The Horn of Africa: The Monthly Review, 08-09/99

The Horn of Africa: The Monthly Review, 08-09/99


The Monthly Review

This update covers the period August - September 1999


Worrying decrease in humanitarian aid to Africa: The United Nations issued an urgent appeal for increased aid for African countries, saying only $352 million had so far been received out of $769 million needed this year to assist more than 12 million needy people. The appeal said the Secretary-General was "alarmed by the poor response of the international community" and contrasted this with what it called unprecedented economic growth and robust budget surpluses in many developed nations. " UN spokesman Fred Eckhard said "humanitarian programmes have had to be cut back and even life-saving assistance in many instances is not being provided where it is urgently required". He listed Angola, Somalia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Burundi, Guinea-Bissau, Sierra Leone, Ethiopia and Eritrea as countries where urgent needs could not be met. The spokesman added that the Secretary General was appealing to donors to make a special effort to help the victims of conflicts and natural disasters in Africa. In addition to this appeal, the Secretary General's annual report on the work of the United Nations released on Thursday 9 September expresses concern over the inconsistency of the international community's reactions to humanitarian emergencies and especially its poor response to those in Africa. In the section of the annual report entitled "Facing the Humanitarian Challenge - Towards a Culture of Prevention", the Secretary General warns that "if we are not true to our most basic principles of multilateralism and humanitarian ethics, we may well be accused of inconsistency at best, hypocrisy at worst."

Meanwhile, a coalition of over 150 American NGOs operating abroad have initiated a campaign to support victims of African crises and called on US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and National Security Advisor Sammy Berger to put in as much effort to support peace processes and sustain victims of conflict in Africa as it has in Kosovo. A statement from the US NGO Action Against Hunger said it had asked the two to propose to the US Congress "funding levels sufficient to give strong support "to peace processes in Sierra Leone, Guinea Bissau, the DRC and Ethiopia/Eritrea. It also proposed higher levels of US assistance for African victims of continuing conflict and the maintenance - or increase - of aid levels for African countries emerging from conflict or still wracked by violence. (IRIN, 9 September; Reuters, September 9; UN Press Release, SG/SM/7096 12 August; All Africa News Agency, 13 August; Reuters, August 12; XINHUA, August 12)

Kenya closes Somali border and bans flights: Kenyan president Daniel Arap Moi announced the closure of is country's border with Somalia on August 22, summoning Somali faction leaders to Nairobi. The president also suggested that the closure of the sea route from Kismayo was intended to prevent smuggling and check criminal activities and the proliferation of illegal firearms from Somali to Kenya. Moi said "I have asked leaders from all the factions in Somalia to see me immediately so I can tell them go back home and improve your own country." On August 25 the President followed up on the border and sea route closure with a ban on flights between Kenya and Somalia. Initially, the ban included all humanitarian aid flights originating from Kenya, but after relief agencies handed a collaborative petition to the Kenyan government to allow special access for humanitarian flights the Office of the President clarified that humanitarian flights would be allowed to continue flying to Somalia. The European Community Humanitarian Office (ECHO) normally runs 13 flights a week from Kenya to Somalia: eight from Nairobi and five from Mandera in the Northeast. The UN Co-ordinated Air Service (UNCAS) also runs an average seven flights from Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi, and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) three flights from Wilson Airport, Nairobi. Back-up service however has been continuously maintained by the UN for medical or security evacuation of humanitarian staff to Djibouti. (AFP, August 22 & 27; IRIN, August 27)

Nile basin secretariat launched: The Nile Basin Initiative (NBI), which aims at promoting the proper use of the River Nile and alleviating poverty in the region, has established its Secretariat in Entebbe Uganda on September 3. The NBI Secretariat will function as the nucleus for planning and co-ordinating the use of the Nile for power generation, irrigation and tourism. Ethiopia is the current chairman of the NBI and other member countries include the Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi, Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Sudan and Egypt. At the launching ceremony attended by diplomats of these eight member countries and representatives of the donor community, the World Bank representative to Uganda, Harris Rundolf said that the Bank would assist the NBI to promote development by liasing with other donors. The NBI is supported by the Canadian International Development Agency, the World Bank, the Government of Italy, FAO and the UNDP. Meanwhile, the official Ethiopian Herald newspaper has announced that Ethiopia will co-operate with Sudan and Egypt in sharing and utilising the water resources of four rivers that emanate from Ethiopia. The joint project, which is to be launched at a meeting in Khartoum Sudan in October, will utilise the Tekeze River, the Baro River, the Akobi River and the Nile. According to an engineer in the Ethiopian Ministry of Water Resources Development, the three countries had established a committee in charge of formulating the joint project at a meeting in Addis Ababa last May. Mr Mohammed Ahmed added that the joint project would enable the three countries to effectively and equitably use the rivers. (AP, September 10; New Vision, September 6; Xinhua, September 16)

Seminar on African debt: Seventeen of Africa's most indebted nations met in Nairobi Kenya at a two day seminar for African finance ministers and central bank governors. The Nairobi meeting was a follow-up to the Second Tokyo International Conference on African Development last October organised by the government of Japan, the International Monetary Fund, the UNDP and the Central Bank of Kenya. The Tokyo conference had resolved to halve the number of Africans living in poverty by 2015 through increased foreign investment, better education and government incentives. The Nairobi meeting was chaired by Botswana President Festus G. Mohae who said in a press conference Africa needs, " both debt relief and inflows of investment so that debt relief is not a substitute for new inflows". Mohae noted that African countries undertaking recommended economic reforms, "some of them most painful", had to wait for three years before any assistance was provided. He said, "this is why previous initiatives to deal with the debt crisis failed. By the time assistance was made available, the debt had further increased." Many of the African representatives at the seminar favoured an across-the-board debt cancellation. Mogae said Africans accepted that since bilateral assistance by donors has been declining, each African nation had to "justify its case on the basis of performance on the issues of good governance, observance of the rule of law and intolerance for corruption." The Nairobi seminar concluded with a recommendation that African countries needed both debt relief and new investment if their crippling debt problems were to be resolved. In addition to Kenya and Botswana other African nations represented at the Nairobi seminar were Ghana, Senegal, Nigeria, Tunisia, Burkina Faso, Cote d'Ivoire, Gabon, Cameroon, Ethiopia, Uganda, Tanzania, Malawi, Mozambique, Zambia and South Africa. (AP, 31 August)

EU maintains ban on fish imports from Lake Victoria: A team of European Union inspectors who visited Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania have announced that that the EU ban on fish imports from Uganda and Kenya would be maintained. The EU banned imports of fish from Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania in April following reports that fishermen in Lake Victoria were using toxins to boost their catch. The experts said they were not convinced that enough had been done to ensure the quality of fish exports. Uganda earned between US $60 - 80 million a year from fish exports before the ban was imposed and the country's fish industry employs and estimated 700,000 both directly and indirectly. Uganda exports mainly Nile Perch to the EU. The team said that laboratories analysing samples of fish intended for export left a lot to be desired and that improvements in quality control had to be made before the ban could be lifted. (AFP, 21 August)

World Bank says no new loans for Ethiopia and Eritrea: World Bank Vice President Callisto Madavo has announced the Bank's decision not to consider further loans to Ethiopia and Eritrea before the end of the 16-month border war between the two countries. Speaking from Lusaka on September 13, Mr. Madavo told Reuters "Ethiopia and Eritrea have deferred their war against poverty. The only battles these two countries ought to be involved in are battles against poverty, battles to reverse poor living conditions of their people...We have told the two countries that there cannot be new lending before they revert to these important battles." Madavo added that the World Bank has programmes worth hundreds of millions of dollars in both countries with existing projects currently being implemented to the best levels possible. (Reuters, 13 September) Sudan/Eritrea in joint border control initiative: Following a joint Sudanese-Eritrean security meeting held in Asmara, where participants agreed to form committees to police the common border, the first of these security committees set up to ease border tensions has been established in the eastern Sudanese border town of Kassala. According to Reuters, the government-owned Al-Anbaa newspaper has reported that the joint security committee in Kassala has held a series of meetings to discuss the monitoring and control of movements of people and goods across the border. Foreign Minister Mustafa Ismail was also quoted as saying that "the joint security committee had worked out detailed agreements." The discussions of the officials from the two countries included the deportation of forces that disrupt peace in both countries, withdrawing forces of both countries from border areas, starting diplomatic relations by opening embassies and holding talks at presidential levels. Relations between the two countries have improved following a Qatari brokered agreement to normalise ties was signed on May 2, 1999. Eritrea had broken off diplomatic ties with Sudan in December 1994, accusing Sudan of sending Moslem extremists to attack targets inside Eritrea.

Kenya/Uganda hold border security meeting: Kenya and Ugandan authorities have resolved to exchange and share information to curb their shared cattle rustling and illegal firearm menace at a border security meeting held in Kenya's Western province. Over 100 participants attended the border security meeting that was opened by the Kenyan minister in the Office of the President. Mdoka called for the establishment and harmonisation of communication links between border posts as one way of deterring cattle rustling, drug trafficking and security breaches at the Kenyan-Ugandan common Border. The Herald Weekly reported that the District Commissioners and top security officers who participated in the meeting also agreed on a joint disarmament of civilian population involved in cattle rustling from both countries. The Provincial Commissioner of Kenya's Rift Valley, Francis Baya said that inlets and outlets of firearms to the area had been identified and included Ethiopia and Sudan. Earlier, the State minister for Karamoja Peter Lokeris had told AFP that the only solution to the instability caused by cattle raids in the Karomoja region of Uganda was to demilitarise the Karamoja and this would require co-operation from neighbouring Kenya and Sudan. Lokeris said that with the renewed East African Co-operation grouping, the government's long-term aim was to work with neighbours to disarm all the warriors in the region, including the Turkanas and Pokots of northwest Kenya and Toposas of southern Sudan. Earlier, elders from five pastoralist communities: Turkana in Kenya, Jie and Dodoth in Uganda, and Topoasa and Dongiro in Sudan had held a three-day peace meeting in the northern Kenya town of Lodwar resolving to end cattle rustling in the region. The Daily Nation newspaper reported that the elders agreed to share pastures and water resources during the current dry spell. (AFP, Sept 2; Reuters, August 23; IRIN, August 24; AFP, September 17; Xinhua, September 19; Press digest, September 9)


Flooding of the Awash river basin displaces 5,000: A rapid rise in water levels in the Awash river due to heavy rains in the central highlands has resulted in localised flooding in zones one and three of Afar region. Downstream tributaries of the Awash River broke through flood protection measures and resulted in the displacement of up to 5,000 people while some 5,000 hectares of cotton and maize plantations were reported damaged when the dykes burst. While Zone 1 bore the brunt of the initial flooding, by the early part of September further runoff from the western escarpment was contributing to rising water levels in Zone 3, encircling villages and threatening up to 20,000 people. A relief team sent by the government to assess needs simultaneously undertook rescue operations of villagers trapped/encircled by the flood and provided food assistance. Meanwhile, torrential rains and hail in Ethiopia have caused extensive damage to crops, livestock and houses according to official reports. Some 600 hectares of barley, wheat, chickpeas and lentils belonging to 500 farmers of southern Tigray in the north of the country have been affected. (UNICEF; DPPC; Afar Pastoralist Development Association; The Ethiopian Herald, August 14 & 28; AFP; August 15)

Ethiopia celebrates New Year, 1992: The 25th anniversary of the overthrow of Ethiopia's last monarch, the late emperor Haile Selassie, passed unnoticed on Saturday September 12 as Ethiopians instead prepared for New Year's celebrations. The feudal monarch believed to be the 255th king in unbroken line since Menelik I, the son of King Solomon and Queen Sheba, was deposed on September 11, 1974 after ruling Ethiopia for 50 years. His overthrow by the forces of Marxist dictator Mengistu Haile Mariam made way for one of the darkest chapters in Ethiopian history in which tens for thousands of civilians were killed or tortured in the "Red Terror" purges. But eight years after guerrilla forces seized control of the capital Addis Ababa and formed a new government, no public events marked the anniversary. Instead, on the eve of Ethiopian New Year, residents of the capital shopped for gifts or went to suburban cattle markets to buy sheep or oxen to be slaughtered. According to the Ethiopian Calendar, a year is divided into thirteen months with 12 months of 30 days each and the 13th month of five or six days. The Ethiopian Calendar is based on the Ethiopian Orthodox Church calendar and each year is designated after the four Apostles with the current new year of 1992 being the year of St. John. (Ethiopian Herald, 12 September; Reuters, 11 September)

Anti-Malaria campaign launched: The Ethiopian health ministry launched a weeklong national malaria public awareness campaign on August 24 aimed at controlling and preventing malaria. Meetings, discussions and exhibitions down to district and peasant association levels were organised as part of the programme. According to Ethiopia's Malaria Control Unit, resistance to chloroquine is becoming increasingly prevalent and in recent years malaria has swept the country affecting hundreds of thousands of people. A new medicine, sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine, is being introduced for the most common malaria parasite species which accounts for 60 percent of all cases in Ethiopia. The acting Head of the Epidiemology and AIDS Department of the Ministry of Health, Alemayehu Seifu said all Ethiopians living in regions of altitude over 2,000 metres above sea level are at risk. He said 40 million an estimated are threatened by the epidemic while each year over three million people contract the disease. The spread of malaria in the last two years is due both to heavy rains between October 1998 and January 1999 and "lack of co-ordination and disorganised control mechanism," the health ministry said. The government has pledged about US $10 million for the malaria control programme in 1999/2000 up from last year's budget of about US $4 million. (AFP, August 24; IPS September 6; Press Digest September 2; The Reporter, August 25)


President Isaias Meets US Secretary of State: President Isaias met Secretary of State Madeleine Albright on August 17 for closed door discussions at the State Department in Washington. State Department Spokesman James Rubin told reporters that the discussions between the two had focused on the status of the Organisation of African Unity's peace proposal. The spokesman said that "There has been encouraging movement on the peace process" between Eritrea and Ethiopia. He said that both parties had accepted the framework agreement and the modalities for the framework and noted that Eritrea has also accepted the OAU's technical arrangements for implementation of the agreement. Rubin said. "The next step is for a document to be worked out that both Ethiopia and Eritrea can sign". (The Monitor, August 19)

Eritrean refugees in Sudan denied asylum status: The Sudanese daily Al-Rai al-Aam has reported from the north-eastern town of Kassala that 300 Eritrean families have been denied the right of asylum in Sudan. According to the daily, some 60,000 Eritreans have fled to Sudan to escape the current border war with Ethiopia and Khartoum authorities have rejected the 300 asylum requests citing "insufficient motives." The Kassala state governor is quoted as saying that he could not cope with the influx of the displaced Eritreans and that despite a meeting between aid agencies and the government's humanitarian aid commissioner the response of the humanitarian organisations "is still poor". Following an outbreak of malaria among the displaced the government warned of further epidemics that are attributed to crowded conditions. More than 300,000 Eritrean refugees have been residing for decades in various parts of Sudan. No agreement has been reached with the Eritrean government for their voluntary repatriation. (AFP, August 20)
Malawi arrests Eritreans in crackdown on illegal aliens: Eight Eritreans were arrested in Malawi on August 31 in a crackdown on illegal aliens. Police and immigration authorities said the Eritreans were arrested at a hotel in Malawi's administrative capital, Lilongwe and were being held at Dowa refugee camp some 100 kilometres from the capital. Immigration controller Martin Mononga told AFP that the eight, who entered the country illegally, would be deported to Ethiopia where they came from. Malawi had earlier deported 25 other Eritreans to Ethiopia on August 20 and one Eritrean was shot dead by the authorities during the struggle to get the deportees on board a flight bound for Addis Ababa. The 25 deportees had tried to enter Malawi with fake visas. Malawi has accepted responsibility for the death of the Eritrean and the deportation action has sparked a diplomatic row between Eritrea and Malawi. Ziddy Medi of the Malawi foreign ministry confirmed the Eritrean was gunned down by Malawi police and said an official explanation of the circumstances surrounding the death would be issued to the OAU. Medi said "We still maintain that we have done is the right thing. We are a sovereign state and we will not be dictated to by anybody." Eritrea's South African-based charge d'affaires Tekeste Gebremedhin said his government was demanding full compensation to the family of the deceased and the prosecution of those involved in his death. Gebremedhin said that the deported group had told him they were refugees from the Ethiopian refugee camp of Didessa adding that "the Ethiopians are deporting and arresting innocent Eritreans who have been living in Ethiopia". UNHCR meanwhile has stated that it had petitioned Malawi in protest against the forced deportation of the 25 Eritreans. The Lusaka-based regional representative of UNHCR, Oluseyi Bajulaiye said the organisation had lodged a "strong protest" over the deportation of the 24 Eritrean nationals. (AFP, September 5; August 23; DPA, August 28; African Eye News Service, August 19, 23 & 24; PANA, 23 August)


Drought appeal issued by government: The Office for Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs has issued a drought situation report on behalf of the Djibouti Government appealing for emergency assistance. The appeal issued in late August is for 100,000 people affected by drought in the area close to Djibouti's border with Ethiopia. The appeal is based on the findings of an inter-agency and government assessment of the affected areas, which has identified food, water containers and trucks, as priority needs. (IRIN, August 20)
Opposition figures convicted for press crimes: On August 29 Djibouti's state prosecutor Djama Souleiman Ali announced that a former army chief of staff and a newspaper editor were being detained for press crimes. General Ali Meidal Wais, senior editor of the opposition monthly Le Temps and Dahir Ahmed Farah editor in chief of Le Renouveau were charged with publication of news deemed to be "in violation of press law and susceptible to threaten the morale of the armed forces". Both senior members of the Unified Djibouti Opposition, the pair appeared before the prosecutor in relation to an article that published claims by the radical wing of the Front for the Restoration of Unity and Democracy (FRUD) that it was behind the downing of an army helicopter in mid August. Eight Djiboutian soldiers were killed in the crash that government officials described as an accident. The Djibouti armed forces MZ-24 helicopter went down near Aidallou in the Tadjourah district according to a defence ministry statement which said "technical problems" had caused the accident. Dahir Ahmed Farah was sentenced to one year in prison without parole and fined one million Djiboutian francs and Ali Meidal Wais was sentenced to eight months and fined the same amount. Le Reneouveau and Le Temps newspapers have also been banned for a period of six months and as a result no independent newspaper is currently available in Djibouti. (AFP, August 2 & 15; Press Digest, September 9)

Sudan exports oil: The Sudanese government has earned US $2.2 million from its first overseas sale of oil. The sum represents 40 percent of the total price paid by Shell Oil Company for 600,000 barrels of Sudan's "Nile Blend" oil. The 600,000 barrels bound for refining in Singapore were loaded onto an oil tanker at Beshair harbour terminal on the Red Sea during a ceremony marking Sudan's first shipment of oil overseas. President Omar al-Beshir opened the ceremony which was televised and broadcast live and attended by delegations from Egypt, Ethiopia and Chad as well as industry and government officials from Europe, Asia, the Arab world and Russia. The one billion dollar, 1,600 kilometre, oil export pipeline inaugurated in May carries oil from the central town of Higleig to the specially built Red Sea harbour at Beshair. The pipeline, which has a capacity of 250,000 barrels per day, and could be increased to 450,000 bpd with additional pumping stations, was built by a consortium of Chinese, German, Argentine, British and Malaysian companies.

The Greater Nile Petroleum Operating Company's equity owners are China National Petroleum Corporation (40 percent), Talisman Energy Inc. of Canada (25 percent), Malaysia's state oil company, Petronas (30 percent) and Sudan's National Petroleum Company (5 percent). The Secretary General of the Ministry of Energy and Mining, Hassan Mohamed al-Tom confirmed that the multinational firm Trafigura has been contracted to market Sudan's Nile Blend crude for an initial six months on behalf of The Greater Nile Petroleum Operating Company. Malaysia's Petronas will take care of its own marketing. According to the Sudanese daily Al Anbaa, four similar shipments of 600,000 barrels each would be exported each month and the Energy and Mining Minister Awad Ahmed al-Jaz has announced that shipments are planned to South Korea and to Chile. According to official figures, the Higleig and Unity oilfields have reserves of up to 800 million barrels and current production stands at 150,000 barrels per day or five times domestic oil consumption. Sudan's overall oil reserves are estimated at more than two billion barrels.

According to a report by Reuters, Sudanese rebel leader John Garang has said his forces would try to halt Sudan's oil output and described foreign oil companies working in the country as "accomplices to genocide." Garang started a tour of Nordic states in mid-August by releasing a statement in Oslo that "The oilfields are legitimate targets and it is our responsibility to see that oil installations are shut down". (AFP, August 18, 26 & 30, September 2; Reuters, August 25)

IMF lifts declaration of non-cooperation: The Executive Board of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on 27 August lifted its 1990 declaration of non-cooperation with Sudan citing the country's commitment since February 1997 to a "schedule of payments" to the organisation and its progress in "implementing macroeconomic and structural policies." An IMF statement said the board also decided that it could consider lifting the suspension of Sudan's voting and related rights. The IMF further noted that the government in Khartoum had established an encouraging track record of debt repayments and economic performance and urged it to press ahead with economic reforms. Sudan still owes the IMF arrears of more than US $1 billion and was expelled from the organisation two years ago for debts accrued since the 1970's. (IRIN, 3 September; The Monitor, 2 September; Press Digest, 9 September)

Sudan opposition prepares for peace talks: Sudan opposition leaders are to meet in Cairo in October to choose a delegation for peace talks with the Khartoum government aimed at ending a 16-year-old civil war. The October meeting of the National Democratic Alliance, a grouping of opposition factions, will propose a date and venue for a national dialogue conference, agree on principles of dialogue, define an agenda and name its delegates, according to a statement by NDA Secretary General Mubarak Sadiq al-Mahdi. An opposition delegation had been due to meet representatives of Sudan's Islamist government in Cairo on September 13 to prepare for the peace talks but the meeting was postponed. Plans for the national dialogue conference are part of an Egyptian-Libyan initiative to end Sudan's civil war. The two countries have held a series of discussions on reconciliation efforts for Sudan and jointly set up two committees, one to build international support for a Sudan reconciliation conference and another one to work out organisational details.

Meanwhile, the Sudan People's Liberation Army issued a statement on August 30 in which they have dissociated themselves from the Libyan-Egyptian mediation effort. The statement said the effort would be a duplication of the peace process initiated by the regional Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD). The statement was released after talks between SPLA leader John Garang and Egyptian officials in Cairo. While in Cairo Garang also met with Sadiq al-Mahdi head of the Umma Party that forms a major element of the NDA coalition. Garang said that "The SPLA remains committed to the IGAD peace initiative as the most credible and viable mediation mechanism and furthermore considers that there should not be two parallel initiatives." The government of Sudan has opposed the participation of the NDA in talks hosted by IGAD, which comprises representatives of Kenya, Uganda, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Sudan Somalia and Djibouti. (Reuters, September 6; AFP, August 10 & 30, September 1 - 23; AP, August 23 & 25; Xinhua, September 1; Press Digest, September 9)

Nile floods: Unusually high flood waters in the River Nile have caused chaos in the northern Sudanese provincial capital of Dongola, home to more than 600,000 people, aid organisations reported. The river surged two metres higher than usual into the city, flooding three-quarters of the area. Deputy Governor Abdel Rahman al-Khidir said that riots had marked the outset of flooding on September 10, when some citizens opposed the building of sandbanks on the grounds that they would divert the water towards their houses. He has denied any failures on the part of his government officials towards the disaster, which he said was a natural one. French, Dutch and Swiss ambassadors, the European Union Representative and delegates of UN agencies in Khartoum accompanied Foreign Minister Mustafa Ismail on a visits to the flood stricken area while Arab ambassadors were also expected to conduct similar missions. On September 12, an embankment collapsed for the second time in three days leading to the flooding of 75 percent of the town. The Northern City State announced a two-week state of emergency and closed all schools in the city.

In early August floods caused by heavy rains that swelled rivers, including the Nile made thousands of people homeless. According to a statement from the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) the floods killed 22 people and damaged more than 10,000 homes leaving 50,000 homeless. By the end of August the total number of homes affected in nine states was more than 20,000 and the number of flood victims had risen to 40. IFRC launched an appeal for US $1.8 million for relief operations for urgently needed shelter material blankets, medicines and drinking water for flood victims. The worst hit states are Khartoum, Nile State, northern Kordufan, Sinnar and Gezira. Last year more than a million people in 12 of Sudan's 26 states close to the Nile were affected by the repercussions of the annual Nile flood triggered mainly by heavy rainfall in Ethiopia. (AFP, August 13 & 30; DPA, September 16; AFP; September 16)

WFP resumes river relief operations in Sudan: The UN World Food Programme has resumed its river operations after a three-month suspension, moving a four-barge relief convoy from central Sudan to the southern Upper Nile region. WFP Khartoum Representative Mohammed Saleheen said "we are pleased to be able to resume this lifeline to reach over 60,000 hungry and waiting people". The convoy, according to the statement made on August 16 carried 1,063 MT of WFP food, including wheat grains, pulses and vegetables for 30 locations along the Sobat river corridor. WFP said this was the first barge convoy to be moved since May 18 when a similar convoy of four barges was attacked by armed men who killed a crew member and wounded three WFP staff members. The resumption of the relief river transport was made in light of written pledges by the government and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement in Oslo in May guaranteeing the safety and security of humanitarian personnel and property in areas under their respective control said three WFP. (AFP, August 16)


Egyptian diplomatic mission to Somalia: An Egyptian diplomatic mission led by Foreign Affairs Under Secretary Ms. Faiza Abu-Nahga completed a five-day tour of Somaliland, North-East Region and Moqdishu in mid-August. During her two days in Moqdishu Ms. Abu-Nahga held consultations with senior officials of Hussein Mohamed Aidid's faction and elders from his Habr Gedir sub-clan. Ms Abu-Nahga commented on Egyptian efforts to foster the creation of a joint administration noting that it was unfortunate that all the money Egypt had donated towards the effort had obviously been used to decorate buildings rather than to promoting the peace that would make the administration more effective. (AP, August 12; AFP, August 12)

Somali peace alliance formed in Garowe: On 16 August, a new alliance calling itself the Somali Peace Alliance (SPA) was formed in Garowe with representatives from Puntland, the United Somali Congress/Patriotic Movement (USC/SPM) of the Hawadle clan, the Somali National Front (SNF) of the Marehan, and the Rahanwein Resistance Army (RRA). The leaders of other main factions, Hussein Mohamed Aidid, Ali Mahdi Mohamed, Mohamed Qanyare Afrah, Colonel Ahmed Omar Jess and General Omar Haji Mohamed "Masale", strongly denounced the new alliance, warning that it would lead to more bloodshed in Somalia. One of the 27 founder members of the SPA, Colonel Omar Hashi Aden has said that the new alliance was a grouping of peace loving Somalis threatened by "anarchists and foreign intervention." North Moqdishu warlord Hussein Haji Bod also condemned the SPA's formation, saying that those gathered in Garowe were originally invited only to commemorate the first anniversary of Puntland's formation in August last year and "not to discuss politics and military matters." (AFP, August 17)

"Peace in Somalia" meeting held in Baidoa: Several Somali faction leaders met for discussions at the south central Somali town of Baidoa to work out modalities of a peace process for Somalia. One of the organisers of the "Peace in Somalia" conference, north Moqdishu faction leader Hussein Haji Bod, told journalists by radio from Baidoa that the meeting was aimed at strengthening alliances between factions. General Aden Abdullahi Nur Gabyow, the leader of the Absame clans of southern Juba Valley regions and Bod, who controls parts of North Moqdishu, attended the Baidoa conference. The Rahanwein Resistance Army is hosting the talks, while Galjel leader Abdulahi Moalin Fah attended as a representative of the central Hiran region. Ahmed Sheikh Ali Burale also attended representing a splinter group of the Somali National Front in Gedo Region. Consultations of these groups began without a representative of the northeastern regional state of Puntland. (AFP, August 20)

Impact of Kenya's border closure and flight ban: According to a recent report from the joint WFP-EU-SCF-FEWS Somali Food Security Assessment Unit, the closure of the border between Somalia and Kenya has led to a cattle marketing crisis has been experienced. The lack of markets for cattle is adding to already existing congestion at water points and water catchments and boreholes in southern Somalia, which according to a report by WFP are either drying up, or not functioning at all. The decision to ban all flights to and from Somalia has shown its impact in Moqdishu. Nine local airlines offices were closed, three of which had been taking passengers to and from Kenya while six others had been working in the qat business. One week after the ban the dollar was rapidly losing value in Moqdishu's Bakara market where one dollar was trading for only 9,900 Somali shillings as compared with 10,150 shillings a week before the flight ban. Merchants are believed to have been using more than US $300,000 everyday for the importation of qat from Kenya. Before the ban, a dozen or more light aircraft left Nairobi's Wilson Airport each day to deliver bales of qat to Moqdishu and other Somali towns. Moqdishu's main qat dealers told Reuters that while the ban on cross-border trade would deprive the Kenyan Government of revenue it would have little long-term impact on their business, as they would buy supplies from Ethiopia instead. "It is true that now it is time to pour the dollars into Ethiopia, which needs them even more seriously than Kenya," said one qat dealer. (FSAU, 1999 Gu Harvest and Food Security Report, August 23; IRIN, September 3; Xinhua, September 3; Reuters, September 3) Impending food security crisis: According to WFP, another bad grain harvest caused by failed rains and rampant insecurity threaten more than 1 million people in southern Somalia with hunger and possibly famine. The 1999 crop failure affects the sorghum belt of Bay, Bakool, Hiran and rainfed parts of Gedo, Middle and Lower Shabelle and Middle and Lower Juba most. The harvest this year has been hit by the late onset of the main Gu rains, the low volume of rainfall when they did arrive, subsequent moisture stress and an uneven crop emergence. In addition, the damage by crop pests, in particular Quela birds, on sorghum was significant this year. Armyworms also caused localised crop failures. WFP Somalia Country Director Burke Oberle said, "We're heading for a humanitarian tragedy in southern Somalia unless we get resources to help these people during the coming weeks and months ahead... the next scheduled harvest isn't until January 2000." Oberle said households stocks of grain were nearly exhausted after consecutive failures of maize and sorghum crops. The agency said that early harvest projections made in June had to be revised downward. Many of the areas affected were flooded a year ago and grain stocks stored underground in clay urns were destroyed by the floods. (AP, August 20; AFP, August 20 & 31)

Donors pledge food aid for Somalia: The European Commission and the US Agency for International Development have pledged to donate 38,000 MT of food for famine victims in southern Somalia. According to joint statement by the EC and USAID the donations are in direct response to the emergency appeals made last November and this July by the Somali Aid Co-ordination Body, comprising donors, UN Agencies and non-governmental organisations. The statement said the EC will provide a further 8,000 MT of food to the WFP, in addition to the 10,000 MT already allocated and 4,000 MT of food aid to the NGO CARE. USAID will also give CARE 10,000 MT in food for work programmes in 1999 and 6,000 MT in emergency food aid. USAID has also pledged to provide a further US $5.3 million to fund emergency activities, including health, water and logistical needs, through international NGOs and UN agencies by September. The two donors said in a joint statement they hoped that humanitarian agencies would be now in a position "to avert the worst effects of the food crisis." (FSAU, 1999 Gu Harvest and Food Security Report; AFP, August 31; IRIN 3 September)

Berbera port rehabilitation project: UN Habitat agency (UNCHS) has committed US $1.5 million to support the rehabilitation of Berbera Port in Somaliland, northwest Somalia, in what the agency depicts as "a successful response" to the call by the UN Secretary General Kofi Annan for the international community to review its role in Somalia. Acting executive Director of Habitat Klaus Toepfer said he hoped the project, funded by the European Commission with money from the Italian Government, would be the beginning of a fruitful collaboration to reconstruct and rehabilitate a devastated society. (IRIN, August 27)


Pastoral areas have alarming malnutrition: Successive poor production seasons in pastoral areas of eastern and northern Kenya continue to negatively affect the food security status of the area's population, the latest USAID Famine Early Warning System bulletin said. Heightened insecurity and regional cereal deficits have contributed to increased vulnerability in those areas. "In several pastoral districts and in localised areas, alarmingly high rates of child malnutrition are indicative of severe food insecurity," the bulletin said. Dry weather conditions persisted in pastoral areas during August. Elsewhere, a reduction in maize prices in several key markets of the country has been attributed mainly to increased supplies following the end of harvesting in most of Eastern, Central, Western and Nyanza provinces. However, the price reductions are expected to be short-lived, and maize prices in late August remained 10-50 percent higher than at the same time last year, the bulletin added. (IRIN-CEA, September 14) Kenya completes census "in most parts of the country: Kenya's population census exercise has was concluded on August 31 in what was described by the Director of Statistics, Mr. Jasper Mani as a "smooth census completed according to schedule". No major incidents were reported throughout the exercise and the controversy surrounding the exclusion of the Burji community was resolved peacefully when they were given a separate code after refusing to be grouped with Boranas and Somalis. In the Northeast of Kenya's Wajir District however District Commissioner Fred Mutsamis said that the prevailing drought and lack of transport had hampered the census. Mutsami told the Nation newspaper that census officials who visited settlements of nomadic pastoralists had no road access and travelled by donkeys and camels. In additions two officials had gone mission in the area. (The Nation, August 28; Press Digest, September 2)


Ugandan and Rwandan troops clash in DRC: Clashes between Ugandan and Rwandan troops broke out on August 14 at Bangok International airport, near Kisangani in the Northeast of the DRC following months of tension between the two countries. Fighting then spread to the city itself and continued until President Museveni and Vice President Paul Kagame signed a cease-fire agreement on August 17. In accordance with the cease-fire agreement, Ugandan soldiers have since withdrawn from Kisangani and the city is to be "demilitarised with the redeployment of troops from Rwanda and Uganda outside the city centre and the holding of elections for a local mayor." According to AFP, a senior officer has told the agency that Uganda is to move its military headquarters in the DRC to the northern DRC town of Gbadolite. The Ugandan-backed Congolese Rally for Democracy rebel faction has also announced its decision to temporarily shift its headquarters from Kisangani to the town of Bunia. Tensions between Rwanda and Uganda have mounted since the main rebel movement in the DRC, the Congolese Rally for Democracy, split earlier this year. Uganda backs the Kisangani-based faction of the Congolese Rally for Democracy headed by Ernest Wamba dia Wamba, while Rwanda supports the Goma-based faction of the RCD, headed by Emile Ilunga. (AFP, August 13-31, September 4 &14)

Karamajong rustlers massacre 400 in northeast Uganda: An ongoing cattle rustling feud between the "warriors" of the Bokora tribe and the rival Matheniko tribe has resulted in a series of massacres in northeastern Uganda with the victims mainly women and children and the elderly. The most recent incident was reported on September 12 when Bokora warriors attacked the Matheniko community killing 400 people according to an eyewitness account. Ugandan Colonel Geoffrey Taban confirmed the attack took place but gave no casualty figures. The Colonel said the clash was believed to be a revenge attack in response to the Matheniko's July 29 attack on the Bokora. In that incident, Matheniko "warriors" killed 140 Bokora, mainly women, children and the elderly. Of the 140 dead, according to a government daily newspaper, 70 were children who were thrown into fires. The children had gathered for communal feeding because of food shortages in the area.

Following the Matheniko's July 29 raid, the Ugandan Government deployed up to 4,000 troops in the area and Colonel Taban confirmed that his soldiers fired on the Bokora as they fled with Matheniko cows on September 12. He said the operation resulted in the Matheniko being able to recover many of their cattle. During his announcement on September 14, President Museveni said that this government would act more firmly against armed cattle rustlers in northeastern Uganda. Past efforts by the government to disarm the Karamajong clans have resulted in bloody clashes with the army. After dozens of soldiers were killed in such an incident in 1994, the government gave in and allowed the Karamajong to keep their weapons. The government is also faced with the dilemma that if the Karamojong are not disarmed the rival clans will kill each other into extinction. However, if their guns were taken away, heavily armed and hostile external groups such as Sudan's Dinka and Kenya's Turkana would gain a huge advantage. (AFP, August 12, September 12 & 14)

UNICEF progress on programme for abducted children: Following a meeting between UNICEF and Sudan government officials in Khartoum in August two Sudanese members of parliament have travelled to Uganda to study the plight of children abducted by Sudanese-based Ugandan rebels of the Lords Resistance Army (LRA). Keith Wright of UNICEF told AFP that the "visit is part of UNICEF's ongoing programme to facilitate resolution of the issue of children abducted by the LRA." Serag Al-Din Hamid Yusuv and Reverend Severino Ambrose, (Chairman and Deputy Chairman of the Sudanese parliamentary Human Rights Commission), completed a five-day visit to rebel-affected northern districts in Uganda, meeting abductees who managed to escape, their parents, as well as staff of aid agencies working to provide trauma counselling for the survivors of rebel atrocities. A UNICEF official told IRIN that "At the end of the visit they were convinced that the humanitarian aspect of the insurgency should be separated from the political aspect." The two announced they would return soon, probably accompanied by more MPs, to ascertain the situation. At the end of the mission the Chairman of the Sudan's Parliamentary Committee on Human Rights told AFP "We think it is within the Government of Sudan's power to do something (about the children) since the government is giving refuge to the LRA in Sudan and we hope our report will result in something positive for the children of Northern Uganda.

The LRA rebel movement has been operating in northern Uganda since 1988 and uses abduction as its main method of recruitment. UNICEF estimates that since 1995 the LRA has kidnapped at least 9,000 children and forced them to become soldiers and sex slaves. Some 4,000 of these children are still unaccounted for and are believed to be still in captivity, or dead. Uganda and Sudan severed diplomatic relations in 1995, accusing each other of backing rebel groups hostile to their respective governments. The LRA have operated out of camps in Sudan government held territory in south Sudan since 1994. In the past international efforts to secure the release abducted children have failed. The most recent unsuccessful effort involved international outcry and pressure to secure the release of 21 schoolgirls taken from St Mary's College in October 1996. Despite pressure and mediation by the United Nations, religious groups, non-governmental organisations and foreign governments, as well as deals between the presidents of Uganda and Sudan, none of the captive children have yet been released. (AFP, September 7; IRIN-CEA, September 4-10)

Elephants condemned to die: Following a decision by local authorities in Luwero that rogue elephants be killed because they trampled a man to death and destroyed houses in the area, the European Union intervened by donating US $180,000 for their transloction. The exercise that started August 18 however was halted after only five of the 17 elephants were translocated to their new home in western Uganda. During the exercise, three of the elephants were killed as they tried to charge game rangers tracking them down while another one died in transit to its new location. Finally, after the death of a veterinarian who was killed by the elephant he was trying to sedate, Ugandan wildlife officials shot the killer elephant and have decided to kill the remaining 7 elephants. A wildlife officer described the exercise as one that made the animals agitated and fierce and "consequently, experts have recommended that the remaining lot be killed for the sake of security of the large population living near the forest, most of them cattle herders, and to avoid more deaths." (AFP, August 29 & 31)



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.

24 September, 1999

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