Ethiopia is a country defined by its environment. The East African nation has been plagued by droughts and famine throughout its history, plunging the people into an abject state of poverty. In the latter half of the 20th century, drought and famine became more prevalent, inciting political turmoil in Ethiopia.

These unfavorable environmental conditions especially devastated the northeastern Wollo and Tigray regions of Ethiopia. One of the most tragic events in the nation’s history was the 1958 famine in Tigray in which around 100,000 people perished.

In 1973, another brutal famine struck Wollo that resulted in the toppling of Ethiopia’s government. The reigning monarch Hailie Selassie’s inability to resolve the food crisis incited revolution. Selassie was removed from power and supplanted by a Communist junta under the infamous Mengistu Haile Mariam.

From 1983-85 Ethiopia suffered the worst famine in its history. Over 400,000 people died over the two year period. A combination of climate conditions and the policies of the incompetent Derg regime caused the famine.

After the fall of the Derg in 1991, Ethiopia stabilized before entering into a war with the neighboring country Eritrea in the late 1990s. Although the war has ended, Ethiopia remains one of the poorest nations in the world and has become a breeding ground for separatist groups like the Ogaden National Liberation Front and the Islamist terror group al-Ittihaad al Islami. Both of these groups, although their goals are different, pose a threat to the current government in Ethiopia. Moreover, the existence of radical Islamic terrorist organizations in Ethiopia could eventually harm the United States.

As Ethiopia continues to reel from the damages of famine, perhaps it would be wise for the United States to supply their East African ally with more aid. If Ethiopia is not provided for, the nation will spiral into another devastating cycle of coups. This would threaten the well being of the Ethiopian people, the stability of the region, and the national security of the United States.

– Josh Forgét

Source: BBC,The Borgen Project,Bahru Zewde
Photo: Word Press

Effects of Drone Strikes on Humanitarian Aid
The moral, ethical, and legal questions and uncertainties about secretive US drone strikes have increasingly become subjects of media attention. Many have criticized the Bush and Obama administrations for effectively engaging in endless, unchecked war, in many places, all the time. But one question has gone largely unasked in the debate over unmanned US strikes: what are the effects of drone strikes on humanitarian aid?

As we know, poverty and terrorism are closely linked. The daily struggles of those living in extreme poverty breed despair and desperation and leave many, especially youth, vulnerable to terrorist groups’ incendiary messages. Poverty reduction is an important part of US national security and foreign policy, and yet drone strikes may be undermining attempts to combat extreme poverty on the ground.

Organizations working in rural areas of Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, Yemen, and other drone strike-targeted regions have reported increased hostility and resistance in relation to drone strikes. Suspicions are always aroused in the days and weeks following a strike. According to NGO security officials in Somalia, following a 2008 drone strike, attacks on aid workers increased from one to two a month to six to eleven.

Aid workers have been accused of complicity in drone strikes. Often, workers who have been collecting information for aid purposes are accused of passing on sensitive information that supposedly enable strikes, such as GPS coordinates. Some workers have been killed, either by hostile locals or as a direct result of strikes.

One of the biggest problems that aid organizations and NGOs face in dealing with drone strikes is the lack of human personnel involved in the attacks. There are no authorities on the ground to address the safety of aid workers or civilians in the region. It is difficult to determine responsibility for the attacks because even though drones often operate from regular military airbases, they are under the CIA’s jurisdiction.

Some groups, such as the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), have had success interfacing with the US government through the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF). But others, like the Center for Civilians in Conflict, have had zero success in lobbying Congressional leaders for greater oversight of drone strikes. Civilians in Conflict released this report in 2012 on the effects of drone strikes on civilians.

The effects of drone strikes on humanitarian aid cannot be underestimated. Compounding tensions in areas already struggling with poverty and violence does nothing to alleviate the problems. Instead, it hampers the valiant efforts of those risking their own lives to make a positive difference. If the US government wants to positively contribute to poverty relief and reduction efforts, it needs to evaluate the effects of drone strikes on humanitarian aid work in targeted regions.

– Kat Henrichs

Source: IRIN