Ethiopian Anuwaa Gambella group protests heavy refugee influx from South Sudan

Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia
Prime Minister Office
P.O. Box 1031
Addis Ababa
Fax: 552020
Tel: 551059


Date: 7 August 2017


Dear PM Haile Mariam Desalegn,

 

We are so happy to address our concerns about some appalling conditions undertaken
against Gambella’s people interest. Our organisation is so kind to present these issues to
your attention and the government you are serving to take some measures for wellbeing of
Gambella’s people.


As your government is severing the interest of its citizens, we have received some
grievances from our people contrary to national interest and human right. Their citizenship
and rights have been violated in various occasions and they have been submitting petitions
to the government many time, but theirs petitions had been neglected. In respond to their
voice, Ethiopian Anywaa Development Foundation Inc which base it Offices in USA and
Australia decided to write this letter requesting your leadership to take appropriate
correctives measures on the following issues:

 

Proliferation of Refugees' camps in the entire region


Our organisation had written a letter on this issue to UN general secretariat and gave a copy
to Federal Democratic republic of Ethiopia early this year. We understood that the number
of refugees which almost equal to the number of citizens had been settled in the region.
Base on the current update, the refugees’ population is 366,341 verses estimated 409,000
population of inhabitants of the region. Ethiopia as a Federal Democratic Republic
government, it must put its people interest first then the interest of refugees despite the
international responsibility of hosting refugees. No citizen no refugee. It’s a citizen who
takes care of refugee.


In a situation where refugees jeopardise the interest of hosting citizens, it’s a responsibility
and obligation of the national government to act in the best interest of its citizens. Having
many camps everywhere in the region had done and does harm the community. The
number of camps should be limited to not more than two and close the rest or relocate
them to another region.

 

Refugees competition with locals over resources


As you can observe from the above, the population of refugees will overwhelm the
population of the region inhabitants shortly if the current crisis in South Sudan continue.
Now the refugees had posted serious problem to the locals competing for resources and
infrastructures. There are no enough social services or institutions available to meet the
needs of the locals and refugees. The result is competition over resources which could bring
conflict between the locals and refugees as we had witnessed in past.


As we’re writing this petition, we have thousands of citizens displaced from Jikaw and part
of Itang districts who became Internal displace people in their own country because of
refugees’ influx in the region. They are demanding land from locals which result into conflict
that leave citizens in despair for the last two years.


Zenu Jemal speech watering down the refugees' problem to locals
Ato Zenu Jemal had made speech in Nyuenyyiel refugees’ camp in Jikaw district promising
extraordinary hospitality and services to South Sudanese’s refugees and passed a message
to hosting community of the region that Refugees are not a problem nor threat to their
lives.


Ato Zenu might has made his speech reflecting his personal interest and not the interest of
Gambella people. It is undeniable that South Sudan’s Refugees had made serious damage to
the culture, economy, environment and lives of Gambella’s people. Our children have been
abducted, we have lost hundreds of lives, our services have been destroyed by these
refugees even though currently it had been blamed on Murle. We know that some attacks
were done by refugees directly or indirectly.


The best evidence is the imprisonment of an informer by Gambella’s regional governor Mr.
Gatluak Tut for his reporting an attack in Jor district were carried out by Nuers from Pinyudo
refugees’ camp basing his fact on eye witness account. The fact was a dead body of the
attackers left behind after the attack. Governor Gatluak Tut prisoned this individual to
conceal the evident.


Therefore, we would like to denounce Ato Zenu Jemal speech as baseless assertion or
negligent. As he is a citizen of Ethiopia he should considered the wellbeing of citizens first
rather than denying the clear fact that refugees are a problem to citizens in the region.

 

Appointing Refugees on local government positions

 

The biggest mistake made in Gambella region is the appointment of leaders by Federal
Democratic Republic of Ethiopia. This practice had open a loophole of giving chance of
leadership to foreigners. Foreigners get into the system they have abused the system and
started employing foreigners/refugees in regional government departments with fake
educational qualification and identification cards.


We haven’t seen proper neutralisation constitution nor a process of neutralising refugees to
obtain Ethiopian citizenship. However, the foreigners who had infiltrated into the
government has abused national constitution, deceiving and violating Gambella people
Democratic rights and gained a power to take most of citizens positions in the regional
government as well as in civic organisation leaving young Ethiopians graduating from
national universities and colleges jobless.


We as citizens would denounce such kind of practices request the government to give
power to citizens rather than foreigners with double stands.


Illegal provision of National ID and passport to Refugees


As result of above negligence and irresponsibility of giving power to foreigners it became
simple for a refugee to obtain Ethiopia national Identification Card as well as passport and
compete for scarcely available opportunities to the citizens. This has caused resentment to
the locals and it could spark a conflict as we will mention later in the following paragraph.
There must be a system in place to control refugees’ movement and their interaction with
the community as we do observe in many countries hosting refugees in Africa.
Restriction of Refugees movement in the region


South Sudan refugees have been allowed to roam in the region as they want without any
restriction. If we give them unrestricted freedom to everything and they don’t do any harm
to locals, it would have been traffic caring and hospitality to our refugees and a fame to the
nation.


However, their movement has paid a loss of lives and properties to the locals. The Federal
Democratic Republic of Ethiopia hasn’t considered the lives of Gambella people so worthy
as of human being. We have witnessed carnage of innocent citizens by refugees who are left
loose in the town. Last year citizens who were working in the camp were killed, Gambella’s
prison was stormed and prisoners were killed. And surprisingly, the refugees had defied the

sovereignty of the national by lowering the national flag which was in front of the prison
and put up South Sudan flag instate claiming that Gambella is one of the states of South
Sudan.


While our community was furious with the action of refugees, the government had taken
lukewarm stand which had damaged the sole of citizens who are proud of their beloved
country and don’t to see their national flag being abused in broad daylight.


To stop refugees from misbehaving and committing crimes like these mentioned above, it is
better to restrict the movement and control their activities which do harm to the locals. We
believe the citizens’ lives matter more than that of refugees.


Relocation of refugees to share the burden with other regions


As you know Gambella has been hosting South Sudanese’s refugees since 1956. The people
of Gambella mainly the Anywaa Community has been a prime victim and more devastated
community in the region who had suffered untold atrocities inflicted on them by the influx
of refugees. Anywaa community has been suffering in many ways, culturally,
environmentally, ecologically, national resources depletion and loss of lives in the hand of
refugees.

 

To alleviate the intense of suffering which Gambella people have been suffering with for the
last 62 years, it would be better to share the burden with other regions rather than putting
heavy burden on people of Gambella.


Oromo’s land demand in Gambella region


Recently there were number of delegates from Oromia region who went to Gambella
regional state demanding a land to extend their boarder further inside the territory of
Gambella region ignoring the existing national regional border.


This event had taken place under the watch of Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia and
it had kept a low profile without telling Oromia regional government to stop what is illegal.
This is a provocation of Gambella regional state government as well as its people. Suck kind
of intimidation might lead to a conflict if the Federal government won’t take appropriate
action. Oromo region is not a new region which had border with Gambella region. Both have
a long history of co-existence and they knew what land below to who precisely. It shocked
our community when they show Oromo coming and demanding land while we have already
given them enough land (Bure & Kelem zones).

 

We do request your authority to instruct Oromo regional state to respect the long existing
relationship and border and stop aggressive actions against Gambella’s people.


Dear Prime minister,


Base on the above explanation, it won’t be difficult for you and Federal Democratic Republic
of Ethiopia government to understand the situation we are in and act appropriately.
Regarding refugees’ issues, our people had told government in several occasions how they
were/are suffering in the hand of refugees, but no one has listen to their grievances. Let’s
this time be different to give a decision to resolve refugees’ problem in Gambella region.
Therefore, at this juncture, we are requesting your government to consider all issues we
have raised up above and take necessary action in answering our petition on behalf of
Gambella people.


Respectfully,

 

Ochalla Ojulu


Copy to:


United Nation Higher Commission for Refugees(UNHCR)
Case Postale 2500
CH-1211 Genève 2 Dépôt
Suisse

 

Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights
Palais Wilson.
52 rue des Pâquis.
CH-1201 Geneva, Switzerland

 

U.S. State Department Bureau of African Affairs
Harry S. Truman Building
2201 C. Street, NW
Washington DC, U.S.A 20520
Tel: (202) 647-6575

 

UK Prime Minister Office
10 Downing Street
London
SW1A 2AA
Email: privateoffice@no10.x.gsi.gov.uk

 

Africa Union Commission Bureau of the Chairperson
PO BOX 3243 Roosevelt Street
W21K19 Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Tel: +251-115- 51-77- 00 Fax: +251-51- 78-44
Contact e-mail: chairperson@africa-union.org

 

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Brussels, Belgium

 

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