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“Mosques should be safe havens, not sites for terror”, says Guterres announcing UN plan to help safeguard religious sites

‘Mosques should be safe havens, not sites of terror’, says Guterres announcing UN plan to help safeguard religious sites

Source: UN, 22 March 2019

UN Photo/Evan Schneider
UN Secretary-General António Guterres speaking during his visit to the Islamic Cultural Centre of New York, on 22 March 2019.

22 March 2019

In the wake of a horrific mass shooting at two New Zealand mosques, UN Secretary-General António Guterres has announced his intention to launch a UN action plan for the safeguarding of religious sites, declaring that “mosques and all places of prayer and contemplation should be safe havens, not sites of terror.”

Mr. Guterres was addressing representatives of the press at the Islamic Cultural Center of New York, to show his solidarity with the worldwide Muslim community, a week after the murder of some 50 Muslim worshippers by a gunman in Christchurch, New Zealand, on March 15.

The UN chief spoke, with a “heavy and full heart,” of the grief and sympathy felt for the families of the victims, and the moving displays of “leadership, love and community from the people of New Zealand.”

Around the world, we have seen ever-rising anti-Muslim hatred, anti-Semitism, hate speech and bigotry. The cancer is spreading. It is our duty to find the cure. UN Secretary-General António Guterres

Although the attack was “utterly appalling,” he said that it was not utterly surprising, because “around the world, we have seen ever-rising anti-Muslim hatred, anti-Semitism, hate speech and bigotry.”

Reminding the press that he has repeatedly warned about these dangers, Mr. Guterres said that hate speech is “spreading like wildfire,” whether via social media or public discourse, with many political movements admitting neo-Nazi affiliation. He described the phenomenon as “a cancer,” and declared that “it is our duty to find the cure.”



UN Photo/Evan Schneider
UN Secretary-General António Guterres visit to the Islamic Cultural Centre of New York, on 22 March 2019.


Citing a US academic study, the UN chief highlighted the important role of the media in the representation of Muslims and Islam, noting that, over the last decade, attacks in the United States received 357 per cent more coverage than attacks carried out by others.

Mr. Guterres called for a reaffirmation of the sanctity of all places of worship and “the safety of all worshippers who visit revered sites in a spirit of compassion and tolerance. People everywhere must be allowed to observe and practice their faith in peace.”

The Secretary-General announced that he has asked the High Representative for the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations, Miguel Moratinos, to develop an Action Plan for the UN to be fully engaged in support of safeguarding religious sites.  The Alliance, he said, will reach out to governments, faith-based organizations and religious leaders to explore ways to prevent attacks and guarantee the sanctity of religious sites.

“You are not alone,” Mr. Guterres promised the Muslim community, and all others feeling targeted. “The world is with you.  The United Nations is with you.  I am with you.”

The Branding of Al-Shabab

The Branding of Al-Shabab

Source: The Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) published in March 2019
The Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) published in March 2019 an analysis titled “How East Africa’s Terrorists Build Their Brand Strength” by Matthew Freear, communications manager at RUSI’s Nairobi office.

Branding is how an organization sustains relations with its audiences over the long term. Among other themes, al-Shabaab is determined to build an image as a credible alternative to the Somali government. The analysis explains some of the ways that al-Shabaab is having success with its branding effort.

Nile Waters Dispute: Fill Rate Behind the Dam

Nile Waters Dispute: Fill Rate Behind the Dam

Source: The International Crisis Group published on 20 March 2019
The International Crisis Group published on 20 March 2019 a report titled “Bridging the Gap in the Nile Waters Dispute.”

The study focuses on the different positions of Ethiopia and Egypt on the fill rate behind the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam under construction on the Blue Nile so that the downstream flow of Nile water does not adversely affect Egypt.

Military Bases in Somaliland and Djibouti Complecating Regional Politics

Military Bases in Somaliland and Djibouti Complecating Regional Politics

Source: Foreign Policy posted on 19 March 2019
Foreign Policy posted on 19 March 2019 an analysis titled “For Somaliland and Djibouti, Will New Friends Bring Benefits?” by Matt Kennard, journalist based in London, and Ismail Einashe, journalist based in Nairobi.

The United Arab Emirates has signed an agreement to build a military base in Berbera, Somaliland. There are multiple military bases in Djibouti. All of this military engagement is complicating relationships in the region.

New education sector support programme starts in Puntland

Source: EU, Friday March 22, 2019

Garowe – The European Union jointly with the Government of the Puntland State of Somalia launched the third phase of the Puntland Education Sector Support Programme worth 7.3 million Euro. The initiative called ‘Waxbarashadu Waa Iftiin’ (‘Education is Light’) is implemented by CARE and Save the Children and in close coordination with the Ministry of Education and Higher Education, Puntland. It will enrol over 56,000 students over a 3-year period. It reflects full alignment with the education priorities set out in the Puntland Education Sector Strategic Plan (2017-2021) and Sustainable Development Goal 4. The President Said Abdullahi Deni of Puntland launched the programme at Peace and Research Development Centre in Garowe.

The new programme will consolidate and expand the achievements made under two previous phases of EU support that have reached over 58,000 students; constructed 17 new schools, 228 new classrooms; and 66 Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) facilities. This new phase will add 16 schools, 84 classrooms, 23 Water Sanitation and Hygiene  facilities and 4 secondary school laboratories. 200 new teachers will be trained while 300 youth will be equipped with marketable vocational skills. The programme also incorporates support measures for children with special needs, children from pastoralist communities and girls.“Education is essential in alleviating poverty, building peaceful societies and promoting social inclusion. In the face of security related challenges that Somalia faces today, educated youth are less likely to become radicalized, attracted to militias and join other destabilising activities. The programme we are launching today will go a long way in improving and expanding education and vocational training opportunities that will benefit Somali children and youth,” said the EU Chargé d’Affaires, Fulgencio Garrido Ruiz.

The Minister of Education and Higher Education for the Puntland State of Somalia, Hon. Abdullahi Mohamed Hassan appreciated longstanding partnership between the EU and the Somali people, and in particular the sustained support to the education sector. He added, “the new programme will support implementation of our education sector strategic plan by prioritizing activities that foster access to quality education, completion and transition.”

CARE Somalia’s Country Director, Abdullahi Iman stressed, “The EU investment will enable the Ministry of Education, school communities and implementing partners to provide the required curriculum support resources, train teachers, improve the conditions in the schools and subsequently mobilize, enroll and retain the students in target schools. This is the essence of quality education.”

UPDATE: At least four dead in Al Shabaab assault on Somali capital Mogadishu

UPDATE: At least four dead in Al Shabaab assault on Somali capital Mogadishu

Source: Reuters, Saturday March 23, 2019

Destruction caused after a previous blast was claimed by al-Shabaab in Mogadishu, Somalia. (File photo: AP)

Al Shabaab stormed a Somali government building in Mogadishu on Saturday, with at least four people killed in the suicide car bomb attack by the country’s Islamist group and an ensuing gunfight

A large explosion shook the center of the Somali capital in the latest bombing by Al Shabaab, which is fighting to establish its own rule based on a strict interpretation of sharia law, as the group blasted its way into the building.

“Al Shabaab stormed the building where two ministries including the ministry of labor work. So far we know 4 people are dead but (the) death toll is sure to rise,” Major Abdullahi Nur, a police officer told Reuters.

Eleven people were injured, Dr. Abdikadir Abdirahman, director of Amin Ambulance Service told Reuters, adding some were still trapped inside the building and that it was not possible to rescue them because of an ongoing gun battle.

Al Shabaab said one of its fighters had rammed the ministry building with a suicide car bomb, allowing others to enter it.

Nur said people were being rescued with a ladder from the upper floors and that an exchange of gunfire was still going on.

“We are inside the building and (the) fighting goes on. We shall give details later,” Abdiasis Abu Musab, Al Shabaab’s military operation spokesman told Reuters.

Al Shabaab, which is trying to topple Somalia’s western backed central government, was ejected from Mogadishu in 2011 and has since been driven from most of its other strongholds.

But it remains a threat, with its fighters frequently carrying out bombings in Somalia and neighboring Kenya, whose troops form part of the African Union mandated peacekeeping force AMISOM that helps defend Somalia’s central government.

Madaxweyne Farmaajo: “abaalkey Jabuuti noo gashay waan gudi doonaa”

Madaxweyne Farmaajo: “abaalkey Jabuuti noo gashay waan gudi doonnaa.

Madaxweyne Farmaajo iyo Madaxweyne GeelleLahaanshaha sawirkaVILLA SOMALIA
Image captionXarig ka jarka safaaradda Jabuuti ee Muqdisho

Madaxweynaha Jamhuuriyadda Jabuuti Mudane Ismaaciil Cumar Geelle ayaa soo gabagabeeyay booqashadii labada maalmood ahayd ee uu ku yimid magaalada Muqdisho kaddib martiqaad uu ka helay Madaxweyne Maxamed Cabdullaahi Farmaajo.

Safaaradda cusub ee ay Jabuuti ka dhisatay magaalada MuqdishoLahaanshaha sawirkaVILLA SOMALIA
Image captionSafaaradda cusub ee ay Jabuuti ka dhisatay magaalada Muqdisho

Madaxweyne Farmaajo iyo Madaxweyne Geelle ayaa ka hor intii aanu ka duulin Garoonka Diyaaradaha ee Aadan Cabdulle, waxa ay xarigga ka jareen dhismaha cusub ee safaaradda Dowladda Jabuuti ku yeelanayso Soomaaliya.

Jabuuti oo safaarad cusub ka dhisatay MuqdishoLahaanshaha sawirkaVILLA SOMALI
Image captionMadaxweyne Farmaajo oo furitaanka safaaradda ka hadlaya

Madaxweyne Farmaajo oo munaasabadda ka hadlay ayaa sheegay “in soo dhawaynta Madaxweyne Ismaaciil Cumar Geelle loogu sameeyay Muqdisho ay ka tarjumayso wanaagga iyo jacaylka ay Soomaalidu u hayso reer Jabuuti, isaga oo adkeeyay muhiimadda xiriirka walaaltinimo iyo wadashaqaynta labada dal”.

“Sida diirran ee dadka Soomaaliyeed ee Muqdisho ku nool kuu soo dhaweeyeen Madaxweyne adiga iyo wafdigaaga waxay muujinaysaa abaalka iyo wanaagga badan ee Soomaalidu u hayso reer Jabuuti. Horay abaal waan idiin galnay waadna guddeen, annagana waad noo gasheen waana gudi doonnaa.” ayuu yiri Madaxweyne Farmaajo.

Jabuuti oo safaarad cusub ka dhisatay MuqdishoLahaanshaha sawirkaVILLA SOMALIA
Image captionMadaxweyne Ismaaciil Cumar Geelle oo ka hadlaya furitaanka dhismaha cusub ee safaaradda Jabuuti

Madaxweyne Geelle ayaa isna dhankiisa xusay sida uu ugu faraxsan yahay booqashadiisa Muqdisho isaga oo sheegay “inuu miradhalay dadaalkii ka bilawday Carta ee loo galay sidii Soomaaliya ula soo noqon lahayd dowladnimadeeda iyo sharaftii ay caalamka ku lahayd.

“Waxaa qalbigaygu uu la damqanayaa waxa inaga dhexeeya. Dadaalkii labaatan sano ka hor ka soo billawday shirkii Carte ee ahaa inaan ku adkeyno cisigeenna iyo sharafteenna inagoo isku duuban, dunidaan tartan kula geleynaa taas.” ayuu yiri Madaxweyne Ismaaciil.

Madaxweyne Farmaajo iyo Madaxweyne GeelleLahaanshaha sawirkaVILLA SOMALIA
Image captionMadaxweyne Farmaajo iyo Madaxweyne Geelle

Madaxweyne Ismaaciil Cumar Geelle ayaa sidoo kale sheegay “inay waajib tahay in la ilaaliyo xornimada ummadeed isaga oo dadka Soomaaliyeed ku bogaadiyay dadaallada ay dhexdooda mar kasta ku xallistaan arrimaha ay isku khilaafsan yihiin, wuxuuna hoosta ka xarriiqay in Dowladda Jabuuti ay ka go’an tahay in Soomaalidu wixii is-faham waa ah ay dhexdeeda kudhammaysato”.

Xarig ka jarka dhismaha cusub ee safaaradda kaddib, waxa uu Madaxweynaha Jabuuti u gudbay Hoolka Shirarka ee Janaraal Kaahiye oo uu khudbad dardaaran ah ugu jeediyay Xildhibaannada labada Aqal ee Baarlamaanka Federaalka Soomaaliya.

Madaxweyne Farmaajo oo sagootiyey Madaxweyne GeelleLahaanshaha sawirkaVILLA SOMALIA
Image captionMadaxweyne Geelle oo booqashada labada maalmood soo gabagabeeyey

Sudan, limate Change and Conflict

Sudan, limate Change and Conflict

Source: The New Arab published on 13 March 2019
The New Arab published on 13 March 2019 an article titled “Iraq and Sudan Show How Climate Change Fuels War” by Austin Bodetti, a freelance journalist.

The author draws parallels between conflict in Iraq and Sudan, noting the negative impact of climate change and drought.

Salvaging South Sudan’s Fragile Peace

Salvaging South Sudan’s Fragile Peace

Source: The International Crisis Group (ICG) published on 13 March 2019
The International Crisis Group (ICG) published on 13 March 2019 a report titled “Salvaging South Sudan’s Fragile Peace Deal.”

The peace deal under discussion neither resolves the power struggle between President Salva Kiir and erstwhile rebel leader Riek Machar nor outlines a final political settlement for South Sudan. Rather, it establishes a wobbly Kiir-Machar truce and grafts it onto the previous failed peace terms. ICG argues that to stave off renewed civil war, external actors should urge the belligerents to strike new bargains on security and internal boundaries and accept a third-party protection force for the capital of Juba.

Creating a Red Sea Forum

Creating a Red Sea Forum

Source: Brookings posted on 12 March 2019
Brookings posted on 12 March 2019 a proposal titled “Red Sea Blueprints: Designing a Forum for Gulf and Horn States” by Zach Vertin.

It explains why there has not yet been a forum created for states on both sides of the Red Sea to discuss areas of conflict and cooperation. It concludes with four suggestions for creating a viable Red Sea Forum.

South Sudan: The Perils of Payroll Peace

South Sudan: The Perils of Payroll Peace

Source: UK Aid and the London School of Economics and Political Science published in March 2019
UK Aid and the London School of Economics and Political Science published in March 2019 a paper titled “South Sudan: The Perils of Payroll Peace.”

Payroll peace is the practice of putting large numbers of soldiers and civil servants on the state payroll as an incentive for them, and the belligerent parties, to accept a peace agreement. This has become standard practice in South Sudan. The paper argues that at best it is corruption, at worst it is violently explosive.

16-year-old climate change activist nominated for Nobel Peace Prize

16-year-old climate change activist nominated for Nobel Peace Prize

Source: AP, Friday March 15, 2019

COPENHAGEN — Three Norwegian lawmakers have nominated Swedish teen activist Greta Thunberg, who has become a prominent voice in campaigns against climate change, for the Nobel Peace Prize.

Freddy Andre Oevstegaard and two other members of the Socialist Left Party said they believe “the massive movement Greta has set in motion is a very important peace contribution.”

Thunberg, 16, has encouraged students to skip school to join protests demanding faster action on climate change, a movement that has spread beyond Sweden to other European nations.Oevstegaard told the VG newspaper Wednesday that “climate threats are perhaps one of the most important contributions to war and conflict.”

Any national lawmaker can nominate somebody for the Nobel Peace Prize.

The Norwegian Nobel Committee doesn’t publicly comment on nominations, which for 2019 had to be submitted by Feb. 1.

Is Kenya seeking out-of-court settlement on spat with Somalia?


Is Kenya seeking out-of-court settlement on spat with Somalia?

Source: The EastAfrican, By FRED OLUOCH
Saturday March 9, 2019

Presidents Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo of Somalia (left), Kenya;s Uhuru Kenyatta and Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed pose for a photo after a meeting on the maritime border row at State House Nairobi on March 6, 2019. PHOTO | PMO abiy ahmed abdulahi farmajo uhuru kenyatta

Kenya is reaching out to neighbours and international community to find an amicable solution to the maritime dispute with Somalia.

Diplomatic sources said Kenya is now trying to persuade Somalia to withdraw the case at the International Court of Justice in favour of an out-of-court settlement, which could include shared development of the oil and gas resources.

Other sources said Nairobi is also pushing Somalia to withdraw the maps it allegedly put out in London to auction the oil and gas blocks. Mogadishu has, however, denied sharing maps of the contested area.

Kenya is also under pressure to restore diplomatic relations, after it sent the Somali ambassador home and recalled its own from Mogadishu.

The visit to Nairobi on Tuesday by Somali President Mohamed Farmajo and Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed for talks with President Uhuru Kenyatta marked the beginning of of normalisation of diplomatic relations, but the settlement of the dispute over the maritime border remains elusive.

Dr Abiy has offered to mediate as fears abound that the diplomatic tiff could affect proposed economic projects affecting the three countries.

A statement from the Prime Minister’s Office said that “Through the leadership of PM Abiy Ahmed, presidents Kenyatta and Farmajo met to discuss extensively the source of the two countries dispute. Both agreed to work towards peace and to take measures in addressing particular issues that escalated the tensions.”

This comes as some marine experts said Kenya and Somalia are better partnering in the exploitation of natural resources in the disputed maritime border as they continue to negotiate over the boundary.

A good example is Nigeria and Sao Tome & Principe that established Joint Development Zones (JDZ) in 2003 after it became clear they could not agree on the maritime borders and could not individually exploit the resources.

JDZs are normally established when the parties find it difficult to agree on a single boundary between them or because the resources straddling the maritime border cannot be effectively exploited by the states acting alone.

Dr Hassan Khannenje, the director, Horn International Institute for Strategic Studies, told The EastAfrican that Kenya having lost the preliminary objections to the admissibility of the case and the court’s jurisdiction, is worried that going ahead with the case could be risky and an out-of-court settlement was Kenya’s most preferred mechanism.

“Judicial processes are adversarial, time and resource consuming, and the court’s compulsory jurisdiction and binding decision may be viewed as an imposition of some sort if it goes against the spirit of such a party’s dispute resolution preference,” said Dr Khannenje.

He suggests that Kenya and Somalia adjust their claims to create a Grey Zone for purposes of joint development or they can as well limit their continental shelf beyond 200 nautical miles to a distance that leaves a zone to be exploited for joint development.

Kenya’s decision to reach out to the United Nations and the African Union Security Councils has raised concerns within the Somali diplomatic circles whereby Nairobi is said to have launched a diplomatic pressure to force Somalia into accepting an out-of-court settlement.

Open to negotiation

Kenyan Cabinet Secretary for Foreign Affairs, Dr Monica Juma, announced in late February that Kenya has drawn the attention of the UN and African Union Security Councils to the unfolding maritime border dispute with Somalia.

Dr Juma, who also reached out to UK High Commissioner, Nic Hailey and France’s Aline Kuster-Menager, said Kenya was open to negotiations to towards an amicable solution to the dispute, a position Kenya had always maintained.

However, the Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Macharia Kamau termed the allegations that Kenya is putting diplomatic pressure on Somalia as “pure speculation.”

He instead said that Kenya, besides the maritime dispute, is working on multiple matters related to counter-terrorism and advancing the security and well-being of Kenyans.

President Farmajo’s office tweeted that that objective of the Somalia leader was to restore and strengthen diplomatic relations with Kenya.

But President Farmajo’s talks with President Kenyatta have not gone down well with Somalia MPs. Former Minister of National Resources, Abdirazak Mohamed, said it is a national issue that President Farmajo cannot unilaterally decide.

“Somali MPs following the case will question President Farmajo when parliament resumes,” Mr Mohamed said.

Filing of submissions

Negotiations over the maritime border dragged on for six years without much success, before Somalia filed a suit at the ICJ in 2014, accusing Kenya of encroaching on 100,000 square km of marine territory with potential oil and gas deposits in the Indian Ocean.

Hearing of the case is yet to begin, but the ICJ required Somalia to file its submissions by June 18, 2018 while Kenya was to file a rejoinder by December 18, 2018.

Somalia has anchored its case on Article 15 of the Convention of the Law of the Sea adopted in 1982, but Kenya maintains that the disputed area was in fact under its jurisdiction before the convention was enacted.

The ICJ can either give a ruling that is binding and has no option for appeal or issue an advisory opinion on legal questions, meaning it could direct for negotiations.

The UN Charter grants the General Assembly or the Security Council power to request the court to issue an advisory opinion on any legal question, especially when it could have serious socio-economic repercussions.

The diplomatic row started on February 16 when Kenya sent away the Somalia ambassador and recalled its own for consultations on grounds that a section of the oil blocks Somalia had exhibited to potential buyers in London on February 7, were within its 200 nautical miles Exclusive Economic Zone.

Somalia denies any wrongdoing

Joint AU-UN team arrives in Somalia to review AMISOM’s mandate

Joint AU-UN team arrives in Somalia to review AMISOM’s mandate are

Source: AMISOM, Sunday March 10, 2019

A joint delegation from the African Union and the United Nations is in Somalia to assess progress made in implementing the Somalia Transition Plan whose key objective is the transfer of security responsibility from the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) to Somali National Security Forces.

The delegation, which arrived in the Somali capital, on Wednesday, will evaluate steps taken by the AU Mission in implementing tasks under the transition plan as mandated by the UN Security Council Resolution 2431 (2018) and the African Union Peace and Security Council Communique 782 (2018).

“There were some mandates issued by the two councils (UN and AU) to be undertaken by this Mission.  The joint review will definitely be looking at those mandates and also focus on the Somalia Transition Plan,” said Maj. Gen. Francis Okello, the Chief, Plans and Operations Unit in the AU’s Peace Operations Support Division.

UN Resolution 2431 (2018), authorized the reduction of uniformed AMISOM personnel, by 1000, by the end of February, this year. The resolution also mandated AMISOM to maintain a minimum of 1040 police personnel including five formed police units.

The Communique, on the hand, called for an assessment to be carried out on the state and effectiveness of AMISOM reconfiguration and its support to the transition process. It also sanctioned the development of a new Concept of Operations (CONOPS) aligned with the implementation of the transition plan.

Maj. Gen. Okello, who is leading the AU delegation, said the outcome of the review would inform the decisions to be made by the UN Security Council and the African Union Peace and Security Council (AUPSC)  on the renewal of AMISOM’s mandate.

His remarks were echoed by the Team Leader of the UN delegates, Vincent Pasquini, who said the review would look into issues of transition planning, electoral preparations and the operating environment in Somalia.

“The objective of this meeting is really to hear the views of our partners as we set off in this review and to have as many inputs as possible,” said Mr. Pasquini, the Team Leader to Somalia in the UN Department of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs (DPPA) and the Department of Peace Operations (DPO).

The visiting delegation will also seek, among other issues, to establish challenges the AU Mission faces, the status of the implementation of the recommendations of the AMISOM Operational Readiness Assessment (ORA) and preliminary impact of the reduction of AMISOM troops.

During the week-long visit, the delegation will meet with the AMISOM senior leadership, officials from the Federal Government of Somalia, the United Nations, representatives of international partners, diplomats from AMISOM Troop Contributing Countries and the European Union.

The delegation will also hold discussions and analyze Somalia’s political and security situation as the country prepares for one-person, one-vote elections in the 2020-2021 period.

The Special Representative of the Chairperson of the African Union Commission (SRCC) for Somalia, Ambassador Francisco Madeira, welcomed the delegation to the Mission Headquarters in Mogadishu, adding that the visit demonstrates the importance of AMISOM.

“This is an important opportunity for us to share with you issues on Somalia and also listen to you and get to know your views and your concerns and most importantly your views should guide us on the way forward in our joint effort to help Somalia achieve peace and stability.”

During the joint review meeting held in May, last year, the Federal Government of Somalia reiterated its commitment to assume security responsibility as stipulated in the transition plan.

It urged the review team not to judge the country by its past but by achievements so far made in stabilizing the country.

Ethiopian Airlines crash victims hail from 35 countries, include doctors and aid workers

Ethiopian Airlines crash victims hail from 35 countries, include doctors and aid workers

Source: CityNews, By Rahul Kalvapalle
National Online Journalist  Global News
Sunday March 10, 2019

Citizens of 35 countries are among the 157 people killed in Sunday morning’s Ethiopian Airlines plane crash outside the country’s capital Addis Ababa.

The passenger jet bound for the Kenyan capital Nairobi crashed minutes after take-off, killing everyone on board.

Kenya lost the most citizens in the tragedy, with 32. The Kenyan victims have all been identified, according to Kenyan newspaper The Standard.

Canada was second with 18 victims, according to Kenyan officials. Global Affairs Canada is yet to confirm that figure.

The victims also include nine Ethiopians; eight each from China, the United States and Italy; seven each from France and Britain; six from Egypt; five from Germany; four each from India and Slovakia; three each from Russia, Austria and Sweden and two each from Spain, Israel, Morocco and Poland.

Countries that lost one citizen were Belgium, Norway, Ireland, Serbia, Nigeria, Uganda, Togo, Somalia, Sudan, Rwanda, Mozambique, Djibouti, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Indonesia and Nepal. One victim had a United Nations passport.

The identities of some of the victims began to emerge early Saturday afternoon.

Three members of Italian humanitarian organization Africa Tremila were on board the plane, according to the mayor of the northern Italian city of Bergamo, where the NGO is based.

Mayor Giorgio Gori said in a Facebook post that the president of the aid group, Carlo Spini, his wife and the treasurer, Matteo Ravasio, had been en route to South Sudan.

The foreign ministry says in all eight Italians were among the dead. They included the Sicilian regional assessor to the Culture Ministry, Sebastiano Tusa, according to the Sicilian regional president.

Austrian media reported that three doctors from the city of Linz were on board the plane.

A spokesman for the country’s foreign ministry said the doctors were between 30 and 40 years old and were travelling to Zanzibar for work.

Also among the dead are the wife, daughter and son of Slovak MP Anton Hrnko, a member of the ultra-nationalist Slovak National Party.In a Facebook post, Hrnko said it was with “deep grief” that he was announcing that his wife Blanka, son Martin and daughter Michala were among the 157 people killed.

President Andrej Kiska offered his condolences to Hrnko and the relatives of the fourth Slovak victim.

A prominent Kenyan soccer official is believed to be among the victims.

Hussein Swaleh, the former secretary general of the Kenyan soccer federation, was due to return home on the flight after working as the match commissioner in an African Champions League game in Egypt on Friday.

Kenyan soccer federation president Nick Mwendwa said Swaleh was one of the 32 Kenyan nationals on the flight. Mwendwa wrote on Twitter: “Sad day for football.”

The Russian Embassy in Ethiopia said three Russian tourists were killed.

Serbian media reported that the Serbian victim is a 54-year-old man who worked at the World Food Program

The plane likely was carrying people set to attend a major United Nations environmental conference in Nairobi — the UN Environment Assembly is set to begin on Monday in Kenya’s capital.

A Canadian delegation was expected to attend the conference but it’s not known if they were aboard the doomed aircraft, a government source confirmed to Global News.

Information about Canadian victims was not immediately available. Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland said the government is trying to get information from Ethiopian authorities.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau urged Canadians in need of assistance to contact Global Affairs’ emergency assistance line.

Officials with Ethiopian Airlines said they had contacted the families of the victims.

— With files from the Associated Press and the Canadian Press

US think tank says Somalia misplayed its hand in maritime row

US think tank says Somalia misplayed its hand in maritime row

Source: Daily Nation, Saturday March 9, 2019

A Washington think tank with influence inside the Trump administration is siding with Kenya in its maritime territorial row with Somalia.

In a blog post on Thursday, the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) said Somalia’s government had “misplayed its hand” by deciding to auction oil and gas exploration blocks in Indian Ocean waters also claimed by Kenya.

“The move by Somalia President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed alias Farmajo, damages Somalia’s “already-atrocious reputation for business climate,” wrote AEI resident scholar Michael Rubin.

“Nor does Somalia’s actions make sense while still dependent upon Amisom — and Kenya’s contribution to it — for basic security,” Mr Rubin added.

“The Somalia government should know, that after decades of disaster, quick riches and short-term cash can come at a price too high to bear.”
AEI’s generally pro-business stance often finds favour with Republican members of the US Congress as well as with the White House.


President Farmajo has put his country in the position of seeming “to thumb its nose at the International Court of Justice process” that Somalia initiated in 2014, Mr Rubin said.

The Hague-based ICJ began considering Somalia’s claim on its maritime boundaries with Kenya after the breakdown of talks between the two countries concerning control of 100,000 square kilometres of sea bed.

“Farmajo may see oil as a means to rescue Somalia’s moribund economy, but production of oil absent capacity can actually make matters worse,” Mr Rubin observed. “Perhaps a wiser course would be to let the ICJ process continue until its end.”

Even after the ICJ eventually rules on the dispute, it will be uncertain that “Somalia has the ability to defend its waters and that Kenya will concede if the case goes against Nairobi,” the AEI post suggested.


Mr Rubin cited two other international rows over maritime boundaries that, he implied, offer support for Kenya’s position.

Turkey, he recounted, has asserted a claim in territorial waters off Cyprus based on Turkey’s recognition of a self-declared republic in the northern part of the Mediterranean island nation. No other country recognises the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, Mr Rubin pointed out.

In 2011, Turkey warned international companies against operating in Cypriot waters, but the firms were not dissuaded from working with the recognised government of Cyprus, the blog post added.

The dispute has served to “tarnish Turkey’s reputation in international and diplomatic circles,” Mr Rubin found.

Lebanon likewise undermined its international standing by unsuccessfully attempting to sell exploration rights in an 860-square-kilometre zone that is the subject of a territorial dispute with Israel, the AEI scholar added.

Women’s empowerment ‘essential to global progress’ says Guterres’ making International Day

Women’s empowerment ‘essential to global progress’ says Guterres, marking International Day

World Bank/Arne Hoel
Soukaina (left) and Mouna work in the marketing department at Label Vie’s corporate headquarters in Rabat. It has 35 supermarkets and 10 “hypermarkets” nationwide, with eight supermarkets in Rabat and one hypermarket in Salé.

7 March 2019

Women’s empowerment and gender equality are “essential to global progress”, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres stressed in his message for International Women’s Day which this year puts “innovation by women and girls, for women and girls”, at the heart of efforts to achieve gender equality.

“Last year, for the first time, we achieved gender parity in the UN’s Senior Management Group and among those who lead UN teams around the world”, the UN chief said, adding that the Organization is “working to achieve parity across the whole United Nations system within a decade.”

The UN began celebrating the International Day in 1975, which was designated International Women’s Year. Over the decades it has morphed from recognizing the achievements of women to becoming a rallying point to build support for women’s rights and participation, in the political and economic arenas.

“Gender equality is essential to the effectiveness of our work, and we cannot afford to miss out on the contributions of half of the world’s population”, Deputy Secretary-General Amina J. Mohammed explained.

Moreover, “women’s equal participation in the labor force would unlock trillions of dollars for global development” she continued.

“Let us be clear,” she spelled out: “We cannot build the future we want and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) without the full participation of women”.

Achieving a gender-equal world requires social innovations that work for both women and men and leave no one behind, according to the overarching UN strategy. E-learning platforms that take classrooms to women and girls; affordable and quality childcare centres; and technology shaped by women, are a few examples of the innovation needed to meet the 2030 deadline set out in the Agenda for Sustainable Development.

“And we need more women leaders participating in public life and taking decisions”, flagged General Assembly President Maria Fernanda Espinosa, urging everyone to redouble their efforts “against the discrimination and violence women and girls face every day”.

For her part, UN Youth Envoy Jayathma Wickramanayake, is drawing attention to the millions of young girls preparing to start their working life, saying that far too often, “they don’t get the opportunity to realize their dreams and grow into their power.”

“Let’s invest in girls’ education and skills so they become the leaders and innovators they were born to be,” she added.

In her message for the Day, the Executive Director of UN Women, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, pointed out that “women and girls around the world still face many challenges”, arguing that changes begin with making sure that their needs and experiences are integrated and enhanced by new technology and innovation.

“On International Women’s Day, we ask all to join us to ‘Think equal, build smart, and innovate for change’”, concluded the head of UN Women.

Impact of US Airstrikes in Somalia on Al-shabab

Impact of US Airstrikes in Somalia on Al-shabab

Source: Foreign Policy posted on 7 March 2019
Foreign Policy posted on 7 March 2019 an article titled “U.S. Bombardments Are Driving Somalis from Their Homes” by Amanda Sperber, a journalist based in Nairobi and Mogadishu.

The author concludes that increased U.S. airstrikes in Somalia against al-Shabaab have forced the terrorists to change tactics but have not made the group less of a threat.

Impact of Offshore Oil and Gas on Kenya-Somalia Relations

Impact of Offshore Oil and Gas on Kenya-Somalia Relations

Source: The Institute for Security Studies posted on 1 March 2019
The Institute for Security Studies posted on 1 March 2019 a commentary titled “Is the Scent of Oil a Solution for Somalia?” by Peter Fabricius.

Somalia is in a dispute with its southern neighbor, Kenya, over claims that Somalia tried to auction off oil and gas exploration blocks in territorial waters that Kenya claims. Somalia denied the allegations, saying that while the maps presented at the auction included territory that Kenya claims, this was just a marketing exercise.

US general: Troops cuts don’t impact Somalia, Libya missions

US general: Troops cuts don’t impact Somalia, Libya missions

Source: AP, Friday March 8, 2019

U.S. Africa Command Commander Gen. Thomas Waldhauser, center, flanked by U.S. Central Command Commander Gen. Joseph Votel, left, and Acting Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs Kathryn Wheelbarger, right, testifies before the House Armed Services Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, March 7, 2019. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh) –The Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — Planned troop cuts on the African continent will have no impact on counterterror operations in Libya and Somalia, where American airstrikes target insurgents, the top U.S. commander for Africa told Congress Thursday.

General Thomas D. Waldhauser, head of U.S. Africa Command, said about 300 troops will be cut by June 2020, in phase one of a 10 percent reduction. But he said he’s not sure if the second phase of the reduction will be ordered.

The Pentagon called for the reduction in U.S. troops in Africa as part of plans to refocus attention on great power competition from Russia and China. But the cutbacks have triggered concerns from Congress members who questioned if they would increase terrorism threats on the continent. Waldhauser told lawmakers that officials will watch for any possible impact of the changes, and he will push back on future cuts if they become a problem.

At any given time there are roughly 6,000 U.S. troops in Africa, with the bulk of them — more than 4,000 — at the U.S. base in Djibouti. There are about 500 U.S. troops in Somalia, where the U.S. has escalated airstrikes against al-Shabab, which is linked to al-Qaida and is the deadliest militant group in the region.Already this year, the U.S. has conducted 24 strikes on al-Shabab — already more than half the total number of strikes done in all of last year. U.S. Africa Command said the strikes this year have killed about 236 militants. There were about 338 killed in 2018.

When considering the cutbacks, Waldhauser said the U.S. avoided scaling back at all in Somalia and Libya, where the counterterrorism fight has been very active.

“We’ve tried to take forces that have been involved in working with units that have been trained for quite some time and that their threat to the homeland is questionable at best,” said Waldhauser. Of the 300 cut, about 130 are special operations forces and the rest are conventional forces.

He would not detail what countries would be affected but said the cutbacks involved U.S. troops in countries where they have trained local forces for several years, and those indigenous troops can now operate on their own.

Waldhauser was also repeatedly pressed by committee members about the ongoing review of the deadly operation in Niger that led to the deaths of four U.S. soldiers in October 2017.

The Pentagon has so far failed to release details about any reprimands or punishments resulting from the mission, or any recommendations for valor awards. A full report has been expected for months, but officials said Thursday that Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan is reviewing the final report.

Waldhauser told lawmakers that a number of changes have been made to address shortfalls in military procedures, training and operations. He said more airborne surveillance is available and medical evacuation times have been reduced in case of emergencies. In addition, officials have changed procedures for missions and beefed up training.