Senator Michael F. Bennet Senator Mark E. Udall
Denver Metro Office Greeley Office
2300 15th St., Suite 450 801 8th St Suite I40A
Denver, Colorado 80202 Greeley, Colorado 80631

Dear Senator:

We are deeply concerned about the worsening humanitarian situation and human rights abuses being committed in the Ogaden in southeastern Ethiopia. Ogaden is facing a severe drought and we fear the situation will worsen if steps are not taken to help protect innocent civilians.

Millions of Ethiopians are in need of emergency humanitarian assistance. The past year’s lack of adequate rainfall and the current drought has resulted in severe water shortages, increasing the likelihood of displacement, mass migration, and complications from the scarcity of clean water, such as cholera. Despite the increasing humanitarian need, the international community has been unable to provide adequate assistance due to Ethiopian government embargo on aid and trade in Ogaden. More than 90 % of Trade for the Ogaden comes from Somalia and the Ethiopian government has placed an embargo on Ogaden civilian population on the flimsy pretext on insecurity in the region due its ongoing hostilities with the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) which is struggling for the rights of self-determination of the Ogaden people, like Southern Sudanese peoples Liberation Movement(SPLM) .
The ongoing conflict in the Ogaden has had a devastating impact on innocent civilians. Serious violations of international humanitarian and human rights law have been committed by the Ethiopian government as have been documented by both the State Department and the Human Rights Watch, including extrajudicial killings, torture, rape, abductions, arbitrary arrest and detention, and even entire communities being displaced. The Government of Ethiopia has undertaken collective punishment against the civilian population and committed serious human rights violations. The State Department’s 2010 Report on Human Rights Practices in Ethiopia detailed incidences of human rights abuses committed by Ethiopian security forces, including police and local militia.

Since the launching of their counterinsurgency campaign in 2007, the Government of Ethiopia has restricted access of diplomats, humanitarian workers, and journalists into the Ogaden region to prevent reporting of human rights abuses by government forces. Furthermore, movement restrictions have made independent verification of the population’s needs extremely difficult. Just this month, Foreign Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn refused to accept the findings of the 2010 Report on Human Rights in Ethiopia, stating there was “no need to accept this report as something that can help.” The Government of Ethiopia is not demonstrating genuine willingness to help alleviate this humanitarian crisis.

We understand the valuable strategic relationship that the United States has with the Government of Ethiopia. But the United States also has a responsibility to promote good governance and human rights in Ethiopia. Ethiopia’s role as a security partner cannot come at the expense of the most fundamental human rights and humanitarian norms, including the right to live free from harm, freedom of movement and freedom of association.

As such, we respectfully request that the U.S. urges the Ethiopian Government to reopen the Ogaden region to independent organizations, including humanitarian ones, to assess and monitor the humanitarian situation. We also ask that the U.S. keep us informed on U.S. efforts to help bring about a resolution to this ongoing conflict and to urge the Ethiopian Government to hold accountable any military officials complicit in these abuses.
Thank you for your attention to this important matter and for your tireless work to ensure that all people are able to enjoy their fundamental human rights.
Ahmed Isse
Representative for the Ogaden Community in Colorado
(970) 576-9438 (cell)



1 Comment

  1. Good job mr ahmed isse


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