Ethiopia. The threat of starvation increased during the
year, despite rainfall in April and May. Three years of
severe drought due to the weather phenomenon of El Niņo had
killed many livestock, and in the border with Somalia,
people sought relief in temporary camps where food and clean
water were scarce.
Countryaah.com, Ethiopia has one of Africa's fastest growing economies,
about a 10% increase in GDP annually, but most residents
live outside the formal economy and grow for
self-sufficiency. Therefore, the population is also poor and
dependent on development aid during normal years. Now in
September, the UN warned that just over 8.5 million
Ethiopians needed food aid as a result of the severe
The situation worsened as masses of refugees poured into
miserable camps from neighboring Somalia and South Sudan,
away from famine and fighting there. Diarrhea and infections
raged and, according to MSF, the number of malnourished
children increased dramatically in eastern Ethiopia, where
death rates among children rose.
The UN Commissioner for Human Rights urged Ethiopia to
allow a UN investigation into the violence in 2015 and 2016,
when hundreds of regime-critical protesters were killed. But
foreign investigators were not admitted.
In March, a arrested opposition leader from the Oromo
people was indicted for stirring up the unrest and
supporting a terrorist group. He refused a crime. Two other
dissidents were prosecuted in their absence on similar
grounds. According to Human Rights Watch, the regime used
politically motivated charges to defeat the opposition and
prevent peaceful protests.
Later, an opposition politician was sentenced to prison
for six and a half years accused of encouraging terrorism.
He had been detained since 2015, when on Facebook he
criticized the regime for using violence against protesters.
Journalist Getachew Shiferaw was sentenced to 18 months
in prison on charges of overthrowing business. According to
critics, the regime regularly uses allegations of security
breaches to silence opposition voices and stifle media
In August, a well-known opposition politician, Mamushet
Amare, was charged with organizing regime-critical protests
in the Amharan region. He was also prosecuted under the
anti-terror laws. Another opposition politician was arrested
without stating any reasons.
More than 100 people were killed in March, when the
country's largest landfill collapsed in the capital, Addis
Ababa, and the landslide buried garbage dumps and housing in
the nearby slums. Most of the victims were reported to be
women and children. The gigantic garbage dump has been
around for half a century, and hundreds of people live on
and beside it.
Dozens of people were killed when an armed group crossed
the border from South Sudan in March and, according to
authorities, kidnapped more than 40 children.
In September, more than 100 people were killed and crowds
were driven from their homes in violence in a disputed
border area between the Oromia and Somali regions of eastern
Ethiopia. Military was sent to the scene to curb the
violence, which, among other things, stems from conflicts
over land rights. During the year, more than 400,000 people
were forced to flee their homes because of the local
violence. In December, at least 60 people were killed in the
violence between the various ethnic groups in the Oromia
region. In October, at least five people were killed when
police opened fire on protesters in Ambo west of Addis
Ababa. It gave eyewitnesses to the violence, which was said
to be rooted in protests against sugar shortages.
During the year, the government stopped all adoptions of
Ethiopian children abroad. No cause was stated, and it was
unclear how long the decision would last.
Ethiopian-Swedish physician Fikru Maru, who was convicted
and imprisoned in Ethiopia on bribery charges, faced trial
again during the year. He was now charged with terrorism. In
May, it was announced that Maru was released from the bribe
he had previously been sentenced to prison for. However,
Fikru Maru was still held in custody, and the new trial on
terrorism was postponed until 2018.