Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Missing Ethiopian runners: Athletes come from deeply troubled nation | OregonLive.com

march.ethiopia.JPGFour Ethiopian runners who vanished Saturday from the 2014 IAAF World Junior Championships in Eugene, perhaps seeking asylum in the U.S., would have much to put behind them by leaving their home country.

Poverty, regional instability, human rights abuses and disease plague Ethiopia, which fought a crippling border war with Eritrea from 1998 to 2000, and more recently has sent troops to fight the jihadist group Al-Shabaab in neighboring Somalia.

Protesters spilled into streets  from Portland to St. Paul Minnesota last spring in response to news accounts that 11 students were killed in clashes with Ethiopian police forces.

The purchasing power of the nation's 96.6 million people stands at 69th globally, but per capita income has remained among the lowest in the world, according to the CIA's World Fact Book .

The U.S. State Department estimates that more than 1 million people of Ethiopian origin live in the United States, with a great number of U.S. groups providing humanitarian support to Ethiopians.

"Ethiopia's weak human rights record creates tension in our relationship, and we continue to push for press freedom, appropriate application of anti-terrorism legislation, a loosening of restrictions on civil society, greater tolerance for opposition views, and religious dialogue," State Department diplomat Donald Y. Yamamoto , the acting assistant secretary with the Bureau of African Affairs, told a House subcommittee in June 2013.

During the Cold War , athletes from Communist nations such as the Soviet Union and East Germany sometimes used international competitions to defect to Western nations. The phenomenon has been picked up by young East Africans, although for generations, U.S. universities have given full scholarships to promising – and often world-class – long-distance runners from Africa.

The four Ethiopian runners who slipped out of Eugene, reported missing on Saturday, had already run their events, according to a story in Reuters. They were Amanuel Abebe Atibeha , 17,who ran the men's 800 meters, and three 18-year-old women:Dureti Edao ,  (800 meters), Meaza Kebede (400 meter hurdles), Zeyituna Mohammed  (800 meters).

East African distance runners – from Ethiopia, Kenya and Djibouti – dominate global performance in track and field, and road racing.

As of Saturday, East Africa's women runners led the world in every track event from 3,000 meters to the 10,000 meters, including the 3,000-meter steeplechase. East African men topped the world charts in the 1,500 meters, mile, steeplechase and 5,000 meters.

The only non-African on the men's list is Galen Rupp, the former University of Oregon standout and silver medalist at 10,000 meters in the London Olympic Games. Rupp leads the world at 2 miles and 10,000 meters.

-- Bryan Denson

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Italy navy rescues 2,600 boat migrants over two days - YouTube

Italy navy rescues 2,600 boat migrants over two days - YouTube: ""

Italy rescues more than 2,600 boat migrants over weekend

People from Eritrea, Democratic Republic of Congo, Sudan and Algeria were among those rescued over the weekend, the navy said.

World Bulletin/News Desk
Italy's search and rescue mission saved more than 2,600 migrants from boats in the Mediterranean over the weekend, the navy said on Monday, as the number reaching Italy from Africa this year surges to a record.
Boats and helicopters from the "Mare Nostrum" or "Our Sea" mission picked up the predominantly male migrants, along with some minors and a nine-months pregnant woman, between Saturday and Monday in the Strait of Sicily.
Southern Italy has long attracted sea-borne migrants from Africa seeking a better life in Europe, and calm weather in recent months has encouraged more people, many fleeing war, forced conscription and poverty at home, to make the crossing.
People from Eritrea, Democratic Republic of Congo, Sudan and Algeria were among those rescued over the weekend, the navy said.
The UN refugee agency (UNHCR) had counted 63,600 arrivals on July 4, before this weekend's influx, surpassing the previous record of around 62,000 set in the whole of 2011, year of the "Arab Spring" uprisings.
Despite the better weather, the route is fraught with danger. Forty-five people were found suffocated on a packed fishing boat last week and migrants arriving in Sicily said they had travelled with dozens more who never made it.
Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi has called on the European Union for more investment in Mare Nostrum, which costs around 9 million euros ($12.3 million) a month.
The influx of migrants and the cost of the operation has boosted the anti-immigrant Northern League Party in Italy, which had lost voter support in recent years amid corruption scandals.
Renzi has also asked the United Nations to intervene in Libya, where many people pay traffickers more than $1,000 for the perilous passage.