Friday, June 30, 2006

90,000 displaced by clan violence in Ethiopia

Via Sudan Tribune 30 June 2006:

Deadly inter-clan violence has forced nearly 90,000 people in southern Ethiopia to flee their homes in the past three weeks, government officials and aid workers said on Friday.

Land clashes between the rival Guji and Borena clans have left about 100 people dead in and around the towns of Shakiso, Arero and Yabello, all within about 100 kilometers (60 miles) of each other south of Addis Ababa, they said.

In Arero, about 450 kilometers (280 miles) south of the capital, between 27,000 and 29,000 people have been displaced since early June, regional administrator Jaatanni Taadhii said.

In Yabello, about 500 kilometers (310 miles) south of the capital, the figure is between 37,000 and 39,000 people, according to an aid worker in the area, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

The British charity Oxfam, meanwhile, said that more than 20,000 people had been displaced in Shakiso, about 380 kilometers (235 miles) south of Addis Ababa, since June 16.

"With the Ethiopian Red Cross, we have started distributing blankets, jerrycans and teapots to help the displaced," said Oxfam spokeswoman Liz Lucas.

Inter-clan violence in Ethiopia's semi-arid and drought-prone southern Borena region runs high and there are frequent clashes over water, land and cattle.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Ethiopia says Somalia 'a threat'

The new leader of the Islamist group that controls much of southern Somalia is a threat to Ethiopia, says Prime Minister Meles Zenawi.

Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys was head of al-Itihaad al-Islamiya, a group accused of having links to al-Qaeda.

Ethiopia helped Somalia's now interim president, Abdullahi Yusuf, defeat al-Itihaad in the 1990s.

The United States has said it will not deal with Mr Aweys, because of "links to terrorism", a charge he denies.

Mr Meles says security along its border has been increased in case of "the resurgence of Jihadists in Mogadishu".

Last week, Mr Awey's Somali Supreme Islamic Courts Council and the interim government, which is largely toothless and based north of the capital in Baidoa, agreed not to fight each other.

The recent advances of the Islamists have renewed fears of major conflict in Somalia, which has not had an effective national government for 15 years.

Full report BBC 28 June 2006.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Mogadishu, Somalia: 'Crucial peacekeeping talks' being held in Sudan

Reuters report via Gulfnews June 21, 2006:

Mogadishu's new Islamist rulers and Somalia's interim government plan to meet in Sudan today under the auspices of the Arab League to try and avoid war following a recent power shift in the Horn of Africa nation.

When the Islamist militia kicked US-backed warlords out of Mogadishu there was hope they would work with the weak government based in the provincial town of Baidoa to install the first truly national administration for 15 years.

But the two sides have quickly moved apart.

The Islamists accuse President Abdullahi Yousuf's administration of encouraging an incursion by Ethiopian troops, while the government says that is a lie intended to justify an attack on Baidoa.

"The meeting tomorrow in Khartoum is crucial ... just sitting together would be a step forward," said a Western diplomat yesterday, who has been speaking to both sides.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Ten killed in violence along Kenya-Ethiopia border

Ten people were killed and five others wounded when suspected Ethiopian bandits attacked a Kenyan village in a region along the Ethiopian border plagued by conflict over livestock and grazing land.

Cattle rustling and cross-border raids are common for pastoralist communities living along the porous border where fighting over scarce resources like pasture and water has been exacerbated by a drought in the region. - Reuters via ST June 6, 2006.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

UN peacekeepers in Ethiopia, Eritrea to be cut

The Security Council has unanimously approved a resolution cutting the number of peacekeepers deployed in Eritrea and Ethiopia by at least one-third, while extending UN mission's mandate for another four months, AP/Sudan Tribune reported June 1, 2006 - excerpt:
The reduction from 3,500 to 2,300 came after the United States sought a cutback because Ethiopia and Eritrea made no progress in resuming talks on the demarcation of their border.

The talks, held in London earlier in May, were aimed at breaking the deadlock between the two countries and the international Boundary Commission, which is charged with marking the border between the two Horn of Africa nations.

Eritrea has repeatedly ignored council demands that it lift restrictions on UN helicopter flights on its side of a buffer zone separating the two countries. Ethiopia, similarly, has rejected calls to abide by the deal that awarded the key town of Badme to Eritrea.

The resolution approved Wednesday stressed the council's "unwavering commitment to the peace process, and to the full and expeditious implementations of the Algiers Agreements ... as a basis for peaceful and cooperative relations between the parties."

The Algiers Peace Agreement ended a two-year border war between the countries in 2000.

The resolution authorized the "reconfiguration of UNMEE's military component and in this regard approves the deployment within UNMEE of up to 2,300 troops" including 230 military advisers.

While the cut in troop level indicates a partial victory for the United States, another proposal put forward by US Ambassador John Bolton to reclassify the force as an observer mission was not included in the resolution. It authorized the troop deployment "with the exiting mandate."

Relations between Eritrea and Ethiopia have been consistently strained since Eritrea gained its independence from the Addis Ababa government in 1993 following a 30-year guerrilla war.