Ethiopia's Contras

published in MER145

In his February 1986 Message to the Congress on Foreign Policy, Ronald Reagan announced his support for “growing resistance movements now [challenging] communist regimes installed or maintained by the military power of the Soviet Union and its colonial agents -- in Afghanistan, Angola, Cambodia, Ethiopia and Nicaragua.” In four of Reagan’s five regional hot spots, an avowed anti-communist contra-style force maintains a field presence against a regime allied with the Soviet Union.

Ethiopia and the Politics of Famine Relief

by Gayle Smith
published in MER145

Famine takes root when farmers lose their means of production. In Africa, drought and war have forced huge numbers of peasants to sell off their animals and tools and abandon the land on which they depend, thus bringing local economies to a standstill. Grain yields in Africa declined by one-third per hectare over the last decade; food production is down by 15 percent since 1981. One out of every five Africans now depends on food aid. Interest payments on international loans now consume $15 billion per year. The continent’s industrial base is functioning at only one-third of capacity. The incidence of famine among Africa’s rural producers has in turn brought national economies to a halt.

Escaping Eritrea

Why They Flee and What They Face

by Dan Connell
published in MER264

Said Ibrahim, 21, orphaned and blind, was making a living as a singer in Adi Quala bars when a member of Eritrea’s national security force claimed one of his songs had “political” content and detained him at the Adi Abieto prison. After a month Said was released, but he was stripped of his monthly disability payments for two years when he refused to identify the lyricist. “I went back to my village and reflected about it,” he told me over tea at an open-air café in the Adi Harush camp in northern Ethiopia. “If the system could do this to a blind orphan, something was very wrong.” After appealing to his neighbors for help, two boys, aged 10 and 11, sneaked him into Ethiopia and all three asked for asylum.

"Please Don't Develop Us Any More"

by Fantu Cheru
published in MER166

Fantu Cheru is an economist from Ethiopia now teaching at the American University in Washington, DC. His book The Silent Revolution in Africa: Debt, Development and Democracy (Zed) won the World Hunger Media Award for 1989. Joe Stork spoke with him in Washington in the spring of 1990.

How would you characterize the present situation in Africa in terms of food, nourishment and productivity?

The Famine This Time

by Gayle Smith
published in MER166

Gayle Smith coordinates the Africa program at the Washington-based Development Group for Alternative Policies. In the past ten years she has worked extensively in the Horn of Africa on relief and development issues. Her most recent trip to Ethiopia and Sudan was in June 1990. She spoke with Joe Stork in Washington.

Compared to the famine of 1984-1985, what is the scope of the problem in the Horn today?

In terms of numbers, the famine is somewhat less severe than it was five years ago. There are an estimated 5 million in need as opposed to 7-9 million in 1984-1985. Just over 1 million of these people are in Eritrea; another 2.2 million live in Tigray. The rest live elsewhere in the north of Ethiopia, areas now also affected by the war.

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Sovereignty and Intervention After the Cold War

Lessons from the Emergency Relief Desk

by John Prendergast , Mark Duffield
published in MER187

Over the past several years, the perception has become widespread that the world has entered a period of profound change. A main feature of this change has been some erosion of the principle of state sovereignty as a major structural feature of international relations. The new activism of the United Nations and the trend toward selective military intervention for humanitarian purposes and as a means of international crisis management have been the most prominent features of this development.

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From Alliance to the Brink of All-Out War

Explaining the Eritrea-Ethiopia Border Crisis

by Dan Connell
published in MER208

In the arid, mountainous, north-eastern corner of Africa, two of the world&’s poorest but best armed states -- Eritrea and Ethiopia, allies until a short while ago -- are on the brink of all-out war. Shuttle diplomacy by a succession of would-be mediators has failed to provide an exit from potential catastrophe for both sides, though it has temporarily halted the fighting that wracked the area last spring. Since then, the two countries have mobilized hundreds of thousands of troops and a staggering arsenal of Cold War arms to do battle over less than 100 square miles of disputed scrub farmland and desert. Far more is at stake than a petty border dispute, however.

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Shootout in the Horn of Africa

A View from Eritrea

by Dan Connell
published in MER210

A second round of fighting between Eritrea and Ethiopia in February found the political positions of the former allies little changed from their opening salvos the previous June, but overwhelming Ethiopian numbers -- troops and arms -- finally forced the Eritreans to accept an American-backed “peace plan” on Ethiopian terms. Meanwhile, not only had the levels of firepower intensified, but also the stakes, in a bitter dispute that has already had a profound impact on regional alignments and development prospects. Tragically, it appears to be a repeat performance of earlier battles in the 30-year contest over Eritrea’s independence, which ended in 1991.

Eritrea-Ethiopia Verdict Due This Week

by Dan Connell | published April 12, 2002

The Eritrea-Ethiopia Boundary Commission set up a year and a half ago to adjudicate a border dispute that left tens of thousands dead and the entire region on edge will issue its verdict on April 13. Both countries have pledged to abide by the outcome.

Ethiopia-Eritrea Peace Process Creeps Forward

by Dan Connell | published February 14, 2001

Two months after Eritrea and Ethiopia signed a pact to end their two-year border war, an agreement to move ahead with its implementation has finally been ironed out. The 4,000 UN troops brought here to monitor the truce are preparing for deployment to the contested frontier. Meanwhile, hundreds of thousands of war-displaced civilians remain in camps behind the lines, waiting to see if the truce will hold.