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Over 100,000 South Sudanese refugees
relocated in Ethiopia in past year

ADDIS ABABA Ethiopia (Xinhua) -- The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) announced Friday that more than 100,000 South Sudanese refugees were relocated to camps in Ethiopia since September 2016.

Since the eruption of civil conflict in South Sudan in December 2013, Ethiopia has received some 330,000 refugees, of whom more than 115,000 have fled renewed violence since September 2016, UNHCR and IOM revealed in a joint statement on Friday.

Some 30,000 refugees arrived in July fleeing the escalation of conflict in Maiwut, Mathiang and Pagak in Upper Nile Region bordering Ethiopia’s Gambella regional state, according to the joint statement.

The increasing scale of the refugee influx that started in September 2016 quickly filled the existing camps in the Gambella region and forced the Ethiopian government and UNHCR to open a new camp at Nguenyyiel in October 2016.

Ngunyyiel was again full with nearly 60,000 refugees in just 6 months and a new refugee camp was opened in the adjacent region of Benishangul-Gumuz. The new camp, Gure-Shembola, now shelters 3,122 refugees transported from Gambella.

According to the UNHCR, the majority of the new arrivals are women and children, including 20,510 children who have either been separated from their parents or travelled alone.

Sheltering more than 852,000 refugees, including more than 388,000 from South Sudan, Ethiopia hosts the second largest refugee population in Africa, next to Uganda.

Ethiopia has maintained its open-door policy towards refugees and continues to receive new arrivals from several of its neighbors, notably from South Sudan, Somalia, Eritrea, Sudan and Yemen. 



South Sudan calls for release of officials detained by rebels

By Julius Gale JUBA South Sudan (Xinhua) -- South Sudan Saturday called for unconditional release of 14 officials who were captured by armed rebels on Wednesday near the border with Ethiopia.

Dickson Gatluak, a military spokesman for the SPLA-IO splinter group under First Vice President Taban Deng Gai, said armed youth linked to his exiled predecessor Riek Machar detained the 14-member peace delegation in Akobo County, Bieh State.

“SPLA-IO is calling for the unconditional release of 14 members of peace mission delegates who went to Akobo purposely to embrace and disseminate peace messages,” Gatluak said in a statement.

“These persons are not for military mission but civil administrators who are there on the ground for peace,” he said.

The rebel movement under Machar confirmed the detention of the officials in a statement posted on Facebook, alleging that they captured a group of government soldiers trying to enter rebel-controlled areas.

Gatluak said those detained included the Commissioner of Akobo County, Tut Chai Riek, adding that all the detainees’ are civilians.

South Sudan has been devastated by more than three years of civil war that erupted in December 2013.

A peace deal was signed in August 2015 between the warring parties under intense pressure from the international community led to formation of unity government in April 2016, but was shattered again in July the same year as rival forces belonging to the President Slava Kiir and his former deputy clashed in the capital Juba.

The conflict has created one of the fastest -growing humanitarian crisis in the world as 6 million people face life-threatening hunger while more than 4 million have been displaced.


Ethiopian gov’t rehabilitating people displaced by Oromo-Somali clashes

ADDIS ABABA Ethiopia (Xinhua) -- Ethiopian government is rehabilitating the 70,000 people displaced due to conflict in the border areas of Oromia and Somali regional states.

Speaking to reporters on Friday, Mitiku Kassa Commissioner of Ethiopia National Disaster Risk Management Commission (NDRMC) said a committee that comprises representatives of different government entities has been established to help with the rehabilitation efforts.

“The committee will provide immediate response for the victims, rehabilitate them and prevent similar problems in the future,” said Kassa.

NDRMC is providing emergency assistance including food and non-food items as well as health related services to people displaced from both regional states due to the conflict.

Ethiopia’s biggest regional states Oromia and Somali have been locked in a dispute over the delineation of their common boundary for almost two decades.

A referendum in October 2004 was supposed to demarcate the boundary between the two regional states, but its implementation has been stalled ever since with both sides accusing each other of non-compliance with the referendum results.

Over the past week, heavy clashes along the Oromia-Somali boundary spilled into ethnic violence which has left scores of people dead and tens of thousands displaced.

As part of the efforts to calm the situation, the Ethiopian federal government announced last week roads that cross both regional states will be guarded by the federal police and security forces of both regional states will withdraw from border locations.

In addition, the statement from the federal government said it will engage in disarmament of weapons held by civilians in the area of the conflict.



Ethiopia plans to promote domestic tourism in World Tourism Day celebration

ADDIS ABABA Ethiopia (Xinhua) -- Ethiopia has planned to promote domestic tourism as part of the World Tourism Day celebration, which will be celebrated September 27 worldwide.

The World Tourism Day celebration in Ethiopia is a week-long program, from September 21 to 27, in which the Ethiopian government envisaged to promote domestic tourism among Ethiopians with due emphasis given to the east African country’s historical and natural attraction sites.

According to the Ethiopian Culture and Tourism Ministry, over 3.32 billion U.S. dollars revenue was generated from over 886,800 tourists that have visited the east African country during the just concluded 2016-2017 Ethiopian fiscal year.

However, the Ethiopian government frequently expressed its concern that even though the tourist influx to the east African country is mounting, the number of Ethiopian visitors is stagnant over the years.

Ethiopia has eight cultural sites registered by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organizational Organization (UNESCO), which includes the obelisks of Aksum, Fasil Ghebbi or the castle of Gonder, the fortified historic town Harar Jugol, Konso cultural landscape, the Lower Valley of the Awash, Lower Valley of the Omo, Rock-Hewn Churches of Lalibela, and Tiya.

The east African country has also one natural endowment registered by UNESCO, the mountainous Simien National Park in the northern part of Ethiopia.

Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa, known for hosting various international and regional organizations including the African Union (AU) headquarters and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UN-ECA), is also another growing tourist attraction places in the country.

The Ethiopian Culture and Tourism Ministry has stressed that the number of Ethiopian visitors would increase through awareness creation activities concerning the country’s historical and natural attractions.

According to Gebretsadik Hagos, head of Addis Ababa City Administration Culture and Tourism Office, the planned awareness creation endeavor will embrace over 500,000 Addis Ababa residents.

Visits to tourist attraction sites, mass city cleaning, dialogues, and city greening activities are amongst of the planned activities.

Ethiopia last year officially launched its new brand, “Ethiopia, Land of Origins,” which depicts the country’s archaeological sites and findings including the most famous Lucy, a 3.2 million-year-old human ancestor of the hominid era.

The east African country has also planned to honor the recently deceased Habteselassie Tafesse, the man known as “the father of Ethiopia’s tourism”, as part of the week-long celebration.

Tafesse, known to have coined the phrase, “13 Months of Sunshine,” the country’s popular tourism slogan, had contributed hugely to the establishment and development of the tourism industry in the East African country.

Hirut Woldemariam, Ethiopian Minister of Culture and Tourism, has hailed Tafesse’s accomplishment in promoting Ethiopia and the country’s tourist destinations and products, both at home and globally.

This year’s celebration of the World Tourism Day focuses on how sustainable tourism can contribute to the global development.


Chinese Embassy to host China Culture Week in Ethiopia

ADDIS ABABA Ethiopia (Xinhua) -- The Chinese Embassy in Ethiopia has announced that it would mark China Culture Week with different assortments in the East African country.

According to a statement from the Embassy on Friday, it will host the China Culture Week in Addis Ababa to celebrate the 68th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China which falls on Oct.1, 2017.

The events will be organized aiming to further strengthening cultural exchanges, encouraging different civilizations to learn from each other, said the statement.

The China Culture Week will also be held here towards promoting mutual understanding, harmony, friendship and people-to-people bonds with Ethiopia, as well as exposing Ethiopians with China’s culture and traditions, it added.

The main activities include a performance by a troupe from Guangdong Province of China at the National Theatre in Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa on Sept. 23; China Film Festival from Sept. 25 to Oct. 1, whereby six films will be presented at Edna Mall Cinema; and National Day Reception and Photo Exhibition at Sheraton Hotel on Sept. 26, according to the statement.


Ethiopian FM calls for strengthened Ethiopia-Egypt ties

ADDIS ABABA Ethiopia (Xinhua) -- Ethiopian Minister of Foreign Affairs Workneh Gebeyehu on Friday asserted the need to strengthen the long-standing ties between Ethiopia and Egypt.

In his meeting with his Egyptian counterpart Sameh Shoukry on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in New York on Friday, Gebeyehu called for strengthening ties between the two African countries, according to a statement issued by the Ethiopian Minister of Foreign Affairs on Friday.

According to the statement, the two foreign ministers discussed bilateral and regional issues of mutual interest and the areas of discussion revolved around strengthening cooperation and partnership to cement the ties between the two countries.

Gebeyehu also invited Egyptian companies to invest in the east African country, it was indicated.

The two foreign ministers also underscored the need for Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn of Ethiopia and President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi of Egypt to work together to further strengthen the people-to-people relations of the two countries, the statement indicated.

The Egyptian foreign minister, who underscored his country’s firm stance to acknowledge Ethiopia’s interest, also affirmed his country’s commitment to cooperate with Ethiopia on regional issues, according to the statement issued by the Ethiopian Minister of Foreign Affairs.

The diplomatic relations among Ethiopia and Egypt is largely intertwined with the Blue Nile River that originates from Ethiopia and shared among Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt.

The construction of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) on the river, which will be regarded as Africa’s largest dam upon completion with a total volume of 74,000 million cubic meters, has been a major issue between the two countries since its commencement in April 2011 with a construction cost of 80 billion Ethiopian birr (close to 4.7 billion U.S. dollars).

Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt have formed a tripartite committee back in 2012 to create understanding and look into the benefits and impacts the project would have on the three countries.


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