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Ethiopia passport falls on openness index

afar

Members of the Afar militia in Ethiopia stand at a checkpoint at the entrance of the town of Abala on June 08, 2022. PHOTO | AFP

The Ethiopian passport has fallen four places to 93 in global ranking since July last year, blamed on conflict in the country.

The Henley Passport Index Report released on Wednesday shows the Ethiopia passport fell from 89th place in July 2023 to 93rd place in January 2024.

The Ugandan passport dropped one place from a global ranking of 72nd place to 73rd in the same period under review, while Kenya, Tanzania and Rwanda did not move places at 67th, 69th and 76th respectively.

While Rwanda’s ranking did not change, the number of countries its passport holders can travel visa-free rose from 63 to 66.

Holders of Kenya’s passport can travel to 76 countries without prior visa application, 47 countries for Ethiopians, 69 for Ugandans, and 73 for Tanzanians.

Ethiopia has been rocked by violent internal conflict, involving militia groups from the regions of Amhara and Oromia and between the central government and those in the northernmost region of Tigray, then under the control of the Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front (TPLF).

In late 2023, the central government escalated its military operations in Amhara, while its peace talks with the largest Oromo militia collapsed for the third time.

These increased conflicts have seen the passport’s index fall in the global mobility ranking.

Visa-free travel opens up possibilities for easy movement, potentially boosting opportunities for tourism and business.

Dr Yossi Harpaz, an associate professor of sociology at Tel Aviv University, said in the report that the citizens of unstable, poorly developed, and autocratic countries have low travel freedom.

This is because countries typically vet them before admission out of concern about unwanted immigration.

At the beginning of August last year, Ethiopia declared a six-month regional state of emergency, and residents reported hearing heavy gunfire and seeing military aircraft.

The wars have led to hospitals, schools, factories, and businesses being shelled, looted and destroyed by Ethiopian federal forces regional militias, and by Eritrean armed forces.

This has restricted the movement of tourists and humanitarian access forcing millions of people to flee their homes to neighbouring countries like Sudan.

Sudan’s passport fell from 92nd in July 2023 to 95th place with access to 45 visa-free countries, while South Sudan’s moved from 90th to 94th with 46 visa-free entry nations.

The Henley Openness Index ranks all 199 countries and territories worldwide according to the number of destinations their holders can access without a prior visa using data from the International Air Transport Association (Iata).

France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Singapore and Spain were ranked the World’s most powerful passports.

Mauritius which has maintained its top position on the continent, fell one rank down from 30th to 29th passport, showing that holders can visit 148 countries visa-free.

South Africa’s passport also fell two pegs from 51st place globally in July to 53rd.

Lesotho dropped from 64th to 65th, Namibia from 62nd to 65th place and Malawi from 68th to 67th place.

Source: https://www.theeastafrican.co.ke

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