Habodo Gele age 35, with her baby Habiiba* (3 ½ months), and her son Saffi* age 5, at their home in Bisle, Siti zone, Ethiopia. A devastating drought is causing the worst food crisis to hit Ethiopia in 30 years, putting millions of people at risk of hunger and disease.

Habodo is living in a small community settlement (Approximately six adults and their children) one mile from Bisle host community and a larger camp for internally displaced people (IDPs). Habodo has seven children, five of whom are living with her in their small shelter. Their settlement is a 20-minute walk from the host community and the Oxfam water tank.

Habodo says  “Until now, the drought has mainly affected animals. Today it is affecting humans. It is scary. We don’t have enough food. We get a bit of help. We are supporting ourselves. “

"I had 30 big and 30 small cattle. Only one cow remains. We share our food with our cow"

"The only asset I have now is a cow. I also have 14 shoats, but there is no market for them. They are skinny and there is not enough meat for a trader to want to buy the animals. Basically I have nothing."

"We feel paralysed and powerless. When we are hungry we cannot move. We cannot fetch water. Most of the time we are just surviving."

"My children sing for God to bring an end to the drought. I am an IDP. We have stopped here because there is no water anywhere else. We are a good sharing community. We share well. If it was not for you, (Oxfam) we would not get water. If we have more than others we share our food. We believe what you give today you get back tomorrow."

"The water here is great for us because it means we don’t have to travel for hours to collect it…Before the water truck we had to travel a long way to collect water. We would start walking at 6 AM and get home at 12 noon. We believe one support brings another kind of support."

"You have seen with your own eyes the problems we have here. We need more support.”

*Note children’s names have been changed to protect their identity in line with Oxfam’s Child Protection Policy. 

For Habodo's full testimony see related reource 96419.

Ethiopia has enacted a law that will give special rights to Jews of Ethiopian origin and Rastafarians that are normally reserved to Ethiopian citizens.

Speaking to Xinhua on Thursday, Meles Alem, Ethiopian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) spokesperson, says the new law will give opportunities for the two communities that are normally reserved to Ethiopian citizens.

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“Investment opportunities, the right to buy and sell houses and the right to transfer assets to siblings are some of rights the two communities will have that generally is only reserved to Ethiopian citizens,” says Alem.

He, however, says the new law excludes Jews of Ethiopian origin and Rastafarians from voting rights, employment in security related institutions and MoFA.

The two communities will also be given an Ethiopian national Identification Card that would allow entering Ethiopia without entrance visas and residence permits.

The Ethiopian government believes there are about 150,000 Jews of Ethiopian Origin living abroad mainly in the Jewish state of Israel.

The Ethiopian government is keen to tap into this large Ethiopian origin Jewish Diaspora, who in recent years has made inroads in Israel in diplomacy, military and cultural scene.

Rastafarianism is a religious movement that started in the 1930s in the black population of Caribbean islands that teaches the eventual redemption of blacks in their return in Africa and venerates Ethiopia’s last Emperor Haileselassie I as god.

Several Hundred Rastafarians from across the world reside in Ethiopia although strict residency and employment laws for expatriates in Ethiopia have meant their contribution to the Ethiopian economy has so far been marginal.

There are thought to be tens of thousands of followers of Rastafarianism mainly living in the Americas, Africa and Europe. Enditem

Source: Xinhua/Newsghana.com.gh