Friday, February 29, 2008

Ethiopia Silences Aid Workers

excerpt from:

Aid workers in Ethiopia's remote Ogaden region are currently facing an impossible dilemma. In order to carry on helping people in the east of the country, the government has warned them that they better keep quiet about allegations of army atrocities in the area.

International humanitarian staff have spoken anonymously to the Boston-based Christian Science Monitor about public executions, rapes, torture, arbitrary detentions and beatings of civilians by government forces in Ogaden, where most people are ethnic Somalis.
Aid workers also accuse separatist rebels in the Ogaden National Liberations Front (ONLF) of terrible crimes against civilians who refuse to help them.

Relief agencies were expelled from Ogaden during Ethiopian government crackdowns on the ONLF in late 2007. They are now gradually being allowed to return with food and medicines - but only if they stay silent about what they see.

"We have two options: either we come out with a nasty press release tomorrow on protection of human rights, and we will have to leave behind a substantial population still facing atrocities, or we just do our work," an aid worker said to the Monitor.

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