Latest News Regarding

Horn of Africa

 

Is US Done with Nile Water Talks?

Is US Done with Nile Water Talks?

Source: Bloomberg published on 10 July 2020
Bloomberg published on 10 July 2020 an article titled “Another Trump Foreign Policy Foray Goes Awry” by Antony Sguazzin.

The author concludes that the Trump administration’s unsuccessful effort to mediate the issues involving Ethiopia, Egypt, and Sudan concerning Blue Nile water flows during construction and after completion of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam has come an end.

Why would Taiwan need a base in Somaliland?

Why would Taiwan need a base in Somaliland?

United World International
Source: Saturday July 11, 2020

Taiwan and Somaliland, a breakaway region of Somalia, will establish diplomatic missions in each other’s “capitals”. This was recently reported by the news agency Reuters, citing a statement by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Taiwan Joseph Wu.

According to the agency’s journalists, the cooperation agreement between Taiwan and Somaliland, located in the strategically important region of the Horn of Africa, was signed back in February, but it was not made public.

On June 1, Taiwanese Foreign Minister Joseph Wu announced that the governments of Taiwan and Somaliland “have agreed that the establishment of representative offices will best serve the interests of one another”.

The President of Somaliland Muse Bihi has appointed Mohamed Hagi to head his Taiwanese office. In turn, Taiwan has appointed Taiwan capital Lou Chen-Hwa as its representative in Hargeisa, the capital of the unrecognized African state.

Moreover, Joseph Wu stopped a step away from finally recognizing Somaliland as a sovereign and independent state.“They have been recognized by many countries as a very free, democratic country in Africa,” he said. “So, in essence, Somaliland is an independent country.”

However, the official account of Taiwan Ministry of Foreign Affairs called Somaliland an “ independent country”.

Wu did not provide details of any assistance that Taiwan could provide to Somaliland, but said that the African country is rich in energy resources and fishing grounds.

The strategic importance of Somaliland

In May 1991, the independent State of Somaliland was proclaimed in northern Somalia, which has not yet been officially recognized by the international community. Modern Somalia itself was created by the unification of two former European colonies, Italian Somalia and British Somalia. It was the territory of former British Somalia (which formerly belonged to the Ottoman Empire) that separated in 1991, taking the name Somaliland.

The history of Somaliland is linked to British influence. In London, a group of northern clan politicians (especially Isak) formed the opposition “Somali National Movement” in 1981. With the collapse of the Siad Barre military regime in 1991, the SNM was the only organization able to establish power over former British Somalia.

In the ensuing war of all against all on Somali territory and the de facto dissolution of the State, Somaliland became the only de facto state entity to have maintained relative stability on its territory for a long time. However, this stability is also limited: Somaliland does not control the entire territory of former British Somalia.

In 1998, Puntland emerged as an “autonomous State” in the east. There is conflict between Somaliland and Puntland over the oilfields in the Sanaag and Sool regions. In these areas, several states which are “independent” but prone to either side of the conflict have emerged and disappeared.

Somaliland lies along the strategic southern coast of the Red Sea (Gulf of Aden), with a coastline that stretches for about 800 km.  Port Berbera is the main seaport of Somaliland, and more recently as an important regional port for the Horn of Africa. It is also important for landlocked Ethiopia. During the war with Eritrea, Ethiopia used this port, the unrecognized territory of Somaliland.

The Port of Berbera Directorate plays an important role in the management of international goods arriving and local production leaving the country, being a significant channel for the economy of Somaliland.

Recent investment by Dubai Ports World will improve the Port of Berbera and it will handle more than 100,000 containers per year, which will significantly increase the economy of Somaliland.”

There were media reports that the United Arab Emirates was also building a military base in Berbera which included a coastal-surveillance system

The strategic location of Somaliland is linked to access by ships from the Indian Ocean to the Red Sea and further to the Suez Canal. This route connects the Pacific region with the Mediterranean and is also used by tankers carrying oil and liquefied gas from the Persian Gulf to Europe.

Nearby Djibouti has several military bases, including French, American, Japanese and Saudi bases. In 2017, China opened the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Support in Djibouti.

For Somaliland, as well as for Djibouti, foreign bases are attracting money: the country is “selling” its strategic position. On the other hand, it is a step towards diplomatic recognition.

Somaliland now has offices in 22 countries. In turn, the United Kingdom, Denmark, Ethiopia, Kenya, Turkey, Djibouti, Canada, the European Union and the United Nations have offices in Somaliland.

Somaliland brands itself a beacon of democracy in Africa. The US also uses its leverage to support that image. Freedom House, for example,  calls Somaliland the most free country in the Horn of Africa.

Anti-China courseTaiwan may open a military base in Somaliland, namely in Berbera, according to media reports.

According to  Somaliland media “the Taiwanese government has already established a presence” in Somaliland and Taiwanese military medics are working on the territory of the unrecognized republic.

Although there has been no official confirmation of these plans so far, the establishment of a symbolic base near the Chinese base in Djibouti can be seen as a counterattack by Taipei: in recent months, tensions between mainland China and the breakaway separatist government on Taiwan have increased once again.

China seeks diplomatic isolation from the government of Taiwan, which continues to call itself the “Republic of China” and does not recognize China as a legitimate statehood of China.After Burkina Faso severed diplomatic relations with Taiwan in 2018, the tiny mountain kingdom of Eswatini remained the last African country to recognize the “Republic of China”.

China does not maintain relations with Somaliland precisely because of the latter’s unrecognized status. This creates opportunities for Taiwan to appear in places where China cannot be present.

In addition, Taiwan, as a US satellite state, may perform functions to strengthen US geopolitical control in areas where the United States is unable to be present for one reason or another.

Another crucial point is that Taipei originally claimed to be the real “Republic of China”, not Beijing. The conflict between Taiwan and mainland China was ideological, not separatist. Until recently, Taiwan has tried to establish relations with internationally recognized states.

However, between 2000-2008 and from 2016 to the present day, Taiwan has been ruled by The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), which stands for a separate Taiwanese identity, actually advocating the transformation of the political conflict with China into a separatist struggle and final separation from China.

In 2007, the Republic of China applied to join the UN under the name “Taiwan” rather than “Republic of China Taiwan” as it used to be. A year later, Taiwan recognized the partially recognized Republic of Kosovo. Establishing ties with no-one recognized as the State of Somaliland is a clear symbolic gesture towards full and open separatism. Just as Somaliland does not see itself as part of Somalia, so does the current leadership in Taiwan not see itself as part of China – whether socialist or capitalist.

Consequences

One of the consequences of strengthening ties between Taiwan and Somaliland may be the strengthening of China’s ties with the Somali Federal Government and China’s active opposition to Somaliland’s recognition on the international arena.

The Horn of Africa will become another hot spot in the geopolitical confrontation between the US and China, where Taiwan will serve as a US proxy.

Subsequent emergence of American military presence in Somaliland can not be ruled out. Thus, the neoconservative American Enterprise Institute Michael Rubin recently voiced support for this idea. He mentioned rare earth elements deposits in Somaliland and its “modernized Berbera port” and its “renovated airfield” as the reasons to establish military presence here.

On the other hand, the successful story of Somaliland in finding international partners can inspire separatist forces in Africa and around the world. They have been given the signal that if they stand up for American democracy and against China, they may receive partial recognition from an important ally of the United States, if not the US itself.

Nile Dam row: Egypt and Ethiopia generate heat but no power

Nile Dam row: Egypt and Ethiopia generate heat but no power


Source: BBC, Friday July 10, 2020
By Damian Zane


The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam under construction in 2017 (courtesy of Salini Impregilo).

The polite diplomatic façade was maintained but the words of the Egyptian and Ethiopian representatives revealed a belligerence that was hard to disguise.

The recent meeting of the UN Security Council to discuss Ethiopia’s huge hydro-electric plant, the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (Gerd), straddling the Blue Nile, was held by teleconference.

The social distance that the participants observed underscored the diplomatic gulf.

It is a gulf that threatens to sweep up the populations of the two countries into a nationalist fervour and mutual distrust.

The Gerd, which sits on the Nile’s main tributary, is upstream of Egypt and has the potential to control the flow of water that the country almost entirely relies on.

“A threat of potentially existential proportions has emerged that could encroach on the single source of livelihood of over 100 million Egyptians”

Sameh Shoukry – Egyptian Foreign Minister

It also will be, when fully operational, the largest hydro-electric plant in Africa, and projected to provide power to 65 million Ethiopians, who currently lack a regular electricity supply.The construction, which began in 2011, is almost complete.

For the Egyptian and Ethiopian representatives at the UN meeting, the very existence of their countries was at stake.

“A threat of potentially existential proportions has emerged that could encroach on the single source of livelihood of over 100 million Egyptians,” the country’s Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry said.

Using similar language, Ethiopia’s UN ambassador Taye Atske-Selassie countered: “For Ethiopia, accessing and utilising its water resources is not a matter of choice, but of existential necessity.”

When to fill up the dam

The rhetoric may disguise that after nearly a decade of talking, the two countries have managed to agree on a lot of things, but the crucial questions of how and when to fill up the dam, and how much water it should release, remain unresolved.Years of bilateral and multilateral talks, expert commissions, an agreed Declaration of Principles between Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan, the third country affected, have still not settled these basic issues.

And now we are at a point where Ethiopia says it will unilaterally start filling up the dam in the next few weeks to coincide with the rainy season. It is a process that is expected to take up to seven years.

For Ethiopia, the construction and filling of the dam are not two separate events, one of the country’s negotiators Zerihun Abebe told the BBC.

“The Egyptians tried to confuse the international community” by suggesting that they are different things, he added, and argued that the 2015 Declaration of Principles allowed for Ethiopia to go ahead.

But this is not how Egypt sees it.

After the United States and the World Bank got involved late last year but failed to get Ethiopia to sign up to a document agreed with Egypt in February, the African Union (AU) has now said it will try and find a solution.

If the words of Egypt’s foreign minister are anything to go by then a deal is urgently needed.

Colonial-era treaties

“The unilateral filling and operation of this dam without an agreement that includes the necessary precautions to protect the downstream communities… would heighten tensions and could provoke crises and conflicts that further destabilise an already troubled region,” Mr Shoukry warned.

For its part, Ethiopia said it wanted to negotiate under the auspices of the AU, rather than the UN, but blamed Egypt for its “intransigence and its insistence on historic rights and current use”.

Those rights, as far as Egypt is concerned, go back to at least 1929, when the British government recognised the “natural and historical right of Egypt to the waters of the Nile”. It also granted Egypt veto rights on any projects upstream.

Then in 1959, Egypt and Sudan signed a deal in which the two countries agreed to share the Nile’s resources, with Egypt taking the biggest volume. No reference was made to any of the other nine countries in the river’s basin, including Ethiopia, the source of the Blue Nile.

The tributary, which merges with the White Nile in Sudan’s capital, Khartoum, provides around 80% of the total flow of the river and Ethiopia sees it as a “historic injustice” that it is unable to take advantage of this natural resource, Mr Zerihun said.

If Ethiopia agrees to allowing a specific volume of water to flow to Egypt every year then this will “confirm a colonial privilege of the most downstream country, Egypt. It’s like neo-colonialism and that is unacceptable,” he added.

In essence, what Ethiopia is accusing Egypt of is wanting to maintain the flow that was guaranteed in 1959.

Ethiopia says that in the second year of filling it will release a minimum of 31 billion cubic metres through the Gerd, but beyond that it cannot be tied to a specific number.

Maintaining the flow of a set volume of water to Egypt regardless of the rainfall pattern could mean that the Gerd will stop functioning during prolonged droughts.

While Egypt is alarmed by the prospect of not knowing how much water it is going to receive.

Nations united over the dam

The generation of so much heat after nine years of negotiations may reflect the fact that this is the diplomatic end-game rather than an unbridgeable gap and things will soon cool down.

But both Egypt’s President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi and Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed also have domestic political considerations and populations who have become heavily invested in the issue.

In Ethiopia’s case, people have literally invested in the dam. The $4bn (£3.2bn) cost of the project has been partly met by persuading Ethiopians at home and abroad to lend the government money by buying bonds.

While Mr Abiy faces political challenges that have dented his support, the Gerd is an issue that people can rally behind.

Some have taken to the video-sharing platform TikTok to illustrate the issues with cups and jugs of water. One that has been widely viewed shows a woman with a jug, representing Ethiopia, pouring water into two small cups and saying that her country is in control.

Egyptians have made their own videos, with one suggesting that the dam is vulnerable to attack.

In general, Egyptian media have been supporting the government in the talks over the dam, with some outlets accusing Ethiopia of being uncooperative during the crisis.

While the media in the two countries may want to up the stakes, it is the job of diplomats to try and calm things down.

It is still not clear, however, that those involved in the talks are doing this.

US hails Taiwan-Somaliland deal opening fresh battle with China

US hails Taiwan-Somaliland deal opening fresh battle with China


Source: Hiiraan Online, Friday July 10, 2020

NAIROBI (HOL) –  The US has lauded the new diplomatic relations between Somaliland and Taiwan in what could escalate tensions with China which has vehemently condemned the deal.

Responding to an article by the Associated Press on the Taiwan-Somaliland deal, the National Security Council sounded up beat about the development which saw President Mohamed Farmaajo host the Chinese ambassador to assure him of his country’s support.

“Great to see Taiwan stepping up its engagement in East Africa in a time of such tremendous need. Taiwan is a great partner in health, education, technical assistance, and more!,” the UNSC tweeted.

China and US have in recent months had rocky relations the latest being China’s passage and implementation of a security law to tame dissenting voices of Hong Kong.SOMALILAND-TAIWAN PACT

Somaliland and Taiwan have since appointed representative to each other’s territories following the announcement July 1 of a pact to establish diplomatic relations.

Chinese ambassador to Somalia Qin Jian rubbished the deal noting Taiwan was part of China.

“We will never allow anyone, any organization or any political party to separate any piece of territory from China at any time or in any form. Taiwan is an inalienable part of China,” the ambassador tweeted.

President Farmaajo followed it up with a meeting with Jian and asserted Mogadishu’s position on Beijing.

“President Farmaajo reiterated that Somalia respects “One-China Policy” whilst, on the other hand, denounced Taiwan’s violation of the Sovereignty and Territorial Integrity of Somalia,” a statement from Villa Somalia read in part.

The US is the largest donor to Somalia through support of African Union troops, humanitarian aid and development aid and has maintained a strong support of the Federal Government in the last three years.

The positive nod to the Taiwan-Somaliland deal which upsets both Somalia and China is likely to open another round of tension in the Horn of Africa as two of the world’s major powers bring their battle to the region.

The UAE, an ally of the US is building a military base in Somaliland’s Berbera port in addition to running a 30 year Berbera port concession. Somalia has contested both deals.

Upwards the Horn is Djibouti where both the US and China maintain military bases as they seek to have sway over the Horn of Africa and the crucial Bal el Mandeb strait.

Egypt and Ethiopia: The Course of the Nile

Egypt and Ethiopia: The Course of the Nile

Source: The Wilson Center published on 7 July 2020
The Wilson Center published on 7 July 2020 an analysis titled “Egypt and Ethiopia: The Curse of the Nile” by Marina Ottaway.

The author suggests the best short-term scenario is a stop-gap agreement that will allow Ethiopia to start filling the reservoir behind the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam on a compromise timetable acceptable to Egypt, which would walk back its military threats.  Egypt could also take steps to improve the efficiency of water management for agriculture and domestic consumption.

Russia’s Role in the Horn of Africa

Russia’s Role in the Horn of Africa

Source: The Foreign Policy Research Institute published in July 2020
The Foreign Policy Research Institute published in July 2020 a study titled “‘Engaged Opportunism’: Russia’s Role in the Horn of Africa” by Samuel Ramani, DPhil candidate at the University of Oxford.

Russia is principally focused on establishing itself as the region’s leading arms provider but is also seeking a Red Sea base.  It is increasingly at odds with France and the United States.  Russia’s involvement in the region has been inconsistent, but Moscow can be best described as an “engaged opportunist” in regional affairs.

Somalia condemns Taiwan over diplomatic pact with Somaliland

Somalia condemns Taiwan over diplomatic pact with Somalilan


Source: Hiiraan Online, Sunday July 5, 2020

MOGADISHU (HOL) –  Somalia has dismissed the Taiwa-Somaliland diplomatic accord and reiterated its position on a ‘one-China-policy’.

A statement from Villa Somalia Friday following a meeting between President Mohamed Farmaajo and Chinese ambassador to Somalia Qin Jian noted the two sides ‘stressed the importance of strengthening the relations between the two countries.

“President Farmaajo reiterated that Somalia respects “One-China Policy” whilst, on the other hand, denounced Taiwan’s violation of the Sovereignty and Territorial Integrity of Somalia,” the statement read in part.
The meeting follows the announcement by Somaliland and Taiwan that htye had agreed to open ‘representative offices’ in each other’s territories.

Somaliland president Muse Bihi has Friday appointed ambassador Mohamed Omar Haji as Somaliland’s representative to Taiwan.Chinese ambassador to Somalia had on Thursday rubbished the deal noting Taiwan was part of China and did not have the capacity to engage in such a deal.

“We will never allow anyone, any organization or any political party to separate any piece of territory from China at any time or in any form. Taiwan is an inalienable part of China,” the embassy said in a series of tweets.

Somaliland broke away from Somalia in 1991 following the collapse of the central government and subsequent civil war to pursue its independence however the region has not been formally recognized.

Less than 20 countries globally recognize Taiwan’s independence over China.

UK, Denmark and Netherlands approve deals with Somaliland Government on infrastructure

UK, Denmark and Netherlands approve deals with Somaliland Government on infrastructure


Source: GOV.UK, Sunday July 5, 2020

Under Phase II of the Somaliland Development Fund (SDF2) programme, the UK, Denmark and the Netherlands have approved four agreements with the Somaliland Government to improve critical infrastructure to support economic growth.

These projects were prioritised by Phase II of the Government of Somaliland’s National Development Plan, and will improve the lives of hundreds of thousands of people across Somaliland.

The new agreements, supporting projects on roads, agricultural facilities, water systems and fisheries will spur economic growth benefitting the region and helping contribute towards a stable, peaceful and resilient Somaliland while improving its resilience to future pandemics through enhanced water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) infrastructure.

These projects include:

Project 1:Rebuilding of Burao–Sheikh-Berbera road in Togdheer and Sahil regions

The rebuilding of the Burao to Berbera road will include 82km of full asphalt concrete overlay, the resurfacing of bridges and renewal of drainage systems.Improving connectivity between Somaliland’s port and its second largest city will reduce travel time and costs benefiting the 50,000 members of the public who use this road regularly and contributing to economic development by enhancing service delivery and boosting trade, particularly in the livestock, agriculture, and fishery sectors.

Project 2:Sustainable land management in Awdal and Maroodijeh regions:

The project will improve the agricultural production of small farmers through soil and water conservation, research, extension and farmer training.

This project will target the agricultural areas of Durdur Ad Upper Catchment in Awdal and Maroodijeh Upper Catchment in Maroodijeh.

Project 3: Support to the Hargeisa Water Agency, supplying water to the people of Hargeisa.

The SDF2 will continue its support to the Hargeisa Water Agency (HWA), which supplies clean water to the people of Hargeisa.

This project will allow HWA to extract an additional 4,000 m3 of water each day from Laasdhure aquifer.

This project will increase the water available in Hargeisa by more than 20%, to 23,000m3 per day – enough to meet the needs of an additional 200,000 people.

Project 4: Construction of Maydh fishing jetty in the Sanaag region:

The Maydh Jetty will improve interconnectivity by sea between Berbera and the 750,000 people living in the hinterland of Sanaag and parts of Togdheer, spurring regional economic growth as well as facilitating the transport of fish to markets. This support will boost food security, employment and incomes.

The British Ambassador to Somalia, Ben Fender, said: The UK is committed to supporting Somaliland lay the foundations for sustainable economic growth. We are announcing today a set of major infrastructure investments in four sectors across Somaliland. We will be upgrading the road from Burco to Berbera, supporting agricultural production in Awdal and Moroodijeh, increasing by 20% the water in Hargeisa, and building a jetty in Maydh to enable exports from Sanaag and Togdheer. These projects will improve the lives of hundreds of thousands of people by creating jobs and unlocking the region’s economic potential. At a time of huge challenges for Somaliland, including tackling COVID-19, this demonstrates the UK’s commitment to the people of Somaliland.

The Danish Ambassador to Somalia, Mette Knudsen, said: Denmark warmly welcomes the approval of these four important SDF projects and the solidarity shown by the Government of Somaliland and SDF donors to identify priority needs, ensure regional and sectoral balance, and align SDF investments with the priorities of Somaliland’s NDPII. The investments are particularly timely in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic and its economic effects that are only just beginning to emerge. We are confident that these investments will have catalytic effects to spur Somaliland’s economic development and to help support and sustain Somaliland’s economic recovery from this terrible pandemic.

The Netherlands Ambassador to Somalia, Frans Makken, said: The Kingdom of Netherlands has enjoyed cordial and collaborative relations with the Somaliland Government over many years; and through the projects in the SDF2, the Netherlands is happy to be part of the contribution to strengthening the social contract between the government and its people. These projects will strengthen the positive social and economic growth trajectory of Somaliland.

Responding to Ethiopia’s Current Crisis

Responding to Ethiopia’s Current Crisis

Source: The International Crisis Group posted on 3 July 2020
The International Crisis Group posted on 3 July 2020 a statement titled “Defusing Ethiopia’s Latest Perilous Crisis.”  The statement calls for calm and offers several practical suggestions for dealing with the violent aftermath of the killing of a popular Oromo musician.

Explosions in two Somali cities leave four dead

Explosions in two Somali cities leave four dead


Source: AP, Saturday July 4, 2020

Police survey the scene after a suicide car bomber drove into a checkpoint near the port in Mogadishu. Photograph: Feisal Omar/Reuters
Police survey the scene after a suicide car bomber drove into a checkpoint near the port in Mogadishu. Photograph: Feisal Omar/Reuters


Explosions have rocked two of Somalia’s largest cities after a suicide car bombing near the port in Mogadishu and a land mine detonation on the outskirts of Baidoa killed four people.

Ali Abdullahi, an official from the South West regional state, said the mine was detonated inside a restaurant by remote control as people were dining. Several others were wounded, he said.There was no immediate claim of responsibility but the al-Shabaab group, which is linked to al-Qaida, has targeted the city in the past.

In Mogadishu, thick smoke billowed over the port area after the car bomb detonated near the motor vehicle imports duty authority headquarters, according to police.

The bomber sped through the first security checkpoint before police opened fire on the vehicle, which exploded outside the gates, said Ismail Mukhtar, a spokesman for Somalia’s information ministry. Five police officers were wounded.

Somalia and Somaliland: American Diplomats Recall Oral History

Somalia and Somaliland: American Diplomats Recall Oral History

Source: The Association for Diplomatic Studies
The Association for Diplomatic Studies and Training posted a piece titled “Somalia–From Great Hope to Failed State” based on the oral history of five American diplomats dating back to 1960.  Two are former ambassadors, two embassy officers, and one based in Washington during the international intervention in Somalia from 1992 to 1993.  These are the recollections of the officers a number of years after they served in Somalia.

81 killed in violence after death of Ethiopian singer

81 killed in violence after death of Ethiopian singer


Source: AFP, Thursday July 2, 2020
By Robbie Corey-Boulet


Smoke rises over the Addis Ababa skyline during protests following the fatal shooting of Ethiopian musician Hachalu Hundessa. (Reuters)

Two days of protests have left at least 81 people dead in Ethiopia, a police chief said Wednesday, after the murder of a popular singer from the country’s largest ethnic group stoked tensions that threaten to derail the country’s democratic transition.

Hachalu Hundessa, whose political songs gave voice to the Oromo’s longstanding sense of marginalization, was shot dead on Monday night.

Angry protests broke out in Addis Ababa and the region of Oromia which surrounds it, the heartland of the Oromo people who have long complained of oppression at the hands of smaller ethnic groups in the diverse country of 100 million people.

“So far 81 people have been killed, including three Oromia special police force members,” Ararsa Merdasa, the Oromia police chief, said on Wednesday in a televised press briefing.

On Wednesday the worst violence took place in Hachalu’s hometown of Ambo, west of Addis Ababa.

At the core of the anger was Oromo nationalists’ desire to see Hachalu buried in Addis Ababa — historically at the heart of their territory, from where they feel they have been displaced.

It was a plan by the federal government to expand the capital into surrounding Oromia which kickstarted years of anti-government protests which swept Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed to power in 2018, as the first Oromo to hold the post.Ambo spokesman Milkessa Beyene said that Hachalu’s body had arrived in the town for burial on Thursday but “a group of youths who wanted the funeral to happen in Addis Ababa clashed with security forces, causing unrest.”

He said there were “fatalities”, including Hachalu’s uncle.

Oromia police chief Ararsa said “there was a grenade attack on the family home of Hachalu Hundessa in Ambo. That grenade attack killed his uncle and injured two police officers.”

He urged the public to be calm ahead of the funeral.

Arrest of opposition politician

Also provoking anger on Wednesday was the arrest of leading opposition politician Jawar Mohammed, also an Oromo.

A former media mogul who recently entered politics, Jawar was arrested along with 34 other people for trying to intercept Hachalu’s body and return it to the capital, federal police commissioner Endeshaw Tassew said in a statement late Tuesday.

In the town of Holeta, west of Addis Ababa, security forces opened fire on demonstrators demanding Jawar’s release, said Teshome Bongase, a representative of the opposition Oromo Federalist Congress, of which Jawar is a member.

“The protesters were saying that Jawar is not a thief, he just wants Hachalu’s body to be buried with respect. This is their culture, that is what they are asking for,” said Teshome.

In October, reports that the government was attempting to remove Jawar’s security detail kicked off days of ethnic violence that left more than 80 people dead.

Jawar was initially supportive of Abiy, however like many Oromo nationalists has grown more critical of the prime minister, who is accused of not sufficiently advocating for the group’s interests.

‘A dangerous situation’

The internet remained cut off for a second day in a government bid to curb the unrest.

In Addis Ababa young people gathered in groups with sticks trying to prevent Oromo nationalists from entering the city, and armored military vehicles were seen on the streets of the capital.

Security forces fired into the air to disperse demonstrators who were approaching a statue of Emperor Menelik II, widely seen as the creator of modern-day Ethiopia.

Oromo nationalists see Menelik as a driving force behind their perceived marginalization and for pushing them out of Addis Ababa, and Hachalu called last month for the statue to be pulled down.

Ethiopia has battled deadly intercommunal tensions in recent years, a major threat to efforts by Abiy to bring about democratic reforms in a country long ruled with an iron fist from Addis Ababa.

“The assassination of an important Oromo musician, subsequent protests which have in places involved property destruction and security forces using lethal force, and the arrest of Oromo leaders, creates a dangerous situation and is another blow to Ethiopia’s troubled transition,” said William Davison, an analyst with the International Crisis Group.

Finland boosting coronavirus healthcare aid for Iraq, Somalia

Finland boosting coronavirus healthcare aid for Iraq, Somalia
Source: News now, Fonmalnd, Source: Thursday July 2, 2020

News Now Finland

The Finnish Ambassador in Baghdad says there have been few improvements in Iraq’s healthcare system since the fall of Saddam Hussein.


File picture of women in Baghdad, summer 2019 / Credit: iStock

Finland is strengthening its support for two countries hit hard by the coronavirus crisis, with extra funding for healthcare initiatives in Iraq and Somalia.

In Iraq, the Finnish government is channeling €2 million through a United Nations agency to help the country’s healthcare system, including buying personal protective equipment for healthcare workers, to increase capabilities for testing labs, and to increase the number of isolation wards for people who become sick.

“The coronavirus situation in this country is not very positive. The restrictions have been very strict from the beginning, the curfew still goes on, but people are able to move around during daytime. But still we have nearly 50,000 cases and maybe 1,500 casualties. The numbers are pretty high” explains Vesa Häkkinen, Finland’s Ambassador in Iraq.

Finland has provided €11 million in aid to Iraq since 2011, and supports reconstruction in parts of the country that were liberated from Islamic State. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs says that terrorist organisation continue to be active in Iraq, trying to take advantage of the social and economic instability caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

“The healthcare system here is non-existent. To be honest, it’s very problematic. After Saddam’s year’s, from 2003 and onwards, there hasn’t been too many improvements, and the structure has been very weak. People are struggling to improve the system” Häkkinen tells News Now Finland in a phone interview from Baghdad.“The World Health Organisation is helping a lot but Finland also saw the importance of facilitating improvements in the Iraqi healthcare system even just to handle this acute coronavirus crisis” he adds.

Healthcare help for Somalia increases

Meanwhile, Finland is also providing €3 million more to the United Nations Population Fund UNFPA for Somalia, to “safeguard the country’s sexual and reproductive health and rights”.

Sexual and reproductive health includes, for example, services related to maternal health, contraception and family planning.

“As with most crises, this pandemic has severely disrupted access to life-saving sexual and reproductive health services and hampered efforts to respond to gender-based violence, at a time when women and girls need these services most” Anders Thomsen, UNFPA’s Country Representative in Somalia, says in a statement.

The funding will guarantee the cohesion of maternal health services and will also be given to obtain protective equipment and national coronavirus testing.

“In these times of crisis, we want to intensify our efforts, together with UNFPA and the government, to reduce maternal and neonatal mortality and morbidity in Somalia,” says Erik Lundberg, Finland’s Ambassador to Somalia.

Finland’s total aid commitment to Somalia in 2020 is now €6 million, and targeted assistance over recent years has helped Hegeisa hospital lower its infant mortality rate from 24% in 2014 to just 5% in 2017.

More than 700 health workers were trained with Finnish support during the same period.

Djibouti envoy says stability in Somalia essential for security in Horn of Africa

Djibouti envoy says stability in Somalia essential for security in Horn of Africa


Source: Arab News, Thursday July 2, 2020


A member of the Somali National Army (SNA) patrolling in the town of Wanla Weyn, about 90 kms (55 mi) from Mogadishu. (File/AFP)

DUBAI: Djibouti seeks to bring stability to neighboring Somalia as the situation of the country impacts the security of the Horn of Africa, the country’s envoy to Saudi Arabia said on Wednesday.

Establishing stability and security in Somalia and limiting “the flow of refugees” is key for the Horn of Africa as “the region is geographically, culturally, humanly and economically linked to each other,” Ambassador Ziauddin Saeed Bamakhrama said in an opinion piece published by Arab News’ sister-paper Asharq Al-Awsat.

Last month, Djibouti held a consultative summit between Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo, the President of the Federal Republic of Somalia, and Muse Bihi Abdi, the President of Somaliland.
The meeting was hosted and chaired by Djibouti President Ismail Omar Guelleh.

“The resumption of the talks between Somalia and Somaliland is a perfect illustration of the continued determination of the leaders of the region to resolve differences through dialogue,” Guelleh said via Twitter.Somalia and Somaliland have been at odds since the latter’s 1991 declaration of independence, which the former rejects. The dispute has cooled after heating up in 2018, but lingering tensions could threaten regional stability.

The two sides agreed during the meeting to appoint technical committees to continue the talks and also assented not to politicize international development assistance and investment.
The ambassador also discussed the success of the historic Arta Conference, which paved the way for the cessation of all armed conflict, in his opinion piece.

The Arta process, as it is commonly known, achieved an important political breakthrough, producing a power-sharing agreement in August 2000 with the establishment of a Transitional National Government, which secured a measure of international recognition.

This was due, in part, to an innovative peace process that consulted with Somali society beyond the usual faction leaders, including clan elders, civic leaders and business people.

“President Ismail Omar Guelleh did not only sponsor Arta Conference 2000, but participated in it actively, interacting with the participants, based on his deep knowledge of the region and its peoples, out of his determination and commitment to bring the conference to a successful closure for the benefit of the Somali people,” the ambassador said.

Somalia-Somaliland Talks

Somalia-Somaliland Talks

Source: he Somaliland Horn Tribune published on 27 June 2020
The Somaliland Horn Tribune published on 27 June 2020 a brief interview with me titled “‘Social Engagements Seems Harmless, If Somaliland Leader Thinks Otherwise, He Can Stop It’ Prof David Shinn.
The interview focused on the recently concluded talks in Djibouti between Somalia and Somaliland.

Friday, June 26, 2020

After years as military base, Somalia’s renovated stadium reopens

After years as military base, Somalia’s renovated stadium reopens


Source: AFP, Wednesday July 1, 2020


Somalia’s president on Tuesday officially reopened the country’s renovated national stadium, which saw its first football match in 17 years, after serving as a base for Al-Shabaab and later, African Union peacekeeping troops.

President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo, wearing a mask and dressed in a pale blue tracksuit, cut the ribbon and took a few shots at the goal, leaving before a friendly match between two national sides.

This is part of celebrations of Somalia’s 60th anniversary of independence from Italy, which will be marked on Wednesday.

“Thanks to the president who reopened the national stadium today on the commemoration of the 60th anniversary of independence, there will be a football game between two national teams,” Sports Minister Khadija Mohamed Diriye told reporters.

Apart from a few dozen special guests and government officials, the stadium remained empty as the event was closed to the public.

“This was an opening occasion where a limited number of people were invited,” said police officer Mohamed Hassan.

He said security was tight, with most roads leading to the stadium closed to civilian transport.

African Union peacekeepers (AMISOM) from Uganda had been stationed in the stadium since 2011, after they chased out the al-Qaeda linked Al-Shabaab Islamists from the capital, who had banned all sporting events in the capital and had made the stadium their base since 2008.

It had fallen into a state of disrepair, overrun with weeds and its walls peppered with bullet holes testifying to the violence which has ravaged the city over the past 30 years.

The stadium was handed back to the government in August 2018 and was renovated with funding from Norway and the European Union.

According to government sources, more than $2 million was spent in the first phase of renovation, which took in the football pitch, running track and spectator seating.

Somalia plunged into chaos after the 1991 overthrow of president Siad Barre’s military regime, leading to years of clan warfare followed by the rise of Al-Shabaab which once controlled large parts of the country and capital.

After being pushed out of their main bastions by AMISOM, Al-Shabaab has continued to wage war against the government, with regular attacks in Mogadishu and against neighbouring countries which have contributed to the force.

Ethiopia police confirm arrest of leading opposition politician

Ethiopia police confirm arrest of leading opposition politician


Source: AFP, Wednesday July 1, 2020

Ethiopia has confirmed the arrest of leading opposition politician Jawar Mohammed, a move that risks inflaming ethnic tensions that have led to multiple deaths in the Oromia region this week.

Jawar, a former media mogul who recently joined the opposition Oromo Federalist Congress, was arrested on Monday in Addis Ababa along with 34 other people, federal police commissioner Endeshaw Tassew said in a statement late on Tuesday.

The arrest came during an altercation with the security forces over the body of Hachalu Hundessa, a popular Oromo singer who was gunned down on Monday night, kicking off widespread protests.

Endeshaw said that as Hachalu’s body was being transported to his native town of Ambo for burial, Jawar and his supporters intercepted it and tried to return it to Addis Ababa, where a clash ensued.

“There was a disturbance between federal security forces and others, and in the process one member of the Oromia special police force was killed,” Endeshaw said.

“Thirty five people including Jawar Mohammed have been put under arrest. The security forces have taken eight Kalashnikovs, five pistols and nine radio transmitters from Jawar Mohammed’s car.”

Violence
Jawar’s arrest could exacerbate violence in Oromia, which surrounds Addis Ababa and is the heartland of the country’s largest ethnic group, the Oromo.
On Tuesday officials and witnesses confirmed at least four deaths in Oromia.

In October, reports that the government was attempting to remove Jawar’s security detail kicked off days of violence that left around 80 people dead.

The government has switched off the internet in an attempt to curb the latest unrest, which began immediately after Hachalu’s death in Addis Ababa was announced.

Hachalu’s music gave voice to Oromo feelings of marginalisation that were at the core of years of anti-govt protests that swept Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed to power in 2018.

The motive for his death has not been identified.
Police have said that “some suspects” have been arrested, while trying to link them to the Oromo Liberation Army, a rebel group active in southern and western Oromia.

Oromia regional flags will be flown at half-mast for five days to honour Hachalu.

ADF Approves $9.52 Million to enhance coordinated COVID-19 response in East Africa and the Comoros

ADF Approves $9.52 Million to enhance coordinated COVID-19 response in East Africa and the Comoros


Source: ADF, Wednesday July 1, 2020


Staff from the Bosasso MRC in Puntland on an outreach in the informal settlement frequented by Ethiopian migrants

The Board of Directors of the African Development Fund (ADF) have approved grants totaling $9.52 million to strengthen responses to the COVID-19 pandemic in East Africa and the Horn, and in the Comoros.

The grant, approved on 26 June, is part of the $10 billion COVID-19 Rapid Response Facility (CRF) approved by the Board of Directors in April 2020 and complements the Bank’s direct support to regional member countries across the continent.

The beneficiaries are Burundi, Comoros, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Somalia, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda. Funding will also go toward the procurement of essential medical supplies, including testing kits and to train health workers.

The funds will be used to bolster health systems and disease surveillance, enhance infection prevention and control, and improve regional coordination by the East African Community (EAC) and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) to contain cross-border transmissions.

“The overall objective of the operation is to reduce the incidence and mortality in the Eastern African region due to COVID-19 pandemic and other disease outbreaks,” Martha Phiri, Director for Human and Social Development said.The EAC Secretariat will receive $8.79 million in tranches of $8.16 million and $629,582 while $729, 581 will go to IGAD. The World Health Organization will be the implementing agency for the emergency response activities in the EAC and IGAD member states, and the Comoros, while the RECs will be directly responsible for executing the cross-border interventions.

Countries in Eastern and the Horn of Africa are enforcing stringent border measures to mitigate the cross-border transmissions that have led to disruptions in the movement of people, trade flows and access to essential goods. The project will, therefore, tackle these challenges by improving testing and case detection capacity at border crossings and improving regional coordination. The Project will also support EAC and IGAD to roll out regional COVID-19 digital tracking systems to facilitate cross-border surveillance. This will make the regional bodies better prepared to counter cross-border transmissions during future pandemics.

The grants align with the Bank’s High 5 priority commitments, specifically to improving the quality of life for the people of Africa, and to advancing regional integration. The financing also strongly aligns with the Eastern Africa Regional Strategy Paper, which calls for enhanced cooperation in managing regional public goods.

As of 28 June, total confirmed cases in the 11 mainland countries of the region stood at 42,000, while the island nation of Comoros reported 265 cases out of a population of 800,000.

World Bank okays $40m grant for Somalia’s locust response

World Bank okays $40m grant for Somalia’s locust response
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Source: Hiiraan Online, Tuesday June 30, 2020

NAIROBI (HOL) –  Somalia’s war on desert locusts which have devasted thousands of acres of land has got a boost with $40 million grant from the World Bank.

The global lender announced Tuesday it had approved the International Development Assistance (IDA) grant for Somalia as part of the Emergency Locust Response Program.

Noting the locusts had gravely impacted the livelihoods of nearly 2.6 million living in forty-three districts of Somalia, the World Bank said the funds will be instrumental in supporting poor and vulnerable households affected the locusts.
“The Shock Responsive Safety Net for Locust Response (SNLRP) will focus on addressing the immediate impact of the locust infestation on poor and vulnerable households by meeting their short-term food security and consumption needs and protecting their livelihoods and human capital assets through emergency cash transfer,” the Bank said in a statement.

World Bank Country Director for Somalia, Felipe Jaramillo said the locust invasion had impacted on an already fragile situation in Somalia noting the SNLRP project builds on the new and Government-led “Baxnaano” (meaning uplifting in Somali) national cash transfer program.

“The locust invasion risks are aggravating the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Somalia and leading to reduced access to food, loss of income, resource-based conflict and limited migration options,” said Jaramillo.

He noted the the Bank was supporting the government to put in place a social protection system under the Baxnaano program that can respond quickly to protect subsistence farmers and pastoralists, from falling into deeper levels of food insecurity, as well as preventing the sale/loss of their productive assets.

The World Bank Group approved on May 20, 2020 a $500 million multi-phase program of emergency financing, complemented by policy advice and technical assistance, to support countries in Africa and the Middle East affected by the locust outbreak.

UN envoy commends advances in testing of COVID-19, welcomes efforts to build medical capacity for the future

UN envoy commends advances in testing of COVID-19, welcomes efforts to build medical capacity for the future

Source: UNSOM, Monday June 20, 2020
Monday June 29, 2020

The United Nations envoy to the country commended Somalia’s advances in diagnostic testing for COVID-19, and highlighted the importance of the national laboratory and other laboratories throughout the country in the COVID-19 response.

“Over the last four months, the NPHRL has played a critical role in the pandemic response by detecting cases and monitoring virus circulation. The NPHRL has worked alongside two other public health laboratories with molecular testing capability for COVID-19. This has helped the country to test and track virus circulation across the country, and to detect high virus transmission areas for early containment,” said the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Somalia, James Swan.

“Diagnostic testing for COVID-19 is critical, and the United Nations and international community are committed to supporting the national laboratory,” he added.

“The progress in scaling up Somalia’s capacity to confront the COVID-19 pandemic demonstrates what can be achieved when national and international experts work hand in hand.”

On a visit to Somalia’s National Public Health Reference Laboratory (NPHRL) today, accompanied by the UN World Health Organization’s (WHO) Country Representative, Dr. Mamunur Rahman Malik, the UN Special Representative was shown around by the Director of NPHRL, Dr. Sahra Isse Mohamed, and engaged with the laboratory’s staff.
With the emergence of COVID-19 in Somalia, the NPHRL was rapidly upgraded to an appropriate bio-safety level, and WHO donated a real-time Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR)-based testing machine to immediately capacitate it for testing COVID-19 samples.

Testing of COVID-19 samples by real-time PCR machines is regarded by WHO as the ‘gold standard.’ After training by international experts, NPHRL staff are now testing COVID-19 samples on their own.

The NPHRL started to test samples for COVID-19 in April, and can now test up to 180 samples a day.

The current testing capacity can further be upgraded to 360 samples a day whenever needed. From 7 April to 23 June, the NPHRL has tested 6,572 samples for COVID-19.

The laboratory is also the only reference laboratory for testing of COVID-19 samples collected from some of the Federal Member States, notably Galmudug, Hirshabelle, South West State and Jubaland.

WHO has provided the internal quality assurance protocol and training online to ensure that standard laboratory quality assurance measures are strictly followed at the NPHRL.

The UN health agency has provided enough testing kits and other items for testing samples until September 2020, and has also provided other supplies.

WHO has also supported the establishment of two other real-time PCR-based laboratories in Garowe and Hargeisa, and is providing similar types of support in the form of laboratory equipment and consumable supplies.

While the laboratories are currently focussed on the COVID-19 response, the United Nations sees the three laboratories as an investment for Somalia’s future.

“The NPHRL and the two other laboratories with PCR-based testing capability will be able to rapidly detect and diagnose any other infectious diseases in the future – including any new and novel disease pathogens, and without any external support or assistance. This is an important investment for the future of Somalia,” Mr. Swan said.

In addition to WHO, the UN World Food Programme (WFP), UN Support Office for Somalia (UNSOS) and UN Development Programme (UNDP) have provided support for the NPHRL, as have other international partners.