On a visit to Israel, Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn tells Haaretz his country has an open-door policy and will ‘pay any price to help’ asylum seekers & refugees
The rains have come to Ethiopia. After three seasons of drought that hit agricultural areas hard, farmers are waiting for the grass to grow again so they will be able to pasture their herds. And the way Ethiopia dealt with the drought is a good example of the progress the country has made over the past 20 years. Although the drought was said to be the worst in 50 years, photos of skeletal children with bellies distended from starvation – which were largely the international image of Ethiopia at the end of the 20th century – did not materialize this time around.
“Green development, investment in small-scale agriculture, sustainable land management – 20 years of development allowed us to have resilience to crises,” Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn told Haaretz during his visit to Israel last week.
Like the rain, life has returned in the cities of Gondar and Bahir Dar, the main cities of the Amhara region in the northwestern part of the country. Businesses are open and the streets are full of pedestrians. These are the same streets that were flooded with armed soldiers during the state of emergency the government declared last fall, after months of protests that were violently suppressed.
Hundreds were killed and thousands are still in prison after two years of protests by the country’s two largest ethnic groups – the Oromo and Amhara. The state of emergency has been eased somewhat, but it was still extended at the end of March by a further four months.
But Hailemariam insists there are no ethnic tensions in his county. All ethnic groups in Ethiopia have the right to self-determination, he said, “up to secession.”