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Ethiopia's resettlement scheme leaves lives shattered and UK facing questions
By Clar Ni Chonghaile in Dadaab
A 'villagisation' programme has left many people from Ethiopia's Gambella region bereft of land and loved ones, casting donor support in an unflattering light
Mr O twists his beaded keyring between his long fingers as he explains why he started legal action against Britain's international development department over its aid funding to Ethiopia. Three other refugees from the Gambella region listen as he speaks in a stifling room in north-eastern Kenya. All have a story to tell.
The accounts are broadly similar, but the details reveal the individual tragedies that have shattered their lives: they say they were forced to leave their villages, beaten by soldiers, and sent to remote areas lacking all basic services under a controversial "villagisation" programme.
Eventually, they fled to Kenya, joining nearly half a million displaced people living in the world's biggest refugee complex, a sprawling expanse of tents and rudimentary houses set in the sun-hammered scrub and sand outside Dadaab.
"We don't have any means of retrieving our land. We decided to find an organisation that could be our lawyer and stand up for us so that those who are funding these organisations to displace us will be stopped," Mr O said. He spoke through a translator in the language of the Anuak, an indigenous people who live in Ethiopia's western Gambella region.
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