The U.S. is one of the largest donors to Ethiopia, but according to Human Rights Watch, the Ethiopian government is displacing 70,000 small-scale farmers and indigenous people and U.S. officials have turned a blind eye
This action alert comes from the Oakland Institute, our partner who is one of the leading organizations researching large-scale land grabs, and their partner in Ethiopia, Solidarity Movement for a New Ethiopia.
Ethiopia is the largest recipient of U.S. food aid–in FY 2010, the U.S. government provided $932.6 million in assistance, including more than $451 million in food aid. Yet the Ethiopian government is forcibly relocating 70,000 people from the Gambella region to make land available for investment in agriculture. This “land grab” is aggravating current hunger while laying the groundwork for future famine in Ethiopia, as those 70,000 are losing their livelihoods and being moved to areas where they cannot readily feed themselves.
Recent reports from Human Rights Watch (HRW) confirm these charges of “land grabbing.” Through 100 interviews and 16 site visits, HRW documents how the relocation is far from voluntary and that promised improvements of food, farmland, health clinics, and schools are far from realized.
We ask for your help to pressure President Obama and USAID Administrator Dr. Rajiv Shah to take a step back from supporting a repressive regime involved in the forced relocation of long-term and nomadic residents of the area of Gambella and to stop aid to Ethiopia until due diligence is taken to ensure that the well-being and livelihoods of local and indigenous people are valued at least as much as foreign investment.
The Oakland Institute’s research in Ethiopia shows that not only do large-scale investments disrupt and destroy communities and ecosystems, they do not deliver on promises of job creation, economic development, and food security. Let President Obama and USAID Administrator Dr. Rajiv Shah know that it is not too late to put the brakes on, change course, and reevaluate U.S. policy in Ethiopia.