Ethiopians in Lebanon cry for help

July 23, 2006
In war-torn Lebanon, where there are an estimated 30,000 Ethiopians, many governments have taken nealy all of their respective citizens out of the country. But not Ethiopians. Chocking with tears of hopelessness, two Ethiopians called on their fellow compatriots around the world for help as they had neither the financial means nor a government like others to leave war-ravaged Lebanon behind for safety.
"We are in the most difficult situation ... we are abandoned as stateless vagrants...we don't know what has happened to the thousands of Ethiopian workers in southern Lebanon, the site of fierce fighting," a woman who gave her name as Martha told Addis Dimts Radio while chocking back sobs.
In Ethiopia, the story is, sadly, quite different.
"The Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the first batch of Ethiopians have arrived in Syria from Lebanon through an effort to rescue them from being victims of the ongoing crisis in the country [Lebanon]," the government reported in the July 20 edition of the state-owned
Ethiopian Herald, adding, "Ethiopians who illegally stayed in Lebanon have also been evacuated to Syria after the government exempted punishment of 350 USD they should annually pay for illegally staying in the country."
Another woman told the online Debteraw that the story being told to the Ethiopian people was quite different. "Speaking on the phone from Addis, my mom asked me how come I was not coming home. She thought the government news was really true."
The Ethiopian woman said many of her compatriots were clustered in groups of 20 and 30 everywhere, not knowing how their fate would turn out. "Our problems - ranging from hunger with our children to the fear of being killed - are worsening by each passing hour. We call on all Ethiopians in North America and elseswhere around the world to do a life-saving campaign on behalf of us. "We are trapped in the death valley. Save us."
Commenting on the obscured life of Ethiopian women trapped in Lebanon's underworld, blogger
Marian wrote: "On Wed., 19 July from relative safety in a Beirut underground parking garage, BBC News showed the unidentified face of a lone displaced Ethiopian woman. She appeared to be 40ish and seemed to be wearing a blue maid's uniform. Obviously distressed, she stood against a cement pillar, covering her mouth with her hand. In that moment my impression was she seemed alone, even among the people - mostly Lebanese - also sheltering there and milling around her."
Meanwhile, Israeli warplanes struck a minibus carrying people fleeing the fighting Sunday in southern Lebanon, killing three people, Lebanese security officials said, and Hezbollah rockets killed two civilians in northern Israel, AP reported July 23.
The stricken minibus was carrying 16 people fleeing the village of Tairi, heading through the mountains for the southern port city of Tyre. A missile hit the bus near the village of Yaatar, killing three and wounding the rest, security officials said.
On Saturday, the Israeli military told residents of Taire and 12 other nearby villages to evacuate by 4 p.m.

posted by Ethiounited Moderator at2:35 PM


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