A Week in the Horn

2 Jun 2023
  • News in Brief: Africa and the African Union, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Djibouti, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan
  • Addressing Common Themes in Sudan’s Conflict
  • Ethiopia at the forefront of the 76th World Health Assembly: Saving Lives, Driving Health for All


Africa and the African Union

Two high-level meetings concerning the situation in Sudan were held this week: the 1156th meeting of the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) on Saturday (May 27) (at the level of Heads of State and Government) and the meeting of the Expanded Mechanism for the Resolution of the Conflict in Sudan on Wednesday (May 31) in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The latter deliberated on the outcomes of the meeting of Heads of State and Government. Aside from that, the two meetings focused on the points listed in the African Union Roadmap for the Resolution of the Sudan Conflict and the next steps towards an inclusive, Sudanese-led process that would end the fighting and put Sudan on the path to peace. (See article)

The twelfth China-Africa Think Tanks Forum has begun in the city of Jinhua, Zhejiang Province as officials and experts gather to find ways to strengthen ties and overcome challenges under the official themes of rejuvenation and cooperation. CGTN’s Guan Yang has the details. This week, nearly 200 scholars and business representatives from 45 countries have gathered in Jinhua to propose ideas for deepening ties.

On Tuesday (May 30), the Second African Union Workshop on the Review of the African Union Post-Conflict Reconstruction and Development Policy commenced in the Egyptian capital, Cairo. The workshop aims to take stock of progress achieved in the review of the AU PCRD Policy and identify and address existing gaps, with a particular focus on alignment of the AU policy frameworks, as the AU noted in its media advisory.

The 2nd Ministerial Retreat of the Council of Ministers of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) takes place in Nairobi, Kenya, from May 29–23. It was preceded by a Private Sector Dialogue under the theme The Role of the Private Sector in the Implementation of the AfCFTA: Own and Drive AfCFTA, the AfCFTA Secretariat announced.


Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed on Monday morning (May 29) sent a congratulatory message to Türkiye President Erdogan on his election victory for another term and vowed to further bolster the longstanding relations between the two countries.

On Saturday (May 27), the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ethiopia issued a statement on the situation in Sudan and Ethiopia’s continued commitment to assist and host refugees fleeing the conflict. The people of Sudan rightfully consider Ethiopia a second home, and Ethiopia, as always, gladly embraces any Sudanese who crosses its border at this trying time, the statement read.

During his address to parliamentarians at the House of Peoples’ Representatives (HPR) on Saturday (May 27), Education Minister Prof. Berhanu Nega said hundreds of thousands of refugee students from neighbouring countries were enrolled at schools under the auspices of regional administrations in Ethiopia. He said that to date, over 173,000 refugee students have been enrolled.

On Sunday (May 28), the Ethiopian Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Ambassador Tesfaye Yilma, received the Dag Hammarskjold Medal on behalf of Major Eshetu Haile Selassie, who paid the ultimate sacrifice in service of humanity under the UN flag with distinguished performance, integrity, and valor.

The 76th World Health Assembly was conducted in Geneva, Switzerland, from May 21–30, 2023, celebrating the 75th anniversary of the World Health Organization, its impact and multilateralism. Ethiopia was represented by the Minister of Health, Dr. Lia Tadesse, who led the delegation. (See article)

Nine students representing Ethiopia and sourced from Gondar, Wachemo, Addis Ababa Science and Technology University (AASTU), Adama Science and Technology University (ASTU) and other universities finished third in the Huawei ICT Competition Global Finals, the organizers of the event disclosed on Monday (May 29).

On Sunday (May 28), Ethiopians in various parts of the country held public rallies in support of the Ethiopian National Defence Forces (ENDF) and expressed their commitment to support it in its bid to combat violent extremism and terrorism.

On Tuesday (May 30), Ethiopian Airlines announced the commencement of a new direct flight between Abidjan and New York City during an inaugural ceremony held at Abidjan Airport in the presence of Lemma Yedecha, Ethiopian Airlines Group Chief Commercial Officer.

Four Ethiopian runners, Yihunilign Adane, Gebretsadik Abraha, Abdi Ali Gelchu, and Waganesh Mekasha, claimed top prizes at this year’s Tartan Ottawa International Marathon held on Sunday (May 28).


President Isaias Afwerki and President Vladimir Putin held an extensive discussion in the Kremlin on Wednesday (May 31) on the enhancement of bilateral ties as well as international issues and developments of interest to the two countries. President Putin welcoming President Isaias Afwerki and his delegation underlined that President Isaias’ first official visit to the Russian Federation will contribute highly to the development of bilateral ties. President Isaias thanked President Putin for the invitation to visit the Russian Federation and the warm welcome extended to him and his delegation, further stating that the current visit reflects the high-level partnership and consultation that occurred after the visit of Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov to Eritrea and the subsequent visit of Eritrea’s senior delegation to Russia.

Eritreans residing in Scandinavia, Kuwait, Germany, and Cote D’Ivoire commemorated the 32nd Independence Day under the theme Heroic Feat Anchored on Cohesive Ranks, the Ministry of Information announced on Monday (May 29).


During an interview with CNBC International over the week, Minister of Finance, Economy, and Industry, Ilyas Moussa Dawaleh, revealed that the country has faced a triple threat of climate change, conflict within the region, and the COVID-19 pandemic.


Speaking at the African Private Sector Dialogue on AfCFTA on Monday (May 29) in Nairobi, President William Ruto said it was time the continent united to be able to work together instead of fighting. “We must also act together on matters of peace and security. It is not possible that this continent shall continue to be a place of conflict and war. What is going on in Sudan is unacceptable; what is going on in the DRC is unacceptable”, Ruto said.

On Monday (May 29), President William Ruto hosted Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, who was in Kenya for an official visit. President Ruto said Kenya will deepen its relations with Russia to increase trade volumes, noting the low level of trade despite its huge potential.

On Tuesday (May 30), Foreign Affairs Principal Secretary Korir Sing’Oei met with Steven Fabry, Deputy Legal Adviser of the United States State Department and agreed on bolstering legal exchange on various contemporary international law issues.

On Tuesday (May 30), the Governments of Kenya and South Korea signed mutually beneficial Memoranda of Understanding to support digital and infrastructural development with select urban and rural centres in Kenya, including the construction of more than five thousand affordable homes in Mavoko, Machakos County and Tatu City Special Economic Zone, the development of a smart city master plan, the establishment of a Smart Driving Licensing System to underpin a transportation network and smart mobility plans that will meet urban functions of Konza Technopolis.

Head of Public Service, Felix Kosgei, on Saturday (May 27) forewarned Turkana pastoralists, located in the northwest part of the country, against crossing into neighboring Uganda while carrying illegal firearms to avert skirmishes. He said that, though there is an agreement that allows Kenyan herders to cross the border to Uganda in search of pasture for their livestock, carrying illegal guns has been revoked.


In an official statement dated Sunday (May 28), President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud congratulated Türkiye President Erdogan on his re-election.

A senior Al-Shabaab commander in Somalia, Abdirahman Macalin Ahmed alias Abu Sa’eed or Sharif, surrendered to the National Intelligence Security Agency (NISA) forces in Somalia.

On Saturday (May 27), the African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS) announced that it has intensified training of Somali security forces on child protection in armed conflict situations as it approaches the drawdown phase of its mission in June.

South Sudan

Acting Foreign Minister Deng Dau Deng announced on Tuesday (May 30) that South Sudan will definitely meet the December 2024 election timeline, despite a range of outstanding issues that are critical for the polls to be held. He said they are banking on support from the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) and other UN agencies to help them accomplish the constitution-making process.

In a statement dated Monday (May 29), the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) called for calm at the Malakal Protection of Civilians (PoC) site in Upper Nile State following a violent incident on May 28 that resulted in the death of a 32-year-old man and several others being injured. The UN Agency urged local leaders to encourage their communities to embrace dialogue and refrain from any violence.


On Monday (May 29), the Sudanese army and paramilitary forces agreed to a five-day extension of the ceasefire, allowing for the delivery of humanitarian aid and discussions on further measures to bring an end to the conflict.

The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), in its Sudan Regional Refugee Response updates (May 29), alleged that fighting that erupted between the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) on April 15, 2023, has triggered massive displacement. According to the report, more than 1.3 million people have been newly displaced, including over 1 million within Sudan and over 319,000 in neighbouring countries.

A leading Sudanese nurse and president of the Sudan Nurses Organization (SNO) petitioned the United Nations Security Council on Tuesday (May 30) for intervention. He urged for cessation of hostilities as fellow nurses were killed, kidnapped, and injured. The petition asks the council to pressure both sides of the Sudanese conflict for a full ceasefire and to allow health workers to safely reach victims.


Addressing Common Themes in Sudan’s Conflict

Two high-level meetings concerning the situation in Sudan were held this week: the 1156th meeting of the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) on Saturday (May 27) (at the level of Heads of State and Government) and the meeting of the Expanded Mechanism for the Resolution of the Conflict in Sudan on Wednesday (May 31) in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The latter deliberated on the outcomes of the meeting of Heads of State and Government. Aside from that, the two meetings focused on the points listed in the African Union Roadmap for the Resolution of the Sudan Conflict and the next steps towards an inclusive, Sudanese-led process that would end the fighting and put Sudan on the path to peace.

The conflict in Sudan is “unprecedented,” according to Moussa Faki Mahamat, Chairperson of the AUC Commission, and the suffering of ordinary Sudanese is immense. It is incumbent upon us, as Africans, to demonstrate the necessary Continental leadership and to put the mantra “African solutions to African problems” into action. Given this overarching spirit, the following are the key takeaways from the meetings, particularly the Heads of State and Government meeting:

Mediation Initiatives

The only way for the international community to stop the fighting in Sudan, as stated by IGAD Executive Secretary Workneh Gebeyehu, is “to coordinate our efforts to pull together in the same direction and synchronize our collective actions to be more effective.” According to a Communiqué issued following the Heads of State and Government Meeting’s conclusion, the Peace and Security Council stated that a multiplicity and proliferation of mediation initiatives would not serve the interests of the Sudanese peoples collective will. The need for a single, inclusive, and consolidated peace process for Sudan, coordinated by the African Union, IGAD, League of Arab States, and UN, as well as other like-minded partners, was stressed.

In this connection, the Council welcomes and encourages the continuation of the African Union’s current measures. In regards to this, the Council welcomed the AUC Chairperson’s establishment of the Expanded Mechanism on Sudan and its Core Group as an all-inclusive platform of regional, continental, and global actors and institutions to provide broad-based and coordinated engagement within the international community, fostering political consensus and common global support for Sudan.

The Council also requests that the AUC Chairperson coordinate the implementation of the AU Roadmap in close collaboration with Sudanese Parties, IGAD, the League of Arab States, the United Nations, and partners in order to restore peace and stability in Sudan. In this context, the Council supports the Chairperson’s initiative to send emissaries to Sudan’s neighboring states and the Horn of Africa region in order to strengthen the search for a common approach to finding a sustainable solution to Sudan’s multi-layered crisis.

Cessation of Hostilities and Humanitarian Support Arrangements

The ongoing conflict between the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), which erupted on April 20, 2023, is deemed “senseless and unjustified” by the Council for resulting in an unprecedented dire humanitarian situation, indiscriminate killing of innocent civilians, and wanton destruction of infrastructure, including diplomatic mission facilities, in violation of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, International Humanitarian Law, and international humanitarian law. The Council also called for an immediate cessation of hostilities between the warring parties and the restart of the political transition process, culminating in the holding of elections for a democratic, civilian-led government, emphasizing that there is no viable military solution to the conflict other than genuine dialogue and reconciliation.

The Council also welcomes the signing of the Declaration of Commitment to Protect Sudanese Civilians and the Agreement on a Short-Term Ceasefire and Humanitarian Arrangements by the SAF and RSF in Jeddah on May 11 and 20, 2023, respectively. It recognizes the efforts of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the United States of America in facilitating the Sudanese peace process; and reaffirms the importance of inclusivity, adequate representation, and the participation of Sudanese stakeholders and African regional and continental bodies in the negotiations for a permanent and comprehensive ceasefire and the political transition in Sudan. The Council also urges the parties to the current conflict to fully implement, in letter and spirit, the Agreement signed in Jeddah on a Short-Term Ceasefire and Humanitarian Arrangements, in order to facilitate humanitarian access to the population in desperate need of assistance.

Protecting Civilians and Civil Infrastructure

The Council emphasizes the importance of restoring basic public services in all areas affected by the current conflict, including water, health, electricity, telecommunications, banking, and education. It also asks international financial institutions to lift the restrictions on electronic money transfers to Sudan as soon as possible.

On the Role of Neighboring States

The Council fully acknowledges and encourages the invaluable support of neighboring countries in receiving refugees from Sudan.It also calls on the international community to continue to show solidarity by assisting Sudanese refugees and asylum seekers, among others, by facilitating expeditious and dignified entry, transit, and reception conditions. Recognizing the efforts of all humanitarian aid agencies and partners, the Council also encourages increased humanitarian action and coordination.

Long-term Solution

The Council calls for the restart of a credible and inclusive political transition process towards a democratic civilian-led government, taking into account the contributions of all Sudanese political and social actors as well as the signatories to the Juba Peace Agreement. Moussa Faki Mahamat asserts, “It is not, in our opinion, a matter that can be postponed.” It is critical to engage in inclusive political dialogue aimed at restoring a civilian Transition to rebuild public services, meet the urgent needs of the population, and prepare the country for democratic, free, and fair elections, he said. He stated that the dialogue has the potential to be a powerful tool for consolidating the ceasefire and opposing its breach and violation. In the words of the IGAD Executive Secretary, “While disagreements over the reform of the security sector did provide the immediate trigger for the conflict, Sudan and the Sudanese need to address the systemic grievances that date back decades.”


Ethiopia at the forefront of the 76th World Health Assembly: Saving Lives, Driving Health for All

The 76th World Health Assembly was conducted in Geneva, Switzerland, from May 21–30, 2023, celebrating the 75th anniversary of the World Health Organization, its impact and multilateralism. Ethiopia was represented by the Minister of Health, Dr. Lia Tadesse, who led the delegation.

Dr. Lia Tadesse, addressing the assembly, emphasized that when health is at risk, everything is at risk and that we must demonstrate solidarity more than ever to elevate health as a global, regional, and national agenda. She also reiterated that the lessons learned from the current pandemic and other emerging public health issues are crucial in guiding future global partnerships for health security and expressed Ethiopia’s gratitude for the sacrificial and courageous deeds of the many healthcare workers who have been, still are, and will continue to serve on the front lines, saving lives.

Highlighting the progress made in Ethiopia and the challenges faced, the Minister stressed the need for adequate and sustainable health financing through government, domestic resources, and better aligned donor funds to maintain the gains and fill the gaps in our health systems to achieve universal health coverage and build resilience. She also held several bilateral meetings to discuss partnerships and collaboration in health and spoke at over 15 side events, sharing Ethiopia’s experiences.

The World Health Assembly was also marked by the endorsement of a new resolution put forward by Ethiopia and co-sponsored by over 80 member states. This resolution, titled Integrated emergency critical and operative care for universal health coverage and protection from health emergencies, aims to galvanize efforts for the provision of timely, high-quality, safe and integrated people centered service delivery across the life course for the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.

This resolution calls for coordinated action to inspire and catalyze timely additional efforts globally, to strengthen the planning and provision of Emergency Critical and Operative care services as part of universal health coverage so as to meet population health needs, improve health system resilience and ensure public health security.

Ethiopia, together with Malaysia, also hosted a side event to advocate for action in the implementation of the resolution (WHA 76.56) and invited stakeholders for increased partnership and cooperation to meet the mandates under the resolution. Ethiopia remains at the forefront of global health diplomacy and continues to work towards a healthy, productive, and prosperous society.


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