As part of Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah Initiative for National Food Security, which seeks to outsource food production overseas, Saudi Star PLC acquired large areas of land in Gambela, Ethiopia. In 2008 Ethiopia’s ruling party, lead by then-Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, signed a 60-year concession on 10,000 ha with the companies’ head, Saudi billionaire Sheik Al-Amoud. The total area Saudi Star has under lease in Gambela is 140,000 ha, but the company aims to increase this to 500,000 ha. Development of rice production and an irrigation project using water from the Alwero River (the irrigation project is funded by the government of Ethiopia) was underway as of 2012. In January 2012, Human Rights Watch reported that local populations were forcibly displaced for the Saudi Star rice project in Gambela. Shortly after the announcement of the irrigation project in April of 2012, Saudi Star’s farms came under attack, resulting in 5 dead and 11 wounded. Retaliation attacks were reported, as well as villagers fleeing to neighboring Sudan. Federal police now guard the area. The project is also infringing on Gambela National Park boundaries.