Dutch government’s concern on situation in Ethiopia – Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs
“… The government forces clan leaders, communities and civil servants to fight against the ONLF and considers this as an effective method to isolate the ONLF. Donors, among which Netherlands, expressed their concern, because this can make the situation uncontrollable. By the large availability of weapons in the region is a risk that communities will fight each other and the government loses control…” (more…)
“… The government forces clan leaders, communities and civil servants to fight against the ONLF and considers this as an effective method to isolate the ONLF. Donors, among which Netherlands, expressed their concern, because this can make the situation uncontrollable. By the large availability of weapons in the region is a risk that communities will fight each other and the government loses control…”
Below is a machine translation of a report at MBUZA:
Answer for question by Pechtold concerning alleged genocide and other problems for refugees in Ethiopia.
We gladly offer you answer to on the written questions asked by the member Pechtold concerning alleged genocide and other problems for refugees in Ethiopia. These questions were sent in on 18 December 2007 with reference 2070806900.
The Minister for Foreign Affairs, the Minister for Development Cooperation, Drs. M.J.M. Verhagen Drs. A.G. Koenders
Answers of Mr. Verhagen, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Mr. Koenders, Minister for Development Cooperation for questions from Mr. Pechtold member (D66) concerning alleged genocide and other problems for refugees in Ethiopia.
What is your response to the political tensions in the Ogaden and from that the originating crimes, where several villages have been burned down by soldiers of the Ethiopian army? 1)
Until now there is no hard proof for large-scale violations of human rights in the Ogaden. However, serious incidents have taken place. There is limited access to the area, as a result of which the provision of information is incomplete (to see also answer to question 2). Also recent improvements give no indication of large-scale violations, such as systematic burning down villages. The humanitarian organisations which are now operative in the Ogaden have found here no indications for. The Ethiopian government and the ONLF continue accusing each other in the meantime by the media. The Ethiopian government recognises that incidentally human rights violations have taken place in the fight against the ONLF. The government says it will examine the violations and the people concerned will be punished. We follow the situation and the Netherlands tries to get access to the area (see answer question 2). The Minister for Development Cooperation will travel to Ethiopia beginning March and visit the Ogaden.
What is your response to the situation in this region, where large numbers of refugees must survive and a humanitarian crisis has arisen for this group? 2)
The Netherlandsa largely looks on to the humanitarian – and human rights situation in Ethiopian Somali-region, of which the Ogaden is part.
The tensions in Somali-region in Ethiopia have incurred after two attacks of the Ogaden National Liberation front (ONLF) in April and May 2007. The Ethiopian government has decided action hereafter against the ONLF. During the action, large parts of the Ogaden area were affected. Commercial movement was laid to links and also humanitarian organisations were limited in their movement or their access to the area was denied. Moreover inhabitants of the vast area of the Somali-region is dominated mainly by nomadic population. This also makes it , under the all circumstances difficult to access.
The Dutch commitment aims, with those of the international community, at complete access to the area, to provide humanitarian aid and a better visibility to get at the humanitarian – and human rights situation, and at raising the trade barriers.
In September 2007 UN Fact Finding mission have visited the area with as aim improves visibility to get on the situation. The mission concluded that the restrictions of the commercial movement had a negative influence on the availability of food and medical care and on the incomes of the population. The mission has seen no proofs of large-scale human rights violations, but because of the restricted duration and range of the mission, no systematic study was possible. The Ethiopian government is requested to examine the alleged human rights violations. Several research missions of the Ethiopian human rights commission have been to the region, but were limited to the regional capital Jijiga. The international community also presses to do investigation outside this area.
The Ethiopian government has still taken over the recommendations of the UN mission concerning the humanitarian aspects and works for the implementation. The trade restrictions are meanwhile lighted. In association with the UN it is worked for food supplies. At this moment the measures are sufficient to reach 75% of the population. Also the government has allowed most of non-governmental aid organisations to the area. However, still not nearly all recommendations of the un mission have been carried out. This lies mainly to bureaucratic obstacles from government side, but also to the humanitarian assistance by the UN, which came initially on slow pace.
The Netherlands has regularly addressed the Ethiopian government on its responsibilities. This happens in bilateral and in multilateral link, like during Article 8 dialogue of EU-ambassadors with PM Meles Zenawi. Moreover the Netherlands has regularly raised the situation at the UN.
Also the Dutch ambassador in Ethiopia in October 2007 and in January 2008 has paid a visit to the regional capital Jijiga and insisted at representatives of the local government there on fast improvement of humanitarian access. He has said while he was on site with UN organisations and non-governmental aid organisations . By the end of October, brought to the vice secretary general of the UN for humanitarian matter, Mr. John Holmes, a visit to the region and spoke he with the Ethiopian government at the highest level concerning the need to fast action. During this visit the Dutch ambassador has discussed the initially slow start of the assistance of the UN in the field.
Moreover, the Netherlands Donors meets regularly with the government at high level to discuss the bureaucratic obstacles to aid organisations.
The Netherlands has decided to give by the end 2007 an additional contribution € of 1,000,350 to the Humanitarian Response Fund (HRF) for Ethiopia with which the total Dutch contribution to this fund for 2007 summed up on largely € 2.750.000. The aim of this fund is fast and efficient humanitarian assistance to vulnerable groups. A part of this goes to Somali-region.
Meanwhile the measures start have taken a positive impact on the humanitarian situation. As a result, there information also further comes available review the charges of large-scale human rights violations.
Do you believe that this group must get need protection? If so, he who step you will undertake to look for this?
Are you /your European office prepared there on to insist to take preventive measures preventing violence escalation in this area?
Which steps are already undertaken by bringing about need supplies international organisations and partners and prevent violence?
The civil population must be always protected against violent acts. The situation in Somali-region remains as yet from human rights – and humanitarian perspective. The Netherlands puts himself for this reason in for improvement of the situation such as described in reply to question 1 and 2.
In EU framework the Netherlands has taken the initiative within the EU to address the Ethiopian authorities on the humanitarian situation and on human rights questions.
The humanitarian efforts for Somali-region stand under the guidance of the United Nations. The conclusion of Mr. John Holmes, after his visit to the region was that, although access for NGO’s to the region has improved the situation remains worrisome.
Moreover, a point of large concern that is the government uses citizen in the fight against the ONLF. The government forces clan leaders, communities and civil servants to fight against the ONLF and considers this as an effective method to isolate the ONLF. Donors expressed their concern, because this can make the situation uncontrollable. By the large availability of weapons in the region risk that communities will fight each other and the government loses control.
Moreover in the previous years attempts has been made to bring a dialog between the Ethiopian government and the ONLF. Although parties had had laid initial contacts twice, the discussions have led to nothing.
The Netherlands will continue to pay attention for the situation in Ethiopia.
1) The Independent, 17 October 2007 “Ethiopia’s ‘own Darfur ash villagers flee government-backed violence.”
2) Reuters Africa, 29 November 2007 “Ethiopia’s Meles denies rights abuses in Ogaden