IRIN News Briefs [19990917]

IRIN News Briefs [19990917]

HORN OF AFRICA: IRIN News Briefs, 17 September

ETHIOPIA: Meeting with Somali faction leaders denied

Ethiopia has denied media reports of a meeting between Foreign Minister Seyoum Mesfin and Somali faction leaders this week. The Somali newspaper 'Xog-Ogaal' on Wednesday claimed Seyoum met Husayn Aideed of the Somali National Alliance and Uthman Ato of the United Somali Congress in Libya during which they agreed on a six-point peace plan. According to the newspaper, this included "Ethiopia stopping military interference in Somalia" in return for Aideed ending support for "Ethiopia's enemies". Another Somali newspaper, 'Qaran', said Aideed was expected to visit Ethiopia for further talks. However, a short statement from the Ethiopian spokesperson's office on Thursday said "no such meeting took place" in Libya. "While Somali faction leaders such as Husayn Aideed are welcome to come to Addis Ababa, the reported meeting in Tripoli [Libya] never occurred," the statement said.

Food availability increases

A report by the UN Emergencies Unit for Ethiopia says food availability for drought relief operations improved significantly throughout August, but concern remains over the targeting of food aid due to a possible increase in the number of beneficiaries. With food shipments amounting to more than 300,000 mt due to arrive in Djibouti over the fourth quarter, there is also anxiety over severe port congestion. Meanwhile, isolated heavy storms last month resulted in water logging and some crop damage in high plateau areas. Up to 5,000 people have been displaced by flooding of the Awash river basin, and thousands more may be affected, the report warned. [Report available on]

ETHIOPIA/ERITREA: Asmara slams demand for "guarantees"

Ethiopia has called on the international community to provide "firm guarantees" that Eritrea would "withdraw" from disputed border areas. An Ethiopian foreign ministry statement on Tuesday said Addis Ababa wanted Eritrea to "withdraw from every inch of Ethiopian land", a comment which Asmara on Wednesday dismissed as "a contradiction in terms and a violation of the fundamental tenets of the whole Framework Agreement". The Eritrean news agency Erina quoted presidential spokesman Yemane Gebremeskel as saying the "implication" of Ethiopia's statement "is clear". "The TPLF [Tigray People's Liberation Front] wants to legitimise Eritrean territory it has incorporated into its illegal map, thus circumventing demarcation," he said.

SOMALIA: Fighting in southern areas

'Xog-Ogaal' claimed fighters of the Somali National Front-Buraleh wing, aided by Ethiopia, captured the town of Garbhaarrey in the southwestern Gedo region on Monday. Eleven people were reportedly killed and 16 others wounded in the clashes which pitted the Buraleh wing against the rival SNF wing of Umar Haji Masaleh.

Elsewhere in the country, clashes were reported between Aideed's militiamen and the joint forces of the Digil Salvation Army (DSA) and the Rahanwein Resistance Army (RRA) at Balidoogle airport in the south-central Wanle Weyne district. 'Xog-Ogaal' said this was the first time Aideed's fighters had clashed with the RRA in this area.

Fighting in the Kismaayo area on Tuesday claimed "many lives", 'Qaran' reported on Thursday. The clashes, between militia forces of the Habar Gidir and Marehan clans, were reportedly sparked off by the killing of some Marehan members. Militia troop reinforcements are said to be arriving from Mogadishu. Meanwhile, press reports said faction leader General Muhammad Hirsi Morgan was planning an offensive to recapture Kismaayo.

Somali army officers to meet

The 'Ayaamaha' newspaper reported that officers of the defunct Somali National Army in the Mogadishu area have been called to an "important meeting", scheduled for Friday. The newspaper quoted General Muhammad Nur Galaal, who served as a commander in Aideed's National Salvation Army, as saying this was the first such meeting in nine years. He said "foreign forces had launched a land and sea invasion of Somalia" and the National Army officers were the "only class that had taken an oath to defend the country and its unity".

UN dismayed over murder of UNICEF official

The UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, Sergio Vieira de Mello, has expressed regret and dismay over the killing of a senior UNICEF official in Somalia. Dr Ayoub Sheikh Yerow, a senior project officer with UNICEF in Baidoa, was fatally wounded in an ambush on the road from Jowhar to Afgoi while on a humanitarian mission on Wednesday. Five other officials travelling with him were wounded. In a statement, de Mello noted that "this unacceptable act of violence" occurred on the eve of a Security Council debate on protecting civilians in armed conflict and "serves as a grim reminder of the impunity with which lives are taken in conflict areas around the world". He called on the local authorities to take immediate measures to apprehend those responsible and to guarantee the safety of humanitarian workers.


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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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