HORN OF AFRICA: IRIN News Briefs [19990804]

HORN OF AFRICA: IRIN News Briefs [19990804]

HORN OF AFRICA: IRIN News Briefs, 4 August

ETHIOPIA-ERITREA: OAU expects delegates to "finalise" details

Ethiopian and Eritrean delegates were expected to meet in Algeria this week in a bid to finalise technical details of the OAU proposal to end the war between them, the Organisation of African Unity said on Monday. Experts from the OAU, the UN and US have been meeting in Algiers to work out practical details for implementing the Framework Agreement which would then be discussed by the delegations from Ethiopia and Eritrea, news agencies quoted OAU spokesman Ibrahim Dagash as saying. "We are hoping for a speedy finalisation," Dagash added, though the exact date for the delegates' meeting is unknown. The apparent progress comes after intensive shuttle diplomacy by OAU envoy, Ahmed Ouyahia, and US special envoy, Anthony Lake, in the last week.

Eritrean absence stymies Church mediation effort

An attempt by the Orthodox church leadership in Ethiopia and Eritrea to mediate an end to the war has failed because the Eritrean delegation failed to turn up in the eastern French town of Ferney-Voltaire between 29 July and 1 August. Patriarch of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, Abuna Paulos, said the Eritreans had not given a specific reason for not attending, and that their absence was "unfortunate", AFP news agency reported on Wednesday.

ERITREA: Renewed appeal for urgent humanitarian aid

The emergency situation in Eritrea, which on 14 July spurred ACT (Action by Churches Together) to launch an appeal, has since grown worse, the organisation reported in an update received by IRIN on Wednesday. There are now 500,000 war-affected people in need, in addition to 61,500 Eritreans expelled from Ethiopia, according to figures from the Eritrean Relief and Rehabilitation Committee (ERREC).

Donor pledges to Eritrea have been slow in arriving, ACT said, and it would be a good thing if "humanitarian agencies could follow up positive political development with an appropriate response to humanitarian needs". ACT aims to deliver 10,000 tents, 20,000 blankets, 20,000 sleeping mats and 10,000 sets of grasses for thatching, while ERREC has reported the need for 36,286 tents, 32,720 blankets and 101,230 sleeping mats in all.

Red Cross president arrives for "working visit"

The president of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Cornelio Somaruga, arrived in Asmara on Tuesday for talks with Eritrean President Isayas Afewerki and government officials, during which issues arising out of the Ethiopian-Eritrean war were expected to be addressed. "It is a working visit, they will discuss the conflict. The president will be making normal requests, asking for compliance with the Geneva Conventions," ICRC spokeswoman Barbara Amstad, quoted by AFP news agency, said. Somaruga was scheduled to travel to Ethiopia on Thursday.

The ICRC established a presence in Eritrea shortly after the war broke out and has monitored the movements of war-displaced people, Eritreans deported from Ethiopia and alleged human rights abuses against Ethiopian citizens in Eritrea, AFP reported. It has not been allowed access to Ethiopian prisoners of war (POWs), though several journalists have, the report added.

ETHIOPIA: Addis Ababa denies reports of planned meeting with Aideed

The Ethiopian government on Tuesday denied claims by Somali faction leader Hussein Aideed in Mogadishu that officials were due to hold talks with him in the Libyan capital, Tripoli, on Thursday. An official in the government spokesperson's office, quoted by AFP, dismissed the reports, saying: These are disseminations of unfounded rumours and we have no intention to meet this puppet of the Eritreans ... These declarations are made in order to confuse the international community and the Somali people." Aideed was reported to have told a meeting of Somali intellectuals at the Libyan embassy in Mogadishu on Sunday that the meeting had been scheduled to explore means of easing tensions along the Ethiopian-Somali border.

SOMALIA: Kenya orders closure of "illegal" refugee camp

The district commissioner of Mombasa, Wilfred Legei, on Tuesday ordered the closure of Saint Ann's refugee camp in the Kenyan coastal city, giving 2,500 Somali refugees at the camp up to Friday, 6 August, to vacate or be arrested. Legei, who visited the camp with the district security team, said the government and UNHCR did not recognise the camp and that whoever was sponsoring it was committing a crime. The only recognised refugee camps in Kenya were Dadaab in the northeast and Kakuma in the northwest, and all Mombasa camps had been ordered closed last year, with refugees relocating to the two approved camps, Kenyan radio reported Legei as saying. He added that those unwilling to move would be repatriated to Somalia.

Elders broker ceasefire deal in Mogadishu

Armed factions involved in the latest round of violence in Mogadishu, in which the death total has been put at 17 by local media, have agreed to a ceasefire brokered by Somali elders. The fighting between militias loyal to rival Mogadishu warlords Musa Sudi Yalahow and Hussein Haji Bod was triggered by an attempt to "tax" a lorry carrying goods from Ma'an to Mogadishu, news agencies reported on Tuesday. The clashes, which involved mortar shelling and heavy machine-gun fire, ceased late on Monday night, they added. The security situation in Mogadishu was reported by humanitarian sources to have relatively improved recently - in spite of the killing of Hussein Aideed's security head, who was also responsible for the security of international agencies - as the Islamic courts continued to clear militia roadblocks.

Digil Salvation Army claims capture of Awdheegle from Aideed

In the Lower Shabelle region, the Digil Salvation Army (DSA) - a new militia reported to be allied to the Rahanwein Resistance Army (RRA) - claimed on Monday to have captured the village of Awdheegle, 80 km south of Mogadishu, from Hussein Aideed's militia, news agencies reported. The two sides have also been battling for control of nearby Qoroley and Somali media report a build-up by Ethiopian and allied forces intending to take the town. A regional analyst told IRIN that Ethiopia appears to be successfully building a Somali coalition against Aideed - who has been repeatedly linked with Eritrea and the Ethiopian rebel Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) - and that he is looking increasingly isolated in Somali politics.

UNICEF resumes full operations in Baidoa

The capture and consolidation of Baidoa by the Rahanwein Resistance Army (RRA), reportedly backed by Ethiopian army forces, has allowed international humanitarian staff to return to the town for the first time since 1995, and the UNICEF Baidoa office is now fully operational, an agency report stated. Landmines remain a major threat to programme implementation in the area, it added.

The UN's Common Air Services (UNCAS) flights into the self-declared state of Puntland in northeast Somalia have resumed. They were suspended on 12 June following an incident in which a plane was held at Garowe by airport security guards, a UN report received by IRIN on Wednesday stated. Also in Puntland, the editors of `Sahan' (Pioneer) and `Riyaaq' (Happiness) newspapers, published in Bosasso, were on Tuesday reported to have been arrested for writing unflattering reports about officials. The editors would soon appear in court to answer the charges, the 'Qaran' newspaper in Mogadishu reported. It added that the arrests highlighted the problems facing journalists in dealing with Somali faction leaders.


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Item: irin-english-1357

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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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