Tuesday, July 31, 2012

UN Monitoring Group Report on Somalia and Eritrea-The Official Blog of Amb. David H. Shinn

The approved 330 page report of the UN Monitoring Group on Somalia and Eritrea has been released. It is my understanding that it does not differ significantly from at least two previously leaked versions of the report. The coordinator of the report was Canadian national Matt Bryden. He does not intend to coordinate the next report.


Based on the earlier leaked reports, the international press focused on two issues: massive corruption in the Somali Transitional Federal Government (TFG) and the fact that Eritrea has significantly reduced its support for al-Shabaab.

For coverage of Eritrea's reduced support for al-Shabaab, click here to read Aaron Maasho's report in Reuters. For coverage of corruption in the TFG, click here to read Jason Straziuso's account in the Associated Press and click here to read the TFG's response as reported by the BBC.

If you are up to all 330 pages of the UN report, click here. It contains a wealth of information.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Mandate of UN monitoring group on Somalia and Eritrea extended for another year




Security Council in session. UN Photo/Ryan Brown
25 July 2012 – 
The Security Council today extended for another year the mandate of the United Nations panel of experts monitoring compliance with the embargoes on the delivery of weapons and military equipment to Somalia and Eritrea.In a resolution adopted unanimously, the Council decided to extend until 25 August 2013 the mandate of the Monitoring Group on Eritrea and Somalia, which also investigates all activities – including in the financial and maritime sectors – which generate revenue that is then used to break the arms embargoes.
The Group is also tasked with examining any means of transport, routes, seaports, airports and other facilities used in connection with violations of the embargoes.
By the resolution, the Council also decided that the arms embargo on Somalia shall not apply to supplies of weapons and military equipment, or the provision of assistance, for use by the UN Political Office for Somalia (UNPOS).
It also decided that the Eritrea arms embargo shall not apply to protective clothing temporarily exported to Eritrea by UN personnel, media representatives and humanitarian and development workers and associated personnel for their personal use only. It shall also not apply to supplies of non-lethal military equipment intended solely for humanitarian or protective use.
In addition, the Council welcomed the Monitoring Group’s recommendation to set up a Joint Financial Management Board to improve financial management, transparency and accountability of Somalia’s public resources, and called for an end to the misappropriation of funds.

News Tracker: past stories on this issue British Office for Somalia
Minister for Africa welcomes the Somalia and Eritrea Monitoring Group report, and emphasises the need to make further progress in promoting transparency in Somalia and in ensuring the Transition is completed on time.
Speaking today, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office Minister for Africa, Henry Bellingham said:
“I welcome the Somalia & Eritrea Monitoring Group (SEMG) report.  The evidence compiled by the group is thorough and well researched.
I am very concerned at some of the findings in the report and will of course endeavour to investigate further.  In particular, the SEMG’s findings on the mismanagement of resources are deeply troubling – they are a sobering reminder of the problems that are caused by the lack of effective and transparent governance in Somalia.  As we look to the next phase in Somalia’s political process, the international community must increase its efforts to tackle corruption and ensure that resources meant for the Somali people are used for the Somali people.
The UK Government has been concerned about the transparency of finances in Somalia for some time. That is why we have been working with Somali and international partners on a proposal for a Joint Financial Management Board.  The Joint Financial Management Board would enable the Somali government and its partners to demonstrate that the money it is receiving from a variety of sources is being put to public use – transparently and accountably.  This will increase trust between the Somali government, ordinary Somalis and the international community by increasing financial transparency and reducing the opportunities for corruption.  The Monitoring Group report underlines the importance of implementing this Board as soon as possible – and I’m pleased to see the importance of this has been re-emphasised by the UN Security Council, which today unanimously adopted Resolution 2060 on Somalia and Eritrea.
I also want to take the opportunity to welcome the opening today of the National Constituent Assembly in Mogadishu.  This is a very important step in the process of ending the Transition and building a better government for all of the people of Somalia. I urge all those with responsibility for the political process in Somalia to continue their efforts to ensure the Transition is completed by 20 August.

RBC Radio

Eritrean Team in London Olympics 2012:

Share
London Olympics 2012: Team Eritrea in Great Shape Ready for Action!

The day that has been awaited is finally here, the worlds eyes are on London, the stage is set, the security is tightened, the Olympic lanes are at full effect bringing London’s traffic at a stand still, but one thing is in it’s favor! The sporting buzz and the Olympic fever has reached it’s peak, most of all Eritreans that live world wide and particularly the community in London and those that made it to London to show their support to team Eritrea the anticipation for the games couldn’t get any higher!
Ahead of the official opening that is due to kick off on Friday 27th of July 2012 where all nations along with their athletes are to be officially welcomed, a less publicised welcome for Eritrea’s national team was held on Tuesday 24th of July. During the ceremony the mayor of the designated village Member of Parliament Tessa Jowell who is also Shadow Minister for the Olympics officially welcomed the Eritrean Team represented by the Head of the Eritrean National Olympic Committee Mr Berhane Ghebremariam at the Olympic Village where Eritrean national anthem was played during whilst the Eritrean flag was being hosed. Amongst the participants were representatives of Eritran Organisations in the UK (Religious, leaders, Elders, Youth, Women, Media, and much more) were present.
For the London Olympics Eritrea is participating in Mens and Womens Marathon, 10,000, 5,000, 3,000, 1,500 running, and Mens Cycling games represented by the African Champion Daniel Teklehaymanot . Despite the rich heritage and culture of Cycling in Eritrea, this is the first time that Ertrean Cycling team represented by Africas Champian Daniel Teklehaimoanot will be participating in the Olympics.
Although we say it is the first, it is not the first time for Eritreans to be at the Olympics, the only difference was that they were representing Ethiopia by force before Eritrean Independence was achieved, nonetheless Eritrean sports men and women deep in their heart and soul always represented Eritreans! This time is our time to shine the beautiful flag and represent not only Eritrea, but the whole Africa!
Wesede Eriey Beal Seere, Wesede Dani Beeal Seere!,
Structure and Schedule for Team Eritrean is as Follows
London Olympics
Cycling
· Daniel Teklehaimanot Saturday 28th July 2012, Start 10:00 a.m. Daniel will be making 9 laps totaling up to 250 kilometers.
Location and Time Cycling
  • The Mall - START 10am
  • Hampton Court Palace - 10.35am
  • Walton-on-Thames - 10.45am
  • Ripley Village - 11.05am
  • Gomshall - 11.25am
  • Westcott - 11.30am
  • Dorking - 11.35am
  • Box Hill - circuit entrance 11.40am
  • Box Hill - circuit exit 2.50pm
  • Esher - 3.05pm
  • Hampton Court Palace - 3.10pm
  • Kingston Upon Thames - 3.15pm
  • Richmond Park - 3.20pm
  • Putney Bridge - 3.30pm
  • Fulham - 3.35pm
· The Mall - FINISH 3.40pm
Should you want to follow the event, please don't forget to come out with your FLAGS to show your support for our athlete Daniel Teklehaimanot in the Olympic Cycling Road Race this Saturday, 28 July, 2012.
Two meeting places are proposed.....
1) For families with children & others, meet on Platform-1 of Vauxhall railway station exactly @9:30am to take the 9:58 train to Box-Hill & arrive there @10:40, where Daniel needs our support the most.
2) For those who can't make it to Box-Hill, meet outside South Kensington stationn @9:00am.
Please be advised that most roads are closed as well as there is no parking available. So to avoid disappointment, it's advisable to use public transport.
Don't miss this chance of a lifetime and chant Wesede Eriey Beal Seere, Wesede Dani Beeal Seere!, and do spread the word!!
Mens Marathon
· Yonas Kifle – Marathon 12th August 2012 starting time 11:00 a.m.
· Yared Asmerom Marathon 12th August 2012 starting time 11:00 a.m.
· Samson Keflemariam Marathon 12th August 2012 starting time 11:00 a.m.
· Barakhi Beyene Marathon 12th August 2012 starting time 11:00 a.m.
Womens Marathon
· Rehaset Mehari (Womens Marathon) 05th August 2012 11:00 a.m.
Track Games
10,000 Meters
  • 10,000 Zeresenay Tadese 04th August 2012 Final time 21:15
  • 10,000 Teklemariam Medhin (Hazega) 04th August 2012 Final time 21:15
  • 10,000 Negusie Amlesom 04th August 2012 Final time 21:15
5000 Meters
First hit round one 5000 Meters Mens, time 10:45
  • 5,000 Abrar Osman
  • 5000 Amanuiel Mesel
Zeresenay Tadese , and Teklemariam Medhin (Hazega) might try to for the 5000 as they already have got the minima or qualification standard.
The final will be on the 11th of August 2012
3000 ACCH Relay Staple Chase
Weynay Gebreselassie 03rd August 2012 first Hit round one and final will be on the 05thAugust 21:25
1500 Games
1500 Teklit Teweldeberhan 03rd August 2012 First hit round one 19:00 to 21:00 and on 05th of August 2012 will be semi final and final will be held on the 07th August 2012.
The Eritrean Team are so far understood to be in great shape both Emotiionally and physically, and they are being coached by the individuals stated below.
Atheletic Federation
  • Marathon Coach Abebe Zerihun
  • Track Coach Livingstone Abraham
  • Team Leader Jemal Siraj
Cycling Federation

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Eritrean soccer players escape to freedom, and a common dilemma - Metro - The Boston Globe

LYNN — In the cramped living room of their bleak apartment, four athletic young men confront a common immigrant dilemma.
You leave your country, where things were bad but you were somebody. You land in an America you know only from the selective gauzy tales of those who came before you, or from the reflexive optimism of immigration officials, or from the giddy din of “American Idol.”
No place could live up to that rosy blur. Here, you are just another newcomer with no English, and you need a job. Journalists become janitors. Doctors become dishwashers. Professors become parking attendants. Now the best chance to be somebody lies with your children, or their children.
To this you resign yourself. Or you don’t.
So far, these men don’t. “We are famous in our country,” says Filmon Mehari, speaking through a translator. He and his friends — Samuel Hagos, Henok Golom, and Aron Berhane — were among the best soccer players in Eritrea, where the sport is sacred. They won championships for the storied Red Sea Football Club, wore blue for the national team in African tournaments.
Eritrea is “a giant prison,” according to Human Rights Watch, where dictator Isaias Afewerki has shut down the independent press, the judiciary, and freedom of religion, where forced labor, torture, and death are as common as air.
Last summer, the four men, ages 18 to 25, were among 13 players who eluded their handlers to seek political asylum after a tournament in Tanzania. Two months ago they landed in Lynn, with help from Catholic Charities. Other teammates went to Texas and Virginia.
The men are beyond grateful to be here. “In America, I can have the freedom to be what I want to be,” Mehari says. They have found a store that sells injera, the bread that is a staple back home. They are taking English classes. They are getting used to things.
“This is a women’s country, I think,” Mehari says. “They have all the same rights.”
“I have heard people die and give their money to dogs,” says Golom, whose English is better than the others’. “In Africa, the dogs protect you, but in America, you protect the dog.”
In addition to these minor adjustments, there is one major one: They are not playing soccer.
“When I come to this country, I thought, ‘I am going to be a professional player,’” Golom says. They had been led to think that latching on to a team would be easy. They practiced all the time so they would be ready. They are in their prime playing years.
They will briefly entertain questions on other topics, but this is all they want to talk about. “We have the record, we are professional players,” Berhane says. “If a team sees us, they might want us to play for them, but they have to know where we are.”
Where they are is at a crossroads faced by countless refugees before them. Their meager state assistance ends in six months. Caseworkers at Catholic Charities are gently urging them to temper their expectations, to take any jobs they can find.
In Eritrea, Hagos was trained as a carpenter, Mehari as a mechanic, and Golom as an accountant, a profession for which Berhane has also studied. But because of their limited English, these professions are beyond their reach right now. If they got jobs, they’d most likely be menial.
Do they go there now, or do they hold out for the dream?
“We were so young when we started dreaming about soccer,” Golom says. “It is in our blood. We could play for a college, we could train kids.”
Sitting with them, and their longing, you can’t help wanting to save them from this choice so many have made before them. You can’t help hoping that some coach, some school, will find them, and say: play.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Mandate of UN monitoring group on Somalia and Eritrea extended for another year

Mandate of UN monitoring group on Somalia and Eritrea extended for another year


Security Council in session. UN Photo/Ryan Brown
25 July 2012 – 
The Security Council today extended for another year the mandate of the United Nations panel of experts monitoring compliance with the embargoes on the delivery of weapons and military equipment to Somalia and Eritrea.In a resolution adopted unanimously, the Council decided to extend until 25 August 2013 the mandate of the Monitoring Group on Eritrea and Somalia, which also investigates all activities – including in the financial and maritime sectors – which generate revenue that is then used to break the arms embargoes.
The Group is also tasked with examining any means of transport, routes, seaports, airports and other facilities used in connection with violations of the embargoes.
By the resolution, the Council also decided that the arms embargo on Somalia shall not apply to supplies of weapons and military equipment, or the provision of assistance, for use by the UN Political Office for Somalia (UNPOS).
It also decided that the Eritrea arms embargo shall not apply to protective clothing temporarily exported to Eritrea by UN personnel, media representatives and humanitarian and development workers and associated personnel for their personal use only. It shall also not apply to supplies of non-lethal military equipment intended solely for humanitarian or protective use.
In addition, the Council welcomed the Monitoring Group’s recommendation to set up a Joint Financial Management Board to improve financial management, transparency and accountability of Somalia’s public resources, and called for an end to the misappropriation of funds.

Baird eyes shutting down Eritrean consulate in Toronto - thestar.com

Niamh Scallan
Staff Reporter 

Eritrea is facing increased diplomatic pressure from the Canadian government after a United Nations report published this week said the country has been using its Toronto consulate to force expatriates to pay taxes that help bankroll its military.
Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird is considering “all options,” including shutting down the consulate, and has “called in” Canada’s Eritrean consul to meet with Canadian officials after the criminal allegations appeared in the report by the UN Monitoring Group on Somalia and Eritrea, a senior government official said Thursday.
The report, published online Monday, said the Eritrean consulate in Toronto has been using coercive tactics to impose a 2 per cent income tax on expatriates to help finance the military, a fundraising practice the UN monitoring group says “arguably” violates an arms embargo imposed by the United Nations in 2009.
A Royal Canadian Mounted Police assessment included in the UN report found that a “refusal to pay the tax often results in denial of service or threats against, or harassment of, family members still residing in Eritrea, or possible arrest of the individual should they travel to Eritrea without paying the taxes alleged to be owing.”
RCMP spokesman Sgt. Greg Cox said he could not confirm details of a criminal investigation unless criminal charges are laid, but added that the police force “is concerned about the issue as there exists a potential link with terrorist financing.”
Semere Ghebremariam O. Micael, Eritrea’s only accredited diplomat in Canada, could not be reached for comment Thursday.
But in a comment to a Toronto newspaper in 2011, another Eritrean consular official denied allegations of forced taxation, and said the “voluntary” 2 per cent income tax went toward reconstructing Eritrea’s roads, hospitals and schools.
Though a diplomatic letter sent by Baird to his Eritrean counterpart last January revealed that he was aware of allegations of criminal activity involving the Eritrean consulate in Toronto, this week’s UN report prompted strong reaction from the minister’s office.
The senior official said members of the Canadian Embassy in Khartoum will be delivering a message of concern to the Eritrean government. The ministry is also working with legal experts to determine further action, the official said.
“All options are on the table,” they said.