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Ethiopian delegation lands in Hargeisa as Abiy Ahmed seeks lead role in Somalia-Somaliland talks

Ethiopian delegation lands in Hargeisa as Abiy Ahmed seeks lead role in Somalia-Somaliland talks


Source: Hiiraan Online, Wednesday February 19, 2020

HARGEISA (HOL) – An Ethiopian delegation led by Finance Minister Ahmed Shide arrived in Hargeisa Wednesday in what sources said was set to lay the groundwork for PM Ahmed Abiy’s mediation for a visit of President Mohamed Farmaajo to the break-away region of Somaliland.

Shide arrived in Hargeisa at about noon and is expected to hold talks with top Somaliland leadership. It is not clear if he will be meeting President Muse Bihi.Shide’s arrival in Somaliland follows reports of a planned historic visit by Farmaajo to the breakaway region which Bihi has termed as ‘rumours’.

While delivering the annual address to Parliament Monday, Muse was categorial that Farmaajo’s visit ‘will never happen considering the atrocities committed by his country on the citizens of Somaliland’.

Though he welcomed Farmaajo’s public apology, Muse said any meeting with the Somali leader will only happen on condition Somalia acknowledges Somaliland’s sovereignty and its decision to secede in May 18, 1991.

Muse also noted the brief meeting with Farmaajo in Addis Ababa last week did not address anything regarding talks or who would be mediating adding there have been a number of countries involved in the long running talks which have never resumed since 2015.

There have been reports Ethiopia’s Abiy Ahmed whose country enjoys cordial relations with Somaliland is keen on taking up the lead role in bringing the leaders of the two sides together.

Ethiopia controls 19% stake at the Berbera Port which is being upgraded under a 30-year concession by the UAE ports operator DP World.

Somaliland ‘accepts’ Farmaajo’s apology, says was a first

Somaliland ‘accepts’ Farmaajo’s apology, says was a first


Source: Hiiraan Online, Tuesday February 18, 2020

HARGEISA (HOL) – Somaliland president Muse Bihi has welcomed the public apology by Somalia’s President Mohamed Farmaajo on atrocities committed by former regime of Siad Barre on the break-away region terming it ‘unprecedented’.

While addressing a joint session of Parliament in Hargeisa, Bihi said Farmaajo’s apology was the first such public admission of the massacres by Siad Barre regime on Somaliland in the late 1980s.
“The statement by President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmaajo on February 13 was unprecedented. It was the first by a president of Somalia. We welcome the apology,” said Bihi.

In a rear move by a sitting head of state, President Farmaajo issued a public apology last week over the killing of thousands of Somalis in the break-away region between 1988 and 89.

“The persecution of our brothers in the northern regions was not based on the south invading the north or by any clans but it was by the then government,” Farmaajo said upon arrival from Addis Ababa where he met Bihi in the sidelines of the African Union summit.

“As the President of the Nation, I want to make that apology and extend our apologies to our northern brothers,” the president added.

Bihi said in his address today the meeting in Addis Ababa was meant to address the question of Somaliland’s secession.

Bihi’s remarks come amid reports that Farmaajo could be visiting Somaliland in the near future though there have been conflicting reports on the issue.

Somaliland secretary to the cabinet Jamal Mohamed yesterday denied claims the cabinet had approved the visit which is reportedly being brokered by Ethiopia’s Abiy Ahmed.

Kenya dismisses Djibouti’s ‘illegitimate’ remarks over UNSC seat

Kenya dismisses Djibouti’s ‘illegitimate’ remarks over UNSC seat


Source: theSTARSaturday February 15, 2020

Kenya has hit back at Djibouti for contesting against its endorsement by AU to represent Africa at the United Nations Security Council.

Through the ministry of Foreign Affairs, Kenya said it considers the matter no longer about a candidature but about the values and the principles it has chosen to abide by

This comes after Djibouti president Ismaïl Omar Guelleh had earlier in the day issued a statement saying by AU endorsing Kenya’s candidature it violated the rules and procedures.

President Guaelleh said Djibouti ought to be Africa’s sole representative for the non-permanent seat for the 2021/2022 year based on the Africa groups and AU’s clear rules and longstanding precedents for selecting a candidate.

The Republic of Djibouti with the support of many fellow African countries openly and vigorously challenged the validity of the flawed endorsement in 2019.

“The AU Executive council decision not to endorse the 2019 recommendation of the AU PRC evidently makes the recommendation by this committee to endorse Kenya for the African Group’s 2021-2022 Non-permanent United Nations Security Council clearly illegitimate and void,” Djibouti said.

But Kenya in its response said it has remained restrained, choosing to run a dignified campaign that upholds African values and which focuses on the contribution it intends to make towards creating a just and peaceful world.

Kenya said it is however disturbed by a persistent and dishonorable campaign that Djibouti has been using to misrepresent the facts.

The ministry said while AU’s endorsement for Kenya’s candidature was final and not subject to review, attempts to have the executive reconsider the matter in Addis Ababa found no traction among the AU member states and were flatly rejected to extend that Djibouti failed to raise the issue at the Assembly of Heads of State and Government.

Kenya, therefore, distances itself from any campaign that brings dishonour and disrespect to the African Union and any of its Member States,” read a statement to newsrooms.

Kenya said AU’s endorsement is a solemn responsibility entrusted to it to carry the hopes and aspirations of Africa and to make a difference.

“It is a responsibility for which Kenya is well prepared and a duty that Kenya embraces with deep sense of purpose,” the statement read.

Kenya last week asked the Africa Union to ensure it protects the integrity of the continental organisation and fidelity to its procedures over Djibouti’s insistence to continue its bid for the UN Security Council non-permanent seat.

Foreign Affairs CS Raychelle Omamo, while appreciating AU’s endorsement of Kenya as Africa’s candidate for the UNSC seat, talked of the need to ensure the organisation’s procedures are respected.

“CS Omamo appreciated AU’s endorsement of Kenya as Africa’s candidate for a non-permanent seat of the UNSC for the period 2021-2022 and expressed Kenya’s conviction on the need to protect the integrity of the Union and fidelity to its procedures,” Foreign Affairs said in a dispatch on Wednesday.

CS Omamo held consultations with  AU Commission chairman Moussa Faki in Addis Ababa, with sources saying she sought clarification on why Djibouti is still in the race.

Kenya in August last year won the second round of voting at the AU, effectively getting the UN Security Council endorsement.

It garnered 37 votes against Djibouti’s 13 in a vote taken in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Kenya was, after the vote, confident that with AU’s endorsement, it would have an easy campaign to secure the seat.

Bihi, Farmajo Meeting To Feature In Ethiopia PM’s Talks

Bihi, Farmajo Meeting To Feature In Ethiopia PM’s Talks


Source. EABW, Saturday February 15, 2020

The expansion of the Somaliland Port of Berbera and the meeting between Somaliland and Somalia leaders will be among the discussions points between Ethiopia Prime Minister Aby Ahmed and the United Arab Emirates leadership this weekend.

Ethiopia Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed landed in Abu Dhabi on Thursday evening for a round of talks with the hosting government over trade partnerships and efforts to find peace in the horn of Africa.

Abiy was received at the Presidential Airport by Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation, and Sheikh Theyab bin Mohamed, Chairman of Abu Dhabi Crown Prince’s Court.

Sheikh Abdullah welcomed Abiy and discussed relations and co-operation between the two countries and ways to tackle issues of mutual interest.Abiy is accompanied by his wife, Zinash Tayachew, Dr Hirut Kassaw, Minister of Culture and Tourism, Adanech Abebe, Minister of Revenues, and Muferiat Kamil, Ethiopian Minister of Peace.

Ethiopia and the UAE have partnered with Somaliland in the expansion of the port of Berbera which once completed will be the biggest in the region.

UAE’s DP World is expanding the port at a cost of USD 442 Million and is also expected to set up an economic free zone complement the growth of the Port of Berbera as a regional trading hub.

Somalia has been against the expansion of the port claiming Somaliland has no right to enter any international agreements.

Somaliland separated from Somalia in 1991 and declared its own independence. The two countries have been at loggerheads since then.

But early this week, the Ethiopian Prime Minister brokered a meeting between Somaliland president Musa Bihi and Somali president Abdullahi Farmajo in Addis Ababa, talks that lasted for an hour.

Ethiopia and the UAE believe that a lasting solution between Somalia and Somaliland is vital for their interests in the horn of Africa.

This is Abiy’s second trip to UAE in less than one year.

UAE was one of the Gulf nations Abiy visited last year as part of pooling regional support, especially for economic reforms. The Crown Prince also visited Addis Ababa in 2018.

Ethiopia – UAE relations have been on an upward trajectory over the course of 2018.

Over the last decade, the UAE has gradually increased its presence in the Horn of Africa, using development and humanitarian projects to boost its prominence.

It has significantly invested in ports, logistics and trade developments, to secure its port empire across the strategic Bab el-Mandeb Strait by the Red Sea, to profoundly boost its international trade and regional soft power.

The Emirati-owned company DP World’s opening of a port in Djibouti in 2008 signalled a developing presence in the relatively then-untouched Horn of Africa.

Ethiopia has served as a key platform for growing UAE influence, where Abu Dhabi alongside Saudi Arabia helped broker a peace deal with Eritrea, after a two-year state of war between the two states.

It has since continued to shower Ethiopia with aid, also carrying out key development projects. The UAE had also built an oil pipeline between Eritrea and Ethiopia, and Emirati companies have increased investment particularly in Ethiopia.

Such moves are also an attempt to compete with Turkey, Iran and Qatar, whose increasingly positive ties with east African states are met with unease by Abu Dhabi.

A setback for the UAE’s political ambitions in the Horn of Africa, however, are its ties with Somalia who have grown closer to Turkey, a key Emirati rival.

In response, the UAE has focused its support on Somalia’s autonomous regions.

The UAE and Ethiopia last February agreed to cooperate to turn Somaliland into a “major regional trading hub,” which helps the UAE’s ally Ethiopia gain greater trading access, and subsequently boost the UAE’s own trading and economic capabilities.

Furthermore, its alliance with Ethiopia, which also invests in Somaliland’s Berbera port, has helped the UAE gain greater control over it.

The UAE has also attempted to build a military and naval base in Somaliland.

 

Ethiopia to hold parliamentry elections on August 29, 2020

Ethiopia to hold parliamentary elections on August 29

FILE PHOTO: Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed poses for a photograph during the opening of the 33rd Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the Heads of State and the Government of the African Union (AU) in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, February 9, 2020. REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri/File Photo

ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) – Ethiopia’s election board on Friday set a date of Aug. 29 for parliamentary elections that will be a first test of voter support for Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, who has eased political restrictions since he took office in 2018.

The date is two weeks later than the electoral board had previously indicated, on account of weather.

“Looking at parts of the country which will be affected by the rainy season, pushing the schedule a little further will ease our burden,” board chairwoman Birtukan Mideksa said at a conference on election preparations taking place in Addis Ababa.

Less areas will have rain compare at the end of the month, she said.

Ethiopia’s 109 million people are experiencing unprecedented political and economic change, but Abiy’s reforms have also unleashed ethnic rivalries that have spilled into violence.

Plans to hold the parliament and regional council elections in May were postponed as neither authorities nor parties would be ready, Mideksa said in January.

Ethiopia has had regular parliamentary elections since the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) took power in 1991 but, with one exception, none were competitive.

Abiy, who won the Nobel Peace Prize last year for his efforts at reconciliation with Ethiopia’s neighbor and longtime foe Eritrea, has promised that this year’s vote will be free and fair.

Reporting by Dawit Endeshaw; Writing by George Obulutsa; Editing by Angus MacSwan

Ethiopia approves controversial law curbing hate speech

Ethiopia approves controversial law curbing hate speech


Source: AP, Friday February 14, 2020

In this Monday, Oct. 10, 2016 file photo, Ethiopian men read newspapers and drink coffee at a cafe during a declared state of emergency and internet shurdown in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.MULUGETA AYENE, FILE / AP PHOTO

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia – Ethiopian lawmakers on Thursday approved a controversial law aimed at curbing hate speech and disinformation, especially online, just months ahead of a major election.

The law’s approval, with 23 lawmakers opposing and two abstaining, came amid concerns over widespread online false information and hate speech that some observers blame for ethnic tensions in the East African nation.

Others worry the new law will restrict freedom of expression in a country that once jailed thousands of people, including journalists, over political views.
The new law “will not meet its goal but will discourage free expression and may eventually target people who make innocent mistakes,” Befekadu Hailu, director of the Center for the Advancement of Rights and Democracy, told The Associated Press. “But most importantly, legal actions are usually used by the state to stifle dissent in the country. To say something positive … it may have a deterrence effect for irresponsible social media users.”

Ethiopia has been experiencing sometimes deadly ethnic violence since June 2018, shortly after Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed announced sweeping political reforms for which he later was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. The loosening of restrictions on political space also led some in the country of more than 80 ethnic groups to air long-held grievances.

Some government officials and observers have called for the need to regulate hate speech and disinformation online, citing the ethnic unrest.

Lawmakers said the law is needed because existing legal provisions didn’t properly address hate speech and disinformation and said it will not affect citizens’ rights beyond protecting them

According to the new law, content with hate speech or disinformation that is broadcast, printed or disseminated on social media platforms with more than 5,000 followers is punishable with up to three years in prison and a fine of up to 100,000 birr ($3,000).

The law, however, says “dissemination” doesn’t include liking or tagging such content on social media.

Human Rights Watch said the law could “significantly curtail freedom of expression.”

“The Ethiopian government is under increasing pressure to respond to rising communal violence that has at times been exacerbated by speeches and statements shared online,” Laetitia Bader, senior Africa researcher with the rights group, said in December. “But an ill-construed law that opens the door for law enforcement officials to violate rights to free expression is no solution.”

 

IMF, World Bank move pushes Somalia closer to debt forgiveness

IMF, World Bank move pushes Somalia closer to debt forgiveness


Source: Reuters, Friday February 14, 2020

The International Monetary Fund and the World Bank say Somalia is committed to economic reforms (AFP Photo/MANDEL NGAN)

WASHINGTON, Feb 13 (Reuters) – The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund on Thursday said they had taken a next historic step toward forgiveness of Somalia’s $5.3 billion in debt, with a final decision possible by the end of March.

The Executive Boards of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank agreed at their respective meetings on Feb. 12 and 13 that the East African country is eligible for assistance under the Enhanced Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) Initiative, based on a preliminary assessment.

“This assessment is an important step towards forgiveness of most of Somalia’s debt, which measured $5.3 billion at the end of 2018,” the two institutions said in a joint statement.

Somali Finance Minister Abdirahman Beileh welcomed the news and said Somalia would press on with its reforms.“It’s indeed a historic moment,” Beileh said on Twitter. “Proud day. We remain committed to reforms & sustainable development.”

Beileh in October told Reuters his country would press ahead with poverty reduction efforts and a major regional ports and corridors initiative if the debt forgiveness process continued as expected.

IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva said this week’s decisions provided “a clear recognition of Somalia’s sustained commitment to key economic and financial reforms” under challenging circumstances.

“Helping Somalia achieve debt relief and unlock access to the needed resources to increase growth and reduce poverty is a key priority for the IMF,” she said in the joint statement.

Next, Somali authorities must either clear their arrears to multilateral creditors or agree a strategy to clear them, and finalize an agreement on reforms it will implement.

World Bank staff expect to present the operation for clearing the arrears to the International Development Association (IDA) by the end of February 2020.

“Prompt action on these items could result in Somalia reaching the Decision Point by the end of March 2020,” the IMF and World Bank said in the statement.

Somali officials said they expected to sign a debt relief package with World Bank on Feb. 27, followed by agreements with the African Development Bank and the IMF.

Once all the conditions are met, Somalia will be eligible for debt relief under the Multilateral Debt Relief Initiative (MDRI) from the World Bank’s IDA and the African Development Fund (AfDF), together with fresh assistance from the IMF.

Paris Club creditors are also expected to provide further beyond-HIPC assistance, the IMF and World Bank said. (Reporting by Andrea Shalal Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and David Gregorio)

 

In unprecedented move, President Farmaajo renders public apology to Somaliland over Siad Barre

In unprecedented move, President Farmaajo renders public apology to Somaliland over Siad Barre atrocities

Source:, Friday February 14, 2020

MOGADISHU (HOL) – President Mohamed Farmaajo has publicly apologized to the people of Somaliland over massacres by former autocratic regime of Siad Barre in the late 1980s in an unprecedented move not before taken by former presidents.

Farmaajo said the atrocities committed by Siad Barre regime should not be construed as an act by the south or clans therein but rather one by the then government.

“The persecution of our brothers in the northern regions was not based on the south invading the north or by any clans but it was by the then government,” Farmaajo said.

“As the President of the Nation, I want to make that apology and extend our apologies to our northern brothers,” the president added.

NEWSINSIDEFarmaajo’s remarks come a day after a meeting with Somaliland president Muse Bihi at the sidelines of the 33rd AU Ordinary Summit in Ethiopia. Details of the meeting remained scanty but Villa Somalia confirmed the meeting was hosted by Ethiopia’s PM Abiy Ahmed.

THOUSANDS KILLED

Subsequent governments after the civil war have not rendered public apologies to Somaliland following the atrocities of 1988-89 which estimates put the number of deaths between 50,000 and 100,000.

Following the massacre and subsequent collapse of Siad Barre regime in 1991, Somaliland declared independence from Somalia in May 18, 1991 and has since pursued its path for statehood despite lacking international recognition.

The opening up between Mogadishu and Hargeisa is likely to pave way for talks which collapsed in 2015 and have since then failed to resume. Relations between the two sides nose-dived in early 2017 after Somaliland agreed to a naval base deal with UAE at the port of Berbera.

Somalia sought the intervention of the UN Security Council terming the deal a violation of the country’s territorial integrity and independence.

Following a resolution by the Federal Parliament in March 2018 declaring the naval base deal illegal, Somaliland declared it would no longer be taking part in talks with the South.

EU announces €5.17 million support to education in Somalia

EU announces €5.17 million support to education in Somalia

EUROPA
Source: EUROPA, Friday February 14, 2020

European Union Delegation to the Federal Republic of Somalia launched a €5.17 million project to support the Federal and Federal Member States Ministries of Education to deliver equitable and inclusive quality education for the population.

The 4-year technical assistance project targets to strengthen education authorities’ capacity to manage and regulate the sector, while facilitating collaboration with other sector stakeholders. For example, it will aim at harmonising education policies, implementing the new curriculum framework, strengthening quality assurance and standards systems, as well as improving national examinations and assessments across the country.

“This support shows the EU’s continuous commitment to Somalia’s recovery and its people. It signals a shift towards sustainability and leadership. We appreciate the cooperation between education authorities and their commitment to gradually manage the education services in a concerted way,” said H.E. Nicolas Berlanga Martinez, EU Ambassador to Somalia.

The Federal Minister of Education, H.E. Abdullahi Godah Bare, said: “Our country has great potential and great people. We are excited about this project as it will help us further develop this potential, improve the country’s educational opportunities and bring actors in this field together to shape Somalia’s future.”

The Directors General of the Ministries of Education for South-West State, Hirshabelle, Galmudug, Jubbaland as well as Director of Education of the Benadir Regional Administration attended the launch of the project that will be implemented by Adam Smith Europe.

Background

In Somalia, the EU supports education reforms through its bilateral cooperation portfolio where education and training has been identified as a priority sector. With a portfolio of € 60 million, the European Union is substantially involved in the positive education trends that have emerged in Somalia over the recent years.

The importance of education to Somalia’s path to recovery and economic growth is indeed immense. With a population of almost 50% under the age of 15 years, Somalia has one of the youngest populations in the world. Decades of conflict have fragmented its education system, leaving behind gaps and many areas for improvement.

Finding ways to support governmental institutions to better manage finances and streamline the education system could allow generations to come to contribute to Somalia’s future in a meaningful way.

Cultural revival in Somalia gets a boost following MoU with UNESCO

Cultural revival in Somalia gets a boost following MoU with UNESCO


Source: Hiiraan Online, Wednesday February 12, 2020

MOGADISHU (HOL) – The culture and education sectors in Somalia which suffered significant damage during the civil war will now get a life-line following a memorandum of understanding inked with the cultural and scientific UN body, UNESCO.

On this first visit to Somalia which saw the signing of the MoU, UNESCO Director General Audrey Azoulay said culture and education formed the core of recovery and stability after years of conflict.
“Culture and education are vital for the country’s future. After years of conflict, they are vital to the human dimension of recovery, of peacebuilding, of sustainability,” Azoulay.

According to a statement from the UN Mission in Somalia (UNSOM), the pact will enable both UNESCO and Somalia to work together on ‘reviving the culture sector in Somalia and enhancing the country’s education policies.’
The development of education polices includes enrolling schoolchildren, with a specific focus on young girls, ensuring free and quality primary and secondary education, as well as making available open digital resources, including textbooks.

The civil war which started in the early 1990s resulted in destruction of among others cultural and education institutions including libraries, museum and archive departments robbing the country of colossal cultural and education material and artefacts.

Education Minister Godah Barre said the renewed relationship with UNESCO was instrumental in reviving the country’s education and culture sectors.

“UNESCO has not been present in Somalia, but historically, Somalia and UNESCO have a long history, and since our independence, we have collaborated on many fronts. Today, time has allowed us to reignite our relationship with UNESCO. That relationship will directly contribute to our lower and higher education as well as culture, science, and technology,” he said.

Somali troops still vulnerable to al-Shabaab outside Mogadishu, Pentagon says

Somali troops still vulnerable to al-Shabaab outside Mogadishu, Pentagon says


Jared Szuba
Source: The DefencePost, Wednesday February 12, 2020

 

Somali National Army soldiers march during the 57th Anniversary of the Somali National Army held at the Ministry of defence in Mogadishu on April 12, 2017. Image: Ilyas Ahmed/AMISOM
Somali National Army soldiers march during the 57th Anniversary of the Somali National Army held at the Ministry of defence in Mogadishu on April 12, 2017. Image: Ilyas Ahmed/AMISOM


Troops loyal to Somalia’s Federal Government in Mogadishu are not yet ready to stand on their own against al-Shabaab militants in the country’s south, the U.S. Defense Department said in a new report.Despite some successes, the Somali National Army – backed by African Union and U.S. forces – have made little progress in recent months on Operation Badbaado, a joint effort to secure rural areas south of the capital, according to a Pentagon Office of the Inspector General report presented to Congress on Tuesday, February 11.

The assessment comes ahead of a potential limited drawdown of both U.S. and A.U. military forces contributing to the fight against the al-Qaeda-linked Islamist militants who still control swaths of southern Somalia.

It also calls into question the feasibility of U.S. Africa Command’s goal of significantly degrading the militant network’s capabilities by 2021, despite a blistering drone strike campaign and American Special Operations Forces’ assistance on the ground.

The 21,000-strong African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) and some 500 U.S. Special Operations Forces backed by air support have sought to continually weaken the militant network until local Somali Federal Government forces can hold the territory on their own and fill governance needs outside the capital.

AMISOM is set for another withdrawal of 1,000 troops later this month as part of a long-delayed process of turning over control to Somali troops.

U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper has said the Pentagon is considering drawing down some of the more than 5,000 troops in Africa in order to focus on countering Russia and China elsewhere.

AFRICOM commander General Stephen Townsend told Congress last month that he believes the U.S. can achieve its counter-extremist objectives in Africa if the current number of American forces is sustained.

“I don’t believe that it’s a whack-a-mole [mission],” Townsend told lawmakers during the budget hearing.Al-Shabaab has fought to establish an Islamic state in Somalia since 2006. The group was largely routed from Mogadishu in 2011 by AMISOM but still controls significant rural areas.

The militants, the report says, still retain effective command and control, “as evidenced by the Fall 2019 synchronized attacks against separate SNA forward operating bases in the Lower Shabelle” region, a Shabaab stronghold.

Though SNA forces successfully defended their new outposts, AFRICOM said they would not have been able to do so without international military support.

Moreover, the Somali Federal Government’s lack of control prevents U.S. State Department stabilization aid from reaching areas outside of Mogadishu, the report read.

Washington considers that aid necessary to supplant Shabaab’s Islamist courts, tax systems and charities that fill rural governance needs.

“U.S. AFRICOM reported that there was limited impact on degrading al-Shabaab outside of Mogadishu due to slow police force generation and lack of stabilization activities, including local governance, within seized towns in the Lower Shabelle region,” the report reads.

The State Department’s USAID office recently moved from Nairobi, Kenya to Mogadishu International Airport, but the SNA’s inability to effectively hold territory “means that USAID implementers cannot provide [stabilization] programs” in areas captured from al-Shabaab.

The U.S. aid agency in Somalia relies on subcontractors who “can travel outside of the compound, meet with implementers and beneficiaries, and monitor programming” to evaluate the progress of stabilization projects.

But by May 2020, the report said, only one contractor capable of leaving the airport will remain.

Further complicating matters, Operation Badbaado is currently on hold due to seasonal rains flooding local roads, the report notes.

“This quarter, al-Shabaab demonstrated its ability to conduct high-profile attacks, recruit fighters, and finance ongoing operations,” the report reads.

The group claimed responsibility for a massive car bomb in Mogadishu in late December that killed at least 90 people, the worst attack in the capital since 2017. Earlier that month, the militants stormed a Mogadishu hotel frequented by government officials.

In January, Shabaab fighters staged a brazen raid that penetrated the perimeter of Kenya’s air base at Manda Bay, killing ten civilians and one U.S. military member.

SNA also receive backing from the United Arab Emirates, Turkey, Qatar and the European Union.

Act now tp prevent Desert Locust catastrophe in the Horn of Africa: UN agencies

Act now to prevent Desert Locust catastrophe in Horn of Africa: UN agencies

Photo: FAO/Yasuyoshi Chiba
Locusts can affect the food security of millions of people.

Source: UN, 10 February 2020

With the rainy season fast approaching, countries in the Horn of Africa are in a race against time to tackle a Desert Locust invasion amidst ongoing humanitarian challenges, the United Nations warned on Monday.

The infestation in Kenya is the worst in 70 years, while Somalia and Ethiopia are experiencing their worst outbreaks in 25 years, putting crop production, food security and millions of lives at risk.

UN Humanitarian

@UNOCHA

Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia are being invaded by enormous swarms of desert locusts – the worst infestations in decades.

Here is how humanitarians are mobilizing to help 👉🏾 http://bit.ly/2Up6FrB 

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Swarms crossed into Uganda overnight, and Tanzania and South Sudan are now “on the watch list”, the UN’s top humanitarian official reported.

“In this region where there is so much suffering and so much vulnerability and fragility, we simply cannot afford another major shock. And that’s why we need to act quickly”, Mark Lowcock told ambassadors, during a briefing at UN Headquarters.

“We do have a chance to nip this problem in the bud, but that’s not what we’re doing at the moment. We’re running out of time.”

Ancient pest, modern problems

Locusts are the world’s oldest and most destructive migratory pest.

An average swarm, which contains up to 40 million insects, can travel up to 150 km in a single day and can devour enough food to feed 34 million people within that time.

The current infestation is threatening food security in Kenya, according to the country’s UN Ambassador, Lazarus O. Amayo.

“It is also a challenge for pasture, especially our communities that keep livestock,” he added.

“The herders will have a real challenge of pasture, and this may also cause movement from one place to another in search of pasture, with inherent risk of communal conflict over pasture or grazing land or passing territories.”

The locust threat comes as the region is recovering from what Mr. Lowcock described as recent “back-to-back shocks” which have undermined resilience, with some 19 million people at risk of experiencing severe food insecurity.

Somalia and Sudan faced a famine threat in 2017, but communities have also weathered poor rains, drought, and floods in the past two years.

“It is these weather events which are creating the environment to facilitate the current locust outbreak”, Mr. Lowcock explained.  “Unusually heavy rains and increase in the frequency in cyclones in the Indian Ocean have created favourable conditions for the locusts to breed.”

Looming catastrophe

The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) recently launched a $76 million appeal to control the locusts’ spread.

So far, only around $20 million has been received; roughly half of which came from a UN emergency fund.

“Without rapid action, we will be facing a rapidly expanding humanitarian crisis. The Desert Locust swarms are growing exponentially”, FAO Director-General Qu Dongyu warned in a video message.

Mr. Lowcock, the UN humanitarian chief, also underscored the urgent need for action, particularly as the rainy season begins in March.

“I’m calling on the countries concerned, the international community, the donors, to step up and to step up now,” he said.  “There is a risk of a catastrophe. Perhaps we can prevent it; we have an obligation to try. Unless we act now, we’re unlikely to do so.”

hand over Omar al-Bashir to ICC for Darfur crimes

 hand over Omar al-Bashir to ICC for Darfur crimes


Source: AFP, Tuesday February 11, 2020

Sudan is handing over ousted leader Omar al-Bashir to the International Court Court (ICC) over charges against humanity, war crimes and genocide, the Transitional Sovereign Council announced on Tuesday.

Bashir evaded prosecution for more than a decade while he led the country.

This decision, with last week’s overtures to renew relations with Israel, could be seen as Abdalla Hamdok’s bid to have sanctions imposed in 1993 lifted

The sanctions have meant Sudan remains on the list of state sponsors of terrorism, after Bashir once hosted Osama bin Laden in the 1990s.

Sudan is not a member of the ICC, but is a signatory of the international conventions on genocide.

Bashir was accused of beating down a rebellion in Darfur in 2003 by killing and displacing civilians.
The Janjaweed militia which was linked to his direct command were said to have used scorched-earth policy to punish people.

As the Sudan was not a member of the international court, the case was referred to the ICC by the UN Security Council.

The ICC issued the first warrant for his arrest in March 2009, and issued another in July 2010.

It required all member states to arrest and hand him over to the Hague-based court.

But he managed to travel to Kenya, Malawi, Nigeria and South Africa, all members of the ICC.

Under the ICC rules of procedure, the case remains at pre-trial stage until he is presented in court.

Bashir is already jailed in Sudan for corrupt dealings. He was sentenced to three years last November.

That means he will be handed over to the ICC once he completes his jail term.

Struggle for Control of the Nile

Struggle for Control of the Nile

Source: The front page of The New York Times print edition on 9 February 2020
The front page of The New York Times print edition on 9 February 2020 ran a lengthy story titled “Bitter Struggle for Control of the Nile: Egypt Sees Ethiopia’s Huge New Dam as Threat to Its Lifeblood” by Declan Walsh and Somini Sengupta.

The article summarizes the dispute between Egypt and Ethiopia over construction of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), a hydropower project on the Blue Nile, and the state of negotiations involving both countries and Sudan. Talks are ongoing in Washington among representatives of all three countries. President Trump is pressing for an agreement by the end of February. Serious differences between Ethiopia and Egypt remain on the fill rate of the reservoir behind the GERD and the flow or release rate of water from the GERD once the reservoir is filled, especially during years of unusually low rainfall in the Nile Basin region.

Nile River Faces Environmental Challenges

Nile River Faces Environmental Challenges

Source: World Politics Review published on 4 February 2020

World Politics Review published on 4 February 2020 an analysis titled “As the Risk of a ‘Water War’ Fades, Is It Too Late to Save the Nile?” by Peter Schwartzstein, an environmental journalist.
Decades of mismanagement have left the Nile River polluted and drained. Climate change adds new uncertainty to the region. Erratic rainfall in the larger Nile Basin and especially in the Blue Nile basin near the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam is the greatest threat to downstream states’ water share in the long term. Nile Basin states need to work fast on tackling the river’s pollution, its agricultural problems, and the shrinking per capita water shares as populations in the region increase.

Regional and Great Power Rivalries in the Red Sea Basin

Regional and Great Power Rivalries in the Red Sea Basin

Source: The Middle East Institute published on 29 January 2020
The Middle East Institute published on 29 January 2020 an analysis titled “The Bab el-Mandeb Strait: Regional and Great Power Rivalries on the Shores of the Red Sea” by John Calabrese, American University.

The author surveys the complicated relationships between the Gulf States and the Horn of Africa and the increasing great power competition, especially between the United States and China, in the Red Sea region.

Kenya asks AU to intervene in Djibouti’s UNSC seat bid

Kenya asks AU to intervene in Djibouti’s UNSC seat bid


Sourc: theSTAR, Friday February 7, 2020

Kenya has asked the Africa Union to ensure it protects the integrity of the continental organisation and fidelity to its procedures over Djibouti’s insistence to continue its bid for the UN Security Council non-permanent seat.

Foreign Affairs CS Raychelle Omamo, while appreciating AU’s endorsement of Kenya as Africa’s candidate for the UNSC seat, talked of the need to ensure the organisation’s procedures are respected.

“CS Omamo appreciated AU’s endorsement of Kenya as Africa’s candidate for a non-permanent seat of the UNSC for the period 2021-2022 and expressed Kenya’s conviction on the need to protect the integrity of the Union and fidelity to its procedures,” Foreign Affairs said in a dispatch on Wednesday.CS Omamo held consultations with  AU Commission chairman Moussa Faki in Addis Ababa, with sources saying she sought clarification on why Djibouti is still in the race.

Kenya in August last year won the second round of voting at the AU, effectively getting the UN Security Council endorsement.

It garnered 37 votes against Djibouti’s 13 in a vote taken in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Kenya was, after the vote, confident that with AU’s endorsement, it would have an easy campaign to secure the seat.

But in a surprise move, Djibouti reversed its decision to back Kenya’s endorsement by the AU as the single candidate for the UN Security Council non-permanent seat and is currently lobbying for the seat.

Djibouti argues that the AU disregarded its two paramount principles in selecting its candidate for the security council — rotation and frequency.

“Under these rules, it is indisputable that Djibouti should be the sole African candidate for the period 2021-2022,” Djibouti Permanent Representative to the UN Amb Mohamed Doualeh said.

But at the time, then Foreign Affairs CS Monica Juma said the endorsement was an affirmation that Kenya has remained true to the decisions and aspirations of the African Union.

“Amb Omamo underscored Kenya’s commitment to the aspirations of the continental body and reaffirmed that Kenya will continue to play its rightful role in the promotion of peace and security in the region,” a statement by Foreign Affairs on Wednesday said.

Omamo is leading the Kenyan delegation to the 33rd Ordinary Session of the African Union Heads of State and Summit as President Uhuru Kenyatta is in the US.

She appreciated AU’s endorsement of Kenya as Africa’s candidate for a non-permanent seat of the United Nations Security Council for the period 2021-2022 and expressed Kenya’s conviction on the need to protect the integrity of the Union and fidelity to its procedures.

Faki thanked Kenya for its strong commitment to AU including regional integration through President Uhuru Kenyatta’s efforts towards the fast-tracking the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (ACFTA).

He also acknowledged Kenya’s role in bolstering peace and stability in Africa as in the case of Somalia, South Sudan and Sudan.

The Summit is discussing ‘silencing guns’, a reference to efforts to stop violence on the continent.

Djibouti, the little country in the Horn, lobbied for its bid in Nairobi during ninth Africa, Caribbean and Pacific Heads of State and Government Summit in Nairobi.

Hibaa Ismael, Djibouti’s third counsellor in charge of Multilateral Relations in its Kenyan embassy posted photos of the country’s delegation for the ACP conference accompanied by UNSC bid captions.

The rivalry also played out at 18th Summit of Heads of State and Government of the Non-Aligned Movement, the largest organisation after the UN, with 120 member states and 17 observer nations.

Locust swarms threaten more countries in eastern Africa: FAOSour

Locust swarms threaten more countries in eastern Africa: FAOSour

NAIROBI (Reuters) – Swarms of desert locusts could ravage more countries in eastern Africa and threaten the livelihood of many more people, the United Nations’ Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) said on Monday.

Source: Reuters 3rd February 2020

FILE PHOTO: Desert locusts are seen within a grazing land in Lemasulani village, Samburu County, Kenya January 17, 2020. REUTERS/Njeri Mwangi

The swarms, first sighted in December, have already destroyed tens of thousands of hectares (acres) of farmland in Kenya, Somalia and Ethiopia, threatening food supplies in the worst locust invasion in 70 years.

“There also other countries at risk, especially South Sudan, Uganda, Eritrea…,” said Bukar Tijani, assistant director-general of the FAO’s agriculture and consumer protection department.

FAO said at least one locust swarm had already been seen in Eritrea, and several had also been sighted in Oman and Yemen.

Even before the locust invasion, some 11 million people in Ethiopia, Somalia and Kenya were experiencing food insecurity, and the swarms will worsen the situation, the FAO said.

“Therefore, we need to make all possible efforts to avoid such a deterioration,” said Dominique Burgeon, director of the FAO Emergencies and Rehabilitation Division, during a visit to Samburu and Kitui counties, two of 15 affected regions in Kenya.

“We know that these locusts… can create massive devastation not only in terms of crops but also in terms of pasture and therefore affecting the livelihoods of the pastoralist communities… The only solution that works is aerial spraying (of pesticides).”

Conflict and chaos in much of Somalia make spraying pesticide by airplane – which the FAO calls the “ideal control measure” – impossible, the agency said in December.

Somalia’s agriculture and irrigation ministry said it had declared the locust invasion a national emergency.

Esther Kithuka, a farmer in Mwingi in eastern Kenya’s Kitui County, said she was worried the locusts would destroy their crops, and that another growing season due to start in April would be too short for any meaningful production.

“We depend a lot on this season and we worry that the locusts will destroy our harvest and we will end up remaining hungry through the rest of the year waiting for October for the next cropping season,” she said.

Additional reporting by Abdi Sheikh in Mogadishu; writing by George Obulutsa; editing by Omar Mohammed and Gareth Jones

Eritrea’s Afawerki: Somalia no longer exists

Eritrea’s Afawerki: Somalia no longer exists

Hiiraan Online
Source: Hiiraan Online, Sunday, May 15, 2016

MOGADISHU (HOL) -The increasing number of regional states in Somalia have left the long anarchic horn of Africa nation fragmented and the country no longer exists in the continent, Eritrean president said.

The Eritrean strongman Isaias Afwerki who led the East African nation since 1993 says that the crisis in Somalia continues to disintegrate the country following the collapse of the central government in 1991.

“Somalia is completely a different story – It’s a problem of a nation that has disintegrated; it’s a question of a nation that has gone into internal and external crisis.” Mr. Afawerki said during an interview with a local news site.

“Somalia does not exist.”

In addition, the Eritrean leader took a swipe at the growing number of regional states and the breakaway northern Somalia republic of Somalia, saying that they were the source of the country’s breakdown.

“When you have one county divided, fragmented from within – its Somaliland, its Puntland, Its Benadirland its so many lands, but beyond that its fragmented into clans, into tribes, into warlordism – that’s very sad.” He said in the undated interview.

Hiiraan Online cannot determine the time the interview was taken, however president Afawerki said that crisis in Somalia has had a negative effect on the entire horn of Africa.“The instability in Somalia affects the stability of the whole region – and that’s what we have witnesses in the last 20 years – we would like Somalia to revive, we would like this nation to come to normalcy again.” He noted.

Despite a relative stability in the country since the ouster of Islamist insurgents from the capital and surrounding regions, Somalia continues to face mounting political and security challenges that experts say continue to stand in the way of the country’s overall improvements.

The country’s security forces with the support of the strong-22000 African Union force is struggling to defeat fighters from the Al-Qaeda linked Al Shabab group which continues to wage a deadly guerrilla war across large parts of the horn of Africa nation.

How prepared is Africa for an outbreak of deadly coronavirus?

How prepared is Africa for an outbreak of deadly coronavirus?


Aljazeera, Sunday February 2, 2020

As scientists race to find a vaccine, the number of people killed has exceeded 250 [EPA]

No confirmed case on the continent yet but fears grow the deadly disease will reach countries with weak health systems.

Countries across Africa are ramping up measures to prevent an outbreak of a new coronavirus that has killed more than 250 in China and spread to several Asian countries, and as far afield as the United States, Europe and Australia.

As scientists race to find a vaccine, the World Health Organization (WHO) on Thursday declared a public health emergency of international concern amid rising fears the virus could reach countries with weak healthcare systems.

In Africa, where past viral outbreaks have stretched already-strained healthcare systems in a number of countries, there have been no confirmed cases to date – but several countries have reported suspected cases of the rapidly spreading disease that originated in the central Chinese city of Wuhan late last year.

Amid the mounting concerns, medical experts appear certain that the deadly virus will also infect people on the continent, pointing to the deepening trade and travel ties between China and Africa that has seen many countries on the continent become popular tourist, business and investment destinations for the Chinese.”We can be very certain that coronavirus will be exported to Africa,” said Ngozi Erondu, associate fellow of the Global Health Programme at Chatham House.

“There is a large amount of travel between China and Africa; hubs such as Addis Ababa, Cairo and Nairobi are at particular risks due to the large amount of Chinese travellers that pass through these airports.”

Measures taken

Speaking at the African Union headquarters on Tuesday, John Nkengasong, director of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC), said the institution was working closely with their Chinese counterparts, adding that, “We in Africa are watching the situation and also preparing ourselves to deal with any outbreak or cases.”

Three days later, the WHO announced it would be scaling up preparedness in Africa, particularly in 13 top priority countries: Algeria, Angola, Ivory Coast, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Mauritius, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia.

Authorities in most of these countries have set up active screening at airports, it said, calling on governments to “step up their readiness”.

“The quicker countries can detect cases, the faster they will be able to contain an outbreak and ensure the novel coronavirus does not overwhelm health systems,” said Matshidiso Moeti, WHO regional director for Africa.