Emergencies Unit for Ethiopia

The Monthly Review

This update covers the period September- October 1999


WHO Horn of Africa Initiative:

Recognizing the need for regional collaboration to ensure the health and safety of people who live in border areas, in March 1998 health ministers of countries of the Horn of Africa attended a conference on public health where they signed a Protocol of Co-operation enabling "cross-border" control of major health problems.

The remoteness of many communities living near international borders and their pastoralist life style make it difficult to provide primary health care services. Furthermore, the scarcity and inadequacy of health facilities, compounded with weak management capacities contribute to perpetuate a situation where control of communicable diseases, usually showing higher incidences in border districts, is difficult. In turn, the risk of transmission within and across borders is high. As a remedy for this situation and with collaboration and co-ordination amongst bordering countries, the Protocol of Co-operation called for:

Based on these objectives of the Protocol the UN World Health Organization (WHO) was asked to facilitate and co-ordinate the implementation of the Horn of Africa Initiative. Phase One of the initiative was funded by the Government of Italy with US $1.4 million and with technical assistance from the Instituto Superiore di Sanita (ISS). In March 1999, a nine-month working plan focusing on communicable disease control was approved for the project. Since then, communication and medical equipment has been provided to health facilities in the operational areas (current the border areas linking Ethiopia and "Somaliland"; Ethiopia and Djibouti; and Ethiopia and Kenya) and training needs have been identified. Joint cross border harmonization and training activities have also been implemented covering health information, programme and case management of major communicable diseases. By December 1999, it is expected that capacities required for sustained cross border communicable disease control will have been established through: In December 1999, the first phase of the Horn of Africa Initiative will be concluded, however, it is envisaged that a programme life span of about 6 years is required to consolidate achievements, expand activities, strengthen collaboration within UN system and international agencies and ensure preparedness and response to any possible contingency likely to occur in such unstable areas of Africa. A proposal for the project’s second phase covering the first triennium, (1999-2001) is currently under review and additional resources are currently being sought to support this innovative project.

The WHO Horn of Africa Initiative joins a number of other projects implemented in border areas of the sub-region. Projects currently underway include the Horn of Africa Tuberculosis Control Initiative, the IGAD/UNDP Cross Border programme between Ethiopia and Somalia and the WHO South-East Asia Regional Office Global Initiative for Health and Development in Border areas. Targeting populations with similar socio-economic profiles and common interests rather than confining the progamme to national boundaries is an approach that is gradually gaining ground in the Horn of Africa region. Such programmes have an added value beyond their respective objectives in establishing a cross-border channel for collaboration in areas of the Horn where natural disasters, conflict and civil unrest contribute to perpetuate instability and vulnerability. (WHO Horn of Africa Initiative)
Africa Development Forum: The challenge to Africa of globalization and the information age.

The Africa Development Forum, organized by the Economic Commission for Africa, was held in Addis Ababa from 24 – 28 October 1999. The theme of this inaugural conference, "The challenge to Africa of globalization and the information age" and the goal of the conference was to develop and support African initiatives that are fundamental to shaping the African information age. The meeting was the culmination of three years of activities to build an African information society and was intended to set future directions for the African Information Society Initiative. ADF ’99 also provided the first occasion for a broad range of African policy makers to come together to assess the opportunities and develop a plan of action for Africa in the information age and offered the private sector numerous opportunities to showcase products and services and assess the possibilities for acting jointly with government and civil society. Unique were the focus groups on gender, youth, the private sector and the African Diaspora, providing an opportunity for these special interest groups to air their perspectives on the issues, react to proposals, report to the plenary and shape their own recommendations.

The meeting was chaired by the Executive Secretary of ECA, K.Y. Amoako, and was attended by the Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations, Ms. Louise Frechette, and Noah Samara, Chief Executive Officer of WorldSpace Corporation. The Associate Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme Mr. Zephirin Diabre, chaired the opening discussions on progress towards the African information age.

The Forum addressed four substantive themes:

The issue of globalization and the information age was chosen for the inaugural ADF because of the importance of defining African-owned and African-led strategies to engage with the global information economy. (ECA Public Relations Section)


Ethiopia and Djibouti hold official meetings: During October, officials from Ethiopia and Djibouti held a number of meetings to further strengthen political and diplomatic relations between the two countries. The 7th Ethiopia-Djibouti Joint Ministerial Commission Meeting, the 10th Meeting of the Ethiopia-Djibouti Joint Border Administrators and Commissioners meeting, and the 4th Ethiopia Djibouti Joint follow-up Committee meeting all convened in Addis Ababa during the month.

At the 7th Ethiopia-Djibouti Joint Ministerial Commission Meeting, opened by Ethiopian Foreign Minister Seyoum Mesfin and attended by the Foreign Minister of Djibouti who headed his delegation, discussions covered a wide range of issues including port utilization, trade and customs and investment. The 10th Meeting of the Ethiopia-Djibouti Joint Border Administrators and Commissioners Committee deliberated on a range of issues such as the activities of joint border technical sub-committees, movement of people and goods, border trade, cross border transportation, security as well as the health situation along the border. The fourth Ethiopia-Djibouti Joint Follow-up Committee meeting also held in-depth discussion on the status of implementation of all agreements in the political, security, trade, social and economic fields of co-operation.

The series of meetings culminated in the first official visit to Ethiopia of Djibouti President Ismail Omar Guelleh. President Guelleh arrived in Addis Ababa on November 1 for a five-day visit. During his stay President Guelleh was expected to hold discussions on a number of issues, including security in the Horn of Africa and Ethiopia’s use of Djibouti’s port (AP, October 9 & November 1; Seven Days Update, October 11; Ethiopian Herald, October 31)

Somali faction leader visits Ethiopia: Hussein Aidid, one of the faction leaders in Somalia ended a three day visit to Ethiopia during which he discussed the prevailing situation in his country with Ethiopian government officials. According to an official spokesperson, Aidid met with Foreign Minister Seyoum Mesfin in the context of Ethiopia’s OAU mandate to broker peace among various factions in Somali. The statement added that the Foreign Minister's talks with Aideed also covered Ethiopia’s "legitimate concern" over the support the Somali leader’s faction was providing to opposition groups that the Ethiopian government describes as "terrorists". The groups in question, according to Ethiopia, are elements of the opposition Oromo Liberation Front and Tokichuma, another ethnic Oromo dissident group, as well as the Al-Ithad Al-Islam fundamentalist group. (PANA, October 25)

Ethiopia coffee exports up: Ethiopia has exported 24,268 metric tonnes of coffee so far this year, up over 25% from the same period last year. Tsegaye Berhane, general manager of the state-run Ethiopian Tea and Coffee Authority, said the country had earned US $51.4 million from coffee exports in the first four months of the current selling season that runs from July 1999 to June 2000. Tsegaye added that a total of US $340 million in earnings are expected from the planned export of 135,000 MT of quality coffee during the year. In the same period last year, Ethiopia exported 19,332 MT of coffee worth US $66 million. As Ethiopia’s main cash crop, coffee generates 60% of the country’s foreign currency earnings. Ethiopia is Africa’s third largest coffee producer after Ivory Coast and Uganda. (Reuters, October 18; Ethiopian Herald, October 17; Press Digest, October 21)

Religious leaders sign accord: Discussions by Ethiopian and Eritrean religious leaders held in Oslo have resulted in the signing of accords that are to enable the group to step up efforts towards a peaceful settlement of the border dispute between their two countries. The meeting was the third of its kind, a continuation of two previous talks held in Oslo and Frankfurt. Talking to the press on his return to Ethiopia, His Holiness Abune Paulos, Patriarch of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, noted that discussions held in Oslo were fruitful with a sense of understanding, negotiation and good will between the two countries. Religious leaders of both countries have submitted a peace document to their respective leaders and Prime Minister Meles Zenawi received a copy on behalf of the Ethiopian Government. (Seven Day Update, September 20; Press Digest, September 23)

New appeal for food aid: In a new update on relief needs the Federal Disaster Prevention and Preparedness Commission said for the last quarter of 1999 over 274,000 metric tonnes of food assistance was needed for distribution to people affected by drought and crop failure. The Commission said that of the amount required, roughly 200,000 MT had already been pledged by donors leaving a shortfall of 74,023 MT. The number of relief beneficiaries has grown from 5.3 million to 7 million largely due to an over-estimation of crop production from the 1998 harvest and the effects of the subsequent failure of the belg (short rains) in early 1999. The DPPC’s Early Warning Department said in addition to the net deficit of 74,023 MT in cereals being appealed for, around 4,400 MT of supplementary food is also urgently needed for areas severely affected by malnutrition. Out of the total number of beneficiaries needing assistance, just under a million are children under 5 years. (Press Digest AP, October 20; ENA, October 21; Ethiopian Early Warning System, Special Report, October 1999)


Unknown fever hits displaced person’s camp in Eritrea: A displaced person’s camp near the Badme front of the border war between Ethiopian and Eritrea is reporting an increase in a mystery fever, according to local medical officials. While the number of affected people is still relatively small, staff at the clinic were concerned. According to clinic records, during the last six months seven people have died of the undiagnosed fever. A nurse at the Adi Keshi camp clinic told AFP that the cause of the fever was unknown but that there had been a steady increase in cases over the past six months. "We wanted to do blood samples, but there was no way to do so," he said, explaining they were unable to obtain slides and other supplies for blood analysis. (AFP, 20 October)

International Court’s verdict on Yemen-Eritrea maritime dispute expected: The International Court of Arbitration will announce its verdict on a maritime border conflict between Yemen and Eritrea by the end of October. The Court of Arbitration in The Hague will deliver its "final verdict," according to Yemeni Legal Affairs Minister Abdullahi Ahmad Hanem. Last year the court awarded Yemen the islands of Jebel Zogar and Greater and Lesser Hanish, which control access to the Bab al-Mandab Strait between the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden, but reserved judgement on other smaller rocks and islands in dispute. The dispute over the strategic archipelago, which is not covered by any international treaty but which Yemen claims, degenerated into armed conflict with Eritrea in December 1995. (AFP, 8 October)


WFP emergency programme for Djibouti: Five districts of Djibouti, three of which border Ethiopia and Eritrea, are experiencing serious food shortages due to a drought which has hit the region. According to a World Food Programme press release, WFP is starting an emergency food relief operation to assist 30,000 people with 414 MT of food. A joint UN agency and Government of Djibouti drought assessment mission indicated that 80,000 to 100,000 people would be in urgent need of food assistance in the coming six months if climatic conditions do not improve. A significant number of livestock have died due to the drought affecting the purchasing power of the nomadic community. Movement to other pastures across borders has become difficult. Although WFP is resourcing its current project using emergency funds, it will need additional support from donors if the situation of those needing food aid increases. "We’re teetering on the edge of a potential large-scale emergency if it doesn’t rain soon", said Sanda Maina, Country Director of WFP Djibouti, "With each day of hot, dry weather, the clock continues to tick... we are watching the situation very carefully". (Xinhua, 13 October; WFP Press Release, 13 October; AP, 22 September; Addis tribune, 24 September)

IMF approves loan for Djibouti: The International Monetary Fund has approved a three year loan of about US $26.5 million for Djibouti, under its Enhanced Structural Adjustment Facility. A statement from the organization said the loan would support the government’s three-year economic reform programme, which began in July 1999. It said the first annual loan would be disbursed in three installments. The money is intended to strengthen macro-economic policies and deepen structural adjustment reforms to accelerate growth, raise employment levels, reduce poverty and strengthen Djibouti’s external position. (IRIN News Briefs, 22 October)

Opposition leader arrested in Djibouti: The losing candidate in Djibouti’s presidential poll, Moussa Ahmed Idriss, has been arrested on charges of "threatening the morale of the armed forces". Moussa Ahmed, who leads the Unified Djiboutian Opposition and contested the April elections, was arrested and placed in detention at an undisclosed location. Moussa Ahmed was the only candidate to stand against president Ismael Omar Guelleh in the April 10 poll and won a little more than 25% of the vote. On August 29, two senior ODU members were detained for press crimes related to an article that appeared in the monthly opposition paper "Le Temps," which is published by Moussa. (AFP, 23 & 24 September)


Sudan opposition meets in Cairo: The National Democratic Alliance, (NDA), met on 19 October for a two day meeting in Cairo. The meeting followed a Egypt-Libya peace initiative that envisages a Sudanese national dialogue on peace and a process of reconciliation that will bring together the Khartoum government and all opposition groups. The Cairo meeting was chaired by opposition leader Muhammad Uthman al-Mirghani, and attended by the head of Ummah Party, Sadiq al-Mahdi, and representatives of 13 parties. John Garang, the leader of the Sudanese People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) also sent a personal representative.

The meeting ended with the postponement of the formation of an NDA team to sit on a committee which was to hold preparatory talks with representatives of the Sudanese Government in advance of a national reconciliation conference. The Sudanese government has already formed its preparatory meeting team and named Information Minister and Government spokesman, Ghazi Salah Eddin Atabani as head of the governments five-member team representing the government in preparatory meetings for the reconciliation conference.

The formation of the NDA team is to be discusses at the next NDA meeting due to be held in Kampala Uganda on November 15. NDA spokesman Faruq Abu Issa speaking from Cairo said that by the time of the Kampala meeting, efforts should have succeeded in joining the Egyptian-Libyan reconciliation drive with another proposed by the regional Inter-Governmental Authority for Development (IGAD). Absent from the Cairo meeting were Saeed and Brigadier Abdel Aziz Khalid, chief of the alliance’s armed forces. The two were deported from their headquarters in Cairo after Khartoum demanded that Egypt extradite them in connection with a September 20 oil pipeline bombing in Sudan. (AFP, October 11 & 19; MENA, October 19)

Secretary of State Madeline Albright support of IGAD peace initiative sparks debate: During her tour of several African countries, US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright voiced strong support for the IGAD peace process for Sudan. "We believe the IGAD process is the best way to go forward and do not support other processes that some are suggesting, the Egyptians or the Libyans, " Albright said from Nairobi, where she met with several Sudanese civilian and rebel leaders including John Garang. Garang, after his meeting with Albright, declared that he shared Albright’s view and would not support any process that was "competitive or parallel" to IGAD.
President Daniel Arap Moi, en route to a planned visit to Europe, made a stopover in Cairo, where, according to Egyptian Foreign Minister Amr Mussa, he discussed ways of reconciling the IGAD and Libya/Egyptian initiatives. President Moi is the current chairman of the IGAD committee on Sudan that includes Eritrea, Ethiopia and Uganda. Meanwhile, Eritrea released a statement of support for the IGAD peace process through its Foreign Ministry. The statement said the IGAD initiative "remains as valid as ever." The statement deplored the controversy and debate sparked by the comments of the US Secretary of State as "counter-productive" adding that the subsequent flow of misinformation has transcended simplistic statements of bi-polarized views regarding the two peace initiatives. The statement said that allusions to "a rift with the National Democratic Alliance" was an attempt to "drive a wedge between the northern and southern forces", an "unholy campaign" aimed at "...fomenting a fragmentation of the Sudan"

The Sudanese Foreign Minister Mustafa Osman Ismail has said the Albright's comments have been interpreted in Sudan as US efforts to "mediate between the government and Garang," He added, "if that represents a new movement towards making peace in Sudan then we welcome it." He added that "the east African proposals only provide for a dialogue between Khartoum and Garang’s SPLA while the Arab plan includes all opposition groups, north and south, represented by the umbrella opposition National Democratic Alliance. (AFP, October 22, 23 & 24; ERINA, October 24 & 25)



Italy and Djibouti move for dialogue on peace: Under the umbrella of the IGAD International Partners Forum (IPF), the Government of Italy has held an international symposium for all countries interested in fostering peace and stability in Somalia, including all IGAD member states. Both Ethiopia and Djibouti sent high-level delegations to the meeting. The meeting, chaired by Italy’s Foreign Minister deliberated the UN Secretary-General’s report on Somalia, and the Djibouti President’s peace proposal for Somalia. The recommendations of the meeting are to be sent the UN Secretary-General and all parties involved in the search for peace in Somalia. Meanwhile, the President of Djibouti, Ismael Omar Gelleh, has started consultations with Somali scholars, clan elders, opinion leaders and politicians regarding his recent peace proposals. The President set the process in motion by accepting a delegation of prominent representatives of the Habr Gedir clan who were already in Djibouti for consultation. The delegation, which comprises senior clan members such as Abd al-Qasim Salad Hasan, General Muhammad Nur Galal and Abdi Dhere who, arrived in Djibouti on October 19. Delegations from the Puntland administration and Somaliland are also expected. (Quaran Moqdishu, October 20; Xog-ogaal)

Somali elders restore Sharia law: Islamic elders have announced the restoration of Sharia law in parts of Somalia despite reservations such as those held by the former president of the Islamic Sharia Implementation Committee, Sheik Sharif Muhyadin, who said "if sub-clans are not at peace with each other, they cannot have the same justice system. Abgal clans are still at war against each other". The restoration has involved the setting up a new Supreme Court with its own militia and investigators and the court’s jurisdiction will cover north Moqdishu as well as other areas inhabited by Abgal clans. An earlier Sharia court collapsed two years ago after rows between Muslim elders and clan leaders. The former leader, Sheikh Ali Mohamud "Ali Dheere" passed sentences of public execution, amputation and lashing against alleged offenders, who were denied legal representation or the right of appeal. In the new system, the court will oversee the implementation of Sharia law and policing will be carried out by hired gunmen from Somalia’s complex web of clans and militias. The announcement followed a meeting of several hundred people at the capital’s Ramadan Hotel where a neutral religious personality, Sheikh Hamud Ahmed Siyar, was appointed chairman of the new Islamic court formed of 114 committee members. (AFP, September 30)

Private company to run north Moqdishu airstrip: A newly renovated airstrip in north Moqdishu is to be run by a private firm with no political affiliation to any warring group, according to the facility’s new manager, Bashir Raghe of the Camel Transport Company (CTC). At a handover ceremony of the airstrip to the CTC, Bashir Raghe said that "Aisaley airport would no longer be used as a kidnapping and extortion point by ruthless gunmen, as used to be the case in the last nine years." He stressed that "no armed people will be allowed to enter the airstrip." The safety and reputation of the north Moqdishu airstrip, the only one in the Somali capital after the international airport was closed in 1995, was badly dented following the abduction of 10 Red Cross workers by Somali gunmen in April 1998. The abductors, who held the hostages for nine days, had demanded US $100,000 ransom for their release. The Red Cross said no ransom was paid. North Moqdishu strongman Ali Mahdi’s faction, which could not guarantee the security of the facility and its surroundings, has hitherto run the airstrip. The CTC now hopes to guarantee security to its users through improved relations with all splinter factions in the divided capital. In addition the CTC has extended the runway from 1,700 to 2,500 metres to accommodate larger relief and commercial planes, CTC officials said. Raghe added that the CTC would charge a minimal airport tax and the proper receipts would be issued to ensure accountability. (AFP, September 18).

Somalia to go online: One of the last remaining countries in Africa to be without Internet services, Somalia is finally going online. Despite the fact that the country has no sustainable infrastructure and is plagued by factional violence, an Internet service provider is about to set up operations. Olympic Computers network administrator, Ibrahim Abdulkadir Sheikh, says his company will provide Internet services, not just in the capital Moqdishu but also in Merca town, Boroma and the capital city of the Somaliland, Hargeisa. Ibrahim said the first 25 customers have already been connected in Moqdishu and others would be online within a few days. The high cost of subscribing is seen as a deterrent with an initial installation fee of $120, and $30 a month to rent a line. Even more exorbitant is the 75 cents a minute it costs to surf the net. The company intends to bring costs down once the number of customers exceeds 300. Somalia is one of only three African countries with no Internet access, the others being Eritrea and Congo-Brazzaville. (BBC Online Network, September 27)


Ethiopian soldier denied asylum in Kenya: Kenya has denied political asylum to an Ethiopian officer who was fighting in western central Somalia and handed him over to his country. The soldier was detained in Mandera, a Kenyan trading town near where the borders of Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia converge. Maurice Makhanu, the top government official in North Eastern Province, said the soldier, identified only as Halake was denied asylum because he risked no political persecution in Ethiopia. Relations between Ethiopia and Kenya are good despite frequent skirmishes among their ethnic groups who inhabit both sides of the border. According to news reports, Ethiopia has sent a large number of troops to western central Somalia bordering Kenya to fight militiamen loyal to warlord Hussein Aidid who is accused with arming and training Ethiopian rebels. Aidid, who controls southern Moqdishu and surrounding areas, is allegedly supporting the Oromo Liberation Front, which is opposed to the government of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi. The OLF in turn are said to be supported by Eritrea, which is fighting a border war with Ethiopia. (AP, September 19)

Kenya issues press release concerning OLF after killing of businessman: In addition to the launching of intensive security operations in northeastern Kenya to track down a group of armed men believed to be Ethiopian Oromo Liberation Front rebels, the Kenyan Government has issued a press release from the Kenyan Embassy in Ethiopia saying that there will be "No harbouring of rebels". The statement, issued on September 16, comes shortly after accusations against the Government of Kenya made by Kenyan civic leaders from the northeastern region that Kenya was harboring OLF rebels. The press release stated that "the press claims associated with some Mandera civic leaders, who include a former Councilor, are not only outrageous but are also wild and unfounded. They should be treated with the contempt they deserve. The claims stand denied in the strongest terms possible." The press release says that OLF rebels had been "flushed out " by Kenyan Security Forces. It adds that close to 30 OLF rebels have so far been jailed by the Kenyan courts in Mersabit.

Both statements were made in the light of the killing of a Kenyan businessman in Kenya’s Northeast district of Borena. The businessman, Quala Waqo Bero was shot from close range in the chest and face. In a press statement to the Sunday Nation, Mr. Sasura, a local MP of Mersabit District, and an assistant Minister for local government said the trend of killings dates back to the killing of another Oromo and former leader of the Mengistu regime in Ethiopia. Sasura said that the action has left the Boran community highly suspicious. Tension is said to be high in Marsabit following the killing of the businessman. (Embassy of the Republic of Kenya Press release, September 16; Press Digest, September 23)


DRC case against Uganda to be heard in International Court of Justice: The International Court of Justice (ICJ), has given the Democratic Republic of Congo nine months in which to make its case against Uganda. Representatives of Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo have met at the Court’s headquarters in the Hague. The DRC took Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi to the ICJ saying the three countries had committed "acts for armed aggression in flagrant breach of the UN Charter and the Charter of the OAU". In its applications, filed on June 23 1999, the DRC contends that the invasion of its territory by troops from the three countries constitutes a violation of its sovereignty and its territorial integrity, as well as a "threat to peace and security in Central Africa in general and the Great Lakes region in particular." The DRC filed separate applications against the three countries and the cases will be heard separately. (New Vision, October 22)

EU pulls out of Uganda’s tea sector funding: The European Union (EU) has opted to pull out of the Ugandan tea sector following 10 years of rehabilitation support to the sector. The EU’s 10 year funding helped raise tea production in Uganda despite poor weather, but this year production is expected to decline by 50% due to persistent bad weather. Before the unfavourable weather conditions set in, production for 1999 had been estimated at 37 million kilogrammes, compared to 26 million kgs produced in 1998 and 23 million in 1997. The EU has invested up to 70 billion Ugandan shillings (US $48.3 million) to help revive the industry, which collapsed after Idi Amin expelled Asians, who controlled 70 percent of the sector. The EU assistance, which started in 1988 was aimed at raising the incomes of small-holders and divided into phases including the rehabilitation of once abandoned estates neglected by farmers in order to increase hectarage under tea cultivation. (AFP, September 23)


The designations employed and the presentation of material in this document do not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever of the United Nations 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 official and private media reports, U.N. agencies and NGO sources. No claims are made by the UNDP-EUE as to the accuracy of these reports. 
November 1, 1999

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