Categorized | COP15, Climate Change

People from Ogaden Region Have Faith in Obama

Posted on 18 December 2009 by editor

By Mantoe Phakathi


Protesters from local Ogaden community. Credit: Mantoe Phakati

Protesters from local Ogaden community. Credit: Mantoe Phakati

The Ogaden region is found in the southeastern part of Ethiopia, bordering on Somalia. It is a semi-arid region that has suffered increasingly frequent droughts, with harsh consequences for its pastoralist population. But the 100 or so members of the Ogaden Community Association of Sweden (OCAS) were not outside the Bella Center to make a point on climate change.

OCAS president Musluf Hassan said they were appealing to Obama to save them from Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, accusing Ethiopia of having invaded the territory in 1948 and making war on them ever since.

The region was first conquered by Ethiopia in the latter part of the 19th century by Menelik II.  However, during the brief Italian colonial occupation of Ethiopia beginning in 1936, the region was administered as part of Italian Somaliland, and Ethiopia failed to convince the British to cede the territory to it after the Second World War.

In 1948, under U.S. pressure, the territory was returned to Ethiopian control, but has remained restive, with the Ogaden National Liberation Front fighting a continued guerrilla struggle for independence.

In 2007, Ethiopia launched a military crackdown in Ogaden. International rights organisations like Human Rights Watch have accused the Ethiopian government of committing abuses, such as torturing and killing civilians in the region.

“We therefore appeal to world leaders – especially Obama because we have so much faith in him – to reject the proposal Zenawi made on Wednesday, which was not representative of the African position,” said Umar.

In a press conference given by Zenawi, as coordinator of African heads of state and government on climate change, and French President Nicholas Sarkozy Wednesday, it was stated that Ethiopia had agreed on a maximum two degree temperature rise and called on the parties to make a 10 billion dollar start-up fund available. Obama then congratulated the Ethiopians on their “leadership.”

But the G77 group of 130 developing nations and China made it clear that this was not the Africa Group’s position, which was set out in a formal submission to the UNFCCC.

About 100 OCAS members were there to say that Zenawi, who has already suffered a great deal of criticism for his proposal, is an inappropriate leader for the African team because he has no respect for human rights.

“Because of the war he is perpetuating against the Ogaden people, many people are raped and killed every day,” said Odal Umar. “We have lots of faith in Obama because he seems to be embracing only countries which respect human rights.”


2 Comments For This Post

  1. shaafi Says:

    thanks very much for telling the truth

  2. mohamed Says:

    The people of Ogaden appreciate the efforts that was input in the report.

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