Forced Migration in Eastern Africa: Democratization, by Cassandra R. Veney (auth.)

By Cassandra R. Veney (auth.)

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When they refused, the government invaded the south and the troops fled to Ethiopia (Johnson 2003). Quite crucial in the government’s calculations to weaken the 1972 peace accord was oil, which was “discovered after the Addis Ababa agreement had been signed and the regional government for the South was established” (Jok 2001, 135). This meant that the government did not have “immediate control over or easy access to the south’s mineral and oil wealth” (Ali and Mattews 1999, 208). To remedy this, Nimeiri simply redrew regional boundaries and made the oilfields a part of the north (Khalid 2003).

The government viewed the internally displaced population as illegal squatters and their self-constructed dwellings were frequently demolished. In any case, the crumbling infrastructure of the cities could not accommodate the new arrivals and most went without basic social services such as housing, medical care, and educational facilities (Jok 2001). Women were particularly vulnerable. Many were detained and jailed, and some were forced into prostitution or turned to brewing beer to earn money to survive.

These schemes inflamed local populations and increased the popularity of the rebel forces and swelled their ranks (Zewde 1998; Human Rights Watch 1999a). Estimates indicate that as many as 1 million people died from the 1984–1985 famine, which was far worse than the famine of 1972–1974, which claimed an estimated 200,000 victims (Ezra and Kiros 2000; Sen 2004). 2 As in Somalia, the Ethiopian rebel groups fighting the Mengistu regime had different agendas and constituencies, but they were united in their loathing for the regime and in their determination to see it toppled.

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