Indian investors forcing Ethiopians off land

From Global development | The Guardian Thu Feb 7 2013, 00:07:00

Thousands of Ethiopians are being relocated or have already fled as their land is sold off to foreign investors without their consent

Ethiopia's leasing of 600,000 hectares (1.5 acres) of prime farmland to Indian companies has led to intimidation, repression, detentions, rapes, beatings, environmental destruction, and the imprisonment of journalists and political objectors, according to a new report.

Research by the US-based Oakland Institute suggests many thousands of Ethiopians are in the process of being relocated or have fled to neighbouring countries after their traditional land has been handed to foreign investors without their consent. The situation is likely to deteriorate further as companies start to gear up their operations and the government persues plans to lease as much as 15% of the land in some regions, says Oakland.

In a flurry of new reports about global "landgrabbing" this week, Oxfam said on Thursday that investors were deliberately targeting the weakest-governed countries to buy cheap land. The 23 least-developed countries of the world account for more than half the thousands of recorded deals completed between 2000 and 2011, it said. Deals involving approximately 200m ha of land are believed to have been negotiated, mostly to the advantage of speculators and often to the detriment of communities, in the last few years.

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