The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCR) expressed, on March 29, 2020, its concerns about the prolonged interruption of the Internet and telephone lines in several areas of the region Oromo, in the midst of the Covid-19 crisis.
The UNHCR, which believes that telecommunication resources are essential for sending prevention messages, mobilizing health personnel and informing the population about the development of the crisis, has urged the government to put an end to this blockage which has persisted since 7 January 2020 in the areas of Kellem Wellega, Oromia Occidental, Wellega Ouest and Horo Gudru Wellega.
As the government defends itself by raising security concerns, UNHCR stresses that “in the midst of the Covid-19 crisis, factual and relevant information about the disease and its spread must reach everyone, without exception.” It is also essential that information about the disease is readily available in understandable formats and languages, and that the information is tailored to people with specific needs. ”
Apart from the brake represented by the current blocking of the Internet on the response to the Covid-19, the situation in the Oromo region also risks causing financial losses. In 2019, in a study on the financial losses caused by the restriction of Internet access, TOP10VPN had estimated the losses recorded by Ethiopia after 346 days of service interruption at 56.8 million dollars. As of March 30, 2020, the current Internet outage in several areas of the Oromo region is already 83 days old.