Friday, July 22, 2011

Eritreans in Ethiopia face future in limbo UNHCR

SHIRE, Ethiopia, July 21 (UNHCR) As the world focuses on the impact of the severe drought in East Africa, a silent crisis is brewing in a remote corner of Ethiopia. Hundreds of Eritreans are arriving here every month with claims of escaping open-ended military service and allegations of rights violations back home.
During a recent visit to the Eritrean refugee camps in northern Ethiopia, UN Assistant High Commissioner for Refugees, Erika Feller, said she was alarmed and shocked to see "a sea of young faces" and "youth denied for so many people".
In addition to the large numbers of Somali and Sudanese refugees, Ethiopia is home to more than 48,000 Eritrean refugees mostly young, educated, single men. Between 800 and 1,000 more arrive every month. Among them are significant numbers of unaccompanied children. Some are as young as six years old, and are being taken care of by the oldest child in the group.
The continuous inflow of these highly vulnerable individuals far exceeds the coping capacity of existing facilities. Feller said the challenges were on a scale she had "never seen in my long years with UNHCR".
The Assistant High Commissioner and her delegation toured the registration centre last week and talked to new arrivals at Endabaguna, some 20 kilometres from the UNHCR office in northern Ethiopia's Shire area. Refugees at Maiaini and Adi-Harush camps pleaded with her to make their problems known to the world.
"We spent a quarter of our youth in an open-ended military service at home, and another quarter in a refugee camp," said a women's representative. "Should UNHCR allow our children to vegetate in a refugee camp like their parents?!"
Feller appreciated the frustrations of young refugees caught up in a situation that is in danger of being protracted. Eritrean refugees started coming to Ethiopia in the year 2000, which means that early arrivals have lived in a refugee camp for more than a decade.
"These are young people with a future who can't see their future," Feller said. "And here, the international community has to look at this problem imaginatively and invest in the future of these young people, not in their care and maintenance."
Voluntary repatriation is not an option at the moment and UNHCR has been using resettlement as the only durable solution for Eritrean refugees. Feller explained that resettlement placements offered by different countries were limited, but reassured them that UNHCR would continue to advocate to increase resettlement opportunities.
"Life in a refugee camp is tough," said an eight-year-old who arrived two months ago, adding that there is "not much incentive" for him to remain here for long.
Frustrated by the difficulties of camp life and the limited opportunities for self-reliance and post-secondary education, thousands of Eritrean refugees are moving on to third countries such as Sudan and Egypt en route to Europe or the Middle East, on often-dangerous journeys arranged by smugglers.

© UNHCR/K.Gebre Egziabher
Assistant High Commissioner Erika Feller and UNHCR Ethiopia Representative Moses Okello with a group of Eritrean unaccompanied minors in northern Ethiopia.

Urging consolidated action against this form of secondary movement, UNHCR's Feller said, "The international community should assist Ethiopia and international agencies like UNHCR to provide a real alternative to these people so that they don't put themselves at risk in the hands of smugglers."
By Kisut Gebre Egziabher in Shire, Ethiopia

Friday, July 15, 2011

Riek Machar called for peace between Eritrea and Ethiopia, and in Somalia

As S. Sudan Joins UN, Machar Speaks of Darfur & Eritrea, Ban Silent, No Q&A

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, July 14 -- South Sudan was admitted to the UN on Thursday morning in New York, its new flag raised on the pole of Mauritius facing First Avenue.

In the General Assembly, US Ambassador Susan Rice on behalf of the host country quoted President Obama, that “after the darkness of war, there can be a new day of peace and progress.” Her speech did not mention the continued war in Southern Kordofan, Blue Nile and Darfur in the Sudan.

South Sudan's vice president Riek Machar in his speech spoke of these and of Darfur, and called for peace between Eritrea and Ethiopia, and in Somalia. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon during his trip to Juba last weekend met with Eritrea's president Isaias Afewerki, and his office issued this read out:

The Secretary-General met with President Isaias Afewerki in Juba on 8 July 2011. The Secretary-General and President Afewerki discussed peace and security issues in the region in particular the independence of South Sudan, and they agreed to find another opportunity to discuss the role of Eritrea and the complexities of the sub-region.”

Strikingly, the UN's read out of the meeting did not even mention Ethiopia or Somalia. On July 11, Inner City Pressasked Ban's spokesman Martin Nesirky about it:

Inner City Press: the Secretary-General met with the President of Eritrea. I wanted to know if that was his first meeting with him. And also the readout didn’t seem to make any reference to the widespread allegations that Eritrea supports Al-Shabaab and is a destabilizing factor in Somalia. Was this something that was discussed, or was not in the readout, or not discussed at all?

Spokesperson Nesirky: Well, the readout speaks for itself, Matthew.

Inner City Press: Is that his first meeting with the President of Eritrea?

Spokesperson Nesirky: I’ll check, but on the other topic that you’ve mentioned, I think the readout speaks for itself.

While more than two days later this simple question had not been answered, in the meantime several diplomats at the UN told Inner City Press that what the read out speaks of is a diplomacy by Ban that is far too quiet. Even South Sudan with all the work ahead of it is talking about peace between Eritrea and Ethiopia, including in Somalia. How could the Secretary General not even bring it up?

Ban spoke at the South Sudan festivities on Thursday morning, but unlike President of the General Assembly Joseph Diess, Ban took no questions. (Nor did he on July 12, when he came to the Security Council stakeout but left without taking any questions.)

So Inner City Press went to Thursday's noon briefing, after the South Sudan flag raising and PGA Deiss' stakeout were over.

Sudan's PR with Ban in foreground, Q&A not shown. (c) MRLee

Several journalists were waiting, but none of Ban's spokespeople ever appeared. Finally Inner City Press was directed to an email of 10 am that day, that “Noon Briefing canceled.”

Inner City Press immediately emailed Ban's spokesman Martin Nesirky and his deputy Farhan Haq, asking, “Could you say why there is no noon briefing today?”

A quarter of an hour later, Haq replied, “We had explained to the press via the intercom this morning: Because of the flag raising ceremony for the Republic of South Sudan just before noon, there will be no noon briefing today.”

This does not explain it: the Office of the Spokesperson has more than enough staff to cover the flag raising ceremony -- which like Deiss' stakeout was over before noon -- and the already determined admission of South Sudan to the UN is hardly the only news of the day.

So why did Ban not take questions on July 12, not hold a stakeout like President of the General Assembly Deiss on July 14, and cancel even the normal noon briefing on July 14? Watch this site.

Footnotes: Mauritius gave up its flag pole space because it happened to be right in front of the GA, Inner City Press was told. Inside the General Assembly, making an extra space for the Republic of South Sudan was said to require one of the three Observers to not have a space. Palestine and the Holy See continued to share; the EU was not in. Camera space is going to be taken for extra states under the Capital Master Plan, Inner City Press has been told. We'll be here.

* * *

As Council Touts South Sudan, UN Can't Act in Kordofan, Darfur an Oversight?

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, July 13 -- As South Sudan was recommended for UN membership by the Security Council on Wednesday, there were differing views on the border fighting in Southern Kordofan and ongoing conflict in Darfur in Western Sudan.

Inner City Press asked US Permanent Representative Susan Rice about the future of Blue Nile and Southern Kordofan states, which she had mentioned in her remarks inside the Council, and about Darfur, which she had not.

Rice replied that in Southern Kordofan, “the UN forces are now by necessity having to withdraw, their ability to act and implement their prior mandate no longer pertains.”

This is consistent with the UN's responses to Inner City Pressfor two days now, that its predominantly Egyptian peacekeepers in Southern Kordofan cannot patrol or use force.

Outgoing UN peacekeeping chief Alain Le Roy, when Inner City Press asked him later on Wednesday, added that if the peacekeepers see someone being killed, they will react as humanitarians. See video here.

Sudan's Permanent Representative Daffa-Alla Elhag Ali Osman, for his part, after saying that North and South Sudan are two houses with a single extended though perhaps divorced family in them, told Inner City Press that the UNMIS mandate is over and the peacekeepers must leave. Video here.

He claimed Khartoum would never block humanitarian access, even as one of his ministers threatens to halt the operations of NGOs in South Kordofan and Darfur.

Darfur was mentioned in the Council speeches by the United Kingdom and Portugal, for example, but not by the US. Asked about this omission, Ambassador Rice said

we are very much still focused on the crisis in Darfur. It's the subject of deep concern to the United States, to President Obama, and all in our government. We have not let up in our focus and attention, even as we have worked very hard to support the independence of South Sudan and successful implementation of the CPA. We will have ample time this month in the Council to give the attention that is necessary, and that will remain sustained attention to Darfur, as we renew the UNAMID mandate.”

Some have questioned the US urging the rebel movements in Darfur to sign a peace “agreement” that most of the groups, from the Justice and Equality Movement to the SLA faction of Abdel Wahid al Nur, have rejected. We will have more on this.

Riek Machar in UNSC July 13, Susan Rice at right, Darfur not shown

While JEM's Khalil Ibrahim remains trapped in Tripoli despite requests that the UN help to get him out, Abdel Wahid al Nur is in France, which sent to speak in the Council its new minister for French citizens overseas, the retired judo champion David Douillet, who spoke apparently only to the French media and not at the stakeout.

The Republic of South Sudan's vice president Riek Machar came out to speak, and when Inner City Press asked him about this government's relations with SPLM-North in Southern Kordofan, he replied mostly about Abyei and the requirement for a referendum there. Video here.

The next steps is the arrival of Ethiopian peacekeepers -- without a human rights monitoring mechanism -- who will begin arriving, according to Le Roy, on July 20 via El Obeid.

Given the long history, to put it mildly, between Machar and John Garang, called the father of South Sudan, Inner City Press asked Machar how he thought Garang would view the developments.

“He is happy,” Machar said, citing a Garang statement quoted in South Africa's speech to the Council. And then he and his large delegation were gone, waiting for UN General Assembly admission on July 14. We'll be there.

Here's the US Mission's transcript of Ambassador Rice's stakeout:

Inner City Press: On Sudan, you said in your statement that, "the Government of Sudan has wavered in its commitment to this June 28th agreement about South Kordofan." It seems like they've actually kind of totally broken it. They've said that they don't stand behind it. What's your understanding of where it stands? What can the UN peacekeepers that are there do even pending an agreement? And also Darfur, which I didn't see mentioned -- what does today's development in South Sudan mean for the people in Darfur? Is there a loss of focus? What are the implications for the conflict in Darfur?

Ambassador Rice: First of all, with respect to Southern Kordofan, the Government of Sudan did sign an agreement. And it would be most unfortunate if they formally reneged on that agreement. We've been concerned to see that senior leaders in Khartoum have expressed reservations and concerns about that agreement. It was an important step, and our view is that it ought to be respected and followed by an immediate agreement on a cessation of hostilities. I also mentioned in my statement the United States' deep regret that the Government of Sudan has compelled the withdrawal of UNMIS forces from the North, and this will have significant implications for the protection of civilians and humanitarian access in Southern Kordofan. As the UN forces are now by necessity having to withdraw, their ability to act and implement their prior mandate no longer pertains. And they are in the mode of withdrawal so they are not going to-unless the government of Sudan changes its mind-have the ability to do what we think is very important for them to do.

With respect to Darfur, we are very much still focused on the crisis in Darfur. It's the subject of deep concern to the United States, to President Obama, and all in our government. We have not let up in our focus and attention, even as we have worked very hard to support the independence of South Sudan and successful implementation of the CPA. We will have ample time this month in the Council to give the attention that is necessary, and that will remain sustained attention to Darfur, as we renew the UNAMID mandate. And certainly, our efforts on behalf of the people of Darfur continue.

We'll see. Watch this site.

Click for July 7, 11 re Sudan, Libya, Syria, flotilla

Click for Mar 1, '11 re Libya, Sri Lanka, UN Corruption

Click here for Inner City Press' March 27 UN debate

Click here for Inner City Press March 12 UN (and AIG bailout) debate

Click here for Inner City Press' Feb 26 UN debate

Click here for Feb. 12 debate on Sri Lanka

Click here for Inner City Press' Jan. 16, 2009 debate about Gaza

Click here for Inner City Press' review-of-2008 UN Top Ten debate

Click here for Inner City Press' December 24 debate on UN budget, Niger

Click here from Inner City Press' December 12 debate on UN double standards

Click here for Inner City Press' November 25 debate on Somalia, politics

and this October 17 debate, on Security Council and Obama and the UN.

* * *

These reports are usually also available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis.

Click here for a Reuters AlertNet piece by this correspondent about Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army. Click here for an earlier Reuters AlertNet piece about the Somali National Reconciliation Congress, and the UN's $200,000 contribution from an undefined trust fund. Video Analysis here

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Eritrea -13 Red sea players go missing

13 Red sea players go missing Send to a friend
Monday, 11 July 2011 21:24
By Majuto Omary
The Citizen Reporter
Dar es Salaam. The Cecafa-organised competitions are always fascinating events as they constantly supply moments of drama, brilliance and absurdity as the council has no idea of the whereabouts of 13 members of Red Sea of Eritrea.

They literally disappeared shortly after their quarter-final match of the just concluded Kagame Castle Cup, the Tanzania Football Federation (TFF) confirmed yesterday.

TFF secretary general Angetile Osiah admitted that they are also in the dark as to where the Eritrea team players could be. Osiah said the Red Sea members failed to return to Eritrea with the rest of the squad and might be seeking asylum in one of the East and Central African countries. “We have informed the immigration authorities about the matter, we are optimistic they will arrest them, it’s very disappointing,” he said.

They are among the 25 members of the Eritrea squad who were in the country to compete in this year’s Kagame Castle Cup, which came to an end on Sunday at the National Stadium.

The TFF official said the players did not return to Lunch Time Hotel, Ubungo where they were booked after their final group stage match last week.There have been no reports or statements from the neighbouring countries about the whereabouts of them so far.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Eritrea: IGAD Regional Bloc Urges Tougher Measures Against Eritrea

Threats to peace, stability and security remain at an all time high and questions about the credibility, efficacy and integrity of the UN Security Council in addressing these serious global issues abound. International and regional organizations remain under greater public scrutiny and one such organization that has come under increased scrutiny by citizens of the Horn of Africa is the Intergovernmental Agency for Development (IGAD). Its recent decisions negatively affected the peace, stability and security of the region and bears responsibility for the destruction of Somalia and the suffering of its people.

It did not take a rocket scientist to figure out that it was the mercenary minority regime in Ethiopia, led by Meles Zenawi that was behind the shenanigans at IGAD and the African Union in 2009 that led to the Security Council’s adoption of the illegal, unfair and unjust Resolution 1907 (2009). As the paper trails and the records showed, despite what the US Ambassador to the United Nations claims about Resolution 1907 (2009) which the Security Council adopted on 23 December 2009 being an “African Initiative”, it was in fact, a decision made by the TPLF regime in Ethiopia.

IGAD was duped into endorsing that recommendation and so were the members of the African Union Peace and Security Council, some of whom may have believed that IGAD had made an independent and studied decision on Somalia. The AU’s Peace and Security Council was itself in violation of the African Union’s own rules which clearly state that:

“….Any Member of the Peace and Security Council which is party to a conflict or a situation under consideration by the Peace and Security Council shall not participate either in the discussion or in the decision making process relating to that conflict or situation. Such Member shall be invited to present its case to the Peace and Security Council as appropriate, and shall, thereafter, withdraw from the proceedings…”

Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia and Uganda endorsed the resolutions against Eritrea.

The illegal meetings and decisions were orchestrated by Ethiopia who served as the Chair of the African Union’s Peace and Security Council when that infamous decision against Eritrea was made. Not surprisingly, it was also Ethiopia that Chaired the IGAD meeting when it called for sanctions against Eritrea in 2009. The regime in Ethiopia is once again trying to employ IGAD to advance its anti-Eritrea foreign policy and when IGAD issued its 28 June 2011 Communiqué on Eritrea, once again, it had the minority regime’s fingerprints all over it.

Haile Mariam Desalegn, the minority regime’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs is the Chairperson of the IGAD Council of Ministers which recently called for more sanctions against the people of Eritrea. This time, the desperate and ignominious minority regime is also calling for sanctions against the Eritrean Diaspora.

It should be recalled that Haile Mariam Desalegn has been widely quoted by invited journalists as he openly made the following statement in a 22 April 2011 press conference held in Addis Ababa:

"…We [ the TPLF regime] have embarked ourselves on equal reaction, which is regime change (in Eritrea ….This regime change is not by invading Eritrea but by supporting the Eritrean people and groups which want to dismantle the regime. We are fully engaged in doing so…"

The TPLF cadre is using IGAD to advance that desperate goal.

In the past I have written about the fact that all prominent positions in the Government of Ethiopia were headed by card carrying members of the Tigray Peoples Liberation Front (TPLF). Entrenched corruption, political exclusiveness, nepotism and absolute control of power define the minority regime in Ethiopia led by Meles Zenawi, the head of the TPLF.

A 2009 study of Ethiopia’s Army by an Ethiopian group said:

“…In Ethiopia, a minority ethnic group that comprises no more than 6% of the total population (89 million) controls the political, economic, and social life of 94% of the Ethiopian people…all high level military positions in the Ethiopian army are asymmetrically dominated by a minority ethnic group led by the TPLF elite…93.5 of all key military positions in the Ethiopian National Defense Forces are occupied by ethnic Tigrayans, far in excess of their 6% representation among the Ethiopian population…”

Whilst TPLF cadres head key Ministries in Ethiopia, they also occupy key positions in the international and regional organizations such as the African Union, Economic Commission for Africa and the Intergovernmental Agency for Development (IGAD), that are found in Addis Ababa, the Ethiopian capital. Well placed Tigrayans have been using these regional and international organizations to advance TPLF’s agenda in the region and help sustain its brutal grip on the suffering people of Ethiopia. It is no wonder then that IGAD and AU have never issued a single statement on the massive human rights violations and genocides taking place in the Gambela, Ogaden and Oromo regions of Ethiopia. They have also remained mum as the regime massacred innocent Ethiopians on the streets of Addis Ababa for voting the regime out of office.

Let us take a look at some of the TPLF cadres that occupy key positions at IGAD and who have accompanied the TPLF leader to the summit in Maputo.

Meles Zenawi is the currently Chairman of IGAD and is leading the IGAD delegation to Maputo, Equatorial Guinea where he will undoubtedly Chair the “Extra-Ordinary IGAD Summit” scheduled for 4 July 2011. He is also the head of the Tigray Peoples Liberation Front (TPLF) and the leader of the minority regime ruling Ethiopia today.

Lissane Yohannes, serves as IGAD’s Special Envoy to the Assessment and Evaluation Commission and according to the 28 June 2011 IGAD Communiqué, this longtime card carrying member of the TPLF regime was present at the meeting that decided to impose more sanctions on the people of Eritrea. Those who follow events in the Horn will remember Lisanne Yohannes for his futile attempt to dispute the various human rights reports that exposed the TPLF’s atrocities in the Ogaden region. In 2008, he was commissioned by the minority regime to “investigate” the very serious allegations brought against the Ethiopian government. The deceptive regime presented Lisanne Yohannes as an “independent expert”.

Berhane Gebre Kristos, TPLF Central Committee member and former Ambassador to the USA and currently serving as Ethiopia’s State Minister for Foreign Affairs chairs many meetings of IGAD.

Another card carrying member of the TPLF that is part of the TPLF delegation is Nasinet Menghistu, a member of IGAD’s Somalia Peace and National Reconciliation Committee.

General Gebre Adhana, Commander in Chief of Ethiopian forces that invaded and occupied Somalia in 2006 and a card carrying member of the TPLF also serves on IGAD’s Somalia Peace and Reconciliation Committee. Case of the fox watching the chicken coop…

An IGAD dominated by TPLF cadres in all key divisions and departments is incapable of making sound and legal decisions on issues of peace and stability in the Horn of Africa. IGAD’s credibility and integrity have been further undermined by the TPLF regime’s interference, and self serving and transparent shenanigans. Exposing its utter contempt for the other members of IGAD, the regime is trying to repeat what it did in 2009.

The rule of law must prevail over the law of the jungle!