Friday, February 24, 2006

Ethiopia bars UK reporter Inigo Gilmore from country - Committee to Protect Journalists

AP report Feb 24, 2006 says Ethiopian authorities have barred a British journalist who wrote a critical report on alleged human rights abuses, an international media watchdog reported.

Blue sky dreamers find feet needed on the ground

In Ethiopia's drought-stricken Somali and Oromiya regions, the health centres are not calling out for internet connections. They are calling out for staff and really basic supplies - things like oral rehydration salts to stop children dying from diarrhoea. A recent survey of the Somali region's Afder and Liben zones, for example, could not find a single operating health centre.

Read more by Andrew Heavens at Meskel Square: The dream is over.

Eritrea has released UN local staff

AP report Feb 23, 2006 reprinted at Sudan Tribune says Eritrea has freed 25 Eritreans working for the UN peacekeeping mission monitoring its tense border with Ethiopia, a UN official said Thursday.

Another two Eritreans who were part of 27 people detained, however, are believed to still be held by the authorities and their location is unknown, Musi Khumalo, spokeswoman of the UN Mission for Ethiopia and Eritrea, or UNMEE said in a statement.

"During the last week, a total number of 27 locally recruited UNMEE staff were arrested by the Eritrean authorities for varying durations," Khumalo said. "As of today, two national staff members have not reported for duty."

Eritrea has given no reason for the arrests.

On Feb. 14, a U.N. diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly, said Eritreans who work for international organizations, and are therefore exempt from national service, have been arrested in recent months and sent to the army.

The U.N. has around 3,000 peacekeepers patrolling a 15-mile (24-kilometer) buffer zone between the two countries and maintaining a fragile peace after a bloody border war ended in Dec. 2000.

Eritrea gained independence from Ethiopia in 1993 after a 30-year guerrilla war, but the border was never agreed. Fighting erupted again in 1998 and ended 2 1/2 years later after tens of thousands of people had been killed.

Under the 2000 peace agreement, both countries agreed to abide by an independent commission's ruling on the position of the disputed 1,000-kilometer (621-mile) border, while U.N. troops patrolled the buffer zone.

But Ethiopia has refused to implement the international commission's April 2002 ruling, which awarded the key town of Badme to Eritrea.

In response, Eritrea has accused the international community of shirking its responsibility to ensure the ruling is obeyed. Since October, it has banned U.N. helicopter flights and the movement of other vehicles at night on its side of the buffer zone.

On Dec. 6, Eritrea gave the U.N. mission 10 days to pull out staff from North America and Europe, including Russia. It gave no reason, but the move came amid mounting concern that both sides were massing troops near the buffer zone as a prelude to a new war. (AP/ST)

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Ethio-German trade volume nears $240 million in 2005

The trade volume between Ethiopia and Germany has reached 200 million euros (238 million U.S. dollars) last year, according to a statement from the German embassy on Wednesday.

The statement said exports and imports between Germany and Ethiopia each account for approximately 50 percent of the trade volume in the year 2005.

Coffee remains Ethiopia's main export to Germany, the German embassy said, adding that the outstanding quality of Ethiopian coffee had Germany purchase 36 percent of the Ethiopian coffee exports.

Ethiopia's imports from Germany consist mainly of machinery, chemical products, automobiles, electrical engineering and precision mechanics products, the statement said.

The German embassy also said foreign investments involving German companies have brought a capital of over 700 million birr (81 million dollars) to Ethiopia in the past decade.

"This figure is constantly rising as the year 2005 brought new German investors in the field of horticulture and the textile industry to the country," it said.

Full story at Xinhua 23 Feb 2006.

Ethiopia's flower trade in full bloom

Floriculture has become a flourishing business in Ethiopia in the past five years, with the industry's exports earnings set to grow to $100-million by 2007, a five-fold increase on the $20-million earned in 2005.

Ethiopian flower exports could generate an estimated $300-million within two to three years, according to the head of the government export-promotion department, Melaku Legesse.

A score of investors from The Netherlands, Germany, India and Israel have secured licences for floricultural developments covering 450ha of land in 2006.

Full story at Mail & Guardian Online 19 Feb 2006.

Sudan's Salva Kiir makes new visit to Eritrea

Note this report says "other Sudanese rebel movements operating in the western Darfur region and eastern Sudan have offices in Asmara, Eritrea."

AFP February 23, 2006 (ASMARA):

Sudan's Vice President Salva Kiir arrived in Eritrea Thursday for his second visit to the neighbouring Horn of Africa country in three months, an official said.

Eritrean Information Minister Ali Abdou said that he would have talks with President Issaias Afeworki on regional and bilateral matters in the Eritrean port city of Massawa.

The entry of former southern Sudanese rebels backed by Asmara, including Kiir, into the Khartoum government following a peace deal last July eased a decade of difficult relations between Eritrea and Sudan.

But other Sudanese rebel movements operating in the western Darfur region and eastern Sudan have offices in Asmara.

A call by the eastern rebels to have Eritrea represented at peace talks in Libya was rejected by Khartoum, causing the negotiations to be postponed earlier this month.

Asmara also said it did not wish to attend the talks.

Sudanese minister of state for foreign affairs, Al-Samani al-Wasilah, on 7 February said in a press statement that Security is the most important issue in the bilateral talks with Eritrea. (ST/AFP)

Kiir in Eritrea

Photo: Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki welcomes Sudanese First Vice-President Salva Kiir, Dec 1, 2005 (Shabait).

Ethiopian Airlines to start new flights incl to Juba, S Sudan

Ethiopian Reporter 18 Feb 2006 reports Ethiopian Airlines recently announced it will start four new international flights.

Ethiopian CEO, Girma Wake, said that the airline will start new flights to Brussels, Dakar, Juba (South Sudan) and Libreville. Girma said the flights to Dakar, Juba and Libreville will commence in March and the flight to Brussels in June this year. Girma said that the flourishing oil exploration activities in southern Sudan prompted Ethiopian to fly to Juba. "There is no international airline that flys to Juba," Girma said. "We will link the city with Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda," he added.

Trial begins of Ethiopian opposition leaders

Trial began Thursday for 129 opposition leaders, journalists and aid workers in Ethiopia, and all but three of them refused to enter pleas because they believe charges against them were fabricated and they will not get a fair hearing.

During Thursday's proceedings, some of the accused held their hands over their mouths in an act of protest at being banned by the judge from making statements regarding the ongoing trial.

Full report by Associated Press 23 Feb 2006 via Sudan Tribune.

Canada commits 46.5 million dollars in aid for Africa

AFP report 23 Feb 2006 says Canada will contribute 46.5 million dollars to help children in need in Africa, officials announced.

The funds will be distributed through UNICEF to improve the health and survival of children, primarily in Ethiopia.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Ethiopia's May elections are free and fair - UK Blair

(ST/ENA) article Feb 13, 2006:

British Prime Minister Tony Blair described Ethiopia's May elections as most free and fair ever held in the country, BBC reported on Monday. He also acknowledged that Prime Minister Meles Zenawi was democratically elected, according to the radio.

According to the state-run ENA agency, Blair said in Johannesburg "there are really issues we have discussed them. But I think, it is important to emphasize this is not the question of government having lost in the elections and then trying to retain power".

"The government won the election and there was reaction to it, there was then, perhaps, I can say this with out being too undiplomatic and overreaction to that, which often happens and we have to try and resolve the situation the human rights issues. To do so and I want to do so in a way that supports Ethiopia", Blair said.

Blair said Meles responded by stressing that his government didn't steal the elections but lost a number of seats. He retreated that if there was an overreaction on the part of the government then there should be an independent inquiry into the violence.

Regarding British government's decision on suspension of direct budgetary support to Ethiopia, Meles said I have a personal view which is not a hundred per cent identical to that of the Prime Minister of the UK.

They respect my responsibility to make decisions in Ethiopia and I respect their responsibility to make decisions about their own money, it is their tax payers money, said Meles.

The two days summit of "the Progressive Governance Summit," held in South Africa described as a meeting like-minded leaders concluded that the World Trade Organization round talks had to be a success. If failure, the leaders said, would be a huge blow to developed and developing countries.

The South African meeting drew Blair along with Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and South Africa's Thabo Mbeki as well as leaders from South Korea, Ethiopia, New Zealand and Sweden.

Monday, February 13, 2006

UK must stand firm against tyranny in Ethiopia

By Idris Shaankkore February 12, 2006 Open Letter to: The Right Honorable Tony Blair, PC, MP, The Prime Minister, 10 Downing Street, London, SW1A 2AA.

Re: Human Rights Abuses in Oromiyaa Region of Ethiopia 'The state of Africa is a scar on the conscience of the world. But if the world as a community focused on it, we could heal it. And if we don't, it will become deeper and angrier.' - Tony Blair, Labour Party Conference, Brighton, 2 October 2001.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Sudan says keen to normalize ties with Eritrea

Sudanese minister of state for foreign affairs, Al-Samani al-Wasilah, has said the country is keen to normalize relations with Eritrea reports Sudan Tribune 7 Feb 2006.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Ukraine to supply five An-74 light turbo jets to Sudan

See Sudan Tribune report 7 February 2006.

Ethiopia builds modern tank crew training centre - report

A training centre for tank and anti-tank crews, the first of its kind in eastern Africa, is about to go operational, the Ethiopian Reporter said yesterday.

The center is built by the Ethiopian Ministry of Defence at an outlay of 75m birr (8.7m dollars).

The size and modernity of centre which is built 120 km away from Addis Ababa, would make it to be one of the best in Africa as well.

The construction of the centre began three years ago and the contractor will hand it over to the Ministry of Defence next week.

The centre, built on a 2.5 ha of land in a place called Awash Arba, in central Ethiopia, includes offices, classrooms, a library, a laboratory and residential units for senior army officers.

The centre would be capable of offering training to trainees from other countries as well. - (ST/The Reporter) 7 Feb 2006.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

East Africa a front in war on terrorism

Seattle Times Feb 5, 2006 publishes East Africa a front in war on terrorism authored by Shashank Bengali, Knight Ridder Newspapers.

The story was featured here below and at Sudan Watch a few days ago.

It is about the war on terrorism that most Americans (or the rest of us) haven't heard of and is a must-read.

East Africa a front in war on terrorism

Photo: Sgt. 1st Class Adam Reed, from Sidon, Miss., Jan. 17 with Somali farmers in Sankabar, Ethiopia, to check on the water pumps the U.S. military helped install in their fields. (Photo by EVELYN HOCKSTEIN courtesy Knight Ridder Newspapers) via Seattle Times, where you can click into a larger image.