Saturday, June 2, 2012

Lives and Land Destroyed: Ethiopia for Sale

Ethiopia for sale
The Ethiopian government, through the Agricultural Investment Support Directorate, is at the forefront of this African Land Sale. Crops familiar to the area are often grown, such as maize, sesame, sorghum, in addition to wheat and rice, all, let us state clearly, for export to Saudi Arabia, India, China, etc, to be sold within the home market,  benefiting the people of Ethiopia — not.
The Oakland Institute research shows “that at least 3,619,509ha of land (an area just smaller than Belgium) have been transferred to investors, although the actual number may be higher.” The government claims that the land available for lease is unused and surplus.  This is disingenuous nonsense. Large areas of land are, in fact, already cultivated by smallholders subsistence farmers and pastoralists using land for grazing, all of which are unceremonially evicted. Villages are destroyed and indigenous people expelled from their homeland and forced into large scale villagization programmes. Human Rights Watch (HRW) in its report, “Waiting Here For Death,”  states:
The Ethiopian federal government’s current villagization program is occurring in four regions—Gambella, Benishangul-Gumuz, Somali, and Afar. This involves the resettlement of approximately 1.5 million people throughout the lowland areas of the country—500,000 in Somali region, 500,000 in Afar region, 225,000 in Benishangul-Gumuz and 225,000 in Gambella.
Imposed movement then, often applied with force, in order to provide pristine land, free of any inconveniences to the corporate allies.

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