‘A Week in the Horn’ weekly online bulletin is just out. (7/4/2017)

This week’s edition include topics:

  • President Omar Al-Bashir makes a three-day official visit to Ethiopia
  • Conclusion of the 6th-anniversary celebrations of the start of GERD construction
  • Prime Minister Hailemariam in Tanzania
  • Dr. Workneh presents Foreign Ministry’s performance report to Parliament
  • Diaspora Forum considers repatriation from Saudi Arabia and other issues
  • Response to drought gears up but food security worries grow
  • UNSC briefed on developments in Darfur and UNAMID’s role
  • US announces further sanctions on Eritrea

News in Brief

Africa and the African Union

Concerns are growing that drought conditions are becoming worse, particularly in South Sudan and Somalia. There are fears that the March-to-May rainy season is providing below average or delayed rainfall and that the availability of food security and water is worsening across the region. Pastoralists and agro-pastoralists remain among the most affected. (See article)

Germany’s Economic Cooperation and Development Minister, Gerd Müller, during a visit to the Horn of Africa this week announced his ministry will be providing another 100 million euros of drought support, bringing the total amount provided to the region this year by the German Development Ministry to 300 million euros.

US Representative Karen Bass (D-Ca.) hosted an event on Tuesday (April 4) on Capitol Hill to call for action to prevent a looming humanitarian disaster in parts of Africa. She said the United States needs to get off the sidelines and lead an international effort to help the estimated 20 million people in Africa and Yemen who are threatened with food insecurity. This, she said, was the beginning of a campaign. Congresswoman Bass has proposed a bill that would increase emergency funding by USAID by $100 million to deal with food shortages and famine in South Sudan.

The Director for East Africa Division of Germany, Dr. Ralf-Mathias Mohs, signed a grant agreement for 36 million Euros on Friday last week (March 31) with IGADs’ Executive Secretary to provide support for the strengthening of responses to drought migration. This will strengthen IGAD’s coordination role in migration policy, management coordination and its facilitation role to promote both comprehensive regional cooperation on migration routes and effective cross-border cooperation among the member states.

Ethiopia

Celebrations of the 6th anniversary of launching of the construction of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam concluded at the construction site at Guba in the Benishangul-Gumuz Regional State on April 1. President Dr. Mulatu Teshome noted GERD underlined the efforts of all Ethiopians to create a valuable heritage to be passed on to future generations. It was, he said, an “enduring legacy for all to be proud of”. GERD contributes towards the country’s poverty eradication campaign and be an example for developing countries for resource mobilization and utilization. The President also urged all to renew their commitment to GERD’s completion. (See article)

Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn met and held talks with President Omar Al-Bashir during his state visit to Ethiopia this week. President Al-Bashir also visited the Hawassa Industrial park and other development projects in the Southern Regional State (See article)

Prime Minister Hailemariam made a two day official visit to Tanzania at the end of last week, holding bilateral talks with President Dr. John Magufuli and witnessing the signing of agreements to cooperate in tourism, trade and investment, technology and prevention of human trafficking. Discussions covered development efforts in energy, agriculture and tourism to air, land and sea transport networks; and education, sporting events to industry and tax reforms. President Dr. Magufuli said Tanzania plans to import 400 megawatts (MW) of electricity from Ethiopia to help power its industrial drive. (See article)

Germany’s Economic Cooperation and Development Minister, Gerd Müller, after a field trip to Ethiopia’s Somali Regional State said Germany was committed to continue to support drought response efforts. Mr. Müller told Deputy Prime Minister Demeke Mekonnen on Tuesday (April 4) that Germany would increase cooperation in development of productive agriculture and strengthening Technical and Vocational Educational Training.  During his visit to the region,

Foreign Minister Dr. Workneh Gebeyehu presented the Foreign Ministry’s eight-month performance report to the House of Peoples’ Representatives on Tuesday (April, 4). The Minister detailed the major activities of the Ministry during the first eight months of the budget year. (See article)

Ethiopia and the European Union held their 1st Annual Human Rights and Governance Consultation in Addis Ababa on Thursday (April 6). The delegations led by State Minister of Foreign Affairs Mrs. Hirut Zemene and Mr. Stavros Lambrindidis, European Union Special Representative for Human Rights, covered human rights, good governance, the democratic process, economic cooperation, and migration.

A Diaspora Coordination Office Stakeholders Consultative Forum meeting was held in Hawassa at the end of last week (March 31- April 1), to discuss implementation of the Forum’s half-yearly plan and any problems arising. It also considered the issue of repatriation of citizens from Saudi Arabia. A Ministry of Foreign Affairs delegation has gone to Riyadh for talks on the safe return of Ethiopians living in Saudi Arabia without legal documents and work permits. (See article)

The World Bank’ Board of Executive Directors approved an International Development Association credit of $50 million for the National Quality Infrastructure (NQI) Development Project in Ethiopia, aimed at improving the competitiveness of Ethiopian industries. The Bank also approved a new $150 million credit for a project to increase the efficiency of trade logistics in Ethiopia. This will focus on improving the Modjo Dry Port, a key transportation hub that handles 95% of Ethiopia’s trade. It will support investments in physical infrastructure and ICT systems, as well as regulatory improvements.

Ethiopian Airlines, the largest cargo operator in Africa, has announced it has launched two new cargo routes to Europe, to Milan, Italy and Zaragoza, Spain, as of April 2 and March 2, respectively.

Eritrea

President Isaias met an Egyptian Business Delegation led by General Hamdy Badeem, General Manager of the Egyptian Company for National Service on Wednesday (April 5). The delegation discussed investment proposals for fisheries. Hagos Gebrehiwet, Head of PFDJ Economic Affairs; Major General Humed Karikare, Commander of the Eritrean Navy; Colonel Melake Tesfamariam, Chief of Staff of the Navy; and Ambassador Fasil Gebreselasie, Eritrean Ambassador to Egypt attended the meeting. The delegation visited Massawa and other areas on the Red Sea coast.

Foreign Minister Osman Saleh and Presidential Adviser Yemane Ghebreab on a four day visit to South Sudan met President Salva Kiir Myardit on Monday (April 3) in Juba and delivered a message from President Isaias, expressing Eritrea’s solidarity and support for the people and government of South Sudan. The delegation also met First Vice President Taban Deng Gai and discussed priority areas for bilateral cooperation.

The Ministry of Information issued a statement on Monday (April 3) saying that the US State Department had announced “another inexplicable and unwarranted act against Eritrea” in declaring sanctions against the Eritrean navy. It referred to “fallacious reports” and illicit measures and claimed “The apparent objective is to give a “new lease of life” to the illicit US/UNSC sanctions that are widely seen as utterly unjustified and scheduled for review this month.” (See article)

The UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize 2017 was awarded to the imprisoned Eritrean-born Swedish journalist, Dawit Issac, last week. Dawit was arrested in September 2001 when President Isaias closed down all independent media outlets in the country. Dawit was never charged or tried, and was last heard of in 2005.

Kenya

President Danny Faure of Seychelles made a three-day state visit to Kenya this week, holding one-on-one talks with President Kenyatta before the two leaders led their delegations in bilateral talks aimed at bolstering cooperation between Kenya and Seychelles.

Kenyan High Court has ruled that one-third of its MPs must be women. It said Parliament now had 60 days to ensure this quota was met or face dissolution. Women MPs in Kenya, which is holding elections in August, make up only 19% of the numbers, compared to 61% percent in Rwanda, and 38% in Ethiopia.
Somalia

President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed on Thursday (April 6) declared Somalia a war zone, ordering the army to prepare a new offensive against Al-Shabaab. He extended the amnesty for young extremists to surrender and appointed new military, police and intelligence chiefs: General Mohamed Ahmed Jimale is the new Chief of the Armed Forces; Abdihakim Dahir Saedi is appointed Chief of Police; and Abdullahi Mohamed Ali ‘Sanbaloolshe’, a former Intelligence head takes his former position. Thabit M Abdi, a former diplomat in the US, has been appointed Mayor of the Mogadishu and Governor of the Benadir region.

Somalia’s Prime Minister, Hassan Ali Khaire, said at the weekend that he was mobilizing his government to tackle corruption and vowed to make the fight against misconduct a non-negotiable principle in his administration. Last week, Prime Minister Khaire told his new cabinet and other public servants to declare their assets as a part of his government’s anti-corruption effort.

The Minister for Information and Public Awareness, Abdirahman Omar Yarisow, has pledged to create a more conducive working environment for the media. Speaking on Sunday (April 2) after formally taking office in Mogadishu, the Minister said his ministry would ensure press freedom and freedom of expression in Somalia.

The Federal Parliament on Monday (April 3) unanimously approved 2017 budget submitted by the Minister of Finance, Abdirahman Dualle Beyle. The budget, $21 million larger than last year, totals $267.5 million and provides for greater expenditure on security, healthcare delivery and development. Minister Beyle said 60% would be generated from local taxes, mainly Mogadishu port and airport, as well as increased taxes on income, khat and tobacco. The remainder will come from financial aid packages from Somalia’s International partners.

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) said this week that it was clear that “Somali pirates are resurgent and intent on continuing attacks on commercial shipping”. It urged ships to follow advice of navies and that of the International Maritime Organization while planning passage off the coast of Somalia. Two vessels were high-jacked this week, following two seizures last month.

Turkey’s Deputy Prime Minister, Sayn Bekir Bozda, arrived in Mogadishu Sunday (April 2) to make an assessment of the drought situation in Somalia. He was welcomed by Somali Deputy Prime Minister, Mahdi Mohamed Guled, Foreign Minister, Yusuf Garad and other officials. He also held talks on bilateral issues including Turkey’s development projects among them the construction of the military academy in Mogadishu.

The World Health Organization says cholera is spreading in Somalia complicating drought relief efforts. Health workers say at least 300 new cases and dozens of deaths are reported each day. The situation is likely to deteriorate once the rainy season starts in a few weeks. Medical aid agencies say more than 25,000 people have been affected with cholera in the past three months and at least 450 have died. WHO and agencies say lack of access and insecurity, especially in areas of southern Somalia, are hampering control measures.

The Famine Early Warning System’s latest monthly report says that the April to June Gu rains are forecast to be slightly below average. It said food security in Somalia further deteriorated in March, the peak of the pastoral lean season. Overall, it said, “The humanitarian situation in Somalia is rapidly deteriorating and renewed famine is a strong possibility in 2017 with about 6.2 million people facing acute food shortages.”

A meeting of senior AMISOM officials with the Federal Government representatives and senior Somali National Army (SNA) commanders  on Monday (April 3) discussed the modalities of opening and securing main supply routes to help facilitate the delivery of humanitarian aid to drought stricken communities.

A delegation led by Michael Keating, Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General visited Somaliland on Monday (April 3) and held talks with Somaliland President, Ahmed Mohamed Silanyo and members of his Cabinet. They discussed the drought situation in Somaliland, elections and development. Mr. Keating said later that the purpose of the visit was to expand the UN’s role in helping the drought-affected people of Somaliland.

Somaliland authorities announced the suspension of development programs at the weekend as drought conditions look set to deteriorate further. Vice President Abdirahman Abdullahi Seylici said assessments show “we are close to famine in the eastern regions, because the current rainy season [from late March though May] has not yet started.” Funds are being diverted to emergency, live-saving and drought-response efforts.

Dubai-based P&O Ports has won a 30-year concession for the management and development of a multi-purpose port project at Bosasso in Puntland. The $336m project will provide for dredging, building a 450-metre quay and investment in a Terminal Operating System, mobile cranes and container handling equipment. Puntland President Abdiweli Mohamed Ali signed the agreement in Dubai on Thursday (April 6).

Galmudug State Presidential Election Commission said it has concluded the registration process for presidential candidates ahead of the election due on April 10. There are three candidates:  Ahmed Du’ale Haaf, Abdikadir Shirwa’ and Ahmed Sharif.

South Sudan

The United Nations Security Council is due to consider the Secretary-General’s 30-day assessment on South Sudan and his evaluation of deployment and future requirements of the Regional Protection Force (RPF), the possible obstacles to setting up the force and the impediments to the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) in carrying out its mandate.

Finance Minister, Stephen Dhieu said at the beginning of the week that the controversial plan to charge foreigners a $10,000 fee for work announced in early March, would not go ahead. The Minister said the plan had been dropped in response to widespread criticism that it would penalize aid agencies just at a time when they were most needed. Foreign workers are currently required to pay $100 for a work permit.

The UNHCR announced this week that over 60,000 South Sudanese, fleeing famine and war, entered Sudan during the first three months of this year. UNHCR said “The number of new arrivals has surpassed expectations, signaling a likely worsening situation in South Sudan.” Since the outbreak of conflict in December 2013, more 365,000 South Sudanese refugees, most of them women and children, have arrived in Sudan.

South Sudan rebel leader, Riek Machar met the head of the Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission, Festus Mogae in Pretoria, South Africa, where the two discussed President Salva Kiir’s calls for a unilateral ceasefire and a national dialogue.

Sudan

President Omar Al-Bashir arrived in Addis Ababa for an official visit on Tuesday (April 4). During his three day visit, President Al-Bashir held talks with Prime Minister Hailemariam and other officials. Talks covered political and economic relations as the regional situation in IGAD and the Horn of Africa, and looked at ways to speed up previously agreed joint projects.  (See article)

Sudan President Omer Al-Bashir addressing the opening session of the Parliament on Monday this week (April 3) said the structure of governance will be changed substantially after the implementation of the outcome of the National Dialogue, and with the National Document constituting the basis for a government of national concord. The National Dialogue objectives would also be integrated into the government’s 2017-2020 strategic plan as well as the 2017 national budget.

Sudan President Omer al-Bashir, speaking on Sunday (April 2) called for the establishment of an African Court of Justice,  describing the International Criminal Court (ICC) as “colonial tool” used against Africa. President al-Bashir was addressing the First African Conference of Heads of Justice and Higher Courts, in Khartoum.

The Joint Special Representative of UNAMID, the AU-UN Hybrid Operation in Darfur, Jeremiah Mamabolo, told the UN Security Council on Tuesday this week (April 4) He said fighting had diminished and humanitarian access had improved, but progress on a cessation of hostilities agreement through AUHIP remained inconclusive. He also said any changes in UNAMID should not compromise the gains made in Darfur. (See article)

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President Omar Al-Bashir makes a three-day official visit to Ethiopia

President Omar Al-Bashir made a three-day official visit to Ethiopia this week (April 4-6), holding bi-lateral consultations with Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn and other senior Ethiopian government officials. Discussions covered a wide range of bilateral issues of common interest, aiming to expand economic ties and deepen the historic relations between the two neighbors. During the visit, the Prime Minister also accompanied President Omar Al-Bashir to the Hawassa Industrial Park, and to the Kuraz Sugar Factory and other projects in the Southern Regional State. President Al-Bashir told the media during his visit to the Hawassa Park that he observed Ethiopia’s economic growth had brought tangible change in the life of the people. The reason for this success, he said, was the stability and peace for which Ethiopia was known in the region.

On arrival at Bole International Airport on Tuesday (April 4) President Omar Al-Bashir was warmly welcomed by Prime Minister Hailemariam. Later the same day, they held talks at the Jubilee Palace and reaffirmed their determination to elevate Sudanese/Ethiopian bilateral ties. The two leaders also stressed their commitment to keep the momentum of cooperation moving forward for regional economic integration and infrastructural developments linking the two countries.  In a press briefing, after the talks they underlined the need to further strengthen the already excellent and strong bilateral ties, the importance of enhancing economic and infrastructural integration, and cultural, trade and security partnerships as well as the way forward on how to cooperate in areas like the power sector and in establishing a “Free Economic Zone’ which the two countries will “very soon.”

Prime Minister Hailemariam said the relation between the two countries was strong, and it had demonstrated successful cooperation over a wide range of sectors. “Business and economic relations”, he said, “are the pillars of our relations.” The Prime Minister noted Ethiopia had already started using Port Sudan to import large consignments such as fertilizer, adding that “We want to see it expanded” to the maximum. Prime Minister Hailemariam noted the cultural and people-to-people ties between the two countries, ties that lie at the heart of their strategic partnership. He pointed out these went back two millennia to the era of Axumite and Merotic civilizations.

He underlined the exemplary cooperation between the two countries in cross-border integration projects, the power sector, road transport, the consultations over the establishment of a free economic zone, and their security partnership and cooperation in the peace and stability efforts in South Sudan and Somalia. “Our foreign policy priories”, the Prime Minister said aim to “bolster strong and enduring partnerships with neighboring countries”. This had encouraged the series of exchanges of high-level visits taking place with neighboring countries like the Sudan, he said. Prime Minister Hailemariam said: “any security problem in Sudan is our problem and any security problem in Ethiopia is a Sudanese problem. We have come to the conclusion that these countries cannot be separated by all means.”

President Omar Al-Bashir concurred: “We do confirm that the security of Ethiopia and Sudan is integrated. So we will work together to promote and enhance relations so as to meet the expectations of all Sudanese and Ethiopians.” He said: “The security of Sudan and Ethiopia are the existential foundation of both countries. Therefore, we will coordinate our security, police and army to maintain peace and stability in both countries.” The President reaffirmed that Ethiopia and the Sudan would work further to elevate the bilateral relationship in the future, noting that both parties have shown full political willingness for this. Last October, the two countries signed in Addis Ababa a memorandum of understanding providing to enhance joint security and military cooperation between the two neighbors to fight terrorism. In February, this year, they also signed multiple agreements to further boost cooperation on a wide range of developments.

President Al-Bashir praised the warm hospitality accorded to him, noting that this was not peculiar to this visit but was normal whenever he “set foot in Addis Ababa.” Describing the relations between Sudan and Ethiopia as long-standing and deep-rooted, he said they were excellent and close in economic matters and people-to-people links. Ethiopia and the Sudan were “the same people”, even their songs shared cultural commonalities, he added.

President Al-Bashir said Sudan was currently importing power from Ethiopia, and was ready to import more when Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) was completed. There would be a transmission line to connect the Dam to Khartoum. Speaking of GERD, President Al-Bashir added, “As far as the Renaissance Dam is concerned, all the aspects the environmental consequences, the economic and socio-economic consequences, are all under focus now.” “It is the first time that the three countries come to agreement,” he said. The President praised the existing road and telecommunications networks connecting the two countries. He also mentioned the plans to develop a “Free Economic Zone”. He said an agreement to link a railway from Ethiopia to Port Sudan, which includes a port dedicated to Ethiopia, was “awaiting funds.” Prime Minister Hailemariam said strategic studies for the line had been conducted and Ethiopia has already started using the port for large consignments such as fertilizer.

Ethiopia’s Foreign Minister, Dr. Workneh, later told journalists that one of “the most important commitments that the Sudanese people and government had made to Ethiopia was their recognition of the equitable use of the Nile Waters.” The Foreign Minister said that all former misunderstandings had been cleared away and Sudan, he said, respected the rights of the people and government of Ethiopia to use the Nile waters equitably. Ethiopia and Sudan have maintained strong cooperation in diverse areas, cooperation based on good neighborliness, mutual trust and respect. Over the years, they have cemented close cooperation in political and security matters, economic and social affairs; trade, investment and tourism; cultural links. Sudanese investors are now among the largest number of foreign investors in Ethiopia. The increasing volume of trade and enhanced cooperation in tourism, infrastructure development, water, energy and environmental protection, transport and ports as well as science and technology will continue to strengthen ties and offer a very real model for region-wide cooperation and integration.

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Conclusion of the 6th anniversary celebrations of the start of GERD construction

On April 1, the celebration of the 6th anniversary of the launch of the construction of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, formerly known as the Millennium Dam, came to an end at the construction site at Guba in the Benishangul-Gumuz Regional State of Ethiopia. The launching of the construction of GERD marked the emergence of a new Ethiopia signifying the current generation’s victory over poverty. The Dam is a landmark and a live testimony to the elevated spirit of the present generation. Not surprisingly, the conclusion of the 6th anniversary celebrations was observed all over Ethiopia, underlining the country’s hopes and aspirations.

Attending the occasion in Guba, President Dr. Mulatu Teshome noted the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) was an exemplary indication of the efforts of Ethiopians from all corners of the country. These underscored that it was a valuable heritage to be passed on from the current to future generations. Underlining the imperative role the project would play in various development efforts now and in the future, he said: “GERD is an enduring legacy of all of us to be proud of, like the victory of Adwa was to our forefathers.” Dr. Mulatu said the realization of the GERD project was a step towards creating a prosperous Ethiopia. He said the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, which will be the biggest hydro-electric power project in Africa when complete, was among the mega projects that would contribute towards the country’s poverty eradication campaign. “The dam”, he said, “will become an example for developing countries for resource mobilization and utilization.” In conclusion, the President said: “All Ethiopians and people of Ethiopian descent, adults and children, poor and rich alike, have contributed to the construction of GERD.” “They deserve heartfelt gratitude,” he noted, adding: “This is the day on which I urge you all to renew our commitment to the completion of the GERD.”

In a similar vein, speaking at the anniversary celebration, Deputy Prime Minister Demeke Mekonnen, the Chairperson of the National Council for the participation of the public in the construction of the dam, said the project, which had now reached at a crucial level, had created unity among the peoples of the country. Describing the dam as an indigenous project underlining and encouraging the unity and co-operation of the public, the Deputy Prime Minister said “For us Ethiopians, GERD is far more than a grand project; it is also the source of our national pride.” He underscored the sacrifices and struggle made by the nations, nationalities and peoples in ensuring the unity of the country, pointing out that: “In addition to possessing their own identity and history, our nations, nationalities and peoples embrace a spirit of Ethiopian patriotism which has overcome all challenges and put our enemies to ignominious flight.”

The Deputy Prime Minister greatly appreciated the efforts made by the peoples of Ethiopia to support the construction of the Dam.  Their active participation, he said, would continue at home and abroad until the completion of the grand project. He noted that efforts were underway to continue to raise funds through various schemes and said that “Due attention has also been given to replicate the active participation of our citizens living in the Middle East and other parts of the world.” In addition, he said the National Council had been mobilizing the public actively for the protection of environment in and around the construction site, aiming to reduce possible sedimentation. In conclusion, the Deputy Prime Minister urged the public to continue to support the construction of the dam.

A few days earlier, at a torch-lighting ceremony to commemorate the anniversary at the Millennium Hall in Addis Ababa, Prime Minister Hailemariam said public mobilization, originally sparked off by the lighting of the Renaissance Torch, had laid down  “a new foundation for enhanced participation in the construction of the Dam.”  The relit Torch will now tour all the regional states and city administrations. The Prime Minister notes that regardless of differences in colour, religion, identity, sex or class, the people of Ethiopia had offered full support from the start. Indeed, he added, “Words cannot express the level of the unity exhibited by our peoples, right from the days on which the construction of GERD started. They vowed to put their mark on the construction of the dam without any recourse to differences in economic and social status.” The Prime Minister expressed his “heartfelt felicitations, congratulations and thanks to the peoples of Ethiopia, senior citizens, religious leaders, scholars, the youth,  men and women of fine arts, investors, media outlets, the defense forces, the police, Ethiopians and citizens of Ethiopian origin in the Diaspora and the children who have all selflessly contributed to the construction of the dam.”

Prime Minister Hailemariam also underlined the benefits the dam. He noted its importance in fostering cooperation, unity and solidarity among the Nile Riparian countries. He said: “GERD will enable us to strengthen our cooperation and solidarity with the Nile riparian countries at a much higher level.  GERD has convinced even those who failed to understand the basic goal of the construction of the dam to wait eagerly for its final completion.”  Calling on all Ethiopians to continue to give the same support to make the Dam a success, he concluded by expressing the government’s full commitment to the completion of GERD. He said: “I would like to assure you all that the government will follow up on the construction process of the dam with full accountability so that it would continue with full speed and quality.”

GERD’s construction was officially launched six years ago on April 2 in Benishangul-Gumuz State, some 15 kilometers east of the border with Sudan. It will be capable of generating 6,000 megawatts of electricity when fully operational. Ethiopians throughout the country and from the Diaspora across the world have continued, and intensified, full-fledged support morally, financially and technically for the project. The Office for the Coordination of Public Participation on the Construction of GERD said that during the bond selling week more than 52 million birr had been collected, and to date, out of the total 12.4 billion birr ledged by the public and private investors, 9.6 billion had been collected. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs Diaspora Engagement Affairs department said the Diaspora had contributed more than US$420 million, of which 47% came from bonds bought by Ethiopians in the Middle East; the rest form Ethiopians living elsewhere.

There’s also no doubt the process of self financing and fund raising has helped to raise not only the social consciousness of the public but also their political consciousness, encouraging the spirit of democratic patriotism. The experience has also produced a real example for Africa, offering an excellent model for African countries to finance their major projects from local resources. This is particularly relevant at a time of global donor fatigue. The Government Communication Affairs Office (GCAO) Minister, Dr. Negeri Lencho described the project as a huge engine of development, ensuring mutual benefit for riparian countries, enabling them to integrate power supplies. He also noted the efforts to promote the real image of the Dam and its benefits to other countries and the international community. These have included numerous tours for media groups from East and West Africa, Europe and Asia with representatives from around 400 foreign media institutions visiting the project site.

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Prime Minister Hailemariam in Tanzania

Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn arrived in Tanzania at the end of last week after a three-day visit to Zambia. He was welcomed on arrival at Dar es Salaam for a two-day official visit by President Dr.  John Magufuli. The two leaders held one-to-one bilateral talks before they witnessed their delegations sign agreements to cooperate in tourism, trade and investment, technology and prevention of human trafficking. Discussions covered a whole range of areas of development effort, from energy, agriculture and tourism to air, land and sea transport networks; and education, sporting events to industry and tax reforms.

At a joint news conference with Prime Minister Hailemariam, President Dr. Magufuli said Tanzania plans to import 400 megawatts (MW) of electricity from Ethiopia to help power its industrial drive. This will be transmitted through a high voltage transmission line via Kenya once the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam project had been completed. President Dr. Magufuli said this amount might be increased later.

After his talks with Prime Minister Hailemariam, President Dr. Magufuli said Ethiopia’s moves in developing its resources, particularly the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam on the Nile, was an inspiration for Tanzania to properly utilize its resources. The Dam had a special meaning for Tanzania as well as Ethiopia. It was an inspiration for African countries in the mobilization of resources.

The President said that Tanzania needs to learn from Ethiopia to boost its power supply, and through blending Ethiopia’s best practices with Tanzania, the President hoped that Tanzania would manage to ease power shortages and improve competitiveness. He called on Ethiopia to extend support to enable Tanzania to utilize its resources properly. He said Ethiopia had the right strategy and techniques. The President said energy was not the only sector that Tanzania needed to learn about from Ethiopia. Another was the telecom sector. He said the several telecom companies in Tanzania did not provide a comparable service to that of the single telecom company in Ethiopia. The President also noted his appreciation of Ethiopian Airlines’ decision to make Dar es Salaam a cargo hub, saying it was an opportunity for the improvement of Tanzania’s import-export trade. It would boost tourism, trade and investment, as well as enable Ethiopia to expand alternatives in its use of ports for imports and exports, he said. President Magufuli, stressing that Ethiopia and Tanzania shared  similar visions of ending poverty,  affirmed that Tanzania and Ethiopia would  work together to realize development in both countries.

Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs and East African Cooperation, Susan Kolimba, said the visit aimed at strengthening existing relations, solidarity and cooperation between the two countries, and at consolidating the existing diplomatic relations between Tanzania and Ethiopia through exploring new areas of cooperation including trade and investment. She underlined that Tanzania and Ethiopia enjoyed excellent relations and said that Ethiopia intended to establish an embassy in the country. Currently, Ethiopia’s Ambassador to Kenya is also accredited to Tanzania.

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Dr. Workneh presents Foreign Ministry’s performance report to Parliament

Foreign Minister Dr. Workneh Gebeyehu presented the Foreign Ministry’s eight-month performance report to the House of Peoples’ Representative on Tuesday (April, 4). The Minister detailed the major activities of the Ministry during the first eight months of the budget year. These covered working to strengthen strategic partnerships with countries and international organizations, improving image building and public diplomacy activities, increasing the involvement of the Diaspora in the country’s socio-economic activities and advancing the  capacity of its officials, diplomats and  experts according to plan.

The Minister said the Ethiopian government managed bilateral discussions and diplomatic relations with countries by maintaining its national interest. He explained the Ministry undertook researches and made studies to manage problems that could compromise the national interest of the country. He mentioned that a detailed study on Eritrea had been carried out and this had now been presented to the Government. It would be considered by the Council of Ministers before being presented to Parliament, he said. Similarly, with reference to South Sudan, researches and studies on issues like the Regional Protection Force and inclusive dialogue as well as the role of IGAD, had been carried out and presented to the relevant bodies for decisions. The Minister also mentioned that the importance of Ethiopia’s geopolitical and strategic relationship with Middle East and Gulf countries meant that they were the subject of continuous study and follow up reports maintain the current excellent bilateral ties and relations.

Dr. Workneh said Ethiopia had good and successful relations with all its neighbors, with the one exception of Eritrea. He said the Ministry had been working to ensure sustainable peace, stability and economic development in the Horn of Africa. He added that a number of different activities were also ongoing in partnership with neighboring countries to maintain peace, build democracy and bring economic development and integration to the region.

The Minister further explained that the Ministry has also been working to ensure effective and safe port services. It had been undertaking a series of activities to expedite the already excellent relationship of Ethiopia with Djibouti to improve the use of the Port of Djibouti. Ethiopia and Djibouti were expanding their links and had agreed to transform their relationship into all-round economic integration using the improved infrastructure links, including the new railway. The Ministry was, also, the Minister said, continuing to explore and make use of alternative port services.

Dr. Workneh emphasized that, in accordance with the policy priorities of the country, the Ministry was working to strengthen Ethiopia’s economic cooperation with a number of countries. He gave examples of the economic diplomatic activity over last eight-months including the visits of 25 different foreign companies to explore the possibilities of different investment areas, including industrial and agricultural sectors and energy. The Minister also noted the work of Ethiopian missions abroad in encouraging interest in investment. Another major task for these missions abroad is to protect and defend the interest of Ethiopian nationals. The Ministry, in collaboration with the relevant missions, had achieved the return of some migrant citizens to their home country on a number of occasions.

The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs acknowledged the Ministry’s successful efforts in strengthening strategic partnerships in both bilateral and multilateral relations, as well as maintaining regional peace and security. The Standing Committee also raised a number of questions and comments with the Minister. It suggested that engagement with the Diaspora community in encouraging Diaspora involvement in the country’s socio-economic and political activities had not been as effective as expected; and, among other issues, it also raised the matter of delays in approving different bilateral and multilateral agreements.

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Diaspora Forum considers repatriation from Saudi Arabia and other issues

A Diaspora Coordination Office Stakeholders Consultative Forum meeting was held in Hawassa at the end of last week (March 31- April 1). The meeting which was organized by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs was attended by over 30 stakeholders and representatives from federal, regional states and city administrations. It deliberated on the implementation of the Forum’s half-yearly plan and discussed a variety of problems as well as laid out directions for future engagements. Another item on the agenda was consideration of the ongoing efforts, including high level visits, to repatriate citizens from Saudi Arabia.

Participants were briefed on the newly introduced proclamation of the Saudi Arabian government concerning foreigners who hold no legal papers and residence permits in the country. It was on Wednesday last week that the Saudi Arabian government announced a 90-day amnesty for all illegal immigrants to leave the country without any detention and fine. Following this, the Ethiopia government has been putting in place directions to guarantee the safe return and reintegration of returnees back to their own country. The discussion highlighted the need to forge synergy among stakeholders, including members of the Diaspora and of Women’s and other relevant associations and organizations. The meeting underlined the importance of activities, such as dissemination of necessary information and creation of awareness.

In fact, an Ethiopian delegation left for Riyadh this week for talks about the safe return of Ethiopians living in Saudi Arabia without legal documents and work permits. A Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson said, “The government has made all the necessary preparations to safely return its citizens, with a command post established at the ministry and a national taskforce set up.  Preparations have also been made to provide Ethiopians there with the necessary information through the Ethiopian Embassy in Riyadh and the Ethiopian Consulate in Jeddah.”

Concerning other issues which were discussed at the Forum, the Director General of the Diaspora Engagement Directorate General in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ato Demeke Atnafu, in a statement to the media said: “The Diaspora is our key development partner as it has been engaged in a wide range of areas including skills and knowledge transfer, investment and remittance”. He stressed that among the many contributions the Diaspora has made to the national development were 410 Diaspora investment projects with 10.6 billion birr capita. These had created 82,000 permanent and 131,000 temporary employment opportunities in Amhara Regional State and over 1,390 investment projects worth 40.3 billion birr in Oromiya Regional State. There were also knowledge and technology transfer programs in health, ICT, Education, engineering and management provided by 23 Diaspora members and the transaction of 5 billion USD remittances through legal channels. The Diaspora, he added, had also shown its unwavering support and commitment to the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, buying Bonds worth 2.7 million US dollars. With savings of 25.8 million US dollars through 4,548 new Diaspora accounts, he said, the Diaspora was now able to easily access foreign currency from their own saving accounts for investments in manufacturing and other priority sectors.

Ato Demeke stressed that providing timely and accurate information to the Diaspora remained a key aim of government and a real element in development. The role of coordination offices, coupled with publications like ‘Diaspora Informer’ had been huge, he said, sharing the customer service load at headquarters. Both the Ministry and the Forum applauded the comprehensive support provided by these offices in facilitating the participation of Ethiopians and citizens of Ethiopian origin in the Diaspora in their country’s national development. Underlining the importance of mobilizing the Diaspora for engagement, the Forum also praised the efforts made by Ethiopian missions abroad. In the last eight months, Missions abroad have managed to establish 16 new Diaspora Associations and organized 240 participatory forums in which a total of over 31,000 members of the Diaspora have been able to discuss all relevant and pertinent issues. Among these, the Director-General noted as problems were issues of good governance emanating from the inability to fully implement the Citizens Charter and the lack of proactive media engagement programs.

The Ethiopian Diaspora Association Director, Mr. Abrham Seyoum, told the Forum that the “The Association is consulting and engaging with Ethiopian Diasporas around the world to help them contribute needed supports to their country.” It had, he said, made the necessary preparations to open offices in Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. The head of the South Nations Region Diaspora Coordination Office, Mr. Zelalem Asrat, said 257 members of the Diaspora had invested in projects worth 2 billion birr in the Southern Regional State. He also noted that 200 investors residing in the U.S had finalized preparations to build a trade-center Mall, (the South Gate Mall) in Hawassa. The Amhara Region Diaspora Investment Association president, Mr. Habtamu Adugna said a share company known as Abay, made up of 22 conglomerates with 16 billion birr capital, had been established to serve as platform to engage the Diaspora.

Participants at the Forum raised a range of other issues including the need for making a concerted and bold move to deal with anti-peace elements who were trying to derail the positive engagement of the Diaspora. They also noted the need to ensure efficient service delivery and good governance, as well as speedy implementation of proclamations and projects.

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Response to drought gears up but food security worries grow

Erratic rains since March 2016 and the continuing effects and impact of the 2015-2016 El Niño-driven drought compromised both livestock and crop production in the Horn of Africa last year. This year’s below-average rainfall is worsening food security and water availability, straining the resilience of communities across the region. In addition, the delayed March-to-May rainy season offers little cause for comfort. In the Horn’s arid and semi-arid lands, the dominant livelihood systems are agro-pastoralism and pastoralism, and for these pasture and water is a constant challenge. Pastoralists and agro-pastoralists are among the most affected by what has become a chronic vulnerability to food insecurity.

The FAO’s Horn of Africa cross-border drought action plan 2017 (to cover March to June) disclosed that in affected areas of the Horn of Africa water is increasingly scarce, leaving rangelands bare. Rivers and water points are drying faster than normal, and already reaching alarmingly low levels. Across the region, livestock are starving and rapidly losing condition. Immune systems are weakened, increasing risk and incidences of both opportunistic and endemic livestock disease outbreaks. This increases the debilitating effects of internal and external parasites.

According to UNICEF’s Humanitarian Situation Report for the second half of March, the food security situation in South Sudan remains critical. In southern Unity State, besides counties like Leer and Mayendit, currently experiencing famine, the risk of famine is growing in Koch County. The latest Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) update discloses that approximately 100,000 people currently face starvation in Leer and Mayendit counties, while one million more are on the edge of famine. Humanitarian reports are blaming the continuing armed skirmishes, impacting humanitarian access to many areas, leaving many vulnerable populations unable to reach life-saving services. The security situation in certain areas of Unity, Upper Nile, Jonglei and Greater Equatoria States remains volatile as violent clashes between the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) and the SPLA – in Opposition (SPLA-IO) continue to be reported. The famine coupled with the security situation in the country has allowed measles and cholera to spread. In the last two weeks of March, hundreds of new cholera cases have been reported in Lakes State, and dozens of new measles cases were reported from Wau, Western Bahr el Ghazal.

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs noted that severe drought conditions continue to worsen in Somalia as of March 31. According to its report, conditions in early 2017 are partially comparable to early 2011. Declining purchasing power and inability of humanitarian partners to reach affected people coupled with persistently high malnutrition levels were key drivers of famine in 2011. Today, however, humanitarian access and the rain footprint are better than in 2011. In 2011, the lack of rainfall in the preceding year was worse in the north and parts of the south. In 2017, this is the case in the central regions, and the food security situation in central and southern pastoral areas is better than in 2011.At the same time, as drought conditions worsen, so do displacements.  More than 444,000 people have been displaced in Somalia between November 2016 and March 2017. The majority are moving from rural to urban areas seeking humanitarian assistance, according to preliminary figures from the UNHCR-led Protection and Return Monitoring Network (PRMN).

On April 1, the Kenya Red Cross Society (KRCS) announced that it had revised its drought appeal to cater for a 1 million people facing starvation. It is now appealing for Ksh 2.5 billion. The previous appeal had aimed for Ksh 1 billion to support 340,786 people. This follows a dramatic increase in the number of people now in need of food assistance. The figure is now 3 million, well over double the number recorded in December 2016. The growth shows no sign of slowing down, with the government indicating the numbers could rise to 4 million in the coming weeks. “The situation is getting worse every day. Malnutrition rates among children are steadily climbing. Children are getting sick, and livelihoods of families have been decimated following the loss of thousands of their livestock,” said Dr Abbas Gullet, Secretary General of the KRCS. Fatoumata Nafo-Traoré, Regional Director for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) said: “We are running out of words to describe the situation in affected parts of Kenya, and across the region.” She added, “Our message is simple: humanitarian organizations need resources to respond at the scale that is needed. If we don’t, then thousands of people may die, and children will be affected for the rest of their lives. And we won’t be able to say “we didn’t know.”

While Ethiopia continues to respond to the residual needs from the 2016 drought, below average rains in the southern and eastern parts of the country caused by the negative Indian Ocean Dipole have left 5.6 million people in need of humanitarian assistance this year.  The Government and humanitarian partners officially launched the Humanitarian Requirements Document (HRD) for 2017 at the beginning of the year. Commissioner Mitiku Kassa, Head of the National Disaster Risk Management Commission (NDRMC) said then: “Last year the Government of Ethiopia, with the support of international donors and humanitarian partners, was able to mount the biggest drought response operation in global history. Today we need that partnership once again as we face a new drought, with 5.6 million in need of urgent assistance.” The Commission says the number of people requiring humanitarian assistance might rise due to the worsening drought conditions in affected areas.

The Government of Ethiopia, at federal and regional levels, is continuing to carrying out a series of responses, including provision of livestock feed support in affected areas. Some 200,000 bales, out of a total of 250,000 bales stored in Jigjiga, have recently been delivered to the most affected zones. The OCHA-managed Ethiopia Humanitarian Fund (EHF) is allocating $21million to provide immediate response to prioritized needs in nutrition, agriculture, education, health and protection, on the basis of the allocation of strategy priorities laid out in the Humanitarian Requirements Document. The government has deployed some 300 national health professionals drawn from the Federal Ministry of Health and other regional states to the Somali Regional State to support the regional government’s Emergency Health Response Plan to curb the ongoing drought-induced disease outbreaks in the region. At the end of February, the Protection Cluster organized a support mission to the Somali region to gauge the protection needs of displaced pastoralists in drought-hit areas. The mission visited settlement sites in Doolo and Jarar zones sheltering more than 70,000 internally displaced people, and called for additional support for water needs, provision of Emergency Shelter and Non-Food Items and assistance from Health and Nutrition Teams as well as prioritized service delivery for women and children.

The situation in the agro-pastoral and pastoral areas of the Horn of Africa will continue to deteriorate not only until the next rains but until there has been sufficient rain to regenerate pastures. Forecasts from the Greater Horn of Africa Climate Outlook Forum indicate that the next rains may be below-normal in most drought-hit areas. The onset of the rains is early to mid-April, and the duration is only four to six weeks. Some areas are already experiencing delays. A third poor season of rainfall for the most affected communities would be particularly disastrous in Somalia, where good rains are necessary to avoid widespread famine.

While worries grow across the region, Governments, international humanitarian organizations and the international community are now responding to the complex and multilevel problem in the Horn. The Government of Japan on Thursday made a US$2 million grant to UNICEF to assist water supply, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), nutrition and prevention of acute watery diarrhea in drought-affected populations in the Somali Regional State of Ethiopia. This will provide improved access to safe and reliable water to 115,000 women, men, boys and girls through drilling of new boreholes, rehabilitating non-functional water points and providing non-food items for distribution. The funding will also help prevent and control water-borne diseases, particularly the transmission of acute watery diarrhea among affected and at-risk populations by securing access to safe water. UNICEF is currently involved in operations across all the drought affected regions , contributing to water trucking, rehabilitation of non-functional water supply schemes, building water storage capacity at critical and good yielding boreholes, provision of therapeutic food supplies, screening of children and pregnant and lactating women for malnutrition and monitoring for the provision of quality nutrition services.

On a two-day visit to Ethiopia this week, Germany’s Minister of Economic Cooperation and Development Germany, Gerd Müller, accompanied by journalists, BMZ officials, German Embassy partners, GiZ and KfW, UNICEF, WFP, and UN-OCHA officials and the Somali Regional President and regional government officials, visited the Urban WASH program (borehole and water trucking) in Kebri Dahar as well as the Waaf Dhuug Resettlement Site for drought displaced people in the Somali Regional State. Waaf Dhuug hosts 4,500 host community and 3,882 drought displaced people, of whom more than 85% cent are women and children from surrounding grazing areas. The site was established in January 2017 and is one of the 58 Temporary Resettlement Site established by the Somali Regional Government in response to the drought emergency. During his visit, Mr. Müller announced that German assistance to drought response in the Horn of Africa will be increased by 100 million Euros to a total of 300 million Euros.

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UNSC briefed on developments in Darfur and UNAMID’s role

The Joint Special Representative of UNAMID, the AU-UN Hybrid Operation in Darfur, Jeremiah Mamabolo, briefed the UN Security Council on Tuesday this week (April 4), explaining that the Darfur of today was “a very different place from what this region was in 2003, when the armed conflict began, and from that of a year ago.” Mr. Mamabolo said fighting between Sudanese Government forces and the main three non-signatory armed movements had considerably diminished. The last three months had also seen a continued reduction in the number of inter-communal security incidents, in particular because of more effective involvement of local administrations and the impact of security measures by State Governments. There had been an increased number of peace agreements. He said 97,400 people had been displaced in 2016 but some 39,600 of those had reportedly returned, and UNAMID had seen no new displacement this year. He also noted that the past three months had also seen a continued reduction in the number of intercommunal security incidents, Cooperation with the Government, in terms of humanitarian access, had also improved.

Mr. Mamabolo said the three strategic priorities established by the Security Council in 2014 continued to provide a framework within which UNAMID implemented its mandate to protect civilians, mitigate inter-communal conflicts and mediate between the Government and the non-signatory armed movements. He told the Security Council that the African Union and the United Nations were actively discussing with the Government of Sudan how best to configure an exit strategy for AU-UN peacekeeping to eventually leave Darfur. He said: “In view of the current circumstances in Darfur, a pragmatic reconfiguration will become necessary and the AU and UN will have to focus on how best that could be done without compromising the gains thus far made.” He noted that last month an AU-UN strategic review team had visited UNAMID as well as met with government officials in Khartoum and Darfur, and travelled throughout the Darfur region. UNAMID was waiting for its report and recommendations.

Nevertheless, Mr. Mamabolo said, the efforts of the AU High-level Implementation Panel (AUHIP) to get warring parties to sign a cessation of hostilities agreement and start direct negotiations towards an inclusive peace agreement to end the conflict, remained inconclusive. Describing recent progress made in Darfur, he said fighting between the Government and the three main armed movements that were non-signatories to the 2011 Doha Document for Peace had considerably diminished. The Sudan Liberation Army/Abdul Wahid (SLA/AW) had been weakened and was no longer capable of mounting and sustaining significant military operations.  The Government had been able to take control of areas previously held by that movement, leaving the group with only a few pockets of resistance. In addition, he said, the unilateral ceasefire by the government, the Sudan Liberation Movement of Minni Minnawi (SLA/MM) and Justice and Equality Movement (JEM/Gibril) was largely holding and had been extended by another six months in January 2017. The SLA/AW, however, consistently refused to declare an end to hostilities and against the backdrop of economic hardship and social depression, banditry and criminality continued to be wide-spread.  Durable solutions were needed to enable the return of thousands of civilians displaced during 2016, he said. Mr. Mamabolo appealed to the Security Council, and to “those with influence and leverage on him to persuade him to recognize the importance of a political settlement and desist from bringing more suffering to the very people that he professes to represent.”

Following the briefing, Council members expressed support for UNAMID’s committed work over the past decade, though some speakers also repeated calls for its drawdown and reconfiguration.  Others welcomed the increased cooperation between UNAMID and the Government of Sudan, but expressed concern that the peace process was at a standstill.

Sudan’s representative, Omer Dahab Fadl Mohamed, also addressed the Council. He said he fully agreed with Mr. Mamabolo’s assessment of the situation in Darfur and emphasized the Government’s “unprecedented progress” in ensuring stability and security in Darfur.  Nevertheless, he said, the opposition movement remained obstinate and continued to receive outside support. The displacements in 2016 had been the result of the activities of SLA/AW. He emphasized the central importance of the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur and urged its continued implementation. He said the great improvement in Darfur’s security and humanitarian conditions, as well as the reduced activity of rebel groups, proved that UNAMID was no longer the right framework for the international presence. He therefore urged a shift in focus towards development and disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of former combatants; and expressed his hope that the recommendations of the joint working group would be seriously considered as the gradual drawdown of UNAMID was designed. Sudan, he said, would continue to cooperate with UNAMID until it departed.

Ethiopia’s Permanent Representative, Dr. Tekeda Alemu, welcomed the progress being shown in Darfur and commended the Government for extending the ceasefire for another six months.  He said the Council should bring pressure to bear on armed movements to negotiate seriously and hold spoilers to account.  SLA/AW, he said, should be called on to join the process without preconditions.  He also welcomed that the Government had established the Darfur Peace Follow-up Office, stressing the need to address the challenge of internally displaced persons. It was important, he said, that those efforts were supported by the United Nations.  Calling the national dialogue a step in the right direction, Dr. Tekeda said the Government had started to implement the national dialogue document. This was critical for peace throughout Sudan and those with leverage on parties outside the dialogue process, he said, should bring pressure on them to join those efforts. The Government should also foster inclusivity. Noting the improvements on visa and customs clearance, Dr. Tekeda expressed the hope that UNAMID operational challenges would be resolved by taking advantage of the current situation.  He welcomed the improved relationship between Sudan and South Sudan, as well as with Chad and Uganda.

Petr Iliichev of the Russian Federation also welcomed the improvements in the situation in Darfur, as well as Khartoum’s efforts to implement the Doha Document for Peace. He said the Government could hardly be blamed for the standstill in the peace process. The peace talks had fallen apart because of the rebels themselves, in particular the SLA/AW group’s refusal to join negotiations.  He urged all foreign sponsors of such armed movements to exert their influence and press them to join the peace talks. He said the Security Council could consider imposing sanctions on such “intractable groups”.  Pointing to great improvements on the part of the Government in granting humanitarian access, he called on UNAMID to continue to cooperate with Khartoum and warned against “foot-dragging” in the design of the mission’s exit strategy. That could have negative implications for its relationship with the host country, he said.

Ms. Nikki Haley of the United States, Council President for April, urged Sudan to support an inclusive peace process, protect civilians and work to stop community violence.  She welcomed that Government and opposition groups had adopted unilateral ceasefires, but these, she said, must turn into peace talks.  She called on SLA/AW to declare a unilateral cessation of hostilities and join the peace process.  As the situation changed, she said, UNAMID should review how to reposition its forces and quickly reach those in need.  The Government must show its readiness to govern all parts of the territory and work with the United Nations to provide basic services. UNAMID should be reconfigured to make it more effective, while at the same time Sudan’s leaders must disarm militias, support peacekeepers to accomplish their missions and commit to building sustainable peace.

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US announces further sanctions on Eritrea

The United States announced last week it had implemented sanctions banning dealings with the Eritrean navy under the Iran, North Korea and Syria Non-Proliferation Law that prohibits trading in certain military equipment with those countries. In addition to Eritrea, another nine countries were sanctioned as well as 30 entities and individuals. Overall, US officials said the sanctions were imposed because of involvement in “the transfer to or acquisition from Iran, North Korea, or Syria of goods, services, or technology listed on multilateral export control lists or other items that could make a material contribution to the development of weapons of mass destruction or missiles.” The sanctions apply for two years and ban sanctioned entities from receiving any U.S. Government assistance or procurement, or from obtaining any U.S. exports of munitions and dual-use items.

The action came shortly after the latest report of the Panel of Experts established pursuant to resolution 1874 (2009) to investigate the implementation of the UN sanctions against the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. Published last month, the report identified an air shipment of military-grade communications equipment intercepted on its way to Eritrea from North Korea via China. The shipment was disguised as computer equipment for assembly purposes. The report said the Panel had investigated a July 2016 interdiction reported by a Member State of an air shipment suspected to be in violation of UN resolutions. The Panel inspected the consignment of 45 boxes and determined that the contents were military radio communications products and related accessories. They included high-frequency software-defined radios, crypto-speaker microphones, GPS antennas, high-frequency whip antennas, clone cables, camouflaged rucksacks and carry-pouch.

The Report goes in several pages of detail about the shipping process and the people and companies involved. It also notes that one of the people involved in the shipping process was a director of another company that shipped a suspect consignment to Eritrea in 2012. This was interdicted en route to Eritrea and reported to the Committee in 2012. The cargo manifest of the ship “listed mostly dual-use items including “numerical control” machine tools and related equipment, which had been inspected and detained by a Member State.” The Report says firmly: “The 2016 interdiction is the second documented interception of military-related items exported from the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to Eritrea and confirms ongoing arms-related cooperation between the two countries.” Any such activity, of course, also breaks the UN arms embargo and sanctions on Eritrea.

The Report of the Panel also notes it investigated Egypt’s seizure last August of a North Korean ship carrying 30,000 rocket-propelled grenades hidden under tonnes of iron ore. The iron ore is also banned under the UN sanctions. The cargo consisted of 79 crates containing 24,384 disassembled PG-7 rocket-propelled grenades and materials for an additional 4,616 rocket- propelled grenades, all manufactured in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. The markings indicated that they were manufactured in February 2016, but the Panel’s on-site analysis revealed that they were not of recent production but rather had been stockpiled for some time. The bill of lading described the items as “assembly parts of the underwater pump”. The report says that the Egyptian general prosecutor was investigating the destination and end-user of the equipment, adding that the Egyptian authorities stated they were investigating the consignee.

Eritrea’s Ministry of Information issued a statement on Monday (April 3) saying that the US State Department had announced “another inexplicable and unwarranted act against Eritrea” in declaring further sanctions against the Eritrean navy. The statement referred to “fallacious reports” and “illicit measures subsequently announced by the same architects who act as the plaintiff, prosecutor and judge.”  It said: “The apparent objective is to give a “new lease of life” to the “illicit US/UNSC sanctions that are widely seen as utterly unjustified and scheduled for review this month.”

Eritrea has, of course, been under UN Security Council sanctions since 2009. The sanctions, which includes an arms embargo, were imposed over a number of Eritrean activities: support of Al-Shabaab militants in Somalia, refusal to provide information about Djibouti prisoners of war, dating back to its 2008 attack on Djibouti, and the continued attempts to destabilize Ethiopia and other countries in the region with its continued support for armed terrorist organizations. This report of Eritrea trying to acquire military grade communications equipment obviously amounts to a violation of the UN arms embargo on Eritrea as well as of the sanctions on North Korea.

In its last report (in November 2016), the UN Monitoring Group on Somalia and Eritrea provided detail of a number of areas of concern over Eritrean arms embargo violations including the Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates establishment of a military presence in Eritrea, Eritrea’s continued support for armed groups involved in regional destabilization, the question of Djibouti prisoners of war, the possible use of mining revenue to break the arms embargo, an Eritrean mission to Italy in search of spare parts for helicopters, and the repeated refusal of the Eritrean government to engage with the Monitoring Group.

The Monitoring Group’s mandate covers monitoring the implementation of the Council’s demand for all Member States, “in particular Eritrea, to cease arming, training and equipping armed groups and their members, including al-Shabaab, that aim to destabilize the region or incite violence and civil strife in Djibouti.” While the Monitoring Group said it found no “firm” evidence of support for Al-Shabaab, it certainly found considerable evidence of arming, training and support for a number of other groups which have publicly committed themselves to regional destabilization as well as indications of Eritrea’s support for the armed Djibouti opposition, the Front pour la Restauration de l’Unité et de la Démocratie (FRUD).  Overall, the latest Monitoring Group report “continued to find consistent evidence of Eritrean support for armed groups operating in both Ethiopia and Djibouti.” It added: “It is clear that Eritrea continues to harbor anti-Ethiopian armed groups, including the newly remodeled Patriotic Ginbot 7, and provides at least some logistical support to them.” It has, in fact, no doubt that the Eritrean authorities were continuing to provide substantial support to armed groups aiming to destabilize the region in defiance of Security Council resolutions.

The Monitoring Group also raised the question of the 11 Djibouti soldiers whose whereabouts have been unknown since 2008. It said it was vital that Eritrea confirm the circumstances of their deaths, pointing out this was a requirement of the Security Council, and also a requirement of international treaty and customary law by which Eritrea was also bound. It noted UN Security Council resolution 2023 (2011) imposed an obligation on Member States to take measures to prevent funds from the Eritrean mining sector being used for military acquisition. It underlined that Eritrea’s refusal to allow the Monitoring Group into Eritrea prevented it from acquiring access to financial information and carrying out its mandate properly. It emphasized that
Member States should be firmly advised about the need for compliance with the arms embargo on Eritrea.

Overall, it was clear the Monitoring Group did not believe that the Government of Eritrea had been in full compliance with the sanctions regime during the last year, any more than it had been over previous years. Certainly, Eritrea has remained consistent in its support for armed groups involved in cross-border activities. There is no evidence it has changed policies in this regard or in its overall approach to continued regional destabilization and aggression as a central element in foreign policy.

Following the Monitoring Group report last November, the UN Security Council adopted resolution 2317 (2016). This renewed the arms embargo on Eritrea and on Somalia until November 15, 2017, and the mandate of the UN Monitoring Group for Somalia and Eritrea until December 15, 2017. Of the fifteen members of the Security Council, ten voted for the resolution, none against, but there were five abstentions from Angola, China, Egypt, Russian Federation, and Venezuela, over concern about the continuation of the sanctions on Eritrea. The Council called on Eritrea to cooperate fully with the Monitoring Group and allow it regular visits. It underlined the importance of all Member States complying with the terms of the arms embargo imposed on Eritrea by resolution 1907 (2009). It said the dispute between Djibouti and Eritrea continued to constitute a threat to international peace and security. It expressed concern over the reports of ongoing Eritrean support for certain regional armed groups; it reaffirmed the arms embargo on Eritrea and, taking into account the relevant Security Council resolutions, it expressed its intention to review measures on Eritrea in light of the midterm update by the Monitoring Group due by April 30.

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