Friday, September 22, 2006

Kidnapped Red Cross aid workers 'in contact'

From BBC via Garowe Online - Africa 22 Sep 2006:
A Red Cross spokeswoman said Donal had spoken with colleagues overnight and confirmed they were being treated well.

Red Cross general secretary Carmel Lynch said: "Donal has made contact by phone with the Red Cross in the area and he has reassured them they are both well and are being treated well. But he wasn't able to give any more information."

She told Today FM: "Of course we have concerns but as a person Donal is a very strong capable person, and he is very calm, so I am sure he would be well able to deal with any situation he may find himself in."

The Department of Foreign Affairs has sent an experienced kidnap negotiator to Ethiopia to assist the Red Cross.

"Foreign Minister Dermot Ahern has ordered a senior officer from London who is experienced in negotiating in kidnap situations to travel to Addis Ababa," a government spokesman said.
Note, Mr O'Suilleabhain is a water and sanitation engineer who has worked overseas for the International Red Cross for several years. He has spend periods in Darfur and Liberia and worked for the aid agency building new wells to provide clean water supplies for hundreds of thousands of people for last two years.

UPDATE 23 Sep 2006: BBC NEWS - Kidnapped aid worker is released

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Eritrea: "Deploying AU Peacekeepers in Somalia", to What End? (Asmara) opinion piece Eritrea: "Deploying AU Peacekeepers in Somalia", to What End? ( Sep 20, 2006)

Red Cross workers kidnapped in eastern Ethiopia

Sep 20 2006 Reuters/AP/ST:
Unidentified assailants kidnapped two aid workers form the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Ethiopia, the humanitarian agency and Ireland said on Wednesday.

The Irish government earlier named one of the kidnapped aid workers as Donal O'Suilleabhain and said he and his Ethiopian colleague were abducted on Sep 18. The ICRC confirmed the other aid worker was Ethiopian but has not provided a name.

The two ICRC staff were kidnapped on Monday while working about 50 kms (31 miles) outside Gode town in Ethiopia's southeastern Ogaden region, Krug Eglin, deputy ICRC head in Ethiopia told Reuters.

"We have suspended all activities in the Somali region for the moment after 11 years of operating in the region," ICRC spokesman Patrick Megevand told the Associated Press.

He said the agency had established contact with the kidnappers and demanded that they free the aid workers.

"We do not know who they are and have not received any demand for ransom, but we have established contact with the kidnappers and we have demanded their unconditional release," he said, without giving details.

"The two staff members were in the area doing their routine work related to improved access to clean water for the people of the region."

Eglin said the agency was also in touch with the Ethiopian authorities.

Government spokesman Zemedkun Teckle said Ethiopian police and security are investigating and trying to track down the kidnappers.

"No one is sure at this time who the perpetrators are," he told The Associated Press. "We do not know if it is ONLF or not."

The rebel Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF), a movement of ethnic Somalis fighting for independence, is known to be active in the region.

Friday, September 15, 2006

AU backs 8,000 troops for Somalia

The following report tells us many in Mogadishu oppose foreign intervention.
Sep 13 2006 BBC

The African Union has approved plans to send 8,000 peacekeepers to Somalia to support the interim government.

An alliance of Islamic courts which controls the capital and much of central and southern Somalia says it will oppose any deployment by force.

A meeting at AU headquarters in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, agreed that the first soldiers should be in place by the end of the month.

But obstacles remain as the AU does not have the funds to pay for the troops.

The approval for the force by the African Union Peace and Security Council also appears to fly in the face of a shaky agreement between Somalia's interim government and the Islamic courts not to allow any foreign intervention.

Further talks are expected to resume on 30 October. The two sides have already agreed on a united army.

Somalia has been without any effective government for the past 15 years divided into fiefdoms controlled by rival warlords.

The interim government has the support of the UN, but it controls only a small area of the country around its base in Baidoa, about 250km from the capital and a powerful local warlord has ordered them to leave.

The Islamists accuse the government of bolstering its defences with troops from Ethiopia, while they in turn have been accused of using military backing from Eritrea.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Neighbours agree on Somalia force

Sep 5 2006 BBC - Neighbours agree on Somalia force:

Somalia's transitional government has agreed with neighbours Ethiopia and Kenya on plans for an international peace force for Somalia.

In Mogadishu people demonstrated against foreign intervention

Saturday, September 09, 2006

ERITREA: UN protests at staff expulsions

IRIN report 7 Sep 2006. Excerpt:
The United Nations Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE) has protested to the Eritrean authorities over the expulsion of five UN staff on allegations of spying, a spokesperson said on Thursday.

On Wednesday, the Eritrean authorities gave the five staff members - from Britain, New Zealand, South Africa, Liberia and Trinidad and Tobago - one day to leave the country.

"These individuals were ordered to leave Eritrea within 24 hours after they were apprehended while engaged, out of their mission, in deploying spy networks, recruiting mercenary agents and providing radio communication facilities," a government statement said.