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Internet Shutdown hinders COVID-19 fight in Ethiopia

The communications shutdown in some parts of Ethiopia is preventing internet access at a crucial time in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

On January 7th, an internet shutdown was imposed by the Ethiopian government citing security concerns, blocking internet access and phone services in areas under federal military control – namely western Oromia’s Kellem Wellega, West Wellega, and the Horo Gudru Wellega zones.

This comes as a result of the government military operations against armed wing of the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF).

The Ethiopian Government has shut down the internet a number of times, and this has affected the lives and human rights of the Ethiopians resident in concerned areas: disrupting their ability to share and access information or contact friends and family.

Ehiopia has not been the only country carrying out these measures. Rupert Colville, the spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, has urged all governments to immediately end any and all blanket internet and telecommunication shutdowns as everyone has the right to receive and share information.

In the light of recent events like the COVID-19 crisis, it is imperative that relevant information on the disease and its spread and response reach all people.

Colville added that authorities and health practitioners must be able to share relevant information with each other and the public about the pandemic.

Information should be readily available in digestible formats and languages and made adaptable for visually and hearing-impaired people. It should also reach those with little or no access to technology.


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