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( University of Montana (UM) to host two professors discussing Eritrea, one from UM and another from Addis Ababa university

Posted by: Biniam Tekle

Date: Tuesday, 07 March 2017

Where in the world is Eritrea, and why are some of its citizens landing in Montana?

At least 22 refugees fleeing the impoverished African nation on the Red Sea have made Missoula their home since November.

At 6 p.m. Wednesday, Soft Landing Missoula will sponsor a lecture called “Eritrea: The Country, Culture and Circumstance” at the University Center Theater on the University of Montana campus.

The free event is slated to wind up by 8 p.m., when Elton John’s “Wonderful Crazy Night” concert begins at the Adams Center.

The program features two speakers, one a UM Mansfield Fellow in International Affairs and the other a visiting adjunct from Addis Ababa University in Ethiopia.

Kimberly Maynard, a former Missoula smokejumper, worked for 20 years in the Horn of Africa’s war-torn regions. Solomon M. Goffie, who teaches UM courses on human rights and politics in Africa, is an assistant professor at the Department of Political Science and International Relations in Addis Ababa.

The two will discuss “everything from location, demographics and geography, to why people are leaving Eritrea and how,” according to a Soft Landing Missoula announcement.

“There have been a few different events over the last couple decades that have triggered refugees coming from that area,” Soft Landing’s Mary Poole said. “Some of them are less events as such and more the conditions of living under a very strict and oppressive dictatorship.”

Hostilities have been ongoing since the 1990s between Eritrea and neighboring Ethiopia and Djibouti.

Wednesday’s lecture is the third in an ongoing series to educate Montana about refugees arriving through U.S. and international refugee aid organizations. The first, in September, featured conditions in the Congo. The second in November was an overview of refugee resettlement in Missoula. Both drew standing room-only crowds. 

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