Israelis warned to stay away from restive regions of Ethiopia
search

Israelis warned to stay away from restive regions of Ethiopia

Advisory comes amid deadly government crackdown on protests in Amhara and Oromia

Gashaw Abinet, 29, a cantor at the HaTikvah synagogue in Gondar, visits Wolleka and its Jewish cemetery for the first time on April 24, 2016, although he has lived in Gondar for 17 years awaiting aliyah. (Miriam Alster / Flash9)
Gashaw Abinet, 29, a cantor at the HaTikvah synagogue in Gondar, visits Wolleka and its Jewish cemetery for the first time on April 24, 2016, although he has lived in Gondar for 17 years awaiting aliyah. (Miriam Alster / Flash9)

Israelis were warned against traveling to some parts of Ethiopia Thursday, after clashes broke out between protesters and government forces in several cities.

The Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem said Israeli travelers should avoid the Amhara and Oromia districts of Ethiopia, including the cities of Gondar, Bahir Dar and Debre Tabor.

The ministry also cautioned against traveling within 10 kilometers of the Ethiopian borders with Eritrea, Sudan, South Sudan and Kenya.

In July, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited Ethiopia during a whirwind trip aimed at boosting ties with East Africa.

Demonstrations started in Oromia last winter and have sprung up more recently in the Amhara region and the capital Addis Ababa.

The Ethiopian government has declared a state of emergency in the Amhara region, one of nine ethnic divisions in the country.

Gondar, in the Amhara region, is home to several thousand Falash Mura Jews seeking to move to Israel.

In Bahir Dar, activists reported 30 people killed as government forces opened fire on a protest last month, amid a harsh crackdown by Addid Ababa against the demonstrations.

“New levels of violence are being reported in the crackdown on the largely peaceful protests that have taken place across Oromia and Amhara regions in recent weeks,” said Hassan Shire, Executive Director of DefendDefenders, according to Amnesty International. “Instead of investigating and holding accountable those responsible for rights violations, the government is jailing the few independent human rights defenders left working in the country.”

The government’s decision to join the northern province of Welkait to the Tigray region was the immediate trigger for the Amhara protests, but they have occurred at the same time as others in the Oromia region where regular, sometimes deadly, demonstrations have happened since November over land rights.

Together, Oromia and Amhara people make up over 60 percent of the population.

The demonstrations are a challenge to the EPRDF’s model of “ethnic federalism” intended to give representation and a degree of self-determination to the multitude of ethnic groups in Ethiopia.

“Ethnic federalism is not working because it is not implemented equally,” said Molla Wasie of the opposition Agaw Democratic Party. “Things are getting more and more tense. The government and the opposition should come together and find a solution.”

read more:
comments