HORN OF AFRICA: IRIN News Briefs [19991026]

HORN OF AFRICA: IRIN News Briefs [19991026]

HORN OF AFRICA: IRIN News Briefs, Tuesday 26 October 1999


ERITREA: Deportations by Ethiopia condemned ETHIOPIA: Meles meets Algerian mediator, UN official ETHIOPIA: Security accord signed with Yemen DJIBOUTI: France warns neighbours, "particularly Eritrea" DJIBOUTI: French journalists expelled SOMALIA: Aideed has "difficult" talks in Addis SOMALIA: Humanitarian conditions worsening SOMALIA: Food shortages looming in Gedo SOMALIA: UN plane aborts landing

ERITREA: Deportations by Ethiopia condemned

Eritrea has condemned the deportations of 1,400 Eritreans by Ethiopia over the weekend. The Eritrean news agency ERINA said the Eritreans were picked up in Addis Ababa and "dumped" on the Bure front in "dangerous no-man's land" where they crossed the border. ICRC spokesman Juan Martinez told IRIN on Tuesday that his organisation was concerned over the deportations, as the necessary safety conditions had not been guaranteed. "When we learnt that the Ethiopians were transporting them to the border, we disagreed for sure," he said. He added that the Eritreans crossed the border in two or three batches. Martinez said the ICRC was holding discussions with the two governments on the possibility of airlifting deportees from both countries.

ETHIOPIA: Meles meets Algerian mediator, UN official

Prime Minister Meles Zenawi on Monday held talks with Algerian presidential envoy Ahmed Ouyahia on the OAU peace plan to try and resolve the border dispute with Eritrea, Ethiopian television reported. It said they discussed problems associated with the implementation of the plan's technical arrangements. Ethiopia believes these arrangements do not guarantee a return to the pre-war status. However, Meles expressed his commitment to constructive dialogue, the television reported. The Algerian official is due in Asmara for talks with Eritrean leaders.

Meles also met UN Deputy Secretary-General Louise Frechette on Monday to discuss the border war. Ethiopian television quoted him as saying the UN gave "minimal consideration" to conflicts affecting Africa.

ETHIOPIA: Security accord signed with Yemen

Ethiopia and Yemen on Friday signed a security cooperation accord, Ethiopian television reported. The agreement, signed in Addis Ababa by Ethiopian Justice Minister Worede Woldu Wolde and Yemeni Interior Minister Major-General Hussein Muhammad Arab, is aimed at "jointly controlling elements seeking to destabilise peace and stability in the two countries". They would "jointly engage" any third party trying to rupture "long-standing ties" between Ethiopia and Yemen, the accord stated.

DJIBOUTI: France warns neighbours, "particularly Eritrea"

French army chief General Jean-Pierre Kelche has told Djibouti's neighbours, "particularly Eritrea", that France fully supports Djibouti's territorial integrity. In a recent interview with Radio France Internationale, Kelche said Djibouti was not involved in the border dispute between Ethiopia and Eritrea, and the fact Ethiopia had access to Djibouti's port did not mean the country was fighting alongside Addis Ababa. "We want Djibouti's neighbours to know that we are behind Djibouti as far as its territorial integrity is concerned," said Kelche who recently visited Djibouti. "We told them they cannot use Djibouti territory as a battlefield". The radio noted that France will deploy a total of 2,500 soldiers in Djibouti.

DJIBOUTI: French journalists expelled

Meanwhile, a French television crew was expelled from Djibouti on Friday for "attempting to tarnish the image" of the country, AFP news agency reported. The TV channel France-2 issued a statement in Paris saying the crew's videotape had been seized by the authorities. The journalists were accused of "orchestrating a disinformation campaign" aimed at undermining relations between France and Djibouti during a report on the use of funds provided by France for Djibouti port.

SOMALIA: Aideed has "difficult" talks in Addis

Somali faction leaders Hussein Aideed, Uthman Hasan Ali Ato and Umar Haji Masaleh reportedly had "difficult" talks with Ethiopian officials in Addis Ababa on Friday. According to the 'Xog-Ogaal' newspaper, Ethiopian Foreign Minister Seyoum Mesfin criticised Aideed for supporting al-Ittihad and Oromo rebel groups based in Somalia which, he said, threatened Ethiopia's interests. Aideed replied that Ethiopia should end its "military intervention" in Somalia, the newspaper said.

SOMALIA: Humanitarian conditions worsening

The UN Country Team (UNCT) said humanitarian conditions in southern and central Somalia were deteriorating due to ongoing conflict and natural disaster. In its latest report, it said an estimated 1.2 million people were at risk from severe food insecurity. In addition, the area accounted for about 300,000 displaced people. An estimated 1.6 million people in Mogadishu, Lower and Middle Juba, parts of Gedo and Lower Shabelle were not accessed by UN programmes. The report said funds were urgently required to cover the food pipeline from January until August 2000, when the next main harvest is due.

SOMALIA: Food shortages looming in Gedo

WFP said clan faction fighting is escalating and food shortages are looming again, particularly in the Gedo area. In its latest weekly report, the UN food agency said the area was difficult to access because of security problems. "The food security outlook continues to deteriorate as aid deliveries have been hampered by continuing violence," the report stressed.

SOMALIA: UN plane aborts landing

A UN flight into the southwest town of Luug aborted its approach last Thursday after the pilot observed three anti-aircraft weapons blocking the runway, although no shots were fired, the UNCT update said. It added there were increasing reports indicating the presence of Ethiopian forces in the area. Also in the southern zone, the al-Ittihad militia are said to have moved inexplicably from Ras Kamboni to the Buaale area. The 'Xog-Ogaal' newspaper on Tuesday reported clashes in the southern Balcad area between the Ujeejeen and Shiidle groups, in which more than 10 people have been killed.


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Copyright (c) UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs 1999

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Editor: Dr. Ali B. Ali-Dinar, Ph.D

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