Ethiopia Taps Diaspora Doctors To Stay Ahead Of COVID-19

Workers wearing protective suits as a preventive measure against the COVID-19 coronavirus pull passenger luggage. NICOLAS ASFOURI / AFP.


Every weekday at noon, radio host Mehret Debebe heads to his studio for a live call-in show devoted to a single topic: what the coronavirus means for Ethiopia.

The questions come from across the country, as farmers in remote regions ask how they should prepare — and in some cases whether the virus is even real.

The answers come from even farther afield.

That’s because Mehret has taken to stacking his guest list with Ethiopian doctors based abroad, often in countries like the United States that have been hit much harder by the pandemic.

“We are still in the pre-crisis phase, so I think learning from them would help a lot,” Mehret, a US-trained psychiatrist, said of his diaspora guests.

“We don’t know what the crisis will be like.”

The World Bank says Ethiopia has just one doctor for every 10,000 people — a ratio that’s half of neighbouring Kenya’s, four times lower than Nigeria’s and nine times lower than South Africa’s.

But the global response to the pandemic has benefited from the work of Ethiopian doctors overseas, including aides to WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus — who is himself Ethiopian, though not a doctor — and emergency-room physicians in hotspots like New York.

Mehret’s show is part of a broader effort to enlist those doctors to help shape the local response.

READ ALSO: Virus Hope In US As WHO Hails Global Progress

Just 250 cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, have been confirmed so far in Ethiopia, but experts warn the health system could easily become overwhelmed by a major surge.

“That’s the worst-case scenario,” said Dr Wubrest Tesfaye, Mehret’s co-host.

“Having first-hand experience from a person who is at the front, responding to the highest outbreak crisis, would give us the right kind of information” on how to prepare.

– The view from New York –

It was late March when Tsion Firew, an Ethiopian emergency-room doctor based in Manhattan, realised the pandemic could be as bad as anything she’d seen in her years of responding to conflicts and humanitarian disasters.

Critical patients just kept coming, and the lack of information about the virus elevated fear and anxiety.

“I actually felt like I was back in Mosul,” she recalled, referring to her time in the Iraqi city after it was liberated from the Islamic State group in 2017.

She talked about her experiences on a recent episode of Mehret’s show — a segment Mehret said helped underscore the gravity of the virus for listeners.

Tsion’s time in New York, the worst-affected US city, has also informed her work on an Ethiopian government task force to fight the virus — which she does in the mornings before hospital shifts.

When she disagrees with Ethiopian officials, like when she thought they were moving too slowly to procure testing materials, she pushes back “forcefully”, she told AFP.

“After seeing what I saw every day, the amount of death I saw every day, my tone changed,” she said. “I became more pushy, even with the health minister.”

– ‘Time is of the essence’ –

Another recent guest on Mehret’s show was Dawd Siraj, an Ethiopian expert on infectious diseases at the University of Wisconsin.

He used his two appearances to break down the science behind the virus, shifting the conversation towards facts and away from what he described as “supranatural” narratives.

“The foundation of science and the methods of reaching conclusions are solid. I want to explain this to the public in an easy, understandable way,” he told AFP.

Mehret said it’s a welcome message in Ethiopia, a deeply religious country where many assume God will protect them from the disease, in part because there haven’t been many local cases so far.

“When it comes to COVID,” he said, “people really think God will take care of it because they don’t see it.”

Like Tsion, Dawd is a member of the health ministry’s coronavirus task force.

He also serves on a diaspora advisory council established by Fitsum Arega, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s former chief of staff and Ethiopia’s current ambassador in Washington.

The council’s “action plan” explains how it will use “experiences learned from around the world” to help with everything from sourcing personal protective equipment to preparing for possible lockdowns should the situation in Ethiopia deteriorate.

“The key is to get ahead of the virus. Time is of the essence!!” the document reads.

– Staying vigilant –

Last week, Mehret aired an interview with Wondwossen G Tekle, an Ethiopian endovascular neurologist at the University of Texas who recently came down with, and recovered from, COVID-19.

Along with his symptoms — the aches, the chills, the loss of taste and smell — Wondwossen described the importance of prevention in keeping Ethiopia’s caseload under control.

Though the total remains low, there are now dozens of cases of community spread, and officials warn that complacency could undermine containment.

Mehret said he hoped listeners gleaned from Wondwossen’s story that “this thing can catch anyone, and you can recover”.

But he also wants them to understand the importance of continued vigilance.

“I think COVID is giving us time because maybe COVID knows we don’t have enough preparation,” Mehret said.

“But if we have all this time and we have done nothing and if the epidemic happens, I think shame on us.”


Ethiopia Opens Aid Transport Hub To Fight COVID-19

A worker pushes boxes containing mostly personal protective equipment (PPE) at Ethiopian Airlines’ cargo facility at the Bole International Airport in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on April 14, 2020. Samuel HABTAB / AFP.


Ethiopia and the United Nations on Tuesday opened a humanitarian transport hub at Addis Ababa airport to move supplies and aid workers across Africa to fight coronavirus.

The arrangement, which relies on cargo services provided by Ethiopian Airlines, could also partially offset heavy losses Africa’s largest carrier is sustaining because of the pandemic.

An initial shipment of 3,000 cubic metres (106,000 cubic feet) of supplies — most of it personal protective equipment for health workers — will be distributed within the next week, said Steven Were Omamo, Ethiopia country director for the World Food Programme (WFP).

“This is a really important platform in the response to COVID-19, because what it does is it allows us to move with speed and efficiency to respond to the needs as they are unfolding,” Omamo said, referring to the disease caused by the coronavirus.

The Addis gateway is one of eight global humanitarian hubs set up to facilitate movement of aid to fight COVID-19, according to WFP.

In Africa, there are also hubs in Ghana and South Africa.

The continent has so far not been hit by the coronavirus as hard as other regions, but experts worry that weak health systems could quickly become overwhelmed by an influx of cases.

READ ALSO: COVID-19: IMF Approves Debt Relief For 25 Poor Countries

As of Tuesday there were 15,249 COVID-19 cases across the continent resulting in 816 deaths, according to the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.

African leaders are also worried about the economic toll on the continent.

An African Union study published last week warned that 20 million jobs in the formal and informal sectors were at risk.

The state-run Ethiopian Airlines announced last week that it was already bracing for revenue losses of $550 million (502 million euros) between January and April.

The airline is turning to cargo, maintenance and charter operations to help soften the blow.

Ethiopian Airlines plans to play “a major role” in Africa’s fight against COVID-19, and the humanitarian transportation hub inaugurated Tuesday will be operational at least through the end of May, said Fitsum Abadi, the company’s managing director of cargo and logistics services.

But Fitsum acknowledged that cargo operations would never make up for the loss of most of the airline’s passenger traffic.

“This division or this business unit is the second largest revenue-generating business unit, but it cannot offset the entire loss that the airline is facing,” he told AFP.

“So we are helping the airline to navigate this difficult time — not as healthy as we wanted but in a healthy situation.”

Ethiopia Declares State Of Emergency Over Coronavirus

(FILES) In this file photo taken on August 01, 2019 Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed gives a press conference at the Prime Minister’s office in the capital, Addis Ababa. MICHAEL TEWELDE / AFP


Ethiopia on Wednesday declared a state of emergency to fight the coronavirus pandemic, which has so far infected 55 people and resulted in two deaths there.

It is the first state of emergency announced under Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, who came to power in 2018 and won last year’s Nobel Peace Prize in part for expanding political freedoms in the authoritarian nation.

“Because the coronavirus pandemic is getting worse, the Ethiopian government has decided to declare a state of emergency under Article 93 of the constitution,” Abiy said in a statement.

“I call upon everybody to stand in line with government bodies and others that are trying to overcome this problem,” he added, warning of “grave legal measures” against anyone who undermines the fight against the pandemic.

It was not immediately clear how the state of emergency would affect day-to-day life in Ethiopia.

The government has so far refrained from imposing a lockdown similar to those in effect elsewhere in the region, including in Rwanda, Uganda and Mauritius.

According to the country’s constitution, under a state of emergency the Council of Ministers has “all necessary power to protect the country’s peace and sovereignty” and can suspend some “political and democratic rights”.

The constitution also says lawmakers need to approve a state of emergency, which can last for six months and be extended every four months after that.

Wednesday’s decree is likely to “beef up security operations with a greater role for the federal government, including the military,” said William Davison, Ethiopia analyst for the International Crisis Group, a conflict-prevention organisation.

“While this approach is understandable given the situation, it is critical that there is transparency over the government’s extra powers and that there is adequate monitoring of implementation,” Davison said.
-Opposition challenges move-

Since reporting its first COVID-19 case on March 13, Ethiopia has closed land borders and schools, freed thousands of prisoners to ease overcrowding, sprayed main streets in the capital with disinfectant, and discouraged large gatherings.

But Abiy said over the weekend that a harsher lockdown would be unrealistic given that there are “many citizens who don’t have homes” and “even those who have homes have to make ends meet daily.”

Jawar Mohammed, a leading opposition politician, said Wednesday this called into question why a state of emergency was necessary.

“Officials have been saying the country is too poor to stop population movement. So why do you need a state of emergency if you are not planning to impose stricter rules?” Jawar told AFP.

During consultations with Abiy earlier this week, the opposition Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) voiced worries that a state of emergency would lead to human rights abuses — a well-documented problem under previous states of emergency imposed during several years of anti-government protests that swept Abiy to power.

“We explained our concern that the state of emergency has been initiated several times and it has been abused to violate the rights of citizens and other political activists,” OLF chairman Dawud Ibsa told AFP.

It’s also unclear how the state of emergency might affect planning for hotly-anticipated general elections in Ethiopia.

The country’s electoral board announced last week that voting planned for August would need to be postponed because of the pandemic.

It did not provide a timeline for when the elections would ultimately be held, and lawmakers’ constitutional mandates expire in October.

Davison, with the International Crisis Group, said the state of emergency could be used “to formally postpone elections” past that deadline, though such a move risks sparking opposition backlash.

“It is therefore essential that the government works with opposition parties on managing this constitutionally sensitive period and making new electoral arrangements,” Davison said.


Ethiopia Shuts Land Borders To Fight Coronavirus

A cleaning staff waits in protective gear to disinfect a metro carriage for preventing the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on March 20, 2020. – African countries have been among the last to be hit by the global COVID-19 coronavirus epidemic but as cases rise, many nations are now taking strict measures to block the deadly illness. Michael Tewelde / AFP.


Ethiopia on Monday shut its land borders to nearly all human traffic as part of efforts to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

Africa’s second-most populous country has so far recorded just 11 infections and no deaths, but officials have struggled in recent days to enforce prevention measures including bans on large gatherings, raising fears the tally could climb.

The land border closure was part of a set of new measures announced Monday by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s office.

Soldiers will be empowered “to halt the movement of people along all borders, with the exception of incoming essential goods to the country,” a statement said.

Security forces will also play a role in enforcing existing measures prohibiting large gatherings and meetings, it added.

Ethiopia has so far refrained from imposing the kind of shutdown seen in other East African countries like Rwanda and Mauritius.

READ ALSO: Coronavirus Kills Two Senior Military Officers In Egypt 

But even its more limited measures have not been fully enforced, and Abiy’s Prosperity Party has been criticised on social media for holding large meetings in various parts of the country where attendees have sat close together.

Monday’s statement said political parties would “adhere to social distancing and preventative measures when convening meetings.”

Ethiopia has kept its main airport open for international flights, although Ethiopian Airlines has been forced to suspend services to destinations in nearly 40 countries, according to its website.

Monday marked the first day of a new rule requiring all passengers arriving in Ethiopia to be quarantined in hotels for two weeks at their own expense.

Ethiopia shares land borders with countries including Eritrea, Sudan, Kenya, Djibouti and Somalia — all of which have confirmed coronavirus cases.

Djibouti announced its second case on Monday.

Eritrea, with one case, on Monday announced new measures of its own including a ban on gatherings of more than 10 people.

The country’s health ministry also urged residents to avoid public transportation and said Eritreans currently living abroad should refrain from returning.

Ethiopia’s refugee population of more than 735,000 includes large numbers from neighbouring South Sudan, Somalia, Eritrea and Sudan.

The UN refugee agency UNHCR has voiced concern about how border restrictions implemented to fight the coronavirus could affect the rights of asylum seekers.

The UN “requests that measures be put in place to take into account access to territory of asylum seekers for those fleeing persecution,” Ann Encontre, UNHCR’s Ethiopia representative, told AFP on Monday.


Group Of Canadian Charity Workers Detained In Ethiopia


Ottawa confirmed Saturday that a group of Canadians had been detained in Ethiopia after a humanitarian organization reported that 15 volunteers and workers, including 13 Canadian nationals, had been apprehended.

Global Affairs Canada, the foreign ministry, said it had “raised this case directly with the government of Ethiopia and officials are in contact with local authorities to gather further information.”

The charity, Canadian Humanitarian, said that the 15 detained individuals were medical professional volunteers, general volunteers, and staff members.

READ ALSO: More Than 200,000 Affected By Congo Floods

All were Canadians except for two Ethiopian staff members, it said.

Canada’s foreign ministry said it was “aware that Canadian citizens are detained in Ethiopia.”

According to Canadian Humanitarian the detained “are being investigated on the allegations that they were practicing medicine without permission and had dispensed expired medication.”

“While we cannot comment on the specifics of the expiry of the medication, we can with confidence say that all medicine and care offered by our team was safe,” it said.

The organization added that all protocols had been followed to be properly permitted to provide medical support.

Canadian Humanitarian describes itself as a “non-political organization” that has worked in the country for 15 years providing educational, medical, dental and social-emotional support to youths.

Pompeo Closes Africa Tour With Warning About China’s ‘Empty Promises’

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks at the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa in Addis Ababa on February 19, 2020. ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS / POOL / AFP.


US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Wednesday closed a three-nation Africa tour with a thinly-veiled swipe at China as he talked up Washington’s ability to stimulate growth and entrepreneurship on the continent.

“Countries should be wary of authoritarian regimes with empty promises. They breed corruption, dependency,” Pompeo said in a speech to diplomats and business leaders at the UN’s Economic Commission for Africa in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa.

“They run the risk that the prosperity and sovereignty and progress that Africa so needs and desperately wants won’t happen.”

Pompeo in his remarks did not explicitly mention China — Africa’s largest trading partner — but analysts predicted ahead of his trip that he would attempt to pitch the US as an alternative source of investment.

On Wednesday Pompeo name-checked US companies operating in all three countries on his Africa tour, the first by a US cabinet-level official in 19 months: Bechtel in Senegal, Chevron in Angola and Coca-Cola in Ethiopia.

He also hailed the free market generally, blasting “failed socialist experiments of years past” in places like Zimbabwe and Tanzania.

And he criticised a proposed constitutional amendment in South Africa that would allow private property to be expropriated without compensation — a plan that seeks to overcome inequalities set down in the apartheid era.

The amendment would be “disastrous for that economy and most importantly for the South African people,” he said.

Pompeo left later for Riyadh.

Mixed messages

Pompeo’s attempt to lay out a positive vision for US cooperation with Africa has been undermined by President Donald Trump’s Africa policy so far, analysts say.

Critics are quick to cite Trump’s widely-reported remarks in 2018 when he used a profanity to describe African and poorer Western Hemisphere nations whose citizens migrate to the United States.

Washington is currently discussing military cuts in Africa, and the US recently announced tightened visa rules targeting Africa’s most populous country, Nigeria, as well as Tanzania, Sudan and Eritrea.

“Pompeo is unlikely to undo the damage from the Trump administration’s travel bans, the proposed budget cuts, or the president’s disparaging comments about the region,” said Judd Devermont, Africa director at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a think-tank in Washington.

But African leaders would nonetheless “welcome his long-overdue engagement and focus on the positives as much as possible,” Devermont said.

Even so, countries like Ethiopia have benefitted from Chinese engagement, rendering Pompeo’s message less effective, said Abel Abate Demissie, an Ethiopian political analyst.

“It is undeniable that Chinese investment was quite crucial in keeping Ethiopia on track as one of the world’s fastest-growing economies for many years,” Abel said.

He added that much Chinese money has gone toward tangible projects like roads and buildings, while American money is more often funnelled to “less visible” fields like education and health.

“The fact that Chinese loans and sometimes grants have less bureaucracy also makes it quite convenient for Ethiopia and Africa at large,” Abel said.

China has funnelled cash and loans into infrastructure projects across the continent.

However Beijing has faced accusations, which it denies, of saddling poor nations with debt, siphoning off mineral resources and leaving environmental damage.

Pompeo insisted Wednesday that Trump was eager to play a bigger role on the continent.

“If there’s one thing you should know about our president –- my boss –- you should know that he loves deals,” he said, drawing laughs from the audience.

“He wants more to happen between the United States and nations all across Africa.”

Nigeria, Ethiopia Sign Visa Waiver Agreement, MoU On Defence Cooperation


Nigeria and Ethiopia have signed a visa waiver agreement for diplomatic, official passport holders, and a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Cooperation in the field of Defence.

President Muhammadu Buhari and Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed witnessed the signing of the agreement on Tuesday in Addis Ababa by their Ministers of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama and Gedu Andargachew, respectively, during the State Visit of the Nigerian leader.

This was disclosed in a statement by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity Garba Shehu.

The statement added that President Buhari while meeting with the Ethiopian Prime Minister also discussed how to explore new areas of collaboration to further enhance and expand Nigeria-Ethiopia bilateral cooperation for the mutual benefits of the two countries.

The visa waiver agreement is expected to ease travels by officials and contribute to further strengthening of bilateral relations.

“The Memorandum of Understanding on Defence Cooperation is important to both countries in the coordination of efforts in the fight against terrorism and securing peace and stability in their respective sub-regions, as well as on the continent of Africa.

“The MoU will also enhance bilateral military cooperation in the areas of training and education, technical assistance, exchange of visits and defence technology transfer.

It also entails cooperation in peace support operation issues within the framework of the respective laws of the Parties and on a reciprocal basis.

Both sides agreed to swiftly conclude negotiations on the revised Bilateral Air Services Agreement and the MoU on cultural cooperation.

President Buhari after the signing expressed gratitude to the Government and People of the Federal Republic of Ethiopia for the warm and generous hospitality extended to him and his delegation during the visit.

He further extended an invitation to Prime Minister Ahmed to pay a reciprocal State Visit to Nigeria on mutually convenient dates.

Buhari Travels To Addis Ababa For AU Summit


President Muhammadu Buhari has departed for the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, to attend the thirty-third Ordinary Session of Heads of State and Government of the African Union (AU).

This was revealed in a statement by Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu on Friday.

According to the statement, Buhari will be with other leaders from the 55-country organization for the AU Summit with the theme, “Silencing the Guns: Creating Conducive Conditions for Africa’s Development.”

READ ALSO: Supreme Court Upholds 12-Years Jail Term For Jolly Nyame

During the Summit, the Nigerian leader will take part in the 29th Forum of Heads of State and Government of Participating States of the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) and the 27th Session of New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) Heads of State and Government Orientation Committee (AUDA-NEPAD).

The statement further noted that these meetings will precede the 33rd Ordinary Session of the Assembly.

“In Nigeria’s capacity as a member of the AU Peace and Security Council, President Buhari will participate in the High-Level meeting of the Peace and Security Council on the situation in the Sahel and Libya, and High-Level Ad-Hoc Committee on South Sudan,” the statement further said.

Also, on the margins of the Summit, Buhari will deliver a keynote speech at a High-Level Side Event on “Stop the War on Children: Dividend of Silencing the Guns.”

It added that “The President will also hold bilateral meetings with several world leaders on the margins of the Summit.

“At the end of the AU Summit on February 10, the Nigerian President will commence a State Visit to Ethiopia on February 11, at the invitation of the Ethiopian Prime Minister, Dr Abiy Ahmed.”

He will also meet with the Nigerian community in Ethiopia before returning on February 12th.

Buhari is accompanied to the summit by Governor Hope Uzodinma of Imo State; Governor Ben Ayade of Cross River State; Senator Adamu Mohammed Bulkachuwa; Chairman, Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs; and Honourable Yusuf Baba, Chairman House Committee on Foreign Affairs.

Others are Ministers of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama; Aviation, Hadi Sirika;  Industry, Trade and Investment, Niyi Adebayo; Defence, Major-General Bashir Salihi Magashi (Rtd); Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed; and Gloria Akobundu, National Coordinator/Chief Executive Officer, NEPAD Nigeria.

The National Security Adviser (NSA), Major-General Babagana Monguno (Rtd), and the Director-General of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA), Ambassador Ahmed Rufai Abubakar are also among the entourage.

See Photos Below:

737 MAX: After 10 Months Of Crisis For Boeing, Questions Remain



Boeing is still far from seeing an end to its continuing crisis over the 737 MAX airplane. Ten months after two fatal crashes led to the grounding of the aerospace giant’s star passenger jet, many serious questions remain, including the date of its return to service.

David Calhoun, 62, a former top executive at General Electric, is to take charge of the aircraft manufacturer on Monday, after CEO Dennis Muilenburg was ousted in late December over what critics said was his catastrophic handling of the crisis.

– What exactly happened? –
On March 10, 2019, an Ethiopian Airlines 737 MAX crashed southeast of Addis Ababa just minutes after takeoff, killing all 157 on board.

It was the second accident in five months for the model, which Boeing launched in May 2017 as a competitor for Airbus’s A320neo in the lucrative narrow-body aircraft segment.

The October 2018 crash in Indonesia of a Lion Air 737 MAX had claimed 189 lives.

On March 13 of last year, the United States and Canada became the last two countries to ground MAX planes. Thus began Boeing’s crisis.

When will the MAX fly again?

It’s hard to say. The most optimistic prediction is late February or early March, but some experts, including the respected Richard Aboulafia of the Virginia-based Teal group, speak of late April or early May.

United Airlines has ruled out flying the MAX before June.

Investigations by Indonesian and Ethiopian authorities raised questions about the plane’s automated flight control system known as MCAS (Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System).

The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has ordered Boeing to provide a fix, which the company is working on.

But as a result of the crisis FAA has subjected the MAX, which was only partially inspected during its original flight certification, to microscopic scrutiny.

The agency at first detected a problem with the microprocessor that manages flight systems and then, more recently, a flaw in the electrical wiring.

Once Boeing has resolved all problems, the FAA should set a date for a test flight — the last major hurdle before the MAX is green-lighted to return to service.

Boeing has taken one major step in that direction: after long resisting having MAX pilots train on flight simulators rather than on computers — a longer and more costly option, but one demanded by European and Canadian regulators — Boeing has finally backed that course.

– Is Boeing still building and delivering the MAX? –
Boeing suspended MAX deliveries a few days after the planes were grounded. It had continued to produce the aircraft, but has built none since January 1.

From mid-March to the end of December, Boeing produced 400 MAX planes, bringing the total number built to 787. Of those, 387 were in service when orders to ground them went out.

The planes are parked at different Boeing sites in the US.

Is Boeing in financial trouble?

No. As of the end of September, the company had $10 billion in hand and about $20 billion in available funds, according to financial documents.

Besides passenger planes, Boeing builds military aircraft and equipment. It also has a space division.

Nevertheless, the costs linked to the MAX crisis have continued to mount. They had already reached $9.2 billion by the end of September and should soar as Boeing deals with demands for damages and compensation from airline companies, aircraft-leasing firms, parts suppliers and victims’ families.

To cover future expenses, the company expects to turn to the financial markets to borrow up to $5 billion, according to the Wall Street Journal.

– What about Boeing employees?? –
The company so far has ruled out any firings or layoffs, which could provoke a political outcry in this US election year.

Boeing has already shifted thousands of workers to other programs — building its 767, 787 and 777/777X models — and has promised to find jobs for others.

– How are suppliers affected? –
The consequences vary. Engine builders like General Electric and Safran Aircraft Engines, through their CFM joint venture, are partially spared since they also build engines for Airbus.

Along with other smaller American suppliers, they will profit from Airbus’s surprise decision to ramp up production of the A320 in the southern US city of Mobile, Alabama.

But the Spirit AeroSystems group, which provides fuselages and other parts for the MAX, has been hard hit; the 737 program represents more than half its turnover. The company plans to cut 16 percent of its workforce — around 2,800 employees — and has not ruled out further cuts.

– Is Airbus profiting as Boeing struggles? –
Airbus received orders for 768 planes in 2019 and delivered 863. Boeing, which has yet to publish its full-year figures, had delivered 345 as of the end of November, while 84 orders were lost.

Airbus also gained ground in the important middle of the market sector with its launch of the A321XLR, which will give air carriers the ability to open new long-haul routes between secondary cities using a narrow-body craft that is less expensive, easier to fill and thus more profitable.

The first orders are already pouring in, notably from United Airlines, which ordered 50 of the new aircraft in December.

Boeing is banking on its own NMA (New Midsize Airplane), built to carry from 220 to 270 passengers on routes up to 5,400 miles (8,700 kilometers). But progress has been slow, and it is unclear, given the severe challenges over the MAX program, whether the NMA will be rolled out this year as planned. (Boeing has not decided to launch the NMA yet. It promised to make a decision this year.)

Ethiopia PM Hails Role Of Ex-Foe Eritrea In Nobel Peace Prize

Ethiopia’s Prime Minister and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Abiy Ahmed Ali speaks after receiving the Nobel Peace Prize during a ceremony at the city hall in Oslo on December 10, 2019. Fredrik VARFJELL / AFP


Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed hailed the role played by ex-foe Eritrea in the Nobel Peace Prize he collected on Tuesday for his efforts to resolve the long-running conflict between the two neighbours.

“I accept this award on behalf of Ethiopians and Eritreans, especially those who made the ultimate sacrifice in the cause of peace,” Abiy said after he received the prestigious award in a formal ceremony at Oslo’s City Hall.

“Likewise, I accept this award on behalf of my partner, and comrade-in-peace, President Isaias Afwerki, whose goodwill, trust and commitment were vital in ending the two-decade deadlock between our countries,” he added.


10 Things You Should Know About Nobel Laureate, Abiy Ahmed

Ethiopia’s Prime Minister and this year’s Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Abiy Ahmed Ali (C) signs the Nobel Protocol at his arrival in Oslo, Norway, on December 9, 2019; behind (From L) members of the Norwegian Nobel Peace Prize comitee Asle Toje, chairwoman Berit Reiss-Andersen, Henrik Syse and Anne Enger. Tore Meek / NTB Scanpix / AFP


Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed is set to receive the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize on Tuesday. Here are ten things you should know about him:

August 15, 1976: He was born into a poor mixed Christian-Muslim family in the rural town of Beshasha.

Early 1990s: He started a nearly 20-year career in the military as a radio operator, rising to the rank of lieutenant colonel.

2008: He established the government’s cyber-spying Information Network Security Agency (INSA).

2010: He was elected to parliament with the Oromo People’s Democratic Organisation, which is part of the ruling coalition.

– 2016: After a brief stint as federal minister of science and technology, he was appointed the vice president of the Oromia regional government.

– March 2018: He was elected to lead the ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front coalition.

– April 2018: He became prime minister, being the first ethnic Oromo in the post, after his predecessor resigned.

June 2018: He announced Ethiopia would abide by a 2002 ruling by a UN-backed commission requiring it to cede territory to Eritrea. This launched a peace process that ended a 20-year-old stalemate.

– October 11, 2019: He was announced winner of the Nobel Peace Prize for ending the conflict.

– October 23, 2019: Protests broke out denouncing Abiy after an activist claimed to be the target of a security force attack plot. They turned into ethnic and religious clashes in which more than 80 people were killed

400 Arrested As Ethiopia Defends Response To Deadly Violence

(FILES) In this file photo taken on August 01, 2019 Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed gives a press conference at the Prime Minister’s office in the capital, Addis Ababa. MICHAEL TEWELDE / AFP



More than 400 people have been arrested in Ethiopia during investigations into ethnic and religious violence that left 78 people dead last week, a spokeswoman for Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said Thursday.

Protests against Abiy erupted in Addis Ababa and in Ethiopia’s Oromia region on October 23 after a high-profile activist accused security forces of trying to orchestrate an attack against him – claim police denied.

The unrest quickly devolved into ethnic and religious clashes that killed dozens of people over three days.

“The latest information that I have in terms of perpetrators that have been apprehended is 409 individuals,” spokeswoman Billene Seyoum told a press conference.

She said investigations were ongoing and that more suspects could be taken into custody.

Billene said Thursday that the death toll had climbed to 78 — up from the figure of 67 provided by a police official in Oromia last week.

Abiy, who came to power last year and was named this year’s Nobel Peace Prize laureate, has been criticised for his government’s response to the violence and specifically for waiting until the weekend to issue a statement.

Billene defended the response Thursday and dismissed descriptions of Abiy as “weak”.

Ethnic violence has been a recurring problem under Abiy, causing Ethiopia to record more displaced people than any other country last year.

Billene said the violence is the work of unnamed “elements” that oppose Abiy’s reform agenda, which has included freeing political prisoners and creating a more open political environment.

She also said the latest surge was partly a “backlash” against plans to transform Ethiopia’s ruling coalition — which has been in power for nearly three decades — into a single political party.

The activist at the centre of last week’s protests, Jawar Mohammed, is credited with helping to sweep Abiy to power last year but he has recently become critical of some of the premier’s policies.

Both men are from the Oromo ethnic group, the country’s largest, and their feud highlights divisions within Abiy’s Oromo support base that could complicate his bid for a five-year term when Ethiopia votes in elections planned for May 2020.

Jawar, a media mogul, is highly divisive and accused by critics of fomenting ethnic divisions.

Abiy has faced pressure in recent days to take measures against Jawar, but Billene on Thursday declined to address whether the government held him responsible for the latest deaths.

“It’s not about naming or not naming, but it’s important for the due process of investigations to go through,” she said.