Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Ethiopia: ICG - 'Tougher Love' Needed for Ethiopia's New Leader

 The international community will need to be tougher with the successor to Meles Zenawi's leadership of Ethiopia to prevent negative consequences at both national and regional levels the International Crisis Group (ICG) has said in a report published on 22 August.
ICG said that the international community, particularly Ethiopia's key allies, the US, UK and European Union (EU), should play a leading role in shaping and encouraging the new leadership if one of its most important regional allies is to remain stable.
Zenawi and his predominantly Tigrayan clique from the north of the country, ruled Ethiopia since 1991 after toppling the Communist Derg regime of Mengistu Haile Mariam.
Hailemariam Desalegn, tasked to carry on Meles's duty until 2015, will lead a weaker regime facing mounting grievances along ethnic and religious lines and a likely increase in radicalism, the group said.
"Meles adroitly navigated a number of internal crises and kept the different TPLF [Tigrayan People's Liberation Front] factions under his tight control", says Emilio Manfredi, ICG's Ethiopia analyst.
"Now that he's gone, the weaknesses of the regime that he built are more likely to be exposed, and the repercussions could be felt across the region".
ICG said the new government in Ethiopia will most likely be more fragile causing massive impact across the region.
Accordingly, increasing internal instability could threaten the country's role as the West's key counter-terrorism ally in the Horn of Africa, putting into question its responsibility to military interventions in neighbouring Somalia and Sudan. It could further exacerbate tensions with arch foe Eritrea.
Divisions along ethnic and religious groups, could make the political system and society more unstable.
Should ethnic and religious extremism grow which possibly would link with other external armed radical Islamic groups, Ethiopia will, without Meles, fight back to control unrest that could easily spill beyond its borders.
Zenawis government was under increasing pressure due to intensifying repression of political, social, and ethnic and religious liberties and ICG analysts say that his Tigrayan elite could be forced to use more repression to keep control of other ethnic groups.
The government has also been been accused of stifling press freedom which eventually drove dozens of journalists into exile and gave others lengthy jail terms.
His successor, Desalegn, is seen as a more moderate figure, but analysts do not expect him to loosen his grip on the press.
"There are hard-liners in the [ruling] party and they wield a lot of influence," Mohammed Keita of the Committee Protect Journalists told Voice of America.
"I don't think Hailemariam is a hard-liner, but I'm sure he's under a lot of pressure so I don't know if he'll have a chance to really break with the past."
ICG noted a need from the West to extend political, military and development assistance to the opening of political space and an end to repressive measures further stressing the new Ethiopia leadership is shaped to lead an all-inclusive political landscape by conducting fair and free elections.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Meles Zenawi's death raises threat of instability in Ethiopia and beyond | World news | guardian.co.uk

Meles Zenawi with Gordon Brown in 2009. Brown was among those who paid tribute to Meles after the Ethiopian leader's death was announced. Photograph: Rex Features
A few hours after Meles Zenawi's death was announced, British prime ministers past and present were queueing to pay tribute. David Cameron described him as an "inspirational spokesman for Africa", and Gordon Brown said Ethiopia "made more progress in education, health and economic development under his leadership than at any time in its history". Tony Blair, who appointed Meles to his Africa commission, spoke of his "great sadness" at the news.
In 1998 the then US president, Bill Clinton, said Meles was part of a new generation of African leaders with whom the west could do business, along with Paul Kagame of Rwanda and Yoweri Museveni of Uganda. This triumvirate have indeed presided over an economic boom that has driven a narrative of African renaissance. They have enjoyed warm relations with western powers that seemed content to ignore evidence of democracy and human rights being trampled in the name of progress.
Meles, in particular, made himself bulletproof, first by turning a country synonymous with televised famine in the 1980s into what is claimed to be one of the world's fastest growing economies, and second by setting himself up as a bulwark against Islamist militancy. Richard Dowden, director of the Royal African Society, who visited Ethiopia recently, said: "He was a regional player not least because he was the Americans' policeman in the area. He was also very influential in the separation of Sudan and South Sudan, and in recently getting them to make up. He became a good diplomat."
Meles built one of the strongest armies on the continent, and it saw action in Somalia and Sudan with mixed results. In 1998 he went to war against neighbouring Eritrea, costing tens of thousands of lives, and his demise creates fresh uncertainty among the sworn enemies. When the Ethiopian military wanted to march all the way to the Eritrean capital, it was Meles who stopped them, Dowden said. "There was a crucial moment when Meles sacked hundreds of officers because they didn't like the settlement with Eritrea. I wonder now whether that might bubble up again, because it's never been settled."
The death of the strongman raises questions about Ethiopia's influence over other neighbours. Adekeye Adebajo, executive director of theCentre for Conflict Resolution in South Africa, said: "If a new government decides it has to focus internally, that could affect what happens in the region. If there is a weaker, less confident leader, it may mean Ethiopia is not so confident in playing that foreign policy role. That could have a direct impact on security in the Horn of Africa."
Domestic instability was "absolutely" possible, Adebajo said. "Meles's deputy is seen as quite competent and substantial but nobody has the same clout to keep the complicated coalition together. Meles has always been seen as one of the most thoughtful leaders we produced as a continent. There will be a vacuum. They're in uncharted waters and it will take a while before we see what emerges."
Ethnic rivalries could be a source of instability. Meles was a Tigrayan, a group that accounts for 6% of the population but that came to dominate the political establishment under him. The Amhara ethnic group traditionally ruled the country and are likely to lobby for one of their ruling party members to take over.
For now the acting prime minister is Hailemariam Desalegn, a former university dean. Other contenders to succeed Meles include the health minister, Tewodros Adhanom Ghebreyesus; Alemayehu Atomsa, head of a party allied to that of Meles; and Meles's widow, Azeb Mesfin, a workaholic politician.
Whoever it is, they will find it hard to match Meles's intellect or his ability to show different faces to different audiences. Dowden interviewed him in May and described him as "the cleverest and most engaging prime minister in Africa – at least when he talks to visiting outsiders". He added: "I found him funny, charming and self-deprecating. But then someone told me that, when addressing Ethiopians, he's dogmatic, severe and dictatorial."

Friday, August 24, 2012

U.S. aid to Ethiopia helping neither us nor Ethiopians – Erin Burnett OutFront - - CNN.com Blogs



August 23rd, 2012
12:46 PM ET

U.S. aid to Ethiopia helping neither us nor Ethiopians


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Yesterday, the body of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi arrived in Ethiopia from Brussels. No one is sure yet how he died, but that's part of the secrecy which shrouded his authoritarian rule.
The story matters to America because Ethiopia's dictator was an ally in the fight against Al Qaeda in Somalia. Thanks to that allegiance, the US looked the other way on things like how the Zenawi regime jailed opposition leaders and journalists, and led Ethiopia to a ranking of 174 out of 187 countries in the Human Development Index, which measures human rights.
We saw what an african police state looked like when I was in Ethiopia last month.
At the airport, it took an hour to clear customs – not because of lines, but because of checks and questioning. Officials tried multiple times to take us to government cars so they'd know where we went. They only relented after forcing us to leave hundreds of thousands of dollars of TV gear in the airport.
Outside the airport, we saw a crowd. Inside, it was empty. When we asked the people why, they said they're not allowed to greet their arriving families and friends indoors because the police are worried about unrest. So the people wait outside, exposed to the elements.
One visual that ties some of this together is a photo of myself and our cameraman Christian next to a Lada. Those are the ancient Russian cars which are still the taxi cab of choice in Addis Ababa – left over from when Ethiopia was a socialist ally of the USSR.
Maybe that's why the United States is so proud of winning Ethiopia over as an ally – it's proof we won the Cold War. But despite supporting a regime that has deprived its nation of a free press, we're not reaping the benefits you might expect.
Who is? Aside from the regime itself, the answer is China. Chinese businessmen are everywhere in the capital. China is the biggest investor in Ethiopia now, spending money on infrastructure and other construction projects and building better economic connections with the country.
Here's the bottom line: the United States gives a billion dollars a year in aid to a dictator, looks the other way on human rights, and China gets the prize.
Ugly.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Ethiopian Leader's Death Highlights Gap Between U.S. Interests and Ideals - Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Ethiopian Leader's Death Highlights Gap Between U.S. Interests and Ideals

August 22, 2012 1:05 pm

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LIBREVILLE, Gabon -- There was probably no leader on the African continent who exemplified the conflict between the American government's interests and its highest ideals better than Prime Minister Meles Zenawi of Ethiopia.
Mr. Meles, who died on Monday after more than 20 years in power, played the American battle against terrorism brilliantly, painting Ethiopia, a country with a long and storied Christian history, as being on the front lines against Islamist extremism. He extracted prized intelligence, serious diplomatic support and millions of dollars in aid from the United States in exchange for his cooperation against militants in the volatile Horn of Africa, an area of prime concern for Washington.
But he was notoriously repressive, undermining President Obama's maxim that "Africa doesn't need strongmen, it needs strong institutions."
Mr. Meles was undoubtedly a strongman. Despite being one of the United States' closest allies on the continent, Mr. Meles repeatedly jailed dissidents and journalists, intimidated opponents and their supporters to win mind-bogglingly one-sided elections, and oversaw brutal campaigns in restive areas of the country where the Ethiopian military has raped and killed many civilians.
No matter that Ethiopia receives more than $800 million in American aid annually. Mr. Meles even went as far as jamming the signal of Voice of America because he did not like its broadcasts. Human rights groups have been urging the United States to cut aid to Ethiopia for years.
So now that he is gone, will the gap between American strategic and ideological goals narrow at all in this complex, pivotal country?
"There is an opportunity here," said Leslie Lefkow, a researcher with Human Rights Watch. "If donors are shrewd, they will use the opportunity that this presents to push a much stronger and bolder human rights stance and need for reform."
Most analysts do not expect any sudden moves, however. After Mr. Meles's death, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton praised his "personal commitment" to lifting Ethiopia's economy and "his role in promoting peace and security in the region." But she made no mention of his rights record and gave only a veiled reference to supporting "democracy and human rights" in Ethiopia. She also made it clear that the interest in "regional security" had not changed.
One senior American official said Tuesday that "this does not affect policy in the short term," but he added that "there are a number of unknowns."
One relative unknown is the man now picked to lead the second-largest country in Africa, Hailemariam Desalegn, who was the foreign minister, deputy prime minister and a Meles acolyte. Though he is from a different ethnic group, the Welayta, he is believed to be a safe choice to protect the interests of Mr. Meles's Tigrayan minority, which has dominated the Ethiopian economy and political scene since 1991, leading many other ethnic groups to complain about being boxed out and some even to take up arms.
Dan Connell, an American author and professor, interviewed Mr. Meles in June and said it sounded as if he was preparing to die. "He seemed focused on wrapping up a number of major projects as if he were aware the end was near," Mr. Connell said.
The projects included the modernization of the country's road network and building big dams; pushing large-scale foreign investment in agriculture (which many rights groups say threatens fragile indigenous groups); and trying to wrap up the war with Eritrea, once a province of Ethiopia that broke away and declared independence in the 1990s.
"Meles knew his days were numbered," Mr. Connell said.
It is hard to overstate Ethiopia's role in the region -- it was never a colony, after all, though it was briefly occupied by the Italians -- and the respect Mr. Meles carried around the continent.
"Whether one was a friend or critic of Mr. Meles," said Johnnie Carson, the assistant secretary for African affairs at the State Department, "the consensus around Africa is that Africa has lost one of its greatest intellectual leaders." Mr. Carson added that "no question there was a need for greater democratization" and "yes, more work needs to be done in that area."
Recently, Mr. Meles had been pushing the leaders of Sudan and South Sudan to make peace. On Tuesday, the government of South Sudan declared three days of mourning, with flags flown at half-staff. "His actions will be missed," said Barnaba Marial Benjamin, spokesman for the South Sudanese government.
Ethiopia is hardly alone in raising difficult questions on how the United States should balance interests and principles.
Saudi Arabia is an obvious example, a country where women are deprived of many rights and there is almost no religious freedom. Still, it remains one of America's closest allies in the Middle East for a simple reason: oil.
In Africa, the United States cooperates with several governments that are essentially one-party states, dominated by a single man, despite a commitment to promoting democracy.
John Prendergast, co-founder of the Enough Project, an anti-genocide effort, said that Mr. Meles's death "accentuates a vexing policy quandary" that the United States faces with Rwanda, Uganda and South Sudan. "All of them have served American interests or have a strong U.S. constituency, but all have deeply troubling human rights records," he said.
Ethiopia has never been an easy place to rule. It is big, poor, famine-stricken, about half Christian and half Muslim, surrounded by enemies and full of heavily armed separatist factions. Ethiopia's own increasingly outspoken Muslim population is one reason Mr. Meles saw eye to eye with the United States on Somalia next door.
But when the United States and Ethiopia teamed up in late 2006 and early 2007 to oust an Islamist movement that had gained control of most of Somalia, the Islamists morphed into a more dangerous group, the Shabab, getting support from all the Somalis who were furious that Ethiopia had invaded their country.
Donor nations, including the United States, then ended up working with several of the Islamist leaders they previously had been trying to kill or capture, after it became clear that the Islamists had the most popular support inside Somalia.
Seeye Abraha Hagos, a former medical school classmate and rebel colleague of Mr. Meles who later split with him and was imprisoned for six years, said: "He was, in a way, the law of the land. He was the court of the land. There was no check and balance in the government."
Mr. Hagos said it was not clear what was going to happen next. "They can take this as an opportunity for reconciliation, by relaxing the prohibitive environment," he said. "Or they could try to maintain the status quo, and the country could be in trouble."
Josh Kron contributed reporting from Kampala, Uganda, and Rick Gladstone from New York.


Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/news/world/ethiopian-leaders-death-highlights-gap-between-us-interests-and-ideals-650014/#ixzz24P9WwH89

East Africa: Will This Be the Time to Talk Peace Between Ethiopia and Eritrea?all Africa.com


OPINION
The horn of Africa has seen recurring turbulent events again and again. Precious time wasted as is the demise of many innocent lives.
The lost opportunities can not be recouping once it is gone. Neighboring countries went to unwanted war that could have been resolved in a civilized manner sitting in a round table. Still the horn of Africa is one of the most unstable regions, due to the standoff between Ethiopia and Eritrea, Sudan and South Sudan, Ethiopia and Somalia, Eritrea and Djibouti.
Unfortunately, the tragic events are designed for purposes that do not benefit the citizens of the region. It is designed and is left to be implemented by countries of the region to those who are strangers to the countries who eventually will benefit in a long term through means of divide and rule. Youth of the region are deprived from being thinkers and academicians, and are carrying cannons and bullets.
The war between neighboring countries Eritrea and Ethiopia has come to closure when the "EEBC" Eritrea Ethiopia Border Commission ruled the boundary that divides the two countries. Unfortunately, under the late Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, Ethiopia did not comply and fulfill its obligation and is still sitting in a sovereign land of Eritrea. Eritrea accepted the ruling and has acknowledged since then that will be implemented fully.
Now that Meles Zenawi dies there is an ample opportunity for the new leadership in Ethiopia to take this opportunity to bring peace and harmony to the whole region. Eritrea on its part has never been the enemy of the Ethiopian people and understandably is to the benefit of the region to start a new chapter.
Once the two neighboring nations are able to resolve once and for all the mistrust, the domino affect will spiral to the region to earn lasting peace. The Djibouti Eritrea issue is emanated from the designers of the Ethiopia vs Eritrea case.
The Somali issue was getting their house in order before the invasion of Ethiopia. The mistrust and interference among Somalis prevented them to come together to solve their own problem by their own.
The Sudan, South Sudan case may not differ to the other conflicts in the region. It requires an honest broker to bring the case to close. Although the Sudanese vs South Sudan have had rocky and bumpy past, things that brings them together is definitely more than divided them. They can bring peace and harmony to their well being of their citizens and with that to the whole region. The discussions that already started between the two countries leaders hopefully will go beyond temporary benefits to garner them lasting peace.
Hopefully, the new administration of Ethiopia will come with positive attitude to clear the air in the region; will pull out their troops from Eritrean sovereign land.
With this the intended peace will flourish to all countries of the region, and will focus on trade exchange, business partnering and united front to protect all.
The author is the Former Bank of Eritrea Administrator.

Ethiopia After Meles - International Crisis Group

rica Briefing N°8922 Aug 2012
OVERVIEW
The death of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, who had not been seen in public for several months, was announced on 20 August 2012 by Ethiopian state television. The passing of the man who has been Ethiopia’s epicentre for 21 years will have profound national and regional consequences. Meles engineered one-party rule in effect for the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) and his Tigrayan inner circle, with the complicity of other ethnic elites that were co-opted into the ruling alliance, the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF). The Front promised freedom, democracy and ethnic devolution but is highly centralised, tightly controls the economy and suppresses political, social, ethnic and religious liberties. In recent years, Meles had relied ever more on repression to quell growing dissent. His successor will lead a weaker regime that struggles to manage increasing unrest unless it truly implements ethnic federalism and institutes fundamental governance reform. The international community should seek to influence the transition actively because it has a major interest in the country’s stability.
Despite his authoritarianism and poor human rights records, Meles became an important asset to the international community, a staunch Western ally in counter-terrorism efforts in the region and a valued development partner for Western and emerging powers. In consequence, Ethiopia has become the biggest aid recipient in Africa, though Meles’s government was only able to partially stabilise either the country or region.
Ethiopia’s political system and society have grown increasingly unstable largely because the TPLF has become increasingly repressive, while failing to implement the policy of ethnic federalism it devised over twenty years ago to accommodate the land’s varied ethnic identities. The result has been greater political centralisation, with concomitant ethnicisation of grievances. The closure of political space has removed any legitimate means for people to channel those grievances. The government has encroached on social expression and curbed journalists, non-gov­ern­men­tal organisations and religious freedoms. The cumulative effect is growing popular discontent, as well as radicalisation along religious and ethnic lines. Meles adroitly navigated a number of internal crises and kept TPLF factions under his tight control. Without him, however, the weaknesses of the regime he built will be more starkly exposed.
The transition will likely be an all-TPLF affair, even if masked beneath the constitution, the umbrella of the EPRDF and the prompt elevation of the deputy prime minister, Hailemariam Desalegn, to acting head of government. Given the opacity of the inner workings of the government and army, it is impossible to say exactly what it will look like and who will end up in charge. Nonetheless, any likely outcome suggests a much weaker government, a more influential security apparatus and endangered internal stability. The political opposition, largely forced into exile by Meles, will remain too fragmented and feeble to play a considerable role, unless brought on board in an internationally-brokered process. The weakened Tigrayan elite, confronted with the nation’s ethnic and religious cleavages, will be forced to rely on greater repression if it is to maintain power and control over other ethnic elites. Ethno-religious divisions and social unrest are likely to present genuine threats to the state’s long-term stability and cohesion.
The regional implications will be enormous. Increasing internal instability could threaten the viability of Ethiopia’s military interventions in Somalia and Sudan, exacerbate tensions with Eritrea, and, more broadly, put in question its role as the West’s key regional counter-terrorism ally. Should religious or ethnic radicalisation grow, it could well spill across borders and link with other armed radical Islamic groups.
The international community, particularly Ethiopia’s core allies, the U.S., UK and European Union (EU), should accordingly seek to play a significant role in preparing for and shaping the transition, by:
  • tying political, military and development assistance to the opening of political space and an end to repressive measures;
  • encouraging the post-Meles leadership to produce a clear roadmap, including transparent mechanisms within the TPLF and the EPRDF for apportioning the party and Front power Meles held and within parliament to lead to an all-inclusive, peaceful transition, resulting in free and fair elections within a fixed time; and
  • helping to revive the political opposition’s ability to represent its constituencies, in both Ethiopia and the diaspora.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The Mourning Family of Melese as The late dictator corps comes home


Thousands of wailing Ethiopians turned out Wednesday to greet the body of Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi as an official national mourning period began after his death in a Brussels hospital.
A military band played as the coffin, draped in the national flag, was taken from an Ethiopian Airlines flight in the early hours of the morning, a ceremony also attended by political, military and religious leaders as well as diplomats.
Deputy Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, 47, who has also been foreign minister since 2010, will take over interim power, officials said. He wept as the body was carried to the hearse.
Meles died overnight Monday to Tuesday following a long illness. The 57-year-old had not been seen in public since the G20 summit in Mexico in June.
His two daughters and widow Azeb Mesfin, dressed in black, walked ahead of a military band as Azeb wailed loudly. People carried candles and portraits of Meles, following a convoy of cars accompanying the body.
The coffin was taken to the prime minister's official residence at the national palace, where Meles's body is lying in state until the funeral, said national television, which broadcast live footage from Addis Ababa streets as the coffin passed slowly.
<p>Meles Zenawi's wife Azeb Z mourns the death of her husband at Bole International International Airport in Addis Ababa on August 21. Thousands of wailing Ethiopians turned out Wednesday to greet the body of Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi as an official national mourning period began after his death in a Brussels hospital.</p>
<p>Meles Zenawi's wife Azeb Z mourns the death of her husband at Bole International International Airport in Addis Ababa on August 21. Thousands of wailing Ethiopians turned out Wednesday to greet the body of Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi as an official national mourning period began after his death in a Brussels hospital.</p>
Several hundred mourners gathered to pay their respects at the palace.
Much of the capital appeared to return to normal later Wednesday, although in shops and offices across the city, coverage of the leader's death blared from televisions and radios. No date for the funeral has been set.
Meles Zenawi's wife Azeb Z mourns the death of her husband at Bole International International Airport in Addis Ababa on August 21. Thousands of wailing Ethiopians turned out Wednesday to greet the body of Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi as an official national mourning period began after his death in a Brussels hospital


Newspaper headlines were solemn, with the Amharic-language daily Addis Zemen announcing "Ethiopia has lost its great leader."
"I am very, very sad he passed away.... I think we (have never had a leader) like Meles," said travel agent Tezeru Tilahun, 57, holding back tears. "I can't say anything because I am very, very sad."
Meles, a regional strongman in the volatile Horn of Africa, was a former rebel who ruled with an iron fist for more than two decades.
He came to power in 1991 after toppling the brutal dictatorship of Mengistu Haile Mariam, set Ethiopia on a path of rapid growth and played a key role in mediating regional conflicts, but also drew criticism for cracking down on opponents and curtailing human rights.
US President Barack Obama led tributes to Meles, who he said deserved "recognition for his lifelong contribution to Ethiopia's development", while UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon hailed Meles's "exceptional leadership".
Meles was a key Western ally in a region home to Al-Qaeda-linked groups.
But while world leaders praised his legacy, rights groups said his death offered a chance to end a brutal crackdown on basic freedoms.
He was regularly singled out as one of the continent's worst human rights predators, and Amnesty International called on the country's new leaders to end his government's "ever-increasing repression".
Human Rights Watch called for the next administration to repeal a much-criticised 2009 anti-terrorism law, under which several opposition figures and journalists, including two Swedes, have been jailed for lengthy terms.
Meles -- who also had strong trade links with China -- was credited with Ethiopia's economic boom in the past decade, with growth shooting from 3.8 percent in the 1990s to 10 percent in 2010.
His death also leaves a major power gap in the region, with Ethiopia playing a key role in the fortunes of many of its neighbours.
Ethiopian troops invaded Somalia for a second time last year -- after a US-backed invasion in 2006 -- and Ethiopia is supporting the fight against Somalia's Al-Qaeda-linked Shebab insurgents.
Meles's death could also potentially see changes in the relationship with arch-foe Eritrea, which split from Ethiopia in 1993 before the two spiralled into a bitter 1998-2000 border war in which tens of thousands died.
He also played a key role in brokering peace efforts between newly independent South Sudan and its former civil war foe Sudan.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Ethiopian mother's shelter, survival is day to day | GazetteNET

Dr. Marty Nathan


  • 1
  • EDITOR'S NOTE: This is the second of a two-part series on street people in Hawassa, Ethiopia. The first article examined the plight of children.
We learned of Qirchu, the Beggars' Village, from a woman I'll call Miriam, whom we met in front of St. Gabriel's Church on the square in downtown Hawassa, Ethiopia.
My assistant Dagim and I had begun to interview children and women who begged on the streets of Hawassa, prompted by the stark image of homeless children sleeping in the gutters of the city's broad boulevards.
Beggars have traditionally gathered on the premises of Ethiopia's Orthodox churches, where they are given food and clothes, particularly at holiday times, and are able to appeal to the parishioners on their way to services. The church reaches back to the fourth century and has a unique, Ethiopian-centered doctrine and ritual that sets it apart from Christianity throughout the rest of the world.
Photo: FIELD WORK
MARTY NATHAN
Meserat looks through her medicine supply in her streetside home.

Miriam had come eight years before from a town more than 300 kilometers from Hawassa, having been told by friends that she should get tested for HIV after her husband left her and her two children. She came and found she was HIV positive, but at that time treatment was not available for the Ethiopian poor.
She also found no home and was forced to beg and to live with her then 7-year-old son and 5-year-old daughter in a shelter constructed of sticks, burlap and cardboard in front of the church.
For seven years she was part of a community of beggars dominated by women and their children until 2011, the 50th anniversary of the founding of Hawassa by Haile Selassie. In the spirit of community pride and beautification, the St. Gabriel beggars, with their few earthly goods, were loaded into trucks one midnight and brought to Qirchu, a long tin-roofed one-story structure with straw mats hung vertically that divided it into apartments and formed the outer walls.
There they were unloaded and took up residence.
Photo: FIELD WORK
MARTY NATHAN
Etagu, with child, standing before her makeshift home.

We searched for Miriam at her home in order to take her for care at the Hawassa Referral Hospital, where I was working in the Internal Medicine Department. We were surprised by the size of the development. There were probably one hundred people living in Qirchu, with up to 11 people in an apartment space. It stood on the perimeter of the smaller St. Trinity Church next to the cemetery.
There was one outhouse and no running water. People bought water from the church and most bathed in the outhouse for privacy. Otherwise, the church had little to do with the beggars and one woman said that they had been brought there so that the city as a whole could forget about them.
Women's lives
Photo: FIELD WORK
It was here that our study of street women was most concentrated. We had previously interviewed women that we had met along the street called Menaharia, or Bus Station, named for its main feature. One was a young mother begging with her coughing 38-day-old infant and 5-year-old son, her 10-year-old daughter left to beg on her own in their nearby rural community. She had been forced to beg after making and selling the flatbread enjera could not support her family.
Another woman had suddenly been widowed when an accident in the gold mines killed her husband. She had never been notified nor compensation paid by the company, and could not afford to support herself and the new baby her husband had never seen.
She lived with the now-toddler in a makeshift shelter in the market that she rented for 3 birr (about 20 cents) per night.
But Qirchu was a beggars' community, and when we visited we were confronted and challenged by one of the men who lived there: What were we going to do for the inhabitants? Since our study was profoundly ad hoc, I had no answer at that moment, but knew that I needed to formulate one.
We asked women if they would be willing to talk to us. They agreed and our first two interviews were done in the muddy courtyard in front of the row of dwellings. Stools were set up and about 30 people gathered around (to our dismay) to hear the interview of two young mothers in their 20s - friends, neighbors and themselves former street kids.
It was in this set of interviews that I began to understand something of the continuity of street life. Zeritu had been born in a cardboard shelter on the pavement in front of St. Gabriel's Church, the daughter of two beggars, both of whom still beg there. She had two sisters and a brother, with only one sister still living, the other two having died of AIDS.
She had begged as long as she could remember: with her parents, as a lone street child and then with her own children after she married. Finally, two years ago, she was able to stop because her husband found low-paying work as a carpenter and she began to wash and cook for some of the other families in Qirchu.
Photo: FIELD WORK
MARTY NATHAN
Megdas and Handa, two children in Hawassa, Ethiopia, that Nathan interviewed.

She has dreams. Not only will all three of her daughters go to school and get an education, but she will build a house for herself and her elderly parents.
We visited her tiny but neat one-room home with its straw mat walls and swept dirt floor. We used it to house our clinic for sick community members that I treated or triaged.
Meselech's story
Her friend Meselech had grown up with her on the street, though she had not been born there. She had run away from beatings and neglect by her stepmother after her birth mother had died when she was two years old. She had been homeless on the streets of Hawassa since she was nine, supporting herself by begging and selling sugar cane.
She had recently married and had a child, but unlike Zeritu, she was unable financially to leave the street.
Her entrapment in begging was the norm, Zeritu's escape the exception.
In our interviews with 25 women, we found that most had little or no education, most came from the countryside and most ended up on the street when they lost husbands through death or divorce, or ran away from abusive, usually alcoholic husbands.
Some begged despite being married. Either their husbands were disabled and themselves were beggars or they worked but could not make enough to support wife and children. Most women had tried to find work but either there was none available or it paid too little for survival.
Some of the last women we interviewed were elderly.
Photo: FIELD WORK
MARTY NATHAN
Megdas, left, and Etagu.

One had been on the street for 38 years and her grown daughter was also a beggar who lived in Qirchu. The elderly said they were "always" hungry, that they were rarely able to beg more than 50 cents per day and they were sustained with one meal of bread and coffee in the morning.
Their hopes had shrunken to merely a place to live with dignity and food to eat.
A city's plans
Photo: FIELD WORK
MARTY NATHAN
A Hawassa, Ethiopia, woman named Almaz.

Coincidental with our interviews, the city of Hawassa was developing plans to deal with the rising number of street people, which they had estimated to be over 600, but which others thought to be in the thousands. A written plan was drawn up to train the street people to break and lay rocks for the cobblestone streets, to shine shoes and to work as bellhops in the city's hotel industry. Children were to be sent back to their homes in the countryside and there was a vague allusion to adoption for some.
We made it a point to speak to women about their options in the Ethiopian economy. One woman stated, "I will do any job, cleaning toilets, it doesn't matter. I want to work and make a living." But women and children have looked hard for work and not found it.
The streets are filled with shoe-shine boys who must beg to stay alive since the work cannot produce a living. Unfilled bellhop jobs are not to be found. Further, hard manual labor cannot be done by children or pregnant or nursing mothers. And in the plan there was no mention of childcare for the begging mothers who are to be put to work.
The plan seems to have fallen apart long before its implementation. It budgeted several million birr to perform the trainings and education, but virtually nothing has been offered by the local businesses and NGOs that were expected to foot the bill.
'Systemic' problems
We wrote a response to the plan based on our interviews. In it we suggested that, since the problems were systemic, that even should the money be raised, the plan was unlikely to stem the tide of migrants to the city's streets.
We suggested alternatives that might start to meet the problems. We recommended that school supplies for children be funded by the government permitting more to stay in school; that food subsidies that were in place in the former regime be re-instituted; that housing for the poor be built in cities such as Hawassa; and that wages for workers be allowed to rise, so that working families need not beg.
We met with the mayor, who said he was too busy to read our report and suggested we were meddlers in affairs that did not concern us.
Did they concern us? Yes. These women and children had shared their pain and their dreams and had taught me in no uncertain terms that their aspirations and their worth were equal to mine. Their passions and concerns for their families, their humor and demand for dignity rang true and familiar.
What differed was their pain, suffering and absence of resources. I recognized that we of the global north ignore their plight at our moral peril.
I am not a development expert, but I know that my country and the World Bank it influences have demanded of developing countries that, in exchange for loans, they eliminate any social safety net for their poor. Those agencies have demanded that necessities - food, housing, medical care - be paid for by those who cannot pay, but who are supposed to benefit from the trickle down of investment. In the main it has not trickled down and despite expanding economies the poorest have become even poorer and hungrier.
This is not sustainable for Miriam, Zeritu, Meselech, Biruk, Ashenafi or Ganda. They teeter on the edge of survival in a world that can and should offer them more.
Marty Nathan, M.D., of Northampton is assistant professor of medicine at Tufts University, a family practitioner at Baystate Brightwood Health Center in Springfield, and a 2011 Fulbright Specialist at Hawassa Referral Hospital in Hawassa, Ethiopia.

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Prof. Muse Tegegne has lectured sociology Change &  Liberation  in Europe, Africa and Americas. He has obtained  Doctorat es Science from the University of Geneva.   A PhD in Developmental Studies & ND in Natural Therapies.  He wrote on the  problematic of  the Horn of  Africa extensively. He Speaks Amharic, Tigergna, Hebrew, English, French. He has a good comprehension of Arabic, Spanish and Italian.