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Ethiopian lawmakers have approved a ban on foreign adoptions amid concerns about mistreatment of children overseas.
The approval came after rare heated debate as some lawmakers worried that the East African nation does not have enough child care centers to handle the effects of the ban.
Ethiopia had been among the top 10 countries for adoptions in the United States, according to State Department figures released last year. Actress Angelina Jolie is among the people who have adopted a child from the country.
But the death in the U.S. in 2011 of an Ethiopia-born girl, with her adoptive mother convicted of homicide by abuse, led to an outcry back home, with Ethiopia that year reducing foreign adoptions by 90 percent.
The U.S. in November warned that Ethiopian authorities continued to tighten restrictions on adoptions and that the State Department would continue to engage Ethiopia’s government “to address its concerns.”
Ethiopia’s new National Child Policy says orphans should grow up only in their homeland while honoring their culture and traditions. “They should either be adopted locally or supported by a guardian family, tutor or help them to reunite with biological parents or relatives,” it says.
The state-affiliated Fana Broadcasting Corporate quoted a legal affairs official at the legislative body, Petros Woldesenbet, as saying the ban on foreign adoptions will “help alleviate the identity and psychological problems of children.”
The law will come into effect once it is published in the government legal gazette, which is expected in the coming weeks.
The number of foreign children adopted by U.S. parents dropped almost 5 percent in 2016 to 5,372, continuing a steady decline over more than a decade, according to State Department figures. Department officials have suggested the numbers could rise if the U.S. adoption community helped to address some countries’ concerns about ethics and oversight.
Adoption advocates — and the State Department — have cited Africa as an area where adoptions may increase.
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Abiy Ahmed wins the 2019 Nobel Peace Award
Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed won the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize for immersly efforts to end two decades of hostility with longtime enemy Eritrea.
Though Africa’s youngest leader still faces big challenges, he has in under two years in power begun political and economic reforms that promise a better life for many in impoverished Ethiopia and restored ties with Eritrea that had been frozen since a 1998-2000 border war.
“We are proud as a nation,” the prime minister’s office said in a statement, hailing a “collective win for all Ethiopians, and a call to strengthen our resolve in making Ethiopia – the new horizon of hope – a prosperous nation for all.”
It said the prize was meant to recognize “all the stakeholders working for peace and reconciliation in Ethiopia and in the East and Northeast African regions.”
The Nobel Committee’s decision appeared designed to encourage the peace process, echoing the 1994 peace prize shared by Israeli and Palestinian leaders and the 1993 award for moves towards reconciliation in South Africa, said Dan Smith, head of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.
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