UNHCR Ethiopia Fact Sheet, September 2021

Ethiopia is the third-largest refugee-hosting country in Africa, sheltering 799,751 registered refugees and asylum-seekers as of 30 September 2021. The overwhelming majority originate from South Sudan, Somalia,

Eritrea and Sudan.

6,107 refugees have received COVID-19 vaccines, including 2,807 that were fully vaccinated. UNHCR, the national agency for refugees and returnees (ARRA) and partners, continue to reinforce prevention measures in the refugee camps and sites hosting Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs).

UNHCR continues to respond to the situation of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in Ethiopia, leading and co-leading the Protection and Camp Coordination & Camp Management (CCCM) Clusters and providing protection, emergency aid and other support to IDPs and IDP returnees.

Working with Partners

UNHCR's main government counterpart in the refugee response in Ethiopia is the Agency for Refugees and Returnees Affairs (ARRA). UNHCR works closely with 57 humanitarian and development organizations, managing the so-called ‘Ethiopia Country Refugee Response Plan (ECRRP) 2020-2021. The ECRRP seeks to consolidate a collective multi-partner response in support of the refugees in the country. UNHCR is also part of the “Humanitarian Country Team”, where various programmes are discussed strategically to ensure that the refugee needs are effectively addressed across the UN System. UNHCR builds on well-established coordination fora, including the inter-sector Refugee Coordination Group, consisting of national and regional sectorial working groups, coordinating sectorspecific responses. To foster refugee inclusion in national services and economic activities, in line with Ethiopia’s commitment within the Global Compact on Refugees (GCR), UNHCR is strengthening partnerships with Ethiopian line Ministries, regional and local authorities, development partners and the private sector. As part of the Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC) cluster system for Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) at national and sub-regional level, UNHCR is leading and co-leading the Protection, Camp Coordination & Camp Management (CCCM) and Emergency Shelter & Non-Food Items (ES/NFI) Clusters.

Source: UN High Commissioner for Refugees

Book Detailing Rwanda’s Authoritarian Actions Angers President

Rwandan dissidents have died under mysterious circumstances inside and outside the country with alarming frequency in recent years.

On September 14, Revocat Karemangingo, an ex-Army officer, was gunned down while driving in Mozambique. Since 2016, Karemangingo had told authorities he had been targeted for assassination.

Earlier in September, a popular Rwandan rapper known as Jay Polly died while in custody after Rwandan authorities said he consumed a lethal concoction of methanol, sugar and water.

In February, opposition politician Seif Bamporiki was pulled from his vehicle and shot to death in South Africa in what police said was a robbery, but many Rwandan exiles say was a targeted killing.

In her new book, “Do Not Disturb: The Story of a Political Murder and an African Regime Gone Bad,” journalist Michela Wrong examines the ways in which dissent is silenced inside and outside of Rwanda. She also looks at the roots of the quest for power and asks why evidence of ruthlessly silencing opposition has not tarnished the reputation of the country.

“Despite the evidence of intimidation and harassment, people being beaten up, followed, threatened, the image of Rwanda abroad remains extraordinarily whiter than white,” she told VOA. “And it doesn’t seem to matter how much of this information comes out, both Western politicians and all these philanthropic foundations that engage with Rwanda, the Gates Foundation, Bill Clinton’s foundation, the Blair Foundation, Paul Farmer, Howard Buffett, it doesn’t seem to impact their relationship with Rwanda.”

The title of Wrong’s book “Do Not Disturb” refers to the universally recognized sign travelers hang on hotel room doors. In this case, she said the sign was a grizzly clue left by assassins in 2014 after they strangled Patrick Karegeya, a former Rwandan intelligence chief who was living in South Africa. Karegeya had become a critic of Kagame and was stripped of his rank and imprisoned before fleeing to South Africa to live in exile.

Wrong, who knew Karegeya, paints a picture of a gregarious political dissident who trusted people he should have feared.

“He trusted people, which is a very strange thing to say because you’d think if you were the head spy really for a long time in Rwanda, you would be very careful, very cautious, but when he decided he liked somebody he just trusted them,” Wrong said. “And in fact, that’s the characteristic that got him killed because he was lured to his death by somebody he thought was a friend.”

Wrong details how a Rwandan businessman, Apollo Kiririsi Gafaranga, befriended Karegeya and asked that he book a room for him at the upscale Michelangelo Hotel in Johannesburg. On New Year’s Eve, according to South African authorities, Gafaranga lured Karegeya to the hotel room for drinks, but instead he was killed by Rwandan assassins who had booked a room across the hall.

South Africa has issued arrest warrants for two Rwandans including Gafaranga, but the suspects fled South Africa immediately after killing Karegeya and Rwanda has refused to hand them over, authorities said.

Wrong said this political killing is an entry point to understand the regime of Rwandan President Paul Kagame.

Kagame was a schoolmate of Karegeya in Uganda, and they served together in the bush war led by Yoweri Museveni to overthrow President Milton Obote and later became president himself.

Upon taking the helm of Rwanda in 2000, following several years as a powerful vice president, Kagame was praised by many in the West as the savior of the country and was a darling of donors. However, Wrong outlines a pattern of quashing dissent and the disappearances of political dissidents that show a different side of the longtime president.

She interviews numerous people who served alongside Kagame in Uganda and later in the Rwandan Patriotic Front and found that he earned the nickname “Pilato” for the way he would turn in fellow soldiers who had broken rules, often resulting in their being executed.

“Kagame is not somebody who wants to be liked,” Wrong said. “And I think it’s very obvious that he has a different style of rule from [Yoweri Museveni’s]. Even if you’re not somebody who is deeply critical of his career you can see that he wants to be feared. He wants to be respected. He does not want to be popular. He’s constantly telling people in interviews that he really doesn’t care what the world thinks of him and he doesn’t really care what his voters think of him. He just wants their respect and their obedience.”

Kagame responds

In a television interview, Kagame denounced the book saying it was a biased product of Wrong’s personal connection with Karegeya and was sponsored by enemies of the country.

“By the time it came out, we had known it was being written for about a year or two, and we know those who sponsored her to do it both from outside and those in the neighboring countries, some from far away north others from here,” he said. “And again, it was part of that ‘Rwanda should not be allowed to be what it wants to be, the people of Rwanda should be cut to their size.’ And so, one way of doing it, attack those you want to attack. Attack the leaders or even individuals.”

But the book has come at a moment of heightened scrutiny of Kagame’s government. In September, Paul Rusesabagina, who was depicted as a hero in the film Hotel Rwanda, was convicted on charges of supporting a terrorist group and sentenced to 25 years in prison. The conviction drew condemnation from human rights groups who believe he was effectively kidnapped and brought to the country and did not receive a fair trial.

It also drew a rebuke from U.S. State Department spokesman Ned Price who said the U.S. was “concerned” by the objections from Rusesabagina that he did not have “confidential, unimpeded access to his lawyers and relevant case documents and his initial lack of access to counsel.”

Wrong says she believes the arrest was a way of sending a message to dissidents all over the world that they are not beyond the reach of Kagame.

“I think that was definitely an element of: ‘I’m going to show anyone who is thinking of standing up to me, I can get anyone wherever they are.’ And now that’s a very powerful message,” she said.

But it remains to be seen what price Kagame will pay for the crackdown on dissidents. The Rusesabagina arrest has garnered global attention in a way that other arrests and alleged assassinations have not.

“Was it worth it, because behind Rusesabagina, you know you’ve got all the people that hadn’t been looking at Rwanda, hadn’t been examining what Kagame is doing and how the regime has changed are suddenly interested,” Wrong said. “So, you think, the reputational risk that Kagame is running as a result of this trial, was it really worth it? Because small things can damage reputations in totally disproportionate ways.”

Source: Voice of America

Tigrayan Forces Accuse Government of Air Strikes in Ethiopia’s Mekelle

Media controlled by rebellious northern Ethiopian forces said the government launched air strikes on the capital of Tigray region on Monday, though the government denied the reports.

Tigrai TV, controlled by the northern region's Tigrayan People's Liberation Front (TPLF), said the attack on the city of Mekelle killed several civilians. An aid worker and a doctor in the region also said there had been a attack on the city.

Ethiopia's government spokesman, Legesse Tulu, denied launching any attack. "Why would the Ethiopian government attack its own city? Mekelle is an Ethiopian city," he said.

Reuters was unable to verify any of the accounts independently in an area that is off-limits to journalists.

Conflict erupted between forces loyal to the TPLF and the Ethiopian central government last November.

Tigrayan forces were initially beaten back, but recaptured most of the region in July and pushed into the neighboring Amhara and Afar regions, displacing hundreds of thousands more.

The TPLF, Tigray's former ruling party, says the government began a new offensive this month, though that has not been confirmed by the government.

Diplomats are worried that renewed fighting will further destabilize Ethiopia, a nation of 109 million people, and deepen hunger in Tigray and the surrounding regions.

Source: Voice of America

Massive Pro-Military Sit-In Shakes Sudan Democracy Efforts

On Monday, as thousands of demonstrators aligned with the Sudan military remain outside the presidential palace for a third day, analysts warn that the civilian-led interim government is facing a growing crisis that could topple its rule.

With upheaval escalating nationwide, government leaders must find a way to "defuse the polarization" and "reach a compromise," said political analyst Hassan Haj Ali.

Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok should "make a partial reshuffle of his Cabinet and appoint new ministers" or expand the number of ministers in the transitional government, Ali said.

Sudan is facing its most trying political challenges since it formed an interim government among rival factions after the fall of ex-president Omar al-Bashir in 2019.

After a political coup attempt was thwarted in September, al-Bashir loyalists have upped their dissent and are demanding changes to the civilian Cabinet and the shaky coalition co-running the government.

"The essence of this crisis … is the inability to reach a consensus on a national project among the revolutionary and change forces," Hamdok said in a televised address last week.

People participating in the massive sit-in outside the presidential palace in Khartoum are demanding the government be dissolved and replaced with technocrats.

Sudan will never have a stable government if only a small group of people continue to make the decisions, said protester Ibrahim Ishaaq Yousif.

"The situation is deteriorating every day, people are unable to find bread, and life has become hard for everyone in this country," he told South Sudan in Focus. "The government has been dominated by only four political parties, and they are unable to do something to change the situation."

Interim government supporters say members of the military and security forces are driving the latest protests, which involve counterrevolutionary sympathizers of al-Bashir.

Some protesters accuse political parties within the Forces of Freedom and Change (FFC) alliance of excluding them from the country's political processes and say the government is not doing enough to achieve the objectives of Sudanese revolutionaries who sacrificed their lives for the cause.

Hamdok should consider dissolving the Cabinet and expanding the political participation in the FFC coalition, said protester Omer Yousif.

Hamdok should "change this Cabinet not from the parties but from the professionals among the common people," he told South Sudan in Focus. "All the infrastructures will be damaged soon. That is why we focus on changing this regime for the better."

Khartoum-based analyst Ali said the government must quickly institute changes.

"Now the trend or the compromise probably is that the prime minister would perform a partial change in his government in order to please those who are demanding change and at the same time keep his own coalition intact by letting members stay in the council of ministers," Ali told South Sudan in Focus.

Ali also recommends setting a timetable for the composition of the legislative assembly and taking steps toward organizing a general election, which is tentatively slated for late 2023.

The protesters began the sit-in on Saturday by chanting "one people, one army" and setting up tents in front of the presidential palace. They say they will not leave until their demands are met.

"The country is striving, and the people are tired," said protester Muhiddeen Adam Juma, a member of the Sudan Liberation Movement faction. "People need to move to real democracy and prosperity.

"But few political forces want to drive the policy of this county by the same policies of the previous administration," Juma told South Sudan in Focus. "And these policies will never take us anywhere."

Hamdok, in his televised address, reiterated the government's commitment to dialogue and to seeking a solution to any political disputes. He also guaranteed the safety and security of people who take part in peaceful protests.

"We respect the right of our people for a peaceful democratic expression," he said. "They got this right through their continuous struggle, and we shall work to safeguard this right."

Source: Voice of America

Tigray Forces Say Ethiopian Airstrikes Hit Regional Capital

Forces in Ethiopia's Tigray region said Monday that the Ethiopian government launched airstrikes on the regional capital of Mekelle.

The bombing was also reported by residents and humanitarian workers in Tigray, but the Ethiopian government denied the claims.

The United Nations said it was looking into the reports of the strikes.

"We are deeply concerned about the potential impact on civilians," U.N. spokesperson Stephane Dujarric said.

U.S. State Department spokesman Ned Price said the United States was also looking into the reported attack. "We, broadly speaking, do remain gravely concerned by what has been escalating violence in Tigray for some time," he said.

Agence France-Presse reported that according to a hospital official in Mekelle, at least three people died in Monday's airstrikes.

Witnesses in the region say one of the airstrikes hit close to a market. It was not possible to confirm the accounts, because the region is under a communications blackout.

Legesse Tulu, an Ethiopian government spokesperson, denied that the government had launched any attacks on Mekelle.

Mekelle has not seen large-scale fighting since June, when Tigray forces retook control of most of the region and Ethiopian forces withdrew from the area. Following that, the conflict continued to spill into the neighboring regions of Amhara and Afar.

Last week, Tigray forces said the Ethiopian military had launched a ground offensive to push them out of Amhara.

The Ethiopian federal government has been engaged in an armed conflict with fighters from the northern Tigray region for nearly a year.

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed sent troops into Tigray last November, saying it was a response to attacks on federal army camps by forces loyal to the Tigray People's Liberation Front.

The United Nations said the fighting has killed thousands of people and put hundreds of thousands of people in danger of famine.

Source: Voice of America