Defection of members of Ethiopian Air Force is recurring. Just weeks after Captain Samuel Gidey diverted MI 35 fighter helicopter to Eritrea along with co-pilot and technician, which Ethiopian government admitted when it aired infuriated rant like statement in state television – EBC, additional four members of Ethiopian air force were reportedly defected and made their way to Kenya some time last week.
The fighter pilots who are said to have defected to Kenya are named as, according to ESAT, Capitain Gezahegne Derese, Capitain Daniel Girma, Lieutenant Maseresha Sa’te and Biruk Atenae. The pilots are reported to be in a good condition in Kenya. Yet, that was not the end of defection from Ethiopian Air Force.
Ethiopian Satellite Television (ESAT) broke news of another defection yesterday. The name of the pilot is not identified including as to where the pilot defected to except that,according to ESAT, the pilot joined Ethiopian rebels.
At this writing, Ethiopian government did not confirm the latest defections including defections of four fighter pilots who defected to Kenya. Sudan Tribune reported that government dismissed news of defections to Kenya.
In the past years and months, Ethiopian government seem to have considerable influence over Kenyan authorities to the extent of abducting peace delegates of Ogaden Liberation Front who were in Nairobi, Kenya for peace talk with the government of Ethiopia through the mediation of government of Kenya. As well, there was a case of member of opposition who was killed in Kenya.
Not much is known if the pilots are under immediate protection of mandated refugee Agency dealing with asylum seekers or if they are considering moving to another country.
If ESAT’s report regarding the latest defection is confirmed including the fact the pilot joined rebel forces, chances are the pilot could be in Eritrea as many of Ethiopian rebels are bases along the border with Eritrea.
There were reports of investigative evaluations in Ethiopian Air Force following defection of MI 35 fighter helicopter a fortnight or so ago.
Fifteen experienced pilots reported to have left Ethiopian Air Force in the past six months.