Press Release| Rally at the State Capitol is this Saturday
If you’re in Minnesota, we’d like to see you there! All of you! Your family and friends! We will have representatives from Senators Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken, the Brooklyn Park human rights commissioner, as well several local performance artists to keep us inspired.
See you at the Capitol at 3pm. (August 27th, 3-5pm 2011)
Press Release below:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Minneapolis / St. Paul, MN (August 23, 2011) – East Africans in Minnesota will hold a rally at the south steps of the State Capitol in St. Paul this Saturday, August 27th, 2011 from 3:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. to raise awareness on the devastating drought and famine in East Africa and address specific challenges to aid.
The rally will lobby the State Department to remove aid restrictions that limit the work of many NGOs working in Somalia. While the state department has eased sanctions on al-Shabaab controlled areas in Somalia, the restrictions from the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) fall short of addressing challenges to aid in the famine-stricken areas. The new protection covers specific contractors and grantees of USAID, and many grassroots organizations with deep community roots are left out. As a result, these efforts continue to face funding barriers, as corporations and foundations do not want to support an effort that may be subject to legal entanglements. We must remove these sanctions and protect all IRS-vetted NGOs to operate in this area.
We also believe that it is unacceptable that the Ethiopian government has been holding back aid from people based on political affiliation. Human Rights Watch (HRW) produced a chilling report in 2010 on how aid is used as a weapon to suppress political dissent. A recent BBC investigation confirmed that this practice is happening in drought-impacted areas. Our government must take a stand against the politicization of aid, and follow the recommendations outlined in HRW’s report, “Development without Freedom: How Aid Underwrites Repression in Ethiopia.”
Finally, we ask that Minnesotans make donations and contributions to organizations that offer sustainable aid models that empower recipients. And as media coverage on this important issue continues; we ask for thoughtful analysis. The dignity of those impacted must be considered and images should not caricature them.
East Africa Relief is comprised of a group of Minnesotans, most of us with East African roots, interested in navigating the famine and drought crisis. “What can we do?” we asked ourselves. This is the result: to encourage smart giving. As we look at short-term aid to the famine-stricken regions it is imperative that we discuss the long term effects of climate change and its impact on global food security. We are NOT an aid agency. We have listed, here, organizations that we have identified as grassroots led with a history of working in the region. Please consider making donating either money or your time and skills to them.