A Week in the Horn
- News in Brief
- Ethiopia and China keen to strength bilateral and multilateral cooperation
- Ethiopia joins the G20 Compact with Africa initiative
- The UNHCR Commissioner marks World Refugee Day in Ethiopia
- Nile Basin States hold a Summit in Uganda
- Climate Change increases the need for regulating the flow of the Nile River
- Security Council discusses support for African Union peace operations
- Concerns over Eritrean activities along the Djibouti-Eritrean border
- Special Rapporteur says Eritrea continues to commit human rights violations
- The 11thS.-Africa Business Summit in Washington
- South Sudan: refugee concerns still rising at an alarming rate
- …and a briefing for the Security Council
News in Brief
Africa and the African Union
The African Union called for calm as border tensions between Djibouti and Eritrea intensified last week when Eritrea moved in to occupy areas along the border vacated by Qatar peacekeepers. The AU said it was “ready to assist Djibouti and Eritrea to normalize relations and promote good neighborliness within the framework of relevant AU instruments.
The AU, the UN and IGAD have all expressed their concern, and the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) urged both Djibouti and Eritrea to resolve their border dispute peacefully in a manner consistent with international law. Members of the Security Council welcomed the African Union’s intention to deploy a Fact Finding Mission to the Djibouti-Eritrea border. (See article)
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi held a joint press conference with Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat, at the AU headquarters in Addis Ababa on Wednesday. He said addressing poverty, a common enemy of humankind, and achieving sustainable development were the common agenda of China and Africa. Development was the key to solving problems, he said, and underlined China’s commitment to supporting Africa’s human resource development, to address infrastructure bottlenecks and strengthen public health systems and capacity-building on the continent.
Filippo Grandi, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, after attending the celebration of World Refugee Day in Gambella on Tuesday, addressed the AU Peace and Security Council on Wednesday (June 21). He said Africa was disproportionally affected by refugee flows and called for greater efforts to resolve conflicts in the Lake Chad region, Nigeria, Mali, Somalia, and South Sudan. He called on the AU to place the plight of the displaced at the center of its engagement in situations affected by fragility and conflict. He also underlined the importance of The New York Declaration on Refugees and Migrants, adopted by the UN last September.
The 11th biennial U.S.-Africa Business Summit, organized by the Corporate Council on Africa, was held in Washington, DC, last week (June 13 – 16). Held under the theme, “The U.S. Stake in Africa: A Call for Greater Economic Engagement”, more than 800 U.S. and African private sector and government leaders attended the Summit. Under this theme, over its three days the Summit explored three major topics: Navigating the African Market; Africa in a Globalizing Economy; and Regional Integration and the Impact on Trade and Investment. (See article)
Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn attended the Nile Basin States Summit, convened by President Yoweri Museveni in Entebbe, Uganda, on Thursday (June 22). (See article)
Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn met and held talks with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi. They discussed ways to increase support for refugees forced to flee their homes due to unrest in the region. Prime Minister Hailemariam said the integrated efforts of all stakeholders were required to improve the lives of refugees and build sustainable peace.
The first phase of the Hawassa Industry Park (HIP), the first Sustainable Textile and Apparel Grand Park in Africa, has become fully operational. At an event organized on Tuesday (June 20) to officially launch the Park’s operation, Prime Minister Hailemariam said the inauguration of the Park was a demonstration of the government’s commitment to deliver its promise to bring about the structural transformation in the economy.
Chinese Foreign Minister, Wang Yi, who made a two-day visit to Ethiopia this week, held discussions with Prime Minister Hailemariam and with Foreign Affairs Minister, Dr Workneh. The two Ministers discussed the practical actions needed to consolidate bilateral relations now elevated to a Comprehensive Strategic Cooperative Partnership. They agreed to strengthen consultations to enhance mutual understanding and maximize the opportunities created for mutual benefit. (See article)
Ethiopian Foreign Affairs Minister Dr Workneh Gebeyehu met with the Emir of Kuwait, Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber on Monday (June 19) in Kuwait city. Dr Workneh handed over a letter from Prime Minister Hailemariam concerning an amnesty for Ethiopian citizens convicted of crimes in Kuwait and suggesting those involved in serious crimes might serve their sentences in Ethiopia. The Emir accepted the Prime Minister’s proposal for an amnesty.
Dr Workneh and the Emir also discussed regional and international issues of mutual concern.
Ethiopia commemorated World Refugee Day on June 20 in the Regional State of Gambella, nominated by the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR). The occasion was addressed by Foreign Minister Dr Workneh Gebeyehu and UN High Commissioner Fillipo Grandi who noted Ethiopia hosting of the event was a confirmation and recognition of its exemplary, brave and innovative approach to the protection of refugees. (See article)
Dr Workneh received copies of the credentials of the newly appointed Nigerian Ambassador to Ethiopia, Ambassador Bankole Adegboyega Adeoye, and of the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Benin to Ethiopia, Ambassador Timothee Odjo, on Thursday (June 22).
Ethiopia’s Ministry of Science and Technology and the Russian Federation’s ROSATOM State Atomic Energy Corporation signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on cooperation in peaceful uses of atomic energy on Monday (June 19), within the framework of IX International Forum ATOMEXPO 2017. The MoU envisages bilateral cooperation in a number of areas: development of nuclear infrastructure in Ethiopia, programs for raising public awareness of nuclear technologies and its application, radioisotopes and radiation technologies, application in industrial, medical, agricultural sectors, and collaboration in nuclear, radiological and physical security, fundamental and applied researches and human resource training.
Ethiopia joined during the international conference, “G20 Africa partnership – investing in a common Future”, held in Berlin at the beginning of last week (June 12-13). Dr Abreham Tekeste, Minister of Finance and Economic Cooperation led the Ethiopian delegation. (See article)
Ethiopia and Kenya on Thursday (June 22) signed a “cross-border integrated programme” to foster sustainable peace and socio-economic transformation along their common border. Kassa Tekleberhan, Ethiopia’s Minister of Federal Affairs and Pastoralist Area Development, said the agreement is expected to strengthen cooperation and promote peace and security.
Ethiopian Airlines won the Skytrax World Airline Award for The Best Airlines in Africa on Tuesday (June 20) at the Paris Air Show. Skytrax is the most respected global air transport rating organization and conducts the world’s largest annual airline passenger satisfaction surveys. The CEO of Ethiopian Airlines, Tewolde GebreMariam, said the award was very strong testimony that Ethiopian’s investment in customer service, Human Resource Development, and a modern fleet had resulted in customer approval. The previous week, Ethiopian Airlines also won the 2016 Airline Reliability Performance Award, for the 6th year in a row, from Bombardier Aerospace.
A recent report by researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology has found that climate change may drastically increase the variability of the Nile’s annual output. The report argues that it will become highly important to be able to predict the amount of variability, to forecast years of reduced or increased flow and find ways to control that variability, planning more extensive storage and appropriate releases from the river’s dams and reservoirs. It says that unless water levels are properly managed through coordinated release of water, there will certainly be extensive flooding in many areas. (See article)
The Ethiopian Sugar Corporation on Saturday (June 17) announced plans to export 10,000 tons of sugar to neighboring Kenya. Endawek Abtie, Ethiopian Sugar Corporation CEO, told members of the Ethiopian parliament that an agreement had been reached with Kenya for the sale.
Djibouti’s Foreign Minister Mahamoud Ali Youssouf said on Friday last week (June 16) that Eritrean forces had moved to re-occupy Ras Dumeira Mountain and Ras Dumeira Island in breach of UN Security Council resolutions. He said the Djibouti military had been placed on alert, and Djibouti had lodged complaints to the United Nations Security Council and the African Union over Eritrea’s action. (See article)
Djibouti opened another new port on Thursday (June 22) whose main function will be the export of salt from Lake Assal. This is a China-funded facility costing $64m. It is expected to handle about six million tons of salt a year and, in addition, facilitate the export of minerals from Ethiopia.
The UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in Eritrea, Ms Sheila Keetharuth, told the 35th Session of the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva this week that the Government of Eritrea had made no effort to address the human rights violations against its own people as recommended by the Commission of Inquiry last year. She also emphasized that the regime in Asmara had shown no willingness to tackle impunity regarding offenders of past and ongoing human rights violations. (See article)
The NGO, Christian Solidarity Worldwide, reports that the number of Eritrean Christians arrested since the beginning of May has risen to more than 120, with a fresh wave of arrests in the days leading up to Eritrea’s Independence Day, May 24. It also lists at least 28 Christians who have died in prison or shortly after their release as a result of harsh treatment. Eritrea is ranked as the tenth most difficult country in which to be a Christian.
Kenya’s security authorities said on Monday (June 19) they had arrested 88 terror suspects in Nairobi for plotting to carry out attacks during Eid celebrations marking the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. The police said the suspects, 15 foreigners and 73 Kenyans, has been arrested the previous week in a joint security operation between the anti-terrorism police unit, flying squad and the directorate of criminal investigations acting on intelligence reports.
President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed left for Uganda on a State Visit at the invitation of President Museveni. During his visit, President Mohamed also attended the Refugee Solidarity Summit in Kampala, which was held during his visit.
The World Food Program (WFP) country director in Somalia, Laurent Bukera, said this week that famine had been averted in Somalia for now. However, he warned, there were still very serious food shortages and this could result in a catastrophic situation if international support wanes. He said there were still 3.2 million who needed assistance, and some 350,000 children malnourished, 70,000 of them severely malnourished. The UN still needed close to $300 million for the next six months. He said: “Without that, we will have to drop the assistance to 2.5 million people and that includes close to one million children and pregnant and lactating women.”
The World Refugee Council, in advance of this week’s Uganda Summit, said nations had not done enough to help Uganda and its neighbors handle South Sudan’s humanitarian “tragedy”. The global body, in a statement, said nations must “share the responsibility for protecting refugees, assisting host communities and providing robust support.” (See article)
The head of UN Peacekeeping Department, Jean-Pierre Lacroix, briefing the UN Security Council on the situation in South Sudan said on Wednesday (June 21) that the government and the armed opposition bore responsibility for South Sudan’s humanitarian tragedy and political instability. (See article)
President Salva Kiir said he would not accept being forced to step down, insisting it would set a bad precedent for the country, and underlined the importance of the national dialogue. He said this was “the only way to stop this war and return the country to the path of peace so that people get the opportunity to go for elections and make their own choices, not through violence”. President Kiir made these remarks, this week, during a meeting with Akobo state governor, Johnson Gony Biliu, who was in Juba to brief him on the current security and humanitarian situation in the area.
President Omer Al-Bashir arrived in Saudi Arabia on Monday on a visit to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. He held bilateral talks with King Salman bin Abdulaziz. Foreign Minister Ibrahim Ghandour said President Al-Bashir reiterated his support for the mediation efforts of the Kuwaiti Emir Jaber Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah to resolve the Gulf crisis. Also on the agenda was Riyadh’s effort to help lift the U.S. sanctions on Sudan and Sudan’s participation in the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen. Prime Minister Bakri Hassan Saleh is expected to visit South Sudan soon to discuss bilateral relations between the two countries, at the invitation of South Sudan’s First Vice President Taban Deng Gai.
Ethiopia and China keen to strength bilateral and multilateral cooperation
China’s Foreign Minister, Wang Yi, arrived for a visit to Ethiopia on Wednesday (June 21) at the invitation of Foreign Minister Dr Workneh Gebeyehu. During his two-day visit, he met with Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn for discussions covering a wide range of bilateral, regional and international issues of common interests; and at the invitation of the Chairperson of the AU Commission, Mr Moussa Faki Mahamat, he also attended the opening ceremony of a China-Africa high-level dialogue on poverty reduction and development as well as a think tank forum.
During his meeting with Prime Minister Hailemariam, Mr Yi noted that relations had been consolidated following the recent exchange of high official-level visits. The understanding reached by the leadership of the two countries to upgrade their relationship to a comprehensive Strategic Cooperative Partnership level, the fact that Ethiopia has been recognized as a pilot country for production capacity building and Ethiopia’s active participation in the Belt and Road Initiative Forum and its implementation are some of the elements demonstrating the depth of their bilateral partnership. The Minister expressed his government’s strong desire to work and share its experiences with the government of Ethiopia on governance, peace and security, industrialization, human resources development, aviation and tourism as well as cooperation in international fora.
While underlining his profound satisfaction with the current state of the relationship between the two countries, Prime Minister Hailemariam expressed his government’s strong aspiration to further strengthen links on the issues and ideas mentioned by the Chinese Foreign Minister. He noted Ethiopia would like to share in China’s wealth of experience in the area of governance, as both countries had traversed a similar path of development. The Prime Minister, noting Ethiopia’s role in playing a stabilizing role in maintaining sustainable peace and security, underlined that peace and security was a key area in which both countries could work in close consultation with special reference to the Horn of Africa. The Prime Minister also identified issues of industrialization, human resource development, aviation and tourism as areas where both countries could maximize cooperation.
In the discussions with Dr Workneh, covering bilateral and multi-lateral issues, the Chinese Foreign Minister noted the outcome of the One-Belt-One Road Forum Initiative was particularly valuable in terms of strengthening China’s relations with Africa in general and with Ethiopia in particular. He underlined the importance of the strategic partnership agreed between Ethiopia and China to scale up their bilateral ties to a high-level relationship. Mr Yi said this was the time to put the comprehensive strategic partnership agreement between the two countries into practice. He stressed the objective of his visit was to discuss mutual benefits and to build mutual trust in order to realize the comprehensive strategic partnership agreement and further strengthen their relationship. He noted that statistics showed that trade and investment relations between China and Ethiopia had now reached over US10 billion dollars. To move forward, he said, the two countries should follow and fully implement the agreements they had signed. In this respect, Mr Wang Yi said there were six important areas of cooperation that the two countries should consider: sharing experiences in areas of governance; cooperation on security and stability issues; support for accelerating industrialization and independent development; further expansion of infrastructure and assuring compatibility of industrialization with growing infrastructure; expanding human resource development and capacity building projects; exploring new areas of cooperation in the aviation sector; and developing mutual support in international matters including climate change, UN reform and other multi-lateral issues. Foreign Minister, Dr Workneh noted that their bilateral relation had been long-standing and constructive and agreed that it was time to nurture the existing relation by upgrading and further strengthening their relationship by realizing the comprehensive strategic partnership agreement in practice. He proposed a Joint Technical Committee to be established to follow up on the progress of the strategic partnership agreement.
Dr Workneh underlined that Ethiopia was now becoming one of the world’s fastest growing economies. It was reducing poverty by adopting its own development model. He said that scaling up its efforts through sharing the Chinese model of development experience was very important. Ethiopia is a country with a high number of young populations with the potential to take forward its development; hence its intention to intervene in areas of capacity building was now a priority area. Dr Workneh said continued cooperation between the two countries in infrastructure and industrial development would help realize the compatibility between expanding infrastructure and developing industrialization. The Foreign Minister, recalling some of the security issues that took place last year and the security implications that come with technological advancement in different sectors of the economy in the country, makes protection for human life and property absolutely necessary and expressed his belief that cooperation in the area of security is important. Dr Workneh briefed Minister Wang Yi on security and stability in the Horn of Africa, detailing the ongoing security and humanitarian situation in South Sudan and Somalia. He explained the efforts of the Ethiopian government to solve these problems through IGAD, and said Ethiopia appreciated Chinese government support over the security and humanitarian crises in the region. Dr Workneh assured Minister Yi of Ethiopia’s support and cooperation in the areas of multilateral cooperation, UN Security Council reform and in thematic areas such as climate change. With reference to the aviation sector, Dr Workneh said Ethiopia is willing to combine its managerial experience with Chinese aviation technology and attain its full potential in Africa and become one of the best in this sector. The Foreign Minister of the People’s Republic of China, Mr Wang Yi, underlined China’s continuing support for Ethiopia to continue and sustain its development goals. He also assured Foreign Minister Dr Workneh that the Chinese government would continue to support Ethiopia and the sub-regional organization, IGAD, on issues of security and the humanitarian crises in the region.
Ethiopia joins the G20 Compact with Africa initiative
The G20 Africa partnership is a central project of Germany’s G20 presidency. The German government has repeatedly expressed its view that if the world fails to create the conditions for more stability in Africa, those problems will continue to grow. The world in general and Europe in particular, will then have to suffer the consequences. Germany has, therefore, announced two initiatives: its “Marshal plan with Africa” and the “G20 Compact with Africa.” A key pillar of the G20 Africa partnership is the Compact with Africa, coordinated by the German Federal Ministry of Finance. The Compact with Africa initiative aims to boost private investment and investment in infrastructure in Africa. Such investment is an essential precondition for strong, balanced and sustainable growth. The World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the African Development Bank jointly produced a report: “The G20 Compact with Africa: A Joint AFDB, IMF and WBG Report”. The G20 finance ministers and central bank governors warmly received the report at a meeting in Baden- Baden.
The report proposes a catalogue of instruments and measures designed to improve macroeconomic, business and financing frameworks as a way to boost investment. It suggests ways to do this should include tailor-made individualized investment compacts to be set up between interested African countries, international organizations and partner countries. The various partners would commit to specific steps outlined in a catalogue of measures. The G20 member states would provide political support for comprehensive, country specific packages of measures and give African countries a platform to showcase opportunities and conditions for investment. Seven African countries have already decided to participate in the compact initiative: Morocco, Tunisia, Rwanda, Senegal, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana and Ethiopia. The two most recent countries involved, Ethiopia and Ghana, joined during the international conference, “G20 Africa partnership – investing in a common Future”, held in Berlin at the beginning of last week (June 12-13). Dr Abreham Tekeste, Minister of Finance and Economic Cooperation led the Ethiopian delegation. The Compact with Africa Initiative will be presented and discussed at the next G20 meeting to be held in Hamburg, Germany, next month (July 7-8). It is, of course, a long-term initiative that can be expected to remain on the G20 agenda. Indeed, Argentina has already pledged to continue the project when it takes over the G20 presidency from Germany.
The UNHCR Commissioner marks World Refugee Day in Ethiopia
World Refugee Day, an annual event established by the United Nations General Assembly, was marked in 26 refugee camps across Ethiopia, home to 840,000 refugees, on June 20. A series of cultural dances, sports competitions, and panel discussions were held, all under the theme “We stand together with refugees.” Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr Workneh Gebeyehu, and UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, joined over 50,000 South Sudanese refugees at the Nguenyyiel camp in Gambella Regional State, in the south west of Ethiopia to commemorate the Day. In his remarks on the occasion, Dr Workneh spoke of the necessity of sheltering refugees, of the excellent cooperation between the Ethiopian government and the UN High Commission for Refugees and the direction on future cooperation in order to address the root cause of illegal migration. He underlined Ethiopia’s commitment to protecting refugees and migrants. This was long established and had recently been further strengthened. Ethiopia was now hosting over 830,000 refugees in 26 refugee camps and five transit sites in various parts of the country. With its open-door policy, it had been receiving refugees from Eritrea, South Sudan, Yemen, and Somalia. The Gambella region alone now hosted more than 360,000 refugees, and hundreds more continue to arrive each day, fleeing violence and hunger in South Sudan. The Foreign Minister also detailed the major activities being undertaken by the Government to create jobs, both for nationals and refugees. He noted the discussions currently going on with international partners on the possibility of building industrial parks that would provide around 100,000 jobs, a significant portion of which will be reserved for refugees. He gave assurances that the Government of Ethiopia, in collaboration with other key partners including the UNHCR would continue to provide support to refugees. One indication of its collaboration and solidarity was the handing over of a plot of land for the construction of UNHCR Offices in Addis Ababa in order to support the effective operation of the UNHCR in Ethiopia and more widely.
Dr Workneh stressed that Ethiopia, with the support of key partners such as the UNHCR, would continue to provide refugees with lifesaving and emergency humanitarian assistance as well as all essential social services, including health, immunization, reproductive health, HIV and other medical services, within the parameters of its own national laws. The Foreign Minister also emphasized that Ethiopia would keep its borders open to people seeking humanitarian assistance and would encourage the international community to do the same. He said tighter borders would not address the root causes of forced displacement or the need for genuine political will and commitment. International solidarity and acceptance of international responsibility to share the burden must remain central elements if the international community was going to find a solution to the problem of refugee flows. In his remarks, UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, underlined the ever-growing influx of refugees and the dwindling resources to provide refugee needs. He said Ethiopia’s hosting of this event was a confirmation and recognition of its exemplary, brave and innovative approach for the protection of hundreds of thousands of refugees. The High Commissioner told journalists that many countries were getting tired of the increasing number of refugees and migrants crossing their borders. However, Ethiopia, he said, was a shining example of African and international hospitality for refugees in spite of its limited resources and its own great challenges. He stressed his message to the rest of the world was that the international community should help Ethiopia to carry out this heavy responsibility. This week, the UNHCR issued its annual Global Trends report. This showed the number of people displaced worldwide had risen to 65.6 million at the end of last year, the highest level ever. The High Commissioner said: “I am here in Ethiopia on World Refugee Day to tell the world that it is possible to receive many refugees, to treat them well, to remain stable, and to look to the future. It’s also a moment to recognize those communities and people around the world who receive refugees and the internally displaced in their midst, offering them a safe place, and welcoming them in their schools, their workplaces and their societies.” Mr Grandi emphasized: “On this day, World Refugee Day, we honor the resilience and courage of more than 65 million people who have been forced to flee war, persecution and violence.”
Nile Basin States hold a Summit in Uganda
A Nile Basin States Summit, convened by President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda, was held for the first time in Entebbe, Uganda, this week on Thursday (June 22). The Summit underlined the commitment of the riparian states to Nile Basin Cooperation through the Nile Basin Initiative (NBI). President Museveni said the purpose of the meeting was to exchange views on how to best utilize the Nile waters in light of the socio-economic challenges now being faced by the countries of the Nile basin. He described these challenges as “strategic” and said they needed the attention of the Nile Basin countries at the highest level. They included rapid growth of population and the destruction of the environment on which the Nile depends, as well as the lack of access to electricity and of industrialization in upstream countries, and continued dependence on subsistence agriculture. To address these challenges, President Museveni said, the upstream countries needed to be industrialized and transformed into modern societies. Equally, the natural environment must also be protected. To achieve this all the Nile Basin countries should cooperate and work together.
President Museveni’s initiative was appreciated and supported by the leaders of the Nile Basin countries present. Their key message was that the strategic vision, of industrialization and transformation while maintaining the environment, could be achieved through the established institution of the Nile Basin countries, the Nile Basin Initiative. The heads of the delegations at the Summit underlined the achievements of the Nile Basin Initiative as an effective platform for the Nile Basin countries over the last 18 years. They expressed the need to establish the Nile Basin River Commission to further consolidate these objectives as soon as possible. The summit was attended by Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn of Ethiopia and, President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi of Egypt, the Vice-Presidents of Sudan, Burundi, South Sudan, and Ministers from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda, Kenya, and Tanzania. Burundi, as the next Chair of the Nile Council of Ministers, is expected to host the next meeting.
Climate Change increases the need for regulating the flow of the Nile River
A recent report, produced earlier this year by researchers at the world-famous Massachusetts Institute of Technology, has detailed their conclusions that climate change may drastically increase the variability of the Nile’s annual output. Of course, the annual flow of the Nile has always been unpredictable and there have been many reports over the centuries of both floods and droughts affecting the River’s flow. Even in the Bible, there were the reports of seven years of abundance followed by seven years of famine for Egypt. Now, research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has demonstrated that climate change is clearly going to drastically increase variability in the Nile’s annual flow. If this is correct, it will become highly important to be able to predict the amount of variability, to forecast likely years of reduced flow and, even more important, to find ways to control that variability. This is particularly the case as the population of the Nile Basin, in Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia, is expected to increase significantly by 2050. Indeed, estimates suggest it may double to a billion. The MIT report, which is based on “a variety of global climate models and records of rainfall and flow rates over the last half-century”, projects a major increase in flow variation from year to year. It even considers an increase of 50% in the amount of flow variation is likely. The report by Professor Elfatih Eltahir, Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Dr Mohamed Siam, was published in the journal “Nature Climate Change”. They found that, as a result of climate warming, there will be significant increases in the intensity and duration of the Pacific Ocean El Niño/La Niña cycles. These, as the researchers have demonstrated previously, connect strongly with the annual rainfall variations in the Ethiopian highlands and adjacent eastern Nile basins. The last two years, of course, have demonstrated this link again very clearly. These regions are also the primary sources of the Nile’s waters, accounting for some 80 percent of the river’s total flow. Professor Eltahir has previously shown the correlation between the El Niño/La Niña cycle and Ethiopian rainfall, helping with seasonal and short-term predictions of the river’s flow, for planning storage and releases from the river’s many dams and reservoirs. His new analysis adds another dimension, and can be expected to provide highly useful information for much longer-term strategies for placement and operation of new and existing dams, including the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam.
Professor Eltahir notes that his latest study underlines the importance of focusing on the potential impacts of climate change and rapid population growth as the most significant drivers of environmental change in the Nile basin. He says the real issues facing the Nile are bigger than any controversy between Ethiopia and Egypt over construction of the Great Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, not least, as he points out because: “We think that climate change is pointing to the need for more storage capacity in the future.” There can be no doubt that the Great Ethiopian Renaissance Dam would be extremely important and valuable in this connection. Using various global circulation models, and assuming that major reductions in greenhouse gas emissions do not take place, the report says that if the world continues on a “business as usual” trajectory, with no major reductions in greenhouse gas emissions over coming years, the expected changing rainfall patterns will lead to an average increase of between 10% and 15% in the Nile’s annual flow. This could be a bonus for water-scarce countries, but unless the water levels are properly managed, with storage and releases from the various dams and reservoirs along the Nile coordinated, there will certainly be extensive flooding in many areas. Such an increase would mean a rise from the present average flow of 80 cubic kilometers a year to some 92 cubic kilometers averaged over the century. The findings also suggest that this means there would be substantially fewer normal years, with flows varying widely between 70 and 100 cubic kilometers per year. There will also be many more extreme years with flows greater than 100, and more years of drought. This pattern is already becoming visible over the last two years. 2015 was an intense El Niño year and saw drought conditions in the Nile basin, while the La Niña year in 2016 saw high levels of flooding. Professor Eltahir emphasized that this was no longer an abstract issue: “This is happening now.” Professor Eltahir also underlines that the knowledge of such changes can help planners be prepared, not least by storing water in huge reservoirs that can be released when needed and so regulate the flow of the whole basin. Professor Eltahir’s work is already being used operationally in the region to help issue seasonal flood forecasts, providing an improved lead-time, offering water resource engineers more time to react. His work, in fact, is already playing a major role in reducing uncertainty. This latest report will only improve the prospects of effective planning and regulating flows to remove the extremes. The experts at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology are clear: global warming means the river’s water levels will become ever more unpredictable, resulting in what could be devastating floods one year and severe drought the next. With growing variability in water levels already taking place, the last two years, the conclusions are very clear. There will be substantially fewer “normal” years when the Nile flows conform to traditional patterns. There will be greater extremes and more years of drought. Professor Eltahir and his fellow researchers hope their findings will lead to long-term policies for managing the river. The report says that instead of arguing about GERD, the focus should be on the potential impact of climate change and population growth along the Nile. “We think that climate change is pointing to the need for more storage capacity in the future,” says Professor Eltahir. “The real issues facing the Nile are bigger than that one controversy surrounding that dam.”
Security Council discusses support for African Union peace operations
The Security Council held a briefing session last week (June 15) on the Secretary-General’s report on the options for authorizing and supporting African Union Peace Support Operations, and the report of the Chairperson of the African Union Commission. These were presented pursuant to Security Council resolution 2320/2016. The agenda included briefing by the three African members of the Security Council with a view to follow up the reporting required from the Secretary General and the AU Commission Chair.
During the briefing, the Council heard statements from Chef de Cabinet of the Secretary General, Ms Maria Luiza, who introduced the Secretary-General’s report; the AU Peace and Security Commissioner, Ambassador Chergui; and AU High Representative for the Peace Fund, Dr Donald Kaberuka. The briefing was followed by an informal interactive dialogue attended by high-level UN officials including Athul Kare, Under-Secretary-General and Head of the Department of Field Support, and El-Ghassim Wane, Assistant Secretary-General, Department of Peacekeeping Operations. The key elements that most members of the Council commonly emphasized during the meeting were the four proposed funding options to support AU Peace Support Operations recommended by the Secretary General, the accountability and compliance framework on the part of the African Union Commission (AUC) and AU’s commitment to operationalize the 25% self-reliance goal for African operations.
The Permanent Representative of Ethiopia to the UN, Ambassador Tekeda Alemu, as the current coordinator of the three African Members of the Security Council, delivered remarks on behalf of Egypt, Ethiopia and Senegal. Noting recent significant developments, including the renewed commitment by the new leadership of the UN and the AU, that elevated their partnership to a new level, adds that the two organizations were now working together in addressing common challenges of peace and security in the African continent across the whole spectrum of the conflict cycle. Recalling the Security Council’s commitments to cooperation between the United Nations and regional and sub-regional organizations and arrangements in matters relating to the maintenance of international peace and security, the current coordinator emphasized the growing recognition for the need to effectively respond to the peace and security challenges and threats of our time to improve our collective security.
Ambassador Tekeda said the four financing options identified by the reports were sound and realistic and would help the Security Council consider taking the first concrete steps on the financing of AU peace support operations. Furthermore, the reports had noted that ensuring compliance with international humanitarian and human rights standards was very important for the credibility, legitimacy, and ultimately for the effectiveness, of AU Peace Support Operations. In addition, he said, the Secretary General and the African Union Commission had already done the groundwork in line with resolution 2320. Following AU PSC Communiqué/689, the African Group therefore requested that the Security Council take practical steps towards the adoption of a substantive resolution that would establish the principle that an AU mandated or authorized Peace Support Operations, authorized by the Security Council, should be financed through UN assessed contributions. Decisions on the financing of specific missions could be taken on a case-by-case basis.
AU Peace and Security Commissioner, Ambassador Smaïl Chergui, in his remarks, said that enhancing the financing of the Africa Union, including its peace support operations, was a central priority for African Union member states. He noted that at the January 15 Addis Ababa Summit the African Union Assembly of Heads of State and Government had decided that member States would fund 25% of the peace support operations budget. Earlier, at the July 2016 Kigali Summit, the African Union Assembly had decided to institute a universal levy of 0.2% on eligible imports to finance the African Union. The 0.2% levy, said Ambassador Chergui, would endow the Peace Fund with a total of $400 million by 2020. The AU High Representative for the Peace Fund, Dr Donald Kaberuka, also briefed the Council about the various governance arrangements to operationalize the Peace Fund. He noted, “While AU member States are primarily responsible for financing the Peace Fund, partnerships will continue to play a vital role in supporting the peace and security activities on the African continent.” He also emphasized that deepening cooperation with partners, both traditional and emerging, was imperative. He said: “The current international peace and security architecture is under significant pressure, given the complexity of the challenges that the world faces today [and] therefore, forging an effective partnership between the United Nations and the African Union is of the greatest strategic importance for our collective security.” In that respect, Dr Kaberuka emphasized, the financing partnership between the African Union and the United Nations was critical in that it offered a pathway to more predictable funding for AU peace support operations.
Concerns over Eritrean activities along the Djibouti-Eritrean border
Last week, Qatar suddenly announced it was withdrawing its peacekeeping troops from the Djibouti-Eritrean border and bringing its mediation between Eritrea and Djibouti to an end. Although the mediation process has been going extraordinarily slowly, with Eritrea persistently dragging its feet over several years, the value of having Qatar troops along the border areas claimed by Eritrea in 2008 has been very clear. This was underlined by the fact that as soon as the Qatar troops withdrew last week, Eritrean troops reportedly moved to take over the areas claimed by Eritrea including Ras Dumeira Mountain and Ras Dumeira Island. Djibouti’s Foreign Minister Mahamoud Ali Youssouf said on Friday (June 16) that Eritrean forces were now in control of these areas, and, as he noted, in breach of UN Security Council resolutions. He said the Djibouti military had been placed on alert, and Djibouti, he said, had lodged complaints to the United Nations Security Council and the African Union over Eritrea’s action. Eritrea’s representative to the African Union responded to the claim, saying avoiding any specific denial: “We don’t want to take any of Djibouti’s land…The last time we had some skirmishes, it was unnecessary.” Certainly, the fighting in 2008 was unnecessary, but it is worth remembering there was never any doubt that Eritrea was responsible for causing those clashes when its troops crossed the border.
There were immediate reactions to last week’s Eritrean move. The UN Security Council in a meeting on Monday (June 19) called on the “parties to resolve the border dispute peacefully in a manner consistent with international law.” Following a briefing by the UN Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs, the Security Council also welcomed the African Union’s intention to deploy a Fact-Finding Mission to the Djibouti-Eritrea border. The AU Commission Chairman, Moussa Faki Mahamat, announced this while calling for calm to avoid clashes, IGAD’s Executive Secretary stressed that both countries needed to exercise “the utmost restraint|” in order to de-escalate tension. A statement from Ethiopia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said on Sunday (June 18) that it was closely following developments on the Djibouti and Eritrea border. It also noted that Ethiopia fully supported the statement issued by the Chairperson of AU Commission. Ethiopia called on all parties to the conflict for restraint and to resolve differences by peaceful means. It encouraged the United Nations to support such efforts. Given the general approach of Eritrea’s foreign policy and its repeated involvement in border conflicts over two decades, against Ethiopia, Yemen, Sudan and Djibouti, this concern is hardly surprising. These latest moves suggest Eritrea is trying to take advantage of the regional distraction of the Gulf crisis and humanitarian crises. Indeed, as Ethiopia has repeatedly pointed out, many of the problems of the Horn centre on the aggressive nature of Eritrea’s foreign policy. If it is confirmed that Eritrea has already reoccupied the areas it claims are in dispute, and over which it has made little or no effort to implement the agreement signed with Djibouti as a result of Qatar’s mediation seven years ago, this would appear yet another incidence of the belligerence that lies at the centre of its foreign policy. It will also render Eritrea in clear violation of Security Council resolutions 1862 and 1907. Equally, the long-drawn-out saga of attempted mediation between Eritrea and Djibouti by Qatar and efforts to obtain the release of Djibouti prisoners of war after Eritrea’s attack on Djibouti in 2008, can hardly inspire any confidence in Eritrea’s interest in any peaceful intent, nor in any comments from President Isaias or, indeed, in Eritrean government actions. Eritrea attacked Djibouti in 2008 shortly after the UN Security Council had failed to take any action over the way Eritrea had deliberately forced the UN Mission to Eritrea and Ethiopia (UNMEE) out of the Temporary Security Zone, set up along the Eritrean border after Eritrea was forced to sign a peace agreement in 2000. The creation of the TSZ was a central element in the Algiers Peace Agreement that Eritrea and Ethiopia signed at the end of the 1998-2000 war that started when Eritrea invaded Ethiopia in May 1998. From the outset, Eritrea made every effort to nullify the TSZ, steadily expanding restrictions on UNMEE operations. The situation reached a point where UNMEE, humiliatingly, was forced to withdraw from the TSZ, effectively aborting the Algiers Agreement. In effect, Eritrea deliberately tore up the Algiers Agreement, seizing the Temporary Security Zone and driving out the UN Mission, which had the mandate to monitor the security zone between Eritrea and Ethiopia and to oversee the proposed demarcation of the border. This demonstration of the UN’s inaction encouraged Eritrea in its bellicosity, its aggressiveness and its disregard for international diplomatic norms. Almost immediately in June 2008, Eritrea troops crossed into Djibouti and seized several strategic locations just inside northern Djibouti, including the islands of Doumeira and Kallida. This wasn’t the first time there had been problems along that border. Eritrean artillery units shelled a Djibouti border post at Ras Doumeira in 1994, apparently as the preliminary step in a claim to part of Djibouti’s coastline south of Ras Doumeira. In 1996, Eritrea issued a map incorporating the area into Eritrea and briefly sent troops into Djibouti territory. In 2008, after a brief meeting between the two foreign ministers and a telephone call between the two presidents, Eritrea refused further diplomatic discussions. It also refused to allow any Missions from the AU, the League of Arab States and the UN to visit Eritrea to investigate, and ignored all condemnation of its actions. President Isaias refused to acknowledge Eritrea’s incursion, despite photographic evidence of Eritrean troop movements inside Djibouti territory. His denials continued even in June, after fighting in which nearly sixty Djiboutian soldiers were killed or wounded, and a senior officer and 18 others captured. Eritrean losses amounted to around 200 killed or captured.
Eritrea’s Permanent Representative to the UN claimed, rather improbably, that as Eritrea had no territorial ambitions in the region, criticism of Eritrea was unfounded. He even claimed, against detailed evidence to the contrary, that Djibouti had attacked Eritrean troops. In a letter to the President of the Security Council, President Isaias, in a typical example of his diplomatic methods, accused the United States of responsibility for Djibouti’s accusations against Eritrea. The UN Security Council demanded the two sides agree a ceasefire, withdraw to pre-conflict positions and engage in diplomatic relations. Djibouti withdrew its troops as requested. The UN sent a fact-finding mission. Eritrea, as it has always done on similar occasions, most recently with the UN Human Rights Council’s Special Rapporteur for Human Rights Violations in Eritrea last year, refused it entry. Despite Eritrea’s refusal, the Mission’s report provided significant detail of Eritrea’s invasion of Djibouti territory and identified Eritrea’s activities as a threat to Djibouti’s stability. In January 2009, the UN Security Council finally passed resolution 1862 (2009), expressing deep concern over the situation, urging Djibouti and Eritrea to resolve their dispute peacefully, and demanding Eritrea withdraw its forces and ensure no military activity was being carried out. It also demanded that Eritrea acknowledge it was involved in a border dispute; and that it should engage in dialogue to defuse the tension and in diplomatic efforts to produce a settlement; and that it co-operate fully with the Secretary-General. Despite the continued refusal of Eritrea to do anything of the kind, it was not until December 2009 that the Security Council took further action, passing resolution 1907/2009, imposing sanctions on Eritrea, including an arms embargo, travel restrictions and a freeze on the assets of Eritrea’s political and military leaders, and entities affiliated to them. It reiterated the demand that Eritrea withdraw its forces to the positions of the status quo ante, acknowledge its border dispute and cooperate fully with the Secretary-General. It determined that Eritrea’s actions in undermining peace and reconciliation in Somalia and its dispute with Djibouti constituted a threat to international peace and security. The resolution also demanded Eritrea cease all efforts to destabilize or overthrow, directly or indirectly, the Transitional Federal Government of Somalia and cease arming, training and equipping armed groups and their members, including al-Shabaab, which aimed to destabilize the region or incite violence and civil strife in Djibouti. Two years later, when it was clear that Eritrean policies remained totally unchanged, the UNSC expanded the restrictive measures regarding Eritrea to cover “Diaspora taxes”, the Eritrean mining sector and financial services in resolution 2023 (2011).
Following its usual pattern, Eritrea did respond, if indirectly, to the threat of action. The imposition of sanctions, since repeatedly categorized by Eritrea as “illegal”, did have an effect. It called on Qatar as a mediator and in June 2010, Qatar announced it had negotiated a peace agreement between Eritrea and Djibouti under which the Eritrean government agreed to withdraw its forces from Ras Doumeira. Qatari forces replaced them. Eritrea, in effect assuming responsibility for its aggression, also agreed to pay compensation to the government of Djibouti. However, Eritrea took more than a month to officially acknowledge the signing of the agreement and even then continued to deny it had ever invaded Djibouti. President Isaias Afwerki has continued in this denial. Using exactly the same sort of arguments he tried to use over the Ethiopian border, he claimed he had never sent any troops into Djibouti. So, he couldn’t withdraw any! There was “no disputed area”; therefore nothing to mediate! Under these circumstances, actual progress in the mediation over the border was, not surprisingly, slow; indeed, essentially non-existent. Similarly progress over the issue of prisoners of war was equally minimal.
In November last year, as in previous years, UN Monitoring Group on Somalia and Eritrea released its latest annual report on Eritrea. It raised once again, the disappearance of 11 Djibouti soldiers whose whereabouts have been unknown since 2008. For several years, Eritrea refused to acknowledge that it held any Djiboutian troops at all; nor, incidentally, has it ever enquired about the 17 Eritrean soldiers held by Djibouti. Two of the Djibouti prisoners escaped from Eritrea in 2011, and four of the missing combatants, held incommunicado as prisoners of war by Eritrea since 2008, were released in March 2016 after further efforts by the Government of Qatar after eight years as prisoners. Eritrea now says it has no more Djiboutian prisoners but it has refused to give any details of those still missing. In fact, the whole history of Eritrean-Djibouti relations is a perfect example of Eritrea’s belligerent and aggressive approach to diplomacy. It also provides an excellent illustration of the way President Isaias appears to believe that repeated denials are usually sufficient to satisfy critics. Changes of policy are seldom required to satisfy international community.
This is underlined by the timeline of Eritrea’s responses to Security Council resolutions. It is only when threat of action is offered that President Isaias responds, if grudgingly, to concern over his policies and makes changes, though seldom, if ever, is prepared to publicly acknowledge them. As he has repeatedly demonstrated, he has been adept at ignoring any UN criticisms or UN resolutions unless they directly threaten his own concerns. Resolution of the situation along the Djibouti Eritrea border will need more than pious comment. In this context, it should be remembered that remembering that Eritrea already appears to be in contempt of two Security Council resolutions on this issue alone. All this emphasizes the need to be very cautious indeed about “bringing Eritrea in from the cold”, at least without some real evidence of changes in its policies. So far, as last week’s activity along the Djibouti border strongly underlines, this has yet to appear. Eritrea still appears to want to remain a regional spoiler, not least because it allows President Isaias to continue to benefit from keeping Eritrea on a permanent war footing; keeping indefinite national service conscription to provide a mechanism for cheap, even forced labor, and a highly militarized element of control to keep himself in power.
Special Rapporteur says Eritrea continues to commit human rights violations
Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in Eritrea, Ms Sheila Keetharuth, told the 35th Session of the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva this week that the Government of Eritrea had made no effort to address the human rights violations against its own people as recommended by the Commission of Inquiry last year. She also emphasized that the regime in Asmara had shown no willingness to tackle impunity regarding offenders of past and on-going human rights violations.
Presenting her report to the United Nations Human Rights Council, Ms Keetharuth expressed her deep concern about human rights violations in Eritrea, a country she described as having no national accountability mechanisms and being without any system of checks and balances. She went on to describe the horrific situation in Eritrea under which family members of high profile political prisoners were routinely still kept completely in the dark about the situation of their loved ones, even whether they were still alive or not. While emphasising the critical importance of having full access to places of detention by international monitors, Ms Keetharuth underlined the necessity for the international community to address the root causes of human rights violations, fuelling the exodus of large numbers of Eritreans from their country. From the moment of taking up the mandate, the Special Rapporteur underlined her efforts to extend a hand of cooperation to the Eritrean regime. This had no effect. “What was really required was more eyes and ears to hear about the human rights situation in the country”, said Ms Keetharuth, who emphasised the importance of accountability for Eritreans who seldom, if ever, know the fate of detainees nor receive justice for the extensive and repeated human rights violations committed against them. Speaking about the lack of cooperation of the Eritrea regime, the Special Rapporteur noted there had been repeated and very specific requests for a visit to Eritrea going back to 2003. None had received an answer, and as a result many of her queries were unanswered. The Special Rapporteur concluded that Eritrea should take the necessary steps to respond to the recommendations of her report. The Council should be vigilant in this regard to implement the recommendations made both by the Special Rapporteur and last year’s Commission of Inquiry. Ms Keetharuth also recommended that the Government of Eritrea take concrete steps to ensure a truly participatory process in the preparation of the country’s next Universal Periodic Review. Members of the Council, responding to Ms Keetharuth’s report, concurred with the recommendations suggested by the Special Rapporteur. They called on the Government of Eritrea to undertake substantial legal and institutional reforms to improve the respect for human rights in the country, to release all political prisoners, to end the indefinite compulsory national service, and to step up the fight against impunity. The Eritrean delegation itself dismissed the report of the Special Rapporteur, calling it “surreal”, and also offering highly undiplomatic, indeed unethical, descriptions attacking the Special Rapporteur. This was an insult to the Council. As usual, the Eritrean response also concentrated on making fictitious and irrelevant accusations against Ethiopia. It is no secret to Council member states that the motivation behind the absurdity of Eritrean allegations arise from the fact that the regime has no respect whatsoever for human rights, Unfortunately, it chooses the Council as a forum to try to score points in a political vendetta that has no possible bearing on the work of the Human Rights Council, nor that of any other similar fora.
The Ethiopian delegation, exercising its right of reply, responded by emphasizing that it wouldn’t give Eritrea the chance to try to distract the Council from the very real violations of human rights committed by the Eritrean regime against its own people. Unlike Eritrea, Ethiopia respects the Human Rights Council. Ethiopia works with all relevant bodies to strengthen the promotion and protection of human rights around the globe and to address situations of human rights violations. The recent report by the Commissioner to this Council, following his visit to Ethiopia and the wide-ranging discussions he had with high-level officials, opposition parties, diplomatic community and civil societies, testifies to the fact that the Ethiopian Government has nothing to hide and that it is, in fact, committed to continuing to work with all stakeholders in a transparent manner for the promotion, respect and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms in Ethiopia as well as elsewhere.
Ethiopia is very conscious that its developments in human rights could not have been possible without the hard-fought development gains the country has begun to enjoy in the years since the removal of the military regime more than two decades ago. Its fast economic growth, coupled with similar successes in other sectors, has brought significant change in the lives of many citizens. These achievements have also been reflected in the success in attaining the MDGs. The efforts by the Eritrean delegation to try to prevent the international community from scrutinizing the human rights violations committed against Eritreans by the regime in Asmara merely reveals the true character of a regime, condemned and under the sanctions of the United Nations Security Council. This is hardly a surprise to anyone following developments in the Horn of Africa where the point has been underlined by Eritrean actions last week, deliberately provoking Djibouti by occupying the territory claimed by Eritrea following the withdrawal of Qatari peacekeepers. The Human Rights Council has, of course, taken note of the continued violations of human rights committed against Eritreans. It took action by establishing the Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights Violations in Eritrea through resolution 26/24. The Commission’s report to the Council last year concluded that crimes against humanity have been committed continuously in Eritrea and that Eritrean officials have engaged in persistent, widespread and systematic attacks against the civilian population since 1991. The report concluded the regime had committed, and continued to commit, crimes of enslavement, imprisonment, enforced disappearance, torture, other inhumane acts, persecution, rape and murder. In the absence of a constitution, an independent judiciary or democratic institutions in Eritrea, the Commission concluded that it has found no improvement in the rule of law in the country. This year, in its 35th Session, the Council heard the report by the Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Violations in Eritrea, mandated to follow-up the implementation of the recommendations of the Commission of Inquiry. The Special Rapporteur once again confirmed that the regime had not made any efforts to address human rights concerns nor had it shown willingness to tackle impunity. The Council is expected to adopt a resolution on human rights situation in Eritrea during its deliberations.
The 11th U.S.-Africa Business Summit in Washington
The 11th biennial U.S.-Africa Business Summit, organized by the Corporate Council on Africa, was held in Washington, D.C., last week (June 13 – 16, 2017). Held under the theme, “The U.S. Stake in Africa: A Call for Greater Economic Engagement”, more than 800 U.S. and African private sector and government leaders attended the Summit. Under this theme, over its three days, the Summit explored three major topics: Navigating the African Market; Africa in a Globalizing Economy; and Regional Integration and the Impact on Trade and Investment. Wilbur Ross, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Commerce delivered a keynote address at the opening of the Summit. He outlined the new U.S. Administration’s policies towards existing and future economic engagements with Africa. He highlighted the fact that over the next five years some 19 sub-Saharan African countries are expected to achieve average growth rates of five percent or higher. He also emphasized that over the last five years combined, Ethiopia’s growth rate had been the second highest in the world. Reiterating his views on U.S.-Africa relations overall, Secretary Ross said that the U.S. could not ignore such a large, dynamic and vital part of the world. He emphasized the need for continued engagement. He further stressed the effectiveness of bilateral trade agreements, rather than large, multilateral agreements, and the Trump Administration’s strong position on compliance with eligibility requirements for agreements such as the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA).
The Summit program featured a number of plenary sessions, sector-specific break-out panels (including discussions on Agribusiness, Energy, Healthcare, Tourism, Finance, ICT, Infrastructure), as well as exhibitions and networking opportunities. Ethiopia’s Minister of Water, Irrigation and Electricity, Dr Seleshi Bekele, addressed the Energy panel on “Financing the Renewable Energy Revolution in Africa”. The panel discussed the fast-growing demand for power in Africa and the increasing diversity of the continent’s energy market. The panel also explored how Africa’s renewable energy needed to be financed; the importance of public-private partnerships for the sector; and how various actors could come together to deliver access to power in Africa. Regional Integration was another important topic at the Summit. There was general agreement that regional integration would not only improve trade relations between countries within the continent, but also make Africa a more attractive destination for American business and investment. However, participants also highlighted the point that regional integration must be complemented with improved economic infrastructure, by efforts to reduce the amount of time it takes to move goods, and by the building of significantly increased local capacity. During the Summit, Ethiopia’s remarkable success in achieving such rapid economic growth over a decade or more, in attracting foreign investments and in emerging as a manufacturing hub was repeatedly highlighted as an exemplary model on the continent. The previous U.S.-Africa Business Summit, attended by more than 1,400 private sector and government representatives from 47 countries, was held in Addis Ababa in February last year.
South Sudan: refugee concerns still rising at an alarming rate
The newly formed World Refugee Council has emphasized that the exodus of refugees fleeing conflict in South Sudan is a humanitarian tragedy that Uganda and other neighbouring countries should not bear alone. The Council, in advance of this week’s Solidarity Summit in Kampala, called on other nations to share the responsibility for protecting refugees and assisting host communities. The World Refugee Council, which convened for the first time in Geneva last week, noted that since civil war broke out in December 2013, almost two million people had fled South Sudan in search of safety from the horrific violence affecting their communities. Two million more people have been displaced inside the country, while hundreds of thousands of civilians have sought protection in the compounds of UN Peacekeepers. Gender-based violence was rampant. The UN Special Adviser has warned that there is a “strong risk of genocide” and the UN Security Council noted earlier this year that targeting of civilians by all sides might constitute war crimes. As a result of the conflict, food production has declined 40% putting over 5 million people are at risk of famine. The Council said for the past year, an average of 40,000 South Sudanese refugees have entered Uganda every month, 86% women and children. Other refugees from South Sudan have crossed into Ethiopia, Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Kenya. It said Uganda is now the largest refugee-hosting state in Africa with around 1.2 million refugees, 900,000 of whom were from South Sudan. The latest influx put additional pressure on the service provision of the neighboring countries like Uganda and Ethiopia.
This underlined the need to step up efforts to achieve minimum emergency standards as quickly as possible. Ethiopia and Uganda, both known and praised for their progressive refugee policies, had kept their doors open to refugees against financial odds, but both were beginning to buckle under the pressure and need global support. Continued implementation of those policies depended upon greater international support and responsibility sharing. On June 20 this week, a new report by the United Nations Refugee Agency released on World Refugee Day affirmed that the number of refugees from South Sudan had spiked by 64%, the majority of them being children. Filippo Grandi, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, said in a statement “By any measure this is an unacceptable number, and it speaks louder than ever to the need for solidarity and common purpose in preventing and resolving crises, and ensuring together that the world’s refugees, internally displaced and asylum-seekers are properly protected and cared for while solutions are pursued”. He has underlined that “We have to do better for these people. For a world in conflict, what is needed is determination and courage, not fear.”
The UNHCR called on donors and other stakeholders to step up support for refugees fleeing South Sudan. Humanitarian agencies are seeking US$1.4 billion to provide life-saving aid to South Sudanese refugees in the six neighboring countries until the end of 2017. The UNHCR emphasized that South Sudan’s neighbors had been exceptionally generous, but it said it was now alarmed by a situation that was becoming more and more serious. Mr Grandi said: “neighboring countries have done all that one could expect, nevertheless they won’t be able to sustain support for refugees unless the rest of the world steps up.” The UN Commissioner for Refugees stressed that humanitarian agencies were struggling to provide food, water, nutrition support, and shelter and health services to refugees. He also emphasized that the communities hosting refugees are among the world’s poorest. He said, “Helping refugees is not just about providing emergency aid. It also means supporting governments and communities in neighboring countries to prop up services and economies in the areas hosting them.”
To add to the concern, the latest Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) report shows 1.7 million people are still facing emergency levels of hunger, one step below famine. In February, South Sudan declared two counties in Unity State as famine-hit areas. The IPC report says the current situation in those areas has improved; however, there are still a number of areas in critical condition. The UN is warning of a worsening humanitarian situation and it emphasized that downgrading the level of existing famine in the region does not mean the situation has completely improved. An estimated 45,000 people are still facing starvation in Leer, Koch and Mayiandit Counties, with additional areas across the country having deteriorated as well.
…and a briefing for the Security Council
In a briefing for the UN Security Council on Wednesday this week (June 21), the head of the UN Peacekeeping Department, Jean-Pierre Lacroix, said the government and the armed opposition bore responsibility for South Sudan humanitarian tragedy and political instability. He told the Council, “We must not lose sight of the fact that this tragedy is man-made”, adding, “It is the result of deliberate decisions by the SPLA-in Government, the SPLA-in-Opposition and various other entities, to prosecute and sustain armed conflict to achieve political goals.” Mr Lacroix stressed that the United Nations continued to make every effort to implement its commitment to the country, adding that “only a truly inclusive political process and the genuine political will” of the key protagonists to implement any agreements they reached would bring peace and end conflict. He said the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) was “doing its utmost” to protect civilians. Mr Lacroix called for full freedom of movement for the Ceasefire Transitional Security Arrangement Monitoring Mechanism to monitor and verify ceasefire violations as well as UNMISS, “which have faced far too many obstructions to their movements, making their work extremely challenging, and in some cases, impossible.”
The Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, citing a lack of real progress towards ending hostilities and resuming dialogue, recommended no changes to the mandate of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS). He said the mandate, including the role of a Regional Protection Force to help security in Juba, remained relevant. Revisiting the Mission’s mandate and the task of a Regional Protection Force, he said, would be warranted if a genuine cessation of hostilities and full implementation of the Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan occurred. He welcomed the proposed High-Level Revitalization Forum to be convened by IGAD and cautioned that elections to be held in 2018 towards the end of a transitional period as envisioned in the 2015 Peace Agreement, would be impossible if the situation is unchanged. Nicholas Haysom, Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Sudan and South Sudan, speaking via video teleconference from Geneva, said he believed the demands for a resumption of an inclusive political process were greater today than they were three months ago. He said, however, “Much work remains to be done for a credible political process to be established. The Chargé d’Affaires of the South Sudan mission to the UN described the launch of the national dialogue as a “positive step in the right direction” and underlined the Government’s commitment to the deployment of the Regional Protection Force. He said there had been no active or direct confrontations since the President’s unilateral ceasefire declaration. He urged the Council and the international community to call on those stakeholders to respect the ceasefire and allow humanitarian actors to pass.
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