In his ten-month report to the House of People’s Representatives (HPR), Kassa Teklebirhan, Minister of Federal and Pastoralist Development Affairs (MoPDA), underscored the seriousness of the security threats that are posed by the illegal arms trade and contraband trade across the boarders and the deep-rooted human trafficking activities in the country.
In a comprehensive national security inventory that that the Ministry has conducted for the past ten months, Kassa brought to light some of the unadvertised and publicized security threats to Ethiopia among which an exacerbated level of cross boarder illegal arms trade which is fueling the various regional and national security threats to the nation.
“Among the major factors that exacerbate conflicts, is illegal arms trade. Huge amount of arms are being smuggled into the country in many directions and it is already posing a serious security threats to the nation,” Kasaa told MPs.
He further said that in spite of elevated efforts by various regional governments to curb the illegal arms trade, the threat is far from being brought under control. According to Kassa, the scattered efforts by the various regional states and the securities agencies of the federal government are not bearing fruit in the fight against illegal arms trade.
According to Kassa, the challenge starts with the absence of comprehensive and uniform legal framework governing the fire arms sector. He also said that the various regional and federal controlling agencies require a common legal framework to work with and that has not come forth until now.
Similarly, growing contraband trade levels in Ethiopia are also proving to be another source of security problem for Ethiopia, according to the Minister. “The muscle and the tactics that are used by the contrabandists have grown consistently in the past year,” Kassa told MPs.
The expanding levels of human trafficking are also another challenging issue for the country’s security, Kassa noted in his report. According to his report, in spite of concerted effort to curb human trafficking across the nation, trafficking is among the major challenges that country faces today.
Kassa admitted that trafficking has not shown any signs of decline even with the introduction of a nationwide campaign and efforts to curb the challenges. What was more interesting was the analysis of the Ministry, which suggested that human trafficking is in fact helping out the various armed groups that are waging war against the nation. Most of these groups gain their power from human traffickers working across Ethiopia and the region.
In a grand scale, the report has also covered the number of security shook ups that the country went through during the past ten-moths. Primary among these were the somewhat stretched popular protest in the Amhara and Oromia regional states. Kassa said failure to address fundamental maladministration issues, lack of strong political commitment to address the grievances, poor inter-state coordination and to some extent legal loopholes are to blame for the deterioration of security in the country in the past ten months.
Nevertheless, in complete synchrony with what Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn has said in the parliament few months ago, Kassa also assigned some blame to what he called “anti-peace elements” for seizing the opportunity that was created by the failure of the government at various levels to address grievances created in country.
The recurring conflict between the Nuer and Anwak ethnic groups and the tragic loss of lives there was another issue that Kassa dwelt on in his report. Although most of the issues have been resolved thanks to the intense dialogue that was conducted among security forces in the region, who were alleged to have taken sides in the conflicts, Kassa stressed that lessons have to be drawn from the tragic experience specifically regarding the slow response of federal forces in the face of ensuing violence.