Latest News Regarding

Horn of Africa

 

Toronto Mayor raises Somali flag at City Hall to commemorate Somali independence.

Toronto Mayor raises Somali flag at City Hall to commemorate Somali independence.


Source: Hiiraan Online, Sunday June 28, 2020


Toronto Mayor John Tory at the flag raising ceremony for Somali Independence day/ TWITTER

Toronto (HOL) – Toronto’s Mayor raised the Somali flag at City Hall on Friday to commemorate Somali Day.

Mayor John Tory was joined by Somali-Canadian MPP Faisal Hassan and MP Yvan Baker.

Mayor John Tory said the first thing he notices about the community is the role of family, mainly Somali moms.

“I want to pay tribute to the moms because certainly when it comes to public policy issues and looking at some of the challenges faced by kids and the city as a whole, it is those groups of moms who have been profoundly impactful on me because they’re so deeply committed.”

Faisal Hassan, the NDP MPP for York South-Weston introduced a private member’s bill in early March to recognize June 25 to July 1 as Somali Heritage Week in Ontario.

The significance of that week is it marks the independence of Somalia from British and Italian colonization. British Somalia gained independence on June 26, 1960, and on July 1 the two former colonies united to form the Somali Republic.

Hassan asked the government to recognize the economic, social and cultural contributions of Somali-Canadians in Ontario.“Whether Ontario has been your family’s home for generations, or you are the first Ontarian in your family, the Somali-Ontarian community has so much to take pride in,” said Hassan. “That’s why I’m asking the provincial government to proclaim June 25 to July 1 of each year Somali Heritage Week.

“Doing so would create an exciting opportunity to celebrate the beautiful culture, language and history, and to recognize the many contributions of Somali-Canadians in Ontario.”

Hassan is the first Somali-Canadian elected to the provincial legislature.

At the flag raising ceremony at City Hall, Faisal Hassan said that after all the sacrifices Somali’s have made, they now must look to the future.

“Today we are celebrating the independence, which many Somali’s have fought…. and now it is a time to celebrate and look forward to the future.”

In past years, Somali-Canadians celebrated Somali independence with Somali Week, a week-long event at multiple venues which culminates in a multi-city soccer tournament. However, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the games have been cancelled. This year’s event would have marked the 30th anniversary of the Somali Week tournament.

Ethiopia agrees to delay filling Nile mega-dam, say Egypt, Sudan

Ethiopia agrees to delay filling Nile mega-dam, say Egypt, Sudan


Source: Aljazeera, Saturday June 27, 2020

Leaders of Sudan, Ethiopia and Egypt agree Addis Ababa will not start filling its Nile dam before reaching an accord.


The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam is seen as it undergoes construction work on the river Nile in Guba Woreda, Ethiopia [File: Tiksa Negeri/Reuters]

The leaders of Sudan, Ethiopia and Egypt agreed that Ethiopia will delay filling a mega-dam on the Blue Nile and return to talks aimed at reaching an accord on use of the river’s waters, according to statements from Cairo and Khartoum.

The announcement late on Friday was a modest reprieve from weeks of bellicose rhetoric and escalating tensions over the $4.6bn Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, which Ethiopia had vowed to start filling at the start of the rainy season in July.

There was no immediate comment from Ethiopia on the agreement, beyond a tweet from Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed that described an African Union (AU) summit discussion about the dam as “fruitful”.

Ethiopia has hinged its development ambitions on the mega-project, describing the dam as a crucial lifeline to bring millions out of poverty. Egypt, which relies on the Nile for more than 90 percent of its water supplies and already faces high water stress, fears a devastating impact on its booming population of 100 million.

Sudan, which also depends on the Nile for water, has played a key role in bringing the two sides together after the collapse of United States-mediated talks in February.

After an AU video conference chaired by South Africa on Friday, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi said that “all parties” had pledged not to take “any unilateral action” by filling the dam without a final agreement, according to state media.Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok also indicated the impasse between the Nile basin countries had eased, saying the countries had agreed to restart negotiations through a technical committee with the aim of finalising a deal in two weeks.

Ethiopia won’t fill the dam before inking the much-anticipated deal, Hamdok said in a statement, adding: “Sudan is one of the biggest beneficiaries from the dam and also one of the biggest losers if risks are not mitigated, thus it urges Egypt and Ethiopia to the impending necessity … of finding a solution.”

Moussa Faki Mahamat, chairman of the AU, said the countries “agreed to an AU-led process to resolve outstanding issues,” without elaborating.

Sticking points in the talks have been how much water Ethiopia will release downstream from the dam if a multi-year drought occurs and how Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan will resolve any future disagreements.

Both Egypt and Sudan have appealed to the United Nations Security Council to intervene in the years-long dispute and help the countries avert a crisis. The council is set to hold a public meeting on the issue on Monday.

Filling the dam without an agreement could bring the standoff to a critical juncture. Both Egypt and Ethiopia have hinted at military steps to protect their interests, and experts fear a breakdown in talks could lead to open conflict.

Joseph Siegle, director of research at the Africa Center for Strategic Studies based at the National Defense University, called Ethiopia’s change in position “significant”.

“The Ethiopian agreement to wait, that’s a big pause – in terms of the pressure that was building up on this discussion,” he told Al Jazeera, adding that he hoped to see a resolution shortly.

“Ethiopia feels pressure because the next two months are the rainy season. The dams down the river, including the Aswan High Dam, they are at their near capacity,” said Siegle. “So this is actually a really good time to start filling the dam. It would least affect Egypt. So Egypt has some incentive to agree to get this going at this point in time. In the best-case scenario, they will get back to the negotiating table and they will come to a quick agreement and then move this forward.”

Sudan warns window closing in Nile dam dispute, asks UN help

Sudan warns window closing in Nile dam dispute, asks UN help


Source: AP, Friday June 26, 2020
This June 28, 2013 file photo, shows construction work at the site of the planned Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam near Assosa in the Benishangul-Gumuz region of Ethiopia, near Sudan, some 800 kilometers (500 miles) from the capital Addis Ababa. Egypt wants the United Nations Security Council to "undertake its responsibilities" and prevent Ethiopia from starting to fill its massive, newly built hydroelectric dam on the Nile River next month amid a breakdown in negotiations, Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shukry told The Associated Press on Sunday, June 21, 2020 accusing Ethiopian officials of stoking antagonism between the countries.  ELIAS ASMARE, FILE / AP PHOTO
This June 28, 2013 file photo, shows construction work at the site of the planned Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam near Assosa in the Benishangul-Gumuz region of Ethiopia, near Sudan, some 800 kilometers (500 miles) from the capital Addis Ababa. Egypt wants the United Nations Security Council to “undertake its responsibilities” and prevent Ethiopia from starting to fill its massive, newly built hydroelectric dam on the Nile River next month amid a breakdown in negotiations, Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shukry told The Associated Press on Sunday, June 21, 2020 accusing Ethiopian officials of stoking antagonism between the countries. ELIAS ASMARE, FILE / AP PHOTO


TANZANIA, Tanzania – Sudan has joined Egypt in asking the U.N. Security Council to intervene in a dispute over Ethiopia’s newly built hydroelectric dam on the Blue Nile, warning that the window for the three countries to reach an agreement “is closing by the hour.”

Sudanese Foreign Minister Asmaa Mohammed Abdalla asked the council in a letter obtained Thursday by The Associated Press to call on leaders of the three countries “to demonstrate their political will and commitment by resolving the few remaining issues and conclude an agreement” on the basis of the draft Sudan submitted June 14.

Ethiopia announced last Friday that it would begin filling the huge dam’s reservoir in July after last week’s talks with Egypt and Sudan failed to reach an accord governing how the dam will be filled and operated.

Egypt formally asked the Security Council to intervene in a three-page letter the same day.The Egyptian letter asked the U.N.’s most powerful body to call Ethiopia back into talks for a “fair and balanced solution,” and to urge it to refrain from unilateral acts. The government warned that filling the dam without a deal “constitutes a clear and present danger to Egypt,” with repercussions that “threaten international peace and security.”

Filling the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam would potentially bring the years-long dispute between Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia over the $4.6 billion mega-project to a critical juncture, with some fearing it could escalate into military conflict. Commentators in Egypt’s pro-government media have often called for action to stop Ethiopia.

Ethiopia says the electricity that will be generated by the dam is a crucial for bringing millions of its people out of poverty. With the start of the rainy season in July bringing more water to the Blue Nile, the Nile’s main tributary, Ethiopia wants to start filling the reservoir.

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. Sudan, which also largely depends on the Nile for water, has been caught between the competing interests.

The parties have been unable to agree on how much water Ethiopia will release downstream from the dam if a multi-year drought occurs and on how Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan will resolve any disputes.

Sudan’s Abdalla urged the Security Council to “discourage all parties from unilateral actions including starting the filling of the reservoir before reaching an agreement.”

The council will hold an open meeting on the dam dispute Monday and be briefed by U.N. political chief Rosemary DiCarlo.

In her letter, Abdalla urged all parties involved to “work very hard to mark a historic moment in the Nile region” and turn the dam into “a trigger for co-operation instead of a cause for conflict and instability.”

Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shukry told AP on Sunday that his country wants the Security Council to “undertake its responsibilities” to prevent Ethiopia from starting to fill the dam without an agreement. e accused Ethiopian officials of stoking antagonism between the countries and said “certainly the unilateral actions by Ethiopia in this regard would constitute … a threat” to international peace and security.

Abdalla said Sudan is “deeply concerned” about Ethiopia’s decision to start filling the dam, which is only 15 kilometres (nine miles) downstream from the Sudanese Roseires reservoir. With Sudan’s reservoir only one-tenth the size of the Ethiopian dam, Ethiopia’s unilateral action in filling the dam will put the operation of Roseires “and hence the lives of millions of people living downstream at a very high risk,” Abdalla said.

The United States earlier this year tried to broker a deal, but Ethiopia did not attend the signing meeting in February and accused the Trump administration of siding with Egypt. Last week, the U.S. National Security Council tweeted that “257 million people in east Africa are relying on Ethiopia to show strong leadership, which means striking a fair deal.”

Egypt’s foreign minister warned that filling the reservoir without an accord would violate the 2015 declaration of principles governing their talks — and rule out a return to negotiations.

“We are not seeking any coercive action by the Security Council,” Shukry said.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said at a news conference Thursday that the U.N. believes the negotiating process “is still moving forward” and fully supports it.

“We believe that the only way out in a situation like this is through dialogue among the parties, and we will be at the disposal of the parties,” he said.

 

UN humanitarian chief to release up to $140M in CERF funds for anticipatory-action projects

UN humanitarian chief to release up to $140M in CERF funds for anticipatory-action projectsemail sharing button


Source: OCHA, Friday June 26, 2020
A food distribution to people affected by floods in Eljale, Somalia, May 2020. Credit: OCHA/Warsame
A food distribution to people affected by floods in Eljale, Somalia, May 2020. Credit: OCHA/Warsame


United Nations humanitarian chief Mark Lowcock has agreed to allocate up to $140 million from the UN’s Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) to support a series of anticipatory-action interventions over the next 18 months, starting with $15 million in Somalia.

Somalia is facing a projected increase in humanitarian needs due to food insecurity, which has mainly resulted from the impact of the desert locust infestation, flooding and the COVID-19 pandemic.

But, as Mr. Lowcock has detailed in an article published today by The Economist, humanitarian assistance is typically provided only after a disaster is in full swing, although suffering is widespread by then.

As the UN humanitarian chief points out, it costs perhaps 50 times as much to save a child who is already suffering from malnutrition as it does to intervene earlier. He adds that it is four times cheaper to feed a goat than to replace one.In 2019, OCHA supported the country team in Somalia in setting up a drought anticipatory action framework. Two other frameworks, for drought in Ethiopia and flooding in Bangladesh, will be finalized soon.

Even without drought, food insecurity in Somalia is projected to increase to 22 per cent of the population in a crisis state of food crisis (IPC3+) between July and September, exceeding the threshold for the anticipatory action pilot.

The framework in Somalia involves work at OCHA headquarters and at the country level in close cooperation with UN agencies, the World Bank, climate research centres, national authorities and other partners.

Each of the anticipatory-action frameworks includes an adequate coordination mechanism at the country level; thresholds/triggers for action; sets of activities to be implemented when thresholds are reached; and defining the parts of the plan that will be funded by CERF.

To maximize the approach’s impact, OCHA is engaging closely with the World Bank on the analytics, as well as the planning and release of finance. CERF funding would be complementary to Somalia Humanitarian Fund disbursements.

OCHA is also collaborating with the London-based Centre for Disaster Protection on the design of an independent evaluative learning component that will accompany the pilots throughout the planning, disbursement and implementation stages. Findings will feed into the decision-making regarding the further development of a CERF anticipatory action approach.

As noted in the article in The Economist, Mr. Lowcock has been “championing early intervention in situations where data can reliably warn of impending crises and where a speedy response can make a big difference”.

In such cases, an anticipatory-action plan can be prepared in advance, involving a number of agencies as well as authorities on the ground.

The initial funding for anticipatory action in Somalia could make a big difference in the lives of Somalis, and to the future of anticipatory interventions. By proving that the concept works, Mr. Lowcock hopes to “change the whole mentality and mindset of dealing with predictable emergencies”.

Financing Sudan’s Transition

Financing Sudan’s Transition

Source: The International Crisis Group (ICG) published on 22 June 2020
The International Crisis Group (ICG) published on 22 June 2020 an analysis titled “Financing the Revival of Sudan’s Troubled Transition.”
Mounting economic turbulence is rocking Sudan’s political transition.  Without urgent donor assistance to provide economic relief, public support for the cabinet’s reform agenda could collapse.  Failure of the civilian-military government could have tragic consequences for Sudan and the region.

World Bank Approves $55 Million to Sustain Somalia’s Reforms and Fiscal Response to Multiple Crises

World Bank Approves $55 Million to Sustain Somalia’s Reforms and Fiscal Response to Multiple Crises


Source: The World Bank, Wednesday June 24, 2020


A man holding Somali shilling notes after having exchanged US dollars with a money changer in Mogadishu, 23 October 2013. AFP/Stuart Price

WASHINGTON, June 23, 2020 — The World Bank Board of Directors today approved a $55 million International Development Assistance (IDA)* grant to support Somalia’s economic recovery through continued fiscal and other economic policy reforms. The policies will strengthen fiscal management and promote inclusive private sector-led growth.

The supplemental financing helps Somalia ease the effects of the global COVID-19 crisis and continue implementing the reform program supported by the Somalia re-engagement and reform supplemental Development Policy Financing (DPF). The DPF delivers critically needed financing for Somalia’s revised 2020 budget, which allocates funds for an integrated and national response to the pandemic, including increased grants to sub-national government to ensure continued service delivery.

“Our revised budget expands cash transfers to vulnerable households and provides a substantial increase in grants to subnational governments to help them respond to the pandemic in the face of declining revenue,” said Dr. Abdirahman Beileh, Minister of Finance. “The supplemental financing will help in plugging our public expenditure gap given the 29% domestic revenue shortfall and 2.5% GDP contraction in 2020.”The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund approved Somalia’s eligibility for the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) Initiative on March 25, 2020, removing the constraints on economic growth and poverty reduction and providing access to IDA instruments to mitigate the impact of multiple crises in Somalia.

“The budget support will help protect lives and livelihoods and strengthen the capacity of Somali institutions to respond to the triple crisis of COVID-19 pandemic, locust invasion and flooding that threatens to derail Somalia’s reform program and its emergence from fragility,” said Hugh Riddell, World Bank Country Manager for Somalia.

The DPF is one component of the World Bank Group’s comprehensive response to the multiple crises Somalia is facing and includes investments in health systems, support for livelihoods threatened by locusts and flooding, improved fiscal coordination between federal and state governments, and financing of direct cash transfers to poor and vulnerable households. COVID-19 has spread rapidly in Somalia, which now has one of the highest infection rates in the region, with 18.7 cases per 100,000 people. Decades of conflict and state fragmentation have left Somalia’s public health system constrained and unable to mount an adequate, timely, and effective response to manage the COVID-19 crisis.

* The World Bank’s International Development Association (IDA), established in 1960, helps the world’s poorest countries by providing grants and low to zero-interest loans for projects and programs that boost economic growth, reduce poverty, and improve poor people’s lives. IDA is one of the largest sources of assistance for the world’s 76 poorest countries, 39 of which are in Africa. Resources from IDA bring positive change to the 1.6 billion people who live in IDA countries. Since 1960, IDA has supported development work in 113 countries. Annual commitments have averaged about $21 billion over the last three years, with about 61 percent going to Africa.

Arab League urges Ethiopia to delay filling Nile dam

Arab League urges Ethiemail sharing buttonopia to delay filling Nile dam


Source: AFP, Wednesday June 24, 2020
Construction works at the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) near Guba in Ethiopia (AFP Photo/EDUARDO SOTERAS)
Construction works at the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) near Guba in Ethiopia (AFP Photo/EDUARDO SOTERAS)


Cairo (AFP) – The Arab League urged Ethiopia on Tuesday to delay its filling of the Nile mega-dam it is constructing until a comprehensive deal is reached with Egypt and Sudan.

It called on “all parties to avoid taking further escalatory actions” and for Addis Ababa not to fill its Renaissance Dam “without reaching an agreement with the downstream countries”.

The resolution submitted by Egypt and approved by Arab foreign ministers, except for Djibouti and Somalia, was passed in a virtual conference requested by Cairo.Ethiopia has signalled it will start in July to fill the reservoir of the $4.6-billion dam, on which it broke ground nearly a decade ago.

The League’s meeting comes after the latest round of three-way negotiations on the dam project faltered.

Egypt has written to the UN Security Council asking for its intervention, while Sudan, also a downstream country, has taken a more reserved approach in the tussle.

Egypt views the dam as a threat to its lifeline water supplies, while Ethiopia sees it essential for its electricity needs.

The UN on Monday urged the three countries to “work together” to resolve differences on the project that has been a long-running source of regional tension.

 

Boost for Somali women as L. House ratifies 30% quota proposal

Boost for Somali women as L. House ratifies 30% quota proposal


Source: Hiiraan Online, Monday June 22, 2020

MOGADISHU (HOL) –  Somali’s Lower House has approved a proposal to anchor into law a 30% quota for women in parliamentary elections.

In the vote Sunday, 134 MPs voted for the proposal with only seven opposing as two others abstained.

The proposal which now forms part of the Elections Act should the Upper House endorse guarantees a reservation of 30% of seats in the Federal Parliament to women.

The two chambers of the Federal Parliament consist of 329 lawmakers with the majority, 275 sitting in the Lower House while the Senate is made of 54 Senators.
The adoption of the proposal is a major milestone for women representation in Somalia which has seen a gradual increase since 2012 when only 14% of the only chamber-Lower House was composed of women.

The numbers rose in the 2016 elections to 24% translating to 84 lawmakers in both Lower House and the newly created Upper House.

The 30% quota has been based on a gentleman’s agreement but will now be anchored in law.

The proposal is part of a number of contentious issues yet to be addressed in the Elections Act ahead of the October elections.

Other issues include the delimitation of constituencies, role of political parties and representation of Banaadir region.

Parliament will be debating the representation of Banaadir region today which to date, though the most populous in the country is not allocated a seat in the Federal Parliament.

Ethiopia to fill disputed dam, deal or no deal

Ethiopia to fill disputed dam, deal or no deal


AP, By Elias Meseret
Source: AP, Saturday June 20, 2020
In this Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2020 file photo, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, left, shakes hands with Ethiopia's Foreign Minister Gedu Andargachew, during a joint press conference at the Sheraton Hotel, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. In an interview with The Associated Press Friday, June 19, 2020, Ethiopia's Foreign Minister Gedu Andargachew declared that his country will go ahead and start filling the $4.6 billion Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam next month, even without an agreement with Egypt and Sudan.  POOL PHOTO VIA AP, FILE / ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS
In this Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2020 file photo, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, left, shakes hands with Ethiopia’s Foreign Minister Gedu Andargachew, during a joint press conference at the Sheraton Hotel, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. In an interview with The Associated Press Friday, June 19, 2020, Ethiopia’s Foreign Minister Gedu Andargachew declared that his country will go ahead and start filling the $4.6 billion Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam next month, even without an agreement with Egypt and Sudan. POOL PHOTO VIA AP, FILE / ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS


ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia – It’s a clash over water usage that Egypt calls an existential threat and Ethiopia calls a lifeline for millions out of poverty. Just weeks remain before the filling of Africa’s most powerful hydroelectric dam might begin, and tense talks between the countries on its operation have yet to reach a deal.

In an interview with The Associated Press, Ethiopian Foreign Minister Gedu Andargachew on Friday declared that his country will go ahead and start filling the $4.6 billion Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam next month, even without an agreement. “For us it is not mandatory to reach an agreement before starting filling the dam, hence we will commence the filling process in the coming rainy season,“ he said.

“We are working hard to reach a deal, but still we will go ahead with our schedule whatever the outcome is. If we have to wait for others’ blessing, then the dam may remain idle for years, which we won’t allow to happen,“ he said. He added that ”we want to make it clear that Ethiopia will not beg Egypt and Sudan to use its own water resource for its development,” pointing out that Ethiopia is paying for the dam’s construction itself.

He spoke after the latest round of talks with Egypt and Sudan on the dam, the first since discussions broke down in February, failed to reach agreement.No date has been set for talks to resume, and the foreign minister said Ethiopia doesn’t believe it’s time to take them to a head of state level.

The years-long dispute pits Ethiopia’s desire to become a major power exporter and development engine against Egypt’s concern that the dam will significantly curtail its water supply if filled too quickly. Sudan has long been caught between the competing interests.

The arrival of the rainy season is bringing more water to the Blue Nile, the main branch of the Nile, and Ethiopia sees an ideal time to begin filling the dam’s reservoir next month.

Both Egypt and Ethiopia have hinted at military steps to protect their interests, and experts fear a breakdown in talks could lead to conflict.

Ethiopia’s foreign minister would not say whether his country would use military action to defend the dam and its operations.

“This dam should have been a reason for co-operation and regional integration, not a cause for controversies and warmongering,” he said. “Egyptians are exaggerating their propaganda on the dam issue and playing a political gamble. Some of them seem as if they are longing for a war to break out.”

Gedu added: “Our reading is that the Egyptian side wants to dictate and control even future developments on our river. We won’t ask for permission to carry out development projects on our own water resources. This is both legally and morally unacceptable.”

He said Ethiopia has offered to fill the dam in four to seven years, taking possible low rainfall into account.

Sticking points in the talks have been how much water Ethiopia will release downstream from the dam during a multi-year drought and how Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan will resolve any future disputes.

The United States earlier this year tried to broker a deal, but Ethiopia did not attend the signing meeting and accused the Trump administration of siding with Egypt. This week some Ethiopians felt vindicated when the U.S. National Security Council tweeted that “257 million people in east Africa are relying on Ethiopia to show strong leadership, which means striking a fair deal.”

In reply to that, Ethiopia’s foreign minister said: “Statements issued from governments and other institutions on the dam should be crafted carefully not to take sides and impair the fragile talks, especially at this delicate time. They should issue fair statements or just issue no statements at all.”

He also rejected the idea that the issue should be taken to the United Nations Security Council, as Egypt wants. Egypt’s foreign ministry issued a statement Friday saying Egypt has urged the Security Council to intervene in the dispute to help the parties reach a “fair and balanced solution” and prevent Ethiopia from “taking any unilateral actions.”

The latest talks saw officials from the U.S., European Union and South Africa, the current chairman of the African Union, attending as observers.

Sudan’s Irrigation Minister Yasser Abbas told reporters after talks ended Wednesday that the three counties’ irrigation leaders have agreed on “90% or 95%” of the technical issues but the dispute over the “legal points” in the deal remains dissolved.

The Sudanese minister said his country and Egypt rejected Ethiopia’s attempts to include articles on water sharing and old Nile treaties in the dam deal. Egypt has received the lion’s share of the Nile’s waters under decades-old agreements dating back to the British colonial era. Eighty-five per cent of the Nile’s waters originate in Ethiopia from the Blue Nile.

“The Egyptians want us to offer a lot, but they are not ready to offer us anything,” Gedu said Friday. “They want to control everything. We are not discussing a water-sharing agreement.”

The countries should not get stuck in a debate about historic water rights, William Davison, senior analyst on Ethiopia with the International Crisis Group, told reporters this week. “During a period of filling, yes, there’s reduced water downstream. But that’s a temporary period,” he said.

Initial power generation from the dam could be seen late this year or in early 2021, he said.

Ethiopia’ foreign minister expressed disappointment in Egypt’s efforts to find backing for its side.

“Our African brotherly countries should have supported us, but instead they are tainting our country’s name around the world, and especially in the Arab world,” he said. “Egypt’s monopolistic approach to the dam issue will not be acceptable for us forever.

Great Power Rivalry in the Red Sea

Great Power Rivalry in the Red Sea

Source: Global China published in June 2020
Global China published in June 2020 an analysis titled “Great Power Rivalry in the Red Sea: China’s Experiment in Djibouti and Implications for the United States” by Zach Vertin, Brookings Doha Center.

The analysis looks at the presence of US and Chinese forces in the region, especially in Djibouti, and considers what China’s engagement means for the United States.  The author concludes that China’s growing profile in Djibouti and the Red Sea region warrants new Western vigilance, but it need not elicit alarm.

Tension in Northern Ethiopia

Tension in Northern Ethiopia

Source: The International Crisis Group (ICG) published on 12 June 2020
The International Crisis Group (ICG) published on 12 June 2020 an analysis titled “Bridging the Divide in Ethiopia’s North.

The ICG analyzes a bitter land dispute between Amhara and Tigray regions in northern Ethiopia that is exacerbated by Ethiopia’s delayed elections.  The ICG fears the dispute could escalate into conflict.

TPLF Rejects Separate Talks with Federal Government

TPLF Rejects Separate Talks with Federal Government


Source: Ezega, Friday June 19, 2020

Debretsion Gebremichael

The Tigray People Liberation Front (TPLF) will not hold any separate talks on national issues with the ruling Prosperity Party (PP), excluding other political forces, Chairperson of the front Debretsion Gebremichael has said.

The Tigray region Communication Bureau quoted Debretsion who is also deputy president of the region as saying that the disagreement between the federal and Tigray region can be solved through reaching national consensus in which all concerned parties are involved.

Debretsion’s remark comes after religious leaders and scholars suggested for immediate talks between the Tigray region and federal governments to resolve escalating political disputes between them.

“There should be national dialogue in which all political parties, nations, and nationalities and federalist forces participate. Otherwise, any attempt to hold clandestine discussion with TPLF will be nonsense and not acceptable,” the deputy president said.Debretsion accused the federal government of threatening war against the Tigray region which according to the chairperson will conduct elections based on the constitution.

The disagreement between the ruling PP and TPLF began after TPLF refused to hand over Getachew Assefa, the former spy chief who is wanted for wide-ranging crimes and human rights violations during the EPRDF regime in which TPLF had the upper hand.

TPLF is also blamed for turning down requests of the federal government to hand over dozens of officials who have allegedly embezzled billions of birr. Almost all officials of the TPLF are confined to Tigray region for undisclosed reasons.

TPLF further argues that it will organize an election in Tigray state based on the constitutional principle that “no government can stay in power after five years without an election, a move opposed by the federal government.

It accuses the federal government of postponing the election using COVID-19 pandemic as an excuse to stay in power.

Two weeks ago, the House of Federation postponed the general election which was slated for August 29, after the National Electoral Board of Ethiopia announced that it could not carry out pre-election activities due to the pandemic and state of emergency declared thereof.

The TPLF chairperson claimed that the PP is opposing not only TPLF but also the Nations, Nationalities, and People of Ethiopia by violating the constitution and establishing a dictatorial regime.

He said political parties and religious fathers who can represent each region should also participate in the dialogue.

Meanwhile, the Ethiopian Ministry of Health has confirmed 109 new COVID-19 cases from 5, 102 samples tested on Tuesday. This brings the total number of confirmed cases in Ethiopia to 3, 630.

The new cases reported are all Ethiopians, with 60 being males and 49 females. The youngest is one year old and the oldest 78 years.

From the 109 cases, Addis Ababa has 81 cases, Oromia 9, Somali and SNNP 4 cases each, Amhara, Tigray and Afar 3 cases each and Harari 2 cases.

 

EU provides funds for COVID-19 response in eastern Africa

EU provides funds for COVID-19 response in eastern Africa

Source: Xinhua, Friday June 19, 2020

NAIROBI, June 18 (Xinhua) — The European Union (EU) on Thursday announced a 7.2 billion shillings (about 67.4 million U.S. dollars) package to help tackle the health and socio-economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in eastern Africa.

The EU said the funds will support the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), a regional organization, in its mandate to coordinate national responses to the COVID-19 pandemic in Djibouti, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Kenya, Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan and Uganda.

“The program will focus on vulnerable groups, including migrants, refugees, internally displaced persons and cross-border communities, and deliver medical equipment, including more than 8.5 million items of personal protective equipment,” said the EU in a statement.

Jutta Urpilainen, Commissioner for International Partnerships, said about 430,000 people, mostly women and children, will receive necessary basic care while almost 570,000 people will receive critical water, sanitation and hygiene supplies and services, in addition to reaching more than 1.6 million people through awareness campaigns to help prevent the spread of the virus.

“The program will help mitigate the impact of the pandemic by providing coordinated, coherent, and comprehensive actions across the region,” Urpilainen said.

The Executive Secretary of IGAD, Workneh Gebeyehu, said the project will make a significant contribution to saving lives, protecting and motivating frontline health workers, as well as preventing community transmission through rapid and coordinated contact tracing and isolation.

“It will boost the remarkable efforts of national response committees in IGAD Member States to contain and control the pandemic, promote trade and protect livelihoods,” said Gebeyehu

Somalia, Djibouti hail Kenya’s election to UNSC

Somalia, Djibouti hail Kenya’s election to UNSC


Source: Hiiraan Online, Friday June 19, 2020

MOGADISHU (HOL) –  Somalia and Djibouti have hailed Kenya’s election for a non-permanent seat at the UN Security Council expressing confidence in her ability to represent the region’s interests.

In separate tweets, Somalia’s Foreign Affairs Minister Isse Awad and Djibouti President Ismael Guelleh congratulated Kenya for its election. Kenya secured 129 votes in the second round in the Thursday poll against Djibouti which lost 16 votes from round to settle at 62 votes.

“We extend our congratulations to Kenya as the newest representative of our region at the UN Security Council,” said Guelleh. “I am convinced they will bring valuable contributions to the debates during their tenure in the Security Council. My congratulations to H.E Uhuru Kenyatta and the Kenyan nation.”

Awad whose country had joined hands with Djibouti in contesting Kenya’s candidacy filed a similar opinion.
“On behalf of the Gov’t and People of Somalia, I wish to extend my sincere congratulations to Kenya for getting elected as non-permanent member of the UNSC. We are confident Kenya would best represent our region’s interest,” Awad observed.

Both Somalia and Djibouti had fought hard against Kenya’s candidacy noting the East African economic powerhouse will use its position at the Security Council to undermine the maritime case currently at the International Court of Justice.

Djibouti had also contested the procedure which resulted in the endorsement of Kenya by the African Union before it opted for a parallel run.

Meanwhile Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta has pledged his country will use the position to speak for the continent.

“Kenya, the President said, will endeavor to consolidate and voice Africa’s position in the Security Council and will advance its 10-point agenda as outlined during the campaign period,” a statement from the Presidency read in part.

Ethiopia is prepared to defend itself against Egypt over Renaissance Dam: military chief

Ethiopia is prepared to defend itself against Egypt over Renaissance Dam: military chief

Source: AP, Tuesday June 16, 2020

The Blue Nile river flows near the site of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam near Assosa, Ethiopia, on June 28, 2013.ELIAS ASMARE/AP

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia — Ethiopia’s deputy army chief on Friday said his country will strongly defend itself and will not negotiate its sovereignty over the disputed $4.6 billion Nile dam that has caused tensions with Egypt.

“Egyptians and the rest of the world know too well how we conduct war whenever it comes,” Gen. Birhanu Jula said in an interview with the state-owned Addis Zemen newspaper, adding that Egyptian leaders’ “distorted narrative” on Africa’s largest hydroelectric dam is attracting enemies.

He accused Egypt of using its weapons to “threaten and tell other countries not to touch the shared water” and said “the way forward should be cooperation in a fair manner.”

He spoke amid renewed talks among Ethiopian, Sudanese and Egyptian water and irrigation ministers after months of deadlock. Ethiopia wants to begin filling the dam’s reservoir in the coming weeks, but Egypt worries a rapid filling will take too much of the water it says its people need to survive. Sudan, caught between the competing interests, pushed the two sides to resume discussions.

The general’s comments were a stark contrast to Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s remarks to lawmakers earlier this week that diplomacy should take center stage to resolve outstanding issues.

“We don’t want to hurt anyone else, and at the same time it will be difficult for us to accept the notion that we don’t deserve to have electricity,” the Nobel Peace Prize laureate said. “We are tired of begging others while 70% of our population is young. This has to change.”

Talks on the dam have struggled. Egypt’s Irrigation Ministry on Wednesday called for Ethiopia to “clearly declare that it had no intention of unilaterally filling the reservoir” and that a deal prepared by the U.S. and the World Bank in February serves as the starting point of the resumed negotiations.

Ethiopia refused to sign that deal and accused the U.S. of siding with Egypt.

Egypt said that in Tuesday’s talks, Ethiopia showed it wanted to re-discuss “all issues” including “all timetables and figures” negotiated in the U.S.-brokered talks.

President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi discussed the latest negotiations in a phone call with President Donald Trump on Wednesday, el-Sissi’s office said, without elaborating.

Egypt’s National Security Council, the highest body that makes decisions in high-profile security matters in the country, has accused Ethiopia of “buying time” and seeking to begin filling the dam’s reservoir in July without reaching a deal with Egypt and Sudan.

Egypt: Ethiopia rejecting ‘fundamental issues’ on Nile dam

Egypt: Ethiopia rejecting ‘fundamental issues’ on Nile dam


Source: Aljazeera, Monday June 15, 2020

Ethiopia wants to fill dam’s reservoir in coming weeks but Egypt says that could significantly reduce its Nile water.

The three countries have been holding talks about the dam for years without reaching a deal [File: Tiksa Negeri/Reuters]

Egypt and Sudan have said that talks over a controversial dam on the Nile River will resume on Monday, amid Egyptian accusations that Ethiopia has sought to scrap “all agreements and deals” they had previously reached, and that “many fundamental issues” remain rejected by Ethiopia, the third party to the talks.

The construction of the $4.6bn Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam on the Blue Nile, which is more than 70 percent complete and promises to provide much-needed electricity to Ethiopia’s 100 million people, has been a contentious point among the three main Nile Basin countries.

The three countries have been holding talks for years without reaching a deal. Those talks came to an acrimonious halt in February when Ethiopia rejected a US-crafted deal and accused the Trump administration of siding with Egypt.

Ethiopia wants to begin filling the dam’s reservoir in coming weeks, but Egypt has raised concerns that filling the reservoir behind the dam too quickly could significantly reduce the amount of Nile water available to Egypt.After months of deadlock, Sudanese, Egyptian and Ethiopian water and irrigation ministers resumed talks last week, with observers attending from the US, the European Union and South Africa, which is the current head of the African Union.

Sudan’s irrigation ministry said Saturday’s talks focused on technical matters of the dam’s operation and the filling of its massive reservoir during rainy seasons and droughts. It said it will craft a draft paper based on Egyptian and Ethiopian notes to be discussed on Monday.

Egypt’s irrigation ministry said the June 9-13 talks revealed the differences that remain with Ethiopia.

These issues included Ethiopia’s “total” rejection of addressing technical issues related to “the mitigation measures for droughts and prolonged droughts and measures to address prolonged dry years,” the ministry statement said. Ethiopia rejected “the inclusion of a legally binding dispute resolution mechanism,” it said.

“Egypt reaffirmed that these are essential components in any agreement that relates to an existential matter that affects the lives of over 150 million citizens of Egypt and Sudan,” the statement said.

Ethiopia’s water and energy ministry said the talks have achieved progress and they will result in “finalising the process with a win-win outcome”.

It said the three countries reached an understanding on the first stage of filling and the approach to drought management rules.

But Mohammed el-Sebaei, a spokesman for Egypt’s irrigation ministry, said Ethiopia rejected a Sudanese proposal last week that could be a basis for negotiations between the three countries. Instead, Addis Ababa introduced a “worrisome” proposal that included its vision on the dam’s operation.

He said Ethiopia lacked the “political will” to compromise and wants Egypt and Sudan to “abandon their water rights and to recognise Ethiopia’s right to use the Blue Nile waters unilaterally and to fill and operate the Renaissance Dam in accordance with its vision”.

“The proposal is not legally and technically sound,” he told reporters in Cairo. “It is a clear attempt to impose a fait accompli on my downstream country.”

Egypt and Sudan rejected the Ethiopian proposal, el-Sebaei said.

The Ethiopian ministry said el-Sebaei’s comments were “regrettable”. It said that if the continuing negotiations failed it would be because of “Egypt’s obstinacy to maintain a colonial-based water allocation agreement that denies Ethiopia and all the upstream countries their natural and legitimate rights”.

The Blue Nile flows from Ethiopia into Sudan where it joins the White Nile near the capital, Khartoum, to form the Nile River. Eighty-five percent of Nile waters originate in Ethiopia from the Blue Nile, which is one of the Nile’s two main tributaries.

Egypt last week called for Ethiopia to “clearly declare that it had no intention of unilaterally filling the reservoir” and that a deal that was prepared by the US and the World Bank in February serves as the starting point of the resumed negotiations.

The US had crafted a draft deal in February after more than four months of talks, and said the final testing and filling of the dam “should not take place without an agreement”.

The deadlock over the dam has become increasingly bitter in recent months, with Egypt saying it would use “all available means” to defend “the interests” of its people.

Ethiopia’s deputy army chief on Friday said his country will strongly defend itself and will not negotiate its sovereignty over the disputed dam.

 

Ethiopian PM reiterates value of peace, reconciliation for regional integration

Ethiopian PM reiterates value of peace, reconciliation for regional integration

Source: Fana, Sunday June 14, 2020

Prime Minister Dr Abiy Ahmed reiterated the value of peace and reconciliation in the Horn region as the foundation for regional integration.

He made the remark during a consultation summit held between President Abdullahi Mohamed Farmaajo of Somalia and Somaliland leader Muse Bihi in Djibouti today.

The summit follows a meeting between the two leaders facilitated by the Prime Minister in February 2020 in Addis Ababa.

In today’s summit, he recounted the abundant resources in the region that can be utilized effectively for regional development, if cooperation and peace are made to be leading forces, according to office of the Prime Minister.He emphasized “together we can pool our resources to break the vicious cycle of poverty and despair.”

In a Twitter post, President Guelleh hailed the talks between the two leaders.

“The resumption of the talks between Somalia and Somaliland is a perfect illustration of the continued determination of the leaders of the region to resolve differences through dialogue,” he said.

At the end, Prime Minister Dr Abiy, together with participants of the meeting, planted seedlings in Djibouti.

US brokered Somalia-Somaliland talks set for tomorrow in Djibouti

US brokered Somalia-Somaliland talks set for tomorrow in Djibouti

Source: Hiiraan Online, Sunday June 13, 2020
June 13, 2020

NAIROBI (HOL) – Talks between Somalia and the break-away region of Somaliland are set to resume on Sunday as Presidents Mohamed Farmaajo and Muse Bihi are expected to meet in Djibouti.

A source as Villa Somalia who sought anonymity since he is not authorised to speak on the matter told HOL the two leaders will meet tomorrow under the aegis of the US ambassador in Somalia Donald Yamamoto.

Sources in Somaliland have said the region’s foreign affairs minister Yasin Hagi Mohamoud and speaker of the Lower House Saleban Mohamud Adan will be attending the talks.

Relations between Mogadishu and Hargeisa have remained frosty since Farmaajo came to office in 2017. Farmaajo’s opposition of the Berbera Naval Base construction and subsequent declaration of expulsion of UAE’s DP World which secured a $440 million deal to expand the port of Berbera frustrated hopes of any talks between the two.

Bihi has maintained the two contracts were signed by Somaliland as ‘an independent state’ and conditioned any talks to recognition of that status by Mogadishu.

Farmaajo is facing an election early 2021 and before that Parliamentary elections in October both of which Somaliland participate through clan representation.

The two leaders met briefly this February at the sidelines of the AU meeting facilitated by Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed.

Farmaajo, Bihi lead delegations to Djibouti for talks

Farmaajo, Bihi lead delegations to Djibouti for talks


Source: Hiiraan Online, Sunday June 14, 2020

NAIROBI (HOL) – President Mohamed Farmaajo, Somaliland President Muse Bihi, Prime  Minister Hassan Khayre and a delegation of ministers and MPs have departed for Djibouti this morning for another round of talks after the last one in 2015 collapsed in Turkey.

According to the list seen by HOL, Farmaajo is leading a high powered delegation including Lower House Speaker Mohamed Mursal, Attorney General Sulayman Mohamoud, Interior Minister Abdi Sabriye and Petroleum Minister Abdirashid Ahmed.
Others in the Mogadishu delegation are Maryam Qasim (MP), the chairman of the Constitutional Review and Implementation Commission Mohamed Afrah and Constitutional Affairs Deputy Minister Hussein Elmi.

From Hargeisa, Bihi, whose team left an hour earlier is being accompanied by four ministers and Upper House (Guurti) speaker Suleiman Gaal. Somaliland Foreign Affairs Minister Yasin Mohamed confirmed the list.

Outspoken presidential advisor on Somaliland independence Adna Adam is also attending the talks.
Djibouti President Omar Guelleh confirmed the talks Saturday evening.

“Tomorrow in Djibouti, I will chair a meeting between President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo and President Moussa Bihi Abdi to follow up on the mediation efforts between the two leaders. I have also invited Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed to attend the discussions,” a tweet from his account read.

Mogadishu and Hargeisa have maintained frosty relations since Farmaajo came to office in 2017.

The two sides have sharply differed over the UAE port and naval base contracts signed off by Somaliland at Berbera Port.

Tension in Northern Ethiopia

Tension in Northern Ethiopia

Source. The International Crisis Group (ICG) published on 12 June 2020

The International Crisis Group (ICG) published on 12 June 2020 an analysis titled “Bridging the Divide in Ethiopia’s North.

The ICG analyzes a bitter land dispute between Amhara and Tigray regions in northern Ethiopia that is exacerbated by Ethiopia’s delayed elections.  The ICG fears the dispute could escalate into conflict.