Emergencies Unit for Ethiopia


The Monthly Review

This update covers the period 1 -31 August 1997
Compiled by the Information Section of the UNDP-Emergencies Unit for Ethiopia
The following is the thirteenth in a series ...


Mandela as Mediator in Sudan Conflict?
South Africa's President Nelson Mandela is said to have been asked to mediate in the Sudanese civil war because peace talks under the auspices of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), chaired by Kenyan President Daniel arap Moi, have become bogged down. While South Africa did not confirm officially the acceptance of the mediating role, some analysts say the main reason for Mandelas reluctance is a sensitivity to possible negative reaction from parties already involved in the peace initiative, especially President Moi. President Mandela reportedly laid the groundwork for his mediatorship when he met Sudanese President Bashir in South Africa earlier in August in an effort to kick-start the languishing talks process. Bashir took the opportunity to call for a cease-fire in the 14 year old Sudan civil war. At the end of August, Mandela met, also in South Africa, with Sudanese rebel leader John Garang and hosted a separate bilateral meeting between Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir and Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni. The latter talks, held behind closed doors, were reportedly focusing, amongst other Uganda-Sudan topics, on the fate of 21 Ugandan schoolgirls abducted into Sudan by rebels last year. UNICEF has estimated that between 5,000 and 8,000 children have disappeared in the past two years in North Uganda where the rebels of the Lord's Resistance Army operate. Mandela reportedly said the talks were crucial to facilitate the peace efforts of IGAD. Khartoum accuses Kampala of supporting Garang's Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA), while Kampala accuses Khartoum of supporting the north Ugandan rebels of the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA). As Bashir and Museveni met in Pretoria, media reports indicated that LRA leader Josep Kony, a former Roman Catholic catechist, had entered northern Uganda from Sudan heading 300 rebels for a new campaign against government forces. Reportedly fierce battles took place. No independent confirmation on the death toll was available. (The East African, 25-31 August; The Monitor, 2 September; AFP, 1 September 1997)

Malaria on the Rise
In Kenya, one of the worst outbreaks of highland malaria has spotlighted the need for new front-line drugs as resistance grows to traditional treatments. Described by doctors as one of the worst malaria epidemics in recent times, the outbreak of highland malaria, which occurs mainly at around 2,000 meters, reached a death toll of 333 in the last week of July, with 209,432 people treated since April. Also in Uganda authorities are increasingly worried by rising numbers of malaria deaths. Local press reports at the end of July said more than 200 people had died from malaria in various parts of the country. Uganda's Ministry of Health has earmarked $ 100,000 to fight the disease. In Ethiopia, where the last week of August was celebrated as "Malaria Week" with all regions running social mobilisation programmes, the World Health Organisation is supporting the national Accelerated Malaria Control Programme with $ 900,000. (The East African, July 28 - 3 August 1997; WHO Ethiopia, Report August 1997).

Smugglers active across Ethio-Somalian Border
The Jijiga branch office of the Ethiopian Customs Authority disclosed that a considerable amount of agricultural, industrial and forest products are smuggled out of Ethiopia through the country's frontiers with Somalia. Studies conducted by the zonal agricultural department revealed that over 190,000 head of cattle, sheep and goats as well as over 13 million kilograms of vegetables and chat (a leafy stimulant drug), have been smuggled during the just ended fiscal year. In addition million litres of petroleum, 65,000 MT of cement, 10,000 MT of charcoal and close to 100,000 MT of skin and hides were smuggled out of the country. Two weeks earlier, an Ethiopian expert said that about 200,000 live animals from the eastern parts of Ethiopia were being smuggled out annually to Djibouti alone. (The Monitor, 14 and 30-31 August 1997)

Sasakawa Global 2000
"Agricultural Intensification in Sub-Saharan Africa: Securing the Production Base" was the theme of a workshop in Addis Ababa which was co-chaired by former US President Jimmy Carter. The workshop, held as a joint-venture of the Japan founded Sasakawa Africa Association and Global 2000 of the Carter Center in Atlanta, Georgia, was described by Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi as a pioneer venture in agricultural intensification in Sub-Saharan Africa. (UNDP-EUE, Monthly Situation Report for Ethiopia, August 1997)


Suspected Rebels kill eleven Soldiers
At least eleven Djibouti soldiers were killed and 16 wounded in fighting with Afar rebels months ahead of a planned demobilisation of three quarters of the government army, rebel and governments sources said on 2 September. Three years after a peace accord intended to end the civil war - which lasted from 1991 to 1994 - the government is due to demobilise more than 8,400 of its 13,000 troops. According to rebels, the fighting followed a "sweep" by the government designed to clear the country ahead of the demobilisation. On national radio, the government said that "criminal" and "uncontrolled elements" had attacked an armoured unit protecting a watering hole near the border with Eritrea north of the capital. The fighting, which flared on 1 September coming four months ahead of elections set for December, was the bloodiest since a peace accord reached in December 1994 between the government and the separate ethnic Issas faction of the rebel movement.

As the clashes took place, Djibouti President Hassan Gouled Aptidon was on a visit to France, which in August pledged to pay 30 million French francs (nearly five million dollars) to help pay for the planned demobilisation and 10 million francs for an economic structural adjustment programme. France, the former colonial power, has around 3,200 soldiers stationed permanently in Djibouti. (AFP, 2 September 1997)

Deportation of Oromos
The clandestine radio station operated by the Oromo Liberation Front complained on 24 August that the Djibouti government deports Oromo refugees as illegal immigrants. The radio added there has been a steady influx of Oromo refugees to Djibouti since 1992 but that the authorities do not extend official refugee status to all the Oromos in the country. (Ethiopian Weekly Press Digest, 4 September 1997)


Sudan in the Limelight
Sudanese military aircraft have repeatedly violated Eritrean airspace, according to a report by the Voice of Eritrea monitored in Addis Ababa on 4 August. The radio said, "the aircraft flew over Girmayka zone in Eritrea violating the country's airspace" and accused the National Islamic Front of Sudan to commit provocative actions against the Eritrean people. (The Ethiopian Herald, 7 August 1997)

To whom belong the Hanish Islands?
Eritrean President Issaysas Afeworki is reported to have declared that he would not be surprised if Yemen should object to the rulings by an international court reviewing the disputes between Yemen and Eritrea over ownership rights to the Hanish islands. Should the London-based arbitration court decide against Eritrea, he said, he would accept it for the sake of peace. (Seven Days Update, 18 August 1997)

Increased Number of Visitors
A report from the Eritrean Immigration, Passport and Nationality Department disclosed that more than 200,000 people from 118 countries, among them 60,000 Eritreans, had visited the country during the last six months. The number of visitors represents a 4 per cent increase over the same period of the previous year. (Seven Days Update, 1 September 1997)


Food Security at Risk?
Following a poor belg short season there are now increasing concerns that this year's main season meher harvest may also be poor and initial government projections indicate that meher production could be 32% less than 1995, the last year to be considered "normal". This seems mainly due to the fact that Ethiopia, like other East African countries, is apparently being affected by the global weather pattern known as El Niño, which leads to unfavourable rainfall conditions. After having assessed the food prospect of the belg growing areas of Ethiopia, the Disaster Prevention and Preparedness Commission (DPPC) met on 22 August with the donor community, UN agencies and NGO's to launch an appeal for assistance to meet an overall shortfall of 154,000 tons in relief food assistance for 1997. (UNDP-EUE, Monthly Situation Report for Ethiopia, August 1997)

Less Arms, more Development
Since the end of the Cold War, military expenditures have been declining world-wide, falling from 5.7 per cent of total output in 1983 to 3.0 per cent in 1994, reports the UN's World Economic and Social Survey 1997, released in July. While most of this is accounted for by countries in the North, there have also been significant declines in developing countries, notes the survey, citing Ethiopia as one example. After nearly two decades of civil war, the current government, in power since 1991, sharply cut back on military spending. "At the same time," observes the report, "the decline in defence outlays has freed resources for other public uses, including essential infrastructure rehabilitation and social expenditures." (Africa Recovery, United Nations Department of Public Information, Vol. 11 No 1, July 1997)

Bomb Blast in Harar
A bomb exploded at Harar's post office (also housing the Ministry of Information) on 7 August, injuring one woman janitor and causing considerable damage. While nobody had claimed responsibility for the blast, some suspects, said to be of Somali and Oromo origin, have been arrested. - Some months ago a bomb exploded in the same city at the Belayneh Hotel, injuring Ethiopians and foreign tourists alike. (Seven Days Update, 18 August 1997)

Afar and Ogadeni form common Front
The Afar Revolutionary Democratic Front (ARDUF) and the Ogadeni National Liberation Front (ONLF) operating in eastern Ethiopia, said in a joint statement dated 15 August that they have reached an agreement to form a common front to conduct a joint struggle against the present government which, according to the statement, has imposed a "repressive rule over the Afar (Ethiopia Weekly Press Digest, 11 September 1997) .

Amharic Software
Radio Ethiopia reported on 30 August that the Ethiopian Computers Standardisation Association has been established with the principal objective, among others, of designing a standard Amharic software and keyboard. The association is a non-profit organisation formed to promote standardisation of computer technologies (software and peripherals) in Ethiopia. (Seven Days Update, 8 September 1997)

Tickets to Jerusalem
The Israeli commission for refugee affairs is said to have announced that 3,000 Ethiopian Jews (Falashas) who had been converted to Christianity have been allowed to enter Israel. Reportedly, on 17 August 400 Ethiopian Jews were flown out of Addis Ababa while further transfers were pending. (Seven Days Update, 25 August 1997)

Insecurity in North Gonder
Reports from North Gonder indicate growing concern about the security situation in certain areas. Apparently, the new land re-distribution scheme has evoked wide-spread criticism which has led some anti-government groups into armed confrontations with national defence forces. (Ethiopia Weekly Press Digest, 4 September 1997)

Lions devour ten People
A pride of lions attacked villages near Gode in Somali Region, some 1,200 kilometers south-east from the Ethiopian capital, devouring ten people and 30 heads of livestock in one night. According to a national radio broadcast, villagers had reported several previous attacks by lions, presumably coming a long distance from north-east Kenya. (AFP, 26 August 1997)


Opposition raises Pressure with General Strike
A general strike, observed throughout Kenya on 8 August, was so far the opposition's boldest move since efforts began four months ago to pressure President Daniel arap Moi into reforming the legal system ahead of this year's elections. While the strike turned violent, three people (two police officers, one civilian) were killed during clashes in Nairobi and Kiambu, a town ten kilometers North of the capital. Later in the month, President Moi 's Kenya African National Union (KANU) party ruled out any dialogue on constitutional reforms with non-parliamentarian groups, turning down therewith a demand from the National Convention Executive Committee (NCEC), the opposition-backed alliance. (The International Herald Tribune, 9/10 August; The Monitor, 19 August 1997)

Police round up Refugee "Spies"
Kenyan police were rounding up hundreds of refugees and foreigners - mainly Burundians, Rwandans, Sudanese and Somali - after President Moi had announced that "foreign spies and criminals" were masquerading as refugees and inciting the people. According to a police spokesman, about 600 people had been arrested over the last few weeks and were being held at Nairobi, Mombasa and Eldoret police stations. (The Guardian Weekly, 10 August 1997)

Raids widen in Mombasa
Fresh violence hit Kenya's coastal area of Mombasa in mid-August, when an estimated 40 armed youths raided Mtwapa, about 15 kilometers north of Mombasa, killing three local residents and setting on fire two houses, including a holiday villa where several foreign tourist were staying. It was the first time the raiders, who have subjected the town to a two-day reign of terror, targeted tourists. At least 46 people have been killed in attacks which began with a raid on a police station at Likoni on 13 August in which six policemen and seven civilians were killed. Leaflets left behind by attackers, frequently heard to shout "up-country people must go!" point to a political motive as Kenya gears for a general election before the end of the year. The violence in Mombasa and other parts of Coast Province is starting to have a negative impact on the tourism industry, Kenya's second largest foreign exchange earner after agriculture. Two Italian companies closed their hotel in Malindi, a key resort town. The trend is worrying, coming in the wake of a recent strike by air traffic controllers, which threatened to paralyse the industry. Tourist arrivals have fallen by up to 60 per cent. (The East African, 18-24, 25-31 August and 1-7 September 1997)

IMF halts $215 million Aid Package
Signs of bitter infighting in the highest ranks of the Kenya Government emerged early August as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) announced its surprise decision to halt a $215 million aid package. The backroom wrangles threatened to derail the country's economic programme. IMF opted for a suspension of loans, because president Moi's Government so far had failed to meet concerns about corrupt practices and to strengthen the energy sector through appropriate legislation. Towards the end of August, IMF signalled to dispatch a negotiating team to Kenya to resume loan talks. (The East African, 4-10 August; The Ethiopian Herald, 22 August 1997)


No, they wont' talk to each other
An attempt by a senior Italian envoy, Rino Serri, to bring peace between Somalia's two warlords, Ali Mahdi and Hussein Aydid, with the inducement of promises of massive aid from the European Union for reconstruction, failed after the two bosses refused to talk to each other. (Foreign Report, Jane's Information Group Ltd., 7 August 1997)

Call for Unity of Purpose on Somalia
The Organisation of African Unity (OAU) Secretary-General, Salim Ahmed Salim, spoke on the need for the international community to speak with one voice on the conflict in Somalia. During a meeting in Addis Ababa on 14 August with the United Nation's special envoy to Somalia, Ismat Kittani, Salim said speaking with many voices could send mixed signals to the protagonists in that country. Salim appealed to the UN to support, actively, the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) Regional Initiative and other efforts of the OAU to solve the crisis in Somalia. Kittani, touring the region, was attempting to convince both the leader of "Somaliland", Mohammed Ibrahim Egal, and south Mogadishu warlord Hussein Mohamed Aidid to join the Somali peace process. The country has been without a government since 1991 when General Mohamed Siad Barre was overthrown. The clan-based groups which overthrew him have been unable to form a common government. (The Monitor, 16-17 August; AFP, 18 August 1997)

Aideed issues Warnings
According to media reports, Somali faction leader Hussein Aideed has warned Ethiopian forces, allegedly controlling parts of Somali territory, to leave the country. Otherwise, he reportedly said, his government would not be held responsible for the consequences. By another source he was also quoted as saying that unless the US shows a change of attitude towards him, he will not attend the US sponsored Bosasso conference of 26 Somali faction leaders, planned in November. In a related development, also the government of the self declared breakaway "Republic of Somaliland" announced that it would not attend the Bosasso meeting. (AFP, 21 August ; Seven Days Update, 1 September 1997)

Clan Fighting kills Ten in "Somaliland"
Ten people were killed in clan fighting in the self-declared Republic of "Somaliland" on 23 August, according to residents of the Erigabo area. Reportedly, the fighting between rival clans erupted over a land dispute. (The Monitor, 26 August 1997)

Militia Fighting kills 26 in Somalia
In several clashes between rival factions in Somalia a number of people have been killed. During a major incident at the end of August in Baidoa at least 17 militiamen and civilians were killed and 29 injured. In another incident, at least nine gunmen were killed and another four wounded when fighting erupted over the taxation of an incoming chat-cargo at an airstrip outside Mogadishu. (AFP, 28 and 30 August 1997)

Italian General hits back over Torture Accusations
The commander of the Italian contingent of the UN peacekeeping force in Somalia during operation Restore Hope in 1993-94 denied on 19 August that he knew that his troops had tortured Somalis. In a press release issued from the Italian army high command, General Bruno Loi denied "ever having been aware of incorrect behaviour among Italian soldiers without taking the necessary punishment measures". His comments came as fresh accusations of torture by Italian soldiers surfaced. (AFP, 19 August 1997)


US Concern about Human Rights Abuses
A senior official from the US State Department's human rights bureau, Gare Smith, visited Sudan recently, where he met President Umar Bashir and told him that the United States government would not reopen its embassy in Khartoum until Sudan's many human rights abuses are addressed. Smith's most important task was to highlight to Bashir and other Sudanese officials the depth of US concern about religious persecution, particularly in the breakaway regions of the South. He also raised questions about continuing reports of slavery, arbitrary detention and torture. From Sudan, Smith travelled to Ethiopia, where he found rivalries among the religions, but "zero religious persecution by the government." (USIS Weekly Special Report, 14 August 1997)

Sudan Army fears to loose Power to Supreme Court
Senior Sudanese army officers see the government's effort to vest more powers in the Supreme Court as a move to lessen the military's role, and have warned that this could lead to more political instability. Sudan's Islamic military ruler, General Omar Al-Bashir, set up a committee to review the country's constitution and make recommendations for reforms. (The East African, 11-17 August 1997)

Nuba Communities caught in Crossfire
Community and political leaders from the largest black African minority in Northern Sudan say their group, the Nuba, has been coming under pressure from both sides in Sudan's 14-year civil war. Leading Nuba politician Hassan Kanda accused the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) of conducting a policy of genocide against the Nuba. But according to African Rights, an international human rights organisation based in Britain, the Nuba people face genocide at the hands of the Sudanese government forces. African Rights accuses the government of enforcing since last year a strict embargo on humanitarian assistance to the area, adding: "In this context, the Sudan army creates displacement and famine, creates desolation and calls it peace." (The East African, 25-31 August 1997)

Rebels claim Advances in Eastern Sudan
The Sudanese opposition announced in early September that its fighters had captured a garrison near the border with Eritrea and were advancing on the strategic Port Sudan road. In a statement distributed in Asmara, a spokesman said the "joint command" of the opposition umbrella group, the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), had "managed to liberate ... the area, village and strategic garrison of Ardawit." It said the conquest came after a month-long siege and followed the withdrawal of government forces. (AFP, 2 September 1997)

Eritrea accused of Troop Build-up
A Sudanese state minister accused neighbouring Eritrea of massing troops along the border to attack Sudan. In a related development, Sudan's ambassador to Ethiopia was quoted in a newspaper interview as saying Eritrean troops were planning, with Israeli help, to cut the only road linking Khartoum to the Red Sea. (The monitor, 23/24 August 1997)


President and Family survive Helicopter Crash-Landing
A military helicopter carrying Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni and his family crash-landed on 4 August near Kampala without hurting anybody. The helicopter, returning from a western area where government troops are fighting rebels, had reportedly developed mechanical problems. (AFP, 5 August 1997)

Security tightened in Kampala after Bomb Attacks
Security has been tightened in the Ugandan capital as bomb and grenade attacks in late July and early August had left ten dead and a further 40 injured. The tightening of security measures also coincided with the arrival of Tanzanian President Benjamin Mkapa on an official visit to Uganda. No one had claimed responsibility for the attacks, but according to an anonymous call received by a newspaper rebels operating in the West of the country might responsible. (AFP, 7 August 1997)

Rebels create Insecurity in Western Uganda
Rebel-inspired insecurity in the western Ugandan district of Bundibugyo has displaced 70,000 people in the last two months and created a humanitarian emergency. The crisis has both a regional and local dimension. It stems from the fallout surrounding the advance of the Alliance of Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Congo (ADFL) last year through the east of the then Zaire, and the persistence of armed opposition to the Ugandan government of President Yoweri Museveni. In this context, rebels of the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) attacked a Roman Catholic seminary mid-August, abducting 41 seminarists. At the end of August rebels attacked a parish near the western town of Fort Portal, killing 35 people and taking 80 hostages. The Ugandan army later rescued 32 of these people after pursuing the rebels to their hideout in the Ruwenzori mountains. (UN DHA IRIN 13 August; AFP, 18 August and 2 September 1997)
Nairobi-Based Rebels threatening Uganda?
Media reports in Kampala that the leader of a group committed to the overthrow of President Yoweri Museveni has been laying out plans in Nairobi to launch a military attack on Uganda are being taken seriously by intelligence services. Duncan Kafeero, leader of the rebel Uganda Federal Freedom organisation, said reportedly that new plans for an attack from Kenya were being hatched. Other intelligence reports indicate that also some member of Joseph Kony's Lord's Resistance Army met recently in Nairobi. (The East African, 11-17 August 1997)

Battling Coffee Disease
The devastating effects of the coffee wilt disease have forced the government to open new fields of wilt resistant breeds in a bid to protect Uganda's position as one of the major coffee exporters in the world. Coffee scientists meeting in Kampala warned that if Uganda did not move fast to uproot and burn its affected coffee trees, it would lose its entire coffee plantations, particularly the Robusta type plantations. Robusta accounts for 85 per cent of Uganda's total production while Arabica provides 10 to 15 per cent. Apparently, the coffee wilt disease is now affecting 44 per cent of the country's coffee growing districts in varying intensities. (The East African, 11-17 August 1997)


The designations employed and the presentation of material in this document do not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever of the UN concerning the legal status of any country, territory, city or area of its authorities, or concerning the delimitation of its frontiers or boundaries.

Information in this update has been obtained from UN, NGO and media reports; reference is made to sources as appropriate. No claims are made by the UNDP-EUE as to the accuracy of these reports.

UN-EUE  Tel.: (251) (1) 51-10-28/29 
PO Box : 5580  Fax: (251) (1) 51-12-92 
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia  Email: undp-eue@telecom.net.et