Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Revisiting Size of Ethiopian Population in the US

The decennial US census is currently underway and tomorrow, April 1st, is the National Census Day, meaning that this is the day when we are supposed to return our filled out census forms. So, it is fitting that we revisit the post on the size of the Ethiopian born US population at this time.

The 2000 U.S. Census had stated that the number of people in the US who were born in Ethiopia was 69,530. Of course, this figure does not include children born to Ethiopian parents in the US. I thought this figure seemed a bit low for Ethiopian population in the US at that time, but I thought it was closer to the true figure than the figures that most Ethiopians seem to bandy about. What will the 2010 census reveal when it is released in 2011? It is anybody's guess, but one can make an educated guess. Why not?

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security website, where the Citizenship and Immigration Seervice resides, gives a detailed information for Ethiopians who became US residents from 2003 to 2008. The total for Ethiopians who became US residents for this six year period is 67,305, which averages to 11,218 per year. If you extrapolate this average to the other years which are not mentioned (2001, 2002, 2009 and 2010) and assume that the same number of Ethiopians had gotten US residency in those years, then the total Ethiopian immigration for the past decade would be about 112,175.

If you add this figure to the above 2000 US Census Bureau figure, the total for Ethiopian born population in the US in 2010 would be 181,705. I know I have to take motality rate into account, but I will assume that Ethiopian mortality is very low compared with native born Americans and also that there are probably more Ethiopians in the US living illegally and not counted by the census than those who have passed away after immigrating to the US. So, there you have it: 181,705.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Reforesting Ethiopia

All Ethiopians, regardless of political persuasion (on climate change and other issues), should be able to agree on the need to reforest Ethiopia and preserve what little virgin forests that remain, which was estimated to be about 4% of land area in 2000 according to Earthtrends. Here below is "one" person who is doing something to reforest Ethiopia. Another group which is engaged in a similar effort is the Ethiopian Tree Fund Foundation, an organization created for the "singular task of reclaiming the land of Ethiopia" according it its web site. These efforts and others like them should be applauded.

Monday, March 15, 2010

I am a fan of

I have been reading for over four years now. I understand that Gadaa does not bill itself as an Ethiopian web site (they prefer to be known as an independent online media outlet that serves the Horn of African region and its Diaspora), but I think they are one of the best Ethiopia news portals, if not the best, out there. Instead of taking my words, why not read a couple of their recent posts and make your own judgement.

In a post titled "
There is No Ethiopia Without Oromia – Minnesota OACC Panelists", Gadaa reports on a human rights conference organized by the Oromo-American Citizens’ Council (OACC) this past weekend. I thought a quote from one of the participants was of particular importance:
“Justice for Oromo people is a question of access to state power and the exercise of equitable power,” said Rev. Dr. Gemechis Buba, president of the Worldwide Union of Oromo Evangelical Churches.

The Reverend pleaded with Oromo political groups about the dire need for a shift in paradigm in the Oromo national movement. He said because tens of ethnic groups shared long-stretching borders with Oromia, an independent Oromia would be infeasible as that would lead to the demise of Ethiopia as we know it, hampering the security and economic development of future Oromia.
A few weeks ago Gadaa had carried a well done article titled: "Zenawi’s Revolutionary Democracy Enriches the Few and Impoverishes the Majority". This article debunks Woyane's much touted GDP growth rate figures with facts and figures. It is well worth your time to read these articles and others posted on Gadaa.

PS: I do not personally know of any one who is associated with My observation is based totally from what I read on the web site.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

A former aid worker says the truth lies somewhere in between

Nicholas Winer, former director of Oxfam in Sudan and Ethiopia writes that the truth in the controversy about the BBC report of the diversion of food aid to buy arms in the 80s lies somewhere between the assertions of Geldof/current-TPLF and BBC/ex-TPLF:
The recent angry response to the BBC by aging colleagues that every effort was made to build checks and balances into the purchase and distribution process speaks volumes about their real anxiety that many things could've gone wrong. They wanted to be sure that if food or money did go astray, it wouldn't be because they'd been negligent. On that basis -- and the detailed explanations of Paul Vallely -- the more extreme claims made by the BBC must be discounted. But for the very same reason, so too must any outright denial that anything did go astray.
He also suggests that the Eritrean rebels may have benefited the most from the diversion of aid money:
It was always evident that greater access, and thus greater accountability, was more possible with the structures established by the Tigrayeans than with those of the Eritreans. That this was so is still reflected in the different political realities of the two countries. So, I ask myself if the story even has the right focus. What happened to aid to the Eritrean rebels, where accountability was much harder to establish? What of the tales of an underground TPLF political prison in Gondar, to which no aid worker was ever granted access? No surprise there. This wasn't just famine, but a nasty and brutal war zone. To suggest that the TPLF never pulled a fast one and took their share would be a very foolish and naive assertion.
I think the integrity of current and future aid requires that all concerned people should demand a full accounting of all the aid money that has gone to Ethiopia in the last 25 years.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

The BBC stands by Martin Plaut's reporting

Bob Geldof and others who were involved in the Ethiopian famine relief effort of the 80s are vociferously denying that aid money was diverted by Woyane to buy arms. The BBC is standing by its reporter:
The documentary did not say that most famine relief money was used to buy weapons - it did not suggest that any relief agencies were complicit in the diversion of funds - it explicitly stated that "whatever the levels of deception, much aid did reach the starving".

But there is a clear public interest in determining whether some money given as famine relief ended up buying guns and bullets.

And that's what the evidence suggests.
Why are Mr. Geldof and some of the aid agencies so adamant in denying the diversion of aid money? Smells fishy. They should, instead, collaborate with the BBC and call for a thorough investigation.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Woyane Blood Money

The story of how the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF), commonly known as Woyane, stole famine aid money in the 80's has been an open secret among Ethiopians for quite sometime. Only now it is getting the attention it deserves by the international press (see yesterday's BBC expose on the subject titled "Ethiopia famine aid 'spent on weapons'").

The picture above shows two Woyane representatives receiving the money channelled to them through an "aid worker" named Max Peberdy. Mr. Peberdy wants us to believe that the money he helped to transfer went to the starving. Mr. Peberdy's profile on his employer's web site states that "his specific area of expertise is evaluation of development and emergency programmes and the management of projects." What a job description!

The BBC wanted to interview the current Woyane honcho, Meles, to clarify the story, but he refused to be interviewed. Surprise, surprise! Obviously, they did not really need to get his side of the story because they had already gotten plenty of first hand witness accounts and other supporting documents to the theft of the aid money to corroborate the story. Sadly, the diversion of food aid money still goes on unabated with full knowledge of the donors!

Martin Plaut, the BBC reporter who broke this story, has additional reporting: On the trail of Ethiopia aid and guns. Here is a portion:
For years the rains had failed and by 1984 millions were starving.

Thanks in no small part to the help of Bob Geldof and Live Aid, people responded as never before.

Millions of dollars were raised. Food was brought in. Many died, but the worst was averted - or so I thought.

But a year ago, I began hearing a different take.

I was contacted by Ethiopians who said we had all missed the real story of how money given with such worthy objectives had ended up being used to buy weapons.

I began making enquiries.

Monday, March 01, 2010

Email scams with a new twist

Be on the look out for email scams (like the one below) that are more cunning than the types you may have been used to. I got this email scam from a person whom I had seen in public meetings before and had received an unsolicited email trumpeting his views on Ethiopian politics but with whom I never had a personal communication with.
Sorry I didn't inform you about my trip to the United Kingdom, I'm presently in Scotland and am having some difficulties here.I misplaced my bag on my way to the hotel where other valuable things were kept including my passport. I will like you to assist me with a loan of $2,500 to sort-out my hotel bills and to get myself back home. I will appreciate whatever you can afford to assist me with and I promise to Refund the money as soon as i return.
I was surpised to get the email, but I figured it was some kind of a hoax and clicked the spam button on it. I did not think too much of it until a few weeks later when a friend of mine forwarded to me a very similar email he had received from a person that he knew very well. My friend almost fell for the scam. Lucky for him, he got suspicious after a brief communication with the perpetrator and saved himself from being a statistics in internet crime.

What makes these scams dangerous is that these scam "artists" want their victims to think that the email they have received has come from some one they know or are familiar with. It seems to me that these email addresses are harvested from bulk emails, such as funny bits and news links, that friends and acquaintances send to one another. So, beware whom you include in your "Send To:" list when you send those innocent emails, because they may come back to haunt you. Keep your guards up and don't fall for these scams.