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Horn of Africa
Taiwan-Somaliland ties will help diversify their development: Tsai
Source: Focus Taiwan, Tuesday October 13, 2020
President Tsai (right) greets Mohamed Omar Hagi Mohamoud (left), Somaliland’s first representative to Taiwan, with Foreign Minister Joseph Wu (center). CNA photo Oct. 12, 2020
Taipei, Oct. 12 (CNA) Taiwan and the self-declared East African state of Somaliland will benefit from their bilateral cooperation in ways that will strengthen and diversity their development, given their strategic geographical locations, Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) said Monday.
The appointment of Somaliland’s first representative to Taiwan Mohamed Hagi Mohamoud and the reciprocal opening of representative offices on both sides this year marked “a new era of bilateral relations,” Tsai said, while receiving Mohamoud at the Presidential Office in Taipei.
Tsai said she is confident that through close cooperation, Taiwan and Somaliland can “better leverage each other’s strengths and diversify our development.”Somaliland is strategically located “in the horn of Africa,” while Taiwan occupies “a geographically important and strategic position” in the Indo Pacific region, she said.
Tsai said Somaliland is a “paradigm of democracy in Africa,” and like Taiwan, it has been striving to deepen its democracy.
“Through joint efforts, we can become close partners and staunchly support each other in the international arena,” she said.In turn, Mohamoud said his country and Taiwan share common democratic values and a “historic and strategic affinity,” as they have managed “to overcome the negative effects of their unfortunate international isolation.”
Taiwan investors are welcome to look at the business potential in Somaliland sectors such as telecommunications, finance, digital economy, fishing, agriculture, construction, alternative energy, mining and the service industry, Mohamoud said.
He said his country has been “a beacon of democracy” over the last 30 years in Africa and continues to contribute to the international community in areas such as economic security and counter-piracy.
Somaliland also hosts refugees from Somalia, Yemen, Syria and other countries, sharing “the burden of managing the impact of world conflict,” and works closely with global partners to stem the illicit flow of arms and trafficking of people, Mohamoud said.
Somaliland declared independence in 1991 after a civil war in Somalia. It has offices in about a dozen countries, according to its foreign ministry website, but is not recognized by any country as a sovereign nation.
In February, Taiwan and Somaliland signed an agreement to establish reciprocal representative offices. Taipei opened its office in Somaliland on Aug. 17, while Somaliland opened its office in Taipei on Sept. 9.(By Yeh Su-ping and Joseph Yeh)
Turkish firm signs new contract to operate Somalia’s Port of Mogadishu
Source: Daily Sabah, Tuesday October 13, 2020
A Turkish company on Monday signed a new 14-year contract in Somalia to operate and rehabilitate the port of its capital city, Mogadishu, local media reported Monday.
“Turkish ports operator Albayrak and the federal government of Somalia have signed an agreement that grants the company a new 14-year concession to manage the Port of Mogadishu,” Somalia National Television announced.
The inking of the deal came after days of discussions between the Albayrak Group and the Somali government on revenue sharing, among other key issues surrounding the deal.
Ports and Marine Transport Minister Mariam Aweys Jama told reporters that the company would help in rehabilitation and investment to upgrade the port’s facilities amid increasing trade through the key entryway into the Horn of Africa.
Somalia has benefited from aid in various sectors – mostly development and social projects – via the Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TIKA).
Turkey also constructed the Somalia Mogadishu Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdoğan Training and Research Hospital and rebuilt the Aden Adde International Airport in Mogadishu.
Source: Ethiopia Insight posted on 9 October 2020
Ethiopia Insight posted on 9 October 2020 a commentary titled “Far-sighted Federal Solidarity, Not Power Politics and Legalism, Is Needed to Solve Tigray Dispute” by Zemelak Ayitenew Ayele, Addis Ababa University.
The political crisis between the federal government and Tigray regional government demands a creative solution that deescalates the situation and focuses on national unity. 0 commentsLabels: elections, Ethiopia, federalism, House of Federation, Prosperity Party, revenue, Tigray Region, TPLF
Source: The Washington Post published on 6 October 2020
The Washington Post published on 6 October 2020 a commentary titled “A Conflict Is Brewing on the Nile–and the Trump Administration Is Making Things Worse” by Stephen Paduano, London School of Economics.
The author argues that the United States should help to solve Egypt’s water needs by promoting better water management programs in Egypt than threatening to cut aid to Ethiopia.
In the meantime, the director-general of Ethiopia’s Civil Aviation Authority has banned all flights in the vicinity of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam in order to secure the dam from possible attack. 0 commentsLabels: Abdel Fattah al-Sissi, Abiy Ahmed, aviation, Egypt, Ethiopia, GERD, hydropower, Nile water, Sudan, Trump administration, US
Pandemic Worsens Challenges Faced by Girls Globally
Source: VOA, Sunday October 11, 2020
An internally displaced Somali girl carries her sibling as they wait to collect food relief from the World Food Program (WFP) at a settlement in the capital, Mogadishu, in 2011.
The world marks the International Day of the Girl Child on Sunday, during a year in which a global pandemic and subsequent economic downturn has created further challenges for girls.
The United Nations, which created the day in 2011 to promote girls’ rights, says difficulties already faced by girls have been exacerbated by the coronavirus health crisis, including in the areas of education, child marriage, domestic violence and economic opportunity.
A U.N. website for the observance says by next year, an estimated 435 million women and girls will be living on less than $1.90 a day – including 47 million “pushed into poverty as a result of COVID-19. It notes that the loss of economic prosperity and education for girls fueled by the crisis is also linked to increased levels of violence.
The U.N. says even before the pandemic, one in three women worldwide had experienced physical or sexual violence. “Emerging data shows that since the outbreak of COVID-19, violence against women and girls and particularly domestic violence, has intensified.”
During humanitarian crises, “time and again, we see other things getting prioritized” – including food and shelter, said Lyric Thompson, a policy expert for the Washington-based International Center for Research on Women.
Thompson, who also co-chairs with Aria Grabowski, Girls Not Brides USA, part of the global coalition trying to halt child marriage, said during such times of crisis, the planning to counter “gendered forms of violence, including child marriage, falls by the wayside.”
Child marriages have been on the rise during the pandemic as COVID-related lockdowns have kept youngsters out of school and, in some cases, confined them in close quarters with sexual predators. The pandemic has also led to families trying to place daughters in more economically stable households to ease their own financial burdens.
An estimated 500,000 more girls around the world are at risk of being forced into child marriage in 2020 as a result of the effects of COVID-19, according to an October report by Save the Children.
The surge in child marriages frustrates but does not surprise Grabowski, who recommended dedicating funding and programing early on in the pandemic to combat child marriage and gender-based violence.
“So much of the health response is focused on infection prevention and control,” she said.
Rohingya refugee camps in Bangladesh are one place where child marriages have risen since the onset of the pandemic.
A refugee camp resident told VOA Bangladesh on condition of anonymity, “In some cases, families must live together in overcrowded tents in the camp. To make room, their daughters were married off before they reached adulthood.”
“No parent wants to give their daughter into the hands of others, but they have to marry because of circumstances,” he added.
Wai Wai Nu, co-founder and director of the Women’s Peace Network, told VOA that the increase of child marriages in the camps is alarming.
She said parents allow their child daughters to get married not because they are poor or uneducated, but because they believe that marriage can bring security for their daughters’ lives.
“Parents believe that if their daughters are married off, their husbands can protect them better than the parents could,” she said.
Domestic and sexual violence
Other forms of violence against girls are also on the rise during the pandemic, including in online spaces where more people are communicating as a result of increased social distancing.
A recent survey by Plan International found 32% of Indonesian girls have experienced violence on social media, while 56% have witnessed violence on social media. The organization surveyed 500 Indonesian girls between the ages of 15 and 20.
“Here (in Indonesia), girls do not only experience one type of gender-based online violence. Out of 500 girls, 395 said they experienced multiple instances (of violence), said Nazla Marisa, influencing director of Plan International Indonesia.
No country is immune to the abuse. In the United States, minors accounted for half the calls made in March to the National Sexual Assault Hotline operated by the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN). Of those claiming coronavirus concerns, “67% identified their perpetrator as a family member,” according to Harvard Medical School’s Center for Primary Care.
U.N. Women has described the gender-based violence during the global coronavirus outbreak as a “shadow pandemic.” It says since the outbreak of COVID-19, all types of violence against women and girls, particularly domestic violence, have intensified.
Education is another area in which girls are suffering because of the coronavirus health crisis. Research by the Malala Fund estimates that 20 million secondary school-aged girls may never return to the classroom after the crisis is over.
The Malala fund was started by activist Malala Yousafzai, who survived a shot in the head after being targeted for campaigning for girls’ education in Pakistan.
Malala, who won the Noble Peace Prize for her efforts in 2014, spoke about the pandemic’s effect on girls education with Prince Harry and his wife, Meghan, in a video set to be released Sunday to mark the International Day of the Girl Child.
The schooling of girls is critical to advancing gender equality, according to a new, related UNESCO report. The report said that despite an increase across all levels of education, girls are still more likely to suffer exclusion than boys, an outcome it said is exacerbated by the current pandemic.
Around the world, 132 million girls are out of school, according to U.N. figures, with 1 in 3 adolescent girls from the poorest households having never been to school.
Sasmito Madrim of the Indonesian Service, Ingyin Naing of the Burmese Service, Carol Guensburg of the Africa Division, and the Bangla Service contributed to this report.
Ethiopia bans flights over dam for security reasons, says aviation chief
Source: Reuters, Thursday October 8, 2020
This satellite image of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam on the Blue Nile river in the Benishangul-Gumuz region of Ethiopia. Maxar Technologies via AP
Ethiopia has banned all flights over its giant new hydropower dam on the Blue Nile for security reasons, the head of its civil aviation authority has said, as the country’s president pledged the dam would begin generating power in the next 12 months.
The move could worsen Ethiopia’s dispute with Egypt and Sudan over its $4 billion Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, which Cairo has said could threaten its main supply of water.
“All flights have been banned to secure the dam,” the director general of the Ethiopian Civil Aviation Authority, Wesenyeleh Hunegnaw, said on Monday. He declined to give more details.Later on Monday, in a speech to parliament, Ethiopia’s President Sahle Work Zewde said: “This year will be a year where the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam will start generating power with the two turbines.”
She also said that work was under way to enable a second filling of the dam within the next 12 months.
In July, Ethiopia said it had achieved its first year of filling the dam thanks to rainfall in the area.
Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed told the United Nations last month that the country has “no intention” of harming Sudan and Egypt with the dam, days after Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El Sisi reiterated his concerns over the project.
Last week, air force chief Major Gen Yilma Merdasa told local media that Ethiopia was fully prepared to defend the dam from any attack.
Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan failed to strike a deal on the operation of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam before Ethiopia began filling the reservoir behind the dam in July.
The dam is at the centre of Ethiopia’s bid to become Africa’s biggest power exporter.
The structure is about 15 kilometres from the Ethiopian border with Sudan on the Blue Nile – a tributary of the Nile river, which gives Egypt’s 100 million people about 90 per cent of their fresh water.
The United States decided last month to cut $100 million in aid to Ethiopia amid the dispute over the dam. A US State Department official told Reuters at the time that the decision to freeze some funding to Ethiopia was triggered by concern over Ethiopia’s unilateral decision to start filling the dam before an agreement.
Former Somali PM dies in Ethiopia
Source: Hiiraan Online, Thursday October 8, 2020
JIGJIGA (HOL) – Former Somali Prime minister Ali Khalif Galaydh has today died in Ethiopian Somali region, an official confirmed. He was 79.
In a Twitter post, Somali information ministry spokesperson Ismail Mukhtar said Galeyr passed away in Jigjiga town.
He did not specify the cause of Galaydh’s death.
An accomplished academic, Galeydh travelled to the United States as a young man to attend Boston University on a scholarship. He went on to earn a Master of Public Administration (M.P.A) from Syracuse University. He was a fellow for Middle Eastern Studies at Harvard University in the 1980s. embarked on a career that saw him working at the Somali Institute of Public Administration (SIPA) and the Somali Institute of Development Administration and Management (SIDAM) from 1967 to 1973.
Galaydh joined the public sector when he was appointed as a Member of Parliament in 1979. A year later, he was promoted to Minister of Industry by Siad Barre. He later fled Somalia in 1982 along with a group of ministers.
He returned to public office when he was named as Prime Minister following the Somalia National Peace Conference (SNPC) in Arta, Djibouti, in October 2000.
Ali Khalif Galaydh was in the Westgate Mall when Al-Shabaab militants infamously attacked it in 2013. He managed to escape through a fire escape.
More recently, he was selected as a federal Member of Parliament in 2012 and the leader of self-declared Khaatumo administration.
Djibouti, nation of one million, is building the largest free trade zone in Africa
Source: National Accord, Wednesday October 7, 2020
Djibouti is capitalizing on its strategic location on one of the world’s busiest trade routes to build Africa’s largest free trade zone area. The Horn of Africa nation controls the Bab el-Mandeb (“Gate of Tears” in Arabic) which is a crucial chokepoint at the entrance to the Red Sea and the Suez Canal from the Indian Ocean.
The Bab el-Mandeb is the world’s fourth most frequented maritime route used by some 30,000 ships every year. Also, after the Ethiopia–Eritrea war, Djibouti has become a gateway for 90% of Ethiopia’s imports, a trading volume that accounts for 90% of Djibouti’s port traffic.
In 2018, lowly-populated Djibouti launched the first phase of the project comprising a 240-hectare (593-acre) site. The year before, it had unveiled three new ports and a railway linking it to landlocked Ethiopia, as part of its bid to become a global trade and logistics hub. The $3.5-billion China-backed initiative will span 4,800 hectares when completed and it will become the biggest free trade zone area on the continent. “The volume of goods traveling to East Africa keeps increasing. Every time a product arrives in the continent without being transformed it is a missed opportunity for Africa,” said Aboubaker Omar Hadi, chairman of the Ports and Free Zones Authority.
“(Djibouti) aims to become a gateway not only to Ethiopia but to South Sudan, Somalia and the Great Lakes region,” he added. “This new free zone will be the country’s first employment reservoir, with more than 15,000 direct and indirect jobs created.”
The project is part of China’s “One Belt, One Road” initiative to expand trade routes and a series of infrastructure across 60 countries. It is being constructed by China’s largest public port operator, Dalian Port Corporation Limited.
The operations of the port will be a jointly run by the Djibouti Ports and Free Zone Authority and three Chinese companies: China Merchants Holdings, Dalian Port Authority and big data company IZP.
According to Reuters, the agreement calls for the zone to handle $7 billion in trade within two years. Besides, Djibouti will create a unified customs system with China, establish a transit trade center and set up a currency clearing system.
At least 21 countries have signed on to operate in the zone which offers tax-free incentives to investors. Port activities in Djibouti account for about 70% of Djibouti’s GDP.
Aside from the port expansion, the tiny East Africa nation is home to both Chinese and US military bases. The UK, France, Japan and Saudi Arabia also have military installations there. Land lease for military installations is also a major source of revenue for the Djiboutian government.
Washington pays $63 million annually for a 10-year lease of the area while China pays $20 million a year, in addition to other investments.
CPJ, Human Rights Watch, and Amnesty International express concern over Somalia’s amended media law
Source: CPJ, Tuesday October 6, 2020
President of Somalia Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed speaks onstage during the 2019 Concordia Annual Summit in New York City on September 23, 2019. CPJ, Human Rights Watch, and Amnesty International are calling on the president to revisit a restrictive media law. (Getty Images/Riccardo Savi)
The Committee to Protect Journalists, Human Rights Watch, and Amnesty International today sent a joint letter to the president of the Federal Republic of Somalia, Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, expressing concern over a restrictive amended media law and asking the president to take concrete steps to safeguard press freedom and journalist safety during upcoming elections. The amended Somali media law, which the president approved in August 2020, recognizes media freedom but includes criminal penalties that are “vaguely worded and could give law enforcement authorities wide scope for misinterpretation and abuse,” according to the three organizations’ letter. Among other aspects, the amended law requires journalists to be licensed with the government and gives the country’s minister of information significant power over the Media Council, an independent committee set up to provide oversight of the implementation of media policy.
CPJ, Human Rights Watch, and Amnesty International also urged the president to review other laws that pose a threat to press freedom, including the penal code. Ahead of parliamentary and presidential elections slated forlate 2020 and early 2021, the three organizations asked the president to call on judicial and security authorities to stop further arrests and prosecutions of journalists; order security agencies to respect the rights of journalists; and ensure that a new proposed prosecutor for crimes against journalists “promptly and impartially investigates credible allegations of harassment, threats or violence.”
In 2019, for the fifth year in a row, CPJ named Somalia as the country with the worst record for prosecuting murderers of journalists in itsGlobal Impunity Index.
A copy of the letter is available here.
Somaliland parliament approves electoral pact
Source: Hiiraan Online, Tuesday October 6, 2020
HARGEISA (HOL) – The Upper House in Somaliland has approved electoral recommendations agreed to by political parties in what could now see new MPs elected for the first time since 2005.
The Guurti (Upper House) endorsed the agreements which specifies that parliamentary and municipal elections be held within 2020.
The leaders of Kulmiye, Waddani and UCID political parties signed the agreeement July 12 ending a series of delays which saw the break-away region retain MPs elected in 2005 for about 15 years.
The approval by the Upper House sets the stage for the long-awaited elections which could coincide with similar exercise in Somalia.
Parliamentary elections are set to kick from November in Somalia with a new president being elected in early February.
Somaliland held presidential elections in December 2017.
Somali PM pledges ‘free and fair’ elections, appeals for donor funding
Source: Sunday October 4, 2020
MOGADISHU (HOL) – Somali Prime Minister Mohamed Roble has pledged to lead the country towards a free and fair election and called for international donor support.
The new PM said in a video message Saturday he is committed to ensuring the upcoming elections are conducted in a free and fair manner.
“We are committed to ensuring the upcoming elections are free and fair,” PM Roble said adding international donor support was crucial to meeting the electoral timelines.
The PM’s remarks follow the announcement Thursday of the final agreements on the electoral process by the National Consultative Forum (NCF). The Forum is comprised of the President and all the regional government heads.
The new PM has about four months in office before the term of the current administration lapses. Preparing the country for elections and overseeing a transition will be the main agenda item during his reign.
According to the new electoral timelines, voting for MPs will run from November 10 to 27 while that of Senators will be held between December 1 and 10.
A new president is expected to be elected by February 8.
UN Expert: Somalia Backtracking on Human Rights Commitments
Source: VOA, Sunday October 4, 2020
Somali security forces patrol during a soccer match at Konis Stadium, in Modadishu, Somalia, Sept. 8, 2017.
GENEVA – A U.N. human rights investigator is expressing concern about possible regression by Somali authorities from their adherence to international human rights law. The concerns are amplified in a report submitted to the U.N. Human Rights Council by the U.N.’s independent expert on the situation of human rights in Somalia.
Isha Dyfan was appointed independent expert on Somalia in March, during the COVID-19 pandemic, keeping her from going there. She says that information gathered remotely from numerous sources, though, strongly indicates Somali authorities are regressing on commitments to protect peoples’ economic, social and cultural rights.
She acknowledges the country’s armed conflict and humanitarian crises have been worsened by the pandemic and a locust infestation.
“There have been reports of attacks against health care and aid workers, excessive use of force by law enforcement agencies resulting in the death of civilians, violations of the right to freedom of expression and opinion, and an increase in sexual and gender-based violence and forced evictions during the pandemic,” she said.
Dyfan said she is particularly troubled by long-standing and deeply rooted patterns of prejudice, discrimination and violence aimed daily at women and girls.
“I have continued to hear of incidents of rape and other forms of sexual violence against women, girls and boys, occurring for the most part with impunity, forcing victims and their families to turn to other avenues, which seem to provide a semblance of justice, but in reality, continue to fuel violence,” Dyfan said.
Somali Ambassador to Switzerland and Austria Ebyan Mahamed Salah said her government does not believe it is possible to achieve peace and security without the preservation of human rights. She said Somalia has adopted a human rights-based approach and established institutions to end impunity and violent conflict, and to ensure peoples’ rights and freedoms.
Sudan’s government, rebel groups sign landmark deal
Source: Al Jazeera, 4 October 2020
Transitional gov’t and various rebel groups ink deal in Juba a year after peace talks began, but two key groups are not part of it.
Rebels leaders gesture after the signing of the peace agreement [Samir Bol/Reuters]
Sudan’s transitional government and several rebel groups have signed a peace agreement aimed at resolving years of war in which hundreds of thousands of people died and millions displaced in different regions across the country.
Cheers rang out as representatives from the government and a coalition of armed groups called the Sudanese Revolutionary Front (SRF) signed the deal on Saturday, a year after the peace talks began, at a ceremony in Juba, the capital of neighbouring South Sudan.Guarantors of the deal from Chad, Qatar, Egypt, the African Union, European Union and United Nations also put their names to the agreement.
“Today we have reached a peace agreement. We are happy. We have finished the mission,” Tut Gatluak, head of the South Sudanese mediating team said, shortly before the signing of the deal that happened a year after the peace talks began.
The peace-building process faces various challenges and pitfalls that we can overcome through concerted efforts and joint action.
SUDANESE PRIME MINISTER ABDALLA HAMDOK
Entertainers from South Sudan and Sudan performed for the guests, while members of the rebel groups from Darfur, South Kordofan and the Blue Nile marched, singing songs of joy and carrying banners bearing the images of their party leaders.However, two powerful rebel groups – the Darfur-based Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM) faction led by Abdelwahid Mohamed al-Nour and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N) led by Abdelaziz al-Hilu did not sign, reflecting the challenges still facing the peace process.
Al Jazeera’s Hiba Morgan, reporting from Sudan’s capital, Khartoum, said that while the document signed in Juba has been called “the final agreement”, the absence of the two key groups means that the deal was incomplete.
Jonas Horner, a senior Sudan analyst at the International Crisis Group think-tank, told Al Jazeera the SLM and SPLM-N “are the only armed groups in Sudan with meaningful military capacity and who represent significant constituencies”.
Last month, al-Hilu struck a separate deal with the government, agreeing to a truce until Sudan’s constitution is changed to separate religion and government.
Al-Hilu has called for a secular state with no role for religion in lawmaking, the disbanding of former President Omar al-Bashir’s militias and the revamping of the country’s military. The group has said if its demands are not met, it would call for self-determination in areas it controls in the Blue Nile and South Kordofan provinces.
‘Challenges and pitfalls’
Ending Sudan’s internal conflicts has been a top priority of the power-sharing government in power since last year’s military overthrow of al-Bashir amid a popular pro-democracy uprising.
Lieutenant General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo signed the document on behalf of the Sudanese government [Akuot Chol/AFP]
The deal sets out terms to integrate rebels into the security forces, be politically represented and have economic and land rights. A new fund will pay $750m a year for 10 years to the impoverished southern and western regions and the chance of return for displaced people is also guaranteed.
Sudan’s leaders, including Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok and head of the transitional sovereign council General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan attended the ceremony.
In a statement upon his arrival, Hamdok said that “peace will open broad horizons for development, progress and prosperity”.
However, he conceded that the future will not be easy.
“The peace-building process faces various challenges and pitfalls that we can overcome through concerted efforts and joint action.”
Sudan has been torn by multiple conflicts between the Arab-dominated government that was led by al-Bashir for three decades and rebels drawn from non-Arab ethnic groups in its far-flung regions.
In Sudan’s vast rural areas, settled ethnic minority farmers have frequently competed for scarce resources with Arab herders, who have often been backed by Khartoum.
Tensions have been heightened by economic hardship, especially after the 2011 secession of South Sudan which deprived the north of three-quarters of its oil reserves.
Multiple civil wars have raged since independence in 1956, including the 1983-2005 war that led to the secession of the south.
The devastating war in Darfur from 2003 left at least 300,000 people dead and 2.5 million displaced in its early years, according to the United Nations.
Source: The East African published on 30 September 2020
The East African published on 30 September 2020 an article titled “Ethiopia Readies to Launch Second Satellite, Plans for 10 More by 2035” by Tesfa-Alem Tekle.
China launched Ethiopia’s first satellite in 2019. It was designed for weather forecasting and crop monitoring. China is scheduled to launch a second satellite in December 2020 for flood and disaster prediction. Over the next ten years, Ethiopia plans to launch seven more satellites, including a communication satellite next year. 0 commentsLabels: agriculture, China, communication, environment, Ethiopia, satellite, weather
U.S. push for Sudan to recognize Israel falters — and puts Khartoum in a tight spot
Source : Washington Post, I October 2020
Worldwide death toll from coronavirus eclipses 1 million
Source: AP, Tuesday September 29, 2020
In this Sept. 24, 2020, file photo, cemetery workers place the coffin containing the remains of Jose de Arimateia, 65, who died from COVID-19 complications, into a niche at the municipal cemetery in Nova Iguacu, Brazil. The worldwide death toll from the coronavirus eclipsed 1 million, nine months into a crisis that has devastated the global economy, tested world leaders’ resolve, pitted science against politics and forced multitudes to change the way they live, learn and work. (AP Photo/Silvia Izquierdo, File)
NEW DELHI (AP) — The worldwide death toll from the coronavirus has eclipsed 1 million, nine months into a crisis that has devastated the global economy, tested world leaders’ resolve, pitted science against politics and forced multitudes to change the way they live, learn and work.
“It’s not just a number. It’s human beings. It’s people we love,” said Dr. Howard Markel, a professor of medical history at the University of Michigan who has advised government officials on containing pandemics and lost his 84-year-old mother to COVID-19 in February.
“It’s our brothers, our sisters. It’s people we know,” he added. “And if you don’t have that human factor right in your face, it’s very easy to make it abstract.”The bleak milestone, recorded on Monday in the U.S. by Johns Hopkins University, is greater than the population of Jerusalem or Austin, Texas. It is 2 1/2 times the sea of humanity that was at Woodstock in 1969. It is more than four times the number killed by the 2004 earthquake and tsunami in the Indian Ocean.
Even then, the figure is almost certainly a vast undercount because of inadequate or inconsistent testing and reporting and suspected concealment by some countries.
And the number continues to mount. Nearly 5,000 deaths are reported each day on average. Parts of Europe are getting hit by new outbreaks, and experts fear a second wave in the U.S., which accounts for about 205,000 deaths, or 1 out of 5 worldwide. That is far more than any other country, despite America’s wealth and medical resources.
“I can understand why … numbers are losing their power to shock, but I still think it’s really important that we understand how big these numbers really are,” said Mark Honigsbaum, author of “The Pandemic Century: One Hundred Years of Panic, Hysteria and Hubris.”
The global toll includes people like Joginder Chaudhary, who was his parents’ greatest pride, raised with the little they earned farming a half-acre plot in central India to become the first doctor from their village.
After the virus killed the 27-year-old Chaudhary in late July, his mother wept inconsolably. With her son gone, Premlata Chaudhary said, how could she go on living? Three weeks later, on Aug. 18, the virus took her life, too. All told, it has killed more than 95,000 in India.
“This pandemic has ruined my family,” said the young doctor’s father, Rajendra Chaudhary. “All our aspirations, our dreams, everything is finished.”
When the virus overwhelmed cemeteries in the Italian province of Bergamo last spring, the Rev. Mario Carminati opened his church to the dead, lining up 80 coffins in the center aisle. After an army convoy carted them to a crematory, another 80 arrived. Then 80 more.
Eventually the crisis receded and the world’s attention moved on. But the pandemic’s grasp endures. In August, Carminati buried his 34-year-old nephew.
“This thing should make us all reflect. The problem is that we think we’re all immortal,” the priest said.
The virus first appeared in late 2019 in patients hospitalized in the Chinese city of Wuhan, where the first death was reported on Jan. 11. By the time authorities locked down the city nearly two weeks later, millions of travelers had come and gone. China’s government has come in for criticism that it did not do enough to alert other countries to the threat.
Government leaders in countries like Germany, South Korea and New Zealand worked effectively to contain it. Others, like U.S. President Donald Trump and Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro, dismissed the severity of the threat and the guidance of scientists, even as hospitals filled with gravely ill patients.
Brazil has recorded the second most deaths after the U.S., with about 142,000. India is third and Mexico fourth, with more than 76,000.
The virus has forced trade-offs between safety and economic well-being. The choices made have left millions of people vulnerable, especially the poor, minorities and the elderly.
With so many of the deaths beyond view in hospital wards and clustered on society’s margins, the milestone recalls the grim pronouncement often attributed to Soviet dictator Josef Stalin: One death is a tragedy, millions of deaths are a statistic.
The pandemic’s toll of 1 million dead in such a limited time rivals some of the gravest threats to public health, past and present.
It exceeds annual deaths from AIDS, which last year killed about 690,000 people worldwide. The virus’s toll is approaching the 1.5 million global deaths each year from tuberculosis, which regularly kills more people than any other infectious disease.
But “COVID’s grip on humanity is incomparably greater than the grip of other causes of death,” said Lawrence Gostin, a professor of global health law at Georgetown University. He noted the unemployment, poverty and despair caused by the pandemic, and deaths from myriad other illnesses that have gone untreated.
For all its lethality, the virus has claimed far fewer lives than the so-called Spanish flu, which killed an estimated 40 million to 50 million worldwide in two years, just over a century ago.
That pandemic came before scientists had microscopes powerful enough to identify the enemy or antibiotics that could treat the bacterial pneumonia that killed most of the victims. In the U.S., the Spanish flu killed about 675,000. But most of those deaths did not come until a second wave hit over the winter of 1918-19.
Up to now, the disease has left only a faint footprint on Africa, well shy of early modeling that predicted thousands more deaths.
But cases have recently surged in countries like Britain, Spain, Russia and Israel. In the United States, the return of students to college campuses has sparked new outbreaks. With approval and distribution of a vaccine still probably months away and winter approaching in the Northern Hemisphere, the toll will continue to climb.
“We’re only at the beginning of this. We’re going to see many more weeks ahead of this pandemic than we’ve had behind us,” Gostin said.
Source: Foreign Policy posted on 24 September 2020
Foreign Policy posted on 24 September 2020 an article titled “The African Union Needs to Resolve Ethiopia’s Dam Dispute” by Ola Owojori. a political risk specialist.
Negotiations to resolve disagreements between Ethiopia and Egypt over water allocation behind the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam involving the US Treasury Department and the World Bank have failed. It is up the African Union, which has a better understanding of the problem, to propose a solution acceptable to Ethiopia, Egypt, and Sudan. 0 commentsLabels: Abiy Ahmed, AU, climate change, Cyril Ramaphosa, Egypt, Ethiopia, GERD, hydropower, Nile River, Sudan, US, World Bank
Source: Foreign Policy published on 25 September 2020
Foreign Policy published on 25 September 2020 an article titled “The White House Wants Peace with Sudan. Congress Wants Khartoum to Pay” by Cameron Hudson, Atlantic Council.
The article is a useful update on the state of play between domestic political calculations and current US-Sudan relations.
What the article fails to explain is that Sudan’s removal from the US list of state sponsors of terrorism, where it was rightfully placed in 1993, has no relationship to Sudan’s recognition of Israel. According to the State Department’s annual report on terrorism, Sudan has cooperated with the United States for years in efforts to combat terrorism. Removal from the state sponsors of terrorism list should be dealt with on its merits, not winning domestic political points. 0 commentsLabels: Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, Congress, counterterrorism, Israel, state sponsors of terrorism, Sudan, Trump administration, UAE, US
Somalia, US sign pact on debt cancellation
Source: Hiiraan Online, Monday September 28, 2020
MOGADISHU (HOL) – Somalia has signed a debt restructuring pact with the US that that will see it eventually forgiven up to $1 billion.
The agreement was signed Sunday in Mogadishu by US ambassador to Somalia Donald Yamamoto and Finance Minister Abdirahman BeylehSigning this agreement was possible because Somalia has implemented significant economic reforms in recent years and in March 2020 reached the first stage of debt relief, known as “Decision Point,” through the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries Initiative,” a statement from the US embassy in Mogadishu read in part.
“When Somalia reaches the final stage, “Completion Point,” the United States will have forgiven more than $1 billion in debt.
The US is the single most bilateral creditor to Somalia having loaned the Horn of African up to $1 billion which are now in arrears.
Somalia reached the decision point under the HIPC initiative early this year opening doors for limited grants access through the World Bank’s International Development Association (IDA) financing facility.
Once the country reaches the Completion Point, it will have been forgiven virtually all the $5.4 billion debt.
Somalia meeting most targets on road to debt relief, says IMF
Source: Reuters, Friday September 25, 2020
Somali authorities have met their first round of targets for financial reform, the International Monetary Fund said on Thursday, part of a broader program paving the way to debt relief for the war-ravaged nation.
“Authorities have remained steadfast in their commitment to economic reforms, meeting all structural benchmarks for the first review,” the press release said.
Domestic revenues for the financial year until June were US$99 million against a target of US$ 109 million, the Fund said, but it was willing to waive that because Somalia had been hit by locusts, flooding and COVID-19.
Somalia is reorganising the Central Bank, and making reforms in customs and tax collection, the Fund said.
“Somalia is on the right track,” Finance Minister Abdirahman Duale Beileh told Reuters . “The government’s commitment to its economic and fiscal roadmap, guided by the IMF program, is clear.”
The impoverished Horn of Africa nation has been ripped apart by civil war since 1991 but the fragile internationally-backed government is slowly building institutions despite a ferocious Islamist insurgency.
Officials want to unlock access to international financing for development, but first Somalia must work through a program for debt relief.
In March, the Fund, the World Bank and the African Development Bank agreed to let Somalia seek relief under the complex Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) Initiative. The IMF’s executive board also offered a new three-year financing arrangement worth $395 million.
In April, the Paris Club of creditor nations agreed to restructure Somalia’s debt, including immediately canceling $1.4 billion.
Debt relief aims to help Somalia reduce its external debt to $557 million in net present value terms from $5.2 billion at the end of 2018 – if the nation meets targets for good governance.