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Ethiopia denies New York Times Report
The following is a press release from Ethiopia's Ministry of Information.
December 20- 2007
Ministry of Information
It is to be recalled that the Ethiopian Defense force has cracked and captured quite a large number of the members of the terrorist group and left the remaining to be dispersed by the intensified and extensive activities it has exerted together with the Regional Government and the peace loving people of the region to abort the anti-peace activities and the terrorist attacks of the terrorist group that named itself ‘The Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF). It is also known that this measure has enabled to stop these anti-peace forces from carrying out terrorist attacks against the lives of innocent civilians and development institutions in an organized manner. Following this, it has become possible to persevere with providing the impeded humanitarian assistance in some areas of the region and the ongoing development activity. Recently Mr. John Holmes, head of the United Nations Humanitarian assistance affaires, who has visited the area has stated that no severe humanitarian crisis has occurred owing to the stranded supply of the humanitarian assistance and that the government is working closely with the appropriate aid organizations to facilitate the relief distribution.
With regard to reliably safeguarding the peace and security of the surrounding and ensuring the sustainability of development projects and programs, the task of combating and eliminating the anti-peace elements with the full participation of the regional government and the people is intensified and has become fruitful. In relation to this, members of the local militia that have basically come from the various clans and the residents of the region are courageously fighting and cracking down the anti-peace elements in partnership with the defense force.
Contrary to this objective reality on the ground, The New York Times has disseminated an unsubstantiated report on December 14/2007 stating that the Ethiopian government has forced doctors, teachers, office workers including employees of development projects operated by the sponsorship of the UN and the World bank that do not have any military training to be mobilized to the warfront to fight against the anti-peace ONLF terrorists.
Essentially, though it is the entire peace-loving people of the Ogaden who are struggling against the anti-peace forces standing on the side of the defense force, it is apparently known that particularly the members of the local militia are working hard having the forefront role. What distinguishes the members of the local militia from the regular army is the fact that members of the militia possess their own private and regular work to lead their own livelihood though they have military training and equipment that enables them to protect the peace and security of their surrounding collectively. Local militias that have a similar organization are found being involved in protecting the peace and security of their surrounding in all the regions of the country having been voluntarily enlisted and taken the necessary military training that makes them fit to safeguarding the peace and security of their vicinity. It is crystal clear that this practice has long lived and is a well-developed and important tradition of the country.
Nonetheless, there is absolutely no way that civilian that do not have any military training are made to fight the ONLF in the warfront as the New York Times inaccurately presented. It is to be known that the government is combating the forces of the terrorist group basically by the members of the local militia who are equipped and possess the necessary military training along with the defense force’s forefront backing. There could be no reason for the government to take any action that endangers civilians who are already targets of the terrorists since the goal of the ongoing struggle is to defend the peace and security of the civilians and the surrounding. In fact, the civil community is making its own significant contribution in the fight against the terrorist group in a multifaceted manner by giving tip off and pointing directions for the local militia and the defense force.
Since this active participation of the community is encouraging and acceptable, it should be further strengthened in the future. In this regard, the report presented by ‘The New York Times’ distorting the activity of the community to safeguarding its own peace and security on its own initiative and the coordination of clan leaders should be corrected as it is absolutely wrong, nonsense and inconsiderate of the objective reality of the region.
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