Seven Days Update, Vol. 19 No. 52

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Ethiopian rebels warned a Canadian oil company against oil exploration in the country's east and said the area is unsafe because of fighting. Africa Oil Corporation should halt all operations until the rebels make peace with the government, the ONLF said. "ONLF calls upon African Oil to desist from paying blood money to Ethiopia until a just settlement of the conflict is achieved and the people of the Ogaden are in a position to be masters of their wealth and interest," the statement said (AP, Feb. 18)

Africa Oil Corporation (AOC) signed petroleum exploration and production agreement. Mines Minister Sinknesh Ejigu said the exploration and production of oil covers 42,000 and 50,000 sq. km in South Omo and Ogaden regions, respectively. The Minister said the Company will undertake its activities as per the law of the country and based on
international experiences (WIC, Feb. 21).

The construction of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam is significant for the success of the ongoing efforts of the Ethiopian people to reduce poverty, the Government Communication Affairs Office (GCAO) said. Employees of the GCAO on pledged for the second time to contribute their one month salary for the construction of the dam being undertaken in Benishangul Gumuz State. GCAO State Minister, Shimelis Kemal, said said the dam construction is underway with the support of the Ethiopian people and the commitment of the government. He said civil servants are significantly contributing by buying bonds and providing professional support, among others, towards success of construction of the dam (WIC, Feb. 21).

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) said President Obama's administration will provide additional 35m USD support to Ethiopia to help the country combat drought and natural disasters. USAID Assistant Administrator Nancy E. Lindborg told that the administration had earlier allocated 110m USD for the same purpose. The Administrator said that the support will be used for humanitarian services and to prevent conflict and natural disasters. She said the assistance will help Ethiopia to fight against poverty and drought mainly in pastoral areas (ENA, Feb. 22).

The Ministry of Health, in collaboration with Canadian partners, launched a three year project, "Zinc Alliance for Child Health" (ZACHEthiopia) with 3.5m $ fund to save young lives from diarrhea, a condition that can be deadly if untreated. The ministry will implement the project in collaboration with Canadian partners, Micronutrient Initiative and Tech Today as well as the Government of Canada. Senior Advisor at the Office of the Minister, Dr. Firew Lemma, said training has been provided to 25,000 health extension workers in a bid to enabling them give the treatment to those in need at 12,000 health stations across the country. The project will concentrate on social marketing efforts to increase the number of caregivers, who will seek treatment for diarrhea using zinc and low osmolarity ORS and to ensure it is used properly. ZACH Ethiopia will scale up the use of zinc supplementation and ORS to treat diarrhea across the country with the goal of treating 6.5 million cases by 2015, according to a release issued by the partners (ENA , Feb. 20).