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The End of the Derg

The Victory of the Northern Guerrilla Movements

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Days after the festive proclamation of the Ethiopian Workers’ Party, films of starving peasants, abandoned homesteads and dying livestock began to be aired on television in Europe and the US. The Derg was forced to admit that a serious crisis existed. Its first response was to accuse Western relief organizations and governments of negligence in providing aid. These were the very groups that, in collaboration with conscientious Ethiopian officials, had been doing their best to call attention to, and forestall, the developing crisis for many months previously while Mengistu and his colleagues ignored it. Reluctantly, Mengistu had to order his government into action. Operations of the Relief and Rehabilitation Commission were expanded. The Ethiopian Orthodox Church and other religious groups organized relief operations in conjunction with religious and secular aid groups from abroad. By the end of the year rural areas long inaccessible to foreigners were opened up to relief workers. Mengistu was never able to close them off again.

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  1. Accounts of the EPLF appeared frequently in the 1980s. They provide vivid descriptions of the harsh conditions its fighters endured and the remarkable lengths to which they went to achieve a high degree of self-sufficiency. Almost none of these accounts, however, contain information about the political and ideological struggles that took place during these years, sometimes accompanied by violence. The TPLF also experienced dissension and occasional violence, but less than the EPLF. One of the few firsthand journalistic accounts was that of Dieter Beisel, Reise ins Land der Rebellen, Rowohlt Verlag, Hamburg, 1989.

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© 2000 Paul B. Henze

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Henze, P.B. (2000). The End of the Derg. In: Layers of Time. Palgrave Macmillan, New York.

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  • Publisher Name: Palgrave Macmillan, New York

  • Print ISBN: 978-1-4039-6743-5

  • Online ISBN: 978-1-137-11786-1

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