Akram Shamie, a native Ethiopian, said many people in Edmonton diaspora communities are even wondering if there are opportunities for them to return amid the new Ethiopian government
By Jonny Wakefield (Edmonton Journal) |
EDMONTON, AB―Edmonton diaspora communities from the Horn of Africa are optimistic that a new Ethiopian government will bring peace and stability to the region many of them had to flee.
Abiy Ahmed became Ethiopia’s prime minister last April. He quickly generated glowing headlines by ending the border war with Eritrea and ordering the release of thousands of political prisoners and condemning their ill-treatment.
He also lifted a state of emergency in place in the country and unblocked hundreds of TV channels and websites, according to the BBC.
“We’re welcoming what’s taking place in the Horn of Africa … this is a once in a lifetime opportunity,” said Ahmed Abdulkadir of the Ogaden Somali Community of Alberta Residents (OSCAR).
Abdulkadir said such reforms were “unthinkable” even four months ago, when Ahmed came to power.
“That’s what’s giving (East Africans) hope,” he said.
According to Statistics Canada, the Edmonton area is home to about 4,000 immigrants from Ethiopia, 2,000 from Eritrea and roughly 4,500 people born in Somalia. Several hundred hail from the country of Djibouti.
Ethiopia was condemned for human rights abuses as recently as last year. Human Rights Watch said in its annual report that the state was jailing dissidents under anti-terrorism laws, and security forces in the country’s Somali region were implicated in alleged extrajudicial killings, torture, rapes and attacks on civilians.
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