10 June 2018

Ethiopia: Charities, Societies Not Played Enough Role On Rights

One of the fundamental roles of civil society organizations is ensuring the well being of the society. This is particularly true for those emerging economies that have got social, political and economic challenges.

The role of societies and charities has proven that they have a crucial role to provide support for those vulnerable and marginalized members of society. But this could only happen if they are organized with a genuine vision of helping the society than becoming the instrument for other purposes.

What is more is that they need to be active all the time. Their roles should not be limited by certain events. They should not be seasonal.

Social protection, especially rights of citizens is not a onetime agenda. It needs 365 days effort. It is necessary to ensure social protection policies, programs and implementation thereof resonate well with the principles, rights and obligations outlined in, for example, binding international conventions, national legislation and jurisprudence.

Furthermore, civil society organizations have the important function of holding state actors accountable through activities such as exerting pressure on political decision makers and court action if their efforts do not comply with expected standards.

Here, it must be noted that the strength or the weakness of charities or civil societies will depend up on the type of political structure that the country follows and the commitment of charities and societies towards the rights of the society. Whenever there are strong charities and civil societies there is strong protection of rights.

According to the Federal Charities and Societies Agency, Communication Director, Mesifin Tadesse, societies and charity organizations are not playing enough roles to protect the rights of communities, noting that there are about 3,360 charitable associations and about 200 of them are register in every year in Ethiopia.

As to him, charity organizations have a responsibility to participate in activities that ensure rights of their members and community right. "Charity organizations should work aggressively to ensure democratic rights and developmental activities. In this regard, both charity organizations and societies are not effective."

Beyond assuring members right by addressing communities' problem, they need to exercise their power by protecting rights through respecting country's law, said the Director.

Mesifin explained that some associations are not strong enough to respond the needs of their members. Youth and women leagues are good examples in this regard. They are weak to participate warmly and communicate enough within their community to protect members rights and advantages.

He said that several laws, policies and other systems are designed to protect public right. Therefore, societies should play a leading role by raising basic questions such as good governance and rights of citizens.

The Director also said that, the Agency is working closely with charities and civil societies. Regarding transformation on the society, there is no detailed research conducted so far. But the current finding of the Agency shows that it is on the better position.

The director added that, the international and local charity organizations are bringing better changes in the community on capacity building and other socioeconomic issues. Specially, they are taking parts in areas that are not touched by the government.


Causes, solutions of illegal migration

Human migration has been practiced for many centuries. People may move from place to place for seeking temporary or permanent settlement. The migration may be undertaken within the boarder of the nation or outside of it.

Within the country, it could be from rural to urban areas or via versa, from one region to another region. The other migration scenario is performed from the country of origin to another country. Such migration is caused due to many reasons including seeking employment, asylum and other basic needs.

According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugee (UNHCR) 2016 report, the number of refugees, asylum seekers and internally displaced people has reached 65 million worldwide.

When we see the case of Ethiopia, there is both internal and border crossing migration incidents. What makes the situation worse is that illegal migration and human trafficking activities are in higher scale at this time.

Though the government has designed anti-human trafficking laws, it could not be implemented properly. Consequently, human traffickers and agents could not be penalized and as a result many Ethiopians have been losing their precious life and property.

Illegal migration is common in every corner of Ethiopia. Most people from the southern and central Ethiopia has a trend of migrating to South Africa while the people who live in the northern part of the country usually migrate to Middle East countries mostly to Saudi Arabia.

According to the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs, 15,000 citizens migrate to Saudi Arabia every month illegally. In this case, Tigray state, especially the Eastern Zone is known in migrating to Middle East illegally. The state has the highest illegal migration prevalence in Ethiopia. Adigrat University 2016 research report indicates that more than 200,000 people migrate to Saudi Arabia from only two Woredas or local districts within 3 months.

Researcher Tesfay Kinfe told The Ethiopian Herald that unemployment, underemployment, low salaries, lack of land and capital and maladministration are the major pushing factors forced the youth to abandon his family and homeland seeking better life.

"The problem of illegal migration is causing social and economic burdens. Since the youth chooses migration as best option: children, women and elderly are being obliged to live without any supporter. This created negative impact, especially in the agriculture sector. Saesietsada Emaba and Atsbi Woreda are the most vulnerable areas in the state," he identified.

The researcher states that most of the migrants are youths who are high school and university graduates. "Hundreds of thousands of students graduate from public and private universities every year. But the job opportunity to accommodate them is highly limited," he said, adding "Their families expect them a lot. They believe their children would lift them out of abject poverty. However, all expectations may not be materialized and this causes anxiety, hopelessness and frustration among the graduates."

Another motivating factor is witnessing the success of the families who sent their son, daughter or family member abroad. The community observes their neighbors send money, clothes and other goods and they feel resentful. Thus, they initiated to send their children or family member selling their cattle, jewelry or any other property.

Kibrom Tewelde was born in eastern part of Tigray, in a town known as Edaga Hamus. He was jailed in Saudi Arabia for months due to entering the country illegally. But he was freed when Prime Minister Dr Abiy Ahmed paid official visit to the country and held discussion with Saudi officials. Now he has returned to his homeland.

"I don't want to remember it. It was extremely risky journey. You can see people dying of dehydration and disease. But what makes our journey heartbreaking is that our expectation may not be materialized even if we reach our destination in a very difficult situation," he notes.

Kibrom and his friends were jobless for almost a year. They have been supported by relatives and friends who live there.

"Life in Saudi was harsh. The weather condition, food, language and way of life was challenging for strangers like us. But the most challenging task was getting employment."

After spending disappointing time in Saudi, the returnee is optimistic about his future. He hopes that the government will support them to create their own business.

Besides, he urges his fellow country men and women not to risk their life for unattainable goal. He advised them to work in their country or to migrate legally.

"If you enter ones country illegally, you would face deportation, imprisonment and other dangerous consequences. So, let your journey legal and safe," he insisted.

Meanwhile, Wollo, a province in Amhara state is one of the most affected areas in the country. The recent Wollo University study on migration shows that many youths make their desperate journey to Middle East.

Even though awareness creation activities are being undertaken intensively, the problem could not be stopped. Consequently, it has caused social and economic damages.

Ethiopia has young demographic base. About 70 percent of its population is under the age of 30 years. This young and energetic part of society would be driving force for economic growth of the nation.

However, the respondents and researchers say that the government, non-governmental organizations and stakeholders should work in collaboration in empowering the youth. Hence, illegal migration should be tackled.

As well, the government should tighten measures on human traffickers, agents and those who involve in illegal migration. If so, the second populous nation in Africa would realize its dream of becoming middle income country by 2025.


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