Apr 13, 2017

Ogaden: Youth & Student Union Issue Update on Humanitarian Crisis

Photo Courtesy of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent @Flickr

The Ogaden Youth & Student Union have released an update on the current humanitarian crisis ravaging the Ogaden region. A wave of cholera and famine, compounded by the drought currently affecting the Horn of Africa, has claimed the lives of scores of Ogadenis, impacting children in particular. In the city of Birqod it is confirmed that 50 people have died from cholera, whilst in the town of Qorile 44 people died on the night of 2 April 2017 alone. The restrictions on trade and movement imposed by the Ethiopian government on the Ogaden region are inhibiting the citizens of the Ogaden to receive the necessary aid and support from humanitarian organisations. Moreover, eye witness accounts claim that the infamous Liyu police has evacuated several areas to dispose of the bodies of the deceased in an attempt to conceal the proof that a humanitarian crisis is currently occurring. The Ogaden Youth & Student Union calls upon the international community to help those affected through donating to its crowdfunding campaign and raising awareness, whilst also asking international institutions – such as the European Union – to put pressure on the Ethiopian government to lift the trade and movement blocks, allowing humanitarian aid into the region.


Below is an article published by the Ogaden News Agency:

The Ogaden region continues to be affected by the humanitarian crisis currently impacting the rest of The Horn. However, the strict restrictions on trade and movement imposed by the Ethiopian government on the Ogaden region continues to exacerbate this ongoing humanitarian current crisis. Although a limited number of areas such as Jarar have experienced scarce rainfall recently, the crisis in the Ogaden persists. Areas in the Ogaden region which have been hit hardest include the city of Birqod, it has been confirmed that 50 people have died from Cholera. It was also reported that on the night of April 2nd [2017] alone, 44 people were found dead in the town of Qorile in Doolo province. Today that number is at 91. According to eyewitness accounts, the Liyu police evacuated many areas in order to collect the bodies of the deceased in attempt to cover up the extent of the humanitarian crisis in the region. Moreover, the Liyu police operate similarly in other provinces where civilians have died from both cholera and hunger; this appears to be a coordinated strategy of downplaying just how critical matters really are.

The outbreak of Cholera has not discriminated between young and old, but young children continue to die from hunger and Cholera at an alarming rate. In Dhagaxbuur, Ubax Ali just reached the age of 2 months when she passed away. Similarly, Sooc passed away in Dig before she could live to witness her second birthday. Other young children who lost their precious lives to the devastating famine in the Ogaden region include 6 year old Falis and 4 year old Abshir from Dhagaxbuur, 7 year old Sahro from Farmadow, 9 year old Ahmed from Dhiita and 2 year old Yussuf from Farmadow. This list is by no means exhaustive, but a reminder that the most vulnerable members of the population in the Ogaden continue to die from potentially preventable deaths at the hands of the Ethiopian government who has failed to offer any response to a crisis of this magnitude. Recent images of Abdi Mohamoud Omar posing for his camera crew whilst distributing some rice to the starving Ogaden population has taken the internet by utter dismay. Capitalising on the suffering of a starving population for personal and/or political gains is not only distasteful but incredibly sadistic. But more importantly, such an act does not indicate any sort alleviation of hunger and thirst, because if the Government is so concerned with the well-being of the population, why is the trade embargo not lifted? Why are NGOs and the media not allowed access to the region? and where is the emergency response to the cholera epidemic which has already claimed hundreds of lives?

We call upon the Ogaden diaspora to urgently help the innocent civilians of the Ogaden region in whatever capacity. But namely through financial donations, by helping spread awareness, and by taking part in the global efforts of collecting and documenting the victims of the famine. In addition we call upon donor countries such as the United States and European states to pressure the Ethiopian government to lift the humanitarian blockade in the region so that international humanitarian organizations can deliver much needed aid to the region.