A Week in the Horn

20 Oct 2017

 

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Africa and the African Union

The Chairperson of the African Union (AU) Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat, condemned the terrorist attack that killed over 300 people in Mogadishu, Somalia on Sunday (October 15). He called on Somalia’s leadership to show renewed unity at this critical time and rebuild cohesion at all levels of the federal institutions. (See article)

A Special Session of AU Ministers of Foreign Affairs opened on Monday (October 16) in Addis Ababa at the African Union headquarters to discuss the AU’s positions in advance of the EU-AU Summit to be held in Abidjan from November 29-30. The meeting adopted the report prepared by the Committee of Permanent Members who met last week and identified priority projects for the two bodies during the period 2018-2022, including youth, migration, sustainable development and issues related to peace and security.

The Ministers of Water and Irrigation of Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt met on Wednesday (October 18) in Addis Ababa to discuss the studies on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam being carried out by two French firms. They are due to complete their work within two months. Dr Engineer Sileshi Bekele, said the visit would open the door for further mutual understanding and confidence building.

Poor rains, continued displacements of people, food insecurity, disease outbreaks, and other results of the prolonged drought in East Africa continue to be a challenge for the countries of the region and for their humanitarian partners. Oxfam’s latest report published on October 5, estimated the number of people currently affected by drought in the region to be 22.9 million, of whom 15 million were facing crisis and emergency food insecurity. (See article)

During Africa Week in New York, NEPAD held a “Building public health delivery systems that support Africa’s industrialization” event on Wednesday (October 18). NEPAD’s CEO Ibrahim Mayaki, called on Africa’s development partners to help address its health challenges. Pharmaceutical manufacturing and mining are among priority sectors in the AU’s program for Accelerated Industrial Development in Africa, and NEPAD has been facilitating the African Medicines Regulatory Harmonization Initiative as well as other projects. It is also investing in the fight against Tuberculosis and other Occupational Lung Diseases in the Mining Industry. Participants at the NEPAD event explored options for health financing; promotion of research and development and innovation on medical products and technologies including traditional medicines; local production of medical products and health technologies for stronger health care delivery systems.

Ethiopia assumed leadership of the Nile Basin Initiative (NBI) last week, taking over from Uganda. It will now chair both the Nile Council of Ministers and the Nile Technical Advisory Committee of the NBI for the next one year. The new chairman of the Nile Council of Ministers is Dr Engineer Sileshi Bekele, Minister of Water, Irrigation and Electricity. The next meeting, the 26th Annual Nile Council of Ministers Meeting, is scheduled to take place in Ethiopia next year. The 5th Biennial Nile Basin Development Forum will be hosted by Rwanda next week (October 23-25) and Rwanda will also host the Nile Media Awards ceremony on Monday (October 23).

The four-day Global Green Growth Week 2017 bringing together hundreds of ministers, investors and decision makers, opened in Addis Ababa on Tuesday (October 17) under the theme ‘Unlocking Africa’s Green Growth Potential’. It focused on a number of green growth topics, notably on mobilizing climate finance for bankable projects in developing countries; sustainably managing resources to address water and food security challenges; and developing and adopting policies that drive environmentally sustainable and socially inclusive economic growth. The [Global Green Growth] Institute has so far provided US$180 million support for Ethiopia. (See article)

A Letter of Intent to enable the AU and the Global Green Growth Institute to share the knowledge and skills of the Chinese company, Elion Resources Group, was signed on the sidelines of the Global Green Growth Meeting on Wednesday (October 18). The GGGI will work as intermediary to implement the agreement which covers efforts to minimize desertification. Ethiopia is one of the African countries that will benefit from the agreement.

 

Ethiopia

The 10th National Flag Day was celebrated on Monday (October 16) across Ethiopia. President Dr Mulatu Teshome stressed that the National Flag was a symbol of the liberty, strength, courage and unity of the Ethiopian nations and nationalities. The day was marked by the motto: “We have a clear vision and we are set for greater victory”. (See article)

President Dr Mulatu, speaking on World Food Day on Tuesday (October 17), highlighted efforts of the Ethiopian government in addressing root causes of migration by expanding rural industrial corridors, transforming the agricultural sector and accelerating rural development. The UN Food and Agricultural Organization representative in Ethiopia lauded government efforts and its commitment to addressing migration and reducing youth unemployment.

Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn expressed his deepest condolences to the government and people of Somalia following the bomb attack in Mogadishu, Somalia on Saturday (October 14). He extended heartfelt sympathy and deep condolences to the Government of Somalia, the bereaved families and those injured in the attack. (See article)

Briefing journalists on Monday (October 16), the Government Communications Affairs Office Minister, Dr Negeri Lencho, said over 100,000 people had been displaced from their homes following the conflict along the border between Oromia and Somali Regional States. A delegation of senior government officials led by Deputy Prime Minister Demeke Mekonnen visited the displaced citizens in Dire Dawa and Harar cities, as well as the Hamaresa and Babile shelters this week.

State Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mrs Hirut Zemene, received a copy of the credentials of Jassim al Saadi, Charge d’Affaires for the Omani Embassy in Ethiopia on Tuesday (October 18). The Charge underlined the importance the Government of Oman attaches to ties with Ethiopia and vowed to reinforce the ties between the two countries. State Minister Hirut emphasized the benefits Omani investors could gain from Ethiopia’s attractive investment schemes.

State Minister Hirut met with Ambassador Simeon Oyono Esono of Equatorial Guinea to Ethiopia on Wednesday (October 18). The State Minister described Ethio-Equatorial Guinea relations as deep-rooted and emphasized that it was time for the two countries’ bilateral relations to enter a new stage of mutually beneficial cooperative partnerships in the fields of trade, business and investment.

The Water and Irrigation Ministers of Egypt and Sudan paid a visit to the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam project on Tuesday (October 17) accompanied by Ethiopia’s Minister of Water, Irrigation and Electricity, Dr Sileshi Bekele. Guided by GERD project manager, Engineer Simegnew Bekele, the three ministers visited the ongoing activities at the project site in Guba, Benishangul-Gumuz Regional State. It is the first time the three ministers have made a joint visit to the site.

The UNHCR says that the continuing number of South Sudan refugees crossing into Ethiopia has now reached 380,818, with 85% of the new arrivals coming from Upper Nile State. Women and children continue to represent the majority of the refugees.

The Government on Thursday (October 19) gave a stern warning to traders who have been attempting to exploit the recently effective currency devaluation to increase the price of imported products. The Ethiopian Trade Practice and Consumers Protection Authority said some merchants had been trying to create artificial shortages to raise their profits.

 

Djibouti

Health Minister Djama Elmi Okieh accompanied a team of specialist doctors and paramedics in a military aircraft to assist the wounded in Mogadishu after the bomb attack there on Saturday (October 14).

 

Kenya

President Uhuru Kenyatta said this week he would not hold negotiations with the opposition. He said Kenyans should be allowed to vote in peace on October 26.

The Chairman of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission, Wafula Chebukati said on Wednesday (October 18) that divisions in the commission and pressures on the commission by the major parties made the possibility of holding credible elections next week difficult. He was speaking a few hours after commissioner Roselyn Akombe left the country and resigned.

 

Somalia

President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed declared three days of national mourning following the death of over 300 people and several hundred injured in a double truck bombing on Saturday (October 14) in Mogadishu. It was one of the most lethal terrorist attacks for many years and it was universally condemned. The two vehicles involved are believed to have blown up before reaching their intended target. Investigators believe this may have been the heavily defended compound where the United Nations, embassies and forces from the African Union are based. (See article)

Aid and assistance began to arrive within 48 hours. Turkey’s Health Minister, Ahmet Demircan, came with a plane load of medical supplies, medics and disaster experts on Monday (October 16). Planes from the United States, Kenya and Qatar with more medical supplies arrived the following day.

President Abdullahi announced this week that the government was launching a civil defense force after Saturday’s deadly bomb attack in Mogadishu. He said there would be US$14 million available to establish the force, and that government workers and civilians must register for involvement in it.

Ethiopia has sent 70 tons of medical aid to Somalia to support victims of the Saturday’s truck bomb in Mogadishu. Medics accompanied the aid to Mogadishu.

Ismael Mukhtar Omar, a Director in the Ministry of Information for Somalia, in his tweet praised the Ethiopian government for bringing medicines and health professionals to Somalia.

Mogadishu Mayor, Thabit Abdi, said on Thursday (October 19) that the Zoobe K5 junction in Mogadishu has been renamed October 14 Junction and a memorial wall in honour of the victims of the explosion will be built there. He said, “We are doing this because we don’t want to forget this tragedy, it’s part of our history”, adding, “The death of more than 300 in [one] go and some 400 injured and millions of dollars lost is not easy at all for our nation”.

Prime Minister Hassan Ali Kheyre said that the country was getting ready for war with al-Shabaab and called on Somali youth to “take their revenge” for the atrocity and show patriotism and unity. He was speaking on Thursday at the emergency operation center.

 

South Sudan

The UN Security Council held a briefing on South Sudan on Tuesday (October 17). Jean-Pierre Lacroix, the Under-Secretary-General of the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO), updated the Security Council on the deployment of the Regional Protection Force. The Rwandan infantry battalion will complete deployment in November and the advance party of the Ethiopian battalion has started arriving in Juba and its deployment is expected to be completed by 20 October. (See article)

The IGAD Council of Ministers, chaired by Ethiopia’s Foreign Minister, Dr Workneh Gebeyehu, met with President Salva Kiir at the end of last week to brief him on the outcome of their meetings with representatives of the South Sudan Transitional Government of National Unity and their consultations with oppositions groups, in preparation for the forthcoming IGAD High-Level Revitalization Forum. (See article)

The presidential adviser on security affairs, Tut Kew Gatluak, told Sudan Tribune this week that the South Sudan government had now accepted in principle to participate in the High-Level Revitalization Forum because issues had been clarified. He said IGAD foreign ministers had explained that revitalization was not renegotiation and not a complete peace talks; and the form of consultation would be through the transitional government of national unity. (See article)

David Shearer, the head of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan, on October 18, pledged to support the revitalization of the peace process, commending President Salva Kiir and his administration for accepting to participate in the process without conditions. Shearer made these remarks during a meeting with the South Sudanese leader in the capital, Juba. Also in attendance was the UNMISS deputy head and Resident Coordinator Alain Noudehou.

The Government ratified the Maputo Protocol on Wednesday, this week (October 18). The Protocol guarantees comprehensive rights to women, including the right to take part in the political process and protection against the practice of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). The Committee for Gender, Child and Social Welfare and Religious Affairs of the transitional assembly welcomed the move underlining the importance of the Protocol in the fight against gender inequality in the war-torn country.

 

Sudan

Sudan and United Kingdom on Tuesday (October 18) agreed to increase counter-terrorism cooperation, including information exchanges and to fight human trafficking and illegal migration. The two countries concluded the fourth meeting of the biannual UK-Sudan Strategic Dialogue which was hosted by the British government in London, co-chaired by Sudan’s Undersecretary for Foreign Affairs Abdel Ghani al-Naim, and Neil Wigan, Director for Africa at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office of the United Kingdom.

Ambassador Teshome Toga, Ambassador of Ethiopia to the Benelux and Baltic countries and to the European Union, holds the chair of the Khartoum Process this year. Ethiopia has designated 2017 a Year of Implementation, and the Process produced its first newsletter this month. (See article)

Last month a new report was produced on “Human Smuggling and Trafficking in Eastern Sudan”, underlining the problems facing any effort to control both human trafficking and smuggling of migrants along the Sudan/Eritrean border. (See article)

 

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The 10th National Flag Day celebrated across the country

Ethiopians at home and abroad celebrated the 10th National Flag Day on Monday (October 17), hoisting the National Flag at schools, government offices and non-government institutions as well as at all Ethiopian missions abroad. The 10th National Flag Day was held under the motto: “We have a clear vision and we are set for greater victory”. In Addis Ababa, the day was colorfully observed at the national stadium in the presence of high-level government officials including the Deputy Speaker of the House of People’s Representatives, Shitaye Minale and the Chief of Staff of the Ethiopian National Defense Forces, General Samora Yenus. With its blue and gold star emblem surmounting the horizontal tri-color of green, yellow and red, Ethiopia’s flag flew high all day on Monday.

The Guest of honor at the event, President Dr Mulatu Teshome said on the occasion that the National Flag was a symbol of the liberty, strength, courage and unity of the Ethiopian nations and nationalities. Having devised ambitious development plans, the nation has, for the past decade, been striving with sense of urgency to defeat poverty, the president said. Besides placing it among the fastest growing nations globally, the remarkable economic progress it registered in this time had won it international recognition and acclaim. President Mulatu underlined that: “A flag for us Ethiopians has a special meaning. Our flag is emblem of our freedom and sovereignty which we kept intact through generations. It’s also the symbol of our democratic unity.” He said the efforts made by the government to beat poverty by designing Growth and Transformation Plan had brought about remarkable results in the economic, political and diplomatic sectors. However, he said, challenges had emerged over the past two years, among which must be included corruption. It was in response to this that the government had conducted a renewal program and was taking corrective measures. He called on all Ethiopians to contribute their efforts to the success of the government’s efforts.

The Deputy Speaker of the House of People’s Representatives, Shitaye Minale, said the nations, nationalities and people of Ethiopia were able to build a federal system founded on equality and their will. This helped the relations and unity of nations and nationalists to deepen, Ethiopia’s recognition to increase and Ethiopia’s flag to be lifted up globally. Proud Ethiopians across the country sang and cheered for the love of their flag and the country’s Flag Day. The nation-wide Flag Day was attended by senior officials, Addis Ababa-based diplomats and members of the army and police. Thousands of people from different walks of life around the country also participated in the colorful events.

The current national flag of Ethiopia was adopted on 31 October 1996. It conforms to the specifications set forth in Article 3 of the 1995 Constitution of Ethiopia. The three traditional colors of green, yellow and red date back to King Iyasu V (1913-1916), though the current flag and emblem were adopted after the defeat of Ethiopia’s Marxist Derg regime (1974 to 1991). The emblem, a blue star with golden rays, is intended to represent both the diversity and unity of the country – blue represents peace, the star represents diversity and unity, and the sun’s rays symbolize prosperity.

During the Scramble for Africa, Ethiopia was one of only two African countries to retain its independence and was one of only four African members of the League of Nations. After a brief period of Italian occupation during World War II, Ethiopia became a charter member of the United Nations. Many African countries adopted the colors of the Ethiopian emblem on their own flags when they achieved independence. Green, yellow and red along with black, became known as the Pan-African colors.

 

Ethiopia hosts Global Green Growth Week Conference

The Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI) held its “Global Green Growth Week 2017: Unlocking Africa’s Green Growth Potential” (GGGWeek2017), this week (October 17-20), at the United Nations Conference Centre, in Addis Ababa.

With Ethiopia co-hosting with the Global Green Growth Institute, GGG Week 2017 brought together GGGI members, stakeholders from the public and private sectors, international organizations and civil society, aiming to strengthen and catalyse green growth in Africa and globally, in order to achieve Nationally Determined Contributions to the Paris Agreement and make progress on the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals. The conference addressed a number of key topics, including: mobilizing green climate finance to bankable projects in developing countries; sustainably managing resources to address water and food security challenges; and developing and adopting policies that drive environmentally sustainable and socially inclusive economic growth.

In his welcoming speech at the opening ceremony Dr Gemedo Dalle, Ethiopia’s Minister of Environment, Forest, and Climate Change, said Ethiopia, like other countries affected by the changing climate, needed to forge coalitions with different players to build resilience towards sustainable growth. “Involving the private sector plays a very important role if we are to meet the national and international long-term targets”, the Minister said. He added: “I believe private public partnerships will be critical in meeting the sustainable development goals and my country remains committed to encouraging and also closely working with the private sector.” Dr Gemedo also highlighted Ethiopia’s significant efforts towards meeting the Sustainable Development Goals, noting that Ethiopia was implementing its Climate Resilient Green Economy Strategy, and joining the Partnering for Green Growth and the Global Goals 2030 (P4G), launched last month, will be part of the efforts to achieving its green economy national agenda.

Dr Gemedo Dalle emphasized that Ethiopia has also taken practical actions with regard to implementing its Climate-Resilient Green Economy through policy formulations, institutional strengthening and program development and delivery. The strategy is a central element in the country’s five-year Growth and Transformation Plan and will contribute largely to Ethiopia’s goal of reaching middle income status by 2025. It would do this while also reducing emissions by 64% by 2025 compared to 2010 levels. The strategy recognizes that achieving growth through conventional development paths would result in dramatically increased carbon emissions and unsustainable use of natural resources. As Dr Gemedo made clear: “Fighting the adverse impacts of climate change needs collaboration and coordinated actions.” Ethiopia’s four pillars for its CRGE’s are: improving crop and livestock production practices for higher food security and farmer income, while reducing emissions; protecting and re-establishing forests for their economic and ecosystem services, including carbon stocks; expanding electricity from renewable sources of energy for domestic and regional markets; and using modern and energy-efficient technologies in transport, industrial sectors, and buildings.

Dr Gemedo Dalle reiterated that Ethiopia had put in place a monitoring and evaluation framework, an institutional coordination mechanism, and an inter-ministerial committee to coordinate the various implementation activities of sector ministries to achieve the CRGE strategy. The agricultural sector was an example, he said, focusing on rehabilitating degraded land to increase sustainable production and productivity. Dr Gemedo said: “The focus of green growth strategies is to ensure that natural resources can deliver their full economic potential in a sustainable manner.” He explained that Ethiopia had succeeded in absorbing 5.5 million tons of carbon dioxide by developing its forestry, and noted implementation of policies and strategies related to the green economy had helped Ethiopia to host the Global Green Growth Week 2017 Conference.

A joint statement by Dr Gemedo Dalle and by the Global Green Growth Institute’s Director-General, Dr Frank Rijsberman, underlined the progress made by Ethiopia and its leading role in establishing a green economy was part of the criteria for choosing Ethiopia as this year’s co-host. Dr Frank Rijsberman appreciated Ethiopia’s efforts to expand its hydro-electric power production as a means of energy source which contributes less carbon emission to the environment. The Director-General stated his organization was working to bring green finance to Ethiopia. Dr Rijsberman explained that Ethiopia would receive US$45 million from the Global Climate Fund to enhance irrigation as well as contribute another US$5million. He said this was a project which was “set to benefit 330,000 people directly and nearly 1 million people indirectly.”

 

Continued drought in the Horn still pushing millions to the edge of crisis

Poor rains, continued displacements of people, food insecurity, disease outbreaks, and other results of the prolonged drought in East Africa continue to be a challenge for the countries of the region and for their humanitarian partners. Oxfam’s latest report published on October 5, estimated the number of people currently affected by drought in the region to be 22.9 million, of whom 15 million were facing crisis and emergency food insecurity, as well as 84,575 cases of Acute Watery Diarrhea, with over 1,500 associated deaths. A little earlier, an UNOCHA report found 5.4 million children were projected to be acutely malnourished in the region as a result of the situation. As the Famine Early Warning System Network reported in August, some areas have had persistent and heavy rains, above average in eastern Sudan, western Ethiopia, and northeastern South Sudan. This has resulted in favorable agricultural conditions, though also threatening flooding in the flood-prone areas of the western and eastern lowlands of Sudan. Average to above-average rainfall extended into Yemen, southern Eritrea, northern South Sudan, Uganda, and western Kenya. Continued rains could reduce the impact of Fall Armyworm. Rainfall was below average in Afar and parts of Tigray Regional States in northern Ethiopia as well as in parts of southwestern South Sudan and northern Uganda.

Oxfam noted there were 14.3 million food-insecure people across Ethiopia, Somalia and Kenya. In Ethiopia, some crops planted in June/July wilted in parts of Amhara, Oromia, Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples’ Region (SNNP) and Tigray Regional States because of late and erratic summer rains. Improved rains in August provided an opportunity to re-plant in some areas, before the planting window closed mid-September. Late and erratic rains, coupled with the ongoing Fall Armyworm infestation, is expected to lead to a significantly reduced harvest in October/November.

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in its Horn of Africa Humanitarian Impacts of Drought report last month noted that flash floods following heavy rains at the end of August had contributed to the displacement of more than 13,400 people in four districts of Gambella Regional State. The National Flood Task Force prepared response plans for at least 100,000 people at risk of displacement by flash floods along the Awash River basin during the month.

The UNOCHA report for mid-October highlighted the “National Integrated Food-Cash Relief Plan” inaugurated earlier in the month in Ethiopia in an effort to streamline the humanitarian response in line with the new approach to food/cash relief assistance. The Government and partners are developing a ‘Status Update’, highlighting all outstanding 2017 Humanitarian Requirements Document Mid-Year Review against revised sector requirements to address new needs since August. These include the increase in internally displaced people; deterioration of the nutrition situation necessitating the introduction of Blanket Supplementary Feeding Program in 45 critically drought-affected districts in seven zones of the Somali Regional State; reports of crop failure in eastern Amhara, many parts of Oromia and SNNP Regional States; and funding for the prevention and control of Fall Armyworm infestation.

The Plan was released on October 5, in an effort to align ongoing humanitarian responses with the new approach to food/cash relief assistance and planned increase of cash-based assistance where markets allow. It represents an integrated and prioritized approach to delivering relief food and cash to the 8.5 million relief beneficiaries identified in the Humanitarian Requirements Document – Mid-Year Review. It will also benefit the 4 million ‘public works clients’ of the six-months (January-June) Productive Safety Net Program who have been identified as needing further assistance to the end of the year. The Plan allows eight relief food rounds for 2017; full pulse rations for all beneficiaries depending on stock availability; increased proportion of the planned cash-based assistance; and provision of nutritional support. These interventions will also prioritize children under-5 and pregnant and lactating women.

Updates and revisions will adjust the overall Humanitarian Requirements Document but the strategic objectives and other contents of the Mid-Year Review remain the same, providing a common plan and implementation framework to address humanitarian needs in Ethiopia in 2017. In an interview on Tuesday, the Commissioner of National Disaster Risk Management Commission, Mitiku Kassa, said the country had been able to build up its national efforts to mitigate the drought crisis, increasing its own capacity to address humanitarian situations caused by different emergency situations. The Commissioner said Ethiopia in partnership with international relief agencies had managed to contain the number of affected households. He also noted the Rural Development Policy and Strategy, which encouraged farmers to build reservoirs and provide moisture retention, had helped people to be resilient to the drought.

 

Security Council meeting on South Sudan…..

The Security Council held another meeting on the situation in South Sudan on Tuesday (October 17). Under-Secretary-General Jean-Pierre Lacroix, in a briefing, said the deployment of the Regional Protection Force was underway in line with the revised timeline and noted the UN’s continued engagement with the government in expediting the full deployment.

With regard to the IGAD High-Level Revitalization Forum, Mr Lacroix informed the Council that IGAD had begun consultations and held meetings with opposition figures, including Riek Machar in South Africa. The IGAD Council of Ministers had also met with President Salva Kiir and his cabinet on October 13 and, he said, the President had reportedly committed to supporting the Forum. Mr Lacroix emphasized the importance of the IGAD initiative and urged Council members to use their leverage on all parties to engage in the process meaningfully and without any preconditions. He stressed that the IGAD Revitalization Forum provided an ideal opportunity for South Sudanese leaders to end the conflict and bring the country back from “the impending abyss.” He urged the Security Council to speak firmly in this regard as it was, he said, critical that the leaders of South Sudan heard and understood the unified demand of the international community of what is expected of them.

The Permanent Representative of Ethiopia to the UN, Ambassador Tekeda Alemu, in his remarks said the lack of meaningful progress in the implementation of the 2015 Peace Agreement had further exacerbated the dire situation in South Sudan. The Peace Agreement, Ambassador Tekeda stressed, was the only viable way forward to bring an end to the conflict and restore peace and stability to South Sudan. In this regard, he underlined, the success of the IGAD High-level Revitalization Forum became all the more crucial.

Highlighting the substantive progress made towards the convening of the High-Level Forum, he emphasized the successful consultations the IGAD Council of Ministers had undertaken with the parties to the Peace Agreement and estranged groups as part of the Pre-Forum Consultations in preparation for the High-Level Revitalization Forum. One success of their discussions, he said, was that all the parties consulted expressed their support to the Revitalization Forum and the cessation of hostilities. IGAD would be holding a summit, he told the Council, to take stock of the outcome of the series of consultations and to provide directions for the launch of the High-Level Revitalization Forum itself.

Ambassador Tekeda emphasized that the support of the international community, particularly that of the Security Council, was absolutely critical to the effectiveness of the revitalization agenda. Stressing the fact that IGAD countries were fully united behind the High-Level Forum’s Agenda, he said the “Council has no reason for not being fully behind this effort and without caveats.” Indeed, he said, the progress for the High-Level Forum would not have progressed the way it had without the UN, the AU and IGAD working in close consultations and cooperation. He commended all three organizations for maintaining their unity of purpose in the search for lasting peace, security and stability in South Sudan.

Ambassador Tekeda said the fact that all the Parties had expressed their commitment to the Revitalization Forum and the cessation of hostilities was particularly encouraging. The success of the revitalization process, as well as responding to the enormous challenges South Sudan was facing, would depend greatly on the willingness of all the parties, he said. He expressed the hope that all the parties would seize the opportunity and work towards a successful achievement of the purposes of the revitalization agenda. Ambassador Tekeda also reiterated the commitment of the troop-contributing countries, which include Ethiopia, to the deployment as well as the rationale of the Rapid Protection Force.

The Permanent Representative of South Sudan to the UN, Ambassador Akuei Bona Malwal, also addressed the Council, underlining the recommitment of the Transitional Government of National Unity to the High-Level Revitalization Forum and to the full implementation of the Peace Agreement. One of the objectives of the Revitalization Forum, he stressed, was to accommodate any group that was currently outside the Peace Agreement, and the Transitional Government was open to the involvement in the Peace Agreement of all groups who denounced violence. The establishment of permanent peace and security was paramount to unity among the people of South Sudan, Ambassador Malwal reiterated that the Transitional Government would continue to welcome the deployment of the Regional Protection Force.

 

…. and Revitalization: making positive and constructive progress

The IGAD Assembly of Heads of State and Government decided inter alia in June to revitalize the Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan (ARCSS) and entrusted the mandate for this to the IGAD Council of Ministers. The Ministers were tasked “to discuss concrete measures to restore a permanent ceasefire, to full implementation of the peace agreement, and to develop a revised and realistic timeline and implementation schedule towards a democratic election at the end of the transition period.” The IGAD Leaders also appointed a Special Envoy for South Sudan, Ambassador Ismail Wais, to help the Chairperson of the IGAD Council of Ministers and consult widely prior to the convening of High-Level Revitalization Forum. Over the last two months, Ambassador Wais, in accordance with his mandate, and in collaboration with the Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Committee, the Ceasefire and Transitional Security Arrangements Monitoring Mechanism, the UN Mission in South Sudan and Nicholas Haysom, Special Envoy of the UN Secretary General to Sudan and South Sudan, has been engaged over the last two months in the mapping of potential participants for the High-Level Revitalization Forum (HLRF).

As part of the agreed timetable for the HLRF, the Ministers of Sudan, Uganda, Kenya and Ethiopia as well as the state ministers from Djibouti and Somalia, met to review reports on the progress together with the IGAD Special Envoy to South Sudan and the African Union Higher Commission for Assessment and Evaluation at the end of last week, on Friday (October 13). They also met with representatives of the South Sudan Transitional Government of National Unity and reviewed with them the preparations and the consultations currently underway for the Forum and the views of the Government of South Sudan.

Following these consultations, the IGAD Council of Ministers under the chairmanship of Ethiopia’s Foreign Minister, Dr Workneh Gebeyehu, met with President Salva Kiir and briefed him on the outcome of their consultations with opposition leaders who had expressed willingness to take part in the process. President Kiir welcomed the IGAD delegation and the IGAD efforts to achieve peace in South Sudan.

IGAD’S series of consultations included meetings with SPLM-IO leader, Riek Machar, with Lam Akol, General Peter Gadet, General Bapiny Montuil and Costello Garang. IGAD described these meetings as “constructive”. A member of the Dinka Council of Elders welcomed the Revitalization Forum, pointing out that it was time to engage in order to identify the “unifying and inclusive issues” rather than the “dividing and exclusive” ones.

Earlier, Ambassador Wais noted that the purpose of the pre-Forum consultation phase was to seek a broad range of views on the way to conduct of the High-Level Revitalization Forum and the pursuit of its three key objectives: “cessation of hostilities and a permanent ceasefire, return to the full implementation of the Agreement, and development of a revised realistic timeline and implementation schedule towards a democratic election at the end of the transition period.” On Tuesday this week (October17), Ambassador Wais said: “These consultations have all been positive and constructive and I wish to thank each and every one of the participants for their commitment, engagement and thoughtful contributions.”

An IGAD statement disclosed that, over the next few weeks, the IGAD Special Envoy’s Taskforce would consider the outcome of the various consultation meetings, including consideration of various written contributions made to the Taskforce. It would then develop options and recommendations for the revitalization process. Once this process was complete, the IGAD Council of Ministers will convene a meeting to consider the various recommendations and options, and then choose the date, location, attendance and draft agenda for the High-Level Revitalization Forum.

 

The worst single explosion in Mogadishu’s history

When a double truck bombing shattered the night in Mogadishu on Saturday (October 14), rescue workers began the search for survivors, picking through burned-out cars and looking for bodies in a collapsed hotel. It was only the next day that the magnitude of the latest attack became clear, with the death toll rising steadily. On Monday, the information minister announced that 276 people had died in the attack with at least 300 people injured, but within [hours] the director of the Amin ambulance service was confirming that 300 people had died. The final number will be higher as others are still missing. In addition to the deaths, hundreds have been injured, some seriously. The numbers of dead and injured makes this attack, which involved a truck packed with several hundred kilograms of military-grade and homemade explosives, one of the most lethal terrorist acts anywhere in the world for many years. Perhaps because of the scale of the atrocity and the numbers of innocent civilians who died, no one claimed immediate responsibility, but it had all the hallmarks of an al-Shabaab operation.

President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed declared three days of national mourning and joined thousands of people who responded to a plea by hospitals to donate blood for the wounded. “I am appealing to all Somali people to come forward and donate blood,” he said. The bombing provoked international condemnation and condolence messages poured into Mogadishu. On Wednesday, marking the end of three days national mourning, President Abdullahi issued a stern warning to al-Shabaab. In a defiant message, he said his government would avenge the Saturday attack. He said: “This attack reminds us that we did not respond accordingly in the past. This time around, we will respond decisively.” He called on the country’s youth to “Stand up for your mothers, your sisters and brothers and defend your religion”, adding “Uniting against al-Shabaab is not optional. We can only win the war against them if we stand united. If we do not respond effectively they will continue with these attacks.”

Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn of Ethiopia extended his heartfelt sympathy and deepest condolences to the Government of the Federal Republic of Somali, the bereaved families and those injured in the attack on behalf of the people and Government of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia and of himself. He also said the tragedy was an unhappy reminder that the war on terror was not yet over and that radical terrorist organizations still continued to pose a threat to Somalia and to the region at large. Foreign Minister Dr Workneh Gebeyehu, also sent a message of condolence to his Somali Counterpart Yusuf Garaad Omar, reaffirming the commitment of the Ethiopian Government to further strengthen their common fight against terrorism and extremism in the region. He reiterated Ethiopia’s unwavering determination to stand with the people and Government of Somalia in this fight.

Moussa Faki Mahamat, Chairperson of the African Union Commission, unreservedly condemned the attack. Conveying the African Union’s solidarity with the Government and people of Somalia, in this particularly challenging situation, the Chairperson expressed his heartfelt condolences to the families of the victims and wished a speedy recovery to the injured. He called on Somalia’s leadership to show renewed unity at this critical time and rebuild cohesion at all levels of the federal institutions. The Chairperson said such cohesion was a prerequisite for fulfilling the aspirations of the Somali people for lasting peace, security and reconciliation. He reaffirmed the commitment of the African Union, through the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), to continue its support to the Somali government and people in their efforts to achieve sustainable peace and security. Chairperson Mahamat reiterated his appeal to the international community to renew its commitment to ensure more coordinated and robust international support to Somalia’s institutions in their struggle to defeat terrorist groups.

The Special Representative of the Chairperson of the African Union Commission for Somalia, Ambassador Francisco Madeira, who commiserated with the families who lost their loved ones and wished a quick recovery to the injured. strongly condemned the attack referring to it as a barbaric and cowardly act intended to deter progress being made by hardworking Somalis to stabilize their country. He said it was this “strength and resilience of the great people of Somalia that will contain and defeat al-Shabaab and continue to pave the way for the rebuilding of the country. We should”, he said, “together transform this tragic attack into renewed strength and resolve to continue working to restore peace and stability in Somalia”. Ambassador Madeira reiterated the commitment of AMISOM to stand by the people of Somalia and the Somali National Security Forces.

The UN special envoy to Somalia, Michael Keating, called the attack “revolting” emphasized that “Such cowardly attacks” would only reinvigorate the commitment of the United States to assist our Somali and African Union partners to combat the scourge of terrorism.” The United States condemned the bombing, saying “such cowardly attacks reinvigorate the commitment of the United States to assist our Somali and African Union partners to combat the scourge of terrorism.” Elsewhere messages of support and condolence poured into Mogadishu. The lights of the Eiffel Tower, one of the most iconic and recognizable landmarks in the world, were switched off on Monday evening in solidarity with the people killed in the attack.

The members of the United Nations Security Council also expressed their deepest sympathy and condolences to the families of the victims, as well as to the people and Government of Somalia.

The Security Council wished a speedy recovery to those injured and commended the swift response of Somalia’s security and the rescue workers. The Security Council said terrorism in all its forms and manifestations constituted one of the most serious threats to international peace and security, and its members highlighted the need to bring the perpetrators, organizers, financiers and sponsors of all such reprehensible acts of terrorism to justice.

The Security Council urged all States, in accordance with their obligations under international law and relevant Security Council resolutions, to cooperate actively with the Government of Somalia and all other relevant authorities in this regard. It said any acts of terrorism were criminal and unjustifiable, regardless of their motivation, wherever, whenever and by whomsoever committed. It underlined the need for all States to respond, by all means and in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations and other obligations under international law, including international human rights law, international refugee law and international humanitarian law, to any threats to international peace and security caused by terrorist attacks. The members of the Security Council paid tribute to all those Somali and international actors working to bring peace and stability in Somalia, and praised their determination to support peace, stability and development in Somalia.  Neither this nor any other atrocity would affect this determination.

 

The Khartoum Process produces its first newsletter…

The EU-Horn of Africa Migration Route Initiative, the Khartoum Process, was established in 2014, following a meeting in Rome in November 2013 comprising 31 EU member states and 8 African [states]. The aim was to provide a dialogue for enhanced cooperation on migration and mobility, implementing concrete projects to address human trafficking and smuggling and criminal networks, expanding regional collaboration between countries of origin, transit and destination on the route between the Horn of Africa and the European Union.

The Khartoum Process aims to harmonize existing African Union policies as provided in the AU Migration Policy Framework for Africa, the Ouagadougou Action Plan, the AU Commission Initiative against Trafficking, the EU’s Global Approach to Migration and Mobility, its Strategy towards the Eradication of Trafficking in Human Beings, and the EU-Africa Action Plan on Migration and Mobility 2014-2017. The Valletta Summit on Migration in November 2015 mandated the Khartoum Process to monitor the implementation of the initiatives and actions under the Valletta Action Plan for the period 2016-2018.

The activities of the Process have seen efforts concentrated on developing cooperation between countries of origin, transit and destination through initiatives concerning technical assistance, training and exchange of information and of best practices; assisting in the implementation of preventive measures; strengthening coordination to tackle human trafficking and smuggling of migrants; identifying and prosecuting criminal networks; setting up and strengthening legal frameworks; supporting victims and sustainable development in transit and origin countries; assisting the setting up of reception centers; and developing a regional framework to facilitate the return of migrants.

This year, Ethiopia has been the chair of the Khartoum Process and it designated 2017 a Year of Implementation. The Process produced its first newsletter this month. The newsletter provides the latest information on activities and projects within the process and the way the Khartoum Process has been facilitating dialogue between Africa and the EU on migration. It notes the successful meeting at Senior Official level in Addis Ababa in April this year, and the thematic meeting in Berlin on international protection in May. There was another successful thematic meeting in London in July on human trafficking and smuggling, with emphasis on border management. Another meeting will be held soon in Khartoum to discuss root causes of migration, with a focus on job creation and remittances. The chair and the secretariat have undertaken a number of follow-up activities, particularly implementation of projects financed by EU Emergency Trust Fund.

In his foreword, Ambassador Teshome Toga, Ambassador of Ethiopia to the Benelux and Baltic countries and to the European Union, as this year’s chair, also considers how much has been done in terms of curbing irregular migration and associated tragedies. He notes the fact that migration, refugees and IDPs remain significant challenges and now have caught the attention of the international community and humanity at large. He stressed the Khartoum process should remain “very active” in the global migration and refugee compact. He underlined Ethiopia’s position that efforts should be geared to addressing “the push factors”, arguing that opening avenues for legal migration could discourage those who would otherwise go for illegal routes. Ambassador Teshome said collective efforts to fight the criminals involved in human trafficking and smuggling should be enhanced, and he further underlined the need to take seriously the concepts of return and reintegration emphasized at Valletta.

 

…and a report on “Human Smuggling and Trafficking in Eastern Sudan”

Last month a new report on “Human Smuggling and Trafficking in Eastern Sudan”, underlined the problems facing any effort to control both human trafficking and smuggling of migrants along the Sudan/Eritrean border. Authored by Dr Hassan A. Abdel Ati, Director of EDGE for Consultancy & Research, the report concluded that East Sudan provided an easy escape zone for refugees fleeing poverty, drought, insecurity or human rights violations. It identified the size of the problem: “available figures estimate a daily rate of about 120 refugees crossing into Sudan just from Eritrea,” that is just under 44,000 for a year. Figures, of course, vary according to the situation in Eritrea; in 2009, for example, IRIN was reporting that 1,800 Eritrean asylum seekers were reaching Sudan each month, some 22,600, a year; similar figures and even higher from Eritrea were being reported in Ethiopia a year or two later. These figures, the report argues, mean that UN support to Sudan is insufficient either to support the refugees or to control the armed gangs involved in trafficking or smuggling. Until recently, this meant many who reached the refugee camps in eastern Sudan were encouraged to try and move on to northern Africa or further abroad as soon as possible. Now, however, because of the Khartoum Process and other developments in EU policy, this is changing. The report says increasing numbers of refugees will now stay in Sudan. This is something the Sudan cannot afford, not least because of the huge number of refugees it already accommodates in eastern Sudan, it will lead to new problems for the country.

The report explains the differences between human trafficking, (involuntary) and human smuggling (voluntary) and the way those involved are treated. It distinguishes firmly between the largely voluntary choice of smuggling as a means of escape from Eritrea and the involuntary and exploitive nature of trafficking; and between the economic drivers of flight and the non-economic reasons. Among the latter, it identifies environmental conditions, socio-cultural factors, ethnic or religious discrimination, and political factors including bad governance, compulsory conscription, human rights violation, lack of freedom and ethnic and religious discrimination. It also identifies tensions between countries, tribes, and ethnic groups that contributed to an “environment” in which groups seen as “undesirable” feel forced to flee for their safety. These include Eritrean opposition groups suffering from regime practices of ethnic cleansing against Muslims, against tribes of Ethiopian origin, and minority groups, like the Kunama, forcing people to flee into the Sudan. The report underlines the role of the compulsory draft of Eritrean youth into unending national service as a major driver for the decision to leave Eritrea.

While inter-governmental tensions affect the migration routes used, with increased tension along the Eritrean-Ethiopian border, for example, increasing the number crossing into Sudan, with some peoples living on both sides of the border, the incentive for cross-border activity remains high. It allows opportunities for smugglers and traffickers to build networks and secure protection. Eritrea has shown little capacity or appetite to assist Sudan in stopping migration and the failure of the Eritrean authorities to protect, or inquire about the fate of refugees, has exacerbated smuggling and trafficking and hindered the international community’s ability to respond to such activities. Eritreans in the Diaspora have also encouraged smuggling, paying brokers to smuggle family members out of Eritrea. The problems have been compounded by the spread of small arms in the region, particularly after the Eritrean-Ethiopian war when many Eritrean soldiers crossed into Sudan and sold their weapons to survive. Equally, Sudan failed to demobilize and disarm former combatants of the Eastern Front after 2006, allowing tribal militias to retain their weapons.

The report gives details of the current routes of smugglers and traffickers. It notes transportation costs from within Eritrea and Ethiopia into Sudan and to Libya, Egypt and Israel, and across the sea; it gives the destinations of those leaving, profiles selected human traffickers, ex-traffickers, and trafficking facilitators; and provides testimony of smuggled and trafficked individuals. It confirms the involvement of security personnel with smugglers and traffickers. It also argues that telecommunication companies contribute to the problem of human smuggling and trafficking by allowing easy communication and cash transfers between smuggling networks and the use of unregistered and easy to change SIM cards.

The report gives examples of the Sudan government’s efforts to combat human trafficking. Sudan hosted the AU’s first Regional Conference on Human Trafficking and Smuggling from the Horn of Africa in Khartoum, in October 2014 which adopted a declaration of intent to combat human smuggling and trafficking, a plan of action and terms of reference for a regional committee for implementation. It acceded to the UN Anti-Trafficking Protocol and established a National Committee for Combating Human Trafficking to coordinate anti-trafficking efforts, putting in place a five-year “National Anti-Human Trafficking Strategy,” to build up judiciary and police capacity, as well as raise awareness among CSOs, youth, students and others. Sudan also set up a special court in the state of Kassala, where most trafficking crimes occur; operations last year led to the release of 850 trafficking victims.

The report questions the effectiveness of the EU strategy to stem the flow of irregular migrants and refugees, partly because its policies fail to provide “pathways for people to come to the EU legally”. There is evidence that deterrence strategies are not only ineffective but also force people “to take longer and more dangerous routes” to reach Europe. The EU ignores the very important, non-economic drivers of migrant flows. It should make adjustments to its governance and economic development policies and should think again over whether its proposals of aid to Eritrea will provide for decreased migration. Political motivation not poverty is the main reason why most Eritrean refugees taking flight, and as a result: “In Eritrea, the only viable solution (no matter how remote) to the refugee problem is essentially political.” This must be the main driver for developing effective policies and actions towards Eritrea. Unless this is addressed, the report says, the flow of refugees from Eritrea will continue, so will smuggling and trafficking.

So, the report identifies two major concerns. At one level, it sees no likelihood of any diminution of the refugee flows from Eritrea; at another, it is concerned that EU policies will prevent the refugees from leaving Sudan, and Sudan, the report says, is ill-equipped to deal with a continual increase in refugee numbers. It, therefore, calls on the UNHCR to improve its support to Sudan, help to provide reliable protection, shelter, food and basic services to refugees and, in collaboration with Government authorities and donors, devise mechanisms where refugees can support themselves by utilizing their own capacities. It calls for assistance to refugee host communities through economic development projects, services and awareness programs and other mechanisms that promote peaceful co-existence and refugee protection. The Sudan government, it says, should also build regional cooperation and coordination, strengthen responses to human trafficking and provide alternative livelihood sources for border communities.

In fact, the international community needs to link humanitarian activities for refugees to long-term growth-oriented development aid and investment strategies in Sudan’s eastern states. They should establish well-equipped reception centers for asylum seekers; improve security conditions, services and the general environment in refugee camps; take measures to speed up the processing of asylum application papers; design and implement more effective medium- and short-term social programs to influence local attitudes, not just “urban workshops” and “hit and run” visits; and support refugee host communities through economic development projects as well as engage with local CSOs as partners.

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