Horn of Africa Review, December 2000/January 2001

December 2000/January 2001


UNMEE deploys 3,279 peacekeepers: The United Nations Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE) has deployed 3,279 peacekeepers, comprised of contingents from Canada, Denmark, Italy, Jordan, the Netherlands and Slovakia. A statement from UNMEE released on January 11 stated that to date 71 countries had contributed 3,433 military and 125 civilian personnel to the peacekeeping mission. The statement further confirmed that a demining company from Slovakia has been fully deployed to the central sector and the battalion's logistics base in Dek'emhare, Eritrea, is in its final stage of preparation. Preparations are also being made for a western sector headquarters in Barentu, and in the eastern region at Assab, Eritrea. (UNMEE Press Release, January 11)

Exchange of POW’s: The International Committee of the Red Cross reported that Ethiopia 1,256 Prisoners Of War (POW’s) and detainees and Eritrea 640 POW’s and detainees, under its auspices, respectively. The exchange is the first since the war broke out in May 1998 and is in line with the peace agreement signed between Ethiopia and Eritrea in Algiers on December 12, 2000. (Walta Information Center, January 12; Reuters, January 7; BBC News Online, December 23)

US efforts to lift arms embargo fail: On January 10, the United States agreed to postpone voting in the UN Security Council on its proposed resolution to lift an arms embargo imposed on Ethiopia and Eritrea in May 2000. The decision followed strong opposition from the Security Council, where the majority believed that lifting the embargo would be premature and dangerous as the two countries are disputing the implementation of the peace accord. Had the vote taken place there were indications that the US would have been short of the nine votes it needed from the 15-member Councils. However, the US is reported as saying that they will try again after bilateral talks with member states. (CNN, January 9; BBC News Online, January 10)

Somali President accuses Ethiopia of Interference: Somalia interim President Abdiqasim Salad Hassan accused Ethiopia of training thousands of clan militiamen opposed to the interim government. However, Ethiopian government rejected the allegations claiming that the Somali interim government was using Ethiopia as a scapegoat for the difficulties it is facing in Mogadishu and other parts of Somalia and to mobilize international support as a substitute for domestic support. (BBC News Online, January 10 & 8; Xog-Ogaal, January 10: Quoted by BBC Monitoring Services)

Railway to link Ethiopia and Sudan: Ethiopia and Sudan have reached an agreement on a proposal to build a railway line linking the Port of Sudan on the Red Sea to Ethiopia's southernmost town of Moyale on the Kenya border. The Ethiopian transport minister, Mohammed Drir, said local and foreign partnerships would be sought to finance the project, which is estimated to cost US$1.5 billion. The Minister pointed out that the railway will also link Ethiopia to many other African countries. (BBC News Online, January 9; PANA, January 9)

Ethiopia and Eritrea Sign peace accord: Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi and Eritrea President Isayas Afworki signed a comprehensive peace agreement ending on December 12 the two-year border conflict. The OAU-drafted peace agreement establishes commissions to mark the 620-mile border, address the exchange of prisoners, return displaced people and hear claims for compensation for war damage. The signing was attended by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika and US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. In the signing ceremony Prime Minster Meles said his country is "commitment to the full and scrupulous implementation of the agreement". President Isayas also expressed his country’s "…commitment and desire to forget the past and look for a future of peace and mutual respect." (BBC News Online, December 12; Washington Post, December 13)

Sudan and Ethiopia to end visa requirements: In a bid to strengthen their relations Sudan and Ethiopia are considering ending entry visa requirements for each other’s citizens and canceling customs duties on traded goods. (AFP, December 3)


Plan to raise port tariffs suspended: Djibouti has suspended plans to raise tariffs by 150 percent. The increase due to be effective from January 15 was suspended following complaints from the Ethiopian government, which sent Foreign Minister Seyoum Mesfin to negotiate in December. (AFP, January 15; IRIN, December 28)

Djibouti deports immigrants: A large-scale identity check operation was launched on December 20, following complaints of insecurity linking to immigrants. During the operation, some 5000 illegal immigrants were arrested. Djibouti Interior Minister Abdallah Abdillahi Miguil said most of the immigrants were Ethiopians. Though already deported, the Minister noted that as a result of the porous boundary the immigrants would soon sneak back in. (IRIN, December 27)

Iran in talks with Djibouti: Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharazi and Djiboutian Foreign Minister Ali Abdi Farah met, on December 20, to discuss ways to boost ties between the two countries. Farah expressed a desire to develop relations in the political, economical and technical fields. For his part, Kharazi praised the Djibouti's efforts to restore peace in Somalia. (AFP, December 20)

French hand over Gaab: Former Djibouti police force commander, General Yacin Yabeh Gaab, whose transfer on December 7 sparked a police protest, was handed over to the Djibouti government by French military officials from the base where he sought refuge on December 9. In a statement released in Paris, the French Foreign Ministry said it had received assurances that Gaab would be accorded normal civil rights. Radio Djibouti reported that Gaab is being questioned at the headquarters of the paramilitary gendarmerie in Djibouti city but no charges have been filed against him yet. (IRIN, December 11; AFP, December 9)


Japan pledges US$1.36 million: Japan has pledged US$1.36 million in emergency grants for refugees and displaced Eritreans through the office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). UNHCR reported that 90,000 Eritreans were forced to flee to Sudan and other neighboring countries, following the fighting with Ethiopia earlier in 2000. The Eritrean government also noted that 1.1 million people were internally displaced as a result of the two-year border war with Ethiopia. (Kyodo, December 26)

US$ 287.7 million rehabilitation programme begins: A two—year, US$ 287.7 million rehabilitation programme drafted by the Eritrean government, the World Bank and other developmental partners will begin in January 2001. The programme aims at mending the destruction caused by the two-year war with Ethiopia. (Voice of the Broad Masses of Eritrea, December 5: Quoted by BBC Monitoring Services)


World Bank approves US$ 460.6 million emergency loan: The World Bank approved emergency loans worth US$ 460.6 million on December 14. The Bank said a US$ 170.6 million loan will be used to help demobilize and reintegrate soldiers back into the society and the economy while the remaining US$ 230 million will be used for a war recovery programme including demining. The Bank further approved a US$ 60 million loan to address the HIV/AIDS epidemic. The International Development Association (IDA), the World Bank’s lending arm for the poorest countries, will finance the loan. (PANA, December 21; Reuters, December 14; IRIN, December 14; Walta Information Center, December 7)

Government announce lifting war tax: The Ministry of Finance announced on January 4 that the 10 percent surtax levied on certain imported commodities had been lifted effective from January 1. The surtax was introduced in 1999 to offset the budget deficit caused by the war with Eritrea. (Walta Information Center, January 5)

65,000 soldiers demobilized: Spokesperson for the Ethiopian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Yemane Kidane, reported, on January 1, that Ethiopia had demobilized nearly 65,000 soldiers since December 4. (CNN, January 1)

Detained Ethiopians return: Ethiopian Tigray radio reported that over 3000 Ethiopian citizens arrived from Eritrea via the Rama border crossing in two groups on December 9 and January 13. The returnees are reported to have been suffering in detention camps. (Xinhuanet, January 13; Voice of the Tigray Revolution, December 9: Quoted by BBC Monitoring Services)

Air and land routes opened: On December 7 the United Nations Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE) opened two additional land routes in the eastern and western fronts. Subsequently, on December 18 UNMEE opened air access routes in each of the three mission areas. UNMEE noted that the land routes and the air routes are important to establish freedom of movement for peacekeepers into the proposed Temporary Security Zone (TSZ). The opening of the access routes followed agreement at the Military Coordination Commission (MCC) meeting held in Nairobi on December 2. (UNMEE Press Release, December 2,7 &19 )


Sudan refuses to sign women’s rights convention: Sudan's government has refused to sign a United Nations treaty on women's rights, the Convention of Eradication of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). President Omar Al-Bashir said on January 14 that the convention goes against the family values and tradition of his country. (Reuters, January 14)

Sudan seeks relations with the US: Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir has called for closer ties with the United Sates. Speaking in Khartoum to Egypt's official Middle East News Agency (MENA), Al-Bashir said Sudan is looking for cooperative relations with the US and that it expects the American administration led by incoming President George W. Bush to begin a reassessment of its relationship with Sudan. Al-Bashir also welcomed American oil companies conducting prospecting operations in Sudan. (Reuters, January 10)

Drought threatens 3.2 million people in Sudan: The World Food Programme (WFP) has reported that more than 3.2 million Sudanese are facing food and water shortages because of civil war and an emerging drought following a failure of the rains. WFP and Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in a joint report issued on December 22, said Sudan needs to import 1.2 million tons of food aid. The report noted that the food shortages are particularly affecting pastoralists as the high price of cereals is forcing them into selling their livestock at less than half the normal price. It also noted that the drought has already affected North Darfur in west Sudan, North Kordofan in the center, the southern state of East Equatoria and Joglei, and Bahr al-Ghazal in the southwest. In response to the drought, WFP is currently appealing for US$ 106 million to feed 2.5 million people. Although the Sudanese government has acknowledged the food shortage, and is urging the international community to respond with assistance, it said the drought is under control. An ad-hoc committee has already authorized the importation of 100,000 tons of wheat and 100,000 tons of sorghum for the relief operation. Meanwhile, Sudanese Vice-President Ali Osman Mohamed Taha dismissed foreign reports of risks of famine claiming that these western aid organizations were seeking their own interests. (PANA, January 8; Reuters, January 4; AFP, December 22 & 21)

SPLA accuses Sudan government of bombing: Sudanese opposition party, the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA), has accused the government of Sudan of bombing Paluer, Padak and Yomciir villages in the south and killing six civilians and injuring several others. The government did not comment on the alleged bombing. (Reuters, January 12)

US diplomat expelled: A United States diplomat, Glenn Warren, left Sudan on December 7 following orders from Sudanese government to leave the country in 72 hours for violating diplomatic norms by holding talks with an unregistered opposition party, the National Democratic Association (NDA). The US, however, claimed that Warren had not done anything wrong, as the Sudanese Government never informed them of any restrictions on the ability of US diplomatic personnel to meet with anyone in Sudan. The government also arrested seven members of the NDA accused of plotting a US-backed popular uprising and passing southern rebels information designed to help them in the 17-year-old civil war. These NDA members, Sudanese government said on January 14, are to stand trial. The government also arrested a Sudanese lawyer, Ghazi Suleiman who heads the opposition party Democratic Force Front (DFF) as well as the Sudanese Human Rights Group (SHRG) after he challenged the arrest. (Reuters, January 14; AFP, December 9 & 7)

EU offers US$ 13.2 million: Following a year of dialogue between Sudan and the EU on issues such as human rights, democracy, terrorism and foreign relations, the EU offered Sudan US$ 13.2 million for humanitarian and developmental programmes. A delegation from EU, headed by Director of African Affairs in the French Foreign Ministry, Catherine Boivineau, was reported as having made progress on a number of issues such as freedom of speech and meetings. Speaking to reporters, Boivineau said that the EU and Sudan had agreed to continue the dialogue for another year. (AFP, December 6 & 7)

Al-Bashir and his party win election: In the presidential and parliamentary elections that took place in Sudan from December 13 to December 23, Omar Al-Bashir, President of Sudan, won the presidential election with 86.5% of the vote, while his party, the National Congress, won 97% of seats in parliament. Major political parties including the Democratic Unionist Party, National Democratic Alliance (NDA), and Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A) boycotted the election and as a result voting did not take place in three Southern Sudanese territories that are under SPLM/A control. The boycotting parties complained of widespread rigging in the elections, however observers from the Organization of African Unity (OAU), and the League of Arab States said the election was peaceful and well organized. (Addis Tribune, January 5; PANA, December 30; Reuters, December 30; AFP, December 14)


US allocates US$ 20.6 million for AIDS: The government of United States has allocated more than US$ 20.6 million for the management of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Kenya. However, Sandra Thurman, director of the US Embassy Office of National AIDS policy, said her government could not purchase anti-retroviral drugs for AIDS patients in Kenya because it could not even afford to manage its own patients. Thurman said the US was working in conjunction with other donors to influence prices charged by international pharmaceutical companies. (East African Standard, January 11: Quoted by BBC Monitoring Services)

Kenya scientists allowed rights over new AIDS vaccine: Kenyan scientists have been allowed to jointly own the patent rights for a new HIV/AIDS vaccine with British researchers. Scientists from the University of Nairobi helped develop the vaccine, however Britain has been arguing, in courts, that the Kenyan scientists did not offer intellectual inputs to the research and development and therefore should not have patent rights on the vaccine. (IRIN, December 15)

Court rules against female circumcision: For the first time in Kenya, two teenage schoolgirls won a court order preventing their father from forcing them to undergo female genital mutilation. However a leading women's law group in Kenya says it is not enough and is pushing for a law to ban the practice. Martha Koome, head of the Federation of Women Lawyers said it is time to criminalize the practice. (CNN, December 14; BBC News Online, December 13)


Security Council calls for peace building mission: The United Nations Security Council has asked UN Secretary General Kofi Annan to prepare a proposal for a new peace building mission in Somalia. Somalia Prime Minister Ali Khalif Galaydh, acknowledged that Somalia does not have enough resources and therefore needs the support of the United Nations and the international community to demobilize militia groups. Annan's special representative for Somalia, David Stephens, confirmed that the Transitional National Government needs support from the UN but maintained that the mission would not include a military force. He said the proposed mission would be composed of political officers and aid agency officials. (BBC News Online, January 12; AFP, January 11)

Baidoa cut off from the world: Somalia opposition faction leaders from the Rehanwein Resistance Army (RRA) claimed that the town of Baidoa (Southeastern Somalia) has been cut off from the rest of the world. The RRA did not give an explanation for cutting the town’s communication lines and for not allowing traffic to flow in and out of the town since January 1. However, there are rumours of the presence of Ethiopian troops in the town, and that there is a serious division within the RRA between members who opposed the interim government of Somalia and dissidents members of RRA who want to cooperate with the interim government. The division led to fighting which left six people dead and dozens others injured around the village of Idaley. (CNN, January 2 & 3)

UNDP workshop for MPs: Under its Capacity Building Facility for Somalia, the United Nations Development Programme conducted a six-day workshop for 99 Members of Parliament (MP) of the Transitional National Assembly (TNA). The MPs were given training on subjects such as human rights, gender, relations between parliament and government, relations with parliament in other states of the world and other subjects. The workshop was conducted in response to a request from the Speaker of the TNA. (IRIN, December 11; 'Xog-Ogaal', December 10: Quoted by BBC Monitoring Services)

Faction leader support government: Hussein Haji Bod, a Mogadishu based faction leader, signed an agreement on December 11 pledging support to interim President Abdulkassim Salat Hassan. Bod said he will put his armed vehicles and militiamen behind the government to bring peace in Somalia. Hassan expressed his happiness over the agreement and said it was a step towards reconciliation. Until recently Bod aligned with Hussein Aideed to oppose the outcome of the Arta conference, which brought the interim government to power. (BBC News Online, December 12; IRIN, December 13)

4,744 Somali refugees repatriated: Since the beginning of the 2000, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has repatriated, on a voluntary basis, 4,744 Somalia refugees living in Djibouti, UNHCR spokeswoman Delphine Marie said on December 15. Marie also said 24,000 refugees from Somaliland are still in Djibouti but she noted that UNHCR has not been able to keep up operations to repatriate them due to tensions between the Djibouti authorities and those in Somaliland.(AFP, December 15)

Telephone companies agree to cooperate: Three private telephone companies in Somalia, have agreed to connect their networks to allow people subscribing to one company to phone friends and relatives subscribing to either of the others. Under the agreement the three companies will start charging for local calls, which they used to provide for free. (BBC News on-line, December 1)




The designations employed and the presentation of material in this document do not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever of the United Nations concerning the legal status of any country, territory, city or area of its authorities, or concerning the delimitation of its frontiers or boundaries.


Information in this update has been obtained from official and private media reports, U.N. agencies and NGO sources. No claims are made by the UNDP-EUE as to the accuracy of these reports.



January 18, 2001

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