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Open Letter to the International Crisis Group

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It is not lost on anyone that, unfortunately, the Horn of Africa is fragile and fractured as a result of highly polarized and complex inter-relationships amongst the various peoples inhabiting the region. International organizations that seek to understand and analyze this region in any meaningful manner need to not only be aware of important nuances but also navigate carefully to ensure that biases and prejudices arising from polarised perspectives are not introduced into what are expected to be neutral and independent assessments.

This week, the International Crisis Group (ICG) announced it has appointed Meron Elias as its new East and Southern Africa Analyst. As concerned Tigrayans aware of her social media activities, we are writing this letter to express our alarm at the content she has been promoting on Twitter.

In these Twitter activities, Elias has shown extensive and consistent public support for intolerant and strongly biased views on the ongoing war and humanitarian crisis in Tigray. Some of the content promoted by her fits the bill of hate speech against a protected characteristic – ethnicity. When concerned Tigrayans raised a red flag at this problematic record, Elias went on a spree of blocking all Tigrayan accounts, most of which have not even engaged with her at all.

The role that social media has played in fueling conflict and intercommunal violence in Ethiopia is widely recognized. In light of this, it is even more alarming to see a person with such a problematic record be affiliated with an international body that is deeply involved in the developments in Ethiopia. Reckless engagement to this degree signals both the depth of personal commitment to these views by the individual and an utter disregard for the basic tenets of professionalism.

Appointing someone with such prejudiced views as a neutral observer and analyst for a region currently defined by the ongoing conflict in Tigray is detrimental to any organization. It is even more so for ICG, given that it aims to offer insight into preventing and resolving deadly conflicts. As such we would like to believe that impartiality and respect for target communities are values that are central to what ICG has set out to do. 

ICG has a responsibility of ensuring its staff members are independent, balanced and sensitive to the nuances and complexities influencing events on the ground. It is with this responsibility in mind that we would like to urge in the strongest possible terms that ICG take the following actions urgently: 

  1. Make a public statement disavowing the viewpoints expressed or supported by  Elias and affirming that the organization remains committed to principles of neutrality and impartiality;
  2. Reassure affected populations that the viewpoints expressed or supported by  Elias haven’t influenced the work ICG has done on the Horn thus far;
  3. Take corrective actions that reflect what ICG stands for;
  4. Publicly explain the mechanisms by which ICG aims to mitigate the bias introduced by its new appointee

Teklehaymanot G. Weldemichel (PhD)

Teklai Gebremichael

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9 Comments

9 Comments

  1. Wasiya Reebisa Qabdella

    April 3, 2022 at 2:04 pm

    Ethiopian need peace. The Federal and the Afar regional gov.t & the Afar communitys action to let the humanitarian aid to Tigray region shows their commitment to peace‼️
    But, tplf is steal didn’t take meaningful action to withdrow from the 5 woredas of zone 2 of Afar regional state of Ethiopia that was set as precondition by both the Federal and tplf officials last week.

  2. Esayas Gebreyesus

    April 1, 2022 at 4:59 am

    This is ridiculous on the side of ICG. The problem may be that ICG don’t yet understand the ethnic dynamics in the horn and can easily get played by the likes of Elias.

  3. DEREJE

    April 1, 2022 at 3:06 am

    She has hate towards Tigryans

  4. Abrehamw@hotmail.com

    March 30, 2022 at 9:45 pm

    This is the double standard of some international organizations having the capability of allocating resources to select or higher the right person rather galvanized the problem.In what kind of word, selecting or higher An individual with the back ground aligned with the genocidal gov and spread hate towards Tegaru

  5. Tariku asefa

    March 30, 2022 at 1:55 pm

    Thanks to you u expressed my felling through your open letter to the organization, at this moment we need same one who tray’s to unify Ethiopians, she always spread hate speech, and we never hesitate, to oppose her, we need a peace in Ethiopian, let them fulfill their political need when the war ends!

  6. Haftom a

    March 30, 2022 at 1:44 pm

    #StopTigraywar

  7. ቃልኣብ

    March 30, 2022 at 12:59 pm

    ማን ስለሆነች ነው ? አይሰራም 👌

  8. Tesfay Kinfe

    March 30, 2022 at 12:35 pm

    ICG members shall be neutral and impartial . The appointment of Meron Elias is unacceptable and it seems fishy.

    • Negasi Awetehey Nega

      April 5, 2022 at 1:14 pm

      she is going to be servant of the genocidal regime in Addis, bidding with any evil to destablize the horn of Africa.

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