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Horn of Africa

 

UN Gives $65 Million in Aid to Ethiopia, Tigray

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Source: AP, Friday May 7, 2021

A bus carrying displaced people arrives at the Tsehaye primary school, which was turned into a temporary shelter for people displaced by conflict, in the town of Shire, Tigray region, Ethiopia, March 14, 2021


UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The United Nations announced Thursday it has released $65 million for humanitarian aid in Ethiopia, including $40 million for the Tigray region where a military operation launched in November has escalated into a war in which widespread atrocities are reported and thousands have been killed.

The U.N. humanitarian office said the remaining $25 million will fund aid operations in the rest of Ethiopia, including in response to drought in the Somali and Oromia regions. It said funds will be used to treat children with severe acute malnutrition, rehabilitate water systems and supply water to drought-affected communities and to pre-position humanitarian supplies.A“Ethiopian lives and livelihoods are being destroyed by drought, and children are suffering from malnutrition,” U.N. humanitarian chief Mark Lowcock said in a statement. “And six months into the conflict in Tigray, civilians continue to bear the brunt.”

“Women and girls are being targeted with horrific sexual violence, and millions are struggling to access essential services and food, especially in some rural areas that are completely cut off. We need to scale up the humanitarian response now,” Lowcock said.

The humanitarian office known as OCHA said the $40 million for Tigray will fund emergency shelter, clean water, health care, prevention efforts and response to sexual and gender-based violence, and emergency telecommunications to support the humanitarian response.

OCHA said access to those in need in Tigray “remains a challenge” and aid officials are trying to reach inaccessible areas in the southeast.

Last week, OCHA said, a U.N. humanitarian convoy managed to reach Samre town, where it delivered emergency food and nutrition supplies and organized a mobile health clinic in the Samre hospital.

OCHA urged additional funding for humanitarian aid in Tigray and elsewhere in Ethiopia as well as access to all those in need.

Somalia revives ties with Kenya after nearly six-month break

Somalia revives ties with Kenya after nearly six-month breaklinkedin sharing button

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Source: Reuters, Friday May 7, 2021
By Abdi Sheikh


Somali deputy information minister Abdirahman Yusuf speaks during a news conference in Mogadishu

MOGADISHU (Reuters) – Somalia said on Thursday it was restoring diplomatic relations with neighbouring Kenya almost six months after severing ties, accusing Nairobi of meddling in politics.

Relations between the countries have also been tense over the ownership of potential oil and gas deposits, some of which lie off the coast of Jubbaland, one of Somalia’s five semi-autonomous states.”Now diplomatic relations are restored,” deputy information minister Abdirahman Yusuf told a news conference in Mogadishu, saying the Gulf Arab state of Qatar had helped in the process.

Kenya’s foreign ministry said that it took note of the Somali government’s announcement.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs “looks forward to further normalization of relations by the Somali authorities including with regard to trade, communication, transportation, people-to-people relations and cultural exchanges,” it said in a statement. It also acknowledged the support of Qatar in particular in its efforts to normalize relations.

Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani told Reuters that Doha had agreed with the presidents of both countries that they would work on strengthening bilateral relations and bringing them “back on track”.

The minister said his special envoy for counterterrorism and mediation of conflict resolution, Mutlaq Al-Qahtani, had visited both countries.

“We believe that normalizing the relationship between the two neighbours is very important for political stability, especially in Somalia which is currently going through political turmoil … and we look forward to the elections there,” he said.



Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed has directed the prime minister to prepare a parliamentary election. A delay led to a political crisis that raised fears al Qaeda-linked al Shabaab insurgents could exploit a security vacuum if state forces turn on each other.

State House in Nairobi tweeted that President Uhuru Kenyatta “received a special message” from Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al-Thani that was delivered by the foreign minister’s special envoy.

In November, Somalia expelled Kenya’s ambassador and recalled its own from Nairobi after accusing Kenya of interfering in the electoral process in Jubbaland.

In February 2019, Kenya recalled its ambassador after Mogadishu decided to auction oil and gas exploration blocks at the centre of their maritime rights dispute. The two countries had revived ties in November the same year.

The two are at present before the World Court to adjudicate the maritime boundary dispute.

(Reporting by Abdi Sheikh; Additional reporting by George Obulutsa and Ghaida Ghantous; Writing by Maggie Fick; editing by Bernadette Baum/Mark Heinrich and Grant McCool)

UK launches road infrastructure project in Somaliland

UK launches road infrastructure project in Somalilandlinkedin sharing button

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Source: Hiiraan Online, Tuesday May 4, 2021

Hargeisa (HOL) – The British government is investing $ 17 million in a 22.5 km road project that will divert trucks from Hargeisa.

Somaliland President Muse Bihi Abdi and British Ambassador to Somalia Kate Foster jointly laid the foundation stone for the project on the eastern outskirts of Hargeisa on Monday.The chairman of the Berbera Corridor, Isse Hamari, said the new road would significantly improve productivity.

“This road is 22.5 km long and runs from the city’s northern outskirts, starting at Haleya (eastern checkpoint in Hargeisa) and ending at Shifo Hospital,” Hamari said.

“This road is part of the Berbera Corridor, it is clearing the city, and 1000 trucks a day are expected to pass instead of the current 30 or 40,” he added.

The road, which is part of the Berbera Corridor, will complete the diversion of trucks from Hargeisa, which they used to pass through.

Ethiopia at the Political Crossroads

Ethiopia at the Political Crossroads

 Source: The Associated Press published on 4 May 2021 an article titled “Ethiopia ‘At a Crossroads’ Amid Spiraling Ethnic Conflict” by Rodney Muhumuza.

The author says Ethiopia is at the point where it needs to decide to continue with its system of ethnic federalism or switch to some other form of governance.  0 commentsLabels: Abiy AhmedAmharaatrocitieselectionsEritreaEthiopiaethnic cleansingethnic conflictethnic federalismgovernanceOromoProsperity PartyTigray RegionTigrayansTPLF

What Does Eritrean President’s Visit to Sudan Mean for Ethiopia?

What Does Eritrean President’s Visit to Sudan Mean for Ethiopia?

 Source: The Associated Press published an article on 4 May 2021 titled “Eritrea’s President Visits Sudan Amid Tensions over Ethiopia” by Samy Magdy.  

Eritrea has had to assure Sudan that it has no role in the border dispute between Ethiopia and Sudan.  A Sudan government statement said leaders of the two countries will discuss the border dispute and Ethiopian-Sudanese differences over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD).

Comment:  As relationships become more complicated in the Horn of Africa because of differences over the GERD, the Sudan-Ethiopia border conflict, and the continuing presence of Eritrean troops in Ethiopia, the visit by Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki to Khartoum takes on added importance and almost certainly raises questions in the minds of Ethiopia’s leaders as to the intentions of Sudan and Eritrea.  0 commentsLabels: Abdel Fattah al-Burhanborder conflictChris CoonsdebtEritreaEthiopiaGERDhuman rightsIsaias Afwerkirefugeesstate sponsor of terrorismSudanTigray RegionUS

US envoy in Egypt for talks on Ethiopia’s dam dispute

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Source: AP, Thursday May 6, 2021


U.S. Special Envoy for the Horn of Africa Jeffrey Feltman, left, meets with Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry, third right, and their delegations, at the foreign ministry in Cairo, Egypt, Wednesday, May 5, 2021. (AP Photo/Nariman El-Mofty)


CAIRO (AP) — The U.S. envoy for the Horn of Africa on Wednesday met with the Egyptian president as part of Washington’s new push to find a resolution to a regional decade-long dispute over Ethiopia’s massive dam on the Nile River’s main tributary.

Jeffrey Feltman arrived in Cairo on Tuesday on the first leg of a tour that includes stops in Eritrea, Ethiopia and Sudan amid growing concerns the dispute could escalate into a military conflict, threatening the entire region.

On Wednesday, Feltman met with Egyptian President President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi, who reiterated his warnings that Cairo will not tolerate any moves by Addis Ababa that could reduce Egypt’s share of water from the Nile because of the Grand Ethiopia Renaissance Dam.El-Sissi said Egypt would not accept anyone “harming its water interests” and described the issue of the dam as “existential” to his country, urging the U.S. to play “an effective role” to settle the dispute.

Feltman, who also met with Egypt’s foreign and irrigation ministers, was quoted as saying that the Biden administration is “serious in settling such a sensitive issue.”

The dispute now centers on how quickly Ethiopia should fill and replenish the reservoir and how much water it releases downstream in case of a multi-year drought. The latest round of African Union-brokered negotiations in April failed to make progress.

Egypt and Sudan argue that Ethiopia’s plan to add 13.5 billion cubic meters of water in 2021 to the dam’s reservoir on the Blue Nile is a threat to them. Cairo and Khartoum have called for the U.S., the U.N, and European Union to facilitate reaching a legally binding deal on the dam’s the filling and operating. Ethiopia rejected the call.

In March, el-Sissi warned of regional “instability that no one can imagine” without a legally binding agreement on operating the dam, based on international law and norms governing cross-border rivers.

Egypt, which relies on the Nile for more than 90% of its water supplies, fears a devastating impact if the dam is operated without taking its needs into account. Ethiopia says the $5 billion dam is essential, arguing the vast majority of its population lacks electricity.

Sudan wants Ethiopia to coordinate and share data on the dam’s operation to avoid flooding and protect its own power-generating dams on the Blue Nile, the main tributary of the Nile.

The Blue Nile meets with the White Nile in Khartoum, from where it winds northward through Egypt and flows into the Mediterranean Sea.

In Khartoum, U.S. Sen. Chris Coons, a Democrat from Delaware and chairman of a subcommittee of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said the dam dispute needs be negotiated “in good faith” to produce an agreement guaranteeing a “safe and steady flow of the Nile.”

Coons, a key ally of President Joe Biden, spoke on a visit to Sudan with fellow senator Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, chairman of a subcommittee on Africa and global health policy. They discussed with Sudanese leaders the African country’s fragile transition to democracy and another border dispute between Khartoum and Addis Ababa.

Budget Pressures Spur Somalia to Resolve Political Crisis

Budget Pressures Spur Somalia to Resolve Political Crisislinkedin sharing button

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Source: Bloomber, By David MalinghaThursday May 6, 2021

President Mohamed Abdullahi in Mogadishu on May 1.
President Mohamed Abdullahi in Mogadishu on May 1. Source: AFP/Getty Images


Somalia will expedite elections in a bid to quell instability and coax donors into releasing funds needed to pay the nation’s security forces and other state employees, Foreign Minister Mohamed Abdirizak said.

The prime minister is scheduled to meet representatives from political parties and other interested groups in July to agree on the voting process, Abdirizak said. The authorities will then announce dates for parliamentary and presidential votes.Ads By Google“It could happen within 90 days” from when they set a date, Abdirizak said in a May 3 interview.

Somalia is proceeding with the elections after President Mohamed Abdullahi reversed a decision to extend his mandate without holding a vote as scheduled in February. The planned delay stoked violence in the Horn of Africa nation, which has been battling an Islamist insurgency for 15 years, and led the U.S. to threaten sanctions.

Somalia is dependent on donor funding, with domestically generated revenue contributing less than half of its annual budget. The government has received less than half of the 100 million euros ($120 million) the EU pledged in a three-year budget-support program that ends this year.

The government has warned there’s a risk of increased unrest if funding gaps leave it unable to cover its wage bill.

“If the government is not able to continue to pay salaries to civil servants, and particularly the security forces, that could create enormous damage,” said Abdirizak. “We are in talks to get those funds released.”

The EU didn’t immediately respond to an email seeking comment.Somalia is struggling to rebuild after two decades of civil war and amid an insurgency by al-Shabaab, an al Qaeda-linked group that the federal government is fighting with the help of neighboring states, the U.S. and the EU. While the group is concentrated in the Middle Shabelle and Lower Shabelle regions, they have recently increased attacks on the capital, Mogadishu. 

UN chief welcomes Somali move to return to agreed electoral mode

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Source. XINHUAnet, Sunday May 2, 2021

UNITED NATIONS, May 1 (Xinhua) — UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Saturday welcomed the decision of Somalia’s lower house of parliament to nullify the “Special Law on Federal Elections” and return to the modalities outlined in the Sept. 17, 2020, electoral agreement, said his spokesman.

The secretary-general reiterated his call to all Somali stakeholders to resume dialogue immediately and forge a consensual agreement on the holding of inclusive elections without further delay. He stressed the importance of a broad-based consensus for the country’s stability, said Stephane Dujarric, the spokesman, in a statement.5Somalia’s lower house of parliament voted on Saturday to annul the April 12 mandate extension bill, which extended the terms of the executive and legislative arms of the federal government by two years.

President Mohamed Farmajo, who addressed the house before the vote, asked the lawmakers to revert to the Sept. 17, 2020, deal that was agreed between the federal government and five leaders of the federal member states.

He said the Sept. 17 deal was unanimously supported by the national consultative forum in order to save the country from political instability and to urgently head to commonly agreed elections.

The April 12 bill plunged Somalia into a political crisis that later erupted into fighting on Tuesday between government forces and those backing the opposition.

Somalia’s parliament votes to cancel presidential term extension

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Source: Reuters, Sunday May 2, 2021

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Somalia legislators vote by rising their hands to cancel a divisive two-year presidential term extension, inside the lower house of Parliament in Mogadishu, Somalia May 1, 2021. REUTERS/Feisal Omar

Somalia legislators vote by rising their hands to cancel a divisive two-year presidential term extension, inside the lower house of Parliament in Mogadishu, Somalia May 1, 2021. REUTERS/Feisal Omar

Somali lawmakers voted unanimously on Saturday to cancel a two-year presidential term extension they had approved last month, after clashes in the capital Mogadishu between factions of the security forces, which are divided over the issue.

In a speech following the vote in the lower house of parliament, Prime Minister Mohamed Hussein Roble ordered the army to return to barracks and urged politicians to avoid inciting violence.

The political crisis has raised fears that al Qaeda-linked al Shabaab insurgents could exploit a security vacuum if state forces split along clan lines and turn on each other. The group has taken over at least one Somali town in the past week as heavily armed fighters moved from the countryside into the capital city.

President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed’s attempt to extend his term has also angered foreign donors, who have backed his government in an attempt to bring stability to Somalia after more than two decades as a failed state following a civil war that began in 1991.

Saturday’s lower house vote was broadcast on Somali television and came shortly after Mohamed addressed parliament and said he was directing the prime minister to prepare to hold a delayed parliamentary election.

Roble said in a Twitter post late on Saturday that the government will “soon” prepare the plan for elections, and thanked the president and the parliament.

Mohamed’s term expired in February, but without a new crop of lawmakers, parliament was unable to choose a president.

The term extension was approved by the lower house last month but rejected by the Senate, provoking the crisis that has intensified in the past week.

Between 60,000 and 100,000 people were forced to flee their homes following clashes on Sunday that stirred fears of all-out war between heavily armed factions for and against the president.

Rashid Abdi, a Nairobi-based independent analyst, said the parliamentary vote and the president’s move towards holding elections appeared to be a good compromise.

“The problem is there is so little trust between the parties and as long as Farmaajo holds the levers of the military and security services, it looks difficult to build confidence in that process,” he said, using a popular nickname for the president.

The U.S. State Department, the EU ambassador, and the Turkish foreign ministry praised Saturday’s developments.

“We call on the parties to the agreement to meet immediately without preconditions to finalize electoral arrangements and begin implementation in a collaborative and transparent manner,” State Department spokesman Ned Price said in a statement, adding that the United States stood ready to support the conduct of elections as soon as possible.

BATTLE LINES DRAWN

Opposition lawmaker Abdirahman Odowaa told Reuters “much remains to be done”, adding that he wanted Mohamed to formalise what had been agreed.

“The handing over of security and election process to the prime minister should be documented and signed … (He) has to go to the conference tent and sign … before all,” Odowaa said.


Senator Ilyas Ali Hassan, from another opposition party, Himilo Qaran, said he hoped Roble “will now lead the election and … do the right thing, so that this country can have a free and fair election”.

Abdulahi Ali Hirsi Timaade, information minister of Puntland, one of Somalia’s five regional governments, told Reuters he wanted Mohamed to confirm in a letter that he had given Roble responsibility for the elections and security.

Mogadishu shopkeeper Duale Hussein said he feared the opposition had been duped.

“He cleverly did a somersault,” Hussein said of the president. “Farmaajo still rules everything … Roble is just his remote control.”

It was not immediately clear whether security forces loyal to the opposition would withdraw from fortified positions in the capital following Saturday’s vote and Roble’s order, having refused to do so earlier this week. read more

Somalia’s armed forces include members of clan militias who have often battled each other for power and resources.

Mohamed is Darod, one of Somalia’s major clans. Most of the opposition leaders and Somali military in the capital are Hawiye, another large clan.

U.S. urges Somali parliament to annul term extension

U.S. urges Somali parliament to annul term extensionlinkedin sharing button

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Source: Hiiraan Online, Thursday April 29, 2021


U.S. State Department spokesperson Ned Price speaks during a press briefing in Washington, D.C., the U.S., Feb. 2, 2021. (AP Photo)

WASHINGTON (HOL) – The US has called on Somali parliament and president Mohamed Farmaajo to annul the April 12, 2021 resolution by the Lower House, which granted the Farmaajo two more years in office.Ads By GoogleState Department spokesperson Ned Price said in a statement on Thursday that the Biden administration welcomed Farmajo’s announcement to accept a return to talks but noted parliament must revoke its own controversial decision that the 275-member chamber voted to pass on April 12.

“The United States notes President Farmaajo’s April 28 commitment to return to the September 17 election agreement and resume talks immediately with Federal Member State leaders,” Price said. “We call on the President and Parliament to act swiftly to annul the April 12 mandate extension bill.”

The statement follows Farmaajo’s national address Tuesday to rescind his extension stance.

“I have decided to appear before the members of the House of the People of the Federal Parliament on Saturday to gain their endorsement for the electoral process that as agreed upon between the Federal Government, the Heads of the Federal Member States and the Governor of BRA,” Farmaajo said.

He also called on the Federal Member States to return for talks based on the September 17 agreement. However, Puntland has already rejected the call for a sit-down with Farmaajo.

Along with several international partners, the US had heavily criticized Farmajo’s government for extending its mandate and publicly warned that it would be forced to reassess its bilateral relationship with Somalia if it did not rescind the extension.  Following a breakout of violence in the capital on Sunday, Ned Price said the  United States was “gravely concerned” and said it would consider ‘all available tools’ – including sanctions and visa restrictions – to respond to political spoilers.

US warns citizens against travel to Somalia over outbreak of violence

US warns citizens against travel to Somalia over outbreak of violencelinkedin sharing button

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Source: Hiiraan Online, Monday April 26, 2021

MOGADISHU (HOL) –  The US Government has warned its citizens against traveling to Somalia following the outbreak of violence and the ongoing security risks in the country.

The state department said in its latest travel advisory Somalia remained a dangerous place for its citizens warning against travel to the Horn of Africa nation.
It cited the violence which broke out on Sunday  between government forces and militias allied to the opposition.

The US Government also noted  improvised explosive devices (IED) attacks have risen significantly in Mogadishu since the beginning of the year compared to last year.

“The security situation has deteriorated in the last few months. March saw the highest number of improvised explosive device (IED) attacks in Mogadishu since September 2019,” the advisory read in part. “ Mogadishu has experienced one suicide vehicle-borne IED each month in 2021 compared to six for the entirety of 2020.”

An ongoing political impasse in Somalia led to a significant outbreak of violence in Mogadishu between government and opposition-affiliated forces on April 25, 2021, the US Government added noting the fighting involved the use of heavy weapons including explosives.

Calm returned in Mogadishu Monday following deadly clashes between government forces and opposition militias Sunday.

The militias held control of districts in northern Mogadishu and Daynile district amid fears of resumption of violence.

The UN, regional bloc IGAD and the UK among foreign and local voices warned against the escalation of violence and called for restraint among parties to the violence.

The planet’s on ‘red alert’ UN chief warns leaders at President Biden’s climate summit

The planet’s on ‘red alert’ UN chief warns leaders at President Biden’s climate summit

Source: NOAA/Jerry PenryScientists believe that climate change is causing an increase in extreme weather events.    22 April 2021Climate and Environment

World leaders must act now and put the planet on a green path because “we are at the verge of the abyss”, UN Secretary-General António Guterres said on Thursday in his address to the virtual climate summit convened by United States President Joseph Biden. 

“Mother Nature is not waiting”, the UN chief warned, as the past decade was the hottest on record, and the world continues to see rising sea-levels, scorching temperatures, devastating tropical cyclones and epic wildfires. 

“We need a green planet — but the world is on red alert,” he said.  “We are at the verge of the abyss.  We must make sure the next step is in the right direction.  Leaders everywhere must take action.”  

US commitment and investment 

The Secretary-General thanked President Biden for hosting the two-day Leaders Summit on Climate, and applauded US commitment to cut greenhouse gas emissions. 

In his introductory remarks, President Biden announced the country would slash emissions in half, by 2030.  He spoke of the “extraordinary job creation and economic opportunity” that climate response provides, proposing investments in sectors such as energy, transportation, construction and farming. 

President Biden acknowledged that no nation can solve the climate emergency alone, and he called for leaders of the world’s largest economies to “step up” in the race to a sustainable future. 

“Scientists tell us that this is the decisive decade.  This is the decade we must make decisions that will avoid the worst consequences of the climate crisis,” he said. 

Net-zero coalition 

Mr. Guterres used the Summit to amplify his call for a global coalition to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, and for countries to ramp up their commitments under the landmark Paris Agreement on climate change.  

The 2015 treaty aims to limit global temperature rise to below 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, and requires governments to commit to increasingly ambitious climate action through plans known as Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). UN Photo/Evan SchneiderSecretary-General António Guterres addresses the Leaders Summit on Climate hosted by US President Joe Biden.

“All countries – starting with major emitters – should submit new and more ambitious Nationally Determined Contributions for mitigation, adaptation and finance, laying out actions and policies for the next 10 years aligned with a 2050 net-zero pathway”, he said. 

These commitments also must be translated into “concrete, immediate action”, he added, as it is estimated that less than a quarter of pandemic recovery spending will go towards mitigating emissions, reducing air pollution or strengthening natural capital.  

Borrowing from the future 

“The trillions of dollars needed for COVID-19 recovery is money we are borrowing from future generations.  We cannot use these resources to lock in policies that burden them with a mountain of debt on a broken planet.” 

The UN chief appealed for leaders to “put a price on carbon” through taxation.  He called for ending subsidies for fossil fuels and instead, ramping up investment in renewable energy and green infrastructure.  

“Stop the financing of coal and the building of new coal power plants. Phase out coal by 2030 in the wealthiest countries, and by 2040 everywhere else.  Ensure a just transition for affected people and communities”, he said. 

Step up financing 

Building the global net zero coalition will require a breakthrough in both finance and adaption, the Secretary-General said.  He urged donors, as well as banks, to move from 20 to 50 per cent in all climate finance flows to resilience and adaptation. 

“Before the United Nations climate conference in November in Glasgow, we need concrete proposals that ease access to greater finance and technological support for the most vulnerable countries,” he added. 

“Developed States must deliver on public climate finance, including the long-promised US $100 billion for climate action in developing countries, at the G7 Summit in June.” 

Growing danger 

The head of the UN climate convention body (UNFCCC) Patricia Espinosa, issued a statement on the Summit, noting that the global climate change emergency was “a clear, present and growing danger to all people on this planet. 

“It recognizes no borders and while nations may be impacted differently, none are immune”, she said. “This is a time for leadership, courage and solidarity by global leaders; a time they must make the tough decisions necessary to finally fulfill the promises of the Paris Agreement and move the world away from disaster and towards an unprecedented era of growth, prosperity and hope for all.

Sudan threatens legal action if Ethiopia dam filled without deal

Sudan threatens legal action if Ethiopia dam filled without deallinkedin sharing button

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Source: Aljazeera, Saturday April 24, 2021

Sudanese Irrigation Minister Yasser Abbas says Ethiopia rejected invitation to three-way summit to discuss stalled negotiations over GERD.

Ethiopia has said it planned to complete the second phase of filling the dam during the upcoming rainy season [File: Eduardo Soteras/AFP]
Ethiopia has said it planned to complete the second phase of filling the dam during the upcoming rainy season [File: Eduardo Soteras/AFP]


A Sudanese minister has warned that his country could take legal action against Ethiopia if the latter goes ahead with plans to fill a mega-dam on the Blue Nile without first reaching a deal with Khartoum and Cairo.

In a series of Twitter posts on Friday, Sudan’s Irrigation Minister Yasser Abbas also said Ethiopia had “objected” to an invitation for a three-way summit to discuss stalled negotiations over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD).

Ethiopia, Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia have been locked in inconclusive talks for nearly a decade over the filling and operation of the massive dam, which broke ground in 2011.Ads By GoogleThe Ethiopian government says GERD is crucial for economic development and power generation, but Egypt fears it will imperil its water supply. Sudan is also concerned about the effect on its own water flows.

Ethiopia has said it planned to complete the second phase of filling the dam during the upcoming rainy season, a move Sudan and Egypt rejected before a binding legal agreement was reached.

If Ethiopia goes ahead with the filling, Sudan “would file lawsuits against the Italian company constructing the dam and the Ethiopian government”, Abbas warned.

He said the lawsuits would highlight that the “environmental and social impact as well as the dangers of the dam” have not been taken into adequate consideration.

“Given that the environmental and social impacts and accompanying risks of the GERD have not been studied, various options are being considered, including The International Court of Justice, The Human Rights Commissions and the COMESA Court.”

There was no immediate reaction by the Ethiopian government.

Talks in Kinshasa overseen by the African Union (AU) collapsed earlier this month, after which Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok invited the leaders of Ethiopia and Egypt to Khartoum. He had given them until Friday to attend.

Meanwhile, Abbas said that while previous negotiations between the three countries had yielded agreement over 90 percent of outstanding issues, that progress was now in doubt.“The AU did not perform its leadership role,” Abbas wrote on Twitter. “They were only observers, and we see that there was no serious methodology for reaching an agreement,” he said, adding that nine months “have been wasted in futile negotiations, and we will not accept waste any more time.”

Sudan and Egypt had proposed including the European Union, the United States and the United Nations as mediators in the dispute in addition to the continuing AU facilitation of the talks. Both countries said Ethiopia had rejected the proposal.

Ethiopian Water Minister Seleshi Bekele told Reuters news agency that Addis Ababa did not believe negotiations between the three countries were finished or had failed, and added that the appropriate next step would be for the heads of states to meet under the auspices of the AU.

Tension over the dam comes as Sudan’s relations with Egypt warm while its relations with Ethiopia have been hit by a dispute over the use of the al-Fashaga farmland near their common border.

In March, Sudan said it has accepted an offer by the United Arab Emirates to mediate with Ethiopia over GERD and the contested border region.

Abbas said the UAE’s initiative included investment opportunities in the al-Fashaga region as well as an “unofficial bid to bridge the gap in views with regard to GERD”.

UN Security Council urges end to Somalia political crisis

UN Security Council urges end to Somalia political crisislinkedin sharing button

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AFP
source: AFP, Saturday April 24, 2021



The UN Security Council adopted a statement Friday calling on parties in Somalia “to reject violence and resume dialogue as a matter of urgency and without precondition,” underscoring its concern over the country’s political crisis.

“The members of the Security Council expressed their deep concern about the continued political impasse and disagreement among Somalia’s political leaders on the model for elections,” the document said.

Ads By GoogleThe Security Council on March 31, following an urgent meeting, had called on Somali authorities to resolve the dispute over the electoral process.

The legal authority of President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, better known as Farmaajo, has been in doubt since February when his four-year term expired before fresh presidential elections were held.

A bill earlier this month extending his mandate by two years bypassed the Senate after being adopted by the lower house of parliament.

Opposition parties decried the move as an unconstitutional bid to cling to power, and the law was criticized by the international community.

The president and leaders of Somalia’s five semi-autonomous federal states had reached an agreement in September that paved the way for indirect parliamentary and presidential elections in late 2020 and early 2021.

But it fell apart as squabbles erupted over how to conduct the vote, and multiple rounds of talks have failed to break the impasse.

The new law paves the way for a one-person, one-vote election in 2023 — the first such direct poll since 1969 — which Somalis have been promised for years and no government has managed to deliver.

The Security Council statement added that the political impasse is also “diverting attention from pressing problems such as floods, drought, desert locusts, the COVID-19 pandemic, and combatting the terrorist threat of Al-Shabaab.”

Conflict in South Sudan’s Equatoria Region

Conflict in South Sudan’s Equatoria Region

 Source: The US Institute of Peace published in April 2021 a study titled “Conflict and Crisis in South Sudan’s Equatoria” by Alan Boswell, International Crisis Group.  

The report examines the conflict in Equatoria region of South Sudan.  It concludes the crisis in Equatoria will likely become entrenched if peace talks do not gain momentum and as resentments from abusive counterinsurgency campaigns mount and disillusionment with the troubled peace process grows.  0 commentsLabels: DinkaEquatoriaIGADRiek MacharSalva KiirSouth SudanSPLASPLM/A-IOThomas CirilloUgandaYoweri Museveni

AFRICOM General: Illegal extension biggest threat to Somali security; not Al-Shabaab

AFRICOM General: Illegal extension biggest threat to Somali security; not Al-Shabaablinkedin sharing button

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Source: Hiiraan Online, Friday April 23, 2021

Mogadishu (HOL) – The Commander of the United States Africa Command (AFRICOM) told a Senate panel that the illegal term extension posed the biggest obstacle to security in Somalia and not the militant insurgent group Al-Shabaab.

Townsend, a four-star Army general, appeared before the Committee on Armed Services and testified that the political dysfunction between federal and regional governments is the most pressing security challenge in the country.Ads By Google“The biggest impact to security in Somalia right now is less Al-Shabaab and moreso the political dysfunction that exists between the federal government of Somalia and the federal member states. As you mentioned in your opening remarks, the extra-constitutional extension of the president’s term in office — that’s our biggest challenge, I think, right now.”

Gen. Townsend said that the Trump-ordered withdrawal of US troops from Somalia has seriously affected its ability to conduct counterterrorism operations.

“There’s no denying that the repositioning of forces out of Somalia has introduced new layers of complexity and risk,” Townsend told Senator Jack Reed. “Our understanding of what’s happening in Somalia is less now than it was when we were there on the ground physically located with our partners.”

The General said that US troops often fly in from either Djibouti or Kenya.

“We have been commuting to work. We work virtually with our partners from our bases in the region, and then we fly in to conduct training and to advise and assist our partners.”

The African Union held a Peace and Security Council (PSC) on Thursday. It condemned a resolution passed by Somalia’s Lower House of Parliament on April 12 to extend the federal government’s mandate. The PSC said the extension would roll back hard-won gains in Somalia’s nascent democracy and constitutional process.

Security Council members hold off-the record meeting on Somalia

Security Council members hold off-the record meeting on Somalialinkedin sharing button

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Source: Hiiraan, Wednesday April 21, 2021


Mogadishu (HOL) – Members of the UN Security Council urged Somalia’s leaders to return to the negotiating table based on the September 17 agreement on Tuesday during an off-the-record conversation known as an informal interactive dialogue (IID).

After the meeting, several participants released brief statements based on their discussion.”The only viable option for Somalia is a resumption of dialogue based on the September 17 agreement,” said the Norwegian Mission to the UN.

Ireland, one of the 15 members of the Security Council, said that they welcomed the leadership role of the African Union in facilitating dialogue. They also said they would support processes from multinational unions such as the IGAD, AU and the EU.

T. S. Tirumurti, India’s Ambassador to the UN, said that he also called on the federal government and regional member states to resume dialogue based on the September 17 agreement and the recommendations from the Baidoa Technical Committee. Tirumurti also welcomed the leadership role of the African Union and IGAD.

An IID is an informal private meeting of Security Council members convened to hold situation-specific, off-the-record conversations with non-Council member states. The dialogue is presided over by the Council President, in this case, Ambassador Dang Dinh Quy, the Permanent Representative of Viet Nam to the UN.  Records are not kept during informal interactive dialogues, and they are not open to the public or broadcast.

Tuesday marked the second time this year that the Security Council held an IID focused on Somalia. They last held an IID on Somalia on 20 January to discuss delays in holding presidential and parliamentary elections.

Due to the format of the IID, the Council did not issue a press statement. However, based on the comments from the Council members, it is evident that the African Union and IGAD are expected to take some form of a leadership role in facilitating talks between the federal government and regional member states. It is unclear if either organization will be involved in direct external mediation, which the federal government has long resisted.

Farmajo travelled to the capital of the DRC over the weekend, where he requested the African Union to facilitate talks with political opponents and various stakeholders. He made the comments during a one-day visit with the President of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Felix Tshisekedi, who is also the 2021 African Union Chairperson.

The UN meeting comes amid heightened political tension in the country after the President decided to extend its mandate for an additional two years. Farmajo said that the federal government would use the two years to prepare for popular elections.

The UN had previously warned against any parallel process or partial elections, insisting that the September 17 agreement in Mogadishu remains the only valid process.

Averting Political Violence in Somalia

Averting Political Violence in Somalia

 Source: The International Crisis Group (ICG) published on 16 April 2021 a brief titled “Somalia: Averting a Descent into Political Violence.”

Tension has increased in Somalia following parliament’s decision to extend the incumbent president’s term by two years.  The ICG urges external partners led by the African Union  to mediate talks among Somalia’s bitterly divided political elites.  0 commentsLabels: al-ShabaabAUelectionsEUIGADJubalandMohamed Abdullahi FarmajoPuntlandSomaliaUNSCUS

Conflict in South Sudan’s Equatoria Region

Conflict in South Sudan’s Equatoria Region

 Source: The US Institute of Peace published in April 2021 a study titled “Conflict and Crisis in South Sudan’s Equatoria” by Alan Boswell, International Crisis Group.  

The report examines the conflict in Equatoria region of South Sudan.  It concludes the crisis in Equatoria will likely become entrenched if peace talks do not gain momentum and as resentments from abusive counterinsurgency campaigns mount and disillusionment with the troubled peace process grows.  0 commentsLabels: DinkaEquatoriaIGADRiek MacharSalva KiirSouth SudanSPLASPLM/A-IOThomas CirilloUgandaYoweri Museveni

Eritrea Acknowledges It Has Troops in Ethiopia

Eritrea Acknowledges It Has Troops in Ethiopia

 Source: Reuters published on 16 April 2021 an article titled “Eritrea Admits Presence in Ethiopia’s Tigray, Tells U.N. Withdrawing” by Michelle Nichols.

Eritrea admitted on 16 April for the first time since early last November that it has Eritrean Defense Force personnel in Tigray Region and that it has agreed to “start” withdrawing its troops from Ethiopia.  0 commentsLabels: Abiy AhmedENDFEritreaEritrean Defense ForcesEthiopiaTigray RegionUNSC