Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Economist says news media are feeling heat from blogosphere

Sokari Ekine of Global Voices tells us Ethiopian blog Concoction points to an opinion piece in the Economist that says news media are "already feeling the heat" from the blogosphere as blogs are changing the media.

Over the past 25 years I've taken The Sunday Times each week but since I started blogging three years ago and reading news online I barely read the Times when it arrives. I've not stopped the delivery because it provides a TV guide for the week which I find handy to use.

Since I am regularly online, newspapers, TV news and magazine no longer hold interest for me. Online news and blogs keep me up to date. By the time the newspaper is delivered, the news seems old. Same with TV news. I find online news and blogs are ahead by 24-48 hrs.

Reading online news and blogs seems quicker and more interesting - when something takes my interest, I google it and file it away in my head or email folder. I find myself getting impatient reading a newspaper, like it is wasting time.

It used to take me most of each Sunday to read the paper and a few hours each day watching TV news. Nowadays that time is spent online where the news is more up to date and blog doors are wide open and welcoming 24/7.

Online news seems alive. The beauty of blogging is in the connectivity, the linking and interaction. Keep on blogging!

Officials to Eritrea to prepare for East Sudan talks

A high-ranking government delegation will be travelling to the Eritrean capital, Asmara, today to discuss preparations for talks on eastern Sudan due to be held next May, as well as on normalising ties with Eritrea.

The delegation is due to meet leaders of the rebel Eastern Front (EF) tomorrow to agree on schedule and the agenda for the talks.

A high ranking EF official, who requested anonymity, told Al-Ayyam that the government delegation would hold consecutive meetings with leaders of the east and the Eritrean government.

He said all preparations had been finalized on the part of the EF to enter into negotiations with the government.

After long hessitation, Sudan agreed this month to engage peace talks with Eastern Front under Eritrean mediation.

The Eastern Front complains of marginalisation by the Khartoum government, which it accuses of exploiting natural resources such as oil, natural gas, gold and other minerals at the expense of the local population.

Full report Sudan Tribune Khartoum 25 Apr 2006.

Ethiopia, Turkey ink military cooperation deal

Turkish Chief of General Staff Gen. Hilmi Ozkok and his Ethiopian counterpart Gen. Samora Yunus have signed a framework agreement today, envisaging military cooperation between the two countries.

Full report Sudan Tribune 25 Apr 2006.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

UN official due in Eritrea on mission to aid victims of drought and conflict

The top United Nations relief official for Horn of Africa was arriving in Eritrea tonight at the start of a week-long mission to a region where recurrent drought and food insecurity are threatening the lives of 11 million people.

Special Humanitarian Envoy for the Horn of Africa Kjell Magne Bondevik will also visit Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia.

Full report UN News Centre 24 Apr 2006.

Note, as part of the response to the situation, Secretary-General Kofi Annan appointed former Norwegian Prime Minister Bondevik as Special Humanitarian Envoy in February. The UN has also launched a $426-million appeal for the Horn of Africa to support the urgent needs of the affected people.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Ethiopian army moving against Anuak in South Sudan

The Ethiopian Army has entered Southern Sudan in cooperation with the SPLA as part of operations to disarm members of the Anuak ethnic minority, and is currently 24 km from Pochalla, where over 17,000 Anuak refugees are living, the British charity group, (Aegis Trust/ST) said April 12, 2006 - excerpt:

Large numbers of Anuak fled Gambella, Ethiopia, following a massacre in Gambella town in December 2003. A source inside Pochalla has indicated that the Anuak community there fears it may be about to face violence worse than that witnessed in 2003, and believes the troops may arrive within the next 24 hours.

The roads to Pochalla and nearby Otalo, which has a population of approximately 10,000 Anuak refugees, are reported to be blocked on the east by Ethiopian forces and on the west by the SPLA.

Members of the Anuak community state that disarmament operations commenced on 4 April and claim that they have been accompanied by violence against civilians, including a number of killings, rapes, the looting of property and the burning of houses.

The operations follow an attack on highlanders reported in Dimma, Gambella, and a reported request by the Ethiopian authorities for the SPLA to hand over 18 leading Anuak living in Pochalla, some of Sudanese nationality, accused of supporting Anuak rebels against the Ethiopians in Gambella.

In the past two days, members of the Merle ethnic minority are reported to have taken advantage of the disarmament of Anuak by attacking members of the community near Pochalla and also at Ajwara, wounding two people and stealing cattle.

In 2003, oil giant Petronas obtained a concession from the Ethiopian Government to conduct exploration activity in the Gambella basin. Anuak activists claim that the start of their recent troubles is linked to the discovery of Gambella’s natural wealth.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Op-ed: Can Ethiopia be saved?

April 2006 opinion piece by a netter from Addis. Excerpt:

Right now, I believe that the path leading to one Ethiopia, but a new Ethiopia, is our best option. But if someone can convince me that separation is the way, I am read to listen.

Horn stalemate 'shocks' UN envoy

The international community has not done enough to resolve the conflict between Ethiopia and Eritrea, says the outgoing regional UN mission head.

UN Mission in Eritrea and Ethiopia head Legwaila Joseph Legwaila said he was "shocked" by the three-year stalemate.

An international tribunal ruled in 2002 on a border dispute that caused a war from 1998 to 2000 costing 76,000 lives.

Ethiopia did not accept the ruling and Eritrea responded with restrictions on the UN peacekeeping mission.

"I am shocked to tell the truth that the stalemate is now more than three years old," Mr Legwaila told reporters in Addis Ababa, as his tour of duty comes to an end. Full report BBC 7 Apr 2006.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

First Sudanese refugees from Ethiopia arrive home under UN programme

Seeing the photo in this report of a UNHCR convoy of refugees returning to Sudan yesterday brought tears to my eyes and a lump in my throat.

First Sudanese refugees from Ethiopia arrive home under UN programme

Photo: First Sudanese refugees from Ethiopia arrive home under UN programme - UNHCR convoy of refugees returning to Sudan (UN)

Slaughtering a white bull and holding prayers at the border, some 500 Sudanese refugees arrived home yesterday in the first such repatriation convoy from Ethiopia under United Nations agreements that eventually aim to bring home the vast majority of the nearly 360,000 Sudanese who fled two decades of civil war.

The return convoy spent three days travelling from Bonga refugee camp in western Ethiopia, spending three nights in way stations built to facilitate operations along the 820-kilometre route, UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) spokesman William Spindler told a news briefing in Geneva today.

UNHCR supplied all returning refugees with a package of non-food items, including blankets, sleeping mats, plastic sheets, guinea-worm filters, kitchen sets and soap. The standard reintegration assistance, including a food ration planned to last until the returnees get their first harvest, is to be distributed at the dispersal point.

Some 79,000 south Sudanese live in five camps in western Ethiopia – Bonga, Dimma, Fugnido, Sherkole and Yarenja. Most of them arrived in Ethiopia in 1983 and in the 1990s. Full story UN News Centre 4 Apr 2006.

Monday, April 03, 2006

First batch of Sudanese refugees in Ethiopia return home

Some 500 refugees left an Ethiopian camp today in the first repatriation convoy to Sudan from Ethiopia under UN agreements that aim to bring home the vast majority of the nearly 360,000 Sudanese who fled two decades of civil war in the south of Africa's largest country.

Full report (UN/ST) 1 April 2006.