Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Somali woman buried up to her neck and then pelted to death with stones in front of a large crowd in Kismayo

Shocking sad news from BBC today, Tuesday, 28 October 2008 - Somali woman executed by stoning:
A woman in Somalia has been stoned to death after an Islamic Sharia law court found her guilty of adultery.

The woman was buried up to her neck and then pelted to death with stones in front of a large crowd in Kismayo.

It was the first such execution in the southern port city since Islamist insurgents captured it from government-allied forces in August.

A local Islamist leader said the woman, Aisho Ibrahim Dhuhulow, had pleaded guilty to committing adultery.

"She was asked several times to review her confession but she stressed that she wanted Sharia law and the deserved punishment to apply," said Sheikh Hayakallah.

A group of men performed the execution in one of the city's main squares in front of thousands of people, AFP news agency said.
Such ignorant barbarians deserve life imprisonment. I wonder what befell the person who committed adultery with her. Sharia law makes no sense to me. I am totally against it operating in any shape or form here in UK.

+ + + Rest In Peace Aisho Ibrahim Dhuhulow + + +
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Extremists to be barred from UK

Tougher measures to prevent extremists entering the UK are to be announced by Home Secretary Jacqui Smith. Liberal Democrats home affairs spokesman Chris Huhne suggested the plans were inadequate and did not tackle those already living here or people preaching on the internet. Full story BBC Tuesday 28 October 2008.


Monday, October 27, 2008

Ethiopia Receiving Africa’s Largest Wind Farm

Ethiopia Receiving Africa’s Largest Wind Farm

Photo Credit: Vergnet.fr 

Source: October 27, 2008 (Clean Technica) report by Ariel Schwartz - Ethiopia Receiving Africa’s Largest Wind Farm - excerpt:
The Ethiopian Electric Power Corporation has announced today that it plans to build Africa’s largest wind farm.

The farm, which is being built in Ashegoba, will have a relatively impressive output of 120MW— enough power to supply 15 percent of Ethiopia’s energy needs.

The new turbines are especially important for the country, whose main source of power (hydroelectric dams) has been hit hard by droughts. Ethiopia’s wind power system will remove some of the burden from the dams.

The €220 million endeavor will use turbines from France’s Vergnet Group, which produces turbines designed to function well even in areas that don’t have optimal weather for wind power. Ethiopia’s new plant will go online and reach its maximum output by 2011.

Hopefully, the wind power project will be followed up by a solar project that takes advantage of Ethiopia’s plentiful sunshine.


Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Britain threatens to drop £130 million annual aid to Ethiopia

Report from Anyuak Media by Tesfa-alem Tekle October 20, 2008 - Britain threatens to drop £130 million annual aid to Ethiopia:
October 19, 2008 (ADDIS ABABA) — After visiting in one of Ethiopia’s worst drought-hit areas of the Somali region a British minister on Friday accused Meles-led, Ethiopian government of hiding the scale of famine crises and warned that his country will hold back future aid commitment to the horn of Africa’s nation.

After visiting the Somali region and hearing the testimony of aid organizations as well as evidence of attempts by the authorities to hide the scale of the crisis, Minister for International Development, Douglas Alexander told the Ethiopian Prime Minister, Meles Zenawi that that Britain would not guarantee future payments to the country.

The minister arrived Ethiopia on Thursday, initially with a proposal committing millions of funds to the nation.

“In light of our continued concerns, I said I was now not prepared to make a multi-annual commitment,” Alexander said.

"In the months ahead I will be discussing the funding position with Europe and the United States," he said. "I am not making a decision now because of the continuing issues I have seen here."

The official has visited hospitals, drought affected people, starving and malnourished children and mothers of the region.

An international health worker on a condition of anonymity uncovers that children had been taken away from hospital ahead of the minister’s arrival to avoid “embarrassing” press pictures of the nation.

"I come here every day and they are always here," the health worker said. "I don’t know where they are now," he told reporters

"They’ve hidden them," the health worker said adding "The Government doesn’t want to acknowledge this crisis because it’s bad for their image"

The British minister raised the incident later in his meeting with Zenawi. "If it’s true that they moved severely malnourished children, that is unconscionable," he said. Zenawi promised to investigate, calling the incident "despicable".

A number of aid agencies who operate in the region have complained that with mandatory government permission and military escorts it was impossible to conduct surveys to examine the scale of the crises.

Meanwhile the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in a new caution says that drought-hit Ethiopians are facing a worsening food situation as the cost of maize soars nearly three-fold.

Earlier this week, OCHA appealed for more than $265 million to fund relief operations in Ethiopia for the next three months to meet the widening scale of the crisis, with some 6.4 million people now estimated to need urgent assistance.


Thursday, October 16, 2008

Give free rice to hungry people by playing a simple game - Spread the word about hunger

This is my contribution to World Food Day today, October 16.

My top tips: Don't waste an inch of food or water. Cook fresh home made meals from scratch. Don't drink unnatural juice. Make and mend. Recycle food, water, paper, metal, glass. Adopt a rescue cat to ensure no mice. Adopt a rescue dog for self protection and healthy exercise. Respect the land, sea and air. Be kind and generous. Try to love all people, animals, insects, flowers, trees and plants. Care about what happens to the thirsty, hungry, homeless, sick, disabled, and elderly. Visit friends in person or write note instead of phoning. Cut down on petrol pollution and plastic waste. Don't drive a distance that you could easily walk, bus or cycle. Take care of the pennies and the pounds will take care of themselves. Tithe 10% of your income and see how much more you receive in return.
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Notable Quote

"The best things in life aren't things" - Art Buchwald (Credit: Bloomberg TV)
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On World Food Day - October 16, Spread the word about hunger

Give free rice to hungry people by playing a simple game that increases your knowledge.

World Food Day 16 October

Visit FreeRice, www.freerice.com, to translate your right answers into rice for the hungry.

147,750,140 grains of rice donated yesterday. Over 47 billion grains donated to date. Sponsors pay for the donated rice.

Click into www.freerice.com and give the right answer in the middle of the page. I reached level 41 with a donation total of 3040 grains. Will do more later.

"Help us mark World Food Day this year as high food prices, dramatic increases in fuel costs, and profound changes in climate conditions have conspired to bring new dimensions of suffering and hardship to the poor, depriving almost one billion people of the food they need to live a healthy life."  - UN


Monday, October 13, 2008

Islamist insurgents attack African Union (AMISOM) peacekeepers in Mogadishu

MOGAIDSHU, Oct 13 2008 (Reuters) report - Insurgents attack African Union troops in Mogadishu - excerpt:
Islamist rebels attacked African Union (AU) peacekeepers in Mogadishu for a second day running on Monday after more than 800 AU reinforcements from Burundi arrived.

The AU mission, AMISOM, is guarding key sites in the Somali capital where a U.N.-backed interim government and its Ethiopian military allies are battling Islamist rebels and clan militia.

At least two of the new arrivals from Burundi were wounded within hours on Sunday when a bomb hit their convoy. A similar attack was launched on Monday.

"One of our soldiers was injured after an AMISOM vehicle was targeted by an explosive device," an AU spokesman told Reuters.

"This morning, armed elements also attacked one of our bases, but there were no casualties on our side."

The peacekeepers have been targeted in a string of bombings and ambushes since the Islamists launched their rebellion early last year. The fighting has killed nearly 10,000 civilians. Seven Ugandan soldiers and one Burundian have died.

The worst insecurity for nearly two decades in the chaotic Horn of Africa country has fuelled a wave of kidnappings this year as well as at least 30 attacks by pirates offshore.


Kidnappers of missing Somali journalists demand $2.5m ransom - talks stalled

MOGAIDSHU, Oct 13 2008 (Reuters) report - Insurgents attack African Union troops in Mogadishu - excerpt:
On Monday, the National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) said ransom talks had stalled for two foreign journalists who were seized by gunmen on the outskirts of Mogadishu on Aug. 23.

"It's more than 50 days since the abduction ... and there is no official word coming from the kidnappers since they demanded a ($2.5 million) ransom in September," it said in a statement.

Australian freelancer Nigel Brennan and his Canadian colleague Amanda Lindhout were kidnapped with a local reporter as they visited camps for families displaced by the violence. (Reporting by Ibrahim Mohamed; Writing by Daniel Wallis; Editing by Louise Ireland)
Related reports

Aug 25 2008 - Ethiopia Watch - Missing Somalia journalists named: Abdifatah Mohammed Elmi, Nigel Brenan, Amanda Lindhout (and driver Mahad)

Sep 24, 2008 - Ethiopia Watch - Two Medecins du Monde aid workers kidnapped in Ogaden, Ethiopia and taken to Somalia's central region of Galguduud by well-armed gunmen


Sunday, October 12, 2008

Sweden's Lundin Petroleum AB says its exploration in S. Ethiopia would lead to discoveries of oil and natural gas

Ethiopia’s Ogaden region, which is inhabited largely by ethnic Somalis, has been plagued by civil war.

The Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF), which has long sought independence for the region, attacked an oil installation operated by a Chinese company in April 2007, killing dozens of people and prompting a harsh crackdown from the Ethiopian government.

The ONLF following the signing of the PSCs with Ethiopia advised the Swedish company to stop its exploratory activities in Ogaden.

Source: Sudan Tribune 10 October 2008 - Swedish oil operator says confident in Ethiopia’s exploration - copy:
October 9, 2008 (ADDIS ABABA) — Swedish oil explorer, Lundin Petroleum AB, showed on Thursday confidence on its exploration in southern Ethiopia saying it would lead to discoveries of oil as well as natural gas.

The Ethiopian government and the Swedish oil operator signed a Production Sharing Contract (PSC) on November 7 2006. Lundin’s first PSC cover Blocks 2, 6, 7 and 8 located in the onshore Ogaden Basin.

"We feel that this basin has not only proven gas potential but also light oil," James Phillips, Lundin Petroleum’s vice president of exploration for Africa and the Middle East, said at the Africa Upstream 2008 oil conference in Cape Town.

The Swedish oil operator agreed this week to transfer 15 of its interest in Ogaden to New Age, a South African energy firm. The farmout covers Lundin blocks in southern and northern Ethiopia.

Lundin Petroleum said it holds a 100 pct in the contract area for the duration of the exploration period but the Ethiopian Government has an option to participate with up to a 10 pct interest following any commercial discovery.

Lundin is among a handful of companies that are exploring for gas and oil in Ethiopia, the Swedish firm has also another contract with Addis Ababa with a 50 percent interest, covering the Adigala Area, northern Ethiopia.

Ethiopia’s Ogaden region, which is inhabited largely by ethnic Somalis, has been plagued by civil war.

The Ogaden National Liberation Front, which has long sought independence for the region, attacked an oil installation operated by a Chinese company in April 2007, killing dozens of people and prompting a harsh crackdown from the Ethiopian government.

The ONLF following the signing of the PSCs with Ethiopia advised the Swedish company to stop its exploratory activities in Ogaden.

Lundin also has operations in several other African nations, including Sudan, Kenya, and Tunisia, where it holds a stake in the Oudna energy development. The company said also mulling to expand in Congo Brazzaville and other African markets. (ST)


8 million Ethiopians could need food aid this year, agencies say (BBC)

Desperation as hunger grows. Agencies fear prices and drought. The current crisis in Ethiopia is being lost in a swirling mist of competing figures - BBC:

Sunday, 12 October 2008 report by BBC Africa analyst Martin Plaut, copied here in full, for future reference.
Ethiopian need 'under-estimated'

Aid agencies are warning that Ethiopian authorities are under-estimating the scale of the country's drought.

Official estimates of the number of people facing hunger and hardship stand at 4.6m but agencies warn the real figure could be more than 8m.

There is also confusion over the amount of money needed to meet the crisis, with the Oxfam agency estimating it at about $500m.

However, the United Nations reports that $772m has already been pledged.

Proud people

Ethiopia is in the grip of severe food shortages after rains failed across a large swathe of the east and south of the country.
But attempts to deal with the crisis have been hindered by disputes over the number of people affected.

In April the first government appeal spoke of more than 2m in need of food aid. By June that figure had risen to well over 4m.
Aid agencies now say the official estimate has reached 6.4m - but has not yet been released.

But, say the agencies, even this underestimates the scale of the problem.

Ethiopians are a proud people, who hate the image of their country forever extending a begging bowl. And they are suspicious of the motives of the aid community.

In an interview with Time magazine in August, Prime Minister Meles Zenawi said there were pockets of severe malnutrition but that the situation was manageable.

He questioned the way some agencies operated, saying they tended to use "hyperbole" to get the aid they needed.

"That can convey the message that the situation is hopeless when in fact it is not," said the prime minister.

Yet if the 8m figure is correct, and if this is added to the approximately 7m who are chronically short of food, then as many as 20% of all Ethiopians could need food aid this year.

Oxfam has just released a fresh appeal. It says the aid required is $260m short of its target.

But figures produced by the United Nations office for the co-ordination of humanitarian affairs show that $772m has already been pledged, the vast majority from the US, which has nearly trebled its aid to Ethiopia this year.

The current crisis in Ethiopia is being lost in a swirling mist of competing figures.

April appeal: 2.18m in need
June appeal: 4.6m in need
October assessment: 6.4m in need
Aid agencies: 8m in need
Source: Government reports and aid agencies

"There has not been a famine on our watch - emergencies, but no famines" - Prime Minister Meles Zenawi


Friday, October 10, 2008

Deployed peacekeeping veterans with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) have significant impairments in health-related quality of life

Nine years ago today, I was struck down with a flu like viral illness from which I never recovered. After the initial six months, my profoundly disabling condition was diagnosed by a Consultant Psychiatrist as a severe form of Post Viral Fatigue Syndrome (PVFS), also known as Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME)/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS).

Still, to this day, there is no effective treatment or cure. In my experience, the condition is similar to Multiple Sclerosis (MS), Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Gulf War Syndrome (GWS).

Over the past nine years my energy level has increased from one half hour to two hours per day. I am still virtually housebound. Last March, I was able to attend my mother's funeral. Next month, I am scheduled to attend a long awaited appointment with a CFS Consultant. Several years ago, I was bedbound for two years.

The following definition of ME is from a paper I wrote with a very dear friend (recently departed, God rest his soul) in March 2003:
Myalgic Encephalomyelitis - ME

Evidenced by muscle pain, with inflammation of the brain and spinal cord, ME has been known for half a century as 'a-typical polio'. The symptoms of extreme lassitude, and the swift onset of exhaustion that characterise the disease, also caused it to be known for many years as 'chronic fatigue syndrome' or CFS. It was only classified by the World Health Organisation of the United Nations as a neurological disorder in 1969.

The disorder is triggered by a virus infection that occurs worldwide in epidemic and pandemic form: seasonally and in selected geographical areas. It affects about 1% of the British population and there is no known cure. While three-quarters of those who become infected do not present advanced symptoms, 25% of ME sufferers are chronically affected with severe illness and pain, causing them to become profoundly disabled and very largely housebound. The condition can last throughout life without remission of any kind.

Doctors and sufferers generally agree that the worst effects of the disease can be 'managed by strict adherence to conservation of energy, reduction of stress and simplification of work: augmented by education, with practical and economic support'.
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We're not lazy nor crazy, tiredness is the least of our problems

This post today, 10 October 2008, here at Ethiopia Watch, is to help raise awareness of the plight of military personnel suffering from ghastly life-wrecking Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Below are some excerpts taken from Science Daily online. More on this topic at a later date.
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Peacekeepers are exposed to traumatic events which they are helpless to prevent under the United National rules of engagement
While the relationship among Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and physical and mental health impairment is well developed in combat veterans, it is less studied among the deployed peacekeeping veteran population.

Peacekeepers are exposed to traumatic events which they are helpless to prevent under the United National rules of engagement, which state soldiers must show restraint and neutrality. The feeling of being unable to control a situation at the time of trauma is an important risk factor for developing PTSD.
More from ScienceDaily.com (Dec. 15, 2007):
Canada’s peacekeepers suffer similar rates of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorders (PTSD) as combat, war-zone soldiers, according to a London, Ont. research team.

Psychiatrist J. Donald Richardson and his co-investigators also found that PTSD rates and severity were associated with younger age, single marital status and deployment frequency.
Vietnam Combat Linked To Many Diseases 20 Years Later
According to Boscarino, of the 1,399 Vietnam veterans studied, 24 percent (332) were diagnosed with PTSD sometime after military service, and nearly all cases of PTSD in the study resulted from exposure to heavy or very heavy combat in Vietnam.

He said his research and others' suggest that those with PTSD often have altered neuroendocrine and sympathetic nervous systems. Disturbances in these key body systems are the main reason for increases in a broad spectrum of diseases among combat veterans, he said. His research also uncovered abnormal immune functioning and clear medical evidence of coronary artery disease among the veterans studied. Read more at ScienceDaily (Nov. 26, 1997)
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder May Result In Heart Disease
Combat veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) appear to be at higher risk for coronary heart disease (CHD), according to a recent study of 4,462 male U.S. Army veterans.

"We believe that this research suggests a clear, definitive linkage between exposure to severe stress and the onset of coronary heart disease in humans," said Boscarino. Read more at ScienceDaily (Nov. 10, 1999)
PTSD Causes Early Death From Heart Disease, Study Suggests
A new study sheds light on the link between PTSD and heart disease. Vietnam veterans with PTSD suffered higher rates of heart disease death than veterans without PTSD.

The more severe the PTSD diagnosis, the greater the likelihood of death from heart disease, the study showed. Read more at ScienceDaily (July 8, 2008)
Whether combat or peacekeeping, PTSD impacts veterans' well-being
Deployed peacekeeping veterans with PTSD have significant impairments in health-related quality of life according to research by Dr. J. Donald Richardson of The University of Western Ontario and his co-investigators.

The research, published recently in the Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, found anxiety disorders such as PTSD are associated with impaired emotional well-being, and this applies just as much to peacekeeping veterans as to combat veterans. "This finding is important to clinicians working with the newer generation of veterans, as it stresses the importance of including measures of quality of life when evaluating veterans to better address their rehabilitation needs," says Dr. Richardson. "It is not enough to measure symptom changes with treatment; we need to objectively assess if treatment is improving their quality of life and how they are functioning in their community."

Richardson is a consultant psychiatrist with the Operational Stress Injury Clinic at Parkwood Hospital, part of St. Joseph's Health Care, London and a psychiatry professor with the Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry at Western. His team studied 125 male, deployed Canadian Forces peacekeeping veterans who were referred for a psychiatric assessment. The average age of these men was 41, and they averaged 16 years of military service. The most common military theatre in which they served were the Balkan states (Bosnia, Croatia, former Yugoslavia, and Kosovo), with 83 per cent having exposure to combat or a war zone. Read more at ScienceDaily (Oct. 3, 2008)
Post Traumatic Stress Has Tripled Among Combat-exposed Military Personnel
Concerns have been raised about the health impact of military deployment. Studies have estimated as many as 30% of Vietnam War veterans developed post-traumatic stress disorder at some point following the war and, among 1991 Gulf War veterans, as many as 10% were reported to have post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms years after returning from deployment. Read more at ScienceDaily (Jan. 17, 2008)
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I would be interested to hear from anyone affected by above issues. Feel free to email me anytime and forgive me if I am slow to respond. Note, my current email address will cease on November 28, 2008 because I am switching my ISP to British Telecommunications (BT) Broadband.

With love from me and my cat Ophelia xx

[Afterthought: As my network of blogs receive thousands of regular visits from military, health orgs, unis, govts, etc., I have decided to cross post this whole entry at some of Sudan Watch's sister sites: Congo Watch, Uganda Watch, Ethiopia Watch, Niger Watch, Kenya Watch, Russia Watch.]


Thursday, October 09, 2008

MV Faina cargo for Ethiopia? Washington accuses Asmara of supporting "terrorist groups" in Somalia - Seven NATO frigates will arrive within 2 weeks

Washington accuses Asmara of supporting "terrorist groups" in Somalia. Eritrea slams US over arms ban. NATO agrees to join anti-piracy operations off coast of Somalia, seven of its frigates will arrive within two weeks. MV Faina's cargo in Somalia destined for Ethiopian army? Details in the following reports.

Aljazeera report, October 09, 2008 - Nato joins Somalia piracy fight - excerpt:
"There will soon be Nato military vessels off the coast of Somalia, deterring piracy and escorting food ships," James Appathura, Nato's chief spokesman, said on Thursday.

"Piracy is a serious problem for shipping in that area. It is also an immediate threat to the lives of the people in Somalia," he said.

Nato said the seven frigates from a group that was to have taken part in an exercise in the Suez Canal region would arrive off the Somali coast within two weeks in response to a request from the UN World Food Programme (WFP).

The force, which currently consists of destroyers from Italy and the United States, frigates from Germany, Greece, Turkey and Britain and a German auxiliary vessel, will stay in the region until at least December.

MV Faina standoff

Six US warships have already been deployed in the area and have surrounded the Ukrainian MV Faina amid fears that its weapons, including 33 battle tanks, might fall into the hands of armed groups in Somalia.

However, a spokesman for the pirates has said that the vessel, which has 20 crew members on board, could be released within days if the $8m ransom was paid.

"We are open for give-and-take negotiations," Sugule Ali, a spokesman for the pirates, told The Associated Press news agency.

He also said that the Faina's crew were holding up well despite their ordeal.

"Their chef still prepares their food for them," Ali said. "They are healthy and have no worries. But of course their only worry is when they will gain their freedom. Their feeling is typically that of hostages - no more, no less."

Lieutenant Nathan Christensen, a spokesman from the US 5th Fleet in Bahrain, said the navy was in regular contact with the crew and would not allow the pirates to offload the weapons.

Mark Caltar, a piracy expert and operations director of Olton Solutions, told Al Jazeera that the payment of any ransom would be a win for the pirates and a loss for the United Nations.

"What we have here is an epidemic, a plague of piracy," he said. "If people ... see that the pirates around Somalia can get away with this now, and six US warships are hanging around doing absolutely nothing, then you are encouraging piracy on a global status."

The United Nations Security Council earlier this week called on countries to send naval vessels and military aircraft to support anti-piracy efforts.

The call came after European Union countries said they would launch an anti-piracy patrol, and Russia announced it would co-operate with the West in fighting the pirates. 

Somalia's transitional government, which is under pressure from near-daily attacks by armed opposition groups, has given foreign powers the freedom to use force against the pirates. [end of report]
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Hijacked arms cargo in Somalia destined for Ethiopian army?

The following report suggests that the hijacked Ukrainian ship MV Faina and its cargo may end up being destroyed, and that the cargo could have been destined for Ethiopia.

September 30, 2008 (pr-inside.com) report by Shuun Isaaq - Hijacked arms cargo in Somalia destined for Ethiopian army - excerpts:
Recent unflattering international reports of a Ukrainian cargo ship hijacked by militias loyal to the current parachutist government of "Somalia" from the region formerly known as Majertenia and now dubbed as "Pirate (Puntland) State of Zoomalia" reminds Somalis of the dangers which encircle them on a daily basis.

What the firestorms of speculations by media collusively failed to investigate is the correct destination of weapons bought "legitimately" from Ukraine through Ukrainian weapons brokers. Although first major reports claimed the purchase was made by South Sudan rebels, or by the Khartoum government. More recent analysis by Somali experts is growing intensely and may lead to the eventual destruction of the ship along with its cargo. [cut]

Speaking from London, a former manager of a major Kenyan haulage company from Mombassa Samir Yasin ridiculed accusations of South Sudan connections. Revelations were made this week that such cargo to be heading to South Sudan prompting the SPLA to strongly deny such claims. SPLA may have used Ukrainians based in Dubai to broker and drop light weapons such as grenades and assault rifles by air. However, never to delver a huge consignment of tanks and modern Russian ammunitions by cargo ship specially through mainland Kenya.

The same media quickly ran errands this time provoking the Kenyan army and the East Africa division lately built by America to fight against an apparent "terror networks" in the horn of Africa. They also distanced themselves from this consignment, although they confirm the ships destination to had been Mombassa. This leaves the main culprit Ethiopia, as the sole destination of reported weaponry since it is not common sense to deliver to the Khartoum government using the Indian Ocean.
Hat tip: Ethiopia - Topix.net, October 06, 2008
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Eritrea slams US over arms ban

Washington announced the ban on Monday, accusing Asmara of supporting "terrorist groups" in Somalia.

Source: Mail & Guardian Online - ADDIS ABABA, ETHIOPIA Oct 08 2008 - Eritrea slams US over arms ban

Hat tip: Ethiopia - Topix.net, October 08, 2008
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Related report

October 08, 2008 - Sudan Watch:
A businessman from Odessa with an Israeli passport is the man behind Russian tanks shipment destined for Govt of South Sudan (GOSS) via Mombasa?
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[Cross posted today at parent site Sudan Watch]


Message for African leaders: Annual $5 million African prize is a 'developmental project', says Sudanese born British billionaire Dr Mo Ibrahim

Yesterday, I came across the following Associated Press report, posted at Sudan Tribune 28 October 2006, and wondered about the possibility of Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir making himself eligible for the prize. Most days, I think anything is possible. My favourite motto is "where there's the will, there's a way".
"African prize is a ’developmental project’, says Sudanese Billionaire"

Oct 27, 2006 (LONDON) — A Sudanese billionaire who is offering a $5 million prize to an African head of state who significantly improves the lives of citizens said Friday the money is intended as ’’a developmental project, not a gravy train."

Mohamed Fatehi (Mo) Ibrahim acknowledged critics’ comments that his money could go directly to poverty-stricken Africans. But without good governance, he argued, there is no way to ensure it is distributed fairly and effectively.

’’I’m not squandering money,’’ Ibrahim said in an interview Friday.

The prize is the largest of its kind, surpassing the $1.4 million Nobel Peace Prize.

’’If you write a good novel, or a chemistry paper, you win the Nobel Prize,’’ Ibrahim said. ’’If we have a leader take 4 or 5 million people out of poverty, this is a much greater achievement.’’

Ibrahim hopes to award the prize annually to an African head of state who improves the standard of living among ordinary citizens, and who does not try to cling to power on a continent where military dictators and presidents for life have long held sway. If no candidate meets the criteria, no prize will be given. The first prize was scheduled to be awarded late next year.

Board members of the Mo Ibrahim Foundation for African Development include Mary Robinson, former president of Ireland and U.N. high commissioner for human rights, and Salim Salim, a Tanzanian diplomat and former leader of the Organization of African Unity.

’’The prize is not intended for the thief or the corrupt, it is for those that serve their people,’’ Salim said.

But some are concerned that offering a prize for good governance is not the best way to help Africa. With millions in poverty, why should more money go to the most advantaged of African society, asked John Larvie of the Center for Democratic Development, a think tank in Ghana.

’’Though prize money for a well-behaved president may be attractive to the office- holders, what good would that do to the general welfare and democratic development of the people and the country as a whole?’’ he asked.

Others argue that the prize will not influence African leaders’ behavior, particularly when it comes to holding on to power. Ibrahim designed the prize in part to address reluctance to leave office. Winners receive $5 million spread over 10 years after they leave office. If they are still living when the initial prize is exhausted, they will receive another $200,000 annually until they die.

’’Money is not an issue because the corruption in this country means they can systematically syphon off funds throughout their rule,’’ Geoffrey Rwakaeale, National Coordinator for the Anti-Corruption Coalition of Uganda, said in Kampala, Uganda. ’’They (African leaders) have money. It is their safety they are worried about.’’

Ibrahim said his prize may be too small to influence the corrupt. But he said it would reward leaders trying to do the right thing, and sway those who are wavering.

The idea of an award for results comes from the business world, said Ibrahim, who founded Celtel International, an African cell phone network. He sold Celtel for $3.3 billion in 2005.

’’As an engineer, as a businessman, I found performance measurement is normal. Everyone has performance related pay,’’ Ibrahim said. ’’We’re just applying that to governance.’’

The prize will be awarded based on criteria developed by Robert Rotberg, a professor at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government who said he will rate security, rule of law, economic opportunity, political freedom, health service, education system, infrastructure, and civil society.

’’They will be measured by outcome, not input or budget, because in the developing world, what goes in doesn’t always come out,’’ Rotberg said Friday in a panel discussion at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London. (AP)
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Also, yesterday I posted here at Ethiopia Watch (and Sudan Watch) news of Dr Ibrahim's interest in investing in Ethiopia - see Ethiopia Watch, October 05 2008 - Sudanese born billionaire entrepreneur Dr Mo Ibrahim, named as Britain's most powerful black man, shows interest in investing in Ethiopia.

Soon, I hope to catch up on posting a backlog of news for this site, mostly re commercial/joint ventures starting up in Ethiopia. Lately, it seems as though the Ethiopian's are attracting publicity for making good stuff happen in their country. Maybe their president could be eligible for the $5M prize? According to the above report, the prize is awarded annually and the first one was scheduled to be awarded in 2007. Must find out what's happened.
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[This is an edited version of post published today Oct 09 2008 at Sudan Watch]


Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Sudanese born billionaire entrepreneur Dr Mo Ibrahim, named as Britain's most powerful black man, shows interest in investing in Ethiopia

From Nazret.com, Wednesday October 08 2008 - Mo Ibrahim shows interest to invest in Ethiopia:
Dr. Mohamed "Mo" Ibrahim, the Sudanese-born British mobile communications entrepreneur, and founder of the Mo Ibrahim Foundation is interested to invest in Ethiopia, according to a report by African Press Agency (APA).

According to APA, Mr. Ibrahim spoke with Addisu Legesse, Ethiopia's deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development. Legesse in turn briefed Ibrahim about the investment opportunities in Ethiopia, mainly in the agricultural sector, which he said is full of human resources and services, APA wrote.

Ibrahim earned a Bachelor of Science from University of Alexandria and a master's degree from the University of Bradford, both in electrical engineering, and a PhD from the University of Birmingham in mobile communications, according to his profile on Wikipedia. Ibrahim was employed by Sudan Telecom for a time, and later worked as the technical director for Cellnet, a subsidiary of British Telecom. In 1989 he founded MSI, a consultancy and software company, which was bought by Marconi in 2000. MSI had 800 employees, who owned approximately 30% of the stock at the point of its sale; Ibrahim says he gave employees stock as a form of bonus.

In 1998, MSI spun off MSI-Cellular Investments, later renamed Celtel, as a mobile phone operator in Africa.

According to the Forbes 2008 Rich List, Mo Ibrahim is worth $5 billion.
See this site's parent blog Sudan Watch - Sunday, October 05, 2008: Sudanese born billionaire entrepreneur Dr Mo Ibrahim is named as Britain's most powerful black man

Note, Nazret.com appears to be an Ethiopian Website and its Merkato Blog, a marketplace of ideas on nazret.com, welcomes participants.


Saturday, October 04, 2008

Ethiopian Famine Averted - “That might be what they say, but is it true?”

'Ethiopian Famine Averted' is another gem of a blog post by freelance foreign correspondent Rob Crilly. I am copying it here for future reference for reasons listed below.
From The Frontline - Ethiopian Famine Averted
By Rob Crilly, 04 October 2008

Among many of the titbits of useful advice I picked up as I worked my way through Britain’s regional newspapers was one that has caused me no end of trouble. “Rob,” one of the old hands at The Herald (I should point out this is a Scottish national paper - not a British regional paper) said, “The stories that you don’t write are just as important as the stories you do write.”

The job of a journalist, he went on to explain, is to sift through the assorted rubbish that arrives each day and work out what is true, what is important and what is news. Everything else could be passed over with a dismissive, “The Scotsman might do this tomorrow but frankly it’s bullshit,” to the news editor.

Sound advice. But it has been causing me problems as a freelancer sitting several thousand miles away from the foreign desk. The issue is that a quiet word in the ear of my foreign editor that such and such a story is rubbish, doesn’t stop some hotshot writer from London bigfooting me or another freelancer offering said story to the desk. Often the first I’ll know about it is reading my own paper online.

I raise this now because I deliberately haven’t written about the “impending famine” in Ethiopia. Charities have been taking journalists on junkets to view stick-thin children and talking up the crisis in terms of global warming and natural disasters. This was not enough for me. If I was going to write about an Ethiopian hunger I wanted to discuss the country’s expensive wars in Somalia, Ogaden and Eritrea, its abuse of human rights in Ogaden and its denial of drought. That was the way the to do the story properly.

Meanwhile a steady stream of wannabe Michael Buerkes was filing stories such as this, in my own paper:
Surprisingly, when The Times visited the region, the fields were alive with maize and most afternoons a warm rain fell. “Here the problem is acute,” said Jean de Cambry, the emergency co-ordinator for Médecins Sans Frontières in southern Ethiopia. “It is very surprising and very strange, because everything is so green. But food stocks at household level are empty or close to empty.”
Or this imaginative way of producing a famine story in the LA Times:
They call it the green hunger. Four-foot cornstalks sprout from rain-soaked earth, and wind billows fields of teff, the staple Ethiopian grain. Goats and cattle are getting fat on lush grasses – but the children are still dying.
Each time these stories appeared I would call colleagues to ask whether it was time to go to Ethiopia. Each time they said not yet - including one TV reporter who had just filed a harrowing account of children starving, but had to admit it wasn’t really as bad as all that. A day’s filming was canned because the area was too green.

So it wasn’t a massive surprise when I received the following press release from the Irish aid agency Goal:
Ann Bourke, one of the most experienced of GOAL’s field personnel, reported with optimistic news from Ethiopia today. Ann stated that the interventions of aid agencies such as GOAL, and fact that it has started to rain have had very beneficial effects on the famine in Ethiopia. Although it is too early to be sure, indications are that a major famine may have been adverted.
This is clearly great news for the people of Ethiopia. And it is still early days. And maybe it was the reporting and PR work by charities that averted a crisis. But at a time when fundraisers complain about compassion fatigue could it be another example of journalists putting their critical faculties to one side in favour of reporting a worst-case scenario peddled by NGOs with an interest in collecting cash? Did we jump when they cried wolf? I wasn’t the only Nairobi-based reporter who decided not to go to Ethiopia, only to see a colleague based on another continent file an “Ethiopia Starves” piece.

It all reminds me of another piece of advice I picked up at The Herald, where the editor was fond of shooting down stories in conference with a terse:"That might be what they say, but is it true?"
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Note the following comment from Simon [Visitor] at Rob Crilly's post:
Of course it was true, it was only averted because United States has to arm twist every western nation to pump a lot of money to prop the murderous regime they are backing. You have only to see how much Australia, Austria, Canada, EU, Uk, US etc have to donate just in this year. What amazes me is why is no one reporting on where the funding, so far given to Ethiopia (more than $25Billion) since the current government came into power is ending.Not to mention the $12 Billion ear marked to be given for the year 2008-2011 How come more arid places like Sudan and Eritrea are coping much better with out hardly any Aid ?

According to HRH Ethiopia gets at least $2billion with no accountability
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Postscript from author of Ethiopia Watch

The above commentary is copied here because one of the reasons I have a series of blogs on Africa is to track and chronicle various news reports on alleged genocide and famine in Africa in order for me to study and learn about how and why such things occur and how they are reported by mainstream media.

Check out the following copy of my post at Niger Watch (sister site of this blog, Ethiopia Watch) dated April 06, 2006:
Niger to block foreign press reporting food crisis - What's up with Mr Tandja?

Today, Reuters says Niger's government denied it had stripped the journalists of their accreditation, saying it had summoned them to explain that their coverage was one-sided and did not present the country's efforts to solve its problems:

"We did not expel the BBC. We summoned the team to say their report had caused shock and Niger is more than just recurring food shortages," said Fogue Aboubacar, secretary-general at the Culture, Arts and Communication Ministry.

"Niger is also about the authorities attempts to solve these problems and one must stop focusing on the negative side," he added. "That is what happened in 2005 and we are not going to tolerate it, especially as harvests have been good."

"Be it the BBC, CNN or any other media, we will not hand out more accreditation on the food situation," he said.
And this copy of a post at Niger Watch dated August 06, 2005:
Now we know part of the answer to: Why starving in Niger?

Huge thanks to Tim Worstall for pointing out the following post by Aunty Marianne in Brussels, Belgium who, in her blog Tomato And Basil Sandwiches describes her occupation in 'government' as 'spending your money on humanitarian aid'.

Here is the post, copied in full, just incase Aunty Marianne decides for one reason or another to delete it, as it helps answer my question Why starving in Niger?

August 06, 2005 - OK, I'm fed up and others aren't

I am fed up to the back teeth with this whingeing about donors not reacting on the Niger famine. The EU have been actively looking for aid partners to spend 4.6 million euros since April. The reason why people are starving in Niger now, in August, is because some of those who asked for it to be made available for their feeding projects didn't get their proposals for actual projects in before early July. I also know for a fact that one of the organisations has a massive "emergency reserve" lying in wait for the famine almost certainly about to happen in a certain southern African country, a reserve that could have easily been tapped and replenished. They did not need to wait for donor funds to react.

We've had to release another 1.7m euros now that IMHO we wouldn't have had to, had they taken the first lot in time, because now, for example, therapeutic milk has to be airfreighted in instead of sea/road-shipped, and that's more expensive than the milk itself.

I am disgusted with the blamestorming around this famine, especially when the primary culprits are the ones pointing the finger, I'm disgusted at the waste of time and therefore money and all the additional suffering that it has caused to should-be-beneficiaries, and I wish the reputable media would check their facts better before blindly repeating press releases.

As always, this is just my personal view of things, and in no way necessarily represents the position of my employers.
posted by Aunty Marianne @ 10:59 AM

[My first reaction to Aunty Marianne's post was disgust but not surprise because of what happened in Darfur last year when the UN and its World Food Programme admitted they acted too slowly and had to resort to costly air drops despite the long predicted rainy season. There is something terribly wrong with emergency aid responses and the way they are funded and reported.

A week or so ago I saw a top British politician (Hilary Benn I think) interviewed on UK television news. It may have been a Channel 4 News interview by Jon Snow who asked point blank why the long predicted food crisis in Niger was not responded to. The politician concluded by saying the "system" was not perfect and needed overhauling.

I say, once again, there is no accountability. Whoever is responsible for this scandal, not to mention the outrageous waste of precious public funds, is getting away with murder. Sorry for putting it so strongly but it is sickening to know the money for emergency food aid is there but the people entrusted by the public don't respond in time and then blame donors for not paying up. Of course, it then creates more publicity and an outcry which generates more funds before the food aid has even been delivered. Meanwhile, people starve to death and suffer unimagineable pain, grief and misery and the excuse all because the "system" needs overhauling. If heads rolled over this, the nameless "system" might get overhauled sooner.]
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Lastly, this copy of a post at Niger Watch dated September 01, 2005:
Can aid do more harm than good? Who is spinning lies?

As noted here in previous posts, Niger's President Mamadou Tandja recently said his country was experiencing food shortages but not a famine. He accused aid agencies of exaggerating the food crisis for their own gain, raising serious issues about the way aid emergencies are handled.

American blogger Ethan Zuckerman points out that Henri Astier, a BBC correspondent, after talking to aid workers and experts on African aid, concluded, on balance, that President Tanja was probably right and quoted Professor William Easterly of NYU, as saying: "There were localised food shortages this year - but they were not particularly acute, and are now easing. What Niger is experiencing is not a sudden catastrophe, but chronic malnutrition that makes people vulnerable to rises in food prices."

Note, the report also quotes Professor Easterly as saying "I think NGOs and rich country media do have an incentive to paint too simplistic and bleak a picture, as was the case in Niger's food crisis."

So, going by the above [which does not appear to touch on issues of African politics, land ownership rights, corruption, looting, violence and arms dealing] they seem to be saying:

food aid can distort 'functioning' markets, causing increased food insecurity in the long term;

regional solutions are needed to solve shortages that are not regional famine - so long as participating governments allow that trade to happen and international donors are able to help subsidise food to poorer areas when neccesary.

Note, Ethan praises the BBC saying it provides a terrific space where people from outside Africa can discover, if they listen, that their proposed solutions are often - strongly and validly - opposed by the people they're trying to help.

Unless I have missed something, there still seems to be no proper explanation of who was behind the surge in alarming media reports falsely accusing the world of turning its back on the starving people of Niger.

Who is doing the spin? And why are they getting away with such misleading news? My guess is we are left to believe aid agencies are the culprits. Propaganda is everywhere in the media. It's hard to believe much of what is published. There is so little investigative reporting, the media treats us like simpletons, feeding us by the minute with nuggets of junk.
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Type the word FAMINE into the search box in top left corner of Niger Watch (or click here) and scroll through reports on famine in Niger.

PS Note to Rob Crilly: Sorry I've cribbed yet another of your blog posts but I fear that any links to great posts may, within a few years, end up leading to a blank 'not found' page.


"In Ethiopia alone, more than 6 million people need emergency food aid" (UN) - "4 million Ethiopians are now estimated to need food assistance" (UN)

UN health agency calls for extra $8 million to help aid operations in Ethiopia:
The United Nations World Health Organization (WHO) is appealing for an additional $8 million to fund its humanitarian preparedness and response operations in Ethiopia, where prolonged drought has left hundreds of thousands of the Horn of Africa country's poorest people at serious risk of malnutrition or disease.

UN aid agencies have sounded the alarm about the humanitarian situation across the Horn of Africa, and as many as 4 million Ethiopians are now estimated to need food assistance.
Source: UN News Centre report - UN health agency calls for extra $8 million to help aid operations in Ethiopia - 03 October 2008
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New ‘Green Revolution' needed to combat hunger in Africa, UN relief chief says:
A new Green Revolution is urgently needed in Africa to curb the suffering of the most vulnerable people, according to the top United Nations relief official, who recently saw first-hand how the current dire food crisis is affecting Ethiopia.

Unlike the “epic, largely man-made famine” the country faced over two decades ago, the current situation in the Horn of Africa affecting 16 million people offers “a glimpse of what much of our world might be like if we do not deal effectively with the huge challenges of rising food and fuel prices, climate change, environmental stress and population pressures,” John Holmes wrote in an op-ed column [HOLMES: Food crisis in Africa] published in yesterday’s Washington Times.

“Great swathes of the developing world could be pushed to the margins of survival,” he cautioned.

Both short- and long-term strategies are needed to address the problem, wrote Mr. Holmes, who serves both as Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and as Emergency Relief Coordinator.

“Africa, and Ethiopia, need a new Green Revolution – one that is agriculturally productive, economically profitable and environmentally sustainable,” the column noted.

“The time to do it is now, before the effects of rising population, more erratic weather, commodity price shocks and depleting fossil fuel resources cause further massive suffering for the world’s poorest.”

In Ethiopia alone, more than 6 million people need emergency food aid due to the failure of this year’s harvest, triggered by yet another drought. The situation has been exacerbated by both skyrocketing food prices, which have shot up 500 per cent in some parts of the country since last year, and conflict, which has thwarted the largely pastoralist population from selling their animals and purchasing food.

Short-run measures to alleviate the crisis in Ethiopia must include cooperation between the Government and relief organizations and increased donor support, the Coordinator said.

“But we must not stop there,” he wrote. “Beyond food aid for today, we above all need to help people feed themselves tomorrow.”

To this end, Mr. Holmes said that greater emphasis must be placed on reducing the impact of climate-induced crises.

He also urged greater investments in developing countries’ agricultural sectors “to reverse the neglect” of the past three decades.

“Well-targeted investments can make a life-changing difference,” he said, pointing to examples such as better drought management techniques, crop adaptation and improved access to credit.
Source: UN News Centre report - New ‘Green Revolution' needed to combat hunger in Africa, UN relief chief says - 01 October 2008


Friday, October 03, 2008

US warships surround Ukrainian ship hijacked nr Somalia: Cargo for Sudan - Somali Islamic rebel group bans operations of aid agencies CARE & IMS

A Somali Islamist rebel group said on Friday that it has banned two international aid agencies which they accused of anti-Islam activities from operating in areas controlled by their militias in south Somalia.

It also has given warnings to others.

Spokesman for the Islamist Al-shabaab movement said that Care International and International Medical Corps (IMS) have been involved in "immoral and bad activities" that are against the teaching of Islam. He did not elaborate.

Source: MOGADISHU, October 03 2008 Xinhua report - Somali insurgent group bans operations of two aid agencies. Excerpt:
 "We cannot accept such activities by these two organizations to continue under our rule. We have also given warning to other international NGOs," Sheik Muqtar Robow, Al-Shabaab spokesman told Xinhua.

The Al-shabaab is one of the hard-line insurgency groups that have been waging deadly attacks on Ethiopian troops backing Somali government forces since the allied forces ousted an Islamist administration in South and central Somalia in December 2006.

The group's fighters are in control of a number of regions in south Somalia including Kismayu, the third largest city in Somalia, where they have been ruling according to the Koran ever since they took over the port city in August.
Related reports

Sudan Watch Thursday, October 02, 2008 : US warships surround Ukrainian ship hijacked nr Somalia: Cargo for Sudan - Moscow sends warship - Germany joins EU forces - Kenyan official arrested

Sudan Watch Friday, October 03, 2008 : Three killed in pirates' shoot-out aboard Russian arms ship - UK to attack al-Qaeda pirates