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Monday, 23 June 2008

Call it by its true name, Famine not food problem !!

Tedla Asfaw

I read a commentary by Chege Mbitiru of Daily Nation (Nairobi, Kenya June 23) which characterizes the Ethiopian Famine as a "food problem" and accusing the editor of who wrote recently "Why is the emperor hiding our hunger?" of insulting Meles Zenawi.

Moreover the writer seems to be angry at Adissu, "Ministry of Agriculture" which I preferred to call him "Ministry of Rain" who still wait for the rain to come and if the rain does not come in the next month or two he might call for more aid until then we just call it "food shortage" and warned the international community not to exaggerate the crisis as ordered by the emperor, Meles Zenawi.

The emaciating children photos is not coming as it should be for all of us to see because the starving children are buried beyond  the rich of any media and as we all know there is no free media in Ethiopia. Villagers are burying their kids secretly without angering the emperor servants.  All the information we got of dying children are those that come out from very few  shelters and  many are dying in their villages quietly as we speak.

Yesterday on (June 22) two callers from"Welayeta", South Ethiopia gave their eyewitness account on what is going on in their villages. Famine is  devastating their villages and there is nothing to eat and children are quietly dying and no picture is coming out and Mr. Mbitiru treating this as"food problem"  in defense of Meles Zenawi is just uncalled for.

"Parents are burying their children not to anger the regime cadres in the famine area" according to the interview on  and if this comes out on a television screen that might be the end of "our emperor" Mr. Mbitiru is defending on his commentary by underestimating Ethiopia's famine as a "food problem" similarly faced by the 800 million people worldwide he reported.

I would like to ask the writer, how many children's death per day per total population can be reported as "Famine". I can tell the writer any  independent journalist can expose this for the world community if he or she has got access to all areas of Ethiopia affected by famine.

 Meles Zenawi has total monopoly on the news like it has on our hunger and that is why Addis Voice comes with the title,  "why  the emperor is hiding our hunger ?" Mind you this is a regime with the help of China is jamming VOA and German Amharic unsuccessfully. Journalists  from these stations broke this story  for Ethiopians by going to various  feeding stations run by humanitarian agencies in South Ethiopia. Without their reporting we might not even debate here "food problem" or famine.

The emperor has reason to hide this hunger with full cooperation of USA and UK. Both USA and UK  are the  supporters and financiers of of Meles currently working overtime for a regime change in Zimbabwe accusing Mugabe among other things of denying aid for starving Zimbabweans. What a double standard?

Why the same is not said about Ethiopia  is not hard to grasp. If they wish the Ambassador of USA and UK in Ethiopia can travel to the affected areas and talk to the starving people. We have seen efforts by the government officials of these countries shooting pictures of Mugabe opponents beaten up and similar effort is expected of them to show the starving children of Ethiopia if they would like to be remembered by Ethiopians as someone who went beyond politics and save lives.

Had we have a country run by a rule of law not by an emperor above the law we would have saved many lives with little  outside help and take our country out of  famine cycle  using our river potential the writer mentioned . We can replace the" Ministry of Rain" with "Ministry of Irrigation" and remove our country's name from the encyclopedia of famine forever and for that to happen  we can not see the current famine in isolation to the tyranny in Ethiopia, "emperor" or otherwise.