10 December 2019

Nobel Peace Prize for Ethiopia - Take deep breath and rejoice

Dr. Abiy Ahmed, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and Prime Minister of Ethiopia
Tuesday 10th December 2019 will remain as one of the most historic days for Ethiopians and all peace loving people of the world. The name Ethiopia elevated across the globe because of its beloved son, Dr. Abiy Ahmed, Prime Minister of Ethiopia. Ethiopia highly and deservedly glorified. A day when Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to Dr. Abiy Ahmed in Oslo, Norway.

The presentation speech by Berit Reiss-Andersen, Chair of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, was so uplifting and extremely moving. In her speech, the chairperson said, “They say that good news rarely arrives from the Horn of Africa. Historically, good news did in fact come from Africa. Ethiopia is the cradle of humankind. The first Homo sapiens emigrated from the territory of your country. In this sense we are all Ethiopians. Your country has a unique history also within an African context, since it was never colonialized by any Western power. It is in part for this very reason that Ethiopia is home to the African Union.”

This speech means a lot for many Ethiopians around the world. As we have hailed from a country that is unique, we are filled with pride. As we always believe Ethiopia to be the land of origins, hearing the likes of Ms. Reiss-Andersen, the chair of the most recognised committee globally saying things like ‘We are all Ethiopians’, lightens up our hearts and souls more. As we come from a country that defeated colonial aggressors as and when they tried to conquer our homeland, we feel even more proud and our hearts jump in pride and happiness. As we come from a country that worked so hard to get the African Union and for the liberation of African nations, we take deep satisfaction. As we come from a country where people of all religion co-existed peacefully with respect for one another and mutual understanding, we are filled with joy, warmth and fulfilment.

Sonja Haraldsen, Queen of Norway
Prime Minster Abiy on his turn made an impassioned and one of the most remarkable speeches as he was able to take the whole world on his journey of life all the way from his place of birth, Beshasha, to a global stage. His powerful speech received frequent rapturous applause from all present in the magnificent hall and a well-deserved standing ovation. In his acceptance speech Dr. Abiy emphasised on the need for working for peace; the importance of peaceful co-existence and respect for one-another. In his speech, Dr. Abiy Ahmed, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and Prime Minister of Ethiopia said, “I would like to especially express that we should avoid the path of extremism and division powered by politics of exclusion. Our accord hangs in the balance of inclusive politics. The evangelists of hate and division are wreaking havoc in our society using social media. They are preaching the gospel of revenge and retribution on the airwaves. Together, we must neutralize the toxin of hatred by creating a civic culture of consensus-based democracy, inclusivity, civility, and tolerance based on Medemer principles.”
Harald V, King of Norway

I am aware Dr. Abiy and fellow Ethiopians have lots of mountains to climb to democratize Ethiopia and take it on a long and arduous journey. Yes, we have a lot to work on to rebuild Ethiopia and make it a prosperous country. But that should not stop us from rejoicing the good news.

Time to rejoice, celebrate, organise and flourish together.

The Global Refugee Forum - Opportunity to Walk the Talk

“No one wants to leave home unless home has the mouth of a shark.”- Syrian refugee. 

The Global Refugee Crisis is getting worse by day. Only last week 58 people lost their lives as they drowned off the coast of Mauritania whilst making dangerous journeys searching for safety and better lives. It wasn’t that long since we had the Essex Lorry tragedy in the UK, where 39 people died tragically. According to IOM, 929 people died from January – September 2019 whilst attempting to cross the Mediterranean and reach Europe. Despite all the tragic news and challenges, people are still risking their lives and making treacherous journeys.

The Rohingya Refugee crisis is among the worst crises of our time. The world has seen an unprecedented refugee and migrant crisis in Central and South America. The Refugee camps in many African countries are struggling to cope. In simple words, the Global Refugee Crisis is worse today than it was years ago. According to the UNHCR nearly 26 Million refugees are stranded in camps across the world, most of whom are hosted in Global South.

The persecution of people for their religion, race, political opinions, sexual orientation and other reasons and their forced displacement from their homes continues. People searching for homes and safety around the world. It is disheartening and deeply troubling to see fellow humans denied the right to home and decent life.

As the International Community gathers in Geneva for the Global Refugee Forum from 17-18 December, leaders should go beyond the usual rhetoric. We have had many assemblies, conferences, summits, forums, workshops and seminars. We have had many unfulfilled promises. What we now need is action. Do what you say and show us that you mean what you say. We need practical leadership from the international community. Especially leaders in the Global North have to show leadership and deliver on their promises. I also hope that there will be refugee leaders taking part at the Global Refugee Forum who will be willing and able to share their helpful contributions and policy ideas. It is vital to use lived experiences as we look for a lasting solution to the challenges we are faced with. It is more than high time to share the burden; say we are all in this together; and have a clear strategic direction with deliverables. We have to work in the sense of urgency. In fact, it is more than high time to roll our sleeves and Walk the Talk.

I am proud of my home country Ethiopia which is hosting around 940,000 refugees and also for adopting a refugee law in early 2019, which is believed to be very progressive and ambitious refugee law and one of the best in Africa. I am also proud of the United Kingdom for its efforts to resettle 20,000 Syrian refugees through the Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme (VPRS) and 3000 children and their families through the Vulnerable Children’s Resettlement Scheme (VCRS) by 2020. Also encouraged by the introduction and growth of the Community Sponsorship scheme; and also the most recent extension of VPRS by one year and Community Sponsorship being in addition. This shows where there is a will, there is a way.

Hence the message to the international community is clear. Let us do the right thing today and help refugees stranded in camps around the world. Let us work in unison to help refugees to recover from traumatic experiences they go through and achieve their dreams, hopes and aspirations. With coordinated efforts around the world to resettle refugees, let us bring the dawn of hope to the most vulnerable people of our generation. 

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