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Horn of Africa


East African bloc appeals for 2.7 bln USD to help drought victims in Horn of Africa

East African bloc appeals for 2.7 bln USD to help drought victims in Horn of Africa

Wednesday March 29, 2023

The Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), an East African bloc, on Monday appealed for 2.69 billion U.S. dollars in funding to save millions of people at risk of starvation in Kenya, Uganda, and Somalia due to drought.

The situation continues to worsen, with 47 million people being highly food insecure and some at risk of dying of starvation, IGAD Executive Secretary Workneh Gebeyehu said.

“Some 70 percent of these 47 million people live in Ethiopia, Kenya, and Somalia,” he said in a statement released in Nairobi, the Kenyan capital. “This is why, today, we solemnly call on the international community to help us prevent a major humanitarian disaster by committing requisite resources to save lives and livelihoods in the short term, and continue investing in resilience building in the medium and long term.”

According to the bloc, Somalia needs 1.6 billion dollars to provide food and non-food items to the drought-affected communities and the internally displaced people; Ethiopia needs 710 million dollars to provide support to key sectoral needs in the coming four months; Kenya requires 378 million dollars to provide food, water, and vaccination to the affected counties until October.

IGAD said the drought has led to terrible consequences, including severe water and pasture shortages, a million displaced people and over 10 million livestock and wildlife deaths, and reduced crop and livestock production, all of which are increasing food insecurity.

Gebeyehu said recovery will require resources and time, and the institution is working to prevent future disasters from having such severe impacts.

Al-Shabab has lost third of its territory, US Ambassador say

Al-Shabab has lost third of its territory, US Ambassador says

Source; VOA, Wednesday March 29, 2023

By Harun Maruf

FILE – Security forces patrol outside a building which was attacked by suspected al-Shabab militants in the Somalia’s capital Mogadishu, on Feb. 21, 2023.

The U.S. ambassador to Somalia said the Somali government’s military operations against al-Shabab have cost the militants one third of their territory.

“Somali-led offensives have restored Somalia’s sovereignty to 1/3 of the territory formerly misruled by al-Shabaab,” Larry André told VOA Somali in an email. “Ending al-Shabab’s oppression is one step further toward Somalia’s full revival.”

Since January, the United States donated weapons to the Somali national forces to support operations against al-Shabab. The U.S. also trains an elite Somali army unit known as Danab, which means “lightning” and has been leading the offensive against al-Shabab.

The Somali government this week reported that the military operations have inflicted heavy losses on the militant group during the past six months.

In a statement on March 25, Ministry of Information said that 3,000 al-Shabab militants were killed and 3,700 more were injured in the first phase of military operations between August of last year and January. The government also said 70 towns and villages have been liberated from al-Shabab.

Meanwhile, the militant group has claimed that the first phase of military operations by the Somali government and local fighters has failed.

In an interview with al-Shabab-affiliated radio, the militant group’s spokesman, Ali Mohamoud Rage, who is also known as Ali Dhere, accused the U.S. of mobilizing forces against the group.

He said the original plan was to eliminate al-Shabab within six months.

“The first phase of the operation concocted by the infidels has turned futile,” he said.

Contacted by VOA about the remarks by the al-Shabab spokesman, a senior Somali security official dismissed Ali Dhere’s claims.

The “definition of failure has to be revisited if liberating Middle Shabelle, Hiran, South Mudug and parts of Galgadud is a failure,” said Kamal Dahir Hassan Gutale, national security adviser to Prime Minister Hamza Abdi Barre.

The “Somali people and their government made possible all those successes reached by our security forces in a very short time,” he said.

Gutale said Ali Dhere’s claim that the U.S. mobilized the Somali military offensive is baseless.

“He is facing young Somali soldiers who are well-trained, battle-hardened, who took the battle towards the front lines,” he said. “Let him face them — they have liberated over 500 KMs from al-Shabab, and still they are after him.”


Government officials said the second phase of military operations will start during Ramadan. But preparations for the second phase have faced criticism before it officially launches.

Abdullahi Mohamed Ali Sanbalolshe, the former director of the National Intelligence and Security Agency, says preparations for the second offensive focus more on the role of the government and less on the participation of local fighters who have been integral to the relative success of the first phase.

Sanbalolshe told VOA the local fighters have a low awareness about the new offensive. He alleges that the government is lowering the importance of the clans, locals and states.

“All Somalis were interested and were part of the first one [offensive] – the members of the parliament, clan elders, business community, the civil society, the diaspora,” he said.

“The participation of the clans [in the 2nd offensive] is low; it appears it’s confined to the government,” he said.

Defense Minister Abdulkadir Mohamed Nur has rejected the criticism that the government is not valuing the role of the locals.

“This fight belongs to the Somali people, and it is true that the successes were achieved with the collaboration of the people,” he said.

“Every area that is going to be liberated, its people will be consulted with and informed.”

Nur said most of the locals do not need the government to inform them about military offensives because they approach and ask for support.

Mohamed Abdurahman contributed to this report.

IMF team in Ethiopia for talks on new funding programme -Bloomberg News

IMF team in Ethiopia for talks on new funding programme -Bloomberg News

Source: Reuters, Wednesday March 29, 2023

(IMF) logo at its headquarters in Washington, U.S.. REUTERS

International Monetary Fund officials are in Ethiopia this week doing technical work to prepare for a potential IMF-supported program for the East African country, an IMF spokesperson said on Monday.

The IMF has received a request for financial assistance from Ethiopian authorities to support its economic reforms, the spokesperson said, noting the country had been hit by multiple shocks including drought, the COVID-19 pandemic, domestic conflicts, and the impact of Russia’s war in Ukraine.

“A potential program would support the authorities’ Homegrown Economic Reform program and help Ethiopia stabilize its economy so that it can meet its economic, humanitarian, and social challenges, create jobs, and reduce poverty,” the spokesperson said.

This week’s technical discussions follow ongoing discussions between the IMF and Ethiopian authorities on how to best address humanitarian and economic challenges, the spokesperson added.

Bloomberg, which first reported the IMF visit, said officials from the global lender were expected to stay 10 days.

The IMF said it welcomed Ethiopia’s strong progress towards restoring lasting peace and stability through the “cessation of hostilities agreement” and said implementation had progressed well, including through restoration of humanitarian assistance and basic services to Tigray.

Progress on the IMF program and Ethiopia’s request for debt relief under the Group of 20 Common Framework had been stalled due in part to the conflict in Tigray.

The United States, the biggest shareholder in the IMF, is working to repair ties after outspoken criticism of alleged atrocities by Ethiopian forces and their allies during the Tigray war, which killed tens of thousands of people before a peace accord was reached last November.

Reporting by Akanksha Khushi in Bengaluru and Andrea Shalal in Washington; Editing by Stephen Coates

Anti-government protests intensify in Kenya, African Union calls for calm

Anti-government protests intensify in Kenya, African Union calls for calm

Source: Hiiraan Online, Tuesday March 28, 2023

Riot police officers fire tear gas to disperse supporters in Nairobi, Kenya [John Muchucha/Reuters]

Nairobi (HOL) – As anti-government protests intensify in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, the African Union Commission (AUC) Chairperson, H.E. Moussa Faki Mahamat, has urged calm and dialogue to resolve the ongoing crisis. Thousands of protesters, led by opposition leader Raila Odinga and his party, Azimio la Umoja-One Kenya Coalition, are demanding electoral justice, lower food prices, and the resignation of President William Ruto. The government has declared the protests illegal, but Odinga asserts that Kenyans have a right to demonstrate.

The unrest began on March 21, 2023, resulting in the loss of lives, property damage, and economic disruption in Nairobi. A heavy police presence has tried to disperse protesters with water cannons and tear gas. Civil society groups and the Law Society of Kenya (LSK) have urged authorities to uphold citizens’ constitutional right to peaceful demonstrations and called on police officers to avoid using excessive force.

In response to the situation, AUC Chairperson Mahamat has encouraged all parties involved to exercise restraint and engage in discussions to resolve their differences for the sake of national unity and reconciliation. Mahamat cited the successful general elections held in August 2022, which were unanimously confirmed by Kenya’s Supreme Court, as evidence of the country’s progress and commitment to democratic principles.

The National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC) has also called for an end to the weekly demonstrations and urged the parties to engage in dialogue to address the underlying issues. However, the government has expressed its unwillingness to negotiate with those it perceives as pursuing selfish political interests.

As the situation continues to develop, businesses in Nairobi’s central business district remain closed due to uncertainty surrounding the demonstrations and potential violence.

Florida Congressman Gaetz proposes vote to end US military presence in Somalia

Florida Congressman Gaetz proposes vote to end US military presence in Somalia

Source: Hiiraan Online, Tuesday March 28, 2023

Rep. Matt Gaetz (AP Photo/ Manuel Balce Ceneta, FILE)

Mogadishu (HOL) – Florida Republican lawmaker Matt Gaetz is planning to introduce a war powers resolution calling for the withdrawal of United States armed forces from Somalia.

Gaetz believes that Congress needs more current authority to deploy troops abroad than the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF), which was passed over 20 years ago to combat al-Qaeda in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, and which is the legal justification for U.S. involvement in Somalia. The legality of the AUMF has been regarded as tenuous by experts, and former George W. Bush administration official Jack Goldsmith advanced the idea of applying it to al-Qaeda’s associated forces.

“The American people deserve transparency and a clear understanding of our military’s role in Somalia. It is crucial that we evaluate the reasons for our continued presence there and assess its impact on our national security,” Gaetz said in a statement.

He argues that if Congress cannot justify how the occupation serves the interests of the American people, then troops must be brought home.

The resolution would make exceptions for soldiers assigned to protect the U.S. Embassy.

The war powers resolution would require a vote in the House of Representatives within 18 days of its introduction and mandate the withdrawal of U.S. armed forces from Somalia no later than 365 days after its adoption.

U.S. service members provide training to East African forces in Somalia on Jan. 30, 2021. AFRICOM forces continue to train, advise and support Somali and other East African partners in their fight against violent extremism. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Hannah Strobel)

A previous resolution from Gaetz called for the withdrawal of approximately 900 service members stationed in Syria but was defeated in a 321-103 vote.

Gaetz, a member of the House Armed Services Committee, filed the Syria resolution in late February following a report from U.S. Central Command that four U.S. service members were injured during a joint U.S. and Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) helicopter raid in northeastern Syria, which killed a senior ISIS leader.

Staff Sgt. Alexander W. Conrad was the last U.S. soldier to be killed by Al Shabaab fighters during an attack in Jubaland in June 2018.

Despite campaigning on ending the “forever wars” in the Middle East, President Biden agreed to send about 500 US troops to Somalia to fight the extremist group al-Shabaab in May 2022.

Germany gives €25 million drought aid to Kenya, Ethiopia, Somalia and Sudan

Germany gives €25 million drought aid to Kenya, Ethiopia, Somalia and Sudan

Source: theSTAR, Friday March 24, 2023


Funds will be used by FAO to provide food and other basic goods and services

RELIEF FOOD Lataka’s residents lineup for relief food distribution Image: ABDIKADIR CHARI

The UN-Food and Agriculture Organization has received Sh3.5 billion from the German government to help communities in four East African countries affected by drought.

The money, FAO said, will provide food and other basic goods and services while protecting and restoring livelihoods in drought-stricken communities in Kenya, Ethiopia, Somalia and Sudan.

Of these funds, Ethiopia will receive €7 million (Sh1 billion), Kenya €6.5 million (Sh928 million), Somalia €7.5 million (Sh1.07 billion) and Sudan €4 million (Sh571 million).

An extended, multi-season drought is driving high levels of acute food insecurity across Eastern Africa and more than 22 million people in southern Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia are in need of urgent humanitarian food assistance (IPC Phase 3 or above).

This is because of crops failure, animals dying, and populations being displaced across the region.

This figure includes 2.6 million people in emergency (IPC Phase 4) in Kenya and Somalia and more than 96,000 people in catastrophe (IPC Phase 5) in Somalia.

The outlook for this year remains bleak, with increasing concerns about depressed rainfall performance for the March to May rainy season across the Horn of Africa.

However, regardless of seasonal performance during the upcoming rainy season, recovery from a drought of this magnitude will take years and humanitarian assistance needs are expected to remain extremely high throughout 2023.

FAO director Rein Paulsen of the Office of Emergencies and Resilience said the region is facing its third severe La Niña-induced drought episode in a decade.

It is on the verge of a catastrophe if humanitarian assistance is not urgently scaled up and sustained.

“We are grateful to the government of Germany for this generous contribution to FAO’s drought response in Eastern Africa at such a critical time,” Paulsen said.

“The current situation demonstrates the urgent need to provide at-scale and sustained humanitarian aid to pull people from the brink of famine and massively scale up investments and policies for disaster risk reduction and resilience building. We must highlight agriculture’s crucial role in achieving a sustainable future for the people of the region.”

He said drought combined with high food prices, poor access to water, sanitation and health services is exacerbating the situation in a region already beset with high levels of food insecurity.

Paulsen said the new funding represents a significant contribution to mitigate the impact of drought on food security and livelihoods by increasing immediate food access in rural communities, safeguarding and restoring livelihoods and rapidly enabling self-reliance.

The intervention seeks to reach almost one million of the most vulnerable people in inaccessible and hard-to-reach rural areas, cutting across all impacted livelihoods.

Under the project, FAO will provide food insecure rural households with unconditional cash transfers through its Cash+ programmes, allowing families to cover basic expenditures in food, health and education.

The plus component of the cash package is aimed at safeguarding livelihoods and enabling self-reliance in food production and nutrition by distributing agriculture assistance packages for farmers.

The packages will comprise seeds, tools, subsidised services and fertilisers, animal feed and water transport support for pastoralists.

FAO is helping farmers across Eastern Africa not just to respond to the effects of climate change, but to proactively adapt to the impacts of the frequent droughts by adopting climate-smart farming practices.

According to the National Drought Management Authority’s report, drought continued to worsen in 22 of the 23 ASAL counties in February.

Marsabit and Turkana slid into emergency drought phase, it indicates.  

The report shows nine counties — Kitui, Kajiado, Kilifi, Makueni, Mandera, Samburu, Tana River, Wajir and Isiolo — were in alarm drought phase. 

Eleven counties — Baringo, Garissa, Kwale, Laikipia, Lamu, Meru, Narok, Nyeri, Taita Taveta, West Pokot and Embu — were in the alert drought phase.

Tharaka Nithi county is in normal drought phase.

The report says that in February some ASALs counties did not receive any rainfall.

(Edited by V. Graham)

Heritage Institute for Policy Studies HIPS Bulletin

Heritage Institute for Policy StudiesHIPS Bulletin
690dcaa7-ebc6-4ee1-9dbc-eeba078ee493.pngThe Heritage Institute for Policy Studies is an independent, non-partisan, non-profit policy research and analysis institute based in Mogadishu, Somalia.Latest Policy Brief:
UNBLOCKING SOMALIA’S FEDERAL ARRANGEMENTDownload the full report hereLatest Report:SECURITY SECTOR REFORM IN SOMALIA: Challenges and OpportunitiesDownload the full report here
  DISTRICT COUNCIL FORMATION THROUGH INDIRECT ELECTION IN SOUTHWEST STATE OF SOMALIA: Ameans To DemocratizationSouthwest state is the third oldest federal member state, only preceded by Puntland
and Jubbaland in Somalia’s fledgling federal arrangement. It consists of three regions (provinces), Lower Shebelle, Bay and Bakol and 18 districts, and has the most diverse number of clans in the country. Although no accurate census data are available, it is also thought to be one of the most populated regions in Somalia. Over the last seven years, a clamor for democratization, decentralization of authority and the formation of local governments through an indirect election has been growing in the state. This study explores Southwest’s attempts to form local district councils through indirect elections mediated by elders – a process that is more democratic than the practice of direct appointments.Download the full report hereGobolka Koofurgalbeed waa gobolka saddexaad ee ugu da’da weyn maamulgoboleedyada dowladda federaalka Soomaaliya. Waxa uu ku dhalasho xigay dowlad goboleedyada Puntland iyo Jubbaland. Maamul-goboleedkani waxa uu ka kooban yahay saddex gobol oo kala ah Shabeellaha Hoose, Bay iyo Bakool iyo siddeed iyo toban degmo. Gobolkani waxa uu ka mid yahay gobollada ugu kala duwanaanshaha badan marka loo eego qabiilooyinka degan. Inkasta oo aan la haynnin tirakoob sax ah, haddana gobolkan waxa loo tixgaliyaa in uu ka mid yahay gobollada ugu dadka badan Soomaaliya. Todobadii sano ee u danbeeyay, waxa gobolka ka hanaqaaday kacdoonno dimuqraadiyadeed, maamul-daadajin iyo dhismaha golayaasha deegaanka, iyada oo loo marayo doorasho dadban. Haddaba cilmibaaristani waxa ay u kuurgalaysaa heerka ay gaarsiisantahay in ay Koofurgalbeed dhisto dowlado hoose oo dimuqraadi ah; iyada oo u maraysa doorashooyin dadban oo ay lafdhabar u yihiin odayaashu– waa hannaan
loo fasiro in uu ka dumuqraadisan yahay hab-dhaqanka magacaabista tooska ah.Halkaan kala soo deg daraasadda oo dhamaystiran
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NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — Ethiopian lawmakers have removed the Tigray Peoples Liberation Front from terrorist list

Source: NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — Ethiopian lawmakers have removed the Tigray Peoples Liberation Front from the country’s list of designated terror groups more than four months after a peace agreement ended a conflict that killed hundreds of thousands of people.

Wednesday’s decision highlights the improving relations between federal officials and Tigray regional ones and moves the region closer to the establishment of an interim government. The TPLF dominated Ethiopian politics for close to three decades before Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed took office in 2018. The Tigray conflict began in late 2020.

Most of Ethiopia’s 547 lawmakers voted to remove the TPLF from the terror list, with 61 objections and five abstentions, according to the state-run Ethiopian Broadcasting Corporation.

The TPLF was added to the list in May 2012.

Kindeya Gebrehiwot, a senior TPLF official, told The Associated Press the removal will be a “very good step in moving the peace agreement forward.”

Ethiopia accused the TPLF of starting the conflict by attacking an army base in Tigray, while the TPLF accused the federal government of preparing to strike first.

The peace agreement signed in November has led to the return of communications, banking and other basic services cut to the Tigray region of more than 5 million people. Ethiopia now faces a post-conflict reconstruction bill of $20 billion.

UN calls for rapid, ambitious action to tackle climate crisis

UN calls for rapid, ambitious action to tackle climate crisis

IPCC’s world leading scientists say there are enough resources and knowledge to tackle the global climate crisis.

Cracked mud stretches out across a vast area once covered by the waters of the Suesca lagoon
Monday’s report said that in the past decade there have been 15 times more deaths from droughts, floods and storms in highly vulnerable regions [File: Fernando Vergara]

Source: By Al Jazeera

Published On 20 Mar 202320 Mar 2023

The world has the tools to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to secure a sustainable future if more ambitious actions are taken, a United Nations report has said, noting that actions taken so far are not enough to tackle the growing threats posed by climate change.

A UN panel of scientists stressed in a synthesis report on Monday that there are multiple, feasible and effective options to adapt to climate change.


list of 3 itemslist 1 of 3

ExxonMobil predicted climate change while downplaying risk

list 2 of 3

Photos: Graves sink, fisheries shrink as climate change hits Fiji

list 3 of 3

More Kenyans hit by climate change count on fish farming

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“Mainstreaming effective and equitable climate action will not only reduce losses and damages for nature and people, it will also provide wider benefits,” said Hoesung Lee, chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), in a statement.

The report “underscores the urgency of taking more ambitious action and shows that, if we act now, we can still secure a liveable sustainable future for all”, he added.

The IPCC is a UN body that brings together leading scientists to assess the evidence related to climate change and inform political leaders with periodic scientific assessments. The IPCC’s first main scientific input was delivered in 2014, which paved the way a year later for the Paris Agreement – a landmark international treaty on climate change.

Monday’s so-called synthesis report summarises the findings of several previous IPCC assessments and comes after a week of deliberations in Interlaken, Switzerland.

The report said that carbon emissions need to be cut by almost half by 2030 if global warming is to be limited to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

Effective and equitable conservation of about 30-50 percent of the world’s land, freshwater and ocean will help ensure a healthy world, it added.

It is also key to prioritise risk reduction for low-income and marginalised communities, read the report, highlighting the need to finance poorer nations that are the most vulnerable to climate change despite producing less greenhouse gas emissions compared with industrialised countries.

It said that from 2010-2020, human mortality from floods, droughts and storms was 15 times higher in regions that were highly vulnerable to climate change, compared with regions with very low vulnerability.

US Declares War Crimes in Ethiopia, Which Addis Ababa Rejects

 Source: The U.S. State Department issued a statement dated 20 March 2023 titled “War Crimes, Crimes Against Humanity, and Ethnic Cleansing in Ethiopia” by Antony J. Blinken.

The statement determined that members of the Ethiopian National Defense Forces, Eritrean Defense Forces, Tigray People’s Liberation Front forces, and Amhara forces committed war crimes during the conflict in northern Ethiopia.  The United States will partner with Ethiopia as it implements a credible transitional justice process for the benefit of all victims and affected communities.  

The Washington Post published on 21 March 2023 an article titled “U.S. Finds Ethiopian Troops Committed Crimes against Humanity” by Missy Ryan.  

The article says the Biden administration is moving cautiously as it seeks to repair strains with Ethiopia that resulted during the civil war in Ethiopia.  Officials in Ethiopia warned Washington to stay out of its internal affairs.  

The Voice of America published on 21 March 2023 an article titled “Ethiopia Rejects US Accusation of War Crimes as Inflammatory” by Maya Misikir.  

Ethiopia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs subsequently issued a statement rejecting the US allegation, adding that it “unfairly proportions blame” and is inflammatory and untimely

Evaluation of US Security Assistance in Somalia

Evaluation of US Security Assistance in Somalia

Source:  The Stimson Center published on 20 March 2023 an analysis titled “US Security Assistance to Somalia” by Elias Yousif.  

Between 2010 and 2020, the United States provided more than $500 million in direct security assistance to Somali forces and spent $2.5 billion on security assistance for the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM).  Despite recent Somali government successes on the battlefield, the al-Qaeda-affiliated al-Shabaab organization has proven to be both adaptable and resilient.

Nile River, Basin, Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, and Climate Change

Source: Nile River, Basin, Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, and Climate Change

Nature Climate Change published in January 2023 a study titled “Cooperative Adaptive Management of the Nile River with Climate and Socio-Economic Uncertainties” by ten experts in the United Kingdom. 

This technical study presents a planning framework for adaptive management of the Nile infrastructure system, combining climate projections; hydrological, river system and economy-wide simulators; and artificial intelligence multi-objective design and machine learning algorithms.  It concludes that if Ethiopia, Sudan, and Egypt compromise cooperatively and adaptively in managing the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, the national-level economic and resilience benefits are substantial, especially under climate projections with the most extreme streamflow changes

African Arms Imports 2018-2022

African Arms Imports 2018-2022

 Source: The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute published in March 2023 its “Trends in International Arms Transfers, 2022” by Pieter D. Wezeman, Justine Gadon, and Siemon T. Wezeman.  

Between 2018 and 2022, Africa imported only 5 percent of global major weapons.  Imports of major arms by African states fell by 40 percent between 2013-2017 and 2018-2022 due mainly to decreases in arms imports from the two largest African importers: Algeria and Morocco.  States in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) accounted for 2 percent of total global imports of major arms in 2018-2022. The three largest importers in SSA were Angola, Nigeria, and Mali.  

The main suppliers to all of Africa in 2018-2022 were Russia, accounting for 40 percent of African imports of major arms, the United States (16 percent), China (10 percent), and France (8 percent).  Russia’s share of arms imports to Sub-Saharan Africa was 26 percent while China was second at 18 percent.

Somalia’s president commits to universal suffrage

Somalia’s president commits to universal suffrage

AFP, Wednesday March 22, 2023

Demonstrators hold flags during a rally against the Al-Shabaab jihadist group in Mogadishu on January 12, 2023. Somalia’s President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud has declared “all-out war” against Al-Shabaab, which has been waging a bloody insurgency against the frail internationally-backed federal government for 15 years. (Photo by Hassan Ali Elmi / AFP)

(AFP) – Somalia’s President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud said the country would organise the next national elections by universal suffrage, a departure from an indirect voting system that has often triggered crises.

The fragile Horn of Africa nation has not held a one-person, one-vote election in more than 50 years.

Instead, polls follow a complex indirect model, where state legislatures and clan delegates pick lawmakers for the national parliament, who in turn choose the president.

“The next election… God willing… will be one-person-one vote that is based on a political party system,” Mohamud said late Monday.

“Party platforms will be the market for selling political ideas,” he told legislators gathered in his palace in the capital Mogadishu.

The country’s next polls are planned for May 2026.

Clans have been the organising principle of Somalia’s politics with influential roles such as speaker, prime minister and president divided among the main clans.

But rivalries between the clans have provided fertile ground for years of strife and political wrangling, that have been exploited by the Al-Qaeda-linked Al-Shabaab militants.

– Confronting jihadists –

“Politics is not about dominance, it is about organisation of ideas and therefore, the clan politics is not relevant to the Somali national politics,” Mohamud said.

“I can see a bright future for this country.”

Last year, Mohamud defeated a field of 36 candidates for the top job after a protracted political crisis that arose after the federal government and regional states failed to agree on a mechanism to pick a president.

The 67-year-old, whose first administration between 2012-2017 was dogged by claims of corruption and infighting, became the first Somali president to win a second term.

Since retaking office, he has vowed to confront myriad problems and bring relief to citizens weary of violence by Al-Shabaab jihadists, surging inflation and a worsening drought that threatens to drive millions into famine.

Mohamud has staged an “all-out war” on the militants, rallying Somalis to help flush out members of the jihadist group he described as “bedbugs”.

Despite the gains by the pro-government forces, the militants have continued to demonstrate the ability to strike back with lethal force against civilian and military targets.

Somalia sank into a devastating civil war in 1991 when warlords ousted president Mohamed Siad Barre, plunging the country into years of chaos

EAA provides education opportunities for most vulnerable children in Somalia

Monday March 20, 2023

As a part of its Ramadan campaign, The Education Above All (EAA) Foundation is opening new opportunities of education for the most marginalised out-of-school children in Somalia.

The ‘Educate your children II’ project aims to address obstacles to educational access for out-of-school children affected by political and economic instability, refugee status and internal displacement, social exclusion and poverty in Somalia.

This project is being implemented across 17 districts within the five Somalia regional states of Galmudug, Hirshabelle, Jubaland, South West and Puntland.

The project’s primary goal is to ensure more than 80,000 out of school children affected by instability, displacement, social exclusion and poverty in Somalia have access and the opportunity to complete quality primary education.

The EAA foundation’s Ramadan campaign is slated to create a strong, unique buzz among people during the holy month of Ramadan. Its goal is to raise awareness to support and educate every boy and girl and ensure no child is left behind.

Investing 783 riyals is enough to educate a child in quality primary education for a total of three years in Somalia.

Somali leaders agree to increase troop numbers

Somali leaders agree to increase troop numbers

Source: VOA, Harun Maruf
Monday March 20, 2023

Somalia’s federal and regional leaders have agreed to increase the number of armed forces and police officers to meet security demands as African Union forces leave the country by the end of next year.

The leaders have agreed the number of national armed forces to be at least 30,000 soldiers and at least 40,000 police personnel, according to the agreement obtained by VOA Somali.

According to the agreement known as the “National Security Architecture” signed by Prime Minister Hamza Abdi Barre and the leaders of federal member states last week, the new number of armed forces do not include the navy, air force and special commando units trained by the United States and Turkey.

The agreement revises a 2017 deal between Somali leaders, which specified the number of military and police to be at least 18,000 and 32,000 respectively. The earliest age to register for the army will be 18 and 62 is the new retirement age.

According to the new agreement, the country’s National Intelligence and Security Agency (NISA) will continue to have special armed agents until current security conditions end. Federal member states, which currently have their own intelligence agencies and armed agents, will no longer have these agencies once the country is stabilized.

The new agreement also allows the number of custodial corps to be 5,300 — comprised of 4,500 federal and 800 prison guards.

Leaders of the Puntland semiautonomous region did not participate in the meeting held in the southwestern town of Baidoa between March 15 and 17. In January, Puntland leaders said they would govern their own affairs like an “independent government” until the federal constitution is completed.

Somali government officials said the new agreement is intended to prepare the country’s forces to take over security responsibilities from AU forces.

“The Somali government today is concentrating on transferring security responsibilities from ATMIS (African Union Transition Mission in Somalia) which have been in the country for not less than 15 years,” Kamal Dahir Hassan Gutale, national security adviser to Prime Minister Hamza Abdi Barre told VOA Somali.

“The target is that on December 2024 the last AU soldier will leave the country. This is important for Somalia meeting its security responsibilities.”

Gutale said paramilitary forces belonging to the regions will be used as stabilization and holding forces in areas captured from al-Shabab militants.

Immediately after the agreement was reached, Somalia President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud flew to Uganda to attend the graduation of newly trained soldiers.

Somalia’s national security adviser Hussein Sheikh-Ali confirmed to VOA in January that the government is training 3,000 soldiers in Uganda.

Ali also recently confirmed that troops from neighboring countries will participate in the next phase of military operations against al-Shabab.

Gutale told VOA that the new offensive will commence during Islam’s holiest month, Ramadan, which starts this Wednesday.

“There is a rigorous preparation by the Somali national armed forces and all other forces for large operations during Ramadan,” he said.

“God willing, we hope Somali forces will achieve [a] big victory.”

Can one woman with a phone and a laptop change society?

Can one woman with a phone and a laptop change society?

Source: UNDP, Monday March 13, 2023

The Chief Editor of Somalia’s only all-women media team believes she can by using mobile journalism to break down barriers and open up new ground for women in the media

 Scott Peterson/Getty Images/The CSM

As chief editor of “Bilan”, Somalia’s first all-women, editorially independent media unit, Fathi Mohamed Ahmed has been blazing a trail for women since the unit started up with support from UNDP almost a year ago. Boasting a string of articles in international media – including the Guardian, BBC and El Pais – and a huge following locally, Fathi and her team have shown how women can compete at the highest level of international journalism and bring new stories to public attention inside Somalia

They’re also showcasing a new approach to media production – using mobile journalism and the latest tech to get the job done faster, cheaper and more efficiently.

“Since the inception of Bilan Media, a year ago, we have been using advanced tools and software that have made our journalism work in Somalia easier, relying on smartphones, Mac computers, and digital audio tools for filming, editing and recording interviews,” Fathi says. “In this day and age, you don’t need huge analog cameras or an editing suite: you can get the job done on a phone and a laptop, editing as you travel, posting to social media from the road and cutting down on costs in the process.”

Digital tools and smaller tech also allow Bilan’s journalists to work more safely. In Somalia, many people still believe that journalism is a shameful profession for women and women journalists can face harassment on the street.

Fathi Mohamed Ahmed, Chief editor of Bilan Media

“The use of smaller media equipment allows us to do our work without standing out too much as journalists in places where that can be dangerous. Most people are used to male reporters carrying huge equipment, like big cameras and tripods, with one reporter and other man to carry to equipment, but now one woman can do all of that with a smartphone, gimbal, and wireless mics, Fathi says. “Mobile journalism – and women journalists – are the future of media.”

Apart from the media work, Mogadishu-born Fathi is a mother of three children, including one born just three months ago, and her days start long before she reaches the office.

 “When I wake up in the morning, I prepare breakfast for my children, clean the house, drop the kids off at school then head to work,” Fathi explains. “Sometimes I go to work with my three-month-old son.”

This would be impossible in any other media environment, but at Dalsan TV, the media company that has partnered with UNDP to host the Bilan offices and distributes their reports locally, the Bilan team enjoys secure offices where women can work safely, without harassment and with the facilities they need to juggle the multiple commitments faced by working mothers.

In just a few months, the results have been dramatic. “With my team, I have produced a range of stories that never used to get attention in Somalia, including elderly people living with HIV, drug addiction among young women, female farmers studying agriculture degrees, and many more,” says Fathi “We want to be a voice for the voiceless.”

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) established Bilan Media in April 2022. Staffed and run entirely by women, Bilan produces high-quality, high-impact, original journalism across all platforms, including television and radio, for distribution across Somalia and also undertakes commissions for international media.

Chinese-built Ethiopia-Djibouti railway wins acclaim for boosting integration on 5th anniversary

Chinese-built Ethiopia-Djibouti railway wins acclaim for boosting integration on 5th anniversary

Source: XINHUANET, Monday March 13, 2023

Representatives from China, Ethiopia and Djibouti pose for a photo during the celebration ceremony of Ethiopia-Djibouti railway’s fifth anniversary of operations in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on March 8, 2023. (Photo:Xinhua)

The Chinese-built Addis Ababa-Djibouti Standard Gauge Railway, also known as the Ethiopia-Djibouti railway, has won acclaim for boosting regional integration and prosperity as it marked its fifth anniversary of operations.

This came as senior Ethiopian and Djiboutian government officials, the Chinese diplomatic community in Ethiopia, and management contractors of the 752-km transnational railway celebrated the anniversary at the Lebu Railway Station on the outskirts of Addis Ababa, the Ethiopian capital, on Wednesday.

Ethiopia’s Minister of Finance Ahmed Shide said during the occasion that over the last five years, the railway has shown remarkable achievements in the areas of operation, maintenance and capacity building.

Shide commended the railway’s crucial role in streamlining Ethiopia’s export-import trade, and boosting people-to-people relations between the two neighboring countries as well as technology transfer with better coordination among Chinese and local experts.

Noting that the Ethiopia-Djibouti Railway Share Company is tasked with operations, maintenance and capacity building, Ahmed said “in all these areas, the company has been showing considerable growth.” He said the railway’s operation capacity in terms of freight carriage has grown by 100 percent, reaching 1.9 million tons of cargo annually.

Shide said the railway, by reaching its maximum capacity, is expected to become the best transport alternative for import-export commodities by providing fast, safe and efficient transportation service.

“The Addis Ababa-Djibouti railway line is an example of the ever-flourishing Sino-African relations. The sino-African partnership has passed the test of time, demonstrated its resilience, and marks a brighter and strong future,” Shide said.

Djibouti’s Minister of Infrastructure and Equipment Hassan Houmed Ibrahim, on his part, said on the occasion that the railway observed increasing performance despite major obstacles, and enabled motivated and highly committed young engineers and technicians from both countries.

Ibrahim said the quality of services offered to users, the safety of goods and people, availability, and local human relations are among the key factors in achieving greater performance quality.

The electrified railway has cut the transportation time for freight goods from more than three days to less than 20 hours, and reduced the cost by at least one-third.

Liu Weimin, chairman of China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC), speaks during the celebration ceremony of Ethiopia-Djibouti railway’s fifth anniversary of operations in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on March 8, 2023. (Photo:Xinhua)

Ethiopia, as a land-locked country in the Horn of Africa, accesses international maritime trade through ports in neighboring countries. The Ethiopia-Djibouti trade corridor is the main gateway for Ethiopia, with about 90 percent of import and export passing through it.

Ethiopia’s State Minister of Transport and Logistics Denge Boru commended the railway’s multifaceted significance for the two countries. “The railway mutually benefits the two sisterly countries in promoting regional economic and social integration, facilitating trade and industrial development, and bringing employment and entrepreneurial opportunities for citizens of both countries.”

Chinese Ambassador to Ethiopia Zhao Zhiyuan lauded the railway as “a way of peace, a way of development, a way of hope, and a way to prosperity.” Zhao said the railway, as an important Belt and Road cooperation project, has demonstrated greater performance and resilience.

“The past five years have been great for the Addis Ababa-Djibouti railway. I am confident that, with close collaboration between all relevant parties from China and Ethiopia, as well as Djibouti, the next five years will be even better, as the railway still holds huge untapped potential,” he said.

Sudan: Division Among Generals on Transition to Civilian Rule

Sudan: Division Among Generals on Transition to Civilian Rule

 Source: The Associated Press published on 7 March 2023 an article titled “Sudan General Says Military Leaders Clinging to Power” by Samy Magdy.

General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, head of the Rapid Support Forces, claims that he opposes the unwillingness of other military leaders to hand over power to civilians.  Dagalo is trying to portray himself as a defender of the transition to democracy

US Considers Economic Lifeline to Ethiopia

US Considers Economic Lifeline to Ethiopia

 Source: Foreign Policy published on 9 March 2023 an article titled “U.S. Weighs Offering Economic Lifeline to Ethiopia Despite War Atrocities” by Robbie Gramer.  

The author reports that the Biden administration is weighing plans to lift restrictions on aid and financial assistance to Ethiopia in a move that will be criticized by human rights groups that want accountability for atrocities during the civil war with Tigray Region