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Horn of Africa
Source: UN, 20 September 2023
Civilians continuing paying a heavy price as the “senseless violence” between rival militaries continues in Sudan, the UN’s political affairs chief said on Wednesday.
Eight dead as Kenyan military helicopter crashes near Somalia border
Source: Kenyan security agents told the press anonymously that all military personnel and crew on board the helicopter died.
Published On 19 Sep 202319 Sep 2023
A military helicopter crash in Kenya near the border with Somalia has killed at least eight people, officials said Tuesday.
It was not immediately clear what caused the crash in the county of Lamu in coastal Kenya. Kenyan defense forces operate in the area to help deter the al-Qaida-linked al-Shabab group, based across the border in Somalia.
The Department of Defense (DoD) said the Air Force helicopter crashed while on night patrol.
“A Board of Inquiry has been constituted and dispatched to the scene to establish the cause of the crash,” the statement added.
Security agents speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorised to speak to reporters told The Associated Press that all military personnel and crew on board the helicopter died.
But the DoD which said it “condole(s) with the families of the crew” did not mention how many people were killed.
Kenyan troops are also in Somalia under the African Union Transition Mission in Somalia to help in fighting al-Shabab. The Kenyan forces deployed to Somalia in 2011, but there are now plans to withdraw the multinational forces as Somali troops take over responsibility for their country’s security.
Al-Shabab has increased attacks in Kenya in recent months, killing dozens of people in the border region as the rebels feel pressure from a Somali military offensive launched last year after the election of Hassan Sheikh Mohamud as president in May.
Italy passes tougher measures to deter migrant arrivals
Source: Reuters, Tuesday September 19, 2023
Migrants rescued at sea wait, after disembarking from a vessel, on the Sicilian island of Lampedusa, Italy, September 18, 2023. (Reuters)
ROME: The Italian government, struggling with a surge in arriving migrants, on Monday passed measures to lengthen the time they can be detained and ensure more people who have no legal right to stay are repatriated, government officials said.
The move came after almost 10,000 migrants reached the southern Italian island of Lampedusa last week, dealing a blow to the credibility of right-wing Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, who won office last year vowing to curb illegal immigration.
Meloni said at the start of a cabinet meeting on the situation that migrants awaiting repatriation should be detained for an initial six months, extendable to up to 18, up from three months now.
“That will be all the time needed not only to make the necessary assessments, but also to proceed with the repatriation of those who do not qualify for international protection,” Meloni said in her introductory speech.
Government sources said the cabinet approved that measure shortly afterwards, as well as the creation of more detention centers in remote areas. Meloni said Italy needed to increase the capacity of such facilities as they had been weakened by “years of immigrationist policies.”
Under Italian law, migrants facing repatriation can be held if they cannot be immediately expelled. Officials say a majority of migrants head to Italy for economic reasons and are therefore not eligible for asylum.
Past efforts to hold migrants have largely failed, with those detained repeatedly breaking out of centers and often heading straight to wealthier northern European countries.
Meloni visited Lampedusa on Sunday with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, who promised a 10-point EU action plan, but the measures resembled previous initiatives that have failed to make much impact.
An agreement struck in July between the EU and Tunisia, from where many of the migrants set sail, has yet to take effect.
Almost 130,000 migrants have arrived in Italy so far this year, according to government data, nearly double the figure for the same period of 2022. The migrants have come from countries including Guinea, Ivory Coast, Tunisia, Egypt, Burkina Faso, Bangladesh and Pakistan.
The government’s latest move to stem the migrant flow was condemned by the opposition and rights groups.
The Italian Coalition for Civil Rights and Liberties (CILD) described the detention centers as “black holes” where serious violations of fundamental rights take place, adding that they are expensive and inefficient.
In April, the Italian parliament approved measures to create new migrant centers for people waiting to hear the outcome of asylum applications, as well as more detention facilities for those facing expulsion.
As part of the package, it set aside around 20 million euros ($21.3 million) to fund it over a two-year period. ($1 = 0.9379 euros)
EU suspends funding to World Food Program in Somalia over aid theft
Source: AA, Wednesday September 20, 2023
The European Union (EU) has suspended funding for the World Food Program (WFP) in Somalia after a UN investigation that discovered “widespread theft” and misuse of aid meant to avert famine in the country.
“In Somalia, WFP has been forced to end life-saving aid for 2.6 million people. This is what a funding crisis means: no $$, no food,” WFP chief Cindy McCain said in a brief statement posted on X, previously known as Twitter, on Tuesday.
The WFP or the EU mission in Somalia has yet to issue an official statement regarding the aid suspension.
According to the UN data, the EU has provided more than $7 million in humanitarian aid to the Horn of Africa region.
Acknowledging the possibility of the aid diversion, the Somali Disaster Management Agency (SoDMA) on Tuesday issued a statement, reiterating its commitment to investigate the findings of a recent internal UN report.
The UN and the Somali government have formed a joint task force to devise a collective strategy to reduce aid diversion and, ultimately, deepen the impact and efficacy of humanitarian assistance.
“The preliminary findings of the UN report highlight weaknesses within the current system of humanitarian distribution; therefore, we should strive for a new approach that ensures transparency, reduces multiple layers of subcontracting, and builds local and government ownership in the process, “said Commissioner SoDMA Mahamud Moalim.
Famine was averted in Somalia due to the collective efforts of the Somali government, international partners, and Somali communities at home and abroad, he said, adding that Mogadishu had not received specific data on the locations, amounts, and agencies involved in the alleged aid diversion when the UN provided a summary of the key findings and recommendations in July of this year.
This comes just hours after the WFP’s Somalia office announced that the country has pulled back from the brink of starvation, showing the impact of humanitarian assistance and rains. “But 4.3 million people, 1/4 of the population, are still trapped in protracted crisis-level hunger or worse – putting lives at risk. More support is urgently needed.”
Somalia is one of the worst drought-affected countries in the region, experiencing the worst drought in more than four decades with 8.25 million people in need of humanitarian assistance.
Source: The UN 2022 Annual Report is now available. Click to learn more.
Source: The Australian Broadcasting Corporation posted on 13 September 2023 a six minute podcast titled “Is Egypt’s Water Supply Threatened by a Dam on the Nile?“
Now that the reservoir behind the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam has been filled, this discussion looks at the legitimacy of Egypt’s complaints that the structure will result to water shortages downstream.
Somalia takes lessons from frequent drought
Source: The EastAfrican, By ABDULKADIR KHALIF
Saturday September 16, 2023
President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud with Environment and Climate Change Minister Khadija Almakhzoumi launch a project to re-establish tree cover in Mogadishu, Somalia in October 2022. PHOTO | VILLA SOMALIA
Somalia may have been pummelled by drought for five straight seasons, but officials in Mogadishu say the people here won’t give up yet. And Khadija Mohamed Almakhzoumi, the Federal Minister for Environment and Climate Change said this week the three-year dry weather, sometimes punctuated with sudden floods, has forced her government to relook at its climate change policy.
Last month, the Federal Parliament passed the Environmental Management Bill, setting the stage for Somalia’s first ever policy on a ‘just transition’ in climate change. The idea, she argued, is to ensure all climate-related transitions in Somalia borrow from best practices around the world, but by basing on local realities.
And the first step is to tie down aid support for communities to environmental conservation, requiring that donors engage in projects that safeguard, not damage the environment.
The Bill was endorsed by a partisan support in parliament, signalling an undivided attention on a law that could guide how the Federal Government and Federal Member states government future projects on energy, mining and extraction of hydrocarbons as well as the blue economy.
On other days, however, Somalia worries about daily problems brought by Al Shabaab, the militant group that has remained a security threat every year.
“Securing victory against Al Shabaab remains the cornerstone of our national priority to safeguard Somalia’s future,” Ms Almakhzoumi said on Thursday, in a statement.
“Yet, combatting climate change holds the second spot on our national agenda—a battle we cannot afford to lose.” Donor funding, she argued, was no longer luxury, but a necessity that should bring tangible benefits to ordinary people.
“In this context, international climate finance serves as a catalyst, enabling Somalia to implement adaptive strategies that are essential for its long-term resilience and stability.”
According to a study by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development Centre of Excellence for Countering Violent Extremism, there has been a nexus between climate-related disasters in the Horn of Africa and the threat of violent extremism. And Al Shabaab have often picked on those vulnerabilities to recruit or sow their ideologies, often by providing aid to the displaced or extorting aid deliverers.
Almakhzoumi did admit there is existential threat posed by erratic weather patterns and rampant environmental degradation, which go beyond merely affecting livelihoods. She argues that the escalating impacts of climate change have the capacity to exacerbate existing social and economic disparities, thus compromising national and regional stability and security.
But Somalia wasn’t always united on climate fight. With institutions broken from years of war and insecurity, even drafting laws were problematic in the past. Which is why she sees small wins in the way the Bill being endorsed without a hassle.
Such a cohesive strategy, she argued can help united levels of governmental institutions and civil society organisations with the people against climate change.
“Our shared vision has become a strong, collective force against the climate crisis, delivering one country with one agenda…” then she added: “Without robust action on the climate crisis, our strides toward development and security will ring hollow.”
Somalia is among Africa’s most punished country when it comes to climate-related disasters. Droughts and floods have combined with insecurity to displaced more than 4 million people out of the estimated 17 million, the highest ratio in the Horn of Africa, according to figures by the United Nations agencies.
The new law may be a policy shift, but she argued it also represents a paradigm shift. It localises environmental justice, what she called socially equitable climate action.
Last year, President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud said in his inauguration speech that counterterrorism and climate change will be at the centre of his rebuilding strategy.
“Climate change has shifted from being a remote possibility to a clear and immediate threat requiring swift, concentrated action,” Mohamud had said in his inaugural speech in May last year.
Filling of Grand Renaissance Dam on the Nile complete, Ethiopia says
Source: Aljazeera 10 September 2023, , The Egyptian foreign ministry condemns the move, calling Ethiopia’s filling of the dam ‘illegal’.
Published On 10 Sep 202310 Sep 2023
Ethiopia has announced that it has filled its Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) on the Nile, which has been the source of a long-running water dispute with downstream countries Egypt and Sudan.
The announcement on Sunday came just a fortnight after the three countries resumed negotiations, after a lengthy break, on an agreement that takes account of the water needs of all three.
Source: UN, 6 September 2023
Amplified by wildfires and desert dust fanned by climate change, more frequent heatwaves are leading to a sharp drop in air quality and human health, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said in a new report on Wednesday.
7 September 2023
Source: UN, 7 September, 2023, Transitioning to renewable energy is the key to securing humanity’s survival, as “without renewables, there can be no future”, according to UN Secretary-General António Guterres, ahead of the International Day of Clean Air for Blue Skies, marked on 7 September.
Source: African Arguments published on 4 September 2023 a commentary titled “Somalia’s State-building as the Elite’s Perverse Incentive” by Najib Ahmed.
The 2022 Corruption Perceptions Index has again placed Somalia at the bottom of the list. The author charges the Hassan Sheikh Mohamoud government with continuing a long history of corruption and nepotism in Somalia.
Source: The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) published on 7 September 2023 a detailed account titled “Sudan Situation Report.”
The report documents the humanitarian requirements for Sudan as a result of the ongoing conflict between the Sudan Armed Forces and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces and steps taken by the international community to meet those needs. For the first time since the conflict began in mid-April, humanitarian convoys reached North Darfur and South Darfur.
UNOCHA noted that it has received in 2023 $676 million in funding for Sudan. The United States has provided $380 million of the amount or well over half.
Somalia signs CTBT, “Testament to unwavering commitment to peace, security”
Monday September 11, 2023
The Federal Republic of Somalia signed the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty on 8 September in a signing ceremony in New York, bringing the total number of signatures to 187.
The event was attended by Abukar Dahir Osman, Permanent Representative of the Federal Republic of Somalia to the United Nations, who signed on behalf of his country, and David Nanopoulos, Chief of the Treaty Section of the UN Office of Legal Affairs.
The move comes after the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the East African state, Abshir Omar Jama Huruse made a pledge to sign the Treaty at the high-level opening of the CTBT Science and Technology Conference in Vienna on 19 June 2023. The biennial event brought together over 2,000 researchers, scientists, technologists, academics, members of civil society, and representatives of States Signatories from around the world.
“We understand the signing the CTBT is not just a symbolic gesture but a testament to our unwavering dedication to global peace and security.” Abshir Omar Jama Huruse, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the East African State.
Robert Floyd, the Executive Secretary of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO), who travelled to Somalia in February 2023, said by signing this Treaty the country is “adding its voice to the global call for an end to nuclear testing.”
“I am deeply grateful to Somalia for stepping forward and bringing Africa closer to complete adherence to the CTBT. The region’s leadership in nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament is highly commendable.” Robert Floyd, CTBTO Executive Secretary.
To date, 50 out of 54 regional States have ratified the CTBT. Africa is also home to 38 of the CTBT’s International Monitoring System (IMS) facilities.
During the visit to Somalia in February, Floyd met with the country’s Prime Minister Hamza Abdi Barre, and Minister Jama Huruse, who conveyed a strong commitment to the CTBT. He also engaged in discussions with Somalia’s Justice Minister Hassan Moalim, Minister for Environment and Climate Change, Khadija Mohamed, and Speaker of Parliament, Sheikh Adan Mohamed Nur.
The United Nations Under-Secretary-General of Disarmament Affairs, Izumi Nakamitsu sent a message to mark the momentous occasion:
“The full potential of the CTBTO will only be realized through the CTBT’s entry into force.”
Izumi Nakamitsu, UN Under-Secretary-General and High Representative for Disarmament Affairs
Galmudug President, NISA chief visit a recently liberated town in Galgadud region
Source: Hiiraan Online, Monday September 11, 2023
Dhusamareb (HOL) – The President of Galmudug Regional State, Ahmed Abdi Kariye, accompanied by the Minister of Defense, Abdulkadir Mohamed Noor, and the Chief of the National Intelligence and Security Agency (NISA), Mahad Mohamed Salad, arrived in El-Garas, a small strategic town in the Galgadud region on Monday.
Government forces, supported by local militia, successfully recaptured El-Garas, which is situated 40 km from the historic district of El-bur, without encountering any resistance.
Federal and regional authorities have commended the joint efforts in liberating several areas east of Galgadud. President Ahmed Abdi Kariye emphasized that military operations would continue until the group is eliminated.
However, on Monday, two Galmudug lawmakers and one civilian were killed in a roadside explosion in El-Garas town. MP Mohamed Mohamud Ahmed (Mohamed Yare), a member of the Galmudug Parliament, and Abdullahi Ibrahim Shaaciye, a member of the Dhusamareb Local Council, had arrived in the town to visit the troops who had retaken the town from al-Shabab.
El-Garas is a small town situated on the road between Dhusamareb and El-bur that has remained under al-Shabab’s control for several decades. The recapture of El-Garas by government and local forces marks a significant step toward regaining control of the El-bur district.
Source: The Middle East Institute published on 5 September 2023 an analysis titled “No News on the GERD Negotiations Is Bad News” by Mirette F. Mabrouk.
Following a hiatus of two years, recent talks in Cairo involving Ethiopia, Egypt, and Sudan on differences concerning the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam on the Blue Nile ended with no tangible progress. The UAE attempted to broker the most recent agreement by promising $20 billion of investment in all three countries.
Source: Reuters published on 6 September 2023 an article titled “US Targets Deputy Leader of Sudan’s RSF Over Rights Abuses” by Michelle Nichols.
The United States has sanctioned Abdelrahim Hamdan Dagalo, deputy leader of Sudan’s paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) and brother of RSF leader Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, for serious human rights abuses in Sudan. The charges stem from the ongoing atrocities in the Darfur region of Sudan. The financial sanctions may have minimal impact as the deputy leader likely has few, if any, financial ties to the United States.
The U.S. Department of the Treasury issued the official announcement of the sanctions on 6 September 2023 titled “Treasury Sanctions Sudanese Paramilitary
Ethiopian federal troops accused of killing civilians
Source: BBC, Kalkidan Yibeltal
Thursday September 7, 2023
An Ethiopian opposition group has accused government forces of killing dozens of civilians in the restive Amhara region where fighting between local militias and the army continues to be reported.
In a statement, the Enat party said 29 civilians, including children and the elderly, were killed near their homes by government troops in a small town called Majete.
At least 20 civilians were killed in drone strikes in two other areas in the region, the party added.
The BBC has not been able to independently confirm the claims and there hasn’t been any response to the accusations from the government.
Violence broke out in Amhara after months of simmering tensions over controversial decisions to disband a paramilitary regional force – a move opponents say would leave the region vulnerable to attacks.
In early August local militias entered most of the region’s major cities and briefly controlled an airport.
Urban combat claimed several lives and a large number of prisoners were freed.
Relative normalcy appears to have returned to the cities after government troops pushed the militias out.
Last week, the army’s head Field Martial Berhanu Jula declared armed groups operating in the region were no longer a threat. However, fighting continues to be reported this week in or around several small towns and villages.
An ongoing internet shutdown has made it difficult to get information about the exact magnitude of the fighting.
QBA meeting with Somali PM explores Qatari investments in agricultural, livestock sector
Source: Gulf Times, Thursday September 7, 2023
Somalia’s Prime Minister, Hamza Abdi Barre, has called on Qatar to invest in his country’s agricultural, fisheries, and livestock sectors during a meeting with officials of the Qatari Businessmen Association (QBA) held in Doha Wednesday.
QBA Chairman HE Sheikh Faisal bin Qassim al-Thani welcomed Barre and his accompanying delegation in the presence of Somalia’s Minister of Finance Bihi Iman Aji; Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation Absher Omar Jama; Minister of Internal Security Mohamed Sheikh Ali; and ambassador Ron Saeed Qarsheen, chargé d’affaires of the Somali Embassy to the State of Qatar.
Also attending the meeting were QBA board member Saud al-Mana; QBA members Sheikh Mohamed bin Faisal al-Thani, Ashraf Abu Issa, Ihsan al-Khiyami, and Dr Mohamed Althaf, as well as QBA deputy general manager Sarah Abdallah.
The meeting explored Somalia’s agriculture, commercial, real estate, and industrial sectors, which are open for public or private investment.
Somalia has joined the East African market, which has more than 300mn consumers. This emphasises Somalia’s need to attract Qatari investors to establish projects that can support the country’s development and create job opportunities for its youth.
Barre said both countries have “distinguished and strong relations,” citing Qatar’s contribution to building Somali economic, investment, and development co-operation institutions. The prime minister said he expects these areas will witness “greater co-operation in the future.”
With a population of 14mn, Barre said, Somalia has enormous livestock wealth exceeding 40mn heads of cattle, in addition to more than 8.5mn hectares of fertile land and a huge coastline spanning 3,700km with a large fish wealth – all of which are available for Qatari investments.
Barre also said Somalia imports milk and its products despite the abundance in its livestock sector. He said this underlines the country’s need for food factories, especially in the dairy sector.
Sheikh Faisal said Qatar and Somalia have “strong historical relations,” which are “based on mutual respect, common understanding, and collaboration.”
“The success of any investor in the beginning will open the way for the rest of the investors,” Sheikh Faisal stressed.
Sheikh Faisal also welcomed Barre’s invitation to visit Mogadishu to study investment opportunities in the real estate, insurance, tourism, agriculture, and other economic sectors.
African leaders call for new global taxes to fund climate change action
Source: Reuters, By Duncan Miriri
Thursday September 7, 2023
African leaders on Wednesday proposed new global taxes and reforms to international financial institutions to help fund climate change action in a declaration that will form the basis of their negotiating position at November’s COP28 summit.
The Nairobi Declaration capped the three-day Africa Climate Summit in Kenya, which was dominated by discussions of how to mobilise financing to adapt to increasingly extreme weather, conserve natural resources and develop renewable energy.
Despite suffering from some of the worst impacts of climate change, Africa only receives about 12% of the nearly $300 billion in annual financing it needs to cope, according to researchers.
While organisers emphasised market-based solutions such as carbon credits in the lead-up to the summit, the final declaration was heaviest on demands that major polluters and global financial institutions commit more resources to help poorer nations and make it easier for them to borrow at affordable rates.
It urged world leaders “to rally behind the proposal for a global carbon taxation regime including a carbon tax on fossil fuel trade, maritime transport and aviation, that may also be augmented by a global financial transaction tax”.
It said implementing such measures at a global level would ensure large-scale financing for climate-related investments and insulate the issue of tax raises from geopolitical and domestic political pressures.
About two dozen countries impose taxes on carbon, according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), but the idea of a global carbon tax regime has never gained much traction.
On Tuesday, Kenyan President William Ruto cited proposals in the European Union for a financial transaction tax (FTT) as a potential model.
After the European Commission proposed an FTT in 2011, some conservation groups said the money should finance environmental priorities.
The commission’s proposal never won the unanimous approval required from the European Council to become law, although some member states have enacted their own FTTs.
INTERNATIONAL FINANCIAL SYSTEM
African countries will take the proposals in the Nairobi Declaration to a U.N. climate conference later this month and the COP28 summit which begins in the United Arab Emirates in late November.
Joab Bwire Okanda, a senior advisor at the Christian Aid charity, said the call for a global carbon tax was welcome but that “to make polluters really pay, false solutions like carbon credits that allow polluters a free ride without taking meaningful action need to be consigned to the dustbin”.
Some activists say the credits, which allow polluters to offset emissions by funding green activities, are a pretext for big polluters to keep emitting carbon dioxide.
Ruto said governments, development banks, private investors and philanthropists committed a combined $23 billion in all to green projects over the three days, including hundreds of millions to a major carbon markets initiative.
But African leaders acknowledged that those kinds of investments only scratch the surface of the continent’s financial needs and said more systemic changes were needed.
For example, African countries say they are forced to pay borrowing costs that are five to eight times higher than wealthy countries, leading to recurrent debt crises and preventing them from spending more to respond to climate change.
The declaration called on multilateral development banks to increase concessional lending to poorer countries and for the “better deployment” of the IMF’s special drawing rights mechanism.
Other proposals included measures to help indebted countries avoid default such as instruments that can grant 10-year grace periods and extend sovereign debt tenor.
Some analysts said the summit had not focused enough on how to help Africans adapt to extreme weather.
“Many communities bearing the brunt of increasing floods and droughts, while also at risk of conflict, are disappointed that there wasn’t more emphasis on ensuring that green investments trickle down to them,” said Nazanine Moshiri, a senior analyst at the International Crisis Group think-tank.
Additional reporting by Susanna Twidale in London; Writing by Aaron Ross; Editing by Alison Williams and Emelia Sithole-Matarise
Eritrea rejects Amnesty’s Tigray war crimes allegations
Source: BBC, Thursday September 7, 2023
Amnesty International accused Eritrea’s military of continuing war crimes in Tigray despite a peace deal signed last November
Eritrea’s government has denied Amnesty International’s allegations that its soldiers committed war crimes and crimes against humanity in northern Ethiopia’s Tigray region despite a peace deal signed last November.
Eritrean soldiers had backed federal forces in the two-year civil war.
Eritrea’s Permanent Mission to the United Nations on 5 September said that Amnesty International’s allegations against the Eritrean Defence Forces (EDF) “have no substance or merit”.
The ministry added that the report “suffered from its flawed methodology” and was “filled with disgusting lies and distortions that are a futile attempt to disparage the Eritrean people”.
“Amnesty conducted no research. Rather, it chose to use its platform to regurgitate unsubstantiated allegations against Eritrea’s military personnel, taken from third-party sources, faceless, nameless, in continuation of its libellous decade-long campaign against the State of Eritrea,” the statement said.
The ministry also accused the rights group of trying to promote hate and incite a wedge between Eritrea and Ethiopia.
Eritrean troops backed Ethiopia’s army in its fight against the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) between November 2020 and last year.