Mar 24, 2014

Concern mounts over humanitarian crisis in Lower Omo, Ethiopia

The Gibe III dam is set to destroy the livelihoods of hundreds of thousands of people.
The Gibe III dam is set to destroy the livelihoods of hundreds of thousands of people.
Politicians in Europe and America are adding their voices to the international concern about the Gibe III dam and
 associated irrigated plantations. The projects will have a catastrophic impact on one of the most culturally and
 biologically diverse places on earth.

The Lower Omo river valley in Ethiopia and Kenya’s Lake Turkana are home to 500,000 tribal people and renowned
 UNESCO World Heritage sites on both sides of the border.

Italian MEP Andrea Zanoni has asked questions in the European Parliament about the human rights 
violations surrounding the projects. He has also addressed the involvement of the Italian company
 Salini Construttori, which is building the Gibe III  dam in the Lower Omo.

Lord Jones, a British parliamentarian, has asked questions in the UK Parliament about the use of funds 
provided by the Department for International Development (DfID) in these forced evictions.

Mark Durkan, a British Member of Parliament, has also written to DfID directly on the subject.

The Kwegu are one of the tribes of the Omo valley.
The Kwegu are one of the tribes of the Omo valley.
International Rivers has released a video that illustrates how the Gibe III dam, together with the associated sugar, 
cotton and palm plantations, poses serious hydrological risks to the region.

The projects will also have extreme human costs, by destroying the fisheries, grazing grounds and sophisticated
 farming systems on which the region’s indigenous inhabitants depend.

Human Rights Watch has created a set of compelling infographics using satellite imagery, which shows the rapid 
rate at which these landgrabs are taking place.

Survival and other NGOs have repeatedly denounced the forced eviction of hundreds of Bodi and Kwegu from their
 homes  into resettlement camps, as the government seizes their best agricultural lands to convert into large-scale 
commercial sugar cane plantations.

International donors such as the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and DfID have 
repeatedly  failed to investigate the crisis in the region, despite receiving consistent accounts of serious abuse.

However, the US Congress last month exposed USAID’s cover-up of the situation by legally requiring that 
US taxpayers’  money not be used to fund forced resettlements in Lower Omo.

The British government, however, has yet to introduce similar safeguards and to explain if and when it will apply 
its ‘Good Practice Guidelines and Principles Regarding Resettlement.’



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