A Week in the Horn

The Kenya Summit on Sustainable Solutions to Drought

While most attention, as might be expected, has been concentrated on intensive efforts to get sufficient emergency aid and assistance to those suffering from famine and the acute humanitarian crisis in Somalia, in order to save lives there and among the Somali refugees who have been flooding across the borders into Kenya and Ethiopia, some attention is also being paid to longer term responses, to the need to ensure any similar disaster can be avoided in the future. Yesterday and today, Kenya, together with the United Nations, IGAD and the World Bank, is hosting a regional “Summit on the Horn of Africa Crisis” with the theme of “Ending Drought Emergencies: A Commitment to Sustainable Solutions”. The conference is being co-chaired by President Kibaki and by Lynn Pascoe, UN Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, and among those present in addition to the President of the World Bank and the Executive Secretary of IGAD are regional heads of state and government, officials of various UN agencies and organizations, regional ministers and representatives of development partners and various other relevant international organizations. The Summit itself, being held today, was preceded by yesterday’s technical and ministerial level discussions with presentations by countries in the region. Key note addresses are being made by the Prime Ministers of Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia.

As Kenya’s Prime Minister, Raila Odinga, told a press conference on Tuesday “the underlying cause of the drought is climate change which has affected rainfall as well as the insecurity in Somalia.” Over the last decade, the Horn of Africa has been hit by drought emergencies of varying severity and increasing frequency; it is clear that climate change is going to increase their frequency and intensity in the future. Perennial drought crises across the region have led to the loss or weakening of traditional means of livelihoods, displacing communities and contributing to conflict between communities and across borders. The impact has spread beyond traditionally drought-prone areas and affected food prices in urban areas. In Somalia, of course, the situation has been aggravated by continuing instability and the extremism and violence of Al-Shabaab. Refugees have poured across the Kenyan and Ethiopian borders – the main camp for Somali refugees in Kenya, Dadaab, now has 530,000 inhabitants; Dollo Ado in Ethiopia another 120,000. The refugee movements increase the pressure on already fragile environments and, inevitably, affect security.  

The aim of the summit therefore is to look to find long-term and sustainable solutions for resolving the crisis. It will be adopting a Nairobi Plan of Action which will be based on crisis resolution, recovery, sustainable development and adaption. We will look at the Plan of Action in detail next week.

Any lasting solution to the crisis does, of course, require a holistic and regional approach, involving short-term humanitarian assistance to alleviate the suffering of the Somali refugees, internally displaced people and all those facing hunger throughout the Horn of Africa whether in urban or rural areas. Secondly there is a serious need for security assistance to restore peace and stability in Somalia on the basis of the agreements reached at the Consultative Conference in Mogadishu earlier in the week. Equally important are the longer-term needs, for development assistance to increase drought resistance among populations in the drought affected areas, and provide help for environmental and financial adaptation to the problems arising from climate change. These will have to include capacity development and asset reconstruction for affected communities, country-led institutional mechanisms and financial arrangements for development, as well as timely and well-coordinated planning. Regional cooperation is also essential. Problems such as drought, disease, security, trade and communications, and climate change, are not confined to any single state.

Some efforts have, of course, already begun in various countries towards these aims. As Deputy Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn told the ministerial and technical meeting on Thursday, Ethiopia took immediate action to mitigate the effects of the drought as soon as its early warning mechanisms alerted the government to the situation. This included the provision of water, distributed by water tankers, and the move of some worst affected communities to areas where there is still available grazing and water. Animal feed was provided at a discount and a system of marketing information to allow pastoralists to dispose of livestock profitably in advance of collapsing prices. Longer-term strategies, in addition to the early warning systems, involve programs and policies to end the cycle of drought and guarantee sustainable development.  They include ambitious settlement and irrigation projects now being implemented in the south and south-east of the country.

Overall Ethiopia’s efforts to address the recurrent problem are based upon the Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers, and the country’s Productive Safety Net Program. The first Plan for Accelerated and Sustainable Development to End Poverty (PASDEP) covered the period 2005 to 2010. A second PASDEP is covering the next five years as part of the current Growth and Transformation Plan: the aim is self-sufficiency in food by 2015.



The Somalia Consultative Meeting in Mogadishu

The first ‘Consultative Meeting on Ending the Transition’ was held this week in Mogadishu, from September 4th to 6th. Delegates included members of the TFIs, Puntland and Galmudug administrations, Ahlu Sunna wal Jama’a and stakeholders from the international community, including the European Union, IGAD, the League of Arab States, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, and the United Nations. The meetings was addressed by President Sheikh Sharif, Speaker Sharif Hassan,  Prime Minister Dr. Abdiweli Mohamed Ali, President Abdirahman Mohamed Mohamud of Puntland, President Mohamed Ahmed Alin of Galmudug, and the Deputy Special Representative of the AU Chairperson, the Honorable Wafula Wamunyinyi. The UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Somalia, Mark Bowden, spoke at a special session on the humanitarian crisis.

The meeting was facilitated by Ambassador Mahiga, the UN Secretary General’s Special Representative for Somalia who said it “could not have come at a more opportune time…With Al-Shabaab in retreat and the country the focus of international attention, this is the chance for the people of Somalia to rise above parochial interests and demonstrate their commitment to progress.” He added that the fact that it was being held both in Mogadishu and with the participation of a number of major transitional administrations was “hugely significant.” On the sidelines of the meeting, the administrations of Puntland and Galmudug signed a four point agreement to settle a dispute which had led to nearly thirty deaths in the previous week in Galkayo, which is divided between the two states. Puntland claimed its forces had repelled an attack by Al-Shabaab; Galmudug said the problem arose from an inter-clan dispute. The two presidents agreed an immediate ceasefire, to establish and maintain direct communications, to address future problems in a non-violent manner, and to recognize they faced a common threat from insurgents and extremists.

President Sheikh Sharif noted that those present were there “to discuss the future of our country after the end of the transition period”. He said it was an historic day, and he hoped that the “discussions would provide credible ideas to end the problems of Somalia”.

In fact, the meeting identified and considered four priority tasks necessary for bringing the transition to a successful end before August 20th 2012: security, the constitution, reconciliation and good governance. It also adopted a roadmap and agreed to a number of principles for its implementation. These included Somali ownership of the implementation process under the leadership of the TFG; inclusivity involving the participation of the TFG, the TFP, Puntland, Galmudug, Ahlu Sunna wal Jama’a and civil society; a Resource Mobilization Plan with milestones to be agreed within three weeks; and continuous monitoring of the roadmap with appropriate measures to ensure compliance with the benchmarks and timelines agreed in the Kampala Accord. A technical committee is to be set up within two weeks to facilitate cooperation among the Somali parties and international partners.       

The roadmap itself details proposed developments in the four areas of security, the constitution, political outreach and reconciliation, and good governance, breaking each of these down into component parts, and giving specific dates for implementation.  Security is divided into two sections: improved security in Mogadishu and the rest of Somalia; and effective maritime security and counter-piracy policy and strategy. The first will involve bi-monthly inclusive Joint Security Committee (JSC) meetings in Mogadishu, following implementation of the National Security and Stabilization Plan by October 19th. The second allows for effective maritime and counter piracy policies and legislation, in conjunction with regional entities, including Puntland and Somaliland. Policies are to be drawn up by early next year; anti-piracy legislation is to be enacted by May 18th.  

The timeline for the Draft Constitution starts with the TFG taking decisions on how to proceed in the next ten days, and the appointment of a Committee of Experts. A High Level Consultative Meeting before October 19th will discuss the process of federation through development of State Governments and Regional and District administrations. Consultations with stakeholders are to lead to amendment of the Transitional Federal Charter by December 19th; and a Stakeholders report on Federalism and a Decentralized System of Administration, and on the resolution of contentious issues, is due by the end of the year. A draft constitution is to be published by January 20th 2012, and a Final Draft Constitution produced by May 18th.  The draft is to be adopted by July 1st. This will be followed by a Constitutional Referendum.

Another element is the process of Parliamentary reform which is to begin next month; a committee is to report on recommendations and modalities by November 19th. Stakeholders will agree on details of the establishment of a new Federal parliament to be included in the Draft Constitution by January 20th. The process will also involve enacting a legislative framework for the Interim Electoral Commission, preparation of guidelines for elections and/or selection of members of parliament, legislation for elections and registration for political parties and educational procedures. The selection or nomination for members of the federal parliament and for district and local administrations should be completed by June 20th, and the electoral processes (direct or indirect), including the election of a President, are to be finished by August 20th.

The political outreach and reconciliation process is being launched with a High Level Committee Meeting within the next ten days and the preparation of a National Reconciliation Plan to be approved by parliament before the end of September when a National Reconciliation Commission will be set up. Reconciliation and peace building initiatives are to be launched across the country with top level visits where possible to all regions by the President, the Prime Minister and the Speaker. Existing Peace Committees are to be reactivated and new bodies set up, with the whole process underway by November 19th.

The benchmarks for good governance include working towards transparency and accountability with legislation implemented to fight corruption and an Interim Anti-Corruption Commission appointed. A Task Force is to be set up to report on all TFG receipts and expenditures to complete its report by January 20th 2012. The existing Civil Service Code/Law is to be reviewed and updated and a national budget for 2011/2012 produced by the end of the year. A national development and recovery strategy is to be developed by February 20th next year.

The roadmap is detailed and comprehensive. There is no doubt it will require a lot of hard work and dedication to achieve, as well as significant resources. Ambassador Mahiga described it as “proactive and ambitious” but he added that it was not unrealistic: “The mood of the leaders of Somalia has changed, and the population…the country wants this kind of transition as it strives for a more stable government, more representative and inclusive….This conference brings together all the stakeholders who will be responsible for implementing the roadmap; and it provides an evaluation system and mechanisms to verify compliance with the policy objectives of the roadmap.” During the remaining year of the transitional period, he added, “we have a huge opportunity to establish a plan based on the four key tasks.” This will put the authority in the country “back in the hands of the Somali people”, said Ambassador Mahiga. A critical factor will be the response of the international community. UN Secretary-General Ban ki-Moon has called on the international community to provide additional resources. They will be a necessity.

While all those present were firm in their expressions of optimism, some observers noted that not all stakeholders were invited. There was criticism that the meeting had not been inclusive enough and that traditional elders, community leaders and civil society organizations had not been invited. In fact, a second meeting will take place before the end of October in Galkayo, and this will include members of civil society organizations and community leaders.

President Sheikh Sharif promised that the government would firmly uphold the outcome and urged other leaders to respect the results. He praised the work of AMISOM for its commitment to restoring peace in Somalia and said that the fact that so many people were able to attend the meeting was a testimony to the improving security in Mogadishu. “The time to say Somalia is not peaceful has come to an end”, he added. There had been speculation that Al-Shabaab, despite its withdrawal from Mogadishu following a number of defeats, would try to demonstrate its continued presence by a major suicide attack or something similar. It proved unable to do so.



Famine continues to spread in Somalia

Meanwhile, the famine in Somalia is continuing to widen. On Monday, the UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Somalia, Mark Bowden, announced that famine had now spread to six out of the eight regions in southern Somalia, and that 750,000 people faced imminent starvation. The entire Bay region, one of the largest regions of Somalia, where the rate of malnutrition for children has reached 58%, “a record rate of acute malnutrition”, has been declared a famine area. It is now estimated that four million Somalis are unable to meet their food needs: that is over 50% of the total population. It is expected that the remaining areas of southern Somalia will slip into famine before the end of the year. With international agencies still finding it difficult if not impossible to reach most of the famine hit areas, because of Al-Shabaab’s refusal to allow most food aid shipments into areas they control, agencies have begun to use food and cash vouchers which families can exchange for food.

A major part of the problem has been the continued insistence of Al-Shabaab to politicize aid and to try to use emergency assistance as a political weapon. Al-Shabaab still controls significant areas of southern Somalia. It claims to be operating its own relief operations, and bans the involvement of most international agencies. The largest camp under Al-Shabaab administration in southern Somalia is at Aala-Yaasir at K50 in Lower Shebelle. According to journalists who have visited the camp, it holds some 45,000 people. Aid workers there say the camp has major problems including hunger, shortage of water, lack of shelter and very poor sanitation. It also appears that many of those in Aala-Yaasir are there because they have been prevented from going to Mogadishu in search of help and taken to K50. Refugees arriving in Mogadishu, and at the camps in Dollo Ado in Ethiopia, tell stories of Al-Shabaab gunmen along the roads forcing people to turn back and sometimes killing those who have been trying to reach areas where they might obtain international assistance.      

The UN’s Food Security and Nutrition Analysis Unit does not expect the crisis to go away any time soon: “We are still looking at, over the next 12 months, acute numbers of population in need.” Some rains are expected next month, October, but this will not provide any harvest for three months. According to the UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Somalia, the rains also bring their own increased risk of disease, of cholera, malaria and measles which can dramatically increase the numbers dying in an already weakened population. The UN is far from certain it has sufficient resources to deal with the communicable diseases. Mark Bowden blames donors for not responding fast enough to the crisis. One reason for the current crisis, he says, is that the funding wasn’t available at the beginning of the year when the UN and others were warning of the crisis to come. Aid agencies are currently still short of an estimated 1 billion dollars despite the recent AU pledging conference and some significant donations from other organizations.



Concern over the continuing conflicts in Sudan

On Wednesday, the United States Special Envoy to Sudan, Ambassador Princeton Lyman on a visit to Khartoum expressed serious concern over the upsurge of fighting in Blue Nile State. He urged the Government of Sudan and armed opposition groups to end the conflict. Ambassador Lyman said the conflicts raised serious obstacles to any normalization of relations between the US and the Sudan. He warned the Khartoum government that the violence was hurting the chances of it repairing its relations with Washington. He said that with the two sides not talking to each other, “the situation remains very dangerous”. US officials have said they are particularly disappointed that there had been no follow up to the meeting between President Omar Al Bashir and the then Governor of Blue Nile state, Malik Agar, in Khartoum on August 21st.

Last week, fighting broke out in Blue Nile state between the Sudan Armed Forces and the SPLM – North with both sides trading accusations over who was responsible. The SPLM-North has also been involved in fighting with the government in South Kordofan state since June. In both cases the fighting broke out after the Sudan Armed Forces demanded that SPLM-North disarmed its militias.

In the Blue Nile state, clashes occurred in the state capital of Al Damazein on Thursday last week, and the following day President Omar Al Bashir declared a state of emergency in the state and suspended the interim constitution, sacking the elected governor, Malik Agar and replacing him with a military governor. On Sunday, according to the SPLM-North, the party was banned, its offices in Khartoum closed, and many of its members arrested. The new governor of Blue Nile, Yahia Mohammed Kheir, said on Tuesday that things had returned to normal in Al Damazein but there was still some fighting to the south of the town.

According to the UN, the fighting has led to some 20,000 refugees fleeing across the border into Ethiopia. The UNHCR said they needed food, shelter and water. Another 50,000 have been reported moving out of Blue Nile into neighboring Sennar state to the north. Those crossing into Ethiopia have mostly been reluctant to move away from the border for the moment apparently hoping the fighting will rapidly end and they will be able to return home. Some however, have already been relocated to an existing refugee camp at Sherkole. The UN is preparing another three sites and is sending emergency relief supplies to Assosa, in Benishangul Regional State. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Antonio Guterres appealed on Sunday for an immediate halt to hostilities: “We need, at all costs, to stop yet one more refugee crisis in a region of the world that has been witnessing in recent months so much suffering.”

There is already serious international concern over the continuing fighting in Southern Kordofan where the Sudan Armed Forces are fighting SPLM-North forces.  Baroness Amos, the UN Under-Secretary-General of Humanitarian Affairs said last week “Unless there is an immediate stop to the fighting, and humanitarian organizations are granted immediate and unhindered independent access throughout South Kordofan, people in many parts of the state face potentially catastrophic levels of malnutrition and mortality.” In a statement yesterday, two Special Advisers to the UN-Secretary General called for the Sudan "to grant immediate and unhindered access of humanitarian agencies to the whole state of Southern Kordofan in order to provide urgently needed assistance to the population."

The third area of concern bordering South Sudan and the Sudan is Abyei, claimed by both north and south. A security agreement between the Sudan government and the SPLM in June allowed for the withdrawal of the Sudan Armed Forces and the deployment of a UN force, the UN Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA) authorized by the UN Security Council. Made up of a brigade of Ethiopian troops, only 1700 of the planned 4,200 strong force have yet arrived. In the absence of UNISFA’s full deployment, the Sudan Armed Forces have not yet withdrawn from the state, and most of the civilians who fled into South Sudan after earlier fighting have yet to return. Now, however, according to the UN in the latest round of talks in Addis Ababa, both Sudan and South Sudan have agreed to withdraw their troops from Abyei by the end of the month. The government in Khartoum originally said it would only withdraw forces after an administration had been put in place in Abyei, but it has now dropped this condition.   

There is a general consensus that the fighting that is spreading in South Kordofan and Blue Nile can be in nobody’s interest, not the new state of South Sudan nor the government of the Sudan. There is growing concern that a humanitarian disaster is taking place in the Nuba Mountains where international humanitarian organizations have been unable to work. These conflicts, and the still minimal progress over Abyei, threaten the talks on various aspects of post-independence relations that have been taking place under the auspices of the African Union’s High Level Implementation Panel. Ambassador Lyman thought it necessary this week to demand that Sudan and South Sudan resume their stalled talks on sharing oil revenues. He also urged South Sudan to stay out of the conflicts in South Kordofan and Blue Nile and to try to encourage SPLM-North to find a peaceful solution with Khartoum.



The Non-Aligned Movement’s Commemorative meeting in Belgrade

This week saw the second 50th Commemorative Ministerial Conference of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM). The ministerial conference held in Bali in May also commemorated the anniversary, but this meeting was held in Belgrade on Monday and Tuesday this week to remember the first NAM Summit in 1961. Seventy eight member states were present as well as several observer and guest states.  Ethiopia’s delegation was led by Ambassador Berhane Gebre-Christos, State Minister of Foreign Affairs.  

The current Chair of the NAM, Mr. Mohamed Kemal Amr, Foreign Minister of Egypt, opened the meeting by expressing deep appreciation for the initiative of the founding fathers and historic leaders of the Movement. He noted the remarkable achievements of the NAM over the past half century, and emphasized the hope that the major challenges facing the Movement today could be addressed effectively through the principles that have laid the foundation for its continued existence. Equally, he stressed the need for a more progressive vision to achieve the lofty objectives of the Movement. In his address, President Boris Tadic, of the Republic of Serbia, noted the results of NAM’s five decades represented a rich and progressive harvest for humanity. No political force had done more to construct a just and even-handed global society within the framework provided by the UN Charter.

There were speeches by special guests, by the foreign ministers of the former chairs of the NAM (Algeria, Indonesia, Colombia, Malaysia, South Africa, Zimbabwe, India, Serbia, Cuba, Sri Lanka, Zambia and Iran as a current member of the NAM Troika) and of the successor states of the former Yugoslavia (Montenegro, Slovenia, Croatia, and Bosnia and Herzegovina), by NAM members and observers. They commended the vital role played by the Non-Aligned Movement in the fifty years of its fight against colonialism, imperialism, domination, and threats to peace and security as well as its promotion of justice and international law. All reaffirmed their readiness to work for the dynamic transformation of the NAM to allow it to respond effectively to the growing challenges of today’s world.

In his address to the Conference, Ambassador Berhane noted that the Movement had become the most successful and dynamic organization among developing countries in the past half century. Its first conference, in Belgrade in 1961, had condemned colonial domination and the policy of apartheid and had demanded independence for all peoples, everywhere, suffering from injustice and inhuman policies. The Movement had, indeed, come a long way since it was established with 25 independent member countries. It now represented almost two-thirds of the United Nations general membership. It still had a great deal to offer. It must remain in the forefront of the struggle against injustice, inequality and domination in all its forms. It must continue to make important contributions towards ensuring sustainable development and social justice throughout the world. Ambassador Berhane said NAM member states had no option but to further commit themselves to expand the scope of their economic interactions through South-South Cooperation. He emphasized that ever since the Bandung Conference, in 1955, Ethiopia, apart from being a founding member, had faithfully upheld the core principles and values of the Movement, actively participating in its committees. Ambassador Berhane also recalled the significant contributions of the late Emperor Haile Selassie to the Movement from its beginning.  

The first summit of the Non-Aligned Movement in Belgrade 50 years ago was a result of the endeavors of a number of great statesmen at that time, in particular the five founding fathers. Its message was instrumental in sparking off the impressive growth of the Movement, from a mere twenty five nations gathered in Belgrade on September 1st 1961, to the global force it is today with 120 countries, almost two-thirds of the UN membership. It has made an immeasurable contribution: to the process of decolonization and full national emancipation of many countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America; to the ending of apartheid and to the continuing struggle against all forms of discrimination; to the support and protection of the principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity, of non-interference in the internal affairs of countries, and the promotion of multilateralism. The Non-Aligned Movement has withstood many tests and challenges, and in spite of its political, ideological, economic, social and cultural diversity, it has remained faithful to its basic principles and objectives. It has also managed to find a common basis of cooperation for solving the most pressing world problems. As participants at the conference underlined, it will continue to play an active and constructive role in the realization of the vital interests of its Member States for years to come.



9/11 - a dreadful anniversary

Ten years have elapsed since the horrendous terrorist attack in New York on September 11, 2001. As Ambassador Girma Biru, Ethiopia’s Ambassador to Washington, said in a ceremony held in the US Embassy in Addis Ababa to commemorate that atrocity, ten years is a long time, but it is not long enough to forget the shock and horror, and the anger, and the memories, of that most appalling and terrifying attack - and the loss of more than three thousand lives.

The Ambassador noted that the attack had particular poignancy in Ethiopia, where September 11th is New Year’s Day; always meant to be a day of celebration, the opportunity for families to come together, and an occasion to wish others a happy and a prosperous future. No Ethiopian could have expected New Year’s Day, September 11th 2001, to be any different. No one here in Addis Ababa was able to watch those terrible pictures; no one was prepared to listen or see such acts of mass murder. It was all quite simply unbelievable. Like all Americans, no Ethiopians expected such a danger could come from nowhere and cause so much horror and destruction.

On September 11th 2001, it was not just America that was the target. Certainly, nationals from all over the world died in the World Trade Center, and people from different countries perished in the plane that was downed in Pennsylvania. But that isn’t why one can say that the attack was directed against the world. It was because the deaths and the destruction were so random and arbitrary. It made everyone feel they were all Americans. September 11th – 9/11 – will always remain a day of remembrance, a watershed in the history of America, and of the world.

Ambassador Girma also stressed that 9/11 marked the start of understanding among governments, political leaders, security forces, and people at large, of the importance of always being prepared to defend their own security and their own freedom from terror. In its aftermath we have all come to understand that terrorism knows no borders. London, Moscow, Nairobi and Madrid are among the capitals which have had their share of attacks. Here in Addis Ababa we have also been the target of attacks, though on a relatively minor scale. There have been some successes against terrorism but it remains a common threat to us all, to all civilized humanity. We must all, as a world community, work together to show the commitment and strength necessary to root it out at every level and in every country. Cohesive and collective action is essential in this struggle. Faced by such a vicious and dangerous enemy, the only option is to come together to resist terrorism in all its forms and manifestations. 

Today is a day to mourn the dead, the loss of more than three thousand innocent lives and the many others who have died in other terrorist attacks around the world.

September 11 was a watershed giving the clearest possible message that terrorism is a scourge that knows no boundaries. It was a stark reminder that no nation can remain unscathed and no life style unaffected. Even to countries that had already known terrorism before, as Ethiopia had, it served as a clarion call on the need for all nations to join in the campaign to counter its devastating effects. The world has come a long way towards controlling terrorism but what we witness today in Somalia and in Yemen--not to mention Afghanistan--is a clear indication that more needs to be done to stand steadfast against terrorism in all its manifestations.



On that very somber and sober note, may we finally take this opportunity to offer everybody our very best wishes for New Year’s Day, on Monday. May we hope that the year 2004 in the Ethiopian calendar will be successful, and peaceful – and that all those affected by the drought and other climatic problems will be able to receive all the help they need to recover from this disaster.

          Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia

                     Ministry of Foreign Affairs