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Ethiopia pardons thousands of prisoners
amid New Year celebrations       

ADDIS ABABA Ethiopia (Xinhua) -- Ethiopia has granted amnesty for thousands of prisoners on the occasion of the Ethiopian New Year.

On Monday, Ethiopia’s largest Oromia regional state granted amnesty for 6,655 prisoners who have demonstrated good manners whilst in detention.

Other Ethiopian regional states had pardoned a large number of prisoners earlier this month in connection with the recently celebrated Ethiopian New Year, which started on September 11.

Ethiopia’s Southern SNNP region pardoned over 3,000 prisoners, while the second largest northwestern Amhara region granted amnesty for over 1,980 prisoners ahead of the New Year earlier this month. Tigray region was also the third state that granted some 957 prisoners earlier this month.

Administrators of the three regional states have urged the pardoned individuals to embrace peaceful and productive livelihood while rejoining the community in the just started Ethiopian New Year.

Ethiopia has a unique calendar deriving from the Ethiopian Orthodox Church traditions whereby the country counts its annual year seven to eight years, based on leap year, behind the internationally acclaimed Gregorian calendar. Accordingly, the Ethiopian New Year that falls on September 11, 2017 will be 2010.

The amnesty was granted as part of the east African country’s 10-day nationwide New Year celebrations, which started from September 1, 2017, to usher in the Ethiopian New Year. 



Ethiopia police vows to ensure security of Meskel festival celebrations

ADDIS ABABA Ethiopia (Xinhua) -- The Ethiopia Federal Police Commission said on Monday it’s ready to ensure the two-day Meskel religious festival is conducted peacefully.

Speaking to reporters on Monday, Federal Police Commission Director Desta Asmelash said police is working with other security agencies to ensure the security during Meskel, which is also a favorite tourist attraction.

Meskel, which falls on Sept. 26-27 this year, is an annual religious festival that’s celebrated by Ethiopian Orthodox church adherents at the end of September, with a public bonfire and religious procession.

Orthodox Christians, who make up about 44 percent of Ethiopia’s population of some 100 million, believe Meskel is an affirmation of hope coming soon after the Ethiopian New Year, which falls every year on Sept. 11.

With Meskel celebrations coinciding with World Tourism Day celebrations on Sept. 27, the Ethiopian government is running this year a week-long program to promote the country’s intangible and tangible cultural heritages.

According to the Ethiopian Culture and Tourism Ministry, more than 3.32 billion U.S. dollars was generated in revenue from 886,800 tourists who visited Ethiopia during the 2016-17 fiscal year.


Scientists say fall armyworms still spreading in Africa despite interventions

NAIROBI Ethiopia (Xinhua) -- Fall armyworms (FAW) are likely to spread to many African countries due to suitable climate despite interventions by the governments, scientists said in a report released on Monday.

The scientists from the Centre for Agriculture and Biosciences International (CABI) said the spread may be affected by the desert to the North and the predominant South-Easterly winds that may act as a brake.

“We expect FAW to spread to the limits of its viable African habitat within the next few cropping seasons,” the report says.

According to the report, the armyworm’s presence and impact are also to be experienced in countries including Sierra Leone, Mali, Senegal, Liberia, and Cote d’Ivoire, and Sudan, where it has not been reported before.

The study notes that the high environmental suitability on the Mediterranean coast in Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia and Libya, is increasing the possible spread of this insect to Europe, and the high suitability areas in Ethiopia that could enable the pest to progress towards the Middle East and Asia.

According to CABI, 28 countries have officially reported the pest on their territory, compared to 12 in April 2017. Two countries have stated that FAW is absent from the country.

A further nine countries have conducted or are presently conducting surveys, and either strongly suspect its presence or are awaiting official confirmation, at the time of publication.

The report indicates that FAW has the potential to cause maize yield losses between 2.4 million and 6.1 million U.S. dollars per annum in Africa, in the absence of any control methods, in just 12 maize-producing countries.


Ethiopia to assess 15 years of HIV/AIDS control

ADDIS ABABA Ethiopia (Xinhua) -- Ethiopia plans to conduct a study on HIV/AIDS prevention and control activities that have been carried out during the past 15 years.

According to the Ethiopian Public Health Institute, the study will be conducted on more than 25,000 adults and children in 395 identified areas across the east African country.

Ebba Abate, Ethiopian Public Health Institute Director-General, told reporters that the assessment, which is the first of its kind to be conducted on HIV/AIDS in the country, envisaged to investigate in detail HIV/AIDS prevention and control activities that have been implemented over the past 15 years.

The assessment mainly aimed to complement the global 90-90-90 HIV treatment goals, which aspires 90 percent of people living with HIV diagnosed, 90 percent of diagnosed people on antiretroviral treatment (ART) and 90 percent of people in treatment with fully suppressed viral load by 2020, it was indicated.

According to Abate, the study would help to identify priority areas of intervention for the realization of the global target as it would enable Ethiopia to figure out the status of HIV/AIDS among its citizens. 

Ethiopia is among the 15 countries in Africa selected for the study, which will be conducted jointly by the Ethiopian Public Health Institute, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the International Center for AIDS Care and Treatment and Programs at Columbia University (ICAP), it was noted.

The Ethiopian Anti-HIV/AIDS Associations Coalition has recently expressed its concern that HIV/AIDS intervention and response is presently sluggish in Ethiopia. According to Edlam Gebreselassie, coalition board head, over 54 HIV/AIDS associations were closed over the past few years; while some 348 are facing serious challenges.

There are 720,000 people in Ethiopia living with HIV, of whom 420,000 are receiving antiretroviral treatment, according to the Ethiopian Ministry of Health.


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