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Congress Passes Bill to Tamper Land Grabs Causing Forced Evictions in Ethiopia

In a historic move, the U.S. Congress has taken a stance on land grabs-related human rights abuses in Ethiopia. The 2014 Omnibus Appropriations Bill contains provisions that ensure that U.S. development funds are not used to support forced evictions in Ethiopia.

The bill prevents U.S. assistance from being used to support activities that directly or indirectly involve forced displacement in the Lower Omo and Gambella regions. It further requires U.S. assistance in these areas to be used to support local community initiatives aimed at improving livelihoods and to be subject to prior consultation with affected populations.

The bill goes further and even instructs the directors of international financial institutions to oppose financing for any activities that directly or indirectly involve forced evictions in Ethiopia.

According to Anuradha Mittal, executive director of the Oakland Institute, “We welcome this move as it aims to address one major flaw of U.S. assistance to Ethiopia. The step taken by the U.S. Congress is very significant, as it signals to both the Ethiopian government and the U.S. administration that turning a blind eye to human rights abuses in the name of development is no longer an option.”

Several reports from the Oakland Institute have raised alarm about the scale, rate, and negative impacts of large-scale land acquisitions in Ethiopia, which would result in the forced displacement of over 1.5 million people. The relocation process through the government’s villagization scheme is destroying the livelihoods of small-scale farmers and pastoralist communities. Ethiopian security forces have beaten, arrested, and intimidated individuals who have refused to relocate and free the lands for large-scale agricultural plantations.

Ethiopia’s so-called development programs cannot be carried out without the support of international donors, primarily the U.S., one of its main donors. Oakland Institute’s on-the-ground research has documented the high toll paid by local people as well as the role of donor countries in supporting the Ethiopian policy.

This bill represents an important first step toward Congress’ initiating a comprehensive examination of  U.S. development practices in Ethiopia. As the oversight authority of the State Department, Congress must now ensure that the provisions are fully upheld and implemented. This warrants thorough scrutiny of USAID programs to Ethiopia and their contribution to forced resettlements and human rights abuses.

With this bill, USAID, the State Department, as well as the World Bank, will have to reconsider the terms and modalities of the support they provide to the Ethiopian government. According to Frederic Mousseau, Oakland Institute’s policy director, “This is a light of hope for the millions of indigenous people in Ethiopia who have sought international support from the international community to recognize their very destruction as communities and people.”


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2 thoughts on “Congress Passes Bill to Tamper Land Grabs Causing Forced Evictions in Ethiopia

  1. Oakland Institute as well as the US Congress are the most meddlesome bunch I've ever seen. All of these claims of beatings and forced villagisation are hearsay. I haven't seen any hard documented evidence on this. What the Liberal elites fear is Ethiopia's solidifying relationship with the much feared China as well as the possibility that Ethiopia will no longer have to depend on any Western donors in the near future. Both mean, little to no Leftist activist influence in Ethiopia. These people think of black Africans as perpetually or even naturally debased and endearingly poor. Most of the Left leaning civil society groups are complete racists who disguise their supremacist mentality beneath compassion. They have never had a long term solution to poverty in Africa. Oakland Institute especially has had a grudge against this black African country, Ethiopia, to the point of obsession. What is so offensive about a black country using its own land to produce crops on a large scale? They cannot depend on pastoralists and subsistence farmers to ensure food security. To suggest other wise is an insult and a joke. I cannot believe the hate and conniving that's coming from the West against black African countries. I'm just so appalled.

  2. Anonymous says:

    My brother, you are both right and wrong! You seem to criticize and blame the West all the time! Yes, they have created a mess in many parts of the world. But, remember, they are still better than most places me and you know. Stop degrading activists who have sacrificed their time and energy on behalf of indigenous communities forcefully evicted of their land in Gambella and Beni-Shangul region of Ethiopia. My Mitchell, the land leased have no economic benefit to host countries. If there is one, only temporal and for government officials going rich selling land. Do you even know what they are growing in those regions? Bio-fuels, rice, palms oil…for Arabs, Chinese….Ethiopians do not eat those sh…t …nor the foreigners sell them in Ethiopia's/Africa's market. Change and growth comes when you invest in those indigenous communities to grow and help themselves. I heard you say hearsay….you must have a problem with white people…bro! What you don't know is that by attacking this kind news you are doing nothing better than encouraging dictatorship, ethnic discrimination, violence, corruption and …etc. Read history of Ethiopia, its ethnic composition, ruling party, regions affected, those who are benefiting …etc…you will be ashamed of yourself. Remember, we all want growth and do not want NGOs and government that reinforce dependency, but blatantly blaming Western countries and NGOs is not right. FYI, foreign aid constitiute 30 to 70% of the GDPs of most African countries. Whether you like it or not…you are dependent. Be rational/don't be spoiler!

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