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Ethiopia to repatriate residents displaced by Oromia-Somali conflict

ADDIS ABABA Ethiopia (Xinhua) -- The Ethiopian government will repatriate tens of thousands of people displaced by recent conflicts along the boundary of Somali and Oromia regional states, an official said on Thursday.

Speaking to journalists, Mitiku Kassa, Commissioner of Ethiopia National Disaster Risk Management Commission (NDRC), said the repatriation will go hand in hand with a peace conference aimed to build trust and confidence of residents and officials from both regional states.

Speaking exclusively to Xinhua in October, Negeri Lencho, Minister of Ethiopia Government Communication Affairs Office (GCAO), said Ethiopia’s defense forces and police will be deployed in conflict hotspot areas along the 1,500-km-long border between the two regional states to keep peace and aid the repatriation.

Ethiopia’s biggest regional states Oromia and Ethiopia 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.

Heavy clashes along the Oromia-Somali boundary in September left scores of people dead and tens of thousands displaced.



Ethiopia nabs rebels over suspected bomb plot

ADDIS ABABA Ethiopia (Xinhua) -- Ethiopia’s security forces announced on Wednesday they apprehended two members of an outlawed rebel group Ginbot 7 who were preparing bomb attacks in Ethiopia’s northern Amhara regional state.

A joint statement by the Joint-Anti Terrorism Task Force and Ethiopia Federal Police said the suspects were caught with four grenades as they were preparing to attack entertainment places in Bahir Dar city, the capital of Amhara regional state.

The statement went on to blame Ethiopia’s arch rival Eritrea for the bomb plot, accusing it of supporting terror plots in various parts of Ethiopia.

Ethiopia alleges Patriots-Ginbot 7 and other rebel groups are supported by Eritrea. Eritrea in turn accuses Ethiopia of supporting Eritrean rebel groups and running an international campaign to isolate the Red Sea nation.

Eritrea had been a province of Ethiopia from 1952-1993, until a bitter 30-year armed struggle followed by a referendum in 1993 gave Eritrea independence from Ethiopia.

However, the two nations relapsed into conflict five years later in a bloody border war between 1998-2000 that left an estimated 70,000 people dead from both sides.

Since then, the common border between Eritrea and Ethiopia has had an uneasy calm punctuated occasionally by sporadic armed flare-ups.


Ethiopia begins civil registration for refugees

ADDIS ABABA Ethiopia (Xinhua) -- Ethiopia on Friday launched civil registration for refugees, which includes registration of refugees’ vital life events, including birth, death, marriage and divorce, directly with national authorities.

At the launch Friday, 11 refugees were issued with certificates in the capital Addis Ababa. Civil registration offices have also been established in each of the 26 refugee camps, as well as in the seven locations with a high concentration of refugees.

According to the United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR), the move is a “historic first and a ground-breaking development for refugee protection in Ethiopia, not previously realized over decades.”

More than 70,000 refugee children born in Ethiopia over the last decade have not had their births registered and will soon be issued with birth certificates, according to UNHCR. Accordingly, children born before the new law came into force can also now obtain a birth certificate retroactively, it was noted.

Civil registration for refugees has been made possible following an amendment to an existing legislation, in which the UNHCR and the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) collaborated with the government of Ethiopia in the preparation of the amendment.

According to the statement issued by the UNHCR on Friday, the support is one of the nine pledges made at the Leaders’ Summit held in New York in September 2016.

Other commitments included to grant work permits to refugees, strengthen access to education, to allow a significant number of refugees to reside outside of refugee camps and to locally integrate long-staying refugees, the statement indicated.

The framework, among other things, aims to enhance refugee self-reliance and inclusion, provide refugees with better possibilities for solutions to their plights, and ease pressure on host countries.

According to figures from the Ethiopian government, the east African country currently hosts more than 883,000 refugees, mainly from South Sudan, Somalia and Yemen.


Ethiopia export trade remains flat amid high expectation

ADDIS ABABA Ethiopia (Xinhua) -- Ethiopia’s overall export trade performance has registered 678 million U.S. dollars during the first quarter of the Ethiopian 2017-2018 fiscal year, says the Ministry of Trade.

According to the ministry’s latest report issued late on Wednesday, the country had an initial plan to generate some 977.2 million U.S. dollars during the first quarter of the current fiscal year, however, the actual performance drops to 678.4 million U.S. dollars, representing a 69.4 percent accomplishment.

The performance, which registered a 3 percent increase as compared with last year’s first quarter, came shortly after the National Bank of Ethiopia’s (NBE) decision to devalue the Ethiopian birr (ETB) by 15 percent as of October 11, a move primarily pronounced to boost the performance of the east African country’s export trade.

Agricultural products are said to be the largest export commodities during the reported period, in which coffee accounted for the lion’s share of the earning with 215.3 million U.S. dollars after in excess of 55,825 tons of coffee exported to the global market.

While the export of oil seeds, tea and electricity registered an increase from the initial target, however, the quarter revenue from dairy products, leather products, live animals, minerals, electronics materials is below 50 percent of the initial target.

According to the NBE, the ETB devaluation, due effective starting from the first day of the second month of the Ethiopian year, was made to attain Ethiopia’s target to increase the earnings from the export sector for the current Ethiopian fiscal year.

Ethiopian experts and policymakers have recently voiced their positive expectations that the export trade will revive with the support of the recently functional currency devaluation, as Ethiopia planned to secure a total of 4.63 billion U.S. dollars from the overall export sector this fiscal year.

Yohannes Ayalew, Chief Economist and Vice Governor of NBE, indicated that Ethiopia’s export sector had been growing rapidly at an average of 24.1 percent between 2003 and 2011. However, due to the decrease in prices of commodities at the global market, the country’s export performance declined between 2012 and 2016, affecting Ethiopia’s main export commodities such as coffee, oil seeds, leather products as well as gold.

Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn also recently backed the recent currency devaluation as necessary to the country’s export trade.

According to Desalegn, the move by the Ethiopian National Bank to devalue the Ethiopian birr (ETB) by 15 percent as of October 11 is “necessary” for the country’s export sector, mainly agricultural products that are exported to foreign markets.

“Ethiopian farmers who produce export-oriented agricultural products would benefit more, if the value of the Ethiopian birr is devalued as compared with the currency of importing countries,” Desalegn asserted.



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