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UNICEF ETHIOPIA REPORT ON ANUAK GENOCIDE

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UNICEF GENOCIDE STUDY ETHIOPIA

Classified Report Released for Public February 5, 2007.
Republished on the an
nouncement of the Death of Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi

21 August 2012

keith harmon snow


This report was made public 05 February 2007 in recognition that the U.S. Fund for UNICEF includes amongst its co-chairs and directors current or former U.S. Government and corporate officials, and corporate allies, who have promoted, instituted or directed hostile foreign policies, covert actions, and open military campaigns against and within sovereign nations, and who are thus responsible for unprecedented suffering, despair and death, which is ongoing and global.  The conditions of life in Gambella and the Ogaden Basin and other parts of Ethiopia have not improved.

Similarly, the role of international AID organizations in Ethiopia, as everywhere, appears to be
managed inequality, often serving military prerogatives, subordinated to military agendas, and backed by military funding, where the suffering, despair and death of the disenfranchised many is subordinated to the perpetuation of incomes and industries which benefit the privileged few; this, primarily, is institutionalized white privilege and the permanent warfare economy it thrives on.


This report was released in Memory & Solidarity with Ken Saro-Wiwa and all people of the Niger River Delta; with Patrice Lumumba and all people of the Congo; with the Hutus and all people of the Great Lakes; with the Tuareg and all people of the deserts; with the innocent men, women and children in Darfur; and all the other brothers and sisters, sons and daughters, fathers and mothers of the people of Ethiopia and Sudan, from which we all came.


Anuak-Children-B&W LR.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

UNICEF

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

 

 

Livelihoods & Vulnerabilities Study

Gambella Region of Ethiopia

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

05 February 2007

 

*** Final ***


NOTE:  THIS PAGE ADDED ON 13 DECEMBER 2006

 

This report was co-authored by two (2) expert consultants hired by UNICEF with the assistance of various other parties in Ethiopia. For security reasons one author wishes to remain anonymous and none of the supporting contributors have been identified. Co-author Maxine Marcus is a lawyer trained in international law, a former legal expert and researcher with Human Rights Watch, and a war crimes and genocide expert affiliated with International War Crimes Tribunals.

 

Co-author keith harmon snow is a human rights and genocide investigator who previously worked as field investigator in Ethiopia and Sudan, and as country researcher for the Democratic Republic of Congo, for Genocide Watch and Survivor's Rights International. This page, added to the report on 12 December 2006, is the sole responsibility of this author, and it in no way reflects the position of the unidentified author or other contributors.

 

This report was released to the general public on 14 December 2006, the 3rd anniversary of the atrocities committed in Gambella, Ethiopia, 13-15 December 2003. This report was made public by the above NAMED author to raise awareness of:

·      the continued denial of basic human rights and liberties, and the repression, insecurity and suffering endured by peoples in Ethiopia due to the Government of Ethiopia, which acts under the banners of democracy;

·      the silence, at least, and direct complicity, at worst, of certain United Nations bodies, their partners and their donors, regarding atrocities committed against indigenous people and ordinary citizens in Ethiopia, as everywhere in Africa;

·      the complicity of international legal and humanitarian institutions, governments and multinational corporations in ongoing destabilization, militarization and plunder of resources, occurring at an unprecedented rate and scale, in Ethiopia, as everywhere in Africa;

·      the role of the Ethiopian government and its backers, the United States, U.K. and Israel, and their covert military and intelligence agents (operations, involvement) in Ethiopia, who are today prosecuting low-intensity wars, and committing terrorist acts, in Ethiopia, Somalia, Eritrea and Sudan, as everywhere, under the cover of the "war on terror."

 

This report was made public in recognition that the U.S. Fund for UNICEF includes amongst its co-chairs and directors current or former U.S. Government and corporate officials, and corporate allies, who have promoted, instituted or directed hostile foreign policies, covert actions, and open military campaigns against and within sovereign nations, and who are thus responsible for unprecedented suffering, despair and death, which is ongoing and global.

 

Similarly, the role of international AID organizations in Ethiopia, as everywhere, appears to be managed inequality, often serving military prerogatives, subordinated to military agendas, and backed by military funding, where the suffering, despair and death of the disenfranchised many is subordinated to the perpetuation of incomes and industries which benefit the privileged few; this, primarily, is institutionalized white privilege and the permanent warfare economy it thrives on.

 

This report is released in Memory & Solidarity with Ken Saro-Wiwa and all people of the Niger River Delta; with Patrice Lumumba and all people of the Congo; with the Hutus and all people of the Great Lakes; with the Tuareg and all people of the deserts; with the innocent men, women and children in Darfur; and all the other brothers and sisters, sons and daughters, fathers and mothers of the people of Ethiopia and Sudan, from which we all came.


Anuak-Ethiopian-Troops.jpg

Ethiopian Government EPDRF troops (of Tigrayan ethnicity) in Gambella, Ethiopia. Photo c. keith harmon snow 2005.




UNICEF

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

 

Livelihoods & Vulnerabilities Study

Gambella Region of Ethiopia

 

*** PROPRIETARY NOTICE ***

 

This report was produced through a special consultancy for UNICEF, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and it was solely funded and supported by UNICEF, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

 

All information and materials contained herein, including all intellectual property rights, remain the sole property of UNICEF Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Reproduction, dissemination or perusal of this report is strictly forbidden. Any inquiries about his report should be directed to the Head of Mission, offices of UNICEF, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

 

 

 

Head of Mission

UN Children's Fund

Economic Commission for Africa

Addis Ababa Country Office

PO Box 1169

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Tel: +(251) 154.44.178

 


 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

 

Section I:  Executive Summary..................................................................................... 6

1. Summary of Introduction and Methods............................................................. 6

2. Summary of Findings............................................................................................... 7

3. Summary of Conclusions....................................................................................... 8

Section II:  Historical Background and Context................................................. 10

1. Introduction.......................................................................................................... 10

2. Populations and Politics..................................................................................... 11

3. Conflict and Insurgency in the Gambella Region........................................ 12

4. Economy................................................................................................................... 13

5. December 2003 Onwards...................................................................................... 14

Section III:  Rationale and Methodology for This Study................................... 15

1. Rationale................................................................................................................ 15

2. Development of Questionnaire.......................................................................... 15

3. Geographical Selection..................................................................................... 16

4. Selection of Interviewee Populations............................................................. 17

Section IV:...................................................................................................................... 18

Unique Challenges of Conducting Research in Gambella Region.................. 18

1. Lack of Infrastructure....................................................................................... 18

2. Access to Interviewee Populations................................................................... 19

3. Access to Interviewees: Language Barriers, Cultural Barriers, Confidence Building 20

4. Climate of Insecurity........................................................................................... 21

5. Climate of Fear...................................................................................................... 22

Section V:  Statistical Analysis of Evidence Obtained....................................... 23

Section VI:  Livelihoods & Vulnerabilities: Women & Children....................... 23

1. Food Security & Income Generation................................................................ 23

2. Education................................................................................................................ 24

3. Effects of Famine................................................................................................... 25

4. Health Care........................................................................................................... 26

4.1 Latest Routine Vaccination/Ante-natal & Post-natal care statistics (Nov. 2005). 26

4.2 Available Staff...................................................................................................... 26

4.3 Functioning Facilities........................................................................................... 26

5. HIV - AIDS................................................................................................................ 27

6. Rural Water Supply and Sanitation................................................................ 28

7. Livelihoods & Vulnerabilities of Women & Children.................................. 29

7.1  Ilea Village........................................................................................................ 29

7.2  Itang Town ........................................................................................................ 30

7.3  Opinya/Penyao Village...................................................................................... 31

7.4  Abobo Town....................................................................................................... 32

7.5  Pochalla Village (Ethiopia).............................................................................. 32

7.6  Punyido (Funyido) Town.................................................................................. 33

7.7  Gog Jinjor Village............................................................................................. 34

7.8  Gog Dipatch Village.......................................................................................... 35

7.9  Dimma Woreda.................................................................................................. 36

7.10  Gambella Town............................................................................................... 39

7.11  Godere Woreda: Metti Town........................................................................... 40

8. Conclusions About Livelihoods & Vulnerabilities of Women & Children 41

Section VII:  Overall Impact of Security Situation on Vulnerability of the Population of Gambella Region     41

1. Protection of Women and Children.................................................................. 41

a. Intimidation, Harassment, Terrorisation of Civilians by Authorities................. 41

b. Atmosphere of Violence and Threat of Violence Leading to Insecurity.............. 43

c. Killings and Extra-Judicial Executions.............................................................. 45

d. Disappearances and Desecration of the Dead...................................................... 46

e. Physical Violence.................................................................................................. 46

f. Arbitrary Arrest and Detention.............................................................................. 47

g. Sexual and Gender-Based Violence..................................................................... 47

h. Looting and Destruction of Property.................................................................... 49

i. Restrictions on Freedom of Movement.................................................................. 50

j. Impact of Inter-Ethnic Conflict on Vulnerability of Women & Children.......... 51

2. Impact of Protection Issues on Livelihoods & Vulnerabilities.................. 51

3. Breakdown of Social Fabric Due to Vulnerability..................................... 52

a. Substance Abuse................................................................................................... 52

b. Violence in Families and Communities.............................................................. 52

c. Displacement and Family Separation.................................................................. 52

e. Prostitution and Sexual Exploitation.................................................................. 53

f. Criminal Activity................................................................................................... 53

4. Duty Bearers.......................................................................................................... 54

5. Governance and Justice...................................................................................... 56

a. Governance........................................................................................................... 56

b. Taxation................................................................................................................ 57

c. Corruption and Clientelism.................................................................................. 57

d. Increasing Incarceration Rates............................................................................ 58

e. Compromised Labour Pool................................................................................... 58

f. Insufficient or Non-Existent Supervision by Regional Government Staff of Field-Based Structures       59

g. Lack of Rehabilitation......................................................................................... 60

h. Justice Sector........................................................................................................ 61

Section VIII:  Case Studies.......................................................................................... 62

Case Study [1] Alwero-Peno Woreda: Villages of Opinya and Ilea............... 62

Case Study [2]: Dimma Woreda............................................................................... 70

Section IX:  Conclusions............................................................................................. 85

Section X:  Recommendations..................................................................................... 87

APPENDICES.................................................................................................................. 92

APPENDIX I: Introduction to Anuak & Nuer People of Gambella Region... 92

APPENDIX II: Disintegration of Traditional Customs, Rites and Culture 94

APPENDIX III: Degradation of the Environment............................................... 95

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



 

Section I:  Executive Summary

 

UNICEF operations in the Gambella People's National Regional State of Ethiopia (Gambella Region) have been impeded in the effective implementation of programs since the UNICEF base opened there in January of 2005. Repeated attempts to improve the lives of women and children in Gambella were failing, and strategies that worked elsewhere were not working in Gambella.

 

This UNICEF document, Livelihoods & Vulnerabilities Study: Gambella Region of Ethiopia, follows from an innovative UNICEF initiative launched to comprehensively assess the immediate livelihoods and vulnerabilities issues, predominantly of women and children, in the diverse and unique Gambella region of southwest Ethiopia. This assessment is based on a seven-week field study conducted at the close of the rainy season (October and November 2005) in five of Gambella's seven Woredas (administrative zones).

 

Information on the recent and more historical background of the Gambella Region is given in Section II: Historical Background and Context.

 

1. Summary of Introduction and Methods

 

The Youth Sports Culture and Labour and Social Affairs Office of Gambella had requested that UNICEF support them in the piloting of an initial one-year program for "Addressing Vulnerabilities in the Gambella Region." As part of that aim, this study set out to: [1] investigate the most effective ways of planning, implementing and supporting sustainable interventions in the region; [2] identify the most vulnerable groups and areas of the region where the above should be targeted; [3] assess the impact of ongoing conflicts in Gambella on livelihoods and how assistance might be affected by these conflicts; [4] verify expressed concerns that above normal breaches of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) were occurring in Gambella, and that there were heightened levels of sexual and gender based violence (SGBV).    

 

Pursuit of this livelihoods and vulnerabilities assessment revolved around the premise that protection issues are a core part of UNICEF's mandate, and that they contribute to other basic vulnerabilities of women and children. In the initial phase of this project a survey questionnaire was developed that could be used as a basic tool for the collection of data regarding livelihoods and vulnerabilities of Gambella's women and children. The rationale and methodology for this study are described in Section III: Rationale and Methodology for this Study.

 

Field research was completed in parts of the Gambella region's Alwero-Peno, Gilo, and Dimma Woredas, and in Gambella Woreda; these woredas are all seeing major human catastrophes in the making. The livelihoods and vulnerabilities section of the questionnaire was complemented by a section dedicated to the collection of data and personal testimonies that would enable a solid assessment of protection problems. Questions were designed to facilitate a clear picture of who, what, where, when and how protection problems arose, and to record pieces of the personal stories of the people in need.

 

Section IV: Unique Challenges of Conducting Research in the Gambella Region--explores the dynamics involved in understanding and negotiating the many layers of complexity in logistics; communications; information collection, management and protection; security; personal health (physical and psychological); natural environment; and the many spaces of social, political, cultural, and psychological uniqueness that differ between the UNICEF team and the populations UNICEF is serving. All these factors combine with insurgency and low-intensity conflict to make the Gambella zone a volatile and complex research context.

 

More than 120 interviews were conducted under the most difficult circumstances and in some of the most inaccessible territory in sub-Saharan Africa. Interviews involved interpreters (Nuer, Anuak, Highlander) and interpreter trainings, and they averaged from one to three hours each. Issues of security for staff and protection of the interviewee were constant concerns.

 

Interviews were completed with women and men of the Nuer, Anuak, Majenger and Highlander ethnic groups. These interviews included impoverished and vulnerable populations in remote villages, gold miners, police, local Kebele leaders, midwives, teachers, nurses, elders, regional Woreda officials, health experts, western NGO expatriates, Ethiopian security officials, Gambella Regional administrators, and members of rebel groups.

 

Section V: Raw demographic information, including vulnerabilities and protection data, was collected for this study; it is hoped that this data will in future be available for statistical analyses.

 

2. Summary of Findings

 

The women and children in Gambella Region are extremely vulnerable. With UNICEF asking questions about access to basic resources necessary for daily survival--potable water, sufficient firewood, movement to and from markets, sustainable incomes, access to education and medical care--the population uniformly responded that all aspects of their lives are directly and profoundly impacted by problems of security and protection.

 

Tangible assets (resources and stores) and intangible assets (claims and access) have been universally denied, repeatedly and devastatingly seized from women and children of all but one region (Godere) assessed. Civilians of all ethnic groups surveyed are living in fear; their ability to withstand shocks has been taxed or completely compromised.

 

Section VI: Livelihoods and Vulnerabilities of Gambella's Women and Children--discusses key finding on vulnerabilities and livelihoods which demonstrates that the deteriorating vulnerability situation in Gambella in the last two years is primarily due to the protection problems. These protection problems have been caused by the heavy ENDF presence and their actions to target the civilian population often--but not always--in collaboration with Regional authorities, as well as the targeting of civilians by paramilitary rebel groups.

 

The organizations charged with responsibility for protecting, representing and improving the lives of their citizens are unfortunately doing just the opposite: their actions have devastated the population. The particular circumstances surrounding events and realities in the villages visited in this study are included in sections about the livelihoods and vulnerabilities of women and children in each village.

 

Section VII: Overall Impact of the Security Situation on Vulnerability of the Population of Gambella Region--offers a thorough analysis of findings revealing the nature and scale of protection and security issues in the areas visited. Interviews and testimonies by eyewitnesses, survivors and officials documented incontrovertible evidence that innocent women, children and men have been the victims of attacks by military forces and rebel forces. People have been targeted for extra-judicial killings, beatings and torture, sexual and gender-based violence, looting and burning of civilian property, and threats to commit any of these. The region is plagued by a comprehensive atmosphere of terror; civilians remain either because they have no choice or because the alternative is a life in exile and displacement, separated from their family and their community--reportedly no better in any case.

 

There are two detailed case studies in the latter part of the report focusing on particular areas of Gambella. They are meant as examples of the kinds of reports UNICEF received in the course of this study.

 

The Appendices (I-III) offer a more detailed discussion or assessment of the traditional Anuak and Nuer culture, cosmologies, belief systems and history. Included is further in-depth discussion of inter-ethnic and intra-tribal conflict, and a look at the critical environmental issues related to the Gambella region and the ongoing conflict.

 

3. Summary of Conclusions

 

It is impossible to separate the problems of livelihood and vulnerability of Gambella's women and children from their problems of security. Protection problems have caused them to be exceedingly vulnerable. Any attempt by any organisation to address vulnerabilities that does not address the protection problems in Gambella will fail at best; at worst, such efforts may serve to entrench and enrich the duty bearers while further devastating the civilian women and children.

 

The agendas of armed factions in Gambella region are irrelevant when civilians are being continually victimised. Regardless of the political aims behind violence that has occurred--and continues to occur--in the Gambella region, where civilians are the primary targets, these attacks are in violation of Ethiopian and international law.

 

This assessment has constructed a basic picture of conditions of life and death in the unknown Dimma Region of Gambella: this information--on the scale or nature of the threats to life and livelihood faced by women and children in the region, and about how these issues differ from other areas of Gambella--was not previously available.

 

Many of the people interviewed for this assessment are living and dying under a permanent and intense state of anxiety and fear--very real--that ENDF soldiers or armed rebels will return at any moment and again terrorize them. Peoples' capacity to feed, cloth, educate and care for themselves, and to move around freely in search of ways to do this, have been grossly interfered with and diminished and, in many cases, eliminated all together.

 

What is necessary is a comprehensive response by the international community, civil society, and local and Federal government to engage in broad reaching and inclusive strategies towards conflict resolution, peace-building, capacity-building, monitoring and reporting of ongoing violations, and access to effective justice and an end to impunity for the duty bearers.

 

Failing urgent action in Gambella region, UNICEF fears a further downward spiralling of violence and suffering heaped on the shoulders of the women and children of Gambella. Absent some comprehensive and decisive response, UNICEF programs and the programs of other humanitarian agencies will serve only as band-aids on the otherwise festering wounds of the region.

 

The deracination of indigenous people that is evident in rural areas of Gambella is extreme. It is very likely that Anuak (and possibly other indigenous minorities) culture will completely disappear in the not-so-distant future. Cultural survival, autonomy, rights of self-determination and self-governance are all legitimate issues for these indigenous groups, and these are all enshrined by international covenants and United Nations bodies--but all are meaningless in Gambella today.

 

The body of evidence documenting the detrimental effects of unregulated, profit-driven petroleum operations under circumstances in other African nations similar to those that exist in Gambella region is voluminous. It should be noted that the rise of a parallel economy--driven by the petroleum sector--alongside the total deracination of local populations in the Gambella region, as is occurring today, would further institutionalize existing inequalities.

 

This report about suffering, violence, hunger, hopelessness and other miseries, is not about the past, it is about the present: ENDF military have recently redeployed in large numbers throughout Gambella. UNICEF needs to immediately focus resources and attention to institute the necessary emergency livelihoods intervention strategies needed to enable immediate survival of populations and to halt the ongoing disaster.

 

 

Section II:  Historical Background and Context

 

1. Introduction

 

The Gambella People's National Regional State of Ethiopia (Gambella region) is a lowland (rift-valley) promontory territory in the southwest of the country bordering on south Sudan and Ethiopia's Oromiya and Southern People's, Nations and Nationalities Regional States (SNNPR) zones.

 

The Gambella region served as an important colonial trading outpost at the turn of the 20th century. Arabs, Indians and Yemenis and other groups dominated trade. Coffee, skins and hides, and ivory were major commodities, and trading occurred between Arab and indigenous groups and encroaching western colonizers, with Gambella town growing to offer a limited foothold for colonial interests.

 

Historically ignored, the region was annexed to Ethiopia in 1954; it has a long and porous border with Sudan. Characterized climatically by a long dry season (December to June with temperatures reaching in excess of 50 degrees Celsius) and a long wet season (June to November) the region is extremely fertile. Although it can be described as "densely forested," due to the abundance of trees, the landscape is more aptly described as a shrub and thorn bush desert plain.

 

There are six ethnic groups that consider themselves to be indigenous to the Gambella region: Anuak (also called Anywaa), Nuer, Majenger, Opo, Surma and Komo. (Murle rebels have been reported in the Dimma region.) The Nuer and the Anuak are the largest groups in the region. The third-largest population group consists of people of Tigrayan, Oromo, Kambata, Amhara and other ethnicities, found throughout Ethiopia, who are loosely defined as "Highlanders." The indigenous nomadic Surma people--predominantly resident in the Southern People's (SNNPR) region--migrate in and out of Dimma Woreda, where the presence of armed Surma nomads has a significant impact on interethnic and political affairs.[1]

 

Gambella region has an estimated population of 393,495. This figure is based on vaccination statistics from completed rounds of polio and measles vaccination completed in Gambella during 2005 (UNICEF / Regional Health Bureau Gambella). The last official census was completed in 1994, but the population predictions based upon the result at this time neither take into account the influx of refugee (around 50,000 at present), nor the incursion of some 20 - 30,000 Lou Nuer into Gambella from Southern Sudan. The population of the individual tribes in Gambella is frequently a subject of much discussion in the region - as population figures equate to power and thus are subject to manipulation. However, a reasonable assumption based on vaccination experience would suggest that the Nuer and Anuak are more or less equal in number (~ 100,000) followed by the settled Highlander community (~ 60,000), refugee populations (~ 50,000) and the less numerous Majenger, Surma, Komo and Opo.

 

2. Populations and Politics

 

Gambella is one of nine administrative zones in Ethiopia, all of which are further divided into administrative units called Woredas. Until recently the Gambella zone was divided into nine Woredas: Akobo, Jikawo, Itang, Gambella, Abobo, Jor, Gog, Dimma and Godere.

 

However, administrative redistricting occurred in 2004-2005: the new administrative structure is comprised of six woredas and one "special" Woreda managed by the Federal government: Alwero-Peno, Gilo, Jikawo, Akobo, Dimma, Godere and Gambella (special). The Gambella region today has three Anuak Woredas (Alwero-Peno, Dimma and Gilo); two Nuer Woredas (Jikawo and Akobo); and one Majenger Woreda (Godere).

 

Woredas are further subdivided into towns, while the "Kebele" is the smallest administrative unit, comparable to a village or sub-sections of a larger town; Gambella town, for example, is subdivided into Kebeles 01, 02, 03, 04, 05.

 

Gambella's urban centres include Gambella town, Pinyudo (also called Funyido), Dimma, Metti, Abobo, Matare and Kuergeng. Despite their existence as "administrative or commercial centres," these towns remain underdeveloped. As an example, Gambella is the only Ethiopian regional capital with neither a functional water supply at any level nor an even reasonably steady supply of electricity. At each descending administrative level, the level of underdevelopment increases.

 

Zone capitals, such as Nyaneng, capital of the Nuer zone, have little or no functional basic services (schools, health centres, etc...), while government offices (zone offices, police stations, etc...) are based in local grass tukuls. Nyaneng is inaccessible by road for six months of the year, and access by boat (only available to aid agencies) involves an eight-hour boat ride followed by a five-hour walk in waist-deep swamps. Most Woreda capitals below the zone capital level exist under similar or worse conditions.

 

Refugee populations were estimated at between 150,000 and 350,000 in the 1980s, and large numbers of refugees returned to Sudan after the fall of the Derg (1991). The Gambella region has seen significant population flows over the past decade however, as insurgency and conflict flared up both inside and outside Ethiopia. As of November 2004, UNHCR estimated some 68,000 refugees in three camps in Gambella: 31,000 in Pinyudo; 19,000 in Dimma; and 18,000 in Bonga, although the latest revalidation exercises will probably see total counts drop to less than 50,000 people.

 

The Nuer were favoured over the Anuak during the Derg era: Nuer dominated the local administration in Gambella until 1991. The armed struggle to overthrow the Derg regime manifested locally in Gambella zone with an alliance between Anuak insurgents, including the Gambella People's Liberation Movement (GPLM), the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF), and the Ethiopian Peoples Democratic Revolutionary Front (EPRDF), which seized power and controls the country today; the EPRDF was predominantly controlled by the Tigrayan People's Liberation Front (TPLF).

 

The Anuaks fought alongside the EPRDF to overthrow the Derg, and political statements issued in recent years have delineated the extent of Anuak disaffection for a "liberation" government--the EPRDF--that betrayed them upon its ascension to power.

 

Some of the best land in the region was taken over for government farming schemes under the Derg. Highlander settlers previously employed as labourers occupied these lands after government farming schemes collapsed with the end of the Derg.

 

Following the May 2005 elections, the region has a recently appointed Anuak President, supported by a Nuer Vice-President. Other key posts in the regional government are distributed amongst the indigenous groups depending upon their relative population size.

 

3. Conflict and Insurgency in the Gambella Region

 

The Gambella region has seen increasing violence and armed conflict since the downfall of the Derg in 1991. Faced with their perceptions of being increasingly pushed off their own land and marginalized by the political system, and having felt increasingly so after decades of open racism by federal authorities and other encroaching ethnic groups, Anuaks began to pursue their grievances by military means as early as 1992. Major military confrontations between the GPLF and EPRDF forces occurred as early as 1993.

 

The Anuak sovereignty movement sprung out of what the Anuak described as a slow but steady process of attrition against the Anuaks and the GPLF by the EPRDF military: isolated killings and jailing of Anuak farmers, students, educated professionals and other civilians. This process continued through the 1990's and apparently set the stage for tensions and hostilities that have occurred in the post-2000 timeframe.

 

The Gambella People's Democratic Congress (GPDC) party was organized in 1999 in opposition to the ruling EPRDF, primarily to challenge what the Anuaks claimed were consistent violations of human rights and ongoing dispossessions of Anuak lands. The GPDC immediately won a majority of seats in the government of Gambella.

 

The relationship between the Sudan People's Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A) and the Anuak minority is complicated by geographic, ethnic, historical and political factors. The SPLM/A is partially comprised of Anuaks.

 

On December 17, 2003--just prior to major outbreaks of political violence in Gambella region--the Ethiopian Minister of State for Federal Affairs, Gebrehab Barnabas, blamed recent violence on the OLF. "The conflict in Gambella town last weekend was triggered by members of the Oromo Liberation front (OLF)," he stated, in a statement reported by the international press, "supported by the Eritrean People's Liberation Front (EPLF)..."

 

The Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) has reportedly infiltrated fighters into Ethiopia through Gambella in recent years, reportedly backed by the Eritrean Government; the OLF leadership is currently based in Asmara, the capital of Eritrea.

 

The Ethiopian Patriotic United Front (EPUF), a mostly Nuer, Sudan-based, insurgent group led by a former Derg official named Thuwath Pal Chay, has also been active in the region. Thuwath Pal Chay, a Nuer, was the top central government official in Gambella for several years prior to the overthrow of the Derg regime (1991). He claims to be fighting a "war of liberation" that seeks to overthrow the EPRDF government and return Ethiopia to socialism. The EPUF has engaged in sporadic fighting with ENDF (Ethiopian National Defence Forces) and has at times controlled villages along the Sudan border.

 

A prevalent historic phenomenon, immigration from Sudanese Nuers continues to be a major factor contributing to tensions and land struggles, and it has sparked armed inter-ethnic conflict in which the Anuaks have universally been the losers. War in Sudan (1980-2005) has also destabilized the Gambella region as members of Nuer, Dinka, Sudanese Anuak and other Sudanese ethnic groups fled war in Sudan by the tens of thousands in the 1980's and 1990's.

 

Some 20,000 'Lou' Nuer from Sudan--relatively well armed and well-equipped--forcibly displaced Nuers from Nuer zones in Gambella in recent years, causing a domino effect, which in turn further displaced Anuaks from Anuak, lands. Nuers in the Gambella Nuer zones have also continued to migrate eastward into Anuak areas by choice, to access fertile farm and grazing lands.

 

4. Economy

 

Ninety percent of the population of Gambella is rural and most of the people are thus subsistence farmers, selling some of their produce on local markets. The only major economies in the region appear to be the cultivation of coffee in Godere Woreda, the exploration for gold in Dimma Woreda and the remaining government farms (predominately cotton) in Alwero-Peno Woreda

 

In recent years, Petronas, Malaysia's state-owned petroleum company, has acquired exploration rights in Gambella, and China's Zhongyuan Petroleum Exploration Bureau (ZPEB) began seismic exploration activities in Gambella under a subcontract from Petronas. ZPEB is a subsidiary of the China National Petrochemical Corporation (Sinopec). Petronas has exclusive exploration rights within a 15,000 square kilometer concession that stretches across all of central and western Gambella. The extensive seismic exploration undertaken to date can be seen on the transect seismic map titled 2004-05 Gambella Progress Map (dated 20 April 2005); seismic activities criss-cross the Gambella zone beginning from the eastern boundary of the Gambella National Park, west to the Sudan border.

 

In 2005, Petronas purchased the Ethiopia Hotel in Gambella, the only significant transient lodging option in the town. 

 

5. December 2003 Onwards

 

An escalation in reprisal attacks between the Highlander settler population and the indigenous Anuak people (primarily caused by land rights issues as discussed above) in the region led to an explosion of violence between these two groups, with government forces siding with Highlanders, between December 2003 and approximately September 2004. Civilian populations of both groups have suffered the most significant casualties in conflict which has caused, amongst other things: (a) the death of thousands of people; (b) displacement of approximately 16,000 Anuaks to Pochalla, Sudan (c) and a major loss of basic social services throughout the region. The intensity of this conflict diminished slightly from around September 2004 onwards, but it continues today, with predominance in four of the seven Woredas of the Gambella state.

 

In a region where inter-ethnic and intra-ethnic conflict is common, this particular problem has assumed a proportion that is more significant than other regional conflicts. This is due to the scale of the problem, its inter-ethnic rather intra-ethnic nature (such as the Nuer-Nuer conflicts), and the involvement and responsibility of the Federal military. The shared identity of the Highlander settlers with many of the Federal forces has led to what appears to be an easier and more trusting relationship between the two groups than that which exists, for example, between Anuak people and the Highlander settlers or the Federal forces.

 

While there appears to be some reduction in intensity of the conflict, its continuation means that the consequences of the period between December 2003 and September 2004 are still being felt today: the region is a long way from recovering both physically and psychologically from that period. Structures damaged or looted in the conflict remain dysfunctional, while supplies and services remain without the necessary reprovisioning or rebuilding. Further, the fear with which each group views the other prevents, for example, the deployment of government staff to areas thought to be under the control of one ethnicity or another.

 

 

Section III:  Rationale and Methodology for This Study

 

1. Rationale

 

The government's Youth Sports Culture and Labor and Social Affairs Office of Gambella had requested that UNICEF support them in the piloting of an initial one-year programme for 'Addressing Vulnerabilities in Gambella'. Part of the aim of this one-year programme was to effectively identify the most vulnerable people in the region, so that they could be assisted and supported in a full 'Addressing Vulnerabilities' project under the 2007-2001 UNICEF country programme.

 

At the same time, it became increasingly obvious as the presence of UNICEF in Gambella was being established that significant UNICEF programmes in the region were faltering. UNICEF's partners had expressed concerns that one of the reasons for this was the prevailing security situation in the region and, in terms of protection, its impact upon communities. Given that UNICEF's global child protection goals include ensuring the integrity of humanitarian assistance and that child rights are the basis of all UNICEF activities, it was deemed necessary to further investigate these concerns.

 

Thus, this study for the Gambella region aimed to:

· Investigate the most effective ways of planning, implementing and supporting sustainable interventions;

· Identify the most vulnerable groups and geographical areas where the above type of sustainable assistance should be targeted;

· Assess the impact of the ongoing conflicts on how people were living their lives and how assistance to them could be affected by this conflict;

· Verify expressed concerns from both governmental and non-governmental agencies that more significant breaches of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) than was normal were occurring, and that there were elevated levels of Sexual and Gender Based Violence (SGBV).

 

2. Development of Questionnaire

 

Pursuit of this livelihoods and vulnerabilities assessment revolved around the premise that protection issues might be fundamental to other basic vulnerabilities central UNICEF's mandate and concerns. The project clearly dictated that individual surveys be undertaken, and testimonies be gathered, which would identify issues revolving around vulnerabilities and livelihoods of women and children. Hence the initial phase of this project revolved around the development of a survey questionnaire that could be used as a basic tool for the collection of meaningful data.

 

Issues of concern and inquiry included access to basic health, education, income generating opportunities, transport, water, food and firewood, and questions were designed which would address these issues. The team also designed questions that would qualify and quantify the availability of, or access to, resources and assets that promote or enhance the livelihoods of the populations in need. Most important, all questions were designed to be open-ended, offering the interviewee the opportunity to respond in accordance with the perceptions and concerns that predominated in their daily lives.

 

The livelihoods and vulnerabilities sections of the questionnaire were complemented by a section dedicated to the collection of data and personal testimonies that would enable a solid assessment of protection problems. If protection was initially flagged as the leading concern in relation to access to water, for example, the specifics of the protection problem were explored in this subsequent protection section. Questions were designed to facilitate a clear picture of who, what, where, when and how protection problems arose--again, using the same example--in relation to the interviewee's capacity to have unimpeded access to water.

 

The questionnaire was also designed to shield the source of information (interviewee) from potential threat or retaliation or any other repercussions that might arise due to their disclosure of potentially sensitive information. Ensuring the anonymity of the source, and cloaking the names and positions of any other individuals cited--duty bearers, victims, witnesses, relatives--was, and remains, a priority for which any compromise could be life-threatening. Of further importance was the collection of testimonies giving accurate and comprehensive information about individuals and events, information that could be collaborated or verified, and that would, inevitably, serve to underscore and validate the allegations and claims of the population.

 

Questions in the protections and security section also served to extract critical information from interviewees regarding duty bearers and the role they allegedly played in reported protection problems.

 

3. Geographical Selection

 

This assessment set out to survey as many geographic areas and members of populations as possible. The team developed a plan that prioritised visits to geographical areas according to accessibility concerns (weather, ongoing conflict, restrictions on movement, military presence or absence, rebel or shifta activities), UNICEF resources and logistical concerns (e.g. available vehicles, boats, personnel), and other concerns relating to the populations more directly.

 

Dedicated interpreters were needed for surveying both genders from the Anuak, Nuer and Highlander community, and sometimes problems associated with access to interpretation were encountered. These also played a role in dictating geographical choices and timing of site visits. Interpreter trainings were given, and efforts were made to corroborate and validate reports by interviewees to the extent possible.

 

Initial forays into the field were designed to exercise caution and test the waters--evaluate and refine the questionnaire; engage in confidence-building activities; adjust to the environment, work methods, and daily needs of personnel--and to ensure the security of everyone involved. Hence the initial forays involved short day trips close to Gambella town. The team's work in Dimma Woreda, on the other hand, was timed to coincide with the UNICEF polio vaccination campaign, enabling the teams to capitalise on limited resources (personnel, vehicles), and to minimise security by focusing resources in one area at a time.

 

Efforts from the start were made to ensure that populations of all major ethnic groups (Majengers, Anuaks, Nuers, Highlanders) would be equally well sampled and their interests and concerns equitably represented.

 

Following the 30 October 2005 attacks by Anuak rebels against government targets in Gambella town, the killings by rebels of several civilian families of Highlanders in Abobo, and the escalation of hostilities and related security concerns throughout the region, the options for performing basic research outside of Gambella town were reduced to almost zero. Within Gambella town itself, the heightened climate of insecurity translated to a heightened sense of fear: interviews, movement, and exchanges of information were greatly hampered. The repercussions of the recent violence have been felt in all ethnic groups in Gambella.

 

Due to security and logistical constraints faced during the study, as described above, this study concluded with a heavy emphasis on the vulnerabilities of the Anuak population of Gambella, simply because these areas were surveyed prior to the surge in violence which restricted movement thereafter. Much study of the population of other areas of Gambella remains to be done; the Nuer Woredas of Jikawo and Akobo require focused attention, as does the Jor region due to reports of significant military and petroleum activities, and the Jor area's relative inaccessibility and historical inattention.

 

In spite of these constraints, great efforts were made to conduct interviews with as wide ranging a population as was possible in each area visited. The findings are thus strictly limited to the places visited during the study, and these are listed throughout the report.

 

4. Selection of Interviewee Populations

 

In each location visited, the team conducted interviews with persons in the community who (a) have positions of respect among the community; (b) are in situations which are likely to expose them to information regarding their communities beyond their own households and neighbours; (c) have been present in those locations for a long enough time period to have a perspective on the changes in vulnerabilities over time; and/or (d) who may be in a position to have represented the community under certain circumstances. In addition, there was a heavy emphasis on interviewing women (using female interpreters as much as possible, to ensure the greatest level of comfort and openness in the interviewing context). Thus, those interviewed include, for example, teachers, nurses, male and female Kebele leaders, midwives, male and female police officers, Kebele secretaries and chairpersons, and elders. Gathering information from these kinds of persons in the communities visited helped ensure that the nature and magnitude of problems could be adequately assessed.

 

 

Section IV:

Unique Challenges of Conducting Research in Gambella Region

 

The members of this team have worked all over Africa, under the most difficult conditions, yet none would disagree that the task of performing even the most basic but substantive research in the Gambella region presents a daunting challenge. The dynamics involved require the negotiation of layers of complexity in logistics; communications; information collection, management and protection; security; personal health (physical and psychological); natural environment; and the many spaces of social, political, cultural, and psychological customs and traditions that differ between UNICEF staff and the populations UNICEF serves. All these factors combine with insurgency and low-intensity conflict to make the Gambella zone a volatile and complex research context.

 

1. Lack of Infrastructure

 

The Gambella region has often been described as "a backwater of Ethiopia" due to its isolation and lack of development. An apt testament to the isolation and inaccessibility of the region is the complete absence of any available maps that reveal anything more than the most rudimentary boundaries and labels.

 

Like maps of the region, infrastructure in the Gambella zone is either wholly absent or rudimentary. While a recent report noted that road infrastructure "has always been in a state of collapse," the opposite appears to be true: road infrastructure in Gambella has seen only marginal development at best.

 

Many areas are completely inaccessible during the rainy season as vast tracts of Gambella's lowest land become completely submerged  (these are the seasonal wetland swamps that draw flocks of migratory waterfowl). Deep ravines and riverbeds are prohibitive or barely navigable by 4x4 vehicles on the roughest of tracks that have never been anything more than rough tracks; winches are standard, imperative accessories.

 

Equally unmanageable, the rain turns compact clays and rich topsoils into slippery mud where vehicles spin, slip and slide even on flat terrain. Public transport is unreliable or non-existent and, where it does exist, vehicles appear to be in dangerous disrepair, infrequent and unreliable at best.

 

Well over half of Gambella's population becomes completely inaccessible during the rainy season, except by boat, and even boats do not facilitate access to some areas. The rivers swell and overflow their banks, and the logistics of excursions by river--e.g. maintaining fuel supply alone--are substantial.

 

But for the UN/ARRA compounds sited in some towns, all major population centres, including Gambella, Pinyudo, Abobo, Metti and Dimma towns, lack even the most basic sanitation, running water and electricity (Gambella has only sporadic electricity). Foodstuffs are equally limited, hygiene a major concern, and in some places there is almost nothing at all to be bought or scrounged for food.

 

Logistical issues are compounded by personal hygiene and health concerns. Malaria, staff and bacterial infections, upper respiratory infections, dysentery and other unexpected threats all can contribute to reduce capacity and impact work performance.

 

2. Access to Interviewee Populations

 

The constraints on research also hinged on availability and access to human populations and ethnic groups within the diverse regions of Gambella, since direct interviews with Gambella's population groups provided the predominant sources of information from which to assess vulnerabilities and livelihoods. However, information collection--access, interviews, visual assessments--are greatly hindered at present due to the highly mobile and transient existence of large numbers of people of all sub-groups.

 

Towns appear to be drawing people from rural areas due to the constant and lasting insecurity caused by the various armed military and/or para-military forces currently--or potentially--operating in the region. These include federal troops (ENDF); federal and regional police; GPLF rebels; OLF rebels; SPLA in border areas; armed indigenous groups (Nuer, Surma), and other armed shifta pursuing common criminal activities.

 

Remote villages have been depopulated to varying degrees by conflict, or the threat of conflict; some have seen a return of inhabitants, others remain mostly abandoned. Refugees from Sudan (of several ethnicities) float around; some Anuak and Nuer peoples are highly transient across the porous international border. Many civilians remain in a state of constant flux and homelessness, moving back and forth in the no man's land between local villages--where their mere appearance makes them highly suspect, or a direct threat to residents, no matter their affiliations or independence from armed factions--and the refugee camp at Pochalla, Sudan.

 

Nuers and Anuaks rely on (steadily disintegrating) social networks and familial ties to support them, and many have been forcibly displaced, or have relocated by choice or necessity, and settled temporarily in villages that are unfamiliar or distant from their homes. Husbands and brothers have abandoned families, under threat of political persecution, and their whereabouts is sometimes unknown to wives, sisters and mothers. Others know the whereabouts of their kin, but remain separated due to the breakdown in communal structures and the effects of the ongoing conflicts. Some children whose parents have been exiled, imprisoned, disappeared, killed or died have been passed from family to family--usually within extended families--as caretakers have been lost due to recent violence or arrests. Other families have been divided by economic necessity as members search for some or any means to provide even the most basic subsistence for themselves or their families.

 

Highlander populations in the Gambella zones are also highly transient and mobile. The gold-mining camps in Dimma Woreda offer the most striking example, as short-term financial gain provides sufficient incentive to endure some of the most hostile and difficult conditions, in isolation, without families. Highlanders have also migrated to Gambella town seeking greater economic opportunity than they can find outside the dangerous region. Many members of all groups now resident in Gambella region have economic, social or political ties to individuals outside the region, the country, or the continent.

 

Access to populations revolves around more than locating their whereabouts, and access to populations does not revolve around physical proximity alone. Some individuals and groups will exclude researchers, and may hide or run from them--physically or emotionally--while others will seek to manipulate researchers because of beliefs or perceptions of personal gain, or for some greater political aim.

 

The difficulty of working in the Gambella region is compounded by the complexity of deciphering individual or group-identity agendas, and the need, for example, for recognising and sifting through intentional deceptions. Cultural and personal biases can easily compound the tripartite relationship of interviewer-interpreter-interviewee. Stereotypes dictating fundamental beliefs can be deeply rooted in the unconscious. Circumnavigating these minefields of subjectivity and bias--which in the Gambella region can prove extreme--offered yet another challenge to the research of this team.

 

These various factors--immigration, migration, internal displacement, refugee flows, transience, physical and emotional availability, etc.--all contribute to creating a difficult and complex puzzle, or layer of puzzles, that inhibit the extraction and assimilation of demographic data and personal testimonies that will be accurate, concise, comprehensive and meaningful. Indeed, given the volatility of a region where many people are daily wondering where they should go, how soon, and how they will get there, what was true yesterday may already have slipped into oblivion.

 

3. Access to Interviewees: Language Barriers, Cultural Barriers, Confidence Building

 

Conducting interviews with any population coming from dramatically different cultural, customary, religious, and sociological experiences from those conducting the interviews always poses unique challenges. In particular, these interviews are most often conducted through an interpreter, which inevitably places an obstacle between the interviewer and interviewee. It is critical to attempt to bridge these gaps to the extent feasible, in order to build confidence in the interviewee, and in order to allow the interviewee to thus feel sufficiently safe to be certain that you will respect her/his wishes throughout the interview process.

 

This confidence building and gap-bridging process has been at the core of every interview conducted by the team. Without taking such efforts, the potential risks are great: (a) the trust of the interviewee might be violated; (b) the informed consent of the interviewee might not be obtained; (c) the interviewee--in particular those who have recently experienced traumatic events--could be retraumatized in the process of the interview. Of course, the obvious result of any of these is the denial of information to the researcher.

 

The team thus spent significant amounts of time prior to each interview with each interviewee, explaining the study and its goals, explaining why we chose to interview her/him, describing what we hope will result from the information obtained, ensuring that they understand that the interview is confidential (and what that means) and that they are fully free to agree to speak or not, and to answer or not answer any questions put to them. This confidence-building exercise is a core component of any such study, and it ensures the integrity of the final results obtained by the team.

 

Anyone who refused to speak (very few) were of course not interviewed; some who were interviewed refused to answer particular questions. For the most part, most of those approached were appreciative that someone was taking an interest in learning about their lives, and hence they spoke openly, willingly, and in the hope that their experiences might be used to improve the lives of their children.

 

4. Climate of Insecurity

 

Once the confidence of the interviewee was secured and their consent obtained, one of the first things they shared with us was that their daily lives are filled with insecurity. Simply and directly put, the civilian population of Gambella of all ethnicities lives with a constant feeling of insecurity.

 

The climate of insecurity affects the population, and thus it also affected the team. As explained in the Methodology section above, the study was intended to document the livelihoods and vulnerabilities of the civilian population of the Gambella region, in particular focusing on the women and children. However, in almost all cases, when the issues of daily life (access to water, firewood, education, medical care, etc.) were raised with interviewees, they responded immediately with protection and security concerns as the main factor contributing to their vulnerability. This is a clear indication that the level of security risk in Gambella region continues to be a threat; in fact, it was only due to the (temporary) military withdrawal from the villages visited by the team that UNICEF was able to gain access to the populations and that members of populations felt comfortable to speak about their protection concerns. It should be noted however that some people also spoke out of total desperation-they suggested they have nothing to fear, nothing more to lose.

 

Due to the constantly changing security situation in Gambella, the team was somewhat constrained it its access. More regions would have been covered if not for the problems of security.

 

5. Climate of Fear

 

Tensions in the Gambella region have escalated significantly due to attacks and retaliatory attacks by military and rebels groups in the past five years. Inter-ethnic (Nuer-Anuak, Anuak-Highlander) and intra-ethnic (Nuer-Nuer) conflicts have contributed to instability and a climate of fear. In the past few years, people's trust in their own ethnic and communal institutions has disintegrated. In post-December 2003 Gambella, financial incentive has become increasingly used as a tool to coerce people into buying and selling information, and this has inculcated deep distrust within communities and ethnic groups.

 

The climate of fear and terror affects all levels of society in Gambella today, and it is directly impacting the capacity of the government to perform normal tasks, fulfil normal obligations and provide even basic services. The climate of terror translates to behaviour and survival strategy modifications by civilians of every ethnic group, particularly those in rural areas who have been, and remain, subject to attacks, retaliations, massacres, and/or lootings from all sides.

 

Performing this livelihoods and vulnerabilities assessment amidst the climate of terror that exists in the region means that the team has had to surmount major hurdles revolving around distrust, apathy, and the intentional provision of disinformation. People have likely sought to forget what they can, remain silent, or explain events in ways that assign some meaning to an otherwise meaningless existence, and what people might wish to believe, or want others to believe, might not always correspond to what actually happened. Extensive time has been devoted to overcome these obstacles.

 

Security for the team, for interpreters, and for interviewees is another major consideration. Operating in a climate of violence and fear means that anyone at any time might decide that their interests are threatened by the research activities under way. All these factors represent barriers to operating successfully amidst a complex emergency engulfed in ongoing violence.

 

Section V:  Statistical Analysis of Evidence Obtained

 

The raw demographic data--including extensive vulnerability and protection data--collected in the context of this study has not yet been comprehensively analyzed or represented in statistical analytical form. For further information about statistical data please contact UNICEF.

 

 

Section VI:  Livelihoods & Vulnerabilities: Women & Children

 

The civilian population of Gambella region in the areas visited in this study are profoundly vulnerable, due to countless factors which have combined to create a devastating--and still deteriorating--situation.

 

1. Food Security & Income Generation

 

With a population that is 90% rural, the main source of income in the region is farming. Even though no formal evidence exists, officials at the Bureau of Agriculture in Gambella believe that the situation of farmers and food availability in the region is deteriorating. Population has increased, but farming techniques have not changed and the land that is used is believed to be overused. The problem is exacerbated by insecurity, as government schemes to address farming issues--such as the National Agricultural Extension Package--do not reach most places in Gambella.

 

It is clear that the loss of Anuak men, the displacement of Anuak males from their traditional lands, and the conflict that has centred around Anuak regions has increased the vulnerability of these people and worsened the problems outlined above. Farming cycles have been disrupted, plantings missed, and, in some cases, crops have been destroyed or stolen.

 

In July 2005 results of an exhaustive nutritional survey in the Anuak part of the Funyido refugee camp revealed a rate of global acute malnutrition in excess of 26%, with 7% severe acute malnutrition--by far the highest of any refugee camp in the region. Given that many of the people in the camp are in fact internally displaced Anuaks who have chosen to use the camp as a coping mechanism (in reality perhaps two-thirds of the 12,000 people registered in the Anuak camp are IDPs today), these figures give a clear indication of the acute vulnerability caused by food insecurity of the Anuak people.

 

The protection problems and restrictions on freedom of movement, for example, also contribute to a loss of capacity in accessing fish as a source of protein and basic sustenance. Villagers complain about not being able to move along rivers or between river and village, and, like farming, fishing is a livelihood opportunity that is greatly compromised.

 

Outside the agricultural sector there are no functioning cottage industries in Gambella region, with the exception of Dimma Woreda, where gold prospecting attracts people from all over Ethiopia. The main employer in the Gambella region is the government.

 

The biggest potential employer in the region could be the petroleum industry in the future. However, to date, its impact has been extremely limited and overall it has contributed neither to harmony amongst the different ethnic groups by its employment policies nor to significant job creation. The employment policies of the oil companies are unknown, though most of the land under oil prospection is controlled by Nuers (although most of it originally was Anuak); thus the more menial petrol jobs are taken by the Nuer. Educated Highlanders take the most lucrative jobs in qualified positions. International expatriates also work in the petroleum sector in Gambella.

 

2. Education

 

Assessing the state of education in Gambella and its impact upon the vulnerabilities and livelihoods of the people is extremely difficult, mainly because there is no firm base of solid statistical data for the region.

[JC1] 

The latest information from the central government implies that that the Gross Enrollment Rate in the region is 106.6% (137.9% of expected boys going to school and 73.2% of expected girls going to school). At the regional level, the latest statistics from the Regional Education Office suggest a Gross Enrollment Rate of 124.6% (144% of expected boys going to school and 99% of expected girls going to school).

 

Similarly, in theory there are 161 Primary schools, 6 secondary schools, 2 preparatory schools and 1 Technical Vocational college in the Gambella region.

 

The reality, however, is somewhat different. The number of functional schools is far less than the number given above and all schools suffer from a dearth of equipment, teachers and learning materials. The latest Net Enrollment Figures (1997 EFY) in the region are 34% of boys and 25.2% of girls at school. Even this could be an exaggeration and does not show the discrepancies between the main towns and safer Woredas of the region and those suffering high insecurity. Dimma Woreda, for example, by UNICEF calculations, probably has just 8% of boys and 4% of girls of school age going to school. The dropout rate at Grade 1 (EC 1997) is said to be 36.7% whilst the average primary dropout for girls is 48.3%.

 

Equally significant is the quality of education that is being offered in the schools. Inherent problems of working in the climatic conditions of a region like Gambella mean that even at the end of November 2005 over 50% of the schools of the region remain closed due to flooding. Most will re-open in December and the remainder in January 2006. The school year will then finish in June 2006 when the rains start again. Even when the schools are open they are uniquely open in the mornings from 08:15 - 12:15 due to the intense heat of the region (temperatures reaching greater than 50 degrees Celsius in the months of March, April and May). Effectively, this means that children are spending well under half the time that they should in school.

 

3. [JC2] Effects of Famine

 

At a more individual level, the example below, from the recent Education Joint Review Mission in Gambella (November 2005), highlights the results of poor supervision and motivation of the staff in the region.

 

An example of the sluggish start to the school year:

In one primary school visited there were theoretically 400 students enrolled but this proved impossible to verify. It was not yet 12:00 noon but only a handful of students were sitting aimlessly around. No classes were in session. Out of 19 teachers only two were present; the Director was absent. Teachers were keen to receive support for the teaching learning process (supervision) but did not receive this on a regular basis.

 

More positively, the input from NGOs (HOPE, The Catholic Mission, etc...) are providing for a limited number of quality educational establishments in Gambella town.

 

Even when it is available and can be physically accessed, education is also hampered by the relatively high costs. In a region where the people are as poor as they are in Gambella, actually paying the costs of providing school materials and uniforms to children to go to school is a serious financial concern for families, and an impossible prospect for the majority. This depth of poverty also means that families are unwilling to send their children to school if children can support the "home". The additional nomadic nature of some of the indigenous groups in the region, and the internal displacement of perhaps one third of the population due to conflict, has additionally hampered children getting into school.

 

Many of the areas visited in the context of this study have no schools, while others have school buildings but no tools for teaching. Many of the teachers who once staffed the schools have left their home villages due to insecurity. In some places the ENDF have occupied the school facility, and at times they have destroyed desks and chairs, and burned books. In villages where there is no school, parents are reluctant or unwilling to send their children to the nearest school in other villages, due to insecurity. Even where security permits, lack of income prohibits families from sending their children off to distant schools.

 

In places where schools exist, in most cases they only reach up to grade 6 or grade 8; for secondary schooling, the children have to go to Gambella town. Many rural families cannot afford to send their children to school in Gambella town, and this contributes to dramatic under-education in the region.

 

Security is a primary factor aggravating an already poor situation regarding access to education.

 

4. Health Care

 

In theory, Gambella should have greater than 100% potential health coverage over the complete region. In reality, health care coverage is extremely poor everywhere. This can be demonstrated through a variety of ways:

 

4.1 Latest Routine Vaccination/Ante-natal & Post-natal care statistics (Nov. 2005)

 

  • Pregnant women who have attended at least one ante-natal care session:      9.4%
  • People using family planning facilities:                                                          0.06%
  • Women who have accessed post natal care:                                                   0.91%
  • Children vaccinated BCG                                                                               9.7%
  • Children vaccinated DPT3:                                                                             7.27%
  • Children vaccinated Measles                                                                          5.94%
  • Women vaccinated TT                                                                                    0.81%

 

4.2 Available Staff

 

Excluding Gambella regional Hospital, the total number of staff deployed in health centres in the region is 101 people. Considering that 16 of these work in Itang Health Centre (MSF supported) and 34 in the Godere woreda (greater security and, relatively speaking, well developed in comparison to the other woredas), this leaves just 51 staff working over the five other woredas. Akobo woreda, for example, has just four health staff for the entire woreda (including the woreda health officer).

 

In theory for the complete region there are four doctors. In practice never more than two are actually present in the region. They are junior doctors working in the hospital. Prior to December 2003 there were 12 medical doctors in the region.

 

4.3 Functioning Facilities

 

There are 21 functioning clinics, one hospital and seven functioning health centres. They, like the staff, tend to be centred in the more peaceful areas, or in one or two of the larger towns. At one extreme eight of the 29 facilities are in Godere woreda; at the other extreme there is only one functional clinic in Akobo woreda, and one functional clinic and one functional health centre in Jekew woreda. As a comparison, prior to 2003 there were a total of 11 functional health facilities in Jekew woreda.

 

One of the results of the above is that access to health care--in an area where other infrastructure problems (education, water, transport, etc...) exacerbate health problems--is even poorer than the already poor national coverage around the country. For many, in a region where perhaps one-third of the population are internally displaced, access is further reduced by the prohibitive cost of health care and the use of, or faith in, traditional medicine in the region.

 

The final cost of this greatly diminished access to health care is in the reporting of the health situation of the population of the region. Morbidity / mortality statistics may be able to report--in the main--trends of disease patterns in the region, but they are unable to give a true idea of the overall burden of disease upon the people of Gambella.

 

This study confirmed that access to medical care continues to be a serious problem in Gambella region. The vast majority of the populations interviewed had either no access to medical care or very limited access under very rare circumstances. Villages that had health clinics in them three years ago now often have only shell buildings, with no staff and no equipment or medication. This is in great part due to the security situation, as will be discussed in Section VII, where in many locations the ENDF has taken over, looted, and/or destroyed the clinic. In other locations due to insecurity, medical staff has fled the village. In villages where there is a clinic, and it is staffed, populations interviewed reported a lack of financial ability to pay for medical services, and some reported preferential treatment of some patients over others, based on ethnicity.

 

In still other villages, there is no medical care available. In these locations, insecurity prohibits people from travelling along the roads to reach the nearest clinic, where even if they could obtain access, the clinic will likely be unstaffed or unable to treat the patient.[2] 

 

5. HIV - AIDS

 

There is no effective testing of HIV-AIDS in the region. The only place that can test people is the central hospital in Gambella where people are tested on a voluntary basis. Of 250 people so tested last year, 51 of them were HIV +. This gives a prevalence rate of just over 20% amongst those tested. Just how far this proxy indicator can be interpreted to give an idea of the overall prevalence in the region is not clear. However, all the factors that a region needs to suggest a higher than normal prevalence rate are in place:

 

·      Wife inheritance;

·      Child marriage;

·      Polygamy (up to five wives occurs amongst Anuaks and Nuers);

·      High military presence (estimated between 50,000 - 80,000 men);

·      Oil workers in the region;

·      High rates of prostitution involving both women and young girls;

·      A significantly higher than normal level of sexual and gender based violence;

·      Conflict;

·      Poor access to health and other basic education.

 

High HIV-AIDS prevalence rates concomitant with female genital cutting are also likely in the region; FGC occurs solely among the Highlanders however. [3]

 

Both the treatment and the care of HIV-AIDS victims in the region have serious shortcomings. Again, in theory, some 50 people are meant to be under the treatment of ARVs supervised by the central hospital in Gambella. In reality only 23 people are being treated and there are fairly frequent breaks in the supply pipeline of the drugs, and the temperature sensitive drugs are stored in buildings with no fans or air conditioning; again, this is a region that rarely sees a day in the wet season below 35 degrees Celsius and in the dry season below 45 degrees Celsius.

 

6. Rural Water Supply and Sanitation

 

Access to water during 2005 remained a core daily challenge for the communities visited; many places have not had any pumps installed. In places where pumps were installed by the government the water must be paid for, and most of the residents cannot afford to pay; in places where pumps have been installed by NGOs, there is free access.

 

However, the military presence which has been pervasive in so many of the areas assessed during the study has impacted access to water for the populations regardless of the presence or lack of pumps, and in many areas of Gambella this forms the greatest obstacle to access to clean water. In the areas where the military presence has decreased in the past few months, access to water has improved greatly since the departure of the soldiers.

 

In theory, one in three people in Gambella should have access to a safe water supply, in reality, over half of the water schemes are not functional and effective access to a safe water supply drops to between one person in seven and one person in eight. Even in Gambella town--the regional capital--there is no effective water supply and indeed the situation in the town has worsened since 2003. The result of poor access to safe water is that the overwhelming majority of the population of all ethnicities use unprotected water supplies: predominately streams and stagnant pools in the wet season (frequently shared with animals) and the main rivers of the region during the dry season.

 

The water situation is worse within the Anuak zones: the inability of government contractors to work in this area and the collapse of the old woreda structures means that there has been globally no effective inputs in the water and sanitation domain into the area since at least 2002. One result of this is that indigenous cases of Guinea worm, virtually eradicated from the region and the country prior to the conflict, have now risen dramatically in the Anuak zone.

 

Contributing perhaps most significantly to the water problems is the inability to effectively complete the software components of the water and sanitation programmes. Software components such as sensitisation, and the setting up of water point, sanitation and hygiene committees, require strong field input and support to ensure both their initial success and their viability. This has been impossible in Gambella in recent years, and was never well done to begin with. As an example, in Matare, the woreda capital of Akobo, there is not a single public or private toilet in the town.

 

The civilian population of Gambella region is vulnerable due to many development and poverty factors; nonetheless, this study has determined unquestionably that the deteriorating situation in Gambella regarding the vulnerability of the population in the past two years is primarily due to the protection problems caused by the heavy ENDF presence and their targeting the civilian population, often (but not always) in collaboration with Regional authorities (including Regional Council and Police).

 

Thus, the organizations charged with the responsibility for protecting, representing, and improving the lives of their citizens are unfortunately doing just the opposite: their actions have devastated the population.

 

7. Livelihoods & Vulnerabilities of Women & Children

 

7.1  Ilea Village

 

All aspects of the livelihoods and vulnerabilities of the population in Ilea in the past year have been affected by the ENDF presence.[4] The military presence in Ilea was constant and significant inside the village until the middle of the rainy season 2005 (~ August), when most of the soldiers pulled out from the majority of their posts and camps throughout Gambella region.

 

The population of Ilea fled during the violence of December 2003/January 2004; most have not returned, and those who have are predominantly women, children and elderly. Women in Ilea have no source of income other than brewing and selling local alcohol (local brew made from grain) to the local men in the village and, when the military is present, to the soldiers.

 

The movement of the population of Ilea has been severely restricted by the military presence, in all respects. During the military presence, people did not travel out of the village to go to market.[5] They did not dare to travel alone outside the village into the bush to collect firewood; when women go for firewood they go in groups, and even then they remained terrified of encountering soldiers.

 

There is a water pump in the centre of Ilea village that was often entirely inaccessible by the civilian population during the military presence in the village because the ENDF occupied the pump and routinely confiscated the water containers of women who dared to try to collect pump water. Even collecting water at the river held a risk during the presence of the military, and the women and girls went to collect this water, and to do laundry and wash, only in groups; yet still, many have been subjected to threats, harassment, and in some cases by direct sexual attacks by ENDF at the river.

 

People from the village of Ilea complained of the absence of a school, and some parents said their children could not go to school because of money. People complained of malaria, headaches, persistent coughing, infections, coughing up blood, and a lack of medicine. Infant mortality is a serious problem.

 

The already vulnerable population of Ilea has been rendered drastically more vulnerable due to the military presence, and this situation has reportedly been true throughout the entirety of the military occupation. Only recently, due to the military pull out of Ilea, has the population become more mobile, regained access to resources such as firewood and water, and reclaimed their freedom of movement. Yet the residents of Ilea, when visited by UNICEF for this study, were living in extreme fear of the ENDF's pending return to their village.

 

7.2  Itang Town [6]

 

The population in Itang reported that water pumps in town had been installed by the government, and thus one must pay for water from the pumps. However, it was reported that the pumps rely on petrol to operate and, given the isolation and inaccessibility to Itang, they often run short of fuel and cease to operate altogether for extended periods of time, forcing people to rely on the Baro River.

 

Most of the Anuak population gets water from the river, which they believe to be the source of many illnesses in Itang. Those interviewed reported that they purchase firewood from the Nuers rather than collecting it themselves, if they can afford it. The reason for this appears to be an ongoing sense of insecurity (many Nuers are allowed to carry weapons). According to several interviewees, the military presence has been less significant in Itang in 2005.

 

Since the crisis of December 2003, the population reported, taxes have not been paid to (collected by) the government.

 

Interviewees reported that they have access to proper and non-discriminatory medical care in Itang due to the presence of the MSF clinic. It was also reported, however, that midwives in Itang had previously received formal training from the Health Bureau, but that they received no follow up after that training and no ongoing support. Thus, they apparently work without any equipment or gloves, and their work is not as effective as it could otherwise be.[7] 

 

7.3  Opinya/Penyao Village

 

Penyao is a small village on the Baro River approximately halfway between Gambella town and Itang town: it is a small village and 100% Anuak.[8] The village is bounded by the river on one end, the Itang road on the other. There is no medical clinic in Penyao and no market, and access from Penyao to other places was dramatically limited by the heavy military presence. The population is afraid to collect firewood for fear of attack by the soldiers, and they do not move about within the village after dark for the same reason.

 

People reported that there was no medicine in the clinic and the health worker is always absent. Soldiers had turned the clinic into a camp at one point. Both school and clinic were reportedly looted, property destroyed, on multiple occasions, by ENDF. Some sickness--malaria, coughing, fever, diarrhoea, headaches and infections (eyes, leg, testicles)--was reported by most every interviewee for themselves or their children. Access to the "toilet"--the bush--has been restricted due to fear of soldiers.

 

According to a local teacher, the school was occupied by soldiers and turned into a military camp in early 2004. People complained that their children are not in school, that they cannot afford school, that there is no school. One girl said she had been travelling ten minutes upriver to a school but could no longer afford to do so. A teacher reported that the ENDF broke into the school again (villagers had made an effort to revitalize it) in July 2005. The teacher ended his comments asking: "Why are they trying to make the lives of children hard?"[9]

 

7.4  Abobo Town

 

The Anuak population of Abobo reported that access to water during the military presence is seriously hampered, and that means that the already insufficient number of pumps that exist in Abobo were often inaccessible to the population because of ENDF.

 

The population reported being terrified of their security to such an extent that they are afraid to move about even during the day, and that this has been the case throughout 2005. In Abobo, the military presence decreased around August 2005; however, the ENDF reportedly remain in town in smaller numbers.

 

The study revealed that the security threats experienced by the population in the context of their access to resources have been caused by a combination of military, regional police, and regional governmental officials: the population, in particular the Anuak civilian population, live in fear of mistreatment at the hands of the military, often supported by the local police and government.

 

Their access to firewood is greatly hindered for this reason, as they dare not venture into the bush, and they never move about at night due to constant fear of attack.

 

The study revealed some allegations of blocked access to medical care in 2005 for Anuaks in Abobo. There is reportedly one non-Ethiopian doctor who works in the medical clinic in Abobo; the rest of the staff of the clinic are Highlanders. Anuaks reported that when the foreign doctor is not present they are often denied medical care by the Highlander staff of the clinic. Several interviewees stated that they had been turned away from the clinic--in the absence of the foreign doctor--in one case, the patient was bleeding profusely from the side of her head and was told there was nothing they can do for her; she was sent home bleeding.[10]  Interviewees reported chest pains, coughing, coughing blood, and no money to do anything about these.

 

The Anuak population reported that when the military presence in Abobo is heavy they do not have access to the flour-grinding mill due to insecurity along the road. They also reported that even with the reduced military threat (August to November 2005), they are required to bring a letter from the authorities for permission to access the mill.

 

7.5  Pochalla Village (Ethiopia)

 

Prior to October 2005, there was a military camp inside Pochalla village. The military presence affected all aspects of the lives of the Anuak civilian residents of Pochalla. The soldiers block the water pump preventing people from collecting water. They threaten, harass, intimidate and frequently mistreat the population. The population is terrified, afraid to move about, to collect firewood or travel to other villages for market--a village of people hiding in their homes after dark. Said one resident: "Here there is a problem with the latrine: if you go to the bush to latrine at night they catch you and beat you." [11]

 

There is no school in Pochalla village, and there was only a shell of a medical clinic, unstaffed and unequipped, that was completely looted by the military. The primary source of income for women in Pochalla village is brewing and selling local alcohol to the village men. Smoking of "Highlander tobacco" was exceedingly widespread among both men and women in Pochalla.

 

As in other villages, the vulnerability of the population of Pochalla village decreased somewhat following the withdrawal of the ENDF around July 2005. However, residents of Pochalla reported that if the military return, they will be unable to remain in their homes and will flee once again.

 

7.6  Punyido (Funyido) Town

 

Residents of Pinyudo town have lived in an exceedingly tense environment from late 2004 through 2005, due primarily to the security situation existing there. The military presence in Pinyudo town has not decreased as it has in the surrounding villages visited in the study. The presence of thousands of refugees has formed the ostensible basis for the heavy military and ARRA presence in Pinyudo town; however, the impact on the vulnerability of the non-refugee residents of Pinyudo has been substantial.

 

Anuak residents of Pinyudo town reported that they cannot move freely to the market, that they take huge risks going into the bush to collect firewood, and that those with money are the only ones who can afford to purchase firewood from the Nuer refugees who sell it at market. Others reported as well that there are two water pumps in Pinyudo town that were installed by NGOs; thus the water from these pumps is free of charge. However, many Anuak residents of Pinyudo nonetheless stated that at times the security situation causes them to be too afraid to access water from those pumps. At the time of this assessment visit, there had been no water available in Pinyudo town, outside of the ARRA/UN compound, for three days.

 

There are two medical clinics in Pinyudo town, outside the refugee camp facilities: the government clinic and an NGO clinic. Anuak residents do not go to the government clinic to seek treatment because they report being denied medical care there, in spite of the fact that many of the nursing staff of the hospital are of Anuak ethnicity. Thus, Anuak residents of Pinyudo seek medical care in an NGO clinic in the Anuak area of town, where there is only one nurse and where the supplies and medicines are meagre at best. Highlanders and Nuers in Pinyudo reportedly seek treatment at the government clinic.

 

At night in Pinyudo town, almost exclusively, only Highlander residents are seen in the centre of town. Anuaks reported that they do not dare to venture to the centre of town at night for any reason.

 

7.7  Gog Jinjor Village

 

There was a heavy military presence in Gog Jinjor until the ENDF pulled out around July 2005. Though the military base was in nearby Gog Dipatch, the troops would move throughout Gog Jinjor on a daily basis. Due to the violence of late 2003 and early 2004, most of the villagers of Gog Jinjor fled to Pochalla, Sudan, and the very few who have returned are almost exclusively women and children. This heavily female and child population has been rendered drastically more vulnerable due to the heavy military presence in Gog Jinjor throughout 2005.

 

The road to Gog Jinjor and the entire village itself was overgrown with tall bush grasses at the time of this assessment. Grasses surrounded the shell that was once a school, which was completely dilapidated, filthy, leaky and wet, covered with mosses and dust inside. Many windows were broken or gone, many desks had been destroyed. 

 

There is one school in Gog Jinjor; however, children often did not attend school during the time of the military presence due to the threats, intimidation, arbitrary interrogations, and harassment along the road to the school by soldiers.[12] 

 

Reports from villagers described several incidents of burnings of Anuaks' schoolbooks by ENDF in Gog Jinjor right in the centre of the village in both 2004 and 2005. Thus, the students who attend school do not have any schoolbooks. This schooling situation affects the population of Gog Dipatch as well, since the children from Gog Dipatch would be attending school in Jinjor if the road could be travelled safely.

 

There is no medical clinic in Gog Jinjor and the closest clinic is in Pinyudo town, thirty-seven kilometres away. Residents of Gog Jinjor reported that during the rainy season of 2005 alone, four children died while being taken on foot by road from Gog Jinjor, their mothers failing to reach the Pinyudo clinic in time for treatment.[13]

 

Until their departure, the ENDF presence in Gog Jinjor affected the daily lives of the population throughout 2005. Residents are afraid to collect water or firewood, and to move around alone. The one water pump was occupied by the military and thus inaccessible to the population. Farming was out of the question as no one dared to travel out to the fields from town. No one felt safe to move at all at night.

 

Things have dramatically improved from a protection point of view since the departure of the military in July 2005; nonetheless, the men and boys from the village are for the most part still too fearful to return to their homes for fear that the local authorities will arrest them on accusation of rebel activity. The population is thus widely scattered.

 

7.8  Gog Dipatch Village

 

As stated above, the ENDF camp that was based in one of the four villages that comprise Gog Dipatch covered the Dipatch and Jinjor areas, and the militarization lasted through 2004 and into July 2005. During the crisis of late 2003 and early 2004, most of the population of Gog Dipatch fled to Pochalla, Sudan and other places in the Gambella region. Meanwhile, as the ENDF moved into Gog Dipatch, they essentially took over part of Gog Dipatch for their own purposes.

 

Returning in 2004 from having fled, the population who had previously resided in the area of Gog Dipatch nearest the road to Pinyudo (where the ENDF had installed themselves) were unable to resettle in their homes due to the ENDF occupation. Those residents were thus internally displaced to the other villages in Gog Dipatch. Even following the military pull out in July 2005, most of the residents of the area of Dipatch in the military camp could not move back to their homes due to the devastation caused by the soldiers. Those civilians do not own land in the other parts of Dipatch and are thus more vulnerable and dependent on their neighbours, who themselves are living under total impoverishment and misery.

 

In Gog Dipatch during the ENDF presence there, access to firewood and water was entirely impossible in areas occupied by the military. The study revealed allegations that the military were soiling a well by throwing dirty water into it that had been used to wash clothes. Residents resoundingly reported that the situation had greatly improved in Dipatch after the ENDF pullout; at the time of this assessment people had greater access to whatever meagre resources were present, and they were not living in such extreme daily fear.

 

Due to the security situation, there is no medical care in Gog Dipatch, as there is no medical staff present. The nurse who was reportedly present during the military occupation was allegedly required to remain there under the military occupation of the clinic compound; following the military pull out, the nurse left the village. During military occupation, according to the population, the nurse tried to treat civilians but was under the authority of the military, and thus many villagers were too afraid to seek treatment there.

 

Tools and chairs from the school were taken from the village by ENDF, and several houses, including one of an old woman who was still living in it, were stripped of their corrugated roofs. The residents of Dipatch are deeply afraid of the ENDF, and reported uniformly that if the ENDF presence should recur they would flee Dipatch.

 

7.9  Dimma Woreda

 

This was UNICEF's first assessment of conditions around Dimma Woreda. UNICEF has not previously assessed the livelihoods and vulnerabilities of women and children, or the factors leading to the complexity of the emergency there. Thus, this Dimma section--and the Case Study for Dimma Woreda--will be more extensive than other sections of the report.

 

Dimma Woreda is an exceedingly complex Woreda, with a confluence of factors all of which combine to create a terribly volatile mixture. If left to continue down its current path, there appears to be a great risk of a significant escalation in violence.

 

Women and children in Dimma Woreda are greatly at risk. Threats to their physical security affect their day-to-day lives, decisions they make, and their access to resources for survival. Because of the transitory nature of the population in Dimma town and in surrounding gold mining areas, and due to neglect by regional authorities, the population lives with virtually no access to medical care, insufficient or no schools, no freedom of movement, and restricted or no access to information.

 

Dimma has been visited by ICRC in the past, and has a WFP and UNHCR presence due to the refugee camp in Dimma town. According to the ARRA Coordinator for Dimma, as of September 2005, there were 8619 Sudanese refugees at the Dimma camp, with the following demographic breakdown: Nuers (7045);  Dinka (484); Murle (154); Nuba (68); other (196).

 

Dimma differs from other areas visited by the consultants, and the complexities and vulnerabilities of life in Dimma are different. Highlanders and Anuaks and other ethnicities have lived here since long before the violence of 2003. Bordered by the lush, highland mountains of Godere Woreda, with mountains rising up and out along the long border of the Southern People's, Nations and Nationalities Regional States (SNNPR), the Dimma Woreda is distinct in its relations with the rest of the Gambella region.

 

Dimma is split by the Akobo River, which runs near and parallel to the centre of town: the territory to the south is considered "Surma Land", as it is heavily impacted by bands of indigenous nomadic Surma people whose range extends south across the Woreda boundary, where the majority of Surma reside. To the north of the Akobo River is a predominantly Anuak area.

 

Dimma Woreda is home to approximately 15,000 residents, with indigenous Anuaks believed to be in the majority, but much of that population is in constant flux. A sizeable Highlander population, also somewhat transitory, has resided in Dimma for years. Dimma's abundant gold deposits have brought people from all over the country seeking wealth through gold mining, washing and selling, or through businesses that capitalize on the influx of transitory gold miners.

 

The gold deposits in Dimma region are mostly in areas of Gessena, Korkora, Majoch, Tubwa, Addis Kamp, along an often impassable road from Dimma Town.[14]  Though the distances are not great, the geography is rough, and road access to camps and villages is limited, even by 4X4: the residents of these areas live in extreme isolation.

 

In Dimma town, freedom of movement for Anuaks and Highlanders is severely restricted; each group is afraid to enter into the other groups' areas. Highlanders run all shops in Dimma town and Anuaks reported being fearful even of approaching Highlander owned stores to purchase needed goods. (During this assessment, racial slurs and insults were directed at team members as they walked down the main street in town: these slurs were not limited to Ethiopian Nationals, but also directed at consultants who were in the presence of Anuak translators.)

 

Dimma town has a majority Highlander population: while it is unclear whether the Highlanders formed a majority prior to the violence of 2004, a significant Highlander population was present in the region long before 2004. Highlanders arrive from all over the country, not in groups but usually as individuals, sometimes with their families. Their motivation for coming to Dimma town appears to be gold digging and related commerce.

 

The main street of Dimma town has door-to-door stores all run by Highlanders. Upon conversing with several of these business owners, it was discovered that most of them had come to Dimma relatively recently, and that the Highlander merchant population is always in flux: when violence flares up many of them leave, some of those return, along with newcomers.

 

Dimma town has a visible Nuer presence, and there are Surma (traders, children, women) who come through the town. The study found a general fear of the Surma expressed by both the Anuak and Highlander residents. The team did not gain an opportunity to meet with Surma, but they are mentioned here because their armed presence was repeatedly cited in relation to the vulnerabilities, including people's freedom of movement and access to water, firewood and market. These protection and vulnerability concerns affect both the Anuak and the Highlander population, and the problems are found in the southern gold mining

Written by: Keith Harmon Snow

Photography Credits: Keith Harmon Snow

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