HORN OF AFRICA: IRIN News Briefs [19991124]

HORN OF AFRICA: IRIN News Briefs [19991124]

HORN OF AFRICA: IRIN News Briefs, Wednesday 24 November


HORN OF AFRICA: Guelleh seeks IGAD endorsement for Somali peace plan HORN OF AFRICA: Eritrea boycotts Djibouti-hosted IGAD summit SOMALIA: Arab League offers to host national reconciliation conference SOMALIA: Mogadishu warlord says factions prepared for peace SOMALIA: UN launches $124 million consolidated appeal SOMALIA: Focus on "life-saving support" in the south SOMALIA: Return of 80,000 refugees envisaged next year SOMALIA: MSF officially suspends activities in Kismayo ETHIOPIA: Increase in food needs, donations still short ETHIOPIA: WFP to extend drought emergency operation ETHIOPIA: Government denies mistreating Eritreans, seizing property ETHIOPIA: Up to 80,000 affected in Somali state floods

HORN OF AFRICA: Guelleh seeks IGAD endorsement for Somali peace plan

The Djibouti peace proposal for Somalia is scheduled to be a key item on the agenda of an Inter-Governmental Authority for Development (IGAD) summit meeting set for Friday, diplomatic sources told IRIN on Wednesday. A document outlining peace proposals for Somalia is expected to be tabled by Djibouti President Ismail Omar Guelleh, who is seeking endorsement from IGAD heads of government. If Djibouti secures IGAD's endorsement, it would then seek implementation of the arms embargo on Somalia, establishment of a standing committee to consider an implementation plan and the creation of a trust fund to support the peace process, the sources said.

Guelleh was on Monday reported to have held talks in Djibouti with an Ethiopian government delegation, in an effort to forge a common stand in advance of the IGAD discussion on his peace proposals. Meanwhile, Somali news organisations reported that Addis Ababa had a new strategy to unfold - despite its stated support for Guelleh's plan.

HORN OF AFRICA: Eritrea boycotts Djibouti-hosted IGAD summit

One of the IGAD members, Eritrea, will not be attending the organisation's summit meeting this week because it claims the host country Djibouti "has been making all sorts of accusations against it", its Nairobi embassy spokesman Kidane Woldeyesus told IRIN. Djibouti President Ismail Omar Guelleh last week warned of deteriorating relations between his country and Eritrea, and said there was "almost a state of war" between the two. "It would not be appropriate for us to take part in this context," Kidane said on Tuesday. Eritrea is considered a key regional player in relation to Somalia, not least because it has been consistently accused of arming anti-Ethiopian factions there - a charge it has repeatedly denied.

SOMALIA: Arab League offers to host national reconciliation conference

The Somali committee of the Arab League also met on Monday to discuss Djibouti's plan to help establish peace and stability in Somalia, news organisations reported. The secretary-general of the League, Esmat Abdel-Meguid, on Sunday expressed its willingness to host a national reconciliation conference for Somalia. He blamed Somali faction leaders for the chaos in the country and called on all countries, especially Somalia's neighbours, to observe a UN Security Council resolution banning the export of weapons to Somalia. The Arab League's Somalia committee comprises Algeria, Djibouti, Egypt, Libya, Sudan, Tunisia and Yemen.

SOMALIA: Mogadishu warlord says factions prepared for peace

Warlord Musa Sudi Yalahow, who controls the Medina enclave in the southwest of the city, said he could envisage the return of a national government within months. "Before the end of the millennium, or early next year, a Somali government will be established," he said at the weekend, after his return to Mogadishu from weeks of negotiations between faction leaders in Addis Ababa. "We now know that none of the Somali factions can use force and unilaterally establish a government. Therefore, we need to have a national Somali government through peace." Yalahow also said he "absolutely supported" the Somali peace initiative of Djibouti President Ismail Omar Guelleh.

SOMALIA: UN launches $124 million consolidated appeal

UN Secretary-general Kofi Annan launched the organisation's US $124 million Consolidated Inter-Agency Appeal for Somalia for the year 2000 in Geneva on Tuesday. The UN appealed for $50.5 million for humanitarian assistance and $73.7 million for other priority assistance in light of the need to establish peace and stability, and address emergency needs. A new strategy "to re-establish a functioning state and seek national reconciliation" will take time, but "while steps towards this approach are taken, humanitarian crises are likely to persist for the foreseeable future", it warned.

SOMALIA: Focus on "life-saving support" in the south

Rehabilitation and recovery of the relatively stable northern areas of Somaliland and Puntland, with an estimated 1.7 million people, was the focus of 60 percent of donor contributions, the appeal document stated. In contrast, "there is evidence of a full-blown humanitarian crisis in southern and central Somalia, estimated to have 4.3 million people", it added. In these areas, the focus of humanitarian agencies was on "life-saving support" and essential basic services, such as healthcare and safe water, but UN agencies estimated they were unable to get access to some 1.6 million people due to insecurity, the report said.

SOMALIA: Return of 80,000 refugees envisaged next year

"More than 80,000 refugees could be repatriated" to relatively safe areas of Somalia from Ethiopia, Kenya, Yemen and Djibouti during 2000, and a US $32 million reintegration programme was proposed in the UN's Consolidated Appeal to assist returning refugees - as well as communities of return and internally-displaced persons - and facilitate local recovery efforts. Other priorities identified in the Common Humanitarian Action Plan for 2000 included gaining access to and meeting the emergency needs of vulnerable populations. [full appeal document at]

SOMALIA: MSF suspends activities in Kismayo

The humanitarian relief NGO Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) is to officially hand over management and responsibility of Kismayo hospital to the Regional Health Board on Tuesday, 30 November, after suspending its operations in the area due to sustained insecurity, a press release from the agency stated on Friday. MSF said that, with insecurity preventing the return of expatriate staff evacuated in June amid deteriorating conditions, it could no longer fulfill its "fundamental principle of guaranteeing the quality of healthcare through direct supervision" and had to suspend its activities in Kismayo. MSF would continue to supply the hospital with a monthly emergency supply of drugs and medical material, "depending on healthcare to and security of the patients, staff and hospital structure", and looked forward to a rapid return to Kismayo when the security situation allowed, its press release stated.

Over 2,000 people demonstrated against the insecurity that led MSF to withdraw, and militia leaders promised protestors they would guarantee security for humanitarian agencies in Kismayo, the Somali newspaper 'Ayaamaha' reported on Tuesday.

ETHIOPIA: Increase in food needs, donations still short

The government's Disaster Prevention and Preparedness Commission (DPPC) has updated its food needs assessment for the remainder of the year, identifying 6.5 million people in need for November and 4.2 million in December. Based on standard monthly rations, there is a national need for 160,000 mt of relief food for November and December alone, with a shortfall in pledges of around 70,000 mt, the UN Country Team (UNCT) report for October-November stated. Just under one million needy people are reported to be children under five years.

ETHIOPIA: "More people being affected in more areas"

"What we're seeing is a deterioration in food security across the board," WFP Country Director Judith Lewis told IRIN on Wednesday. "It's not just pockets in the areas chronically-affected by drought. More people are being affected in more places all over the country. Malnutrition is high and child mortality is increasing." Drought, lower yields from short-cycle substitute crops, crop losses due to localised flooding, weed and pest infestations have all combined to create a food relief requirement which is "unusually high for this time of year", UN sources said. In addition to North and South Welo, Tigray and Harar, which are subject to chronic drought, there are "hotspots" of vulnerability in North and South Gonder, the Somali region and the south (including Konso and Berena), Lewis added.

ETHIOPIA: WFP to extend drought emergency operation

The World Food Programme (WFP) has increased its budget provision for the current drought emergency operation by US $40.5 million "to meet the needs of 30 percent of the people estimated by the DPPC to require food assistance or the last two months of this year and the first quarter of 2000", Judith Lewis told IRIN. As a result, the agency will approach donors for an additional 21,308 mt to meet November-December shortfalls, 36,908 mt towards January-March 2000 requirements and 2,198 mt of high-energy, high-protein foods for supplementary assistance to 35 percent of the total population receiving WFP assistance, in order to "fill the gap" in advance of the annual food needs appeal in January, she said.

While the response to the drought emergency operation had been "generous and quick", donors have been more reluctant to fund the operation for those internally-displaced by war while the conflict with Eritrea continues. A recent US $2.3 million donation from the Dutch government "has come at a very critical time" but WFP is "still pushing" to make good a 27 percent shortfall in cereal donations for the programme, Lewis told IRIN.

ETHIOPIA: Government denies mistreating Eritreans, seizing property

Ethiopia has denied allegations of mistreating deported Eritreans and confiscating their property. The Ethiopian embassy in Nairobi told IRIN Eritrean citizens were "not subjected to any form of inhuman treatment" and their rights to property were in no way affected. Ethiopia adhered to international humanitarian laws and the ICRC had "full access to follow up the whole exercise" of Eritreans being sent back to their country, the embassy stated. "No property that belongs to any Eritrean has been expropriated. Eritreans have been allowed to name legal agents of their choice to take care of their property," it added.

ETHIOPIA: Up to 80,000 affected in Somali state floods

The Ogaden Welfare Society has appealed for assistance for 70,000 to 80,000 people affected by extensive flood damage caused when the Wabi Shabelle River burst its banks and covered the areas of Kelafo, Mustahil and Ferfer in the Gode Zone of the National Regional Somali State with 3-5 metres of flood waters in late October. Some 7,500 hectares of farmland were inundated, damaging crops and destroying traditional grains stores, which was "a serious setback for the population, which has been surviving with no rain and little food aid over the last year", the UN Country Team in Addis Ababa reported. The most urgent needs reported were medical supplies and drugs, supplementary food, shelter materials and seeds.


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

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