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Horn of Africa

 

8 killed after tropical storm makes landfall in Somalia

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Source: Tuesday November 24, 2020



MOGADISHU, Nov. 23 (Xinhua) — At least eight people were killed and 70,000 others affected by tropical cyclone, Gati, which made a landfall in Somalia on Sunday evening causing heavy rains and windstorms, the UN humanitarian agency said on Monday.

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said an unknown number of people have been injured, property and infrastructure have been damaged while 15,000 people have been displaced in Xaafuun and Hurdiya villages.

OCHA said the tropical cyclone Gati made landfall on Sunday at around 10 p.m. in Puntland’s Bari region.Ads By “The heavy rains and strong winds triggered flash floods along coastal and inland areas. The hardest hit were 13 villages in Iskushuban district,” said OCHA in its latest update on the cyclone.

“Rapid assessments are being planned to determine actual needs and humanitarian partners are mobilizing pre-positioned stocks to assist affected people,” it said.

OCHA reported massive damage to property and roads, noting that telecommunication services have also been affected, especially in Xaafuun, Hurdiya and Baarmadowe.

The destruction comes after the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO)-Somalia Water and Land Information Management (SWALIM) warned on Sunday that the severity of the storm could increase as it passes over Somalia.

According to SWALIM, the storm poses an immediate threat to the shipping lane that links Somalia and Gulf states.

An Economic Explanation for Ethiopia’s Conflict?

An Economic Explanation for Ethiopia’s Conflict?

Source: Foreign Policy posted on 19 November 2020 a commentary titled “Tigray’s War Against Ethiopia Isn’t About Autonomy.  It’s About Economic Power” by Kassahun Melesse, Oregon State University.

In my continuing effort to provide different points of view on the current crisis in Ethiopia, this account argues that the war is ultimately a battle for control of Ethiopia’s economy, its natural resources, and the money it receives from international donors and lenders.  0 commentsLabels: Abiy AhmedaidAmhara RegionEritreaEthiopiafederalismOromiareligionTigray RegionTPLF

Should the US Try to Negotiate with Al-Shaba

Should the US Try to Negotiate with Al-Shabaab?

 Source: Lawfare posted on 22 November 2020 a commentary titled “No Shortcuts to Negotiating with Al-Shabaab” by Tricia Bacon, American University. 

The author argues there is merit in exploring negotiations with the Al-Qaeda-linked al-Shabaab organization in Somalia even though all past efforts have failed.    0 commentsLabels: al-Qaedaal-ShabaabAMISOMcounterterrorismQatarSomaliaTalibanTrump administrationUS

Averting a Humanitarian Disaste

Averting a Humanitarian Disaster in Ethiopia

 

Source: Refugees International posted on 23 November 2020 a brief titled “Caught in the Crossfire: Averting Further Humanitarian Disaster in Ethiopia” by Hardin Lang, Sarah Miller, and David Del Conte.

The authors call for a negotiated ceasefire, establishment of a monitoring mechanism in the conflict area, access for aid delivery, the launch of a large scale aid operation, and commencement of a recovery effort to avert further humanitarian disaster.0 commentsLabels: Abiy AhmedAfar RegionAmhara RegiondroughtEritreaEthiopiaIDPsOromiarefugeesSomali RegionSomaliaSudanTigray RegionTPLFUNHCR

Somalia’s Strongest Tropical Cyclone Ever Recorded Could Drop 2 Years’ Rain In 2 Days

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Souce: npr, Monday November 23, 2020


Tropical Cyclone Gati, which made landfall in Somalia on Sunday, is the region’s strongest cyclone ever recorded.NOAA Hurricane Weather Research and Forecast System


The strongest tropical cyclone ever measured in the northern Indian Ocean has made landfall in eastern Africa, where it is poised to drop two years’ worth of rain in the next two days.

Tropical Cyclone Gati made landfall in Somalia on Sunday with sustained winds of around 105 mph. It’s the first recorded instance of a hurricane-strength system hitting the country. At one point before landfall, Gati’s winds were measured at 115 mph.”Gati is the strongest tropical cyclone that has been recorded in this region of the globe; further south than any category 3-equivalent cyclone in the North Indian Ocean,” said Sam Lillo, a researcher with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Physical Sciences Laboratory.

Its intensification from about 40 mph to 115 mph was “the largest 12-hour increase on record for a tropical cyclone in the Indian Ocean,” Lillo added.

One reason Gati intensified so quickly is because the size of the cyclone itself is quite small, Lillo said. The warm water in the area coupled with low wind shear also contributed to the rapid strengthening, Accuweather reported.

“With climate change we’re seeing warmer ocean temperatures and a more moist atmosphere that’s leading to a greater chance of rapid intensification for tropical cyclones like Gati,” meteorologist and climate journalist Eric Holthaus told NPR. “Gati’s strength is part of that broader global pattern of stronger storms.”

And those storms are leading to a lot more rain. Northern Somalia usually gets about 4 inches of rain per year; data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration show Gati could bring 8 inches over the next two days — “two years worth of rainfall in just two days,” Holthaus said. Some isolated areas could see even more than that.

#Cyclone #GATI about to landfall in #Somalia right now. A very powerful cyclone…

The true intensity of this storm is unknown with official sources quoting vastly different strength.

The structure of this storm suggests equivalent cat 2 or cat 3 hurricane. pic.twitter.com/dU3VhecNL0— Scott Duncan (@ScottDuncanWX) November 22, 2020

“The system may impact Socotra, Somalia, Yemen and western Oman from [Sunday] night into Monday and potentially Tuesday, with the main threat being heavy rain and flash flooding,” said AccuWeather’s lead international meteorologist, Jason Nicholls, told the site.

A United Nations alert warned the storm posed an immediate threat to the marine shipping lane that links Somalia and the Gulf states.

Gati is much more intense than the previous strongest storm to hit Somalia — a 2018 cyclone that brought winds of 60 mph.”The system may impact Socotra, Somalia, Yemen and western Oman from [Sunday] night into Monday and potentially Tuesday, with the main threat being heavy rain and flash flooding,” said AccuWeather’s lead international meteorologist, Jason Nicholls, told the site.

A United Nations alert warned the storm posed an immediate threat to the marine shipping lane that links Somalia and the Gulf states.

Gati is much more intense than the previous strongest storm to hit Somalia — a 2018 cyclone that brought winds of 60 mph.

Sudan boycotts talks over controversial mega-dam in Ethiopia

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Source: Independent, Sunday November 22, 2020
By Kate Ng



Sudan has refused to attend talks between Nile Valley countries over a controversial mega-dam in Ethiopia.

The Ethiopian Grand Renaissance dam on the Blue Nile is the source of severe tensions among the nations, with Egypt expressing fears for years that it would dramatically threaten water supplies downstream.

Sudanese irrigation and water resources minister Yasser Abbas said in a statement on Saturday that the current approach to reaching a tripartite agreement on the filling and operation of the dam had not yielded results.

He called on the African Union to do more to “facilitate the negotiation and bridge the gap between the three parties”.

It marked the first time Sudan boycotted talks with Ethiopia and Egypt. However, this could throw the complicated talks off track.On Thursday, the foreign and irrigation ministers of Sudan, Ethiopia and Egypt held a virtual meeting, two weeks after they failed to agree on a new framework for negotiations.

After the meeting two weeks ago, Sudan said it “cannot keep negotiating without an end and must guarantee the safety of its water installations”.

South Africa, which heads the African Union, did not provide any immediate comment on Sudan’s boycott, nor did Egypt or Ethiopia. It was unclear when they would restart negotiations.

The project would create Africa’s largest hydroelectric dam, costing $4.6bn (£3.5bn). But Egypt and Sudan have opposed it, with the former calling it an existential threat amid worries it will reduce the country’s share of Nile waters.

Sudan has expressed concern about the effects on its own dams, though it stands to benefit from access to cheap electricity. Ethiopia has said the ambitious project will be an engine of development that will pull millions of people out of poverty.

But key questions remain about how much water Ethiopia would release downstream if a prolonged drought occurs, and how the three countries will resolve future disputes.

Ethiopia has rejected binding arbitration at the final stage of the project and refused a US-crafted deal in February. It went forward with the first stage of filling the dam’s huge reservoir, which prompted the US to suspend millions of dollars in aid to Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia.

Ethiopia was embroiled in a deadly internal conflict earlier this month, after its federal government launched a military attack on the northern Tigray region.

Ethiopian prime minister Abiy Ahmed launched military operations in Tigray after accusing local authorities of attacking a military camp and trying to loot military assets, which was denied by Tigray’s ruling party.

The war risks spiralling out of control and could pull in Ethiopia’s neighbours, including Sudan, Somalia and Eritrea. Over 35,500 Ethiopian refugees fled to Sudan due to the fighting.

Additional reporting by AP

Somali Foreign Minister sacked over Ethiopian conflict statement

Somali Foreign Minister sacked ‘over Ethiopian conflict statementlinkedin sharing button

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Source: Hiiraan Online, Thursday November 19, 2020

MOGADISHU (HOL) – Somalia’s Prime Minister Mohamed Roble has kicked out his Foreign Minister Ahmed Awad hours after the Ministry posted a statement on Twitter stating the country’s position on the ongoing g conflict in Ethiopia.

Information Minister Osman Dube told the state media SNTV Thursday Awad had been replaced with Mohamed Abdirizak Abukar.
He added the immediate former minister was subsequently appointed an ambassador but did not state to which country.

The Minister did not however make reference to the statement. Barely an hour after the statement appeared on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Twitter handle, it was pulled down and followed by the Minister’s remarks on his personal twitter account dismissing the statement.

But it now appears the statement may have sealed Awad’s fate.

In the statement, the Ministry said ‘Somalia calls for amicable resolution’ of the ongoing conflict in Ethiopia.

Awad was retained by Roble when he assumed office last month.

3rd Somalia-Turkey Medical Days begin in Mogadishu

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Source: Friday November 20, 2020

Turkish envoy congratulates young doctors ‘who demonstrated that science is possible
regardless of any challenge’

3rd Somalia-Turkey Medical Days begin in Mogadishu
Turkey’s Ambassador to Somalia Mehmet Yilmaz


MOGADISHU, Somalia —Turkey’s Ambassador to Somalia Mehmet Yilmaz on Thursday officially opened the third Somalia-Turkey Medical Days attended by medical professionals.

It was a “great pleasure to participate in the opening ceremony of the Third Somalia-Turkey Medical Days,” said Yilmaz, who opened the ceremony at the Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan Somalia Mogadishu Training and Research Hospital.
“During the event, young Somali doctors will present their academic studies. We congratulate those young talents who demonstrated that science is possible regardless of any challenge.”

The Turkish ambassador then paid a courtesy visit to Somalia’s Minister of Commerce and Industry Khalif Abdi Omar.

“We confirmed our shared goal to strengthen the cooperation between Turkish and Somali business circles as well as promoting reciprocal investments,” according to a statement by the Turkish Embassy.

“Trade facilitation and balance and also finalization of the Trade and Economic Partnership Agreement TEPA that will boost Somalia’s exports to Turkey,” it said.

Turkey has considerably contributed to improving better health care systems in Somalia in projects that include the construction of a hospital and training of medical students and doctors.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan officially opened the 200-bed Somalia-Turkey Training and Research Hospital in Mogadishu in 2015

Ethiopia: Elements of a Negotiated Settlement

Ethiopia: Elements of a Negotiated Settlement

 Source: Brookings published on 16 November 2020 a commentary titled “Averting Civil War in Ethiopia: It’s Time to Propose Elements of a Negotiated Settlement” by Zach Vertin.

The author proposes that the African Union, supported by the UN, key neighbors, EU, US, Gulf States, and China should propose the following elements as a solution to the Ethiopian crisis:

–Cessation of hostilities.

–Mutual acknowledgment of legitimacy of the Abiy Ahmed government in Addis Ababa and the Tigray regional government.  

–Hold a political dialogue on the terms and timing of national elections.  0 commentsLabels: Abiy AhmedAUChinacivil warEgyptelectionsEritreaEthiopiaEUGERDGulf StatesIsaias AfwerkiProsperity PartyTigray RegionTPLFUNUS

Ethiopia: Ethnic Factor in the Conflict

Improving Trump’s Sudan Deal

Improving Trump’s Sudan Deal

 Source: African Arguments posted on 18 November 2020 a commentary titled “Sudan: Trump’s Deal Could Be Disastrous.   Biden Can Fix It” by Matthew Lerichie.

The author argues that the Trump administration’s last minute deal before the U.S. election to pressure Sudan to recognize Israel in exchange for removal from the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism was full of missed opportunities and pitfalls.  The Biden administration could take steps to support Sudan Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok and, by extension, increase the prospects for a democratic transition in Sudan.0 commentsLabels: Abdalla HamdokBiden administrationcivil societydemocracyEgyptEthiopiaGERDhuman rightsIsraelNile watersSaudi ArabiaSouth SudanSudanTrump administrationUS

Ethiopia: Press Briefing with US Assistant Secretary of State and US Ambassado

Ethiopia: Press Briefing with US Assistant Secretary of State and US Ambassador

 Source: The U.S. Department of State held a teleconference on 19 November 2020 titled “Briefing with Assistant Secretary for African Affairs Tibor P. Nagy and U.S. Ambassador to Ethiopia Michael A. Raynor on the Situation in Ethiopia’s Tigray Region.”

In his opening remarks, Tibor Nagy stated: “We strongly urge an immediate de-escalation of tensions, a cessation of hostilities, and a return to peace.  The protection and security of all civilians is essential.  Our top priority is ensuring the welfare, protection, and security of U.S. citizens.”0 commentsLabels: Abiy Ahmedcease fireENDFEritreaEthiopiaethnicitygenocidemediationrefugeesSudanTigray RegionTPLFUS

Sudan’s Role in the Ethiopian Conflict

Sudan’s Role in the Ethiopian Conflict

 Source: Foreign Policy published on 14 November 2020 an analysis titled “Sudan Will Decide the Outcome of the Ethiopian Civil War” by Nizar Manek, a London-based journalist, and Mohamed Kheir Omer, a former member of the Eritrean Liberation Front.

This wide ranging and provocative piece argues that as Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed goes to war against the Tigray People’s Liberation Front, which held key positions in the former Ethiopian administration, Khartoum’s moves will determine whether the conflict remains a local affair or a regional conflagration.0 commentsLabels: Abdalla HamdokAbdel Fattah al-BurhanAbiy AhmedAfar Regional-ShabaabAmhara Regioncivil warDebretsion GebremichaelEgyptENDFEritreaEthiopiarefugeesSomaliaSudanTigray RegionTPLFUAE

Improving Trump’s Sudan Deal

Trump Trying to Exit Africa before He Exits Washington

Trump Trying to Exit Africa before He Exits Washington

 Source: The New York Times published on 18 November 2020 an article titled “Somalia Worries That a U.S. Withdrawal Will Be Disastrous” by Abdi Latif Dahir and Eric Schmitt.

The United States has been training an elite 850-member commando unit in Somalia to counter the al-Qaeda-linked al-Shabaab organization that is trying to topple the government of Somalia.  The Trump administration has said it wants to pull U.S. troops out of Somalia.  The article quotes several experts who say this would be a serious policy mistake.  0 commentsLabels: AFRICOMal-Qaedaal-ShabaabcounterterrorismDanabDjiboutidronesKenyamilitarySomaliaTrump administrationUS

African Union Statement on Situation in Ethiopia

African Union Statement on Situation in Ethiopia

Source: The African Union issued a statement on 9 November 2020

 The African Union issued a statement on 9 November 2020 concerning the situation in Ethiopia involving the movement of federal government troops into Tigray region.  AU Chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat called for the “immediate cessation of hostilities” and urged the parties to “engage in dialogue.”

This is the only reasonable action to take at this time

Somalia’s Upcoming Elections

Somalia’s Upcoming Elections

 Source: The International Crisis Group (ICG) published on 10 November 2020

The International Crisis Group (ICG) published on 10 November 2020 a report titled “Staving Off Violence around Somalia’s Elections.”

Somalia is in the throes of hurried preparations for parliamentary and presidential elections, which are slated for December 2020 and February 2021, respectively.  Though the parties agreed to proceed with indirect voting, they are struggling to prepare the polls. ICG warns that pushing forward with elections without adequate preparation could be risky.  0 commentsLabels: al-ShabaabAMISOMcivil societyclanselectionsHassan Ali KhairejihadiJubalandMohamed Abdullahi FarmajoPuntlandsecuritySomalia

What’s Happening in Ethiopia Is a Tragedy

What’s Happening in Ethiopia Is a Tragedy

 Source: The New York Times, 11 November 2020

The New York Times published on 11 November 2020 a letter to the editor titled “What’s Happening in Ethiopia Is a Tragedy” by Tsedale Lemma, editor in chief of the Addis Standard.

The author argues that Ethiopia is on the cusp of civil war, bringing devastation to both the country and the wider region.  Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s effort to bring together the nation in a process of democratization is over and much of the blame must rest with him.  0 commentsLabels: Abiy Ahmedcivil warelectionsEPRDFEthiopiagovernancestate of emergencyTigray RegionTPLF

Ethiopia claims big advance in Tigray, Amnesty reports mass killing

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Source: Reuters, Friday November 13, 2020
Ethiopia claims big advance in Tigray, Amnesty reports mass killing
A volunteer donates blood for the injured members of Ethiopia’s National Defense Forces (ENDF), at the stadium in Addis Ababa.© Reuters/TIKSA NEGERI


ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) – Ethiopia’s military has defeated local forces in the west of Tigray state, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said on Thursday, accusing his foes of atrocities during a week of fighting that threatens to destabilise the Horn of Africa.

Rights group Amnesty International said scores and possibly hundreds of civilians were stabbed and hacked to death in the region on Nov. 9, citing witnesses. It said it had not been able to independently confirm who was responsible, but said the witnesses had blamed fighters loyal to Tigray’s local leaders.

Air strikes and ground combat between government forces and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) have killed hundreds, sent refugees flooding into Sudan, stirred Ethiopia’s ethnic divisions and raised questions over the credentials of Abiy, Africa’s youngest leader who won a Nobel Peace Prize in 2019“The western region of Tigray has been liberated,” Abiy said in a tweet. The 44-year-old leader comes from the largest ethnic group the Oromo and once fought with the Tigrayans against neighbouring Eritrea.

With communications down and media barred, independent verification of the status of the conflict was impossible. Reuters was not able to confirm either side’s version of events or Amnesty’s reports of atrocities.

There are fears the conflict may draw in Eritrea, whose government signed a peace pact with Abiy two years ago but remains hostile to the Tigrayan leadership, and weaken Ethiopia’s role in an African Union (AU) force opposing Islamist militants in Somalia.

Major conflict could also hinder foreign investment in Ethiopia’s economy, which had clocked nearly double-digit annual growth for years before the coronavirus hit and is liberalizing, with multinationals particularly eyeing the telecoms sector.

‘GAPING WOUNDS’

Amnesty said that the people killed in the town of Mai Kadra in Tigray’s southwest on the night of Nov. 9 appeared to have been day labourers who were not involved in the fighting. It cited witnesses describing bodies with gaping wounds that appeared to have been inflicted with knives or machetes.

“This is a horrific tragedy,” it said in a statement.

“Amnesty International has not yet been able to confirm who was responsible … but has spoken to witnesses who said forces loyal to the TPLF were responsible for the mass killings, apparently after they suffered defeat from the federal EDF forces,” it said.

Tigray’s leader Debretsion Gebremichael, who chairs the TPLF, denied his forces were involved.

“This is unbelievable … this should be investigated,” Debretsion said in a text message to Reuters, accusing Abiy of “creating facts on [the] ground”.

There was no immediate response to the Amnesty report from the Ethiopian government.

REFUGEES FLEE

The TPLF, which rules the mountainous northern state of more than 5 million people, announced a state of emergency against what it termed an “invasion”.

Abiy accuses the TPLF of starting the conflict by attacking a federal military base and defying his authority. The Tigrayans say they have been persecuted during his two-year rule.

Abiy said some of his soldiers had been found dead in the town of Sheraro, shot with their legs and arms tied behind their back. “This kind of cruelty is heartbreaking,” he said.

He did not say how many bodies were found or provide proof. Reuters could not verify his allegation and there was no immediate response from the TPLF.

More than 11,000 Ethiopian refugees have crossed into Sudan since fighting started and aid agencies say the situation in Tigray is becoming dire. Even before the conflict, 600,000 people there were reliant on food aid.

The U.N. refugee agency’s representative in Ethiopia, Ann Encontre, told Reuters negotiations were under way with both sides for humanitarian corridors.

A “major emergency” may be brewing with so many people escaping to Sudan, she warned. Half of the refugees were children and some were wounded.

After taking office in 2018, Abiy was applauded for opening up a repressive political system, including freeing activists from jail and lifting bans on opposition political parties. He won his Nobel prize for the peace accord with Eritrea.

But his democratic transition was already waning even before the push on Tigray, experts say, including jailing a prominent opposition member and restricting media.

Abiy has so far resisted calls by the United Nations, the African Union and others for a ceasefire and talks.

The army said transitional rule would be set up in parts of Tigray and urged local forces to surrender.

In a wider push against the TPLF, Ethiopia’s parliament stripped 39 members, including Gebremichael, of immunity from prosecution.

Police said they had arrested 242 TPLF activists suspected of plotting attacks in Addis Ababa. Weapons including bombs and bullets were also confiscated, the city’s police chief said.

Also in the capital, volunteers lined up at a stadium to donate blood for injured armed forces members. Some waved the Ethiopian national flag.

Reporting by Giulia Paravicini, Khalid Abdelaziz in Khartoum, Nazanine Moshiri in Nairobi; Writing by Maggie Fick, Andrew Cawthorne and Alex Richardson; Editing by William Maclean and Steve Orlofsky

UN votes to crack down on Somalia’s al-Shabab extremists

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Source: AP, Friday November 13, 2020
United Nations Security Council
In this file photo, members of the United Nations Security Council vote on a resolution during a meeting on the situation in Syria, Saturday, April 14, 2018 at United Nations headquarters. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)


UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The U.N. Security Council voted Thursday to prevent the sale or shipment to Somalia of components of improvised explosive devices if there is “significant risk” they may be used to manufacture the often deadly devices that are increasingly being used in attacks by al-Shabab extremists.

It also urged the Somali government to keep cracking down on the militant group’s illegal financing methods that U.N. experts estimate raised over $21 million last year.

The resolution, adopted by a 13-0 vote with Russia and China abstaining, reaffirmed the arms embargo on Somalia and banned the resale or transfer of any weapons or military equipment sold or supplied to help develop Somalia’s National Security Forces and security sector.Al-Qaida-linked al-Shabab remains the most active and resilient extremist group in Africa, controlling parts of southern and central Somalia and often targeting checkpoints and other high-profile areas in the capital, Mogadishu. It has fired several mortars this year at the heavily defended international airport, where the U.S. Embassy and other missions are located.

In their latest report, experts monitoring the arms embargo and other sanctions against Somalia said: “The threat posed by al-Shabab to peace, security and stability in Somalia goes beyond the impact of the group’s conventional military action and asymmetric warfare to include sophisticated extortion and `taxation’ systems, child recruitment practices and an effective propaganda machine.”

The panel said al-Shabab raised more than the $21 million it spent last year on fighters, weapons and intelligence. Its investigation found the extremist group generated approximately $13 million in just four case studies — a “taxation” checkpoint in Lower Juba, its extortion of businesses in Kismayo, two bank accounts associated with the group’s collection of taxes on imports into the port in Mogadishu, and “zakat” — an annual religious obligation.

The resolution adopted by the Security Council “notes with concern al-Shabab’s ability to generate revenue and launder, store and transfer resources.”

It calls on the Somali government “to continue working with Somali financial authorities, private sector financial institutions and the international community to identify, assess and mitigate money laundering and terrorist financing risks.” It encouraged the government to consider a national identification program to help reduce the risks.

The council condemned al-Shabab attacks in Somalia and beyond, saying the group “continues to pose a serious threat to the peace, security and stability of Somalia and the region, particularly through its increased use of improvised explosive devices.” It also expressed “grave concern” at the presence of affiliates linked to the Islamic State extremist group in Somalia.

The resolution demands that countries prevent the sale, supply or transfer of a list of components including explosive materials, explosive precursors, explosive-related equipment and related technology “if there is sufficient evidence to demonstrate that the item(s) will be used, or a significant risk they may be used, in the manufacture in Somalia of improvised explosive devices.”

It requires any country supplying an item on the list to Somalia to notify the committee monitoring U.N. sanctions at least 15 days in advance with details and the purpose for the sale or transfer.

Russia’s deputy U.N. ambassador, Anna Evstigneeva, noted that the amendments “meant to optimize the arms embargo” were made at the Somali government’s request and expressed hope that “they will support normalization and reduce the terrorist threat coming, in the first place, from Al-Shabaab.”

But she said Russia abstained because the resolution didn’t take on board “our principled and duly substantiated proposals,” including references to Djibouti and Eritrea, whose relations pose “no threat to international peace and security,” and to human rights in Somalia, which should be dealt with by the Geneva-based Human Rights Council.

China’s deputy U.N. ambassador, Dai Bing, said Beijing abstained because the council didn’t accept its amendments calling for the council to explore benchmarks for assessing the lifting of the arms embargo on Somalia weren’t accepted.

“The current embargo has been a serious impediment to enhance security capacity of the Somali government,” he said. “The text fails to make a deep response to the strong desire of the Somali government to have the arms embargo lifted.”

U.S. political coordinator Rodney Hunter welcomed the continuation of U.N. sanctions and the extension of the work of the panel of experts for another 12 months.

He said every council member has committed to uphold the arms embargo “in the interest of securing peace and stability both in Somalia, and in the broader region.” To achieve that, Hunter said, the United States also supports “the increased focus on thwarting Al-Shabaab’s exploitation of the financial system.”

‘No way’ to get vital humanitarian aid into Ethiopia’s Tigray region, UN warns

‘No way’ to get vital humanitarian aid into Ethiopia’s Tigray region, UN warns

UNICEF/BalasundaramA road through the mountains in Tigray, Ethiopia. (file photo)    12 November 2020Peace and Security

With telephone lines still cut and transport links disrupted, it is impossible for humanitarians to get vital supplies into Ethiopia’s Tigray region or assess evolving humanitarian needs, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) has said. 

“With road closed, food, health and other emergency supplies have currently no way to make it into Tigray making prepositioning or re-stocking impossible”, the UN emergency relief agency said in an update issued on Thursday. x

“Telephone lines remain cut making information flow and corroboration of media reports very difficult for the humanitarian community, as well as to monitor population movement and additional humanitarian needs”, it added. 

In addition, banks are reportedly closed, and vehicles banned from the roads in and out of the region. There are already shortages of basic commodities, impacting the most vulnerable first.  

Violence erupted last week in Tigray involving federal and local forces, following the reported takeover of an army base in the Tigrayan capital, Mekelle, after which the Prime Minister ordered a military offensive.   

In a statement issued at that time, the Secretary-General called for “immediate measures to de-escalate tensions and ensure a peaceful resolution to the dispute”.  

Concern for civilians 

OCHA has also voiced concern for the protection of civilians, especially children, women, elderly persons and the disabled, amidst the hostilities.  

“Existing child protection risks are likely to be exacerbated by the ongoing hostilities”, it added, noting the high risk of children being separated from their parents or caregivers, which would expose them to abuse and exploitation. 

There are also worries over damage to crops by desert locusts, worsening food insecurity, and the spread of COVID-19.  

Committed to staying 

OCHA also reiterated that the UN and its partner organizations are “committed to staying and delivering humanitarian assistance” and that a response plan for Tigray region is being rapidly developed. 

According to OCHA, there are some 600,000 food beneficiaries in the region, about 100,000 internally displaced persons, and some 96,000 refugees.

China, Somalia ready to push bilateral ties to new highs: FM

China, Somalia ready to push bilateral ties to new highs: FMlinkedin sharing button

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Source: Xinhuanet, Thursday November 12, 2020

China is ready to work with Somalia to push forward bilateral relations to new highs, Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi has said.

Wang made the remarks in a telephone talk with Somali Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Ahmed Isse Awad on Wednesday night.

China was among the first countries to acknowledge Somalia’s independence, and Somalia was the first East African country to establish diplomatic relations with the People’s Republic of China, Wang said.

China and Somalia have all along shared mutual respect and treated each other as equals, and both countries have shared mutual understanding and support on issues concerning each other’s core interests, Wang said.

Noting that Somalia is a trustworthy good friend and brother of China, Wang said that Somalia is an important member of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation, the China-Arab States Cooperation Forum and in the joint construction of the Belt and Road Initiative.

China, Wang said, appreciates Somalia’s adherence to the one-China principle and firmly supports Somalia’s efforts to safeguard national sovereignty, dignity and territorial integrity.

He said that China is willing to take the opportunity of the 60th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the two countries to implement the consensus reached by the two countries’ leaders and push China-Somalia relations to new highs.

Wang noted that since the COVID-19 pandemic broke out, China, despite mounting anti-pandemic difficulties domestically, has provided needy supplies to Somalia to overcome the adversity with the Somali people.

China is willing to work with Somalia to carry out the projects urgently needed in the peacebuilding of Somalia, including material aids and personnel trainings, and to explore more cooperation in areas including agriculture, fishery and health, he added.

Wang said that China will continue to encourage Chinese enterprises to invest and do business in Somalia, to help the country’s economic and social reconstruction.

In his part, Awad said that the two countries enjoy a profound traditional friendship, expressing gratitude to China for its valuable support and assistance to Somalia over the years.

The Somali side attaches great importance to relations with China, adheres to the one-China policy and firmly opposes “Taiwan independence”, Awad said.

The Somali side is ready to work with China to continue to implement the consensus reached by the two countries’ leaders, well organize the activities marking the 60th anniversary of the two countries’ diplomatic ties and strengthen cooperation in such areas as infrastructure, culture and people-to-people exchanges, promoting a continuous development of the bilateral relations, Awad added.