SP Development Spokesman Visits Ethiopia

7 January 2008

SP Development Spokesman Visits Ethiopia

SP Member of Parliament and spokesman on development issues Ewout Irrgang is to visit Ethiopia as part of a delegation from the Foreign Affairs Committee which will arrive in the country on 8th January and stay until the 14th. During his time in Ethiopia, Irrgang will have the opportunity along with other members of the delegation to talk with Prime Minister Mélès Zénawi, examine development projects and Dutch firms active in the country, and visit the refugee camp in the Ogaden near the border with Somalia.

Ewout IrrgangIn 2006 The Netherlands spent € 22.5 million on development aid in Ethiopia. The SP Member will be visiting some of the beneficiaries of this money, including a school, a clinic and a hospital in the national capital, Addis Abeba, or its vicinity, as well as a dairy cooperative and greenhouses set up with Dutch aid moneys for the cultivation of flowers.

ON 12th January Irrgang will travel to a refugee camp in the Ogaden (Jijiga), very near to the border with Somalia. This is the area in which a forgotten war between the Ethiopian army and the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) continues to rage. According to human rights groups, the Ethiopian army is guilty of ware crimes in the region, including the razing of entire villages, mass rape, and hindering access for aid organisations.

“In the Ogaden the Ethiopian army is busy ‘Darfurising’ a forgotten war," says Irrgang. "Crimes condemned by the whole world in Sudan are winked at there because the country responsible is an ally of the West. In Somalia too, Ethiopia, in common with the other warring parties, is suspected of war crimes. I certainly won't be keeping quiet about such things when I get to speak to government officials.”

In addition to a meeting with the Ethiopian Premier, members of the delegation will also hold talks with the Chair of the national parliament, its Committee on Foreign Affairs, and the country's foreign minister. In Addis Abeba, a visit is planned to the headquarters of the African Union (AU). The main item on the agenda to be raised at the AU is its inadequate peacekeeping operations in Darfur and Somalia.

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