Wednesday, March 29, 2006

ETHIOPIA: 2.5 million people affected by drought - Meles

An estimated 2.5 million Ethiopians are suffering from the effects of the drought that has wreaked havoc in the Horn of Africa, Prime Minister Meles Zenawi has said. Full report (IRIN) 29 Mar 2006.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Sorious Samura: The world's most fearless film-maker

For his stunning new documentary series, Sorious Samura moved in with hungry Ethiopians, joined the terrifying exodus from Darfur, tended to Aids sufferers in Zambia - and made an epic journey to Britain as an illegal immigrant. Paul Vallely hears his story and writes about it at the Independent 23 March 2006.

Eritrea bars three foreign aid groups: Concern, US Mercy Corps and British Accord - 100 000 tons of food aid stocked in warehouses starting to rot

Eritrea has ordered three foreign non-governmental aid groups to suspend their activities despite hunger threatening two-thirds of the population of the Horn of Africa nation, reported AFP/ST March 23, 2006. Excerpt:

The ministry of labour and human welfare told Irish aid group Concern, US Mercy Corps and British Accord that they had not "met the requirements laid down for an operational permit".

The letters didn't specify what requirements the groups had failed to meet.

The letters read, the ministry "kindly officially informs you that the registration certificate is recalled and requests the termination of your activities".

Last month, the government also ordered six Italian aid groups to stop their operations in the country.

In recent months, Asmara had been stressing the dangers of dependency on foreign aid and instituted policies intended to cultivate self-reliance.

In September, it stopped most free distribution of food aid, and called for "food for work" programmes to be put in place.

Diplomats said that owing to the halt, there were some 100 000 tons of food aid stocked in warehouses, some of which had started rotting.

According to the United Nations, two-thirds of Eritrea's 3.5 million population needed food aid in 2005 and while there were no figures yet for 2006, most of Eritrea's neighbours were suffering from a scorching drought that threatened millions with starvation.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Ethiopian Airlines to begin flight to south Sudan

The Ethiopian Airlines (EAL) is set to launch services to Juba, south Sudan as of May 1, the airline said Tuesday. - Xinhua 22 Mar 2006.

The launch of the services to Juba, a city with more than 160,000 people, will provide business executives and tourists direct link to Addis Ababa, Entebbe, and Nairobi, create convenient connections to Africa, Europe, Middle East, and Asia, and bring Sudan closer to the world, according to a statement.

Ethiopia charges 33 people for attempting to dismantle order

Ethiopian court charged 33 people with incitement to violence, they are “suspected of attempting to dismantle the constitutional order”, the state-run ENA reported.

In its charges submitted to the Second Criminal Bench of the Federal High Court on Monday, the prosecutor said the suspects accepted and acted up on the call made by the Coalition for Unity and Democracy Party (CUDP), "bent on dismantling the constitutional order through force".

Clashes between police and opposition supporters angered by the outcome of elections earlier this year left at least 46 people dead, drew international condemnation and raised questions about Prime Minister Meles Zenawi's commitment to democracy.

The violence began Nov. 1 after peaceful protests Oct. 31 over the disputed May 15 elections. Full report (Sudan Tribune) 21 Mar 2006.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Ethiopian thugs claim killing of 119 soldiers

Criminals in Ethiopia and other countries like Uganda, Sudan, Nigeria etc., appear to be getting away with murder just because they form a gang and give it a name. Sounds more like anarchy and organised crime. People around the world have access to the media and Internet giving plenty of opportunity to get ones cause heard without resorting to violence.

SudanTribune March 18, 2006 reported a rebel group operating in northern Ethiopia, the Ethiopian People's Patriotic Front (EPPF) said that its forces launched an offensive against an artillery unit the Ethiopian army in Bedew in northern Ethiopia on 4 March:
In a statement reported by the Eritrean radio, the EPPF forces killed 119 Ethiopian soldiers, wounded 68 and captured 27 others in the attack. It said six Doshka, seven Bren and two B-10 and 23 Kalashnikovs were also seized.

According to the statement, the EPRF released the captured soldiers after providing them with necessary medical treatment and enlightening them on the objectives of its struggle.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Progress in London talks on Horn of Africa

Today, the BBC reports progress on talks in London between reps from Ethiopia, Eritrea, US and the UN to end a border dispute between Ethiopia and Eritrea.

The talks, chaired by the international tribunal that decided where the border should run, were held with the blessing of the UN Security Council which had urged the countries to resume a dialogue. Excerpt:

This impetus from the international community appears to have helped break the deadlock.

Ethiopia indicated that it now accepts the tribunal's ruling without reservations.

Dec 2000: Peace agreement
Apr 2002: Border ruling
Mar 2003: Ethiopian complaint over Badme rejected
Sep 2003: Ethiopia asks for new ruling
Feb 2005: UN concern at military build-up
Oct 2005: Eritrea restricts peacekeepers' activities
Nov 2005: UN sanctions threat if no compliance with 2000 deal

Eritrea for its part accepted the appointment of a technical expert to assist in the demarcation of the border.

Both countries will allow the demarcation process to resume where it left off some years ago.

Field offices will be opened, liaison officers appointed and security arrangements put in place.

And further talks are scheduled to be held in London in April.

But there is still much to do.

Both sides now want to consult with their respective capitals.

The UN asked Eritrea to lift restrictions on the operations of its 7,000 peacekeepers strung out along the border but Eritrea has not yet reacted. A small step forward, was how one diplomat described the process.

But even this is a major achievement in a dispute that the UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan, has repeatedly warned has the potential to provoke a renewal of hostilities at any time.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Eritrea, Italy expel diplomats

SudanTribune March 8, 2006 reports Italy has expelled an Eritrean diplomat in response for the arrest and expulsion of an Italian diplomat by Asmara, a foreign ministry source said Wednesday. Excerpt:

"To signal our disappointment at the expulsion of an official at the Italian embassy in Asmara and in line with established practice, the authorities have taken similar steps with an Eritrean official posted here," the ministry source said.

The official was not identified and it was unclear if he had already left Italy.

The foreign ministry had also called in Eritrea's Ambassador to Rome to protest the Italian's arrest and expulsion.

The ministry said the Italian had been arrested and detained earlier this week in the port city of Massawa, 60 kilometres (40 miles) west of the capital.

The ministry said he had been charged with "violating local laws by going to the defence of Italians whose property had been expropriated."

Earlier Wednesdsay, Eritrea's Information Minister Ali Abdu confirmed that the man had been expelled because he had broken the law, but he gave no details.

Diplomatic sources in Eritrea identified him as a senior diplomat, Ludovico Serra.

Ethiopia-Sudan joint panel inks cultural agreement

March 8, 2006 Sudan Tribune reports that Ethiopia and Sudan Joint border commission agreed today to enhance bilateral ties between the two countries by accelerating the implementation of different deals and signed an accord on cultural and sportive cooperation.

The two sides agreed to implement agreements signed earlier and new agreements enabling to collaborate in the areas of culture and sports.

The 8th Conference of the Ethio-Sudan Joint Border Development Commission was concluded on Wednesday in Bahir Dar town, Amhara State, with the two sides signing of a Memorandum of Understanding.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Lift ban on helicopter flights, Annan tells Eritrea

From The Tide Online 5 Mar 2006:

UN Secretary-Gen eral Kofi Annan urged Eritrea on Thursday to lift its ban on UN helicopter flights, said to hinder a timely, evacuation of a sick peacekeeper.

Annan urged "in the strongest terms, the Eritrean authorities to lift without delay the arbitrary restriction which places at risk the lives of UN personnel," UN chiefs spokesman, Stephane Dujarric said.

A soldier from the Indian Battalion of the UN mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE) died from cardiac arrest on Wednesday shortly after being flown to an Ethiopian hospital.

The UN mission said Eritrea's flights ban forced the sick soldier to be flown on a longer route and cost him the most precious rescue time.

"Because of the inadmissible restrictions imposed by Eritrea, the medical evacuation of the sick peacekeeper to a hospital required the use of a longer route," the spokesman said in a statement.

The UNMEE, now comprising mostly soldiers from India and Jordan, has some 3,000 troops stationed in Ethiopia and Eritrea to monitor the two countries' borders.

Since mid-2005, Eritrea has banned helicopter flights and restricted ground patrols of the UN mission.

In December, 2005, it demanded the mission's North American and European personnel leave its territory.

'Large scale' deaths in drought predicted for Kenya - UN says Ethiopia, Somalia and Djibouti are on brink of starvation

Excerpt from Sapa/IOL report March 05 2006:

World Food Programme chief James Morris has warned of large scale deaths in Kenya if donors delay delivering food to about 3,5 million people facing the threat of starvation.

"The world needs to know that ths issue in Kenya and Somalia are very serious... The people whose livelihood depend on mother nature are very vulnerable," he said. Kenya is home to 32 million people while Somalia has population of about 10 million.

In addition to Kenya, the UN estimates that up to 11 million people in three other east African countries - Ethiopia, Somalia and Djibouti - are on the brink of starvation. - Sapa-AFP

The 21st century's most explosive commodity will be . . . WATER

There's plenty of it to meet the world's needs but too much of our supply is in the wrong places says a report at by Allister Heath 5 March 2006.

Report copied in full at Niger Watch for future reference, incase link to becomes broken.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Ethiopia: EU Commissioner calls for political dialogue

The Reporter (Addis Ababa) February 25, 2006 by A Staff Reporter via

The European Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Aid, Louis Michel, underlined the need for quick and concrete confidence-building measures to help democracy in Ethiopia.

During his visit last week, the commissioner held talks with Prime Minister Meles Zenawi and leaders of the opposition parties, including Hailu Shawel, Berhanu Nega and Bertukan Mideksa. He also had discussions with members of the civil society.

Meeting with the Prime Minister, Louis Michel welcomed the decision to grant him access to members of the opposition and journalists held in prison. "This is a positive sign, a sign of confidence, and I consider it a significant step in the direction of constructive political dialogue," he said.

The premier had assured the commissioner that international legal observers would be welcome at the trial of CUD leaders and others.

During his three-hour visit to the prison of Kaliti, the commissioner was able to meet with opposition leaders and Eskindir Nega, a journalist. He had exchanged views on the condition of their detention, the charges against them and the prospect for a breakthrough of the current political situation in the country.

The commissioner noted that the core of his mission to Addis Ababa was to help a re-launching of political dialogue among the major political parties and other pertinent stakeholders. He regretted that Meles was not willing to pursue political dialogue with the detained political prisoners. He, however, indicated that the opportunity for dialogue and to move on was not yet over.

Eritrea rejects UN criticism over peacekeeper death

Eritrea Thursday rejected criticism by the U.N. secretary-general, who urged the country to lift a ban on U.N. helicopter flights in its airspace after the death of a peacekeeper who had to be evacuated on a longer flight to Ethiopia.

Feb 2006: UN report says Eritrea, Libya, Chad supply arms to Darfur rebels

Sudan Tribune article, copied here in full for future reference:

Feb 8, 2006 (NEW YORK) -- A UN report accused Eritrea Libya and Chad of supplying arms and ammunition to the rebels groups in Sudan's troubled Darfur region.

The UN Panel of experts to monitor the implementation of the arms embargo imposed by resolutions 1556 (2004) and 1591 (2005); in a report released today said that "the Government of Eritrea has provided, and probably continues to provide, arms, logistical support, military training and political support to both JEM and the Sudan Liberation Army (SLA)".

"Training of JEM and SLA has reportedly occurred at a number of camps in Eritrea on the Eritrea-Sudan border", the report added.

But the report says the panel was not able to determine whether material support for the rebels in Darfur emanating from Chad and Libya was official Government policy or rather the independent actions of Government officials".

The Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) is also mention in the report as training provider and arms supplier to the Darfur rebel SLA.

"The Panel has received multiple, credible reports that the Sudan People's Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A) provided training and supplied arms and ammunition to SLM/A".

"It appears that shipments of arms facilitated by the Sudan People's Liberation Army continued until at least August/September 2004, after Security Council resolution 1556 (2004) had been adopted. It also appears that SPLM/A stopped its official support when it appeared that the Niavasha peace negotiations would be finalized".

Regarding the Janjaweed militias, the report says it isn't possible to deny arms to these militias. Because the militias are already formally part of the Government security organs or incorporated into those organs, especially the Popular Defence Force (PDF), the border intelligence guard, the central reserve police, the popular police and the nomadic police.

Attached the full text of the UN Panel of Experts sanctions report.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Britain to host talks in London re Ethiopia and Eritrea border dispute

UK Guardian report 1 March 2006 reveals Britain is to host talks in London next week aimed at trying to prevent a renewal of fighting between Ethiopia and Eritrea over a long-running border dispute.

Note as well as the two governments, the talks will be attended by the UN, the US and, possibly, Norway.