By Dr. Taye Minale
Ethiopians have experienced the most disastrous war in their history in a two-year conflict between the government forces and TPLF/TDF forces, resulting in the deaths of millions of people. Currently, Ethiopians are facing an unprecedented famine caused by the reckless and ongoing war policy of the government in the Amhara and Oromia regions. The leader of the country, who bears primary responsibility for the situation in the country, has received prestigious international awards. In 2019, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, only to engage in war subsequently. Despite being implicated in engineering famine in Tigray and Amhara, he has received the Agricola Medal from the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). This is an insult to Ethiopians and to the intelligence of humanity as a whole. While given a Nobel Peace Prize, he initiated a war to reduce the population and weaken a country that had been one of the fastest-growing in the world for over a decade. The intentions of those at the FAO are questionable. Who influenced them to give this prize to such an individual? Are there forces behind this award that seek to design a massive famine in Ethiopia, resulting in the deaths of millions? After all these NGOs need such disasters to continue to exist. Is he in bed with them to create famine? Do they believe that the youth in Africa are not observing their actions when they bestow such an award? Are they not contributing to the decline of their reputation across the African continent by honoring a leader who lacks the competence to govern a country? To be fair, let us remind them some of the facts on the ground.
1.Tigray is facing a daring situation worse than the 1977 e.c. (1985) famine. After the deadliest two-year war triggered by TPLF/TDF (equally calculated by Abiy Ahmed Ali), around two million people are currently facing hunger. There is a scarcity of food in the region. Even before the war, approximately 1.6 million people relied on food aid through various schemes in the region. Following the Pretoria peace deal, the transitional Tigray government and the central government seem to be on the same page in many aspects, but they differ when it comes to addressing the issue of food scarcity in Tigray. The regional government has informed the entire world about the dire situation. A recent report by VoA stated, “Millions Urgently Need Food in Ethiopia’s Tigray Region Despite Resumption of Aid Deliveries.” However, Legese Tulu, the government spokesperson, appeared on TV contradicting the news that the leaders in Tigray had announced regarding the severity of the famine in the region. Like his predecessors, Abiy has attempted to conceal the hunger crisis in Tigray. He consistently portrays an image of prosperity, as if the country is thriving, while depriving the people of food. FAO should be more aware. It is an insult to the people of Tigray to award this man any prize. It seems that this UN organization is betraying the people’s trust while they struggle to find food on a daily basis.
2. The Amhara region is engulfed with war and probable famine. Over the past seven months, the Ethiopian government has sent its military under the pretext of disarming the people. Tens of thousands of military personnel have been destroyed by Fano forces. The government initially intended to crush the people, but now the Fano force is on the verge of crushing Abiy Ahmed’s forces, and they are planning to topple the central government within a few days, weeks, or months. In order to survive the Fano resistance, Abiy is bombarding the people using heavy weapons, including drones. It has been reported that in the past three months, the army has engaged in burning the farmers’ harvest. The war was deliberately launched at a time when farmers were preparing for farming, working in the fields, and harvesting. Even before that, the farmers were demonstrating in cities because the government had deliberately stopped the distribution of fertilizers and seeds. This was one of the main reasons the farmers joined the Fano movement against the government in the Amhara region. Furthermore, in places like Northern Wello and Northern Gondar, including neighboring areas in Tigray, people are dying due to starvation. The people in the region might face huge food scarcity in the coming year. Now, the FAO gives an award to the designer and implementer of the mess in the area. What is going on? How dare they insult 30 million people in the region? Millions of youth in the region are watching the FAO actions. In the future, they might equate the FAO as an organization that supports those wicked people who design food scarcity and famine to happen in countries. Just for them to exist as an organization.
3. More than four millions of Internally Displaced People (IDPs) are suffering from hunger. There are people in Afar, Amhara, Somalia, Tigray, Oromia, and other regions who are suffering from a lack of food as we speak, as they have been displaced due to conflicts caused either deliberately by the governing party or due to a lack of competency in governance. These conflicts stem from a lack of knowledge and wisdom in understanding the government’s priorities. The award signifies the recognition of the misery caused by the leader. While we cannot solely place all the blame on him, as he claims to be leading the country, he should bear the most share of it. The essence of leadership lies in accountability. To your knowledge, has he ever visited IDPs? How can he do that after causing their displacement?
4.People in Addis Ababa, five million people are suffering with the cost of living. The vast majority of people in Addis Ababa are suffering daily due to the high cost of living. According to one expert, those with a salary lower than 40,000 birr (about 400 USD), which constitutes the majority of Addis people, are unable to survive every month. The usual sources of food, the Amhara and Oromia regions, are in turmoil, severely hindering logistics. By the way, the only place where the government is functioning in Ethiopia is Addis Ababa. No one is safe to travel 10 kilometers outside of the city. When FAO awards a leader who caused all this suffering for most of the people in Addis Ababa, the people wonder: Award for what? For skyrocketing living expenses in the capital city and making their lives hell? If so, it is well-deserved.
5.He is creating havoc daily in the Horn. Before last month, he was actively engaged in creating unnecessary war with Eritrea, and this month he is heard to be heading towards conflict with Somalia, all in the name of gaining a port. Since then, he has severed his relationships with these countries’ leaders. Not only that, but he has also meddled in the Sudan conflict. He is jealous of Kenya’s leadership role, preferred by the western block at this time in eastern Africa, and is not on good terms with the Kenyan leader. Djibouti’s leader is siding with other IGAD countries due to Abiy’s instability. All of this creates insecurity, economic downfall, and joblessness, which ultimately leads to instability. How come you were given an award for doing exactly the opposite?
All in all, these and many other reasons show that Abiy is not worthy of such an award. Some may argue that he did well in planting trees, contributing to the well-being of the world’s ecology. The vision of the Green Legacy, “which aims to improve the benefits of forests for the country’s social and ecological goals and realize Ethiopia’s prosperity,” is noble in itself. However, the implementation is problematic. There is an exaggeration of numbers just to grab the attention of world organizations and secure such awards. Moreover, what about the follow-up on the replanted trees? Is there anyone who has real data on this? One TV commentator mentioned that amidst the hype of planting trees, he and his friends planted 2000 trees. However, when he returned after a year, he was perplexed to find that no tree had survived. This might not be an isolated case. If the FAO is awarding prizes based on the principles of SDGs, then the sustainability of such endeavors should be the crux of the matter.
The award is, therefore, a political one, as one scholar stated, since there is a clear mismatch between the situation on the ground and the criteria for the award. Consequently, many people are now conspiring about different things. Some are saying, “Aha, if the Nobel Peace Prize resulted in a disastrous war, then this FAO food and security award might precede a catastrophic famine and hunger in the country.” These international bodies are seemingly orchestrating our downfall. They seem to be trying to cover up this man’s faults, as they are partnering with him to create chaos in the country. Others are suggesting that lobbyists were hired for this award to be given to Abiy Ahmed, with claims that 10 million dollars were paid. These theories should be further investigated. However, it is not surprising why people are speculating in this manner. FAO has provided a perfect ground for it by awarding a man a prize he does not deserve. As mentioned before, the younger generation is closely observing every action. The credibility of FAO and other UN organizations is at stake. Everything will come back to haunt them! Engaging in such meaningless acts is not beneficial for the organizations or for the well-being of the world.
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