January 31, 2008
Because of a denial of basic human rights Oromo’s flee their country to escape persecution and violence. They continue to live in poverty and encounter hardship
Below is an article published in the
A young man proudly stands behind the Oromo flag in a small room where Jamal Abdu Wadai often spends hours discussing the social affairs regarding
The word “Oromo” is written boldly on the wall of another room where three mothers sit with their small children. On the other wall of the room is a poster of Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh. A medium-sized television in the corner broadcasts Oromo programs.
The Oromos gather in the first room with the flag after the second becomes too crowded and likely has no window for ventilation, which reflects their poor conditions. They begin speaking about their life and the problems they face in
Wadai explains that the Oromos are the largest refugee group in Africa, dwelling in
He continues, “We used to have our own independent state, but
Oromos are an indigenous African ethnic group found in
Wadai was an active member of the OLF, for which Ethiopian authorities detained him several times. Four of his fellow inmates died from torture, but he survived. “The last time I was imprisoned in 2005, I got out only after my relatives bribed the guards with $1,000,” he recounts, noting that he immediately came to
Hailing from a strong family that has struggled alongside the OLF for a long time, Wadai maintains that approximately 45 of his family members have died in the struggle for liberation since 1994.
With three wives and four children, the eldest of which is a 21-year-old son, one wife lives in
He explains his badly injured left thigh, which has left him crippled, saying, “Ethiopian forces shot me when I joined the OLF in 1977.”
Besides translating Arabic into Oromo back in his home country, Wadai also sold Harari qat –
Oromos began flowing into
According to Ministry of Interior statistics, there are 800,000 African immigrants in
“Oromos keep coming to
He maintains that the main reason Oromos come to
Oromos living in
Hardships and trampled rights
The biggest problem the Oromo community faces in
Further, he indicates that Oromo women also face problems in Yemeni hospitals because of not having a refugee card. “When a woman is sent to a government hospital to deliver a baby, health workers request to see her marriage contract and if she doesn’t have one, she’s arrested and accused of prostitution. In such cases, we intervene by obtaining a letter from the Yemeni leader of her neighborhood, affirming that she’s married. However, many married Oromo women don’t have a marriage contract,” he notes.
For this reason, Wadai says many married Oromo women prefer giving birth at home rather than hospital deliveries.
He cited another example of an Oromo woman who encountered problems on the job due to not having a refugee card, recounting, “Beginning in 2007, one Oromo woman worked as a maid for a Yemeni family for about a year. She received her monthly salary regularly, but they procrastinated giving her money during the last four months. In the end, she resorted to shouting outside their house, demanding her money, so they took her to a Sana’a police station.”
He continued, “Because she had no employment contract, police jailed her, but then released her on bail shortly thereafter. However, when her husband went to file a complaint against the family at another police station, they jailed him and took his refugee card, which had been issued by UNHCR. They demanded he pay $100 to get his card back and it remains there until now.”
Wadai claims that the members of his community don’t enjoy their full rights because they aren’t recognized as refugees. “Getting a job is contingent upon a refugee card, the obtaining of which increases the chances of getting a job,” he explains.
Renting a house is another problem for those without refugee cards, which only five or six out of every 100 Oromos in
Oromo children can’t attend public schools in
Despite all of these hardships, Wadai is exceedingly thankful that the Yemeni government at least has allowed those Oromos already in the country to remain.
However, concluding his comments, he declares, “We call on international and local charities to assist us, in addition to Yemeni businesspeople to support us.”