Union of Tigreans in North America /UTNA/ is a non-partisan, not-for-profit civic organization that works towards the enhancement of peace, development, democracy, good governance and justice in Ethiopia and strives for the provision of critical information and support that would help empower the immigrant Ethiopian/Tigrean Diaspora.
Some of the Purposes and Objectives of the Union:
- To vigorously and actively promote Peace, Development and Democracy in Tigray/Ethiopia.
- To enhance public and media relations efforts by promoting and boosting the positive strides in the democratization process of our country, Ethiopia.
- To work in the area of public diplomacy through people to people relations and cultural exchange.
- To strengthen, Ethio-American ties.
- To forge partnership with others that promote peace democracy and development in Ethiopia.
- To provide information to Ethiopian immigrants in the US, pertaining to the accession of social support, housing, health, education, training employment and integration.
- To launch events and forums to educate Tigrean/Ethiopian community members and stage cultural and entertainment functions.
Inspired by the widespread changes the rest of the world was going through, and due to dissatisfaction with the Ethiopian Students Union of North America at the time, some young Tigreans residents of North America began discussing about the possibility of forming a union of Tigreans.
Following a series of discussions, Union of Tigeans in North America /UTNA/ was established in the summer of 1974, in Washington DC. Four from Detroit, two from New York and eleven from Washington DC, a total of seventeen young Tigreans attended the UTNA founding conference.
The following three main agendas were discussed during the UTNA founding conference. 1. The need to form the union ; 2. Goals; 3. Membership.
The need to form the union was necessitated by the ongoing systematic oppression of Tigreans in the mother land. The purpose of the union would be to create awareness about the repression of Tigreans and to provide support in their struggle for freedom & self-determination. Membership was open to all Tigreans who supported the purpose of the union.
Shortly after TPLF was formed in February 1975, the two organizations began communicating. Realizing they shared similar goals, the UTNA & TPLF agreed to work together. Furthermore, UTNA fully accepted TPLF’s programs and became a member of TPLF from 1986 to 1995.
All along, UTNA never had an ambition to seek political power.
Rather, UTNA learned from Diaspora based organizations of other countries that the best way to be effective was to provide support to governments or political organizations that share similar goals and values. Hence UTNA continued to support TPLF and the people of Tigray, including but not limited to paying precious lives and continued so till the demise of the Derg.
Currently UTNA is a non-partisan and non-profit civic organization which works towards the enhancement of peace, development, and democracy in Ethiopia.
Some highlights of UTNA’s contributions:
- Donated 40 military radio walkie-talkies to be used in the armed struggle;
- Donated over $150, 000.00 in money, and books for the fight against illiteracy in Tigray during the armed struggle;
- Contributed over $50,000.00 to support water and soil conservation program in Tigray during the armed struggle;
- Raised funds to help establish Radio Dmtsi-Weyane Tigray when the radio station became operational within Tigray for the first time, after leaving Eritrea during the armed struggle;
- Raised funds to replace electric generators of Adi-Grat and Mekelle towns as Derg put them out of service when it abandoned Tigray for good!
- Mobilized Tegaru residents of North America to raise over $450, 000.00 to support the families of TPLF martyrs;
- Built a clinic for mothers and children in Adi-Haqi, Mekelle at a cost of 1.8 million birr and dedicated it to martyred veteran tegadalit, Kasech Asfaw;
- Sent to Tigray over $500,000.00 worth of medicine and hospital equipment from NGO’s;
- UTNA supported the idea and its members played an active role during the formation of TDA;
- Purchased and still owns a ground plus one building, what is commonly known as Axum Restaurant in the city of Washington DC;
- Donated two buses to Tigray Disable Veterans Association (TDVA) to solve their transportation challenges in Tigray;
- Within the last decade, UTNA sponsored Tigray Disable Veterans Association (TDVA) and conducted successful fundraises and raised over $200, 000.00;
- Currently, with the consultation of TDA, UTNA adopted Dedebit elementary school in its endeavor to become a model school and continues to support it.
- UTNA created and maintained political forum for Diaspora Tigreans/Ethiopians to engage TPLF/EPDF for the last about 39 years.
- Organized first of its kind International Tigray Festival in Tigray in partnership with Tegaru residing in different parts of the world and the Tigray Regional Government, in 2014. The Diaspora Festival model was adopted by the EPRDF executive committee. As a result, Oromo Diaspora Festival, Amhara Diaspora Festival and Southern Nations and Nationalists are scheduled to host similar Diaspora festivals.