India vs Pakistan: 2013 3rd ODI – Preview

India vs Pakistan 2013, 3rd ODI - PreviewNew Delhi: Battered and bruised by yet another series defeat, India`s struggling cricketers will seek to restore some pride when they go into the third and final one-dayer against arch-rivals Pakistan here tomorrow with the future of some of the under-performing stars at stake.

The collective failure of the top order batsmen even in home conditions has hurt the team badly in recent times and the hosts will need a huge spark of inspiration to prevent the spirited Pakistanis from achieving a 3-0 clean sweep.

Clearly, the pressure will be on the Indians who have been plagued by an inexplicable form slump of their star batsmen while the limited and inexperienced bowling resources have compounded the misery for the hosts who have now sunk to a new low with the recent debacles.

With the series already out of their grasp, the Indians may experiment by giving a chance to some of their bench players but whether they can change the team`s sliding fortunes remains to be seen in a day-night game which will start at noon to neutralise the dew factor.

Captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni, in good form with the bat, has been at a loss to explain the repeated failures and there have been suggestions that he should promote himself up the order considering the poor form of the top half.

The hosts lost the first game in Chennai by six wickets and the second in Kolkata by 85 runs to give their arch foes their first series win on Indian soil since 2004-05.

Unless the Indians put up a far better display, the Ferozeshah Kotla could be a witness another drubbing for Dhoni and his struggling men.

Ajinkya Rahane, who has surprisingly not played a single match despite his decent showing in the two T20 games prior to the ODI series, is almost certain to feature in the playing eleven tomorrow.

The two experienced openers Virender Sehwag and GautamGambhir have invariably failed to give a good start and that has hurt the team badly. The Indians may contemplate benching either Sehwag or Gambhir and let Rahane open the innings.

The form of Virat Kohli, Yuvraj Singh and Suresh Raina has been patchy and none of them have shown consistency nor have they shouldered the responsibility.

In the absence of retired greats like Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid, the experienced players in the team have not shown the willingness to take the batting load.

Dhoni has acknowledged time and again that the batting has let the team down.

“Everybody knows it`s disappointing. When you are going through transition, you want your senior players to perform and groom the juniors. Once two-three wickets start falling, you need someone to soak up the pressure and consolidate the innings”, Dhoni said.

“But again our batting was disappointing. It`s important to have wickets in hand in the end. If you have wickets in hand, it`s possible to score 80-odd runs in the last 10 overs,” Dhoni said.

Nigeria and 2013 African Cup of Nations

Nigeria soccer team

Nigeria soccer team

Handlers of Nigeria’s senior national football team-the Super Eagles last week named a 35-man initial squad for training in Portugal, out of which 23 players would be selected to represent Nigeria in the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) – the biennial football tournament on the continent taking place in South Africa in mid-January.

The Super Eagles did not qualify for the last edition of the tournament jointly hosted by Gabon and Equatorial Guinea, due to shoddy preparations that enabled Guinea-Conakry to overtake it during the qualifying rounds. On account of its past sterling performances in AFCON tournaments, the Super Eagles are taken as a major team on the continent, its failure to qualify therefore was a huge disappointment to soccer loving Nigerians, who in turn saw it as good riddance when the team’s coach was relieved of his post.

Coach Stephen Keshi has succeeded in qualifying the team for the January 2013 tournament using a crop of new and young players who, for now at least, have shown that they could be relied upon to achieve results. They may lack the experience now and exposure needed to compete favourably at the continental and global stage but these shortcomings are compensated for with their readiness to follow instructions on the pitch, which has paid off handsomely with the team’s ease in winning all its qualifying games. This point is important because neglecting to play according to the coach’s instructions has been the reason the Super Eagles has always flopped, a trait mainly exhibited by old and established players who become difficult to control, and eventually ruin the team spirit necessary for success. And the bid to avoid a repeat is the reason many of them have been kept out of the new list, which unfortunately has caused some unnecessary furore, with calls for the inclusion of the old and experienced players.

With a few days to the tournament, the last thing the team needs is this diversion from the need to concentrate on training and strategy. The coach has chosen the players with whom he intends to campaign for the trophy in South Africa and this should be respected. It will not be the first time new and relatively inexperienced players would be taken to big tournaments, indeed the Zambian squad that won the 2011 Cup comprised mainly of home- based players playing at AFCON level tournament for the first time. The Zambian squad defeated the Ivorian team made up of world renowned footballers at the final because it played to instruction and as a team. Nigeria can repeat the same feat if the coach has free hand to choose his players; any attempt to force him to engage players with bloated egos, and who refuse to attend pre-tournament training could be counter-productive to the success of the team.

In previous years, the Super Eagles’ poor performance could be blamed on inadequate preparation as a result of lethargy on the part of the ministry of sports and the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) in addressing issues of training, welfare and accommodation of the squad. This time around these two bodies ensured that preparation for the 2013 started early, giving the handlers opportunity to pit the Super Eagles against other nations’ teams, and right now finishing touches are being put to training and other preparations. The expectation is that if prompt attention is paid to players’ welfare, including bonuses and accommodation and other ancillary matters, there is no reason the team should not do well; indeed it might even bring home the prized trophy as was done in 1978 and 1984. Both the sports ministry and the NFF should spare no efforts in ensuring that matters of remuneration and welfare do not constitute a cog in Nigeria’s AFCON 2013 campaign.

Ghana Premier League has eight players for 2013 Africa Cup of Nations

Berekum Chelsea Richard Kissi Boateng 300x244 Ghana Premier League has eight players for 2013 Africa Cup of Nations

Ghana player Richard Kissi Boateng plays for local side Berekum Chelsea

As 16 nations confirm their provisional squads for this month’s Africa Cup of Nations finals, the Glo Premier League’s player contribution is spread among two countries.

The Ghanaian Premier League, among the best on the continent, has a representation of eight players so far as teams prepare towards the finals in South Africa.

The eight players from the Glo Premier League have been included in the preliminary squads of Ghana and Burkina Faso for the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations.

The Black Stars has six players from the domestic league while Burkina Faso have included two in their provisional 28-man squad.

All six players selected into the Ghana squad have been drawn from five clubs – Asante Kotoko, AshantiGold, Chelsea, Liberty Professionals and Amidaus Professionals.

Asante Kotoko and AshantiGold have a player each – Abdoulaye Soulama and Henri Traore in that order – in the camp of Burkina Faso.

Selected players from the Glo Premier League

Fatau Dauda (AshantiGold, Ghana)
Daniel Adjei (Liberty Professionals, Ghana)
Richard Kissi Boateng (Berekum Chelsea, Ghana)
Rashid Sumaila (Asante Kotoko, Ghana)
Solomon Asante (Berekum Chelsea, Ghana)
Yahaya Mohammed (Amidaus Professionals, Ghana)
Abdoulaye Soulama (Asante Kotoko, Burkina Faso)
Henri Traore (AshantiGold,Burkina Faso)

Source: GHANA FA

African champions Zambia suffered a third consecutive friendly defeat

Zambia's captain Christopher Katongo kisses the African Cup of Nations trophy as Gabon President Ali Bongo, right, applauds, after Zambia beat Ivory Coast in the tournament final soccer match at Stade de l'Amitie in Libreville, Gabon Sunday, Feb. 12, 2012. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)

Zambia’s captain Christopher Katongo kisses the African Cup of Nations trophy as Gabon President Ali Bongo, right, applauds, after Zambia beat Ivory Coast in the tournament final soccer match at Stade de l’Amitie in Libreville, Gabon Sunday, Feb. 12, 2012. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)

African champions Zambia suffered a third consecutive friendly defeat when losing 2-0 to fellow qualifiers Angola Saturday in a 2013 Africa Cup of Nations warm-up.

Striker Geraldo, who plays for Brazilian second-tier club Parana, opened the scoring after eight minutes at Dobsonville Stadium and defender Amaro from championship runners-up Primeiro Agosto added a second five minutes from time.

Zambia, who begin the defence of the title on January 21 against Ethiopia in north-eastern South African city Nelspruit, lost away to Saudi Arabia and Tanzania last month.

But the losses will not unduly concern 44-year-old French coach Herve Renard as Zambia also posted poor warm-up results before winning the Cup of Nations for the first time with a penalty shootout victory over favourites Ivory Coast.

Chipolopolo (The Copper Bullets) have three more friendlies lined up against Morocco, Norway and Namibia before facing Group C rivals Ethiopia, Nigeria and Burkina Faso.

Angola, whose Group A opponents will be South Africa, Morocco and the Cape Verde Islands, are on a roll under Uruguayan coach Gustavo Ferrin as this was a third win in a row after home successes against Rwanda and Cameroon.

No regrets: Boateng vows to repeat protest if racism continues

Image: Emilio Andreoli/AP/Press Association Images

AC MILAN’S KEVIN Prince Boateng has vowed to walk off the pitch again if he suffers more racist abuse no matter what the significance of the match.

Boateng was subjected to racist taunts by Pro Patria fans during a friendly on Thursday and the German-born Ghanaian forward responded by storming off the pitch in protest followed by his Milan team-mates.

The 25-year-old has been backed by Milan owner Silvio Berlusconi and he is adamant the racists must not be allowed to win.

Boateng’s zero tolerance policy means the former Tottenham player is even willing to leave the pitch in a big Champions League or Serie A match if it helps draw attention to racist abuse.

“I don’t care what game it is — a friendly, Serie A or Champions League match, I’d walk off the pitch again and I think everyone would support me,” Boateng told CNN.

“I saw massive support from England and massive players like Rio Ferdinand and Patrick Vieira, and I want to say thank you. I’m sad and angry that I’m the one that has to take action.”

Boateng had complained to the referee three times about the abuse in the Pro Patria match and he finally reacted when no action was taken by the officials and the taunts continued.

“I said to him if it happens again I’m not going to play any more. The referee said ‘don’t worry’ but I said I do worry, it’s not very nice,” he said.

“I was angry and I was sad, but it all came together and I said I didn’t want to play any more. There were so many negative emotions that came up in me.

2013

“I’m surprised we’re still hearing these things in 2013. It’s not the first time in my life I’ve had to hear or see things like this but I’m 25 and don’t want to take this any more.”

Berlusconi has claimed his players will always walk off the pitch in future in protest at racist abuse.

That could put Milan at loggerheads with FIFA and UEFA, who have previously warned against players taking such action and some, including former Milan players Gennaro Gattuso and Clarence Seedorf, questioned Boateng’s approach.

But Boateng said FIFA, the sport’s governing body, should do more to stamp out racism and also hit back at his critics.

“So many people in FIFA can do something and they should wake up and do it. They should not tolerate it,” Boateng said.

“They should ban people forever from the stadiums. That’s the first thing you can do.

“I think if someone wasn’t there they can’t say there were no racist people there.

“It was nothing to do with football or any rivalry, it was a racist act and that’s why I acted like that.”AFP

Conte quashes Drogba to Juve rumours

Drogba in action for Shanghai Shenhua.

Drogba in action for Shanghai Shenhua.
Image: Eugene Hoshiko/AP/Press Association Images

JUVENTUS COACH ANTONIO Conte appears to have reiterated his opposition to the club signing former Chelsea striker Didier Drogba.

Conte, who returned to the bench in mid-December following a four-month ban, added that another reported Juve target — Athletic Bilbao marksman Fernando Llorente — would not be suited to his side either.

Currently with Chinese top flight side Shanghai Shenhua, Drogba has been linked with a move to the Serie A champions for several months.

Juventus face Scottish giants Celtic in the last 16 of the Champions League next month and reports suggest Drogba — pivotal to Chelsea’s triumph in last year’s competition — would provide a much needed boost to their frontline.

Conte, however, claims he has made no personal request for the club to sign the Ivory Coast striker, and has not been informed of the club’s intention to sign him either.

I’ve never asked the club to” sign Drogba “and they haven’t proposed him to me either,” Conte was reported as saying by ANSA news agency on Saturday.

It comes nearly three weeks after Conte affirmed: “We won’t be signing any top players because we’re not in a position to. Neither us, nor other top teams in the Italian league.”

Llorente, who is out of contract with Athletic at the end of the season and could thus leave the club on a free transfer, was also brushed off by Conte despite talks already being held between the Spaniard and Juve last week.

“I’m delighted he is considering Juventus because it shows we can attract big name players again. But I would be surprised to see him in Turin in January,” said Conte.

Champions Juventus sit top of Serie A with an eight-point lead on Lazio ahead of the visit of Sampdoria on Sunday.

Salva-Bashir Summit: What is expected?

By Luka Biong Deng

Presidents Salva and Bashir will meet on 4th January 2013 in a summit that is widely expected to be decisive and final in giving the last chance for the two countries. This summit came as result of the last meeting of the AU Peace and Security Council that calls for such a summit as the last chance for the two countries to resolve amicably all the pending issues. The diplomatic shuttling by the Ethiopian Prime Minister between Khartoum and Juba has hastened the convening of the summit earlier before the next meeting of the AU Council at the level of heads of state.

Most people of the two countries, particularly the people of the South, have lost confidence in these summits as similar summits raised only expectations but did id not yield tangible results. In particular, the last summit between Salva and Bashir in which nine (9) agreements were signed raised hope but with pain in the South that their oil will start flowing for export through Sudan. However, such hopes were dashed by Khartoum when it refused to allow the oil of the South to be exported through its territory by putting unreasonable conditions. Also Khartoum started provoking the people of the South with air and ground attacks of innocent civilians inside the territories of the South along the border.

The real question is what can be expected from such summit with Khartoum consistently dishonouring agreement after agreement. One is not even sure of how much patience remains with Salva to continue negotiating with Bashir. Also this summit is been convened with Khartoum amassing and moving troops with heavy weapons along the border areas with the South. The recent air and ground attacks of the civilians in Raja County in Western Bahr el Ghazal state that resulted in killing of more than 32 civilians clearly showed the intention of Khartoum to put more pressure on Juba before the summit. It is a common belief in the South that the recent increase in the level of insecurity in the South is largely instigated by Khartoum with the aim of weakening the leadership of the South.

The summit is being convened when the two countries are experiencing serious economic and political challenges. In particular, the economy of Sudan is at the brink of collapse as shown by its 2013 budget. Despite the political rhetoric that the Sudanese economy is recovering with the oil production increasing to about 140,000 barrels per day and with increase in gold export, the Sudanese pound is severely suffering and may end up like Zairian currency during the rule of former president Mobuto Sese Seko. Although some circles in Khartoum seem to gamble to strangle the South by not allowing the export of its oil through Sudan, the experience of the last few months has proven to be suicidal.

Also Sudan is experiencing a real social unrest with increased demonstrations that may threaten the survival of the regime in Khartoum if the current economic hardship continues for the next few months. The Sudan Revolutionary Front seems to be gaining militarily. It is also succeeding politically by winning other traditional and democratic political forces to agree on a regime change through peaceful means. Diplomatically, Sudan is losing the Arab world with its clear choice to associate itself with Iran. Sudan may soon lose the support from most African countries in the next meeting of the AU Council if it continues to reject the African solutions on Abyei and border.

The South on the other hand, despite its successful austerity measures, is facing serious economic difficulties as its foreign reserves seem to be dwindling rapidly. Despite the successful austerity measures, increased level of agriculture production and signing of serious refinery construction agreements, the economic situation in the South may deteriorate further in the next few months. There is also increase social unrest and feeling of uneasiness among the citizens in the South over increased insecurity in most parts of the South, unjustifiable and cowardly assassination of Isaiah Abraham, and the unfolding pains of austerity measures. Diplomatically, the South has performed well in showing its seriousness in respecting the nine agreements.

Presidents Salva and Bashir will go to the summit and aware that the business will not be as usual as people of the two countries, particularly in Sudan, and international community have run out of patience. The summit is the last chance for the two leaders to agree on the way forward for implementing the nine agreements and on Abyei and border. President Bashir is fully aware that failure to agree on these pending issues in the next summit will force the heads of state of the AU Peace and Security Council not only to endorse the AUHIP proposals but it will forward these proposals to the UN Security Council for endorsement, a path that Khartoum wants to avoid.

Given the political and diplomatic consequences if the two heads of state failed to agree in the next summit, one expects that Bashir will be more reasonable to abandon his unjustifiable conditions of disengagement between the South and SPLM-North and the alleged harbouring of Sudanese rebels by the South so that the nine agreements to be fully implemented. In fact Sudan is so desperate for the oil revenue from the South.

On the five disputed border areas, there is almost agreement between the parties to resort to the international arbitration after listening to the non-binding opinion from the AU border experts. The summit can easily resolve this issue and proceed to discuss the mechanisms for resolving the claimed border areas. While Sudan is asking for the claimed areas to be handled after finalization of arbitration over the disputed areas, Juba sees it appropriate to handle the disputed and claimed border areas simultaneously. One would expect this issue of the claimed border not to be a stumbling block as the summit could easily agree on a process of finalizing the identification of the claimed areas with facilitation of the AU border experts before these areas are taken for the international arbitration.

On Abyei area, the AUHIP Proposal on the final status of Abyei will be the basis of discussion in the next summit. President Bashir will try to push for further partitioning of Abyei area. One is not sure of how much patience remains with President Salva to renew negotiation over Abyei. However as the summit is a forum for negotiation, President Salva is expected to convince President Bashir to accept the AUHIP Abyei Proposal as a fair deal. It will be for the best interest of President Bashir to accept the AUHIP Abyei Proposal and to raise concerns, if necessary, that would constitute the basis for negotiating with President Salva.

One may expect that President Bashir not to be serious on unjustifiable option of further partitioning of Abyei but he may accept the AUHIP Abyei Proposal but with some reservations. These concerns are likely to be over eligibility of voters, the chair of Abyei Referendum Commission, timing of the referendum, the Abyei oil revenue sharing and political representation of Arab nomads in the administration of Abyei. President Salva is unlikely to renegotiate on the fundamental issues of eligibility, chair of the Commission and timing of the referendum but he may entertain new ideas on oil revenue sharing and political representation of Arab nomads in Abyei administration. If discussion over Abyei could focus on these two issues, then the summit could easily adopt the AUHIP Abyei Proposal with minor changes.

The worst scenario is that if President Bashir continues to be intransigent on the aforementioned issues, then this summit will be the last summit between Presidents Salva and Bashir. The next meeting of the AU Council will be decisive as it will either endorse what the summit agreed upon or to endorse the AUHIP proposals on the pending issues as final and binding African solutions. There will be a window of opportunity for Sudan to be given the last chance to accept these proposals before they are forwarded to the UN Security Council for endorsement and enforcement.

As the path of confrontation between the two countries or with the international community is suicidal and unwinnable, one expects the summit to reach agreement on the pending issues. President Bashir is fully aware that any further confrontation with the South and international community will not only shorten his life in power with misery but will leave a bad legacy that will haunt his family for generations to come. I am confident that the wisdom, imagination and the interests of the people will prevail in this summit so that the people of the two countries can enjoy again peace and stability.

Luka Biong Deng is a senior member of South Sudan’s ruling Sudan People Liberation Movement (SPLM) and the Co-Chair of the Abyei Joint Oversight Committee. He can be contacted at lukabiong@kushworld.org. This article is also published by the New Nation Newspaper – New York, US

I Wish You A Better JUBA IN 2013

By Steven Wöndu

I am recycling and article I posted in the middle of the year 2012 complaining about the health and security or rather, the lack of health and security in Juba. Today, we are beginning the year 2013 in a Juba that is even filthier and more dangerous to live in.

I do not have the desire to talk about the dirt anymore because the people and the authorities do not seem ton appreciate the logic of public health. Grass is allowed to grow to my height between the roads and the walls of residential houses, offices and public facilities. Plastic bottles, food cans and garbage on walkways everywhere as if there was not a single government official responsible for urban management!

These days our school campuses are surrounded by shops and all kinds of commercial activities. An example is the Dr John Garang Secondary School, formerly Juba Girls. What a disgrace to Dr John Garang! The entire campus perimeter is now taken over by factories, warehouses and stores. There is no visual link between staff houses and the dormitories any more. Who allowed this and why? One would have thought that as adults, our primary responsibility is the protection of children, especially the girls.

The schools are finished and so the investors are invading the churches and mosques. The Bari Parish Church is no longer visible from any direction. The grand mosque in what used to be a parade ground in down town Juba is now engulfed, just like the one at Konyokonyo. Now ‘development’ is starting around the All Saints Cathedral of the Episcopal Church. The western side has already been fenced off. The fencing has nothing to do with the construction of new church facilities. A foreign investor is quietly putting up a hotel or a line of shops right in front of the Cathedral.

Before the liberation of South Sudan, the space between Hai Malakal and the orchards near the river was a cemetery. Today it is home to tragic shanties and big warehouses. Is it conceivable that those investors excavated the bones of our departed relatives without colluding with some of us in public offices? Why are squatters allowed to dwell on graves? Is there no red line, no abomination, no taboo in our culture any more?

Let me turn to my pet subject of naming the roads and numbering the plots. There are fundamental practical reasons why urban streets, roads, lanes, and boulevards are named or numbered. The simplest reason is that it gives us a platform to celebrate the geography, history and culture of our country. In a small space we have an opportunity to display Jekou, Chukudum, Wau, Kapoeta, Yambio, Lol, Sue, Jur, Yei, Imatong, Gumbiri, Mayat, Sobat, Kineti, Tombura, Deng, Lolik, Majok, Tete, Nyankir, Awate, Lita, Tafeng, Naivasha, Machakos, Torit, Bor, Addis Ababa etc. We can seize the opportunity to teach ourselves the number line by having First Street, Second Street, Third Street etc. We can use this space to remind ourselves of the alphabet, B Street, M Street, J Street etc. This would be another opportunity to learn the campus; Fifth Street East, D Street North, Mundri Road West, Kajokaji Road South, etc.

Naming and numbering makes ordinary daily life easier for everyone. The shop you are looking for is at Number 7, Munuki Road. My house is number 52 on Logali Street. One would not need to describe the relationship between the house and the big tree. One does not need to say anything about the colour of the gate and roof.

Consider how names and numbers can assist security officials. In their secret files, they identify ‘subjects of interest’ with the numbers of buildings and street names. Some buildings and facilities need security monitoring. Examples include diplomatic premises, financial institutions and sensitive installations. The addresses of such properties have to be exact and the only way of achieving precision is street names and plot numbers. When pursuing a suspect, the police should be able to call a backup to a specific coordinate using road intersections and numbers of buildings. The security agents need to respond fast and this requires precise and unambiguous information about the location of the incident. Same thing can be said about Ambulance and Fire Services. These things sound obvious but why we are not able to do it beats me and it hurts! Many officials have visited Tokyo and Kigali near here. Can we not even copy?

Folks, I wish you a cleaner and safer Juba in 2013 so that I will not have to recycle this article in January 2014.

The author is the South Sudan’s Auditor General.

Ethiopians in the Middle East

By Teklu Abate (PhD)

Introduction

Twenty years ago, my cousin returned from the Middle East totally incapacitated, physically as well as psychologically. I recall that people were talking about her doomsday, that she threw herself down from her employer’s many-storey building. She was paralyzed from her neck all the way down to her feet. Even more, she got a rumbling mind that she kept crying and insulting all day. I recall how her parents were devastated by her condition, as they expected her to win her life and then to be a role model to her siblings. After battling with all sorts of complications and excruciating pains for months, she finally passed away, leaving behind a psychological scar to the family. The scar was the result of their guilt for allowing her to leave for the Middle East while they were and still are the richest persons in their town.

Following her death, I started thinking about questions such as these: why did she left for an Arab country in the first place while having a decent quality of life with her parents? How and why a person of her age threw self from the top of a building? Why did the people who lived with her, including her employer, failed to understand her condition ahead and intervene to save her life? Who should be held responsible for her untimely death? No body answered my questions as I never shared them with anybody until I joined Addis Ababa University for my undergraduate studies. There and then, I discussed the issue with my good-hearted friends. After our discussion, I understood that the issue has personal, familial, societal, economical, and political dimensions.

Unabated

After more than two decades now, thousands of Ethiopian youngsters leave for that oil-pampered region called the Middle East. There is no credible statistics about their exact number but some estimates put it in hundreds of thousands. Of those who leave Ethiopia, a few appear to lead a successful life, turning themselves in to accomplished traders, investors, and brokers. A limited number of them are able to send some dollars to their family back home. These two groups of immigrants are the ones who attract the ears and the eyes of millions of young Ethiopians back home. The latter hear about the former’s success stories and want to do the same by all means. Their dreamlands are countries of the Middle East. Attracted by the good stories and of course won by the persuasive propaganda’s of irresponsible travel agents, they make all the sacrifices required (such as getting Islamic names and borrowing money for their travels) to head for the Arab world. The root cause is of course poverty and these days starvation back home.

The majority, who are from rural Ethiopia, find themselves at a higher risk. Several are being killed by their employers for a whole number of reasons. Several others are committing suicide just to shorten the incomprehensible earthly suffering. Several others are, due to abuses of all sorts, getting physically and psychologically incapacitated. Since, recently, there are some others who start to kill their employers. By all accounts, the region is the most inhospitable spot on earth to Ethiopian women. Being an immigrant woman and a housemaid is nothing but being a piece of moving object created to serve some Arabs. This is what disturbs my mind. The horrors of our sisters should be heard loud and clear by all freedom-loving people. I am neither belittling the Arabs nor their culture and religion. I am against the incredible cruelty some of them have against our sisters.

I believe in the free movement of people as it is their natural right. What am concerned about is that 1) job opportunities to rural youth are extremely limited, 2) our sisters do not get first-hand genuine information about work conditions, salaries, and modes of life in the Middle East before their departure, and 3) the Ethiopian government and other agencies do not work hard to safeguard the safety and security of youngsters once they start working and living in the Middle East.

Still, the problem is too big to be ignored. I believe that this problem is manmade and can be solved. I identified three mitigating strategies and one permanent solution. These are just few of the many alternative approaches that might exist out there; having some to initiate discussion is helpful.

Job opportunities

The rural youth leave Ethiopia mainly for economic reasons. There must be a policy that makes sure rural youngsters have something to make for their living. The government focuses on ‘empowering’ urban youth; equal intervention must be taken to enable rural youth to cope up with the cost of living. Rather than forcing kids to pass through a protracted process of joining university, many of them must be trained in some of the key vocations. The quality of education and training must be significantly improved so that students acquire needed competencies and skills. Be it in agriculture or the service sector, there must be an attractive opportunity for the youth. If there is for the youth something to hang out with, they may not have that burning desire to leave and die in a foreign land. We could then think of banning such unproductive travels entirely.

Complete ban

Rural youngsters are leaving. The educated are leaving. Business people are leaving. Even senior citizens start to ask asylum in the West. Who has the decision to remain back home? Because of this scale of migration, the future potential of the nation seems highly compromised. Banning migration is illegal and is impossible. But when it is done to avert catastrophes such as what happens in the Middle East, it has a moral justification. In a way, a ban of the sort is tantamount to saving thousands of lives every year. Given the current handling of Ethiopian youngsters by the Arabs, and given the absence or lack of regulatory mechanisms from our embassies, it is justified to ban immigration to that region at least until the Arabs enforce laws that protect the rights of employees. Before the ban, we have to create employment opportunities back home.

Information is power

If the aforementioned mechanisms appear impractical for whatever reasons, we could eye on providing timely information to potential travelers so that they could make informed decisions. Urban youth appear at an advantage when it comes to knowing the goods and evils of going to the desert ‘oases’. The rural youth, who are dominating the exodus now, do not have a vivid understanding of urban life. They even are ‘aliens’ to life and living in Addis and in other major cities and towns in Ethiopia. They have no clue when it comes to 1) communicating with foreigners, 2) managing modern house chores, 3) salary and workload, and 4) living conditions and abuses such as rapes and punishments in the Middle East. The media, parents, friends, the government, and other civic organizations must explain these and other issues to those who think of flights. The information should be provided in such a fashion that it discourages illegal and even legal travels. Or, the information should help them to make informed decisions.

Work conditions and pays

If we still believe in the right of Arabs to possess our sisters as slaves, we have to play different. The role of Ethiopian embassies is crucial here. I heard that some sort of contract is being entered between employers/brokers and employees in Addis. But that does not translate into action. Compared to immigrants from other countries, Ethiopian housemaids are paid the least salaries. Are we any cheaper? We are of course one of hard-working and smart workforce in the world, with astounding success and work ethic. The problem is that there is nobody who could fight on behalf of our rural youngsters. They do not have the language and communication/argumentation skill to face their employers. Their embassy is supposed to make deals on their behalf. I am not saying that our embassies in the Middle East are totally idle on this matter; I am saying that their contribution is hardly noticeable. To me, there is no more pressing need for an embassy than to intervene between life and death.

My suggestion to our embassies there is that they should make deals with employers on a whole set of issues related to employees. One, they should make sure Ethiopians are employed at the same salary scale as other immigrants are employed. Two, the embassies must ensure that at least the minimum work conditions are fulfilled. Three, they should come up with a mechanism to ensure the timely payment of salaries. Four, bring to the courts those employers who abuse their employees. Five, create a sort of association for Ethiopian immigrants so that it could be tasked to follow up on the daily conditions of its members. Six, stop advertising that you would bring cheap labor from Ethiopia. This sort of ads makes you appear even cheaper before Arab eyes. If you have to advertise, tell potential employers that you could bring them youngsters for employment on a competitive basis. Seven, do not consider political affiliation while helping immigrants. There are other places and scenarios where and when playing politics does not cost, at least in terms of human life. These sorts of efforts along with international pressure making would bring good results.

International pressure

Our embassies are too limited in their capacities to deal with this problem alone. The Ethiopian government, the Diaspora, political parties, civic organizations, and religious institutions must create a unified front to pressurize Arabs to respect international conventions related to human rights and employment. Open letters addressed to governments, employment organizations and their embassies must be written. The approach must be as diplomatic as possible.

If governments and employers do not listen to our cries, threaten to disclose their worst handling of human rights to international media and organizations. Indeed, it is useful to attract the attention of the ILO, the UN, the EU, the US, and other multinational corporations. If the cry is loud and full of evidence, we might be heard and we could bring some change. Similarly, scholars should be invited to conduct studies that explore the daily horrors of hundreds of thousands of Ethiopians. Based on empirical evidence, interest and pressure groups could be easily formed and maintained.

The writer could be reached at teklu.abate@gmail.com and also blogs at http://tekluabate.blogspot.no/.