US pledges 25 mln dollars for restive Ethiopian region
( AFP ) - The United States has pledged 25 million worth of food aid for Ethiopia's restive Ogaden region amid reports of a humanitarian crisis fueled by the army's crackdown on separatist insurgents.
"We have committed 25 million dollars worth of food, grains and others supplies which have already been purchased and are on their way," Henrietta Fore, director of US Foreign Assistance, said Saturday.
"We have a great deal of assistance going to the Ogaden," she added.
The Ethiopian army launched a crackdown in the region after Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) rebels attacked a Chinese oil venture in April that left 77 people dead, and have been accused of bombing villages and killing several people.
Many refugees have since fled to Somalia, saying authorities have imposed a trade blockade, with few goods -- including food -- permitted into the area.
Human rights groups said the crackdown resulted in numerous human rights violations in the region and subsequent UN fact-finding mission called for an independent investigation.
The barren Ogaden region has long been extremely poor, but the discovery of gas and oil has brought new hopes of wealth as well as new causes of conflict.
It is about the same size as Britain with a population of about four million.