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Horn of Africa
Sudan’s Window of Opportunity
Civilian leaders in Sudan face a dire economy and recalcitrant security forces as their window of opportunity for a democratic transition narrows. The author argues that the West should give a high priority to helping the civilian leadership succeed.
EC proposes significant budget package to fight pandemic
EP Research MEP welcomes emergency measures
We have to invest more in research and be ready for the next crisis
Crisis-response measures should be combined with a long-term commitment to EU research programmes, says Research MEP.
“We applaud the measures taken by Commissioner Gabriel and the pooling of almost €140 million against COVID 19. The Commission was very fast in launching a special call for expressions of interest from Horizon 2020 and involving relevant stakeholders under the Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI) public-private partnership”, said Horizon Europe rapporteur Christian Ehler (EPP, DE).
“Now, we have to start thinking ahead in order to be better equipped for the future. Research and development clearly have an important role to play in addressing global challenges. This is yet another reason to support our proposal for €120 billion for Horizon Europe.”, he added.
A test of our ability to work together
“The health crisis posed by COVID-19 is focusing minds. The top priority now is to stem the spread of the virus. Behind the scenes, emergency research is working on finding a treatment and a vaccine. The virus’ extraordinary rate of contagion should make us aware that our interconnected world has shrunk considerably and that joint and coordinated action between states is the only way to deal with this crisis”, said Christian Ehler.
“This crisis is a test of our ability to work together on an emergency situation on the one hand, and to remain faithful to our long-term objectives on the other”, he said.
“When this crisis is over, we must immediately prepare for the next one. This means investing more in research and ensuring that programmes such as Horizon Europe do not become hostages to short-term squabbles between member states”, he concluded.
COVID-19: EU and industry to fund more research through Innovative Medicines Initiative
The Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI), a public-private partnership between the European Commission and the pharmaceutical industry, has today launched a fast-track call for research proposals to develop treatments and diagnostics in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. Up to €45 million of the funding will come from Horizon 2020, the EU research and innovation programme.
This call is part of the coordinated EU response to the public health threat of COVID-19 and complements the emergency research funding already mobilised recently under Horizon 2020. You can find more information about the IMI call here, and the EU research actions on COVID-19 here (source : European Commission).
Just 60 days after the genetic sequence of COVID-19 was shared by China, the first vaccine trial has begun, the UN health chief said on Wednesday, calling it “an incredible achievement” and urging the world to maintain “the same spirit of solidarity” that has helped fight Ebola.
Authorities in South Sudan must address intercommunal violence if the nation is to achieve lasting peace, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights said on Friday, in response to a recent escalation in fighting in the east and central parts of the country.
Source: Aljezeera, Friday March 20, 2020
by Hamza Mohamed
Somalia does not have testing kits and samples have to be sent to South Africa, according to health officials [Feisal Omar/Reuters]
The coronavirus pandemic could kill more people in Somalia than anywhere else if preventive measures are not put in place urgently, medical experts and analysts have warned.
The East African country confirmed its first case of COVID-19, the infection caused by the novel coronavirus, on Monday in a student who returned from China and is now in quarantine, according to the country’s health ministry.
“If this virus has killed thousands in developed countries like China and Italy, and also killed hundreds in Spain and Iran, you can imagine what the death toll will be in Somalia if nothing is done,” Mohamed Mohamud Ali, chairman of Somali Medical Association (SMA), told Al Jazeera.
“Currently, we don’t have a single testing kit in the country. We send samples to South Africa and wait for at least three days to know the results. This is a big challenge for us,” Mohamed said.The outbreak reached Africa later than other continents, but at least 31 countries have now confirmed cases, with 13 reported deaths.
On Wednesday, the World Health Organization (WHO) called on African countries to “wake up” to the growing threat of the virus, which has killed more than 8,600 worldwide and infected at least 207,000 people.
‘It will not just kill people’
The SMA’s Mohamed believes the Somali people could do more to take the pandemic seriously.
“It will not just kill people. Economically, the consequences, if nothing is done, will be dire. We might not be able to recover from it,” he added.
The Somali government announced measures on Tuesday to reduce the potential spread of the virus. Schools and universities in the country have been closed starting March 19 for a period of 15 days, and large public gatherings have been banned, according to the prime minister.
Hassan Ali Khaire said in an address to the public on Wednesday: “We have set aside five million dollars … to deal with this disease. That money will be used to help any Somali affected by this disease, whichever part of the country they may be. We are also in discussion with global financial institutions so that they can assist us [financially] to prevent the spread,” he added.
Mohamed Ahmed Ali, an analyst based in the capital Mogadishu, also told Al Jazeera more needed to be done if lives are to be saved in the country.
“Businesses are open as normal. Public transport is operating as usual, and restaurants are open. The risks and consequences are unimaginable. If more is not done immediately, more people could die in Somalia than anywhere else in the world,” Mohamed said.
The government faces challenges to its authority in several parts of the country, complicating access and diluting efforts made at the centre.
Large swaths of the country are in the hands of the al-Qaeda-linked armed group, al-Shabab, which has not allowed any information to emerge from those areas with regards to the spread of COVID-19. A strained working relationship between the central government and the federal states makes the situation worse, according to Mohamed.
“Sadly, the government has limited power in what it can do,” he added.
Source: Hiiraan Online, Friday March 20, 2020
MOGADISHU (HOL) – UAE passenger plane that attempted to land in Somaliland after the Federal Government ban on international flights came to effect was forced to return to Dubai Thursday following the intervention of the civil aviation authority in Mogadishu.
According to a source close to the Somali Civil Aviation (SCAA), FlyDubai initially ignored the Notice to Airman (NOTAM) sent by SCAA and later also ignored communication by Air Traffic Control (ATC) in Mogadishu.
But in what now demonstrates Somalia’s ability to manage its airspace according to ICAO rules, the aviation authority engaged its opposite in UAE which instructed the flight to return to Dubai.A navigation course according to Flightradar24 shows the Flydubai FZ661 which was en route to Hargeisa making a U-turn to Dubai before entering Somali airspace.
Ethiopian Airlines also cancelled all its schedule flights to Egal International Airport in Hargeisa effective March 19, 2020 with respect to NOTAM issued by SCAA.
The Federal Government issued a flight ban last week which came into effect Thursday halting all international flights to Somalia for a period of 15 days in response to the global fight against the novel corona virus.
Somaliland also issued a ban on flights from Kenya, Somalia, China, Italy, Iran, France, South Korea and Spain which it said would take effect Thursday evening.
Somalia resumed full control of its airspace from mid-2018 when the caretaker authority in Nairobi handed over all the instruments of control to the Federal Government after over 20 years.
‘I Feel Strong and Free’: Running Takes Hold Among Women in SomalilandThursday March 19, 2020
By Abdi Latif Dahir
Source: The New York Times, 19 March 2020
The Somaliland marathon was born two years ago. The event, and a related 10-kilometer race, is attracting increasing numbers of women.Credit…Mustafa Saeed
HARGEISA, Somalia — “Why can’t you just stay at home?” the man shouted at the two young female runners as they darted by on the racecourse — wearing long skirts, arm-covering T-shirts and running tights in the 90-degree heat.
He was not the only person jeering the women running in this 10-kilometer race, part of an annual event that includes a marathon, where more than 250 of the 320 contestants this year were men. But some spectators had kinder words.
“Run and beat the boys with the skinny legs!” urged a woman decked in a brown jilbab, a traditional loosefitting robe, as a different pair of women sprinted past. All the female runners were dressed in line with Muslim practice in the region, which calls for most of a woman’s body to be covered.
The marathon began two years ago as a fund-raiser for education in Somaliland, which declared independence from Somalia in 1991, setting up its own Parliament, currency and flag.
The breakaway region, in the northwest of Somalia, is not recognized internationally. But in contrast to areas in the south, which are plagued by clan infighting and terrorism, Somaliland is an oasis — attracting tourists, hosting a prominent literary festival, and even enticing multinationals like Coca-Cola.
The running events are part of this cultural and commercial outreach, with athletes from all over the world participating. This year, runners from 16 nations came to Hargeisa, the region’s capital, to take part.
Each year, more Somali women have been competing, though only in the 10-kilometer event, and the increased participation reflects how life is changing, albeit slowly, for women here.
In Somaliland’s male-dominated society, government, business and the media are still almost the exclusive preserve of men. Women are twice as likely as men to be unemployed and less likely to reach higher levels of education, and face persistent obstacles in winning elections, according to a study published last year.
Still, in recent years, there have been hints of change, with women becoming doctors, entrepreneurs, teachers and human rights activists.
And some are running.
Hanna Mukhtar, 17, runs each morning at dawn on the outskirts of Hargeisa, usually with a teenage friend.
There are barely any sidewalks, let alone running tracks. But by leaving the city proper, they avoid the traffic that clogs its sandy roads, where donkey carts and S.U.V.s jostle for space.
Goats and sheep wander aimlessly, and the city’s minarets and colorful corrugated roofs appear in the distance.
Here, the young women don’t have to withstand the stare and taunts from men and some women who disapprove.
“When I run, I feel strong and free,” said Ms. Mukhtar, who won the 10-kilometer run this year and last.
With one million people, Hargeisa has grown over the past few years. Shopping centers, apartments and hotels have sprung up. New restaurants, serving camel steak, and sweet and creamy tea, have opened, along with cultural centers offering live music and dance.
The city’s center bustles with activity, as traders sell spices and frankincense next to vendors with textiles imported from China. Money changers with wads of cash sit under billboards advertising telecom companies promising cheap data and international call rates.
Hamda Abdi Dahir, left, and Hanna Mukhtar training with their coach this month.Credit…Mustafa Saeed for The New York Times
Asma Dhamac, a psychologist and mental health advocate, also likes to run with friends outside the city in the early hours of the day, taking advantage of the cooler morning air.
Even amid the acacia trees and quiet roads, she said they still sometimes encounter people who chide them.
“They would say: ‘Women are not allowed to run or wear trousers. You will become barren,’” said Ms. Dhamac, who competed in the 10-kilometer race this year.
Comments like this do not seem to be making much of an impression, though, on Somali women.
In 2018, the first year of the event, only 13 women competed in the 10-kilometer race, and only five of those were Somali. This year, 55 Somali women ran in the event, out of 63 female competitors.
Edna Adan, a former foreign minister in Somaliland and a pioneer activist in the struggle to end female genital mutilation, sees this as an important sign.
A former runner herself, the 82-year-old Ms. Adan, founder of a respected maternity hospital, said it was important to remind Somali female runners that what mattered was “the training they did, the preparation they made and the ability that they could keep up with women of different countries.”
The race is about reminding young girls that their gender or nationality isn’t “a handicap” to their own success, Ms. Adan said.
At this year’s 10-kilometer race, it seemed as if the women found support in each other.
The competition began at 7:30 a.m. in the Hargeisa Stadium. The women jostled against one another, running on the grass carpet of the arena before hitting the labyrinthine streets and alleys of the city, where tea shops and kiosks were just opening up.
Throughout the relatively flat route, they ran in pairs, sometimes pulling each other by the hand, and encouraging one another to keep going even after some gave up and started walking a few kilometers in.
Women in Hargeisa who are interested in sports are finding other outlets besides the marathon. One is the Lions Women’s Football Initiative — an informal soccer league that also offers training for women in self-defense and running, along with workout and nutrition guidance.
Just a few months after it started in 2016, dozens of young women came to train and run at a private pitch rented by its founders, Asma Saed and Savannah Simons, who both work for the marathon.
That, Ms. Simons said, showed “a genuine need for sporting participation.”
Grandmothers and children come to watch the teenagers work out every week. In the beginning, said Ms. Simons, a British national, so did young boys, who crowded the gates or got on the walls around the pitch to peer and jeer at the women. They are no longer doing that.
“It’s slowly becoming normal to see a girl running,” she said.
Other spaces dedicated to women’s swimming, yoga, basketball, and taekwondo have also sprung up in the past two years in Hargeisa. And many young women are also forming groups and exercising before going to work or after they leave university, said Marwa Mawliid, a soccer coach at the Ubah Inspire and Fitness Center.
Training at a gym in Hargeisa.Credit…Mustafa Saeed for The New York Times
When the center was established in 2017, “people thought we were crazy,” Ms. Mawliid said.
“They would ask, ‘Why do you need to be fit? Why do you need to run? Are you men?’” she said. “Many people don’t understand that a healthy mind is in a healthy body.”
Many say it will take time before a full cultural shift supporting female running takes root. But Ms. Mukhtar, the 17-year-old runner, isn’t waiting.
Next year, she’s aiming to become the first Somali woman to compete in and finish the marathon itself.
And her ambitions after that: “I want to run for my country,” she said. “I want to compete on the global stage.”
Source: Hiiraan Online, Monday March 16, 2020
MOGADISHU (HOL) – Somalia has confirmed the first case of the novel corona virus making it the fourth country in East Africa after Kenya, Ethiopia and Rwanda to record the presence of the viral infection.
Health Minister Fawziya Abikar said the positive case was among the four individuals who were under quarantine after arrival from China.“Following the testing of the four persons who were under quarantine after arrival from China, one case has turned positive for corona virus,” the minister said.
Somalia now joins about 150 countries globally that have registered cases of the virus which emanated from China in December.
It is expected the government will be issuing directives following the arrival of the virus into the Horn of Africa nation which has a weak healthcare system.
Neighboring Kenya close all learning institutions starting Monday after two more cases were recorded.
South Sudan: UN chief commends ‘spirit of compromise and collaboration’ as new cabinet is unveiled
Source: UN, 14 March 2020
Following the unveiling of a new unity cabinet in South Sudan on Thursday, the UN Secretary-General has commended the “spirit of compromise and collaboration” shown by President Salva Kiir and rival-turned-top deputy, Riek Machar, on what has been a rocky road towards forging lasting peace.
“The Secretary-General welcomes the announcement of the cabinet of South Sudan’s Revitalized Transitional Government of National Unity”, said the statement from Secretary-General António Guterres, issued by his Spokesperson on Friday night in New York.
“He commends the spirit of compromise and collaboration displayed by the parties which led to this important development”, it continued. “He encourages the South Sudanese parties and their leaders to make additional efforts to meet the 35 per cent quota for the representation of women throughout the peace process.”
According to news reports, President Kiir named 34 ministers and 10 deputies in the televised announcement, following weeks of negotiation over the new Government, that was announced in the South Sudanese capital Juba, last month.
Following the urging of the Security Council, Inter-Governmental regional grouping IGAD, the African Union, and others, the deadlock in fulfilling a comprehensive 2018 peace agreement to end years of brutal conflict across the world’s youngest nation, was broken in February, when Mr. Machar was sworn in as First Vice-President.
The head of the UN peacekeeping mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), David Shearer, told the Council last week that the two former rivals had both compromised, “moving the country further along the road to sustainable peace.”
“Our actions can push South Sudan further toward sustainable peace; our inaction can help condemn it to failure”, he told the Council.
“International partners must remain engaged – both in solidarity and, at times, with pressure – to encourage compromise to achieve and maintain the unity”, Mr. Shearer added. “South Sudan’s future depends on it”.
Prioritize new security arrangements
“The Secretary-General calls upon the leaders of South Sudan to prioritize the implementation of transitional security arrangements, step up efforts to address inter-communal violence, fight impunity and focus on the delivery of essential services”, said the UN chief’s statement.
“The Secretary-General reiterates the readiness of the United Nations to assist the parties in implementing the Agreement, in close coordination with the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) and the African Union.
AFRICA: Source, DW 13 March 2020
Could Kenya annex chunks of Somalia?
Source: DW, 13 March 2020
A new theater of conflict emerged in East Africa when opposing Somali forces clashed on Kenya’s border last week. Kenya has hinted that it could annex parts of Somalia to keep al-Shabab terrorists out of its territory.
Tension between Kenya and Somalia soared last week following heavy fighting along the border. The clashes involved Somali government troops and forces loyal to Ahmed Madobe, the leader of Jubbaland, which is one of Somalia’s five semiautonomous states.
At least 11 people were killed in the Somali border town of Bula-hawo.
Read more: Is al-Shabab looking to Ethiopia?
Kenyan authorities said the fighting spilled over into Kenya, after Somali government troops pursued Jubbaland forces that had crossed over the border.
“This action amounts to an unwarranted attack by foreign soldiers with the intention of provoking Kenya,” the Kenyan report reads. It also alleged that Somali soldiers destroyed properties of Kenyans in the border town of Mandera.
“Half of Mandera town has now been deserted,” said Mohammed Mahmoud, a senator from Mandera County. “We already have internally-displaced people and therefore our plea is that our government should intervene.” Kenya’s Mandera Governor Ali Roba warned Wednesday that further conflict between Somali forces would put Mandera residents in limbo.
Somalia also accused Kenya of harboring a fugitive Jubbaland minister who was arrested by Mogadishu for “serious crimes” but fled from prison in January.
The Somali government also asked Kenya to “halt its ongoing violations” of Somalia’s sovereignty and encroachment in the border areas. The situation in the area remains precarious as Jubbaland forces are regrouping for possible fresh clashes, despite efforts to ease the hostility.
Somalia’s Turkish-trained armed forces have been deployed to Bula-hawo’s Gedo region in a move indicating that Mogadishu wants to expand its control beyond the capital. The deployment was denounced by local Somali political opposition groups who accused President Abdullahi Farmajo of misusing the national army for political purposes.
Maritime dispute between Kenya and Somalia
“This is the product of a very long dispute that really dates back decades,” says Canadian journalist Jay Bahadur, who is known for his reporting on piracy in Somalia.
The fighting is the latest since ties between Mogadishu and Nairobi became frosty over a maritime territory stretching 100,000 square kilometers into the Indian Ocean. The area is rich in oil and gas deposits.
Somalia, which brought the matter before the International Court of Justice in 2014, had hoped for a ruling in September 2019. But Kenya managed to have ICJ adjourn the case to June 2020.
Uhuru Kenyatta insists on a bilateral solution but Mogadishu officials have refused to negotiate with Nairobi.
Is Kenya planning to annex parts of Somalia?
“In the last few years, we’ve had an escalation of the maritime dispute between Kenya and Somalia which has led to increased tensions between the two countries and even to the point where Kenya has discussed at a very high level the actual annexation of parts of Somali territory,” Bahadur says.
Kenya accuses Somalis of letting al-Shabab terrorists infiltrate and recruit suicide bombers from refugee camps for Somalis fleeing war. The terrorists have carried out dozens of attacks in Kenya in a bid to force Nairobi to withdraw its troops from Somalia. According to Kenya, deploying deploying troops to Somalia’s Gedo region could stop al-Shabab fighters from entering Kenya.
“I don’t think in today’s world that an actual annexation of territory is very easy thing or politically feasible thing to do. But I think it indicates how serious the tensions between the two countries have become,” Bahadur said.
Kenya contributes about 4,000 troops to the Africa Union’s peacekeeping mission in Somalia, AMISOM. But Kenya has more than double that amount of non-AMISOM forces deployed in Somalia, according to Bahadur.
Kenya’s buffer zone against al-Shabab in Somalia is located in Gedo region, extending to the disputed maritime location. Mogadishu believes Nairobi’s actual intention of supporting Jubbaland’s Ahmed Madobe is “to continue their presence in that area where there is the disputed maritime space,” Bahadur said.
According to Bahadur, Kenya’s interest in Somalia goes beyond stopping al-Shabab and the oil-rich maritime area. Kenya needs “access to Kismayo port, some level of control of Kismayo port, access to charcoal export from Somalia, that KDF (Kenya Defense Forces) have profited from.”
To sort out the maritime row, Kenya sought help from Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, who was instrumental in bringing Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta and Somalia’s President Farmajo to talk last year.
Over the weekend, Kenyatta dispatched interior minister Fred Matiang’i to Addis Ababa to seek support from Abiy. “Kenyatta believes that Abiy can help in brokering an out of court settlement over the maritime boundary dispute,” Kenyan news website, The Star, reported.
Matiang’i had led a high level Kenyan delegation to Mogadishu last week and extended an invitation from President Uhuru Kenyatta to Farmajo to visit Kenya. Farmajo accepted Kenyatta’s request, local media reported.
However, the fighting has a regional dimension in East Africa, too. Kenya backs Jubbaland’s President Ahmed Madobe.
Nairobi built and trained Jubbaland’s army and Kenyatta sees Jubbaland as a buffer against Al-Shabaab militants who have staged several bloody attacks across the border.
Ethiopia, which backs Somalia’s central government, detests Madobe.
Jubaland authorities in August accused Mogadishu of interfering in its election and seeking to oust incumbent President Madobe and get a loyalist in power to increase its control.
Both Kenya and Ethiopia have troops in Somalia as part of an African Union-led peacekeeping force, which, along with the Somali federal government and local states, are fighting al-Shabab’s insurgency.
The United States warns that the tensions could give room to the al-Qaida linked al-Shabab group, which is now a potent threat to both countries.
Coronavirus spreads to 18 African nations, including Kenya and Ethiopia
NAIROBI (Reuters) – Kenya, Ethiopia, Sudan and Guinea all confirmed their first cases of the new coronavirus on Friday, giving the disease a foothold in 18 countries on the African continent.
Africa had so far largely been spared the rapid spread of COVID-19, which has infected at least 127,000 and killed 4,700 worldwide.
Most of Africa’s reported cases were foreigners or people who had traveled abroad. Rapid testing and quarantines have been put in place to limit transmission.
But concerns are growing about the continent’s ability to handle the disease.
Cases have been reported in Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt, Algeria, Senegal, Togo, Cameroon, Burkina Faso, Democratic Republic of Congo, South Africa, Nigeria, Cote D’Ivoire, Gabon, Ghana, Guinea, Sudan, Kenya and Ethiopia. Most of the countries’ totals are still in single figures.
Kenya is the richest economy in East Africa and a hub for global firms and the United Nations. Ethiopia is Africa’s second-most populous nation, with 109 million citizens. Both Addis Ababa and Nairobi are regional transit hubs.
In the Kenyan capital Nairobi, authorities banned all major public events and said they would restrict foreign travel. The mayor of Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa urged citizens to avoid close personal contact but the health minister said there were no plans to cancel flights.
TRAVELERS FALL SICK
Kenyan Health Minister Mutahi Kagwe said their first case, a 27-year-old Kenyan, was diagnosed on Thursday after traveling home via London on March 5.
He said the government had traced most of the people she had been in contact with, including fellow passengers on her flight, and a government response team would monitor their temperatures for the next two weeks.
The Ethiopian case was a 48-year old Japanese national who arrived in Ethiopia on March 4, the health ministry said.
Guinea’s first case was an employee of the European Union (EU) delegation who had self-isolated after she felt ill upon returning from Europe, the EU delegation said.
Sudan’s first confirmed coronavirus case was a man who died on Thursday in the Sudanese capital Khartoum, the Health Ministry said. He had visited the United Arab Emirates in the first week of March.
MEASURES TO STOP THE SPREAD
Kenyan Health Minister Mutahi Kagwe said the government had suspended all public gatherings, sporting events, open-air religious meetings and events “of a huge public nature”. Schools will remain open but inter-school events are suspended.
Public transport operators must install hand sanitizers in their vehicles and clean them regularly, Kagwe said, while foreign travel would be restricted.
Soon after the announcement, shoppers in one Nairobi supermarket were buying up cart loads of staples like maize flour and water as well as hand sanitizers and soap.
Kenya Airways suspended flights to China last month and on Thursday added Rome and Geneva to the list of suspended destinations.
Kenya, dependent on Asian imports, has seen disruptions to its supply chain and a decline in tourism, an important source of hard currency and jobs.
Slideshow (2 Images)
“We are going to be hit badly,” Tourism Minister Najib Balala told journalists.
The Nairobi Securities Exchange halted trading in the afternoon after the main NSE 20 share index dropped by more than 5% following the news.
Also in East Africa, the island nation of Mauritius, whose economy depends on tourism and financial services, said it was seeking to mitigate the effects of the virus by offering liquidity to banks to support struggling firms and cutting the cash reserve requirements for banks. It has not yet reported any cases of COVID-19.
Eritrea Proposes Regional Bloc to Balance Gulf States
Eritrean President Isaias Afewerki invited the leaders of Ethiopia and Somalia last month to Asmara to discuss a deeper integration of the three countries. The author suggests Isaias’ goal is to balance Eritrea’s closer ties with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates with his closer neighbors in the Horn of Africa.
Public Health Impact of Coronavirus on Africa
The study evaluates the preparedness and vulnerability of African countries against their risk of importation of coronavirus. Countries with the highest importation risk (Egypt, Algeria, and South Africa) have moderate to high capacity to respond to outbreaks. Countries at moderate risk (Nigeria, Ethiopia, Sudan, Angola, Tanzania, Ghana, and Kenya) have variable capacity and high vulnerability.
Source: VOA, Tuesday March 10, 2020
The pace of U.S. military strikes against al-Qaida affiliate al-Shabab in Somalia this year is nearly on par with the number of strikes against Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.
The U.S. has carried out 25 strikes against al-Shabab to date in 2020, including one Monday in the vicinity of Janaale, Somalia, that U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) said killed four terrorists.
Data released to VOA by a U.S. defense official show the U.S. carried out 29 airstrikes against Islamic State in Iraq and Syria from January 1 to March 1, the latest date in which strike data was available. A full strike report from Operation Inherent Resolve is expected later this week.
Strikes in Iraq and Syria have significantly tapered off since the territorial defeat of the so-called Islamic State caliphate last March.
In 2019, there were more than 2,000 airstrikes in Iraq and Syria, with at least 1,600 of those carried out in the first couple of months. U.S. Central Command has decreased troop numbers in Syria, where thousands of IS fighters are estimated to remain, but increased troop numbers elsewhere in the Middle East in an effort to counter the threat of Iran.
Meanwhile, AFRICOM conducted a record 63 strikes in Somalia last year. Most were against al-Qaida affiliate al-Shabab, which has an estimated 6,000 militants in Somalia, with a handful of strikes against Islamic State. There were 47 U.S. military strikes in Somalia in 2018.
“Airstrikes are preventative measures to ensure al-Shabab does not increase in size and strength,” AFRICOM spokesman Maj. Karl Weiss told VOA on Monday. “That said, airstrikes and kinetic operations are not the command’s primary effort in Somalia; our core activity is the training of Somali security forces.”
Despite the ramped up strike numbers in Somalia, Secretary of Defense Mark Esper has appeared averse to adding more U.S. troops to Africa, where Islamic extremists have plagued the continent from Somalia to the Sahel.The Pentagon is in the middle of a review of AFRICOM that could reduce the number of U.S. troops on the continent. The first troop change in Africa under Esper’s leadership withdrew conventional troops and replaced them with specialized military trainers.
Esper has said the move would leave “roughly the same number of troops on the continent,” while giving U.S. commanders the capability to bolster partner forces.
Members of Congress have pushed back against any potential troop cuts, saying a decrease could provide an opening for strategic competitors Russia and China. Republican Senators Lindsey Graham and Jim Inhofe, the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, have even called for an increase in the number of U.S. troops deployed to Africa.
Esper is trying to follow a shift started by his predecessor, Jim Mattis, away from counterterrorism toward strategic competition with China and Russia. During Mattis’ time as defense secretary, the U.S. pulled 100 to 200 troops from West Africa and was preparing for further cuts.
Defense officials said extremist groups in West Africa did not appear to pose a threat to the U.S. homeland, but they have since continued to pummel U.S. allies, especially in countries like Burkina Faso. A top general in U.S. Africa Command admitted to VOA at the time of the troop pullout that the U.S. and its allies were “not winning” the counterterror war for the Sahel.
AFRICOM Commander Gen. Stephen Townsend has said al-Shabab is the “largest and most violent” of al-Qaida’s branches worldwide. Defense officials have stressed that while al-Shabab does not possess the capability to strike the U.S. homeland, the group has the intent to do so.
“It is important to impact their ability to threaten peace and security in East Africa and prevent their threats against the U.S. from being a reality,” Townsend said in a press release last month.
Townsend and CENTCOM Commander Gen. Kenneth “Frank” McKenzie testify together in front of the House Armed Services Committee on Tuesday.
Source: News Thump
Tuesday March 10, 2020
Somali pirates have attacked a tanker carrying two million barrels of the most valuable cargo in the world today, hand sanitiser.
In the early hours of this morning, a tanker loaded with three hundred million litres of hydro-alcoholic gel with a street value of six billion pounds was taken hostage while on route to the UK, with the pirates allegedly demanding fifty million pounds and fifty thousand toilet rolls as ransom.
“We have no choice but to pay,” said a government spokesperson who is trying to negotiate with pirates off the coast of Somalia where the tanker was seized.
“The nation is desperate for the tanker to arrive in the UK, the entire country is on the verge of anarchy without adequate access to hand sanitiser, and this hijacked vessel could put us back weeks if we can’t resolve it quickly.
“The money isn’t a problem, we could wire that amount of cash to them this afternoon, but we simply don’t know where to get our hands of fifty thousand toilet rolls. Do you?
“Christ, I think we’d struggle to round up fifty at this point. Do you think they’d accept old copies of the Daily Mail as an arse-wiping alternative?”
It is expected that the SAS will be sent in under the cover of darkness to recover the precious cargo, and that Tom Hanks will be playing a starring role in the Hollywood adaptation by mid-2025.
Wakiilka Qaramada Midoobay oo madaxweynaha Puntand usoo jeediyay in la dhameeyo khilaafka kala dhexeeya dowladda federalka
Ambasaddor James ayaa arrimaha uu kala hadlay masuuliyiinta Puntland waxaa kamid ah, xiisadaha ka jira gobolada Sanaag iyo Sool, isagoo ku baaqay in la joojiyo colaada lana xoojiyo nabada islamarkaana la abuuro jawi isfaham.
Waxaa kale oo ay madaxweynaha Puntland ka wada hadleen, horumarka la gaaray iyo caqabadaha taagan 2020/2021, oo ay kamid yihiin gaarista qorshayaasha qaranka sida, doorashada hal qof, hal cod, arrimaha deyn cafinta, xoojinta anmniga iyo dhameystirka dastuurka kumeel gaarka ah.
“Waxaan u soo jeedinayaa Puntland inay taageerto dhammaan qorshayaashan qaranka. Waxaan saaxiibada caalamka la wadaagay sida aan uga walaacsannahay khatarta ka imaan karta khilaafka dowladda federalka iyo qaar kamid ah dowladdaha xubnaha ka ah. Sidaas daraadeed, waxaan ku baaqaynaa in si degdeg ah la isugu yimaado lagana heshiiyo kala aragti duwanaanshaha taagan, si horey loogu dhaqaqaaqo,” ayuu yidhi James.
James Swan, ayaa ka hadlay shirka wada tashiga ah ee Puntland, wuxuuna yidhi,” Madaxweyne Siciid Deni ayaa ii sheegay todobaadka soo socda inay qabanayaan shirka wada tashiga guud ee Puntland, shirkaas oo ahmiyad u leh Puntland iyo guud ahaan Soomaaliya. Waxaan rajeynayaa natiijada kasoo baxda in uu wax badan ku kordhindoono dooda federalismka iyo dastuurka.
Isniin, Maarso, 09 2020 (HOL) –Guddida doorashooyinka Somalilland ayaa maanta kulan la yeeshay laba safiir oo ka kala socda safiirka midowga Yurub u qaabilsan Soomaaliya Nicholas Berlanga iyo safiirka Sweden u qaabilsan Soomaaliya Staffan Tillander oo matalayey beesha caalamka.
Kulan ayaa daarnaa sidii loo dardarin lahaa fulinta heshiishkii xisbiyadu kala saxeexdeen oo tilmaamaya in sanadkan gudihiisa qabsoonto doorashooyinkii golaha wakiilada iyo golaha deegaanka Somaliland oo muddo badan dib u dhac ku yimid.
Qobada laga wada hadlay waxa ka mid ahaa:
- arrimaha doorashada iyo sidii wadanka ay uga qabsoomi lahaaayeen sanadka 2020 doorashooyinka Golayaasha Deegaanka iyo Wakiillada oo dhawr jeer soo muddo dhaafay, iyo
- sidii looga midho dhalin lahaa heshiiska saddex geesoodka ahaa ee ay xisbiyada qaranku ku kala saxeexdeen Madaxtooyada Somaliland 27kii February 2020.
Xubnaha waftiga ayaa tilmaamay in ay hadda kalsooni ku qabaan in dhamaan dhinacyada kala duwan ee heshiiska ku midoobay ay diyaar u yihiin hirgalinta iyo ka midha dhalinta heshiiska ka dhashay dedaaladii dhexdhexaadinta ee muddada soo socday.
Komishanka Doorashooyinka Qaranku wuxuu dhankiisa soo dhaweeyay heshiiskaasi qaran oo uu sheegay inuu diyaar u yahay sidii uu dhinaciisa uga fududeyn lahaa in heshiiskaasi hirgalo isla markaana doorasho ka dhacdo dalka sanadka 2020.
Sida qoraal ka soo baxay guddida doorashooyinka ayaa lagu sheegay in kulankaasi ku soo dhamaaday Is afgarad iyo in wada shaqayn joogto ah ay dhex mari doonto Komishanka Doorashooyinka Qaranka iyo Beesha Caalamka oo ay matalayeen labada safiir.
Safiirka midowga u qaabilsan Soomaaliya ayaaa maalmahan ku sugnaa Somaliland, isla markaana mashaariic laga hirgaliyo Somaliland la kala saxeexday wasaarada Ganacsiga, wasaarada cadaalada iyo wasaarada amniga, taas oo ay maalgalin doonto midowga Yurub.
Barkhad-ladiif M. Cumar, Hiiraan Online
Source: AP, Monday March 9, 2020
Sudan’s prime minister survived an assassination attempt on Monday after a blast in the capital, Khartoum, Sudanese state media said.
Abdalla Hamdok’s family confined he was safe following the explosion, which targeted his convoy.
No one immediately claimed responsibility for the attack.
Hamdok was appointed prime minister last August, after pro-democracy protests forced the military to remove the autocratic President Omar al-Bashir and replace it with a civilian-led government.
Military generals remain the de facto rulers of the country and have shown little willingness to hand over power to the civilian-led administration.
Nearly a year after al-Bashir’s ouster, the country faces a dire economic crisis. Inflation stands at a staggering 60% and the unemployment rate was 22.1% in 2019, according to the International Monetary Fund.
The government has said that 30% of Sudan’s young people, who make up more than half of the over 42 million population, are without jobs.
Source: AP, Monday March 9, 2020
European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell speaks during a media conference regarding a strategy for Africa at EU headquarters in Brussels, Monday, March 9, 2020.
BRUSSELS (AP) — Concerned about the growing influence of China, Russia and the United States in close neighbor Africa, the European Union on Monday launched what it called a new “comprehensive strategy” for relations with a continent whose population is forecast to double by 2050.Launching six months of consultations between the 27-nation bloc and African countries, the EU’s executive commission said its strategy will focus on climate change, developing the computer-based digital economy, economic growth and employment, security and good governance and migration.
The EU hopes African leaders will sign on and endorse the strategy at a summit in Brussels in October.
EU trade in goods with Africa was worth 235 billion euros ($269 billion) in 2018, almost twice that of China’s trade with Africa and around five times that of the United States. European foreign direct investment in 2017 stood at 222 billion euros ($254 billion), more than five times the figure for either of the other two major powers.“We have no inferiority complex. We are involved, and we are going to continue to be and our presence will, without doubt, be accompanied by not just investment, but also the desire to be partners in the political, economic and cultural development” of Africa, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said.
“It’s about making progress in a shared partnership. I don’t know if that’s China’s point of view,” he said.
The strategy is short on detail and largely a list of political ambitions.
But Africa is a major source of unauthorized migrants entering Europe. The section on migration underlines the need for better cooperation on the return to Africa of people not eligible to stay, and tighter border controls.
Northern Africa, and notably the Sahel region, has also proved fertile ground for extremist groups. The strategy aims to strengthen security cooperation and help solve long-term crises in countries like Libya, Mali or Somalia.
No new funds or security help were announced Monday