The international community is well aware that the drought and famine engulfing the Horn of Africa is by far the worst humanitarian disaster to hit the region in 60 years. Resolve Ogaden Coalition, however, is saddened to report that the international community has thus far failed to address the rapidly deteriorating situation unfolding across the disputed Ogaden region of eastern Ethiopia.
For the last decade, the Ethiopian regime has undertaken one scorched earth campaign after another in the Ogaden. Abuses carried out by government forces and state-sponsored militias known as “Liyu Police” have led to the destruction of villages, water reserves, and the indiscriminate killings and detention of civilians, mass rape, and enormous population displacement. To date, tens of thousands have been killed, and more than a million displaced, with thousands now living in camps across northern Kenya.
The current drought that threatens the lives of thousands of persons is exacerbated by the Ethiopian government’s ongoing blockade of the Ogaden region. Hundreds of thousands of internally displaced persons and refugees are facing starvation as a result of the regime’s atrocities and denial of unrestricted access for humanitarian organizations, human rights advocates, and Ogaden organizations such as ours, who wish to provide relief to the tens of thousands who have been victimized by the government’s brutal counter-insurgency campaign and the rapidly expanding famine. It is undeniable that the Ethiopian government is using its blockade of the Ogaden as an attempt to conceal both its war crimes and the deteriorating humanitarian situation.
The international community can no longer accept Melez Zenwis’ ongoing obstruction of humanitarian aid for the desperate people of the Ogaden. If the government continues to deny unhindered humanitarian access, the international community must take swift and appropriate action to halt the expanding crisis. By “action,” we mean humanitarian intervention to ensure the safety and well-being of our people.
Resolve Ogaden Coalition urges the United Nations Security Council to take hold of the situation in the Ogaden and take the following steps.
First, it must openly condemn the indiscriminate targeting of civilians and the ongoing blockade of the Ogaden.
Second, it must call for the immediate disarming of government-sponsored militias, particularly the “Liyu Police,” and demand that Ethiopian armed forces cease all forms of targeting civilians and immediately allow unhindered access to the Ogaden for humanitarian agencies, the international press, and international human rights monitors.
Finally, we urge the UN Security Council to spearhead and facilitate political negotiations between the Ethiopian government and the Ogaden National Liberation Front. The conflict in the Ogaden is based on a crucial issue, which is the colonization of the Ogaden people. Therefore, any negotiations must address the Ogaden people’s right to self-determination, which should be addressed through an independence referendum