HORN OF AFRICA: IRIN News Briefs, 20 August [19990820]

HORN OF AFRICA: IRIN News Briefs, 20 August [19990820]

HORN OR AFRICA: IRIN News Briefs, 20 August 1999

ETHIOPIA: Election date set

The National Election Board of Ethiopia has announced that the country's national elections will be held on 14 May, 2000, a report issued by the government spokesperson's office said. The exercise will be for the election of the Councils of the Federal states and the 550 parliamentarians for the House of People's Representatives. So far, 58 parties have registered with the board to take part in the elections whose campaigns are set to begin in December. The country's national elections were last held in May 1995 with the current legislators having been elected for a five-year term.

Government says Oromo rebels "totally annihilated"

The Ethiopian Defence Ministry on Wednesday said it had "totally annihilated" the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) rebels "mobilised to carry out terrorist acts in eastern Ethiopia" from neighbouring Somalia. Ethiopia radio reported that between 10-16 August, over 300 rebels have been killed and some 180 taken as prisoners. It said the government forces also destroyed the rebels' mercenary and killed one of its leaders Boreda Birru. The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) quoted OLF's spokesman in Washington Abiju Geleta as saying the government's claim was just "a wild dream."

Oromo rebels clash in northern Kenyan border

Fighting broke out between OLF rebels and Ethiopian troops in the Taki area of Githeer location in Mandera district northeastern Kenya, Kenya's 'Daily Nation' newspaper reported on Thursday. It said sounds of heavy artillery and bombardment could be heard from Takaba township some 30 km from Taki where the battle raged since Monday. The paper said Kenyan villagers from Taki and Githeer have moved to Takaba town. Residents of the town expressed fear that the fighting could extend to the area, as defeated OLF forces are said to be retreating "towards the township" and are reportedly planting land mines as they do so.

Over 400 Ethiopian troops killed

Meanwhile, a joint opposition force of the OLF, National Ogaden Liberation Front and the Sidama Liberation Front said in a statement on Thursday they had killed some 473 Ethiopian soldiers and wounded 361 others during fierce fighting between 11-14 August in southeastern Ethiopia. The statement further said the team captured over 200 light and heavy weapons from the government troops, Eritrean radio reported.

ERITREA: Eritrea ready for "tangible solution" to dispute

The Eritrean President Isayas Afewerki on Tuesday reaffirmed his government's commitment to finding a "tangible solution" to the dispute between it and its neighbour Ethiopia, Eritrean radio reported. He told a US delegation led by US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright that his country was prepared to see a ceasefire being observed and to "see the issue being resolved in order to continue with other issues of mutual interest." Albright for her part, reiterated the fact that the dispute between the two countries had been "predominant " over several disputes in the region, adding that, "finding a concrete solution to it would help in solving the other regional disputes." She said her government would work "relentlessly until this dispute was settled."

SCF sets up a six-month emergency intervention in Eritrea

The international NGO Save the Children Fund (SCF) has set up a six-month emergency health intervention programme to support the Eritrean governments' health and nutrition work, the organisation's bulletin said. It said about 200,000 people have been displaced by war including over 40,000 children. Many are living in harsh conditions in refugee camps where health and sanitation services are overstretched and there are some "cases of malnutrition." SCF says there are also fears that with the start of the rainy season, conditions will deteriorate further."Malaria already endemic in the country, is likely to become a big problem for people in the camps with onset of the rains," it said.

SCF will supply 50,000 mosquito nets impregnated with insecticide and support some 20 health posts by supplying basic medicines including paediatric drugs, equipment and training. It is also setting up a surveillance system to monitor nutrition levels among children. Among other needs to be addressed are education, shelter and other healthcare concerns. SCF is working with other NGOs such as Oxfam.

DJIBOUTI: Government issues an appeal for some 100,000 people

The Djibouti government recently issued an appeal for assistance to some 100,000 people affected by drought in areas close to the border with Ethiopia. Following an inter-agency and government assessment of some of the affected areas, food, water containers and trucks were identified as priority needs. The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) has set up an account for international donations and issued a drought situation report.

SOMALIA: UN to play an "enhanced role" in Somalia - Annan

The UN's Secretary-General Kofi Annan has said that the current circumstances in Somalia may make it appropriate for the UN to play an "enhanced role" in the country and proposes that the Security Council consider a two-front approach to the ongoing crisis. In a report to the Council on Wednesday Annan said that while the negotiated settlement of the crisis has continued to be "elusive" some "important" steps forward have been made. "Within Somalia itself, there is increasing evidence that ordinary Somalis are tired of violence and are pressuring their leaders to opt for peace," he said. He said that the UN working impartially and objectively and within the Joint Intergovernmental Authority on Development, "should do more to help bring about national unity and the restoration of a Somali national government." Annan suggested that the UN conduct a general review of its role in Somalia, including the possibility of relocating some UN programmes and agencies to the country and that a trust fund be established "to provide financial support for the emerging process." He asked donor institutions to be "flexible" and "creative" in light of regulations that require them to cooperate only with established state institutions which Somalia lacks.

On the humanitarian front he said that although UN agencies and their partners have continued to deliver much needed food aid to Somalia, their operational capacities have been gradually eroded, primarily because of inadequate donor support. This was reflected in the weak response to the UN's 1999 Consolidated appeal which was "severely prioritised and focused in response to donor wishes," he added.

Twenty communities vote to disown Aideed

Twenty communities voted to disown faction leader Hussein Aideed's administration hence to stop collecting taxes on its behalf after a near three-week-long meeting, BBC reported on Tuesday. They opted to set up their own independent administration saying that they had support for the former governor of the region who was loyal to Aideed.

Nairobi, 20 August 1999 12:00 GMT


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

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

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