A first person testimony published Tuesday tallies the human cost of Ethiopia’s “villagization” program, in which tens of thousands of people have been forced from their ancestral homes to make way for large scale commercial agriculture.
The findings were reported by the California-based Oakland Institute in a study titled, “We Say the Land Is Not Yours: Breaking the Silence Against Forced Displacement in Ethiopia.”
“Those moved to purpose-built communes,” The Guardian reports, “are allegedly no longer able to farm or access education, healthcare and other basic services”:
“My village refused to move,” says one [Ethiopian], from the community of Gambella. “So they forced us with gunshots. Even though they intimidated us, we did not move – this is our land, how do we move? They wanted our land because our land is the most fertile and has access to water. So the land was promised to a national investor.
“Last year, we had to move. The promises of food and other social services made by the government have not been fulfilled. The government gets money from donors but it is not transferred to the communities.”
The land grab is not only for agriculture, the interviewee claims, but the community has also seen minerals and gold being mined and exported. “We have no power to resist. We need support. In the villages, they promised us tractors to help us cultivate. If money is given to the government for this purpose, we don’t know how it is used.
“The government receives money from donors, but they fill their pockets and farmers die of hunger.”
Read more here.
—Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly.
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