Stop Ethiopia From Starving Indigenous Villagers Through Forced Relocation

Target: Ethiopian President Grima Wolde-Giorgis, Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, Members of Parliament

Goal: Stop the Ethiopian government’s intimidation and enforced starvation of its indigenous people, who are involuntarily relocated to develop commercial agriculture for foreign interests.

The Ethiopian villagization program forcibly relocated 70,000 indigenous people from western Gambella to new villages that lack adequate food, farmland, healthcare, and educational facilities. Human Rights Watch reports that state security forces repeatedly threatened, assaulted, and arbitrarily arrested resisting villagers. Ethiopian armed forces continue to abuse the indigenous tribes, planning to transfer 1.5 million villagers away from areas that the Ethiopian government has slated for commercial agricultural development. These involuntary transfers were enforced without regard to consultation or compensation for affected villagers. Governmental failure to provide the pledged “access to basic socioeconomic infrastructures” has undermined the livelihood, food security, and human rights of Gabella’s indigenous people. Large-scale monocultures of cash crops will only deplete the ecosystem and depress food prices for local farmers.

Former civil servants revealed that Ethiopian governors sent in government soldiers to expel villagers, and directed woreda chairmen to suspend or fire resisters from their jobs. Relocated villagers cry, “The government is killing our people through starvation and hunger. …Government workers get this salary, but we are just waiting here for death.” The indigenous people were relocated to non-arable lands at the beginning of the harvest season, with no ability to grow new crops or food assistance from the Ethiopian authorities.

Families fear for their children’s futures, as emaciated children refuse to trek back to their old village schools – and the neglectful government welched on promises to build new schools for relocated villages. One mother lamented the psychological impact on her children: “There was a school in the old village, here there is none. No one is going to school now, as they are afraid. Who will protect them going to the old village?”

The Ethiopian government must immediately suspend their destructive villagization program and compensate the affected indigenous people. Authorities must fully compensate relocated villagers and provide sufficient resources to sustain people in their new villages. Please stop the human rights abuses of Ethiopia’s indigenous tribes.


Dear Ethiopian President Wolde-Giorgis, Prime Minister Zenawi, and Members of Parliament:

I condemn the Ethiopian government’s villagization plans to resettle 1.5 million indigenous people by 2013. The devastating effects of forcible relocation on 70,000 villagers in 2011 have already led to numerous military abuses of resisting populations and painful death by starvation for 45,000 households. Promised improved access to government services, new villages often go without any support – from food, agricultural, or educational assistance.

Resettled villagers suffer from endemic hunger and destroyed livelihoods. The Ethiopian government implemented the first wave of forced relocations at the beginning of the harvest season – and villagers were resettled to dry areas with poor-quality soil. Pastoralists and cultivators are unable to maintain their cattle-based or agriculture-based livelihoods in these regions, as government officials never bothered to clear the lands before relocating their hapless citizens.

In the words of one brave village elder: “We want the world to hear that [the Ethiopian] government brought the Anuak people here to die. They brought us no food, they gave away our land to the foreigners so we can’t even move back. On all sides the land is given away, so we will die here in one place.”

I strongly urge Ethiopia and the international community to end the mass displacement for large-scale commercial agriculture. Allow Ethiopian indigenous people to live in their traditional homes without coerced relocation, and fully compensate and support those whose lives you have already ruined.


[Your Name Here]

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One Comment

  1. Sue Griffiths says:

    These government leaders are nothing short of murderers. Even if they did compensate people, what is the point if the masses have been forced to live on non arable land? The Ethiopians need weapons and training how to use them, to get rid of the scum running the country. No doubt they are sitting pretty with plenty of food in their bellies. Reminds me of that other rich murderer Mugabe.

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