece.


    (The Daily University of Washington)

    In her performance, Meklit serenaded listeners with “Yesterday is a Tizita,” an Ethiopian song form meaning “songs of nostalgia.” The tizita holds two meanings — yesterday is a memory, and the popular Beatles song “Yesterday,” which fits into the tizita genre. According to Meklit, double entendres are an important part of the poetry and traditions of Ethiopia.

    “Kemekem (I Like your Afro)” is a traditional song from Northern Ethiopia. The phrase means freshly cut grass, but is also considered an idiom for the perfect afro, which Meklit described as the “stand tall” pride and swagger that comes from this hairstyle. In a piece from the performance, she sings: “Future is a woman // with her head held high // and an afro on her shoulders // reaching up for the sky // and the knowledge of her people // is filling up her mind // She understand manipulation // won’t fall for it this time.”

    The musician also gushed about the story behind her krar (Ethiopian harp), given to her by Dawit Seyoum, who toured with Meklit for the Nile Project.

    “It feels like a living being,” Meklit said. “It reacts to the temperature, and the air quality, and the room, and it tells me its moods, and it tells me how it’s feeling, and how exactly it needs to be played that day.”

    Traditional instruments, which are handmade, are magical. There is a specificity in which instrument you choose — each krar has its own personality. Meklit said she sees this as a metaphor for having to become connected with a specific soul in order to touch something universal.

    Meklit noted that researchers are finding out how music brings us together. A study published in the Journal of Cognitive Science found that after people listened to rhythmic music together, they performed coordinated tasks better than control groups did. With the help of music, the participants improved at sensing what was happening with their peers.

    Meklit also cited a Swedish study that shows that when people sing together, their heartbeats synchronize, in part because they are all breathing together as one entity. Music is “who we are,” Meklit said. She then discussed an MIT study which had participants listen to 150 sounds of all kinds. Per the study, there are six sets of neural clusters that process sound, but one set of neural clusters responds only to music. Meklit interprets these findings as people being “hardwired” for music.

    Meklit expressed in her lecture that she would love to see applications of these findings in our everyday lives.

    “Why can’t we play songs at the start of Zoom meetings that everyone in the call knows … imagine if everyone was singing from their respective computer screens before a meeting starts,” Meklit said. “What if we could attune better to each other?”

    Currently, Meklit is working on a new project in her capacity as a Mellon Creative Research Fellow. In collaboration with the Meany Center, “Movement” is designed as a live concert experience, with storytelling and multimedia aspects “creating a meditation on what it means to be American,” according to the Meany Center website.

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    UPDATE: End of Trump’s Impeachment Trial Opens a New Chapter for Biden

    President Joe Biden waves before boarding Air Force One for a trip to Camp David, Friday, Feb. 12, 2021, in Andrews Air Force Base, Md. (AP Photo)

    The Associated Press

    Updated: February 14th, 2021

    Biden White House seeks to turn page on Trump

    WASHINGTON (AP) — The end of former President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial opens a new chapter for his successor in the White House.

    But while President Joe Biden and his team are eager to move past the impeachment, the bitterly partisan tone of the proceedings underscores the deep challenges ahead as the president and his party try to push forward their agenda and address historic crises.

    Biden, who was at the Camp David presidential retreat when the Senate voted Saturday to acquit Trump, had acknowledged that Democrats needed to hold the former president responsible for the siege of the U.S. Capitol but did not welcome the way it distracted from his agenda.

    The trial ended with every Democrat and seven Republicans voting to convict Trump, but the 57-43 vote was far from the two-third threshold required for conviction. Whether the seven GOP votes against Trump offered Biden any new hope for bipartisan cooperation within Congress remained an open question.

    In a statement, Biden referenced those GOP votes in favor of convicting the former president — and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s own indictment of Trump’s actions — as evidence that “the substance of the charge,” that Trump was responsible for inciting violence at the Capitol, is “not in dispute.”

    But he quickly moved on to the work ahead, sounding a note of unity and declaring that “this sad chapter in our history has reminded us that democracy is fragile” and that “each of us has a duty and responsibility as Americans, and especially as leaders, to defend the truth and to defeat the lies.”

    “It’s a task we must undertake together. As the United States of America,” Biden said.


    President Joe Biden walks on the Colonnade to Marine One for departure from the South Lawn of the White House, Friday, Feb. 12, 2021, in Washington. Biden is en route to Camp David. (AP Photo)

    Biden made a point of not watching the trial live, choosing to comment only briefly on the searing images of the riot that gripped the nation. Though his White House publicly argued that the trial did not hinder their plans, aides privately worried that a lengthy proceeding could bog down the Senate and slow the passage of his massive COVID-19 relief bill. That $1.9 trillion proposal is just the first part of a sweeping legislative agenda Biden hopes to pass as he battles the coronavirus pandemic, which has killed more than 480,000 Americans and rattled the nation’s economy.

    “The No. 1 priority for Democrats and the Biden administration is going to be to deliver on the promises that have been made on the pandemic, both on the vaccine front and the economic front,” said Democratic strategist Josh Schwerin.

    The end of the impeachment trial frees the party to focus on less divisive and more broadly popular issues and policies, like the coronavirus relief package, which polls show has significant support among Americans.

    Throughout his campaign, Biden worked to avoid being defined by Trump and his controversies and instead sought to draw a contrast on policy and competence, a guiding principle that he and his aides have carried over into the White House.

    His team kept up a steady drumbeat of events during the trial, including an update on vaccine development and Biden’s first visit to the Pentagon as commander in chief. With the proceedings on the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue now over, the White House plans to increase its efforts to spotlight the fight against the pandemic and push past Trump’s chaos.

    Former Democratic Sen. Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota predicted that in a state like hers, where Trump won 65% of the vote, focusing on those urgent issues would make more headway with average voters now.

    “What we have to be talking about is the economy — getting the economy back working, and turning the page” on the last administration, she said. “Good policy is good politics. We need to get back to that.”

    Democrats have a decision to make in how to deal with Trump going forward. While the end of the impeachment trial offers a clear opportunity for the party to focus squarely on its own agenda, Trump can also be a potent political weapon for Democrats, not to mention a big driver of campaign cash.

    After Saturday’s vote, American Bridge 21st Century, the Democratic Party’s opposition research arm, issued a statement calling out senators from Ohio and Florida, two states that Democrats are targeting in the 2022 election, for voting against convicting Trump.

    “Ron Johnson, Marco Rubio, and nearly every other Senate Republican put their loyalty to Donald Trump ahead of the rule of law, the Capitol police officers who protect them every day, and the oaths they swore to uphold the Constitution,” said Bradley Beychock, the group’s president, calling the senators “spineless sycophants.”

    Still, Schwerin cautioned that Trump can’t be Democrats’ “primary focus.”

    “We shouldn’t ignore the fact that a lot of the problems that the country is dealing with are because of Trump’s failures, but he shouldn’t be the focus of every fundraising email and press release. We should be looking forward,” he said.

    Biden plans to keep up a busy schedule focused on the coronavirus pandemic in the coming week.

    The president will make his first official domestic trips this week: a TV town hall in Wisconsin on Tuesday to talk to Americans impacted by the coronavirus and a visit to a Pfizer vaccine facility in Michigan on Thursday.

    White House legislative affairs staffers were poised to work with House committees on crafting details of the COVID-19 relief bill, which Democrats hope to vote on next month.

    Still, some within the party aren’t finished with Trump. The Progressive Change Campaign Committee, a leading progressive advocacy group, issued a petition Saturday night encouraging supporters to call on attorney general nominee Merrick Garland to “investigate and prosecute Trump and his entire criminal network for law breaking.”

    Biden is likely to continue to face questions about how his Justice Department will handle a number of ongoing federal and criminal probes into Trump’s businesses and his conduct as president.

    And his aides will be watching for Trump’s next moves, particularly if he claims exoneration and heats up his political activity and even points toward a 2024 campaign. The plan, for now, is to try to ignore the former president.

    Former Democratic National Committee Chair Donna Brazile warned that Trump won’t make it easy but Democrats need to avoid getting sucked back into his orbit.

    “I don’t think Donald Trump is going to disappear from anyone’s lips any day soon, and that’s because Donald Trump will always seek to find ways to inject himself and serve himself,” she said.

    “While Donald Trump is figuring out who he is going to go after next, Democrats are going to figure out how they’re going to lift people up and how they’re going to protect and help the American people.”

    Watch: What Is Trump’s Future After Acquittal? | NBC Nightly News

    2 Impeachment Trials, 2 Escape Hatches for Donald Trump

    The Associated Press

    Updated: February 14th, 2021

    The Senate acquitted Trump on a 57-43 vote Saturday, well short of the 67 needed to convict him. (AP)

    WASHINGTON (AP) — Donald Trump’s first impeachment trial centered on a phone call Americans never heard with the leader of a country very far away. The trial went on for two weeks of he-said-she-said. There was a mountain of evidence to pore over but not one drop of blood to see.

    Trump’s second impeachment trial was a steroidal sequel centered on the rage, violence and anguish of one day in Washington. There was nothing foreign or far away about it. There was blood.

    Together these trials a year apart spoke to one president’s singular capacity to get into, and out of, trouble — the story of Trump’s life. The only president to be impeached twice has once again evaded consequences, though this time as an election loser shunted off the field of play to the jeering section, at least for now.

    In a broadside against Trump every bit as brutal as that leveled by Democrats, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell declared the ex-president “practically and morally responsible for provoking the events of the day” with his “unconscionable behavior” and “disgraceful dereliction of duty.”

    “The leader of the free world cannot spend two weeks thundering that shadowy forces are stealing our country and then feign surprise when people believe them and do reckless things,” McConnell said.

    But this was after he gave Trump an escape hatch for the ages, voting to acquit him on the grounds that the Senate, in his view, cannot legitimately try a president out of office.

    Until the conclusion of the five-day trial, the noisiest man in America stayed silent, down in Florida. But the panic, terrified whispers of officials hiding from their attackers and the crack of a fatal gunshot played out on a big screen in the Senate chamber penetrated less than six weeks earlier by the Trump-flag-waving insurrectionists.

    This time the case did not hang on a whistleblower in the bowels of the national security bureaucracy.

    This was an impeachment driven by what people saw happen and by Trump’s voluminous public rhetoric, heard that day, for weeks before, and after — until Twitter exiled him and he let his lawyers and supporters do the talking while the trial played out.

    “We saw it, we heard it, we lived it,” said the Democratic majority leader, Sen. Chuck Schumer. “This was the first presidential impeachment trial in history in which all senators were not only jurors and judges but were witnesses to the constitutional crime that was committed.”

    Trump’s fanciful boast five years ago that he could shoot someone in the middle of New York’s Fifth Avenue and still be loved by his followers was never, of course, put to the test in his presidency. But something like it was, on Pennsylvania Avenue.

    On Jan. 6, he sent his followers down that street to the Capitol, where they committed their mayhem. And in the end, that did not cost him the loyalty of enough supporters in Congress to convict him on the charge of inciting an insurrection.

    The Senate acquitted Trump on a 57-43 vote Saturday, well short of the 67 needed to convict him.

    ___

    2020

    “Sorry haters, I’m not going anywhere,” Trump declared after his Senate acquittal Feb. 5, 2020, on charges of abusing power and obstructing justice. The Senate, then under narrow Republican control, voted 52-48 to clear him of abuse of power and 53-47 to clear him of obstruction.

    It had taken Democrats some four months to get to that point, grinding through congressional inquiries into Trump’s effort to persuade Ukraine to investigate Hunter Biden’s business dealings there. The goal was to tarnish Joe Biden, the father, as he sought the Democratic nomination and the presidency.

    Hundreds of millions of dollars in U.S. military aid needed by Ukraine in its conflict with Russia were hanging in the balance. The power and resources of the U.S. government had been put in service of Trump’s personal political benefit, said the Democrats.

    To many Republicans in Congress, Democrats were merely impeaching Trump for being Trump. For others, Trump’s behavior, while troubling, didn’t rise to the extraordinary level they said was required to try to remove a president between elections.

    “I would like you to do us a favor,” Trump told Ukrainian Volodymyr Zelenskiy, uttering the sentence that emerged from a rough transcript of their phone call and came to symbolize the heavy-handed lobbying by the president and his aides.

    Trump unleashed over 270 tweets when his fate was in the Senate’s hands, many attacking the process and the participants. “Our case against lyin’, cheatin’, liddle’ Adam ‘Shifty’ Schiff, Cryin’ Chuck Schumer, Nervous Nancy Pelosi, their leader, dumb as a rock AOC, & the entire Radical Left, Do Nothing Democrat Party, starts today,” said one.

    The verdict came strictly along partisan lines, with one exception. Republican Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah voted with Democrats to convict Trump of abusing power.

    McConnell, fully with the president on this one, was ready to move on. “As far as I’m concerned, it’s in the rearview mirror,” he said in response to Trump’s acquittal.

    So it was for nearly everyone, quite suddenly. In the trial’s final days, the U.S. declared a public health emergency due to the coronavirus outbreak, already spreading, and the first COVID-19 death was recorded in the country by the end of the month.

    ___

    2021

    Trump went tweetless during impeachment No. 2, blocked from his main social media platforms for his history of false statements and conspiracy theories about the election. He stayed low, no longer popping up for his once-frequent interviews with conservatives on TV, either.

    As in the first impeachment, no witnesses were called.

    The House Democratic impeachment managers came forward with new and graphic video from the assault and a clearer picture of how close the lawmakers trapped at the Capitol had been to the attackers hunting for them. The peril to Trump’s vice president, Mike Pence, who was presiding in the Senate during the day’s election certification, also came into sharper relief.

    If there was anything like a smoking gun, it had been fired in plain sight.

    But there was little more suspense about the outcome than there had been for the Ukraine affair. Democrats never expected to win the necessary two-thirds of the vote. Seven Republicans voted with the Democrats in the end, more than anticipated but not enough. Romney was among them.

    It was known on the final day that McConnell would vote to acquit.

    It was not known that he would denounce Trump with such scorching words even while passing the hot potato to the Biden Justice Department or state attorneys general, with the observation that Trump the private citizen now is exposed to criminal and civil laws.

    “He didn’t get away with anything,” McConnell said. “Yet.”

    WATCH LIVE | Fourth day of Trump’s impeachment trial

    The Washington post

    Updated: February 11th, 2021

    Impeachment managers rest case against Trump, implore Senate to convict to prevent future violence

    House managers on Thursday wrapped up their case against former president Donald Trump, imploring the Senate to convict him while warning that he could stoke violence again.

    “We humbly, humbly ask you to convict President Trump for the crime for which he is overwhelmingly guilty of. Because if you don’t, if we pretend this didn’t happen, or worse, if we let it go unanswered, who’s to say it won’t happen again?” Rep. Joe Neguse (D-Colo.) said.

    Trump’s legal team is poised to respond on Friday, arguing that he should be acquitted. They are expected to use only one of two allotted days. A verdict could come as early as the weekend.

    The developments came on the third day of an impeachment trial in which Democrats have charged Trump with “incitement of insurrection” for his role in the Jan. 6 violent takeover of the Capitol.

    Video: House managers rest case against Trump, argue for conviction

    Rioters acted on Trump’s ‘orders,’ Democrats say in trial

    WASHINGTON (AP) — House Democrats prosecuting Donald Trump’s impeachment said Thursday the Capitol invaders believed they were acting on “the president’s orders” and reflected his violent rhetoric when they set out to storm the building and stop the joint session of Congress that was certifying Democrat Joe Biden’s election.

    The prosecutors were wrapping up their opening presentation, describing in stark, personal terms the horror they faced that day and unearthing the many public and explicit instructions Trump gave his supporters — both in the weeks before the Jan. 6 attack and at his midday rally that unleashed the mob on the Capitol. Videos of rioters, some posted to social medial by themselves, talked about how they were doing it all for Trump.

    “We were invited here,” said one. “Trump sent us,” said another. “He’ll be happy. We’re fighting for Trump.” Five people died.

    “They truly believed that the whole intrusion was at the president’s orders,” said Rep. Diana DeGette of Colorado. “The president told them to be there.”

    Trump trial video unveils scope of US Capitol riot

    Trump’s lawyers will launch their defense on Friday, and the trial could wrap by weekend.

    At the White House, President Joe Biden said he believed “some minds may be changed” after senators saw chilling security video Wednesday of the deadly insurrection at the Capitol, including of rioters searching menacingly for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Vice President Mike Pence.

    Biden said he didn’t watch any of the previous day’s proceedings live but later saw news coverage.

    This second impeachment trial, on the charge of incitement of insurrection, has echoes of last year’s impeachment over the Ukraine matter, as prosecutors warn senators that left unchecked Trump poses a danger to the civic order. Even out of office, the former president holds influence over large swaths of voters.

    The prosecutors on Thursday drew a direct line from his repeated comments condoning and even celebrating violence — praising “both sides” after the 2017 outbreak at the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, and urging his rally crowd last month to go to the Capitol and fight for his presidency.

    “There’s a pattern staring us in the face,” said Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., the lead prosecutor.

    “When Donald Trump tells the crowd as he did on January 6 to fight like hell, or you won’t have a country anymore. He meant for them to fight like hell.”

    Trump lawyers will argue later this week that his words were protected by the Constitution’s First Amendment and just a figure of speech.

    Though most of the Senate jurors seem to have made up their minds, making Trump’s acquittal likely, the never-before-seen audio and video released Wednesday is now a key exhibit in Trump’s impeachment trial as lawmakers prosecuting the case argue Trump should be convicted of inciting the siege.

    Senators sat riveted as the jarring video played in the chamber. Senators shook their heads, folded their arms and furrowed their brow. Screams from the audio and video filled the Senate chamber. Republican Sen. James Lankford of Oklahoma bent his head at one point, another GOP colleague putting his hand on his arm in comfort.

    Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, saw himself in the footage, dashing down a hallway to avoid the mob. Romney said he hadn’t realized that officer Eugene Goodman, who has been praised as a hero for luring rioters away from the Senate doors, had been the one to direct him to safety.

    “That was overwhelmingly distressing and emotional,” he said.

    Videos of the siege have been circulating since the day of the riot, but the graphic compilation shown to senators Wednesday amounted to a more complete narrative, a moment-by-moment retelling of one of the nation’s most alarming days. In addition to the evident chaos and danger, it offered fresh details on the attackers, scenes of police heroism and cries of distress. And it underscored how dangerously close the rioters came to the nation’s leaders, shifting the focus of the trial from an academic debate about the Constitution to a raw retelling of the assault.

    The footage showed the mob smashing into the building, rioters engaging in hand-to-hand combat with police and audio of Capitol police officers pleading for back-up. Rioters were seen roaming the halls chanting “Hang Mike Pence,” and eerily singing out “Where’s Nancy?” in search for Pelosi.

    Pence, who had been presiding over a session to certify Biden’s election victory over Trump — thus earning Trump’s censure — was shown being rushed to safety, where he sheltered in an office with his family just 100 feet from the rioters. Pelosi was seen being evacuated from the complex as her staff hid behind doors in her suite of offices.

    “President Trump put a target on their backs and his mob broke into the Capitol to hunt them down,” said House prosecutor Stacey Plaskett, the Democratic delegate representing the Virgin Islands.

    The goal of the presentation was to cast Trump not as an innocent bystander but rather as the “inciter in chief” who spent months spreading falsehoods about the election.

    “This attack never would have happened, but for Donald Trump,” Rep. Madeleine Dean, one of the impeachment managers, said as she choked back emotion. “And so they came, draped in Trump’s flag, and used our flag, the American flag, to batter and to bludgeon.”

    The Trump legal team takes the floor Friday and Saturday for up to 16 hours to lay out its defense. The difficulty facing Trump’s defense became apparent at the start as his lawyers leaned on the process of the trial, unlike any other, rather than the substance of the case against the former president.

    Trump’s lawyers are likely to blame the rioters themselves for the violence.

    The first president to face an impeachment trial after leaving office, Trump is also the first to be twice impeached.

    His lawyers also say he cannot be convicted because he is already gone from the White House. Even though the Senate rejected that argument in Tuesday’s vote to proceed to the trial, the legal issue could resonate with Senate Republicans eager to acquit Trump without being seen as condoning his behavior.

    While six Republicans joined with Democrats to vote to proceed with the trial on Tuesday, the 56-44 vote was far from the two-thirds threshold of 67 votes needed for conviction.

    Minds did not seem to be changing Wednesday, even after senators watched the graphic video.

    Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, who was among those leading the effort to challenge the Electoral College tally, said, “The president’s rhetoric is at times overheated, but this is not a referendum on whether you agree with everything the president says or tweets.”

    It appears unlikely that the House prosecutors will call witnesses, and Trump has declined a request to testify.

    Trump’s second impeachment trial is expected to diverge from the lengthy, complicated affair of a year ago. In that case, Trump was charged with having privately pressured Ukraine to dig up dirt on Biden, then a Democratic rival for the presidency.

    The Democratic-led House impeached the president swiftly, one week after the attack.

    WATCH: Rep. Neguse’s Powerful Impeachment Case at Trump’s 2nd Trial

    Watch: Trump’s Historic Second Impeachment Trial Underway | NBC Nightly News

    Trump’s historic 2nd trial opens with jarring video of siege

    WASHINGTON (AP) — Democrats opened Donald Trump’s historic second impeachment trial Tuesday by showing the former president whipping up a rally crowd to march to the Capitol and “fight like hell” against his reelection defeat, followed by graphic video of the deadly attack on Congress that came soon after.

    The lead House prosecutor told senators the case would present “cold, hard facts” against Trump, who is charged with inciting the mob siege of the Capitol to overturn the election he lost to Democrat Joe Biden. Senators sitting as jurors, many who themselves fled for safety that day, watched the jarring video of Trump supporters battling past police to storm the halls, Trump flags waving.

    “That’s a high crime and misdemeanor,” said Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., in opening remarks. “If that’s not an impeachable offense, then there’s no such thing.”

    Trump is the first president to face impeachment charges after leaving office and the first to be twice impeached . The Capitol siege stunned the world as hundreds of rioters ransacked the building to try to stop the certification of Biden’s victory, a domestic attack on the nation’s seat of government unlike any in its history. Five people died.

    Acquittal is likely, but the trial will test the nation’s attitude toward his brand of presidential power, the Democrats’ resolve in pursuing him, and the loyalty of Trump’s Republican allies defending him.

    Trump’s lawyers are insisting that he is not guilty of the sole charge of “incitement of insurrection,” his fiery words just a figure of speech as he encouraged a rally crowd to “fight like hell” for his presidency. But prosecutors say he “has no good defense” and they promise new evidence.

    Security remained extremely tight at the Capitol on Tuesday, a changed place after the attack, fenced off with razor wire with armed National Guard troops on patrol. The nine House managers walked across the shuttered building to prosecute the case before the Senate.

    White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Biden would not be watching the trial of his predecessor.

    With senators gathered as the court of impeachment, sworn to deliver “impartial justice,” the trial was starting with debate and a vote over whether it’s constitutionally permissible to prosecute Trump after he is no longer in the White House.

    Trump’s defense team has focused on the question of constitutionality, which could resonate with Republicans eager to acquit Trump without being seen as condoning his behavior.

    Lead lawyer Bruce Castor said that no member of the former president’s defense team would do anything but condemn the violence of the “repugnant” attack, and “in the strongest possible way denounce the rioters.”

    Yet Trump’s attorney appealed to the senators as “patriots first,” and encouraged them to be “cool headed” as they assess the arguments.

    At one pivotal point, Raskin told the personal story of bringing his family to the Capitol the day of the riot, to witness the certification of the Electoral College vote, only to have his daughter and son-in-law hiding in an office, fearing for their lives.

    “Senators, this cannot be our future,” Raskin said through tears. “This cannot be the future of America.”

    The House prosecutors argued there is no “January exception” for a president on his way out the door. Rep. Joe Neguse, D-Colo., referred to the corruption case of William Belknap, a war secretary in the Grant administration, who was impeached, tried and ultimately acquitted by the Senate after leaving office.

    “President Trump was not impeached for run of the mill corruption, misconduct. He was impeached for inciting a violent insurrection – an insurrection where people died, in this building,” Neguse said. If Congress stands by, he said, “it would invite future presidents to use their power without any fear of accountability.”

    It appears unlikely that the House prosecutors will call witnesses, in part because the senators were witnesses themselves. At his Mar-a-Lago club in Florida, Trump has declined a request to testify.

    Trump’s defense team has said it plans to counter with its own cache of videos of Democratic politicians making fiery speeches. “We have some videos up our sleeve,” senior Trump adviser Jason Miller said on a podcast Monday.

    Presidential impeachment trials have been conducted only three times before, leading to acquittals for Andrew Johnson, Bill Clinton and then Trump last year.

    Full Coverage: Trump impeachment trial
    Timothy Naftali, a clinical associate professor at New York University and an expert on impeachment, said in an interview, “This trial is one way of having that difficult national conversation about the difference between dissent and insurrection.”

    The first test Tuesday was to be on a vote on the constitutionality of the trial, signaling attitudes in the Senate. The chamber is divided 50-50 between Democrats and Republicans, with a two-thirds vote, 67 senators, required for conviction.

    A similar question was posed late last month, when Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky forced a vote to set aside the trial because Trump was no longer in office. At that time, 45 Republicans voted in favor of Paul’s measure. Just five Republicans joined with Democrats to pursue the trial: Mitt Romney of Utah, Ben Sasse of Nebraska, Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania

    Because of the COVID-19 crisis, senators were allowed to spread out, including in the “marble room” just off the Senate floor, where proceedings are shown on TV, or even in the public galleries above the chamber. Most were at their desks on the opening day, however.

    Presiding was not the chief justice of the United States, as in previous presidential impeachment trials, but the chamber’s senior-most member of the majority party, Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont.

    Under an agreement between Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Republican leader Mitch McConnell, the substantive opening arguments will begin at noon Wednesday, with up to 16 hours per side for presentations. The trial is expected to continue into the weekend.

    In filings, lawyers for the former president lobbed a wide-ranging attack against the House case, suggesting Trump was simply exercising his First Amendment rights and dismissing the trial as “political theater” on the same Senate floor invaded by the mob.

    House impeachment managers, in their own filings, assert that Trump “betrayed the American people” and has no valid excuse or defense.

    Trump’s second impeachment trial is expected to diverge from the lengthy, complicated affair of a year ago. In that case, Trump was charged with having privately pressured Ukraine to dig up dirt on Biden, then a Democratic rival for the presidency.

    This time, Trump’s “stop the steal” rally rhetoric and the storming of the Capitol played out for the world to see.

    The Democratic-led House impeached the president swiftly, one week after the attack. Five people died, including a woman shot by police inside the building and a police officer who died the next day of his injuries.

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    UPDATE: UN Ethiopia Tweeted ‘Progress’ on Humanitarian Front in Tigray

    The United Nations office in Ethiopia says it has received additional clearances for 44 international experts to assist in the humanitarian response in Tigray. (Photo: The UN office building in Addis Ababa/via ECA)

    UN Ethiopia

    Updated: February 12th, 2021

    There’s important progress between the humanitarian community and Ethiopian Gov’t and now clearances for 44 international experts to help scale up the Gov’t-led response for the people of Tigray.

    @UNEthiopia

    Related from UN News:

    Ethiopia: Government approves ‘first step’ towards Tigray emergency assistance

    Updated: February 11th, 2021

    “This clearance is a first step towards ensuring that aid workers in Tigray can deliver and ramp up the response given the rapidly rising needs in the region”, Stéphane Dujarric told journalists at the daily press briefing.

    He recalled a number of positive engagements between the Government and senior UN officials, including with Filippo Grandi, High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Gilles Michaud chief of UN Safety and Security and most recently, David Beasley, Executive Director of the World Food Programme (WFP).

    “Mr. Beasley has just wrapped up a trip to Ethiopia and he says that WFP has accepted the Government’s request to help authorities and aid partners transport aid into and within Tigray”, informed Mr. Dujarric.

    Moreover, WFP has also agreed to provide emergency food aid for up to one million people in Tigray.

    The conflict between the Government and regional forces of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) began in early November, when the Prime Minister ordered a military offensive after rebels attacked a federal army base. Government forces reported that the region had been secured at the end of November, but TPLF resistance has continued amid accusations of extrajudicial killings and rights abuses. 

    Escalating humanitarian needs

    Meanwhile, around 60 more humanitarian workers from the UN and non-governmental organizations are awaiting approval in the capital Addis Ababa for deployment to Tigray.

    They also look forward to rapid authorizations for any further requests put forward.

    “While we welcome these clearances, we remain deeply concerned about the significant escalation in humanitarian needs in Tigray, where people have endured more than three months of conflict with extremely limited assistance”, said the UN spokesperson.

    He also expressed unease over continued reports of grave violations against civilians.

    “We reiterate our call for the full resumption of free and unconditional access for humanitarian supplies and personnel to the Tigray region”, Mr. Dujarric said, adding that it should include “blanket clearances” for organizations operating in the area, “so that we can immediately reach all the people in need with all the assistance they urgently require”.

    Related:

    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.

    In Ethiopia, U.S. Embassy Launches Media Training for Journalists Covering Election

    The overall goal of these trainings to empower and educate journalists on their roles and responsibilities throughout the election process, which includes educating voters on diverse issues, and monitoring and reporting on electoral activities to increase the transparency and accountability of all parties involved. (U.S. Embassy in Ethiopia)

    Press Release

    U.S. Embassy Supports Ethiopian Journalists in Elections Training

    Addis Ababa, Ethiopia: On February 8, 2021 the U.S. Embassy launched the first of 25 week-long media trainings throughout Ethiopia. This comprehensive media capacity project will train approximately 500-700 journalists across the country. The U.S. Embassy has invested $450,000 (17,730,000 million birr) in this project.

    The overall goal of these trainings to empower and educate journalists on their roles and responsibilities throughout the election process, which includes educating voters on diverse issues, and monitoring and reporting on electoral activities to increase the transparency and accountability of all parties involved. At the launch, Amanda Jacobsen, Public Affairs Officer at the U.S. Embassy in Addis Ababa, underscored to journalists, “Your role as media professionals is critical in both uncovering and addressing the needs and challenges of citizens, as well as questioning sources, diversifying the types of people you interview, and countering mis- and disinformation as part of your daily responsibilities.”

    Election-related topics to be covered include effective elections reporting; identifying mis- and dis information; and COVID-19 reporting techniques. The workshops will be facilitated by experienced Ethiopian journalists and professors from leading Ethiopian schools of journalism. An American media specialist developed the curriculum for the five-day sessions.

    The initiative is implemented by the Johns Hopkins Center for Communications Programs, with support from the U.S. Embassy in Ethiopia, and in partnership with the National Electoral Board of Ethiopia (NEBE) and Addis Ababa University’s School of Journalism and Communications.

    In addition, experienced American media specialists will provide hands-on, tailored training at various Ethiopian newsrooms on investigative journalism techniques beginning in March 2021.

    The United States has invested nearly $35 million to support Ethiopia’s efforts to organize, administer, and conduct free and fair elections. U.S. assistance is helping build the capacity of the NEBE, political parties, civil society, and independent media to contribute to a free, fair, and peaceful electoral process, ensuring greater transparency and promoting meaningful participation among all citizens—with a focus on women, youth, and other traditionally marginalized groups. The United States is also supporting an international election observation effort.

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    ETHIOPIA UPDATE: Govt Okays ’1st Step’ Tigray Emergency Assistance – UN News

    UN agencies have received approval from the Ethiopian Government for 25 international staff to provide humanitarian assistance inside the country’s conflict-torn Tigray region, the UN Spokesperson said on Monday. (UN News)

    UN News

    Ethiopia: Government approves ‘first step’ towards Tigray emergency assistance

    “This clearance is a first step towards ensuring that aid workers in Tigray can deliver and ramp up the response given the rapidly rising needs in the region”, Stéphane Dujarric told journalists at the daily press briefing.

    He recalled a number of positive engagements between the Government and senior UN officials, including with Filippo Grandi, High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Gilles Michaud chief of UN Safety and Security and most recently, David Beasley, Executive Director of the World Food Programme (WFP).

    “Mr. Beasley has just wrapped up a trip to Ethiopia and he says that WFP has accepted the Government’s request to help authorities and aid partners transport aid into and within Tigray”, informed Mr. Dujarric.

    Moreover, WFP has also agreed to provide emergency food aid for up to one million people in Tigray.

    The conflict between the Government and regional forces of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) began in early November, when the Prime Minister ordered a military offensive after rebels attacked a federal army base. Government forces reported that the region had been secured at the end of November, but TPLF resistance has continued amid accusations of extrajudicial killings and rights abuses. 

    Escalating humanitarian needs

    Meanwhile, around 60 more humanitarian workers from the UN and non-governmental organizations are awaiting approval in the capital Addis Ababa for deployment to Tigray.

    They also look forward to rapid authorizations for any further requests put forward.

    “While we welcome these clearances, we remain deeply concerned about the significant escalation in humanitarian needs in Tigray, where people have endured more than three months of conflict with extremely limited assistance”, said the UN spokesperson.

    He also expressed unease over continued reports of grave violations against civilians.

    “We reiterate our call for the full resumption of free and unconditional access for humanitarian supplies and personnel to the Tigray region”, Mr. Dujarric said, adding that it should include “blanket clearances” for organizations operating in the area, “so that we can immediately reach all the people in need with all the assistance they urgently require”.

    Related:

    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.

    WATCH: Rep. Neguse’s Powerful Impeachment Case at Trump’s 2nd Trial

    U.S. House impeachment manager Rep. Joe Neguse, D-Colo., speaks during the second impeachment trial of Donald Trump in the Senate at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2021. (Senate TV via AP)

    NBC News

    Rep. Neguse Argues Impeachment Trial Of Former President Trump As Constitutional

    Rep. Joe Neguse argued that the impeachment trial of former President Trump was constitutional, saying “presidents can’t inflame insurrection in their final weeks and then walk away like nothing happened.”

    WATCH: Rep. Neguse Makes Impeachment Case at Trump’s 2nd Senate Trial in DC

    Watch: Trump’s Historic Second Impeachment Trial Underway | NBC Nightly News

    Trump’s historic 2nd trial opens with jarring video of siege

    WASHINGTON (AP) — Democrats opened Donald Trump’s historic second impeachment trial Tuesday by showing the former president whipping up a rally crowd to march to the Capitol and “fight like hell” against his reelection defeat, followed by graphic video of the deadly attack on Congress that came soon after.

    The lead House prosecutor told senators the case would present “cold, hard facts” against Trump, who is charged with inciting the mob siege of the Capitol to overturn the election he lost to Democrat Joe Biden. Senators sitting as jurors, many who themselves fled for safety that day, watched the jarring video of Trump supporters battling past police to storm the halls, Trump flags waving.

    “That’s a high crime and misdemeanor,” said Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., in opening remarks. “If that’s not an impeachable offense, then there’s no such thing.”

    Trump is the first president to face impeachment charges after leaving office and the first to be twice impeached . The Capitol siege stunned the world as hundreds of rioters ransacked the building to try to stop the certification of Biden’s victory, a domestic attack on the nation’s seat of government unlike any in its history. Five people died.

    Acquittal is likely, but the trial will test the nation’s attitude toward his brand of presidential power, the Democrats’ resolve in pursuing him, and the loyalty of Trump’s Republican allies defending him.

    Trump’s lawyers are insisting that he is not guilty of the sole charge of “incitement of insurrection,” his fiery words just a figure of speech as he encouraged a rally crowd to “fight like hell” for his presidency. But prosecutors say he “has no good defense” and they promise new evidence.

    Security remained extremely tight at the Capitol on Tuesday, a changed place after the attack, fenced off with razor wire with armed National Guard troops on patrol. The nine House managers walked across the shuttered building to prosecute the case before the Senate.

    White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Biden would not be watching the trial of his predecessor.

    With senators gathered as the court of impeachment, sworn to deliver “impartial justice,” the trial was starting with debate and a vote over whether it’s constitutionally permissible to prosecute Trump after he is no longer in the White House.

    Trump’s defense team has focused on the question of constitutionality, which could resonate with Republicans eager to acquit Trump without being seen as condoning his behavior.

    Lead lawyer Bruce Castor said that no member of the former president’s defense team would do anything but condemn the violence of the “repugnant” attack, and “in the strongest possible way denounce the rioters.”

    Yet Trump’s attorney appealed to the senators as “patriots first,” and encouraged them to be “cool headed” as they assess the arguments.

    At one pivotal point, Raskin told the personal story of bringing his family to the Capitol the day of the riot, to witness the certification of the Electoral College vote, only to have his daughter and son-in-law hiding in an office, fearing for their lives.

    “Senators, this cannot be our future,” Raskin said through tears. “This cannot be the future of America.”

    The House prosecutors argued there is no “January exception” for a president on his way out the door. Rep. Joe Neguse, D-Colo., referred to the corruption case of William Belknap, a war secretary in the Grant administration, who was impeached, tried and ultimately acquitted by the Senate after leaving office.

    “President Trump was not impeached for run of the mill corruption, misconduct. He was impeached for inciting a violent insurrection – an insurrection where people died, in this building,” Neguse said. If Congress stands by, he said, “it would invite future presidents to use their power without any fear of accountability.”

    It appears unlikely that the House prosecutors will call witnesses, in part because the senators were witnesses themselves. At his Mar-a-Lago club in Florida, Trump has declined a request to testify.

    Trump’s defense team has said it plans to counter with its own cache of videos of Democratic politicians making fiery speeches. “We have some videos up our sleeve,” senior Trump adviser Jason Miller said on a podcast Monday.

    Presidential impeachment trials have been conducted only three times before, leading to acquittals for Andrew Johnson, Bill Clinton and then Trump last year.

    Full Coverage: Trump impeachment trial
    Timothy Naftali, a clinical associate professor at New York University and an expert on impeachment, said in an interview, “This trial is one way of having that difficult national conversation about the difference between dissent and insurrection.”

    The first test Tuesday was to be on a vote on the constitutionality of the trial, signaling attitudes in the Senate. The chamber is divided 50-50 between Democrats and Republicans, with a two-thirds vote, 67 senators, required for conviction.

    A similar question was posed late last month, when Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky forced a vote to set aside the trial because Trump was no longer in office. At that time, 45 Republicans voted in favor of Paul’s measure. Just five Republicans joined with Democrats to pursue the trial: Mitt Romney of Utah, Ben Sasse of Nebraska, Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania

    Because of the COVID-19 crisis, senators were allowed to spread out, including in the “marble room” just off the Senate floor, where proceedings are shown on TV, or even in the public galleries above the chamber. Most were at their desks on the opening day, however.

    Presiding was not the chief justice of the United States, as in previous presidential impeachment trials, but the chamber’s senior-most member of the majority party, Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont.

    Under an agreement between Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Republican leader Mitch McConnell, the substantive opening arguments will begin at noon Wednesday, with up to 16 hours per side for presentations. The trial is expected to continue into the weekend.

    In filings, lawyers for the former president lobbed a wide-ranging attack against the House case, suggesting Trump was simply exercising his First Amendment rights and dismissing the trial as “political theater” on the same Senate floor invaded by the mob.

    House impeachment managers, in their own filings, assert that Trump “betrayed the American people” and has no valid excuse or defense.

    Trump’s second impeachment trial is expected to diverge from the lengthy, complicated affair of a year ago. In that case, Trump was charged with having privately pressured Ukraine to dig up dirt on Biden, then a Democratic rival for the presidency.

    This time, Trump’s “stop the steal” rally rhetoric and the storming of the Capitol played out for the world to see.

    The Democratic-led House impeached the president swiftly, one week after the attack. Five people died, including a woman shot by police inside the building and a police officer who died the next day of his injuries.

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    UPDATE: UN, Ethiopia Strike a Deal Over Aid Workers’ Access to Tigray

    The United Nations’ food agency says it has reached a deal with Ethiopia to expand access for aid workers and “scale up” operations in the country’s conflict-hit Tigray region. (Getty Images)

    Al Jazeera

    World Food Programme says it will ‘scale up’ operations in embattled northern region after reaching a deal with Addis Ababa.

    The United Nations’ food agency says it has reached a deal with Ethiopia to expand access for aid workers and “scale up” operations in the country’s conflict-hit Tigray region.

    David Beasley, the head of the World Food Programme (WFP), made the announcement late on Saturday amid growing fears of a humanitarian catastrophe in Tigray, a region of more than five million people.

    Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed on November 4 ordered air raids and a ground offensive against Tigray’s former governing party – the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) – after its forces attacked federal army bases in the northern region. Abiy declared victory on November 28 after the TPLF withdrew from the regional capital, Mekelle, and other main cities, but low-level fighting has continued.

    Thousands of people are believed to have died and hundreds of thousands have fled their homes since fighting began. Both sides deny their forces have committed atrocities, and blame their rivals for the killing of civilians.

    Top UN officials and international NGOs have repeatedly complained about access restrictions to Tigray.

    The government and the WFP “have agreed on concrete steps to expand access for humanitarians across Tigray, and WFP will scale up its operations”, Beasley said on Twitter following a visit to the Mekelle.

    “Nearly 3 million people need our help NOW and we have no time to waste,” he added.

    A WFP statement said Ethiopian officials had agreed to speed up reviews of aid workers’ requests to move within the embattled region.

    The WFP’s statement also said the agreement had agreed to government requests to provide emergency food aid to one million people in Tigray and help with transport to hard-to-reach rural areas.

    Ethiopian Peace Minister Muferihat Kamil said in a separate statement the government was “moving with urgency to approve requests for international staff movements into and within Tigray”.

    The new terms fall “under the existing agreement” between the government and the UN on aid, according to the WFP statement.

    That agreement restricted UN access to areas under government control. In early December, a UN team visiting refugees in Tigray region was shot at after failing to stop at two checkpoints, according to the government.

    But a senior UN official told the AFP news agency the progress was nevertheless “significant” and would facilitate access deeper into Tigray.

    “It’s not good enough to just stick to the safe routes, the secure routes,” the official said. “Our role is to be determined to get to where the last person in need is, and the presence of militias should not really hamper us.”

    The WFP statement noted that “armed escorts for humanitarian cargo and personnel will be undertaken as a last resort”.

    Tigray remains largely cut off to media, making it difficult to assess the situation on the ground.

    The UN official noted that “insecure areas [are] were “many and significant”.

    A new UN report earlier this month said life for civilians in Tigray has become “extremely alarming” amid growing hunger and a “volatile and unpredictable” security situation.

    “Reports from aid workers on the ground indicate a rising in acute malnutrition across the region,” it said, according to The Associated Press news agency. “Only 1 percent of the nearly 920 nutrition treatment facilities in Tigray are reachable.”

    Starvation has also become a big concern. “Many households are expected to have already depleted their food stocks, or are expected to deplete their food stocks in the next two months,” according to a new report posted on Thursday by the Famine Early Warning Systems Network, which is funded and managed by the United States.

    The report said more parts of central and eastern Tigray likely will enter Emergency Phase 4, a step below famine, in the coming weeks.

    The government has played down fears of widespread starvation while touting its own efforts to meet the needs of the population. It says it has provided emergency food aid to 1.8 million people.

    During a visit to Ethiopia last week, UN refugees chief Filippo Grandi stressed the need for a more efficient system of facilitating access for aid workers and distributing aid.

    “We heard from everywhere, including from the local authorities, that more is needed” beyond what the government is providing, Grandi said.

    “The situation as I said is very grave, is very urgent. Without further action, it will get worse.”

    Related:

    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.

    ANALYSIS: In Ethiopia’s Digital Battle Over the Tigray Region, Facts Are Casualties

    On social media, pro- and anti-government groups continue to vie for control of the conflict narrative. Both sides are quick to accuse the other of spreading intentionally false information. (Photo: Petros Teka via Twitter @dw_akademie)

    The Washington Post

    Claims about disinformation may be undermining online activism.

    Nearly three months have passed since the conflict between the Ethiopian government and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) began. Despite Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s assurance that the military operation ended in late November, the conflict in Tigray is far from over. United Nations officials this week cited reports that Ethiopian troops may not have the region under their command, and warned of grave food shortages, calling for the government to allow aid workers to enter the region.

    On social media, pro- and anti-government groups continue to vie for control of the conflict narrative. Abiy released a statement on Tuesday encouraging Ethiopians to launch an offensive against the TPLF’s distortions and “lies” in the international arena. Our analysis of over 500,000 tweets related to Tigray helps explain the intensifying information conflict.

    We collected and analyzed tweets between Nov. 4 and Jan. 20 to try to understand the kinds of information being circulated, and the effects of different messaging campaigns. We found that both sides are quick to accuse the other of spreading intentionally false information — though actual disinformation accounts for a surprisingly small proportion of tweets about the conflict.

    Ethiopia’s conflict continues online

    Knowing what’s really going on in Tigray’s conflict is difficult, given a communications blackout in much of the region. The government has also not allowed humanitarian access to areas that reportedly have experienced atrocities or are in urgent need of assistance. It is in this opaque information environment that people have taken to Twitter.

    Overall volume of tweets gathered using Twitter’s fire hose API (between 80 and 100 percent of all tweets), via Meltwater software. Content data collected and analyzed using Python and Twitter’s search and streaming APIs.

    Pro-Tigray activism online

    #StandWithTigray is a central source of activism for pro-Tigray campaigns. Its website shares instructions for using Twitter, along with pre-written content for followers to share. Their online presence can broadly be divided into three categories: “old” and “new” activist accounts; and accounts with opaque credentials.

    “Old” activist accounts are largely based in Ethiopia, Europe and North America. Although their activism does not necessarily predate the conflict, their Twitter accounts often do. They demonstrate a high degree of digital literacy, posting lots of original content and engaging with other users.

    “New” activist accounts were created throughout the conflict. We found over 3,000 such accounts between November and the end of January. These accounts demonstrate a low level of digital literacy, few followers and short-term engagement.

    Accounts with opaque credentials claim expertise or positions aimed at boosting their credibility. They claim to be academics or aid workers but have little or no online presence beyond Twitter, making their credentials difficult to verify. These accounts may be problematic because they can obtain significant “reach” based on unsubstantiated claims.

    Do these tweets contain disinformation and misinformation?

    Our analysis showed that the majority of content produced by the #StandWithTigray campaign is digital activism, which seeks to raise international awareness about the conflict. The #StandwithTigray campaign is organized similarly to many other social justice campaigns on social media. Pre-written tweets build momentum around hashtags and connect to potential influencers like foreign officials, U.N. agencies or foreign ministries. This is a standard approach for activists, who usually don’t have the resources to employ the kinds of PR firms that many governments rely on to manage information (and disinformation) strategies.

    Ethiopia’s Tigray conflict reflects unresolved ethnic tensions

    It’s important to distinguish between disinformation, which is the intentional spread of false or misleading information, and misinformation, which is unintentional. When false claims could be read as intentional — like when TPLF leader Debretsion Gebremichael reported that Ethiopian forces had bombed the Tekeze dam — it’s often tough to verify information because of communications blackouts or limited physical access. Most who go on to spread that information have no means of verifying what they are sharing. Combating the spread of false information would require opening access to all areas of Tigray.

    Pro-government information campaigns

    The government has the advantage of being able to channel strategic messages through high-profile or official government accounts with very large followings. This means they are able to spread information widely without relying heavily on new accounts or copy-and-paste campaigns.

    Pro-government online activism tends to be more responsive than proactive. The #UnityForEthiopia website, which appeared in response to #StandWithTigray, similarly includes instructions for creating Twitter accounts and has a repository of pre-written tweets. We found that new accounts created between November and January were responsible for 30 percent of all #UnityForEthiopia tweets during the two most active days of the campaign — Jan. 1 and Jan. 6.

    A blurry information environment

    By blocking communications and access to Tigray, the government helped create conditions where disinformation and misinformation can thrive. At the start of the military incursion into Tigray, pro-government accounts and government officials warned of a “Digital Woyane,” a TPLF-funded effort to undermine government actions in the region. In December, Ethiopia’s Information Network Security Agency claimed that the TPLF was producing over 20,000 tweets containing disinformation daily — a finding that is not supported by our data set. This narrative gained significant traction, with pro-government activists labeling almost all tweets about potential government wrongdoing as TPLF-funded disinformation.

    The government’s State of Emergency Fact Check account, for example, responded to examples of misinformation spread by pro-Tigray accounts by issuing corrective statements, co-opting the work of independent fact-checkers. The government’s strategy seems to be to aimed at undermining the credibility of its critics, while sometimes combating pro-Tigray campaigns with their own campaigns.

    Read more »

    Related:

    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.

    Video: President Biden’s Message to AU

    As African Union (AU) leaders hold a two-day online summit this weekend amid the global Coronavirus pandemic and other local humanitarian issues, U.S. President Joe Biden on Friday sent the following uplifting video message to the Summit participants. “The United States stands ready to be your partner, in solidarity, support, and mutual respect," President Biden said. "We believe in the nations of Africa." (White House photo)

    Press Release

    President Joe Biden’s virtual remarks on the occasion of the 34th African Union Summit!

    His message emphasized our eagerness to “rebuild partnerships around the world and re-engage with international institutions like the African Union,” in order to better support the people of Africa on everything from battling the COVID-19 pandemic to working with the AU to address conflicts that are costing lives across the Continent.

    “The United States stands ready to be your partner, in solidarity, support, and mutual respect. We believe in the nations of Africa. In the continent-wide spirit of entrepreneurship and innovation. And though the challenges are great, there is no doubt that our nations, our people, and the African Union are up to this task.” – President Biden’s uplifting message to the African Union.

    UPDATE: In Call With PM Abiy, Blinken Affirms U.S.-Ethiopia Bilateral Relationship, Concern About Humanitarian Crisis


    U.S. Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken delivers remarks to employees at the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C., on January 27, 2021. [State Department Photo/ Public Domain]

    Press Release

    Secretary Blinken’s Call with Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed

    OFFICE OF THE SPOKESPERSON

    The below is attributable to Spokesperson Ned Price:‎

    Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken spoke today with Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and emphasized the importance of the U.S.-Ethiopia bilateral relationship. Secretary Blinken expressed our grave concern about the humanitarian crisis in the Tigray region and urged immediate, full, and unhindered humanitarian access to prevent further loss of life. The Secretary also reaffirmed the United States’ commitment to Ethiopia’s reform agenda and our support for upcoming national elections, regional peace and security, democracy and human rights, justice and accountability, and economic prosperity for all Ethiopians.

    Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed confirmed the call on Twitter:

    Thank you @SecBlinken for commitment to support #Ethiopia’s deep reforms that we will pursue undetterred. Our aspirations to democratize and build a multidimensional prosperous & peaceful country for all will be enhanced through strengthened Ethiopia-US relations.

    Abiy Ahmed Ali

    Blinken tweeted:

    I spoke with Ethiopian Prime Minister @AbiyAhmedAli to express concern about the crisis in Tigray and urge safe and unhindered humanitarian access to prevent further loss of life. Despite current challenges, the U.S. stands ready to support reforms and peaceful elections.

    Secretary Antony Blinken

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    COVID-19: Ethiopia In Line to Receive Vaccines From Covax By End of Month

    Covax, the global program that strives to ensure equitable access to coronavirus vaccines, has allocated millions of doses of AstraZeneca Plc’s shots to African countries and aims for its first deliveries by the end of the month. Nigeria, the most populous nation on the continent, stands to receive 16 million doses, while Ethiopia and the Democratic Republic of Congo are in line for 9 million and 7 million doses respectively, according to an interim distribution forecast published Wednesday. (Bloomberg)

    THE LATEST UPDATE:

    Updated: February 6th, 2021

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    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 141,453

    By Ministry of Health

    In Ethiopia, as of February 6th, 2021, there have been 141,453 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.

  • UPDATE: In Call With PM Abiy, Blinken Affirms U.S.-Ethiopia Bilateral Relationship, Concern About Humanitarian Crisis

    U.S. Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken delivers remarks to employees at the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C., on January 27, 2021. [State Department Photo/ Public Domain]

    Press Release

    Secretary Blinken’s Call with Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed

    OFFICE OF THE SPOKESPERSON

    The below is attributable to Spokesperson Ned Price:‎

    Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken spoke today with Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and emphasized the importance of the U.S.-Ethiopia bilateral relationship. Secretary Blinken expressed our grave concern about the humanitarian crisis in the Tigray region and urged immediate, full, and unhindered humanitarian access to prevent further loss of life. The Secretary also reaffirmed the United States’ commitment to Ethiopia’s reform agenda and our support for upcoming national elections, regional peace and security, democracy and human rights, justice and accountability, and economic prosperity for all Ethiopians.

    Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed confirmed the call on Twitter:

    Thank you @SecBlinken for commitment to support #Ethiopia’s deep reforms that we will pursue undetterred. Our aspirations to democratize and build a multidimensional prosperous & peaceful country for all will be enhanced through strengthened Ethiopia-US relations.

    Abiy Ahmed Ali

    Blinken tweeted:

    I spoke with Ethiopian Prime Minister @AbiyAhmedAli to express concern about the crisis in Tigray and urge safe and unhindered humanitarian access to prevent further loss of life. Despite current challenges, the U.S. stands ready to support reforms and peaceful elections.

    Secretary Antony Blinken

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    Spotlight: 5 Things to Know About The Weeknd Before His Super Bowl Show

    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.

    Video: A Timely Conversation on New U.S. Policy Toward Africa

    The online event, which took place today (Monday, Feb. 1st, 2021) was hosted by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), featuring New York Congressman Gregory W. Meeks, the newly elected Chairman of the powerful U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee, as well as Ethiopian Journalist and independent media advocate Tsedale Lemma, Founder and Editor of Addis Standard, and Rosebell Kagumire, a Ugandan multimedia and communications specialist, blogger, journalist and activist. (Photos via CSIS)

    Tadias Magazine

    By Tadias Staff

    February 1st, 2021

    New York (TADIAS) — This morning a timely conversation on new U.S. policy toward Africa including a discussion about Ethiopia was held in Washington, D.C.

    The online event, which was hosted by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), featured New York Congressman Gregory W. Meeks, the newly elected Chairman of the powerful U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee, and the first Black Member of Congress to serve as Chair of that committee, as well as Ethiopian Journalist and independent media advocate Tsedale Lemma, Founder and Editor of Addis Standard, and Rosebell Kagumire, a Ugandan multimedia and communications specialist, blogger, journalist and activist.

    According to the announcement Representative Meeks outlined “his vision for a reimagined approach to U.S.-Africa policy in a democratically controlled house and senate.” And for their part Tsedale and Rosebell in conversation with Rep. Meeks focused on current affairs in their respective countries and “and the impact of the Capitol attack on the U.S. government’s credibility,” concluding “with key recommendations for the new Biden Administration.”

    Watch: Online Event — A New U.S. Policy Toward Africa — A Conversation with Chairman Gregory Meeks and Africa (CSIS)

    Related:

    Video: President Biden’s Designate Ambassador to UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield on Ethiopia


    Among the questions that Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield — a veteran American diplomat who was the head of the State Department’s Bureau of African Affairs until 2017 — was asked about during her confirmation hearing on Wednesday included her take on the current situation in Ethiopia. (Getty Images)

    Tadias Magazine

    By Tadias Staff

    Updated: January 27th, 2021

    New York (TADIAS) — President Joe Biden’s nominee for US ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield fielded lawmakers’ questions during her confirmation hearing on Wednesday in Washington, D.C.

    Among the questions that Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield — a veteran American diplomat who was the head of the State Department’s Bureau of African Affairs until 2017 — was asked about during her confirmation hearing included her take on the current situation in Ethiopia.

    Below is video of her answer regarding Ethiopia:

    Related:

    Outgoing U.S. Ambassador to Ethiopia Michael Raynor Holds Final News Briefing


    Ambassador Michael Raynor. (VOA)

    Voice of America

    By Eskinder Firew

    Departing US Envoy Warns Ethiopia Against Violence

    ADDIS ABABA – Calling Ethiopia “the critical actor in Horn of Africa stability,” outgoing U.S. Ambassador to Ethiopia Michael Raynor voiced confidence in a strengthened bilateral relationship but warned that violence – especially in the northern Tigray region – threatens the country’s progress.

    “We remain concerned about ethnic violence around the country and the threat it poses to achieving the country’s potential,” Raynor said of Ethiopia, speaking at a press conference Monday in Addis Ababa, the capital.

    It was Raynor’s final news briefing as ambassador, a post he has held since September 2017. He has focused on Africa for many of his 30-plus years as a diplomat.

    Rivalries among some of Ethiopia’s 80 ethnic groups have spawned deadly violence, including the Jan. 12 killings of more than 80 civilians in Metekel, a town in the western Benishangul-Gumaz region, the Associated Press reported, citing information from the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission.

    Raynor said the U.S. government also is “particularly alarmed by the ongoing situation in Tigray,” where Ethiopian federal forces launched a military operation in early November to put down a rebellion by regional forces of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front. Ethiopia’s government said that it had regained control of the region by late November, but reports of extrajudicial killings and other sporadic violence have continued to filter out.

    Since the conflict’s outbreak, more than 58,000 have fled northern Ethiopia for neighboring Tigray, the International Organization for Migration reported Monday. While thousands are believed to have been killed and many more internally displaced, numbers are difficult to verify because of limited communications with, and access to, Tigray. The United Nations estimates that roughly 4.5 million people in Tigray desperately need food, medicine and other basics, and U.N. agencies have criticized Ethiopian authorities for blocking humanitarian aid.

    “After almost three months, we’re still not seeing enough humanitarian assistance reach the most vulnerable areas,” Raynor told journalists. “Much more needs to be done, and urgently, to ensure humanitarian organizations – both Ethiopian and international – have full and secure access to the region to provide lifesaving support to the millions of people who are suffering.”

    The U.N’s special representative on sexual violence, Pramila Patten, last week released a statement that she was “greatly concerned by serious allegations of sexual violence” in the region.

    Raynor acknowledged that concern, saying the U.S. government continues “to call on all parties to cease any hostilities, ensure the protection of all civilians in Tigray, including refugees and humanitarian workers, and to uphold international human rights and humanitarian law.”

    He also brought up the U.S. assessment that soldiers from Eritrea were helping Ethiopian federal forces in Tigray, despite Ethiopian authorities’ denials.

    “We continue to be troubled by the activities of Eritrean actors in the Tigray region,” Raynor said, “and we continue to call for an immediate halt to — and independent investigations of — all credible reports of atrocities. sexual violence, human rights violations of all kinds in Tigray and other places.”

    Improved bilateral relations

    Raynor said that when Abiy Ahmed became prime minister in April 2018, replacing Hailemariam Desalegn after 23 years and introducing an array of reforms, “there was a fundamental reset, a realignment of core values fully in sync with U.S. core values, both in terms of economic opportunity and job creation and in terms of political space and respect for rights. So that formed a strong basis for us to expand our engagement.”

    During his tenure as ambassador, Raynor said, the U.S. government “brought well over $3 billion” to support Ethiopia’s governance, development and humanitarian priorities. These range from enhancing the country’s food security and health systems to reforming judicial activities and updating economic policies to encourage private investment.

    Raynor also observed that Ethiopia’s ability “to focus on our areas of partnership has been strained by some degree due to the rate of ethnic tensions and Ethiopian-on-Ethiopian violence and certainly the current Tigray crisis. But by and large I feel very optimistic about the trajectory we have been on and that my successor will be able to build upon.”

    A successor has not yet been named.

    “This is a pivotal time for Ethiopia,” Raynor said. “What Ethiopia does in the coming months — particularly in promoting democracy, organizing free and fair credible elections this year, protecting basic human rights including freedom of the press and freedom of expression, resolving conflict and addressing ethnic tension, maintaining regional harmony and promoting economic opportunity — will impact this country’s prospects for generations to come.”

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    Update: Doctors Without Borders on the Humanitarian Situation in Ethiopia

    "Now other aid organizations are beginning to appear, little by little, in some areas, we still don't know the real impact of this crisis," Doctors Without Borders says in a press release. "MSF teams are currently delivering medical care in different areas of central, south, and northwestern Tigray. MSF teams are also responding to the health needs of displaced people at the border of the Amhara region and in Sudan." (Photo: MSF)

    Doctors Without Borders

    Press Release

    Since early November, a military escalation in the Tigray region of Ethiopia has caused widespread violence and displaced hundreds of thousands of people. Albert Viñas, emergency coordinator for Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), provided the following account today:

    Almost three months after the start of the conflict, I am struck by how difficult it has been—and continues to be—to access a community with such acute needs in such a densely populated area. Considering the means and capacity of international organizations and the UN, the fact that this is happening is a failure of the humanitarian world.

    Supporting hospitals affected by the violence

    After several attempts, I finally entered the capital of Tigray, Mekele, with the first MSF team on December 16, more than a month after the violence started. The city was quiet. There was electricity, but no basic supplies. The local hospital was running at 30 to 40 percent of its capacity, with very little medication [supplies]. Most significantly, there were almost no patients, which is always a very bad sign. We evaluated the hospital, with the idea of referring patients there as soon as possible from Adigrat, 120 kilometers to the north.

    We arrived in Adigrat, the second most populous city in Tigray, on December 19. The situation was very tense, and the hospital was in terrible condition. Most of the health staff had left, and there were hardly any medicines. There was no food, no water, and no money. Some patients who had been admitted with traumatic injuries were malnourished.

    We supplied the hospital with medicines and bought an emergency supply of food from the markets that were still open. Together with the remaining hospital staff, we cleaned the building and organized the collection of waste. Little by little, we rehabilitated the hospital so that it could function as a medical referral center.

    On December 27 we entered the towns of Adwa and Axum, to the west of Adigrat, in central Tigray. There we found a similar situation: no electricity and no water. All the medicines had been stolen from Adwa general hospital, and the hospital furniture and equipment were broken. Fortunately, the Don Bosco institution in Adwa had converted its clinic into an emergency hospital with a small operating theater. In Axum, the 200-bed university hospital had not been attacked, but it was only operating at 10 percent capacity.

    On roads where the security situation remained uncertain, we trucked food, medicine, and oxygen to these hospitals and began to support the most essential medical departments, such as the operating theaters, maternity units, and emergency rooms, and to refer critical patients.

    Medical needs going unseen and unmet

    Beyond the hospitals, around 80 or 90 percent of the health centers that we visited between Mekele and Axum were not functional, either due to a lack of staff or because they had suffered robberies. When primary care services do not exist, people can’t access or be referred to hospitals.

    For example, before the crisis, [on average] two appendicitis operations were performed per day at Adigrat hospital. In the past two months, they haven’t done a single one. In every place, we saw patients arriving late. One woman had been in labor for seven days without being able to give birth. Her life was saved because we were able to transport her to Mekele. I saw people arrive at the hospital on bicycles carrying a patient from 30 kilometers away. And those were the ones who managed to get to the hospital.

    If women with complicated deliveries, seriously ill patients, and people with appendicitis and trauma injuries can’t get to hospital, you can imagine the consequences. There is a large population suffering, surely with fatal consequences. Adigrat hospital serves an area with more than one million people, and the hospital in Axum serves an area with more than three million people. If these hospitals don’t function properly and can’t be accessed, then people die at home.

    When the health system is broken, vaccinations, disease detection, and nutritional programs don’t function either. There have been no vaccinations in almost three months, so we fear there will be epidemics soon.

    In recent weeks, our mobile medical teams have started visiting areas outside the main cities, and we are reopening some health centers. We believe our presence brings a certain feeling of protection. We have seen some health staff returning to work. Only five people attended the first meeting we organized in Adwa hospital, but the second was attended by 15, and more than 40 people came to the third. Beyond medical activities, you feel that you offer people some hope: the feeling that things can improve after two months without good news.

    People fleeing violence, living in fear

    In eastern and central Tigray, we did not see large settlements of displaced people. Instead, most have taken refuge with relatives and friends, so many homes now have 20 or 25 people living together. The impact of the violence is visible in the buildings and in the cars with bullet holes.

    Especially at the beginning, we saw a population locked in their homes and living in great fear. Everyone gave us pieces of paper with phone numbers written on them and asked us to convey messages to their families. People don’t even know if their relatives and loved ones are okay, because in many places there are still no telephones or telecommunications.

    When we arrived in Adigrat, we saw lines of 500 people next to a water truck waiting to get 20 liters of water per family at most. The telephone line was restored in Adigrat just a few days ago. The situation is improving little by little, but as we moved westward to new places we found the same scenario: fewer services, less transport.

    We are very concerned about what may be happening in rural areas. We still haven’t been able to go to many places, either because of insecurity or because it is hard to obtain authorization. But we know, because community elders and traditional authorities have told us, that the situation in these places is very bad.

    Large areas of Tigray have very mountainous terrain, with winding roads that climb from 2,000 meters above sea level to 3,000 meters. Cities like Adwa and Axum are built on the fertile highlands, but a large part of the population lives in the mountains. We have heard that there are people who have fled to these more remote areas because of the violence.

    Logistical challenges, late response

    The efforts of our teams have been enormous at all levels—medical, financial, logistical, and human resources. It’s an incredible challenge without telephone or internet. At first there were no flights to Mekele and we had to move everything nearly 1,000 kilometers by road from the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa. You couldn’t make money transfers because the banks were all closed. Yet we managed to start our operations.

    Now other aid organizations are beginning to appear, little by little, in some areas. We still don’t know the real impact of this crisis, but we have to keep working to find out as soon as possible.

    Other MSF teams are currently delivering medical care in different areas of central, south, and northwestern Tigray. MSF teams are also responding to the health needs of displaced people at the border of the Amhara region and in Sudan.

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    COVID-19: Ethiopia Coronavirus Update

    According to the Ministry of Health the number of coronavirus cases in Ethiopia has reached 139,408 as of February 3rd , 2021. (Photo: Fruit Seller in Addis Ababa waiting for customers during COVID-19 pandemic. Working while wearing a mask. ©Alazar Kassa/Shutterstock)

    THE LATEST UPDATE:

    Updated: February 3rd, 2021

  • Ethiopia Coronavirus Cases Reach 139,408
  • Spotlight: Webinar on COVID19 Vaccine Hosted by Ethiopian Diaspora
  • Review: How the Pandemic Has Changed Ethiopian Dining in DC Area, For Now
  • Ethiopia asks for debt relief as Covid takes toll
  • COVID-19 is largely an afterthought in camps hosting Ethiopian refugees
  • COVID-19 and food security in Ethiopia: Do social protection programs protect?
  • France Suspends Ethiopian Airlines Flights For Four Days Due to COVID-19 Violation
  • Ethiopia To Start Mask-Wearing Campaign On Campus To Fight COVID-19
  • Single-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine prevents illness, but shows the threat of variants
  • 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

    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 139,408

    By Ministry of Health

    In Ethiopia, as of February 3rd, 2021, there have been 139,408 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.