InterAfrica Group, Vol.2, No.2&3, 12/94-01/95

InterAfrica Group, Vol.2, No.2&3, 12/94-01/95

InterAfrica Group
Centre for Dialogue on Humanitarian, Peace and Development
Issues in the Horn of Africa


                    M o n t h l y   U p d a t e  
                   December 1994/January 1995
                        Volume 2 Nos. 2 & 3
Djibouti - government and FRUD opposition sign peace accord
Ethiopian Constitution and elections
Hargeisa - calming down
Eritrean President's speech to the Int'l Development Council
Trials of former Derg officials
OLS announces 1995 food needs for Sudan
Ethiopia's food needs for 1995
Somali Women's Meeting on Peace, Democracy and Human Rights
ACORD - working with CBOs in Dire Dawa, Ethiopia
Meeting on the Making of the New Eritrean Constitution
USA for Africa reunion and evaluation
Bridgehead visits the Horn
NNS Reader's Survey

IAG paper to the Social Summit on the Horn of Africa & African NGO position on IDA 11 replenishment


Peace Accord for Djibouti

The Government of Djibouti and members of the opposition Front for the Restoration of Unity and Democracy (FRUD) signed a Peace and Reconciliation accord on December 26 1994. The accord commits FRUD to laying down its arms and to participate peacefully in the political life of the country. However, the legitimacy of the agreement and the participants was "immediately denounced" by the faction of the FRUD President Ahmed Dini according to a Djibouti Relief Association situation report (FRUD split in November 1994). Dini's group intend to continue fighting, says DRA. Copies of the full text of the Accord in French and the DRA situation report are available from NNS.

New Ethiopian Constitution ratified

After one month and a day of deliberations, the new Ethiopian Constitution was ratified by the Constituent Assembly in Addis Ababa on December 8. All but one member of the Assembly signed the ratification document while two others who did sign requested that their reservations be placed on the record. The Constitution includes, as most observers expected, the right of nations and nationalities to self- determination, up to and including secession, and government ownership of land. Copies of the official English translation are available from NNS.


Elections are slated to take place on May 7, so far EPRDF affiliates and parties which have participated in the Council thus far have decided to participate. This week negotiations are taking place in Washington DC between the transitional government (Dawit Yohannes Vice-President of the Election Board heads the TGE delegation) and the main opposition groups (except Goshu Wolde's Medhin party) under the auspices of a US Congress Task Force. Commentators in Addis Ababa are cautiously optimistic that one or two, if not all the groups will decide to participate in the forthcoming elections.

Hargeisa - calming down

The government of the self-proclaimed Republic of Somaliland has invited international NGOs and UN agencies to return to Hargeisa as they claim to have regained control of the city and its main airport. To date the organisations remain in Burao and Borama from whence they have been directing their operations for the last ten weeks. Outside of Hargeisa, UN and NGO work on health and infrastructure projects continue according to UNICEF reports, which also confirm that there has been no fighting for the past three weeks.

Eritrean President in the United States

The following are excerpts from the President's speech to the International Development Conference on "Achieving Global Human Security". The speech provides an articulation of the Eritrean government's perspective on the issues of democracy, development, and foreign aid:

The speech characterised democracy as coming to "fragile and fragmented societies" in the developing world and argued that as a result "the democratic process must pass through a controlled phase if these societies are not to break apart at the seams in mid-stream" but maintained the need for government to be "constitutional, elected and accountable".

Regional co-operation through organisations such as COMESA and IGADD for economic co-operation, political consultation and regional conflict prevention is vital and within it the priorities for the Eritreans are:

1. Peace and Security
2. the correct and rational use of local resources
3. the effective use of foreign aid
4. a broader regional and international approach to development.

(The Eritrean investment code has received praise in the US as "one of the most liberal in Africa."*)

Foreign Aid:
"Our independence of decision should not be encroached by the conditionalities of aid...Recipient countries are better placed to determine and identify people's priorities and the objectives they wish to pursue. Moreover this is a fundamental question of dignity which cannot be compromised by temporary necessity."

Africa's future:
"The lack of confidence perhaps inculcated by decades of dehumanizing experience must be shattered and Africans encouraged to look inwards with a sense of purpose and pride."

Source: Eritrea Profile

Trials of former Derg officials

The trials of members of the former Ethiopian government under Mengistu Haile Mariam began on December 13. The first session included evidence surrounding the death of Haile Selassie and sixty of his ministers. The trials were adjourned after four days and are due to reconvene March 7.

Human Rights Watch published a report entitled 'Ethiopia: Reckoning under the Law' in December which outlines the Historical Background, the Special Prosecutor's Office (SPO) and accountability in Ethiopia, the charges and alternatives to charges, the rights of victims and defendants and the importance of the historical record being created. Its recommendations for the SPO and the international community include that there should be no death penalty; all 1,300 prisoners detained without charge should be charged immediately or released; the SPO and the international community should commit funds to support the restitution, compensation and rehabilitation of victims and for counsel for the defence; and that no amnesty should be considered at present. NNS has more details.

The Ethiopian Center for Peace and Human Rights held a meeting on January 23-27 to train journalists from government and private press to cover the trials. "I was very pleased with the meeting' said Daniel Woubishet, the Center's Co- ordinator, 'as the Head of Public Relations for the Supreme Court and the journalists were able to discuss face to face and agreed to put forward recommendations - the journalists to suggest how the court could 'inhibit their work less' and the court on how journalists should not 'prejudice the trial proceedings.'


Food Needs in Sudan
January 30 - Operation Lifeline Sudan announced their emergency appeal for Sudan for 1995 which totals just over US Dollars 1 million. Good harvests have meant that food needs have dropped significantly with only 1.2 million people in need as opposed to the 4.3 million needy in 1994. UNICEF's appeal for non-food programme assistance demands the largest part of the appeal, nearly USD 44 million for 4.25 million beneficiaries - most of whom are in the South. Press Release available from NNS.

Ethiopia's food needs: looking back and forwards

On December 16, the Relief and Rehabilitation Commission called a meeting of donor and non-governmental agencies to present food requirements for linking relief to development. Other priority areas are building the National Disaster Prevention and Preparedness Fund; seed reserves; strengthening the Food Security Reserve; raising stocks of tools and establishing tool depots; building relief infrastructure and logistics and human resource development.

One month of events and activities to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the Ethiopian Famine will take place in February and March, including regional conferences and a national conference entitled "Famine in Ethiopia: Learning from the Past to Prepare for the future." There will also be a day's national holiday. See October Monthly Update, there will also be more details in the February Issue.

Copies of the Commissioner's speech, relief and rehabilitation assistance requirements and capacity building requirements, all available from NNS.

The RRC's appeal for emergency food is as follows:

Emergency:Food Grain 					452,920
Emergency:Oils 			 		 	 15,816
Emergency:Supplementary Food requirement		 23,724
Emergency:Food Grain for monetisation 	 	 80,000					

Emergency Food Need					572,460

N.B. The WFP/FAO food assessment mission calculated the total national food deficit (including programme, as well as emergency requirements, and on the basis of recommended calorific consumption rather than on a ration per 'man month') to be 1.032 million tons of which 427,000 tons are for emergency food aid.


Somali Women for Peace

Separating Sharia law from the constitution alone separated 25 Somali women's representatives when they called for a bigger role for women in bringing peace, democracy and human rights in Somalia at a Nairobi meeting in January. The women (from Somalia and Somaliland and from both sides of the Ali Mahdi/Aideed rift) met to receive training in peacemaking and conflict resolution from the South African NGO Accord, in international human rights law and women's rights from Equality Now, a US based NGO, and to discuss their capacity building needs. They also drafted a Charter of Rights (see below).

Isabelle Valois, from the Centre d'Etudes Arabes Pour le Developpement, a funder of the meeting which was organised by the Fund for Peace, is keen to see the enthusiasm created continue and develop. But like other observers, she stresses that "this must come from within the group - they showed that they could innovate when they held their own meetings every night - that has to be built on - it's up to them to start, we can only support." For a report from the meeting and more information on the Women's groups who attended please contact NNS.

The Charter of Rights for Women in Somalia enshrines the right to:

*consultation and equal participation in the peace process
*freedom from violence
*economic empowerment
*work, equal pay
*education and social services
*training and skills
*creation of jobs for women
*recognition of unpaid work in the home
*women's development bank
*select ones own partner
*own property
*fundamental freedom of movement, travel and assembly
*right to alimony
*elimination of female circumcision
*be elected
*be a decision maker


"Poverty Alleviation through social organisation" - ACORD in Dire Dawa

1993/94 saw some 63 new Community Based Organisations, or CBOs, spring up in the Eastern Ethiopian city of Dire Dawa. Their number is evidence of an expanding civil sector in the city as the population increases and there is some space for locals to organise. While this expansion may be new, CBOs are rooted in tradition, often built around the demands of burial and marriage ceremonies or economic need, where better off community members lend to the worse off through rotating credit. Meanwhile, working with them exemplifies what international organisations preach for 'participatory development.'

Yet evidence of international agencies, including NGOs, working through existing CBOs in Ethiopia is scant. ACORD, a European NGO with a development mandate has just spent a year developing a four year project to increase the capacity of CBOs in Dire Dawa. NNS spoke to their Country Co-ordinator, Ali Adam, a Sudanese with over ten years experience of development work in the Horn.

"Their eyes are on the grant" when you first talk to them, he says, "and that's for a clear practical reason - but we have to work with them to move away from practical to strategic needs." ACORD has spent a year conducting a baseline survey on the structure and needs of the CBOs in Dire Dawa (as well as on the city itself). As a result one of their main focuses in the programme is on women who comprise 60% of the total population of the city (80% in some districts)while 32% of all households are female-headed. Programme support in terms of grants to CBOs will be 80% to women and gender issues will be at the forefront of programme strategy.

More generally, CBOs suffer because, as informal groups, they are not eligible for loans from the Ethiopian Development Bank. "While we do not want to formalise them,' says Adam, 'it will help to at least have access to being a legal entity, if they want, then they can access credit." This is an example of one lynch-pin of the programme: 'linkage'. By putting CBOs in touch with NGOs, local administrators and with each other, avenues of opportunity can open up. "They rarely come together to sit and discuss problems jointly, which may be a legacy of the previous regime, but we'll organise visits so that they can see each other's work and they may, through time, learn that working together would be to their advantage - but we will only open that door, we won't push them through."

Similarly ACORD is shy of creating or encouraging artificial structures, but they do plan to facilitate an advisory committee which will include representatives of the city administration, the district council, ACORD and the CBOs. This will make project funding decisions and is also intended to provide access for CBO representatives to local officials - for joint project work in the short term and individuals as they recognised how efficient the former were. ACORD doesn't organise or administer credit in this latest programme, though funds will go to revolving fund schemes, instead the CBOS will manage the entire fund themselves, so that when the time comes for ACORD to leave, they will be independent and sustainable.

Full project proposal including details of survey results and early warning for relief needs due to natural and man-made causes available in the ACORD project document available from NNS.

Constitution Conference in Eritrea

The Constitutional Commission of Eritrea organised a meeting entitled: The making of the Eritrean Constitution which was held from January 14-18. The meeting brought international, regional and local experts together to debate the issues surrounding constitution making in Eritrea. Issue papers available from the conference are on legislative power, the structure of the judiciary, decentralisation, fundamental rights and freedoms, economic and social rights, equality guarantees, also the agenda and participants list.

USA for Africa - reunion and evaluation

USA for Africa, a US based PVO which raised and spent funds from sales of the "We are the World" record and phased out after six years, organised a reunion of original artists, board, staff and supporters on January 30. The reunion paid tribute to Mohammed Amin, the journalist whose pictures first brought the Ethiopian famine to wide international attention. A book called "We are the World - an Evaluation of Pop Aid for Africa" has been republished for the occasion. It examines USA for Africa's approach to relief and development and looks at the organisation's funding decisions and grant management in detail. A documentary film was also produced for the occasion. For an order form contact NNS (copies USD 15 each).


Bridgehead visits the Horn

Mr. Howard Esbin, Director of Bridgehead, the trading wing of Oxfam Canada and Oxfam US visited Ethiopia and Eritrea recently to establish links with organisations and producers interested in marketing their goods on fair trade terms in developed countries. The Gemini Trust, a local NGO for needy families with twins and triplets based in Addis Ababa, has become the focal point for Bridgehead's relations in Ethiopia and has already co-ordinated the export of items produced by three other NGOs. If your organisation is interested in establishing links with Bridgehead, please contact Mr. Shiferaw Lulsegged at the Gemini Trust on Addis Ababa 151947.

Subject: Inter Africa Group NNS MU Dec 94/Jan 95 - for Hornet
Date: Wed, 15 Feb 95 08:07:40 GMT
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