Rights Group Criticizes Ethiopian Resettlement Program

Posted January 17th, 2012 at 5:45 am (UTC-5)
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An international human rights group has criticized Ethiopia for a resettlement program, saying the government is forcing people to relocate and not providing adequate support.

New York-based Human Rights Watch said in a report released Tuesday that Ethiopia is requiring 70,000 indigenous people from the western Gambella region to move to new villages without enough food, farmland, health care or education facilities.

The report says the three-year program to relocate 45,000 households has placed people in villages where farmland is not ready for growing, while the government has failed to provide seeds or fertilizer. Human Rights Watch called for the program to be suspended.

Ethiopia's Minister of Federal Affairs Shiferaw Teklemariam said in a letter responding to the report that the allegations are “downright fabrications.” He said the resettlements are voluntary, and have been a success.

Human Rights Watch based its report on more than 100 interviews conducted in May and June in Ethiopia and in refugee camps in neighboring Kenya.