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COVID-19, floods and locusts risk to Somalia’s stability – UN

COVID-19, floods and locusts risk to Somalia’s stability – UN

Source: Hiiraan Online, 3 June, 2020


Wednesday June 3, 2020

MOGADISHU (HOL) – Somalia could slide back into further political instability and humanitarian crisis owing to the triple impact of COVID-19, floods and desert locusts, the UN has said.

The UN humanitarian agency OCHA warned Tuesday Somalia’s ability to cope has been stretched beyond limit calling for swift international response to stem the tide.

“Somalia’s coping mechanisms are significantly less than those of the neighbouring countries.

Therefore, the impact [of floods, locusts and COVID-19] is not simply humanitarian but has the potential to reverse some of the political and security gains that the international community has invested in over the past decade,” OCHA’s country office head Justin Brady said.
Somalia is currently battling a fast spreading COVID-19 pandemic in addition to desert locusts which the UN has warned could be up to 400 times more harmful than the swam experienced from late 2019.

Over 500,000 people have in recent weeks been displaced in central Somalia by floods while over 2000 people have tested positive for COVID-19 with over 70 fatalities.

EXPAND COORDINATION

“We need to continue to work together and expand the coordination with the private sector, civil society and have more engagement with the diaspora,” added Brady.

While some half a million people have been displaced, overall, more than a million people have been affected by flash and riverine floods in Somalia.

One of the hardest hit areas is Belet Weyne, which first experienced severe flooding late last year, when the Shabelle River burst its banks due to heavy rains.

Since 1990, Somalia has experienced 30 climate-related hazards, 12 droughts and 18 floods – three times more the number of climate-related hazards experienced between 1970 and 1990. In 2017, a severe drought left Somalia on the verge of famine.

In 2019, a delayed and erratic Gu’ rainy season resulted in the poorest harvest since the 2011 famine and flooding.

In show of solidarity, EU organizes air bridge for WHO to deliver critical life-saving supplies to flood-affected areas in Somalia

In show of solidarity, EU organizes air bridge for WHO to deliver critical life-saving supplies to flood-affected areas in Somalia
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Source: WHO, Wednesday June 3, 2020

The Delegation of the European Union (EU) to Somalia conducted another special flight for the WHO country office in Somalia to airlift lifesaving medicine and other emergency hospital supplies to Jowhar, Kismayo and Baidoa ‒ areas recently affected by flooding caused by heavy rainfall. These emergency medicines and medical supplies, donated by WHO, will be used for augmenting emergency health care for people affected by the recent floods. The EU recently organized special flights for WHO from Mogadishu to the flood-affected areas on 20‒21 May 2020.

The flights operated by the Delegation of the European Union delivered 9144 kgs of supplies, namely oral rehydration solution, cholera saline and other emergency medicines for patient care. As a result of this successful operation, approximately 2000 individuals will benefit over the next 3 months from these life-saving medical supplies.

Heavy rains are predicted for the remainder of June. These supplies will not only play a critical role in supporting emergency health care for cholera and other waterborne diseases for the vulnerable populations of affected areas aiming at preventing loss of lives, they will also support basic health care services in the areas long after the flood water recedes.

“The EU welcomes the opportunity to join forces and resources with WHO in Somalia,” said EU Ambassador to Somalia Nicolas Berlanga. “Somalia faces a confluence of health challenges, including the urgent task of responding to the COVID-19 outbreak. The recent floods that have impacted so much of the country will only complicate that effort. These are complex challenges that require enhanced coordination and rapid response,” the Ambassador added.Commenting on the this collaboration, Dr Mamunur Rahman Malik, WHO Representative in Somalia, said, “As we continue to fight on all fronts against COVID-19 and now on reducing the health impacts of the floods, I thank the Delegation of the European Union for their generous support in providing the airbridge between the capital city and flood-affected areas for dispatching critical life-saving supplies, especially at a time when these areas are cut off from the rest of the country owing to lockdown and restriction of flights. Our collaboration with the EU will save lives and minimize the health impacts of these catastrophic events. This solidarity remains critical for Somalia besieged by so many health challenges”.

This joint operation is part of a new bilateral coordination mechanism, established between the WHO country office and the Delegation of the EU to Somalia, which aims to strengthen operational response activities, including for COVID-19. On 3 May, EU flights also airlifted critical medical equipment and supplies from Mogadishu to Kismayo to support Jubaland state in tackling COVID-19. In addition, the European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO) recently provided US$ $1.8 million to WHO’s COVID-19 preparedness and response operations in Somalia.

Effects of flooding

Heavy rains and floods have affected about 918 000 people across Somalia, displacing 412 000 and killing 24 in 29 districts so far. Belet Weyne in Hiraan region is the most affected district after the Shabelle river burst its banks on 12 May and flooded 85% of the town and 25 riverine villages. Jowhar, another agricultural centre, has also been hard hit by flooding. International aid organizations have warned of potential outbreaks of cholera and other waterborne diseases due to overcrowding in areas where those who have been displaced are seeking temporary shelter.

Security Council Reauthorizes Deployment of African Union Mission in Somalia, Unanimously Adopting Resolution 2520 (2020)

Security Council Reauthorizes Deployment of African Union Mission in Somalia, Unanimously Adopting Resolution 2520 (2020)


Press Release
Source: UN, Saturday May 30, 2020

Members Lay Out Strategic Priorities for AMISOM as Critical Elections Approach

The Security Council decided, in a 29 May videoconference meeting*, to reauthorize the deployment of African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) personnel for nine months, requiring them to support security in the lead-up to elections and to work towards the gradual hand-over of responsibility to Somali forces by 2021.

Unanimously adopting resolution 2520 (2020) under Chapter VII of the Charter of the United Nations, the 15-member Council also decided to authorize the African Union to maintain the deployment of 19,626 uniformed AMISOM personnel until 28 February 2021 — including at least 1,040 police and five formed police units.

Among other strategic priorities, the Council tasked the Mission with supporting security preparations for elections due at the end of 2020 or the beginning of 2021, and helping to combat Al-Shabaab and other armed groups while conducting its tasks in accordance with the updated Somali-led Transition Plan.

The Council laid out a range of specific tasks for AMISOM to meet those objectives:  maintaining a presence in sectors set out in the Mission’s Concept of Operations; reconfiguring and revising tasks in support of the Transition Plan as security conditions allow; mentoring and assisting Somali security forces; helping to secure and maintain key supply routes, including to areas recovered from Al-Shabaab; conducting jointly planned and targeted offensive operations; and supporting the Federal Government of Somalia and its federal member states in implementing the country’s total ban on exporting charcoal.Reiterating the urgent need to establish full cooperation between the Federal Government and the federal member states, the Council called upon both sides to make further progress on the transition, urging them to take concrete action to fulfil priority measures laid out in the 2019 Mutual Accountability Framework.  The steps include:  reaching an inclusive political settlement on the sharing of power and resources; reinstituting regular meetings of the National Security Council, or an alternative mechanism; accelerating technical and security planning for elections; and developing and implementing an achievable, time-bound and coordinated force-generation plan.

The Council further reiterated its intention to assess the security support needed to prepare Somalia to take the lead in security by the end of 2021, and to take decisions on AMISOM’s reconfiguration.  Such decisions would be based on information shared by the African Union, the Federal Government of Somalia and other partners, the implementation of the goals set out in the Mutual Accountability Framework and the outcomes of an independent assessment report.

By other terms of the resolution, the Council underlined the need for a coordinated and cohesive approach to Somali-led political and security reforms.  It called upon the authorities to ensure that all Somalis are protected from sexual and gender-based violence — including sexual exploitation and abuse and conflict-related sexual violence — and to take appropriate steps to investigate related allegations.

Council members called upon the African Union to strengthen oversight and operational coordination among AMISOM contingents, and to ensure accountability on the part of all units.  It also requested that the Secretary-General continue to provide a logistical support package on the basis of resolution 2245 (2015), increase support for 13,900 Somali security forces, and expand United Nations support to include training, equipment and mentorship in order to counter the threat of improvised explosive devices.

Africa’s Global Trends

Africa’s Global Trends

Source: The Institute for Global Dialogue at the University of South Africa published in May 2020
The Institute for Global Dialogue at the University of South Africa published in May 2020 its “Spotlight on Africa: Mapping Geopolitical Trends for Quarter One 2020.”

It contains brief sections on:

–Growing militancy in the Sahel and beyond.
–The internationalization of the Libyan crisis.
–The hydropolitics of the Nile.
–Navigating high-wire transitions in Sudan and Ethiopia.
–The global Covid-19 pandemic: the black swan of 2020.

Profile of Ethiopian Director of World Health Organization

Profile of Ethiopian Director of World Health Organization

Source: The Associated Press published on 19 May 2020
The Associated Press published on 19 May 2020 a profile titled “WHO Chief Unbowed Amid Attacks, Trump Criticism” by Shivani Kumar.

The article discusses the challenges that World Health Organization Director Tedros Adhanom faces as he navigates COVID-19, China, and the Trump administration.

Somalia: Khat, and Covid-19

Somalia: Khat, and Covid-19

Source: The Rift Valley Institute published in May 2020
The Rift Valley Institute published in May 2020 a brief paper titled “Khat and Covid-19: Somalia’s Cross-Border Economy in the Time of Coronavirus” by Sahra Ahmed Koshin.

Measures to contain COVID-19 have imposed restrictions on khat imports and consumption that have affected livelihoods of khat sellers.  The reduced supply has hit government revenues and shifted more of the trade to contraband.

Somalis to ICJ: Video conference for Guyana vs Venezuela but not for Somalia vs Kenya?

Source: Hiiraan Online, 30 May 2020

HAGUE (HOL) – The decision by the International Court of Justice to hear a case between South American states of Venezuela and Guyana via video conference despite rejecting a similar proposal by Somalia on the case with Kenya has drawn sharp criticism from Somalis.

Debt relief plans for world’s poor countries inch forward

Debt relief plans for world’s poor countries inch forward


Source: Reuters, Friday May 29, 2020

Tim Adams, President and CEO of the Institute of International Finance (IIF), attends the 2018 G20 Conference entitled “The G20 Agenda Under the Argentine Presidency”, in Buenos Aires, Argentina, March 18, 2018. REUTERS/Agustin Marcarian

LONDON/WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Plans for debt relief for the world’s poorest countries inched forward on Thursday as private creditors laid out a blueprint for their involvement, though it received immediate criticism for not going far enough.

The proposal shepherded by the Institute of International Finance (IIF) said creditors would grant debt breaks on a case-by-case and voluntary basis this year, after concluding a one-size-fits-all approach would have been “practically impossible.”

It was the culmination of work involving more than 100 top money managers after the Group of 20 economies had called on the private sector to match their recent Debt Service Suspension Initiative (DSSI) to help 77 low-income countries.

“The IIF has been adamant that creditors of every type and size have a role to play in making sure the world’s most vulnerable countries have the liquidity needed to combat the COVID-19 pandemic,” said IIF President and CEO Tim Adams.The G20 proposal and the IIF plan cover only to the end of the year, and with no cure for coronavirus expected in the coming months, it may not be enough.

U.N. chief Antonio Guterres called on Thursday for debt relief to be expanded, and urged the International Monetary Fund to increase allocations of its Special Drawing Rights (SDR) currency to give countries more access to funding.

African countries face a combined $44 billion debt-servicing bill this year alone. It is estimated that the pandemic and the economic shutdowns could push as many as 60 million people into extreme poverty around the world.

“Alleviating crushing debt cannot be limited to the Least Developed Countries,” Guterres told a high-level U.N. meeting on how to handle the pandemic’s economic fallout. “It must be extended to all developing and middle-income countries that request forbearance as they lose access to financial markets.”

(Impact of debt relief for world’s poorest countries IMAGE: here)


NOT ENOUGH

World Bank President David Malpass also warned at the conference that “much more” debt relief would be needed. He said around half the 77 countries eligible for the G20 debt relief had applied for help so far, and more were signing up.

All official bilateral creditors should offer help, he stressed, and said commercial creditors should “participate on comparable terms and not exploit the debt relief of others.”

He rejected calls, though, for the World Bank and other multilateral development banks to freeze debt payments, saying that would harm their ability to provide much-needed funding.

The Saudi G20 secretariat, in a statement issued after an extraordinary working group meeting, said the debt relief initiative could provide $14 billion in liquidity as more countries signed up. But it said the amount could be even higher if additional creditors such as multilateral development banks and private-sector creditors joined the initiative.

The IIF’s plan included coordination with the International Monetary Fund, World Bank, Paris Club, United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, and more than a dozen finance and development ministers representing DSSI-eligible countries.

U.N. officials say debt relief is imperative to enable developing economies to spend more on containing the coronavirus and limiting what economists worry is an inevitable debt crisis.

Tim Jones, head of policy at Jubilee Debt Campaign, a charity that focuses on reducing poverty, was critical.

“Overall, the G20 agreement in April and IIF proposal today go nowhere near responding to the unprecedented nature of the coronavirus debt crisis,” Jones said.

Some countries could end up paying far more in the medium-term due to accrued interest, he said, and some lenders could ignore the plan, which is voluntary.

Ethiopia’s security forces accused of torture, evictions and killings – report

Ethiopia’s security forces accused of torture, evictions and killings – report


Tom Gardner in Addis Ababa
Source: The Guardian, Friday May 29, 2020

A man waves an Oromo flag as people from the community gather in Addis Ababa in October 2019, on the eve of Irreecha, their thanksgiving festival. Photograph: Yonas Tadesse/AFP
A man waves an Oromo flag as people from the community gather in Addis Ababa in October 2019, on the eve of Irreecha, their thanksgiving festival. Photograph: Yonas Tadesse/AFP


Ethiopia’s Nobel peace prize-winning prime minister Abiy Ahmed has been urged to investigate allegations that state security forces have committed a raft of serious human rights abuses including torture and unlawful killings since he came to power in 2018.According to a report by Amnesty International, published on Friday, Ethiopia’s military and police in its two most populous regions arbitrarily detained more than 10,000 people, summarily evicted whole families from their homes – some of which were burnt and destroyed – and in some cases were complicit in inter-communal violence targeting minorities.

Federal authorities have not responded to the report, which focuses on the period between January and December 2019 in the regions of Amhara and Oromia.

“Given the gravity and the duration [of the period in which abuses were reported] I cannot believe top officials are not aware of what was happening,” the report’s author, Fisseha Tekle, told the Guardian. “And if they are not then it is a dereliction of duty.”

In Oromia, security forces are waging a counter-insurgency campaign against rebels from the Oromo Liberation Army (OLA), an armed guerrilla movement demanding more autonomy for Oromos, which returned from exile in 2018 after Abiy removed it from Ethiopia’s list of terrorist organisations.

The move was part of a package of democratic reforms which won the prime minister widespread acclaim and, along with making peace with neighbouring Eritrea, secured him the Nobel peace prize last year. Shortly after becoming prime minister Abiy also confessed that security officials had in the past committed torture, and promised to ensure the sector was fully accountable in the future.

But the OLA has since returned to armed conflict, and accuses the government of failing to deliver its promises of more democracy and self-rule for Oromos.Fighting in western and southern parts of Oromia has involved targeted killings of local officials and community leaders and what the UN has described as “serious human rights violations”. In Oromia’s Guji district the unrest had driven 80,000 people from their homes by the start of this year.

Amnesty said it had a list of 39 people suspected of supporting the OLA who had been unlawfully executed in two parts of Guji since January 2019. It also said that on a single day in December 2018, soldiers from the federal military killed 13 people in the town of Finchawa in West Guji. One of those killed was an old woman selling milk on the street, according to an eyewitness who spoke to Amnesty.

Security forces are estimated to have detained more than 10,000 men and women suspected of supporting or working for the OLA, among other abuses documented by the organisation.

Many were detained for several months without being charged, in violation of both national and international human rights laws, under conditions which at times amounted to torture, the report found. Detainees were made to undergo two months of “training” in subjects such as constitutionalism, the rule of law and the history of the Oromo people’s struggle.

In Amhara, according to the report, regional police, militia and local vigilante groups engaged in targeted attacks on ethnic Qemant, a minority group demanding more autonomy, in inter-communal violence which resulted in at least 130 deaths last year. In January 2019, at least 58 people were reportedly killed in less than 24 hours and buried in mass graves.

Nobody has yet been held accountable for the atrocity.

Amnesty said it had sought responses to its findings from nine government offices including the defence ministry and the attorney-general’s office but had only received a response from Amhara’s regional security bureau, which denied that state security forces had been involved in any atrocities.

The rights group called on the government to carry out full investigations into human rights violations and to order security forces to stop carrying out unlawful executions, arbitrary arrests and detention, as well as forced evictions and destruction of property belonging to people suspected of supporting opposition political parties or armed groups.

In February last year the former head of the Ethiopian army said it had embarked on “deep institutional reform” as part of the democratic changes sweeping the nation.

The head of the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission, Daniel Bekele, told the Guardian: “While the Amnesty findings and ongoing reports of killings and arrests in parts of Oromia region should be taken seriously and fully investigated, it is also important to understand the complex nature of the security operations where armed groups are seriously destabilising the affected areas.”

The prime minister’s office said it would put the Guardian’s request for official comment to the peace ministry, which was declined.

Red Sea Security

Red Sea Security

Source: Ambassador David Shinn, USA
The Great Decisions organization in Reston, Virginia, in cooperation with the Fairfax County Public Library interviewed me on the subject of “Red Sea Security.”  The 118 minute podcast, moderated by Michael Carpenter of Great Decisions, took place via Zoom on 27 April 2020 but did not appear on You Tube until 22 May 2020.

This wide ranging discussion covers both sides of the Red Sea, the war in Yemen, the conflict between Saudi Arabia and the UAE, on the one hand, and Iran, on the other, the Qatar/Turkey versus Saudi Arabia/UAE alignments, freedom of navigation in the Red Sea, the military bases in Djibouti, Israel’s role in Africa, and recent developments in Ethiopia, Sudan, and South Sudan.

African Union Urges African Solution to Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam Issue

African Union Urges African Solution to Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam Issue

Source: The African Union issued on 22 May 2020
The African Union issued on 22 May 2020 a brief statement on the recent developments related to the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam.

The statement implies the need for an African solution to the dispute involving Egypt, Ethiopia, and Sudan and says the AU Commission stands ready to assist all parties in finding a peaceful resolution and achieving a mutually beneficial agreement.  There is no mention of Washington’s role.

Kenya sought indefinite suspension of ICJ hearings in latest delay

Kenya sought indefinite suspension of ICJ hearings in latest delay


Source: Hiiraan Online, Sunday May 24, 2020

NAIROBI (HOL) – Kenya sought an indefinite suspension of the maritime case with Somalia in its latest round to postpone the case, correspondence with the Court shows in what confirms its determination to push for out of court deal.

In its petition to the International Court of Justice dated April 24, 2020, Kenya requested for indefinite deferment of the oral proceedings citing the ongoing COVID-19 global pandemic.

“Kenya wishes to request the Court to grant an indefinite postponement of the oral proceedings, and to allow for agreement between the parties and the Court, on a new date after the World Health Organisation officially declares the COVID-19 pandemic over,” Nairobi said.

Though the Court granted Kenya’s prayers for a third delay, it rejected a timeless delay setting March 2021 for another round of oral hearings.
Noting it had concluded the recruitment of a new legal team by March, Kenya said it was not probable to restart the proceedings by June owing to the impact of COVID-19 on movement and financial ability to fund the case.

VIDEO CONFERENCING

Somalia however dismissed the application and instead proposed the proceedings go on through video conferencing.

“Somalia stands by its proposal that the upcoming oral hearings be held by video conference and hereby respectfully reiterates that doing so would be a better way to balance the competing interest at stake than again postponing the already long-delayed oral hearings to an uncertain future date,” Mogadishu said in its response.

The proceedings were scheduled at first to kick off on September 2020 but Kenya sought an adjournment which the Court acceded to and deferred it to June 2020.

The third postponement of the case now means the current administration in Mogadishu may not be presiding it as there will be a new government in place by March. Parliamentary elections are slated for October this year followed by a presidential poll in February 2021.

Kenya has time and again pushed for out of Court settlement but Somalia has stood ground noting the only recourse is the Court.

President Mohamed Farmaajo reiterated this position last week in a video message noting his administration will ‘protect the country’s resources for the unborn generation’.

Nile Dam Talks to Resume

Nile Dam Talks to Resume

Source: The National published on 22 May 2020
The National published on 22 May 2020 an article titled “Egypt Accepts Proposal to Renegotiate on Nile Dam Dispute.”

Egypt says it is willing to resume negotiations to reach a fair, balanced, and comprehensive agreement with Sudan and Ethiopia on filling the reservoir behind the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam.  Negotiations will presumably take place in Washington.

Responding to COVID-19 and supporting fair elections in Somalia

Responding to COVID-19 and supporting fair elections in Somalia

Government of the United Kingdom
Source: UK, Friday May 22, 2020


Statement by Ambassador Jonathan Allen at the Security Council briefing on Somalia (Speech)


Thank you, Mr President. Let me, if I might, thank our briefers – of course, to SRSG Swan and, if I might, to you as well, Jim commend your relentless professionalism and commitment in difficult circumstances. I also want to thank Ambassador Madeira and Director Marcaillou.Mr President, in light of COVID-19, let me start by expressing our solidarity with Somalia in facing this global pandemic and commend Somalia for the measures they have taken to contain the spread of the virus. I also want to welcome the work of the United Nations in coordinating a coherent response between international organisations including the WFP, WHO, UNICEF and NGO partners.

We want to urge all partners to respond to Somalia’s COVID-19 Response Plan which calls for additional, aligned and coordinated funding. The United Kingdom gave $420 million in the last financial year to Somalia and in light of the response plan we are considering now what more we can do. And I would also just like to mention that today, the UK has announced a $25 million contribution to the African Union Fund, set up last month by President Ramaphosa to tackle COVID-19.

Mr President, despite the pandemic and the Secretary-General’s calls for a ceasefire, Al-Shabaab continues to launch attacks. We strongly condemn the recent attacks in Mogadishu, including against the UN, AMISOM and the international community. And I want to pay tribute to the ongoing commitment and sacrifices of AMISOM troop contributing countries and the efforts of the Somali Security Forces. I want to join UNMAS in their concern about the use of IEDs in Somalia. This is why this Council imposed a ban on IED components and it’s why we have recommended strengthening support on tackling IEDs in the AMISOM text.Mr President, it is clear that COVID-19 poses significant challenges to Somalia. We need to recognise this. That this should not distract us from supporting Somalia to make the gains made and supporting Somalia on making progress on security, greater political engagement and elections.

On security reform, there has been important progress over the last year. Somalia has recovered additional territory from Al-Shabaab, trained Somali security forces, developed a threat assessment; and become a member of INTERPOL. There is now greater international engagement on the question of what security support in Somalia will look like after 2021. In March the UK supported a Wilton Park-convened conference in Ethiopia. In April the African Union and Somalia chaired a ministerial conference. We should build on this momentum.

Somalia has also started the process of updating the Somali Transition Plan. Rapid progress in updating and, above all, implementing the Transition Plan is vital if Somalia is to meet their own December 2021 deadline to take over lead responsibility for national security. The independent assessment, requested by this Council, will help us decide how best to support Somalia’s vision post-2021. Both the revised security strategy and the independent review should guide our decision making in a timely fashion.

Mr President, the long-term goals of a Somali political settlement, including One-Person-One-Vote elections and progress on the constitutional review, remain unchanged. We are seeing progress on technical preparations for elections and we welcome the UN’s efforts to enable Parliament to reconvene virtually and AMISOM’s support on security. It is vital that the Government, Parliament, Electoral Committee, Joint Parliamentary Committee, and Federal Member States work together and take urgent and inclusive steps to help facilitate timely, constitutional and inclusive One-Person-One-Vote elections.

There is no reason why COVID-19 should prevent the key preparatory work from taking place. This is the time for government and opposition to put aside differences and find compromise. Decisions on the electoral code, seat allocation, definition of constituencies, women’s quota and provisions for Somaliland and Benadir are needed urgently, and it is good to hear that we should see progress on these issues in the next few weeks.

Mr President, I want to express deep concern about recent actions taken to repress the media with arrests of journalists in Somalia. We welcome the recent positive steps to facilitate accurate reporting on COVID-19 by the Office of the Prime Minister. The media has a vital role to play in Somalia. We call for Somali journalists to be able to perform their work and we call also on Somali leaders to ensure the political space is kept open.

Mr President, reconciliation is central to Somalia’s state-building efforts. There has been some progress in Jubaland, South West State and Galmudug, but critical issues remain. We look to the Federal Government to drive forward reconciliation efforts and we need to see high-level political dialogue with the Federal Member States. This dialogue was urgent before and is even more urgent in the light of COVID-19. There is no room for division in the face of a common enemy.

In conclusion, Mr President, let me emphasise three points.

First, the importance of an enhanced and coordinated response to supporting Somalia in its fight against COVID-19. We should all do what we can.

Second, the importance of this Council, the United Nations, the region, the AU and the wider international community in continuing to support Somalia to achieve progress on holding timely One-Person-One-Vote elections and moving ahead on security reform. Somalia’s future security and development depends on continued progress.

And finally, I reiterate our call, the call that the Council has made many times, for the Federal Government and Federal Member States to work together to build a stronger and more peaceful Somalia.

Thank you, Mr President.

Guterres encourages Member States to reach agreement over Ethiopian Nile dam project

Guterres encourages Member States to reach agreement over Ethiopian Nile dam project

Source: UN, 19 May 2020

UNICEF/Ayene
In Ethiopia, a nine-year-old child carries jerry cans filled with water to her home, four kilometers away from the borehole.

19 May 2020

UN chief António Guterres is encouraging Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan to persevere with efforts to overcome their differences and reach agreement on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam.

Through his spokesperson, the Secretary-General noted on Tuesday that “good progress” is being made in negotiations between the three countries in hopes of achieving a mutually beneficial agreement.

UN Political and Peacebuilding Affairs

@UNDPPA

Secretary-General @antonioguterres continues to follow closely developments related to the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD). He notes the good progress in the negotiations between , thus far. Full statement:https://www.un.org/sg/en/content/sg/statement/2020-05-19/statement-attributable-the-spokesman-for-the-secretary-general-the-grand-ethiopian-renaissance-dam 

View image on Twitter

Going up along the Blue Nile near the border with Sudan, and under construction since 2011, the $4.5 billion dam – also known by its acronym GERD – will be Africa’s biggest hydroelectric power plant once completed.

Negotiations centre on the pace at which Ethiopia fills the 74 billion cubic metre reservoir behind the dam and the impact that could have on water supplies downstream in Sudan and Egypt.

Ethiopia is keen to start filling the reservoir in July.

“The Secretary-General underscores the importance of the 2015 Declaration of Principles on the GERD, which emphasizes cooperation based on common understanding, mutual benefit, good faith, win-win, and the principles of international law,” the spokesman said.

“The Secretary-General encourages progress towards an amicable agreement in accordance with the spirit of these Principles,” he added.

Resolving differences

Cairo, Addis Ababa and Khartoum have all indicated their willingness to resume discussions, but differences linger over the appropriate mechanism for such talks.

UN experts say that Egypt wants to put international pressure on Ethiopia to agree to a proposal – put forward by the United States and World Bank – on the dam’s first filling and annual operation.

But Ethiopia is rejecting that idea as severely limiting the dam’s capacity to generate electricity and curtailing rights to future upstream development, among other reasons.

Egypt also insists that Ethiopia must not start filling the reservoir until an agreement is reached, in line with its interpretation of the Declaration that Ethiopia is contesting.

The Secretary-General encourages progress towards an amicable agreement — UN Spokesperson

The Declaration, signed in March 2015, outlines the parties’ commitment to cooperation and to resolve differences through negotiations. It also states that if a dispute cannot be resolved, the matter can be referred to the heads of State and Government with an option for a joint request for mediation.

Ethiopia favours resolving the dispute at the trilateral level and has historically been against internationalizing the issue, seeing no mediation role for the United Nations.

On 13 May, Sudan’s Ministry of Irrigation said that the country could not agree to an Ethiopian proposal on the initial filling as it failed to address longer-term technical, legal and environmental issues.

According to news reports, Egypt also dismissed the Ethiopian proposal on the initial filling, writing a letter to the Security Council on 1 May calling on Ethiopia to respect its obligations and resume talks.

US court orders Sudan to pay for 1998 embassy attacks

US court orders Sudan to pay for 1998 embassy attacks

Source: Tuesday May 19, 2020
Tuesday May 19, 2020

The US Supreme Court on Monday ruled that Sudan must pay hundreds of millions of dollars in punitive damages to some victims of the 1998 attacks on US embassies in Nairobi, Kenya and Dar es Salaam in Tanzania.

The court’s unanimous decision applies only to claims brought by US nationals, members of the US military, and employees of the US government or embassy contractors.

Kenyan relatives of embassy workers or private contractors killed or injured in the bombing are not covered by Monday’s ruling.

APPEALS COURT

The court stated that a US appeals court must now address the question of whether those Kenyan nationals are entitled to a share of the full $4.3 billion in punitive damages awarded by a US judge in 2011.
The Supreme Court’s ruling holding Sudan liable suggests that the appeals court may decide that the Kenyan nationals should also receive punitive damages.

A Washington-based attorney representing the 567 plaintiffs, including Kenyans who brought the case, interpreted Monday’s limited ruling as a victory.

DEEPLY GRATIFIED

“We are deeply gratified that the Supreme Court has validated the right of our clients to receive this measure of compensation,” said attorney Matthew McGill.

“We are hopeful that this soon will lead Sudan to reach a just and equitable resolution with its victims.”

A US attorney representing Sudan estimated that the Supreme Court decision applies to only about 20 per cent of the full $4.3 billion in punitive damages.

“Sudan looks forward to further proceedings in this continuing litigation while it remains engaged with the United States in negotiations to normalise the bilateral relationship,” said attorney Christopher Curran.

It has previously been decided in the US judicial system that Kenyan family members are entitled to some of an additional $6 billion in compensatory damages to be paid by Sudan.

But it is unlikely that the Kenyan families will receive anything close to the full amount of claims for which US courts have already held Sudan liable or might do so in the future.

SOVEREIGN DEBT

Sudan’s recently installed reformist government has maintained that the nation’s enormous sovereign debt would prevent it from making good on any multi-billion-dollar settlement arising from the embassy bombings.

But at the same time, Sudan is eager to resolve legal disputes in the US related to the 1998 attack that killed 212 Kenyan nationals and 12 US citizens.

Ten Tanzanians died in the nearly simultaneous bombing of the US embassy in Dar es Salaam.

Outstanding claims against Sudan are among the factors that the US has cited in declining to remove Sudan from a terrorism blacklist.

Erasing that designation, originally made in 1993, would earn Sudan full access to the global financial system.

OSAMA BIN LADEN

A US court has found that the Sudan dictatorship of Omar al-Bashir, who was overthrown last year, had assisted al-Qaeda and its leader, Osama bin Laden, in carrying out the embassy bombings.

The new government headed by Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok denies that Sudan played a role in the attacks.

But the country’s rulers are seeking to negotiate a settlement with victims of the bombing that would be acceptable to the US government.

Monday’s ruling by the US Supreme Court has no bearing on separate lawsuits filed by more than 2,000 Kenyans who were harmed by the bombing but who were not employed by or related to workers at the embassy or for private contracts.

Litigation involving that large group of victims has been stalled in the US court system for several years and is not expected to reach a settlement anytime soon.

Somalia’s COVID-19 cases soar to 1,502 after 47 tested positive

Somalia’s COVID-19 cases soar to 1,502 after 47 tested positive

Source: XINHUA Net, Wednesday May 20, 2020

MOGADISHU, May 19 (Xinhua) — Somali Health Ministry on Tuesday confirmed 47 new cases of coronavirus, bringing the total tally of infections to 1,502.

Fawziya Abikar, the Health Minister said the new patients are from the semi-autonomous region of Puntland which has 19, Banadir 13, Somaliland 8 and SouthWest 7.

Abikar said two patients succumbed to the deadly respiratory disease, bringing the total number of deaths since the pandemic was reported in the country to 59.

She said 15 people recovered from COVID-19, bringing the total number of people who have been discharged from hospitals to 178.

The minister said 42 of the latest cases are male while five others are female persons amid concern from the UN that the cases are largely due to community transmission.

The Horn of Africa nation joined the long list of countries dealing with COVID-19 on March 16, when the Health Ministry of Somalia announced the first confirmed case

Djibouti’s COVID-19 cases surge to 1,518 as 117 new cases confirmed

Djibouti’s COVID-19 cases surge to 1,518 as 117 new cases confirmed

Source: : XINHUA NET, , Wednesday May 20, 2020

ADDIS ABABA, May 19 (Xinhua) — Djibouti’s Ministry of Health has announced 117 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in the Horn of Africa nation to 1,518 as of Tuesday morning.

The Djiboutian Ministry of Health, in a statement issued on early Tuesday disclosed that from a total of 813 people who were tested over the last 24 hours, some 117 were tested positive for the virus.

The ministry also announced that some 1,018 people who have been infected with the COVID-19 have recovered as of the stated period, of whom 46 of the COVID-19 patients recovered over the past 24-hours period.

Djibouti has so far conducted a total of about 18,345 COVID-19 tests, according to the Djibouti Ministry of Health, which has reported seven COVID-19 deaths so far.

Djibouti reported its first COVID-19 case on March 18.

The Red Sea nation, which lies on a key location connecting the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden, hosts a number of foreign military bases.

Somalia says will abide by ICJ maritime case delay

Somalia says will abide by ICJ maritime case delaysharethis sharing button


Source: Hiiraan Online, Wednesday May 20, 2020

 

MOGADISHU (HOL) – Somalia will abide by the ICJ determination to further defer the maritime case with Kenya despite its earlier objection, deputy Prime Minister Mahdi Gulaid has said.

Responding to the announcement by the Court to grant Kenya a further 10 months extension, Gulaid said Somalia will abide by the court’s decision.

“Our argument was based on justice delayed justice denied and call for peaceful and just hearing of the case that paves way for fairness to the people of Somalia.” The Deputy Prime Minister said.

The international Court of Justice announced this week the oral hearings in the maritime case which had earlier been delayed two times will now be held in March 15, 2021. By then a new administration will be in place in Somalia.

In its response to Kenya’s request earlier, Somalia objected further delays and instead proposed the case be conducted via video conference.

“Somalia respectfully submits that the appropriate manner to accommodate the public health concerns raised by Kenya as well as the interests of justice of justice, is not to postpone the oral hearings but rather to conduct them  by video conference,” Somalia said in its submission.

The case was first set for hearing in June 2019 but was delayed to October and subsequently to June 2020.

Somaliland, Puntland lift khat import ban, relax COVID-19 restrictions

Somaliland, Puntland lift khat import ban, relax COVID-19 restrictions


Source: Hiiraan Online, Monday May 18, 2020

HARGEISA (HOL) – Puntland and Somaliland have lifted the ban on import of the leafy stimulant khat following a month-long suspension of trade in the product.

The two administrations had separately banned the import and trade of the product in April following the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. Authorities in Puntland even confiscated and burned khat which had been smuggled into the state last month.
Statements from both Puntland and Somaliland said traders could now be allowed to import khat from Ethiopia but must adhere to health measures regarding COVID-19.

The announcement from Somaliland came as it marked 29th anniversary since it declared self-rule from Somalia in 1991.

Meanwhile Puntland Monday announced it would further relax restrictions imposed to curb the spread of COVID-19 ahead of Eid-Al-Fitr celebrations.

The state said it would ease movement of persons and opened its borders which it closed last month. Over 130 people have tested positive for COVID-19.