Category: "News"

Battle for livestock leaves 38 dead

January 19th, 2006


Battle for livestock leaves 38 dead
Ethiopian warriors attack Kenyan herdsman as drought plagues East Africa

The Associated Press
Updated: 4:02 a.m. ET Jan. 19, 2006

LODWAR, Kenya - A battle for livestock between Ethiopian and Kenyan nomads has left 38 people dead in drought-stricken northern Kenya, officials and aid workers said Thursday.

Dongiro warriors crossed into Kenya from Ethiopia Friday and attacked Turkana herdsmen to steal their animals, said Njenga Miiri, district commissioner for Turkana. The fighting killed 30 of the raiders and eight Kenyan women and children.

The clashes took place in the remote village of Lokamarinyang along the Kenya-Ethiopia border, about 260 miles north of the regional capital of Lodwar, said Lucas Ariong, an aid worker in the area.

News of the battle only reached Lodwar Thursday morning.

Millions are at risk of famine in eastern Africa because of drought. Preliminary assessments show those affected include an estimated 3.5 million in Kenya, 1.75 million in Ethiopia, 1.4 million in Somalia and 60,000 in Djibouti.

Cattle rustling by nomadic tribes in the semiarid region is common and tribes in the area frequently do not respect national borders. Aid workers have expressed concern that as water sources dry up and livestock continue to die, such attacks will become more common.


Miiri said the attackers were from the Naita area of southern Ethiopia and were carrying Kalashnikov assault rifles. He said they were apparently trying to raid the Turkana settlement to steal 300 cows and goats.

Kenyan police and soldiers have been dispatched to the area, he added.

Efforts to help the region’s hungry have also been troubled in Ethiopia by a low-level conflict between the army and separatist rebels in the eastern part of the country. In recent months, trucks carrying food aid have been attacked and burned.

Violent clan disputes, a spillover from the feuding warlords in neighboring Somalia, have deterred aid workers and the U.N. from entering the region.

IMF urges "timely" support for drought

January 18th, 2006


ADDIS ABABA, 18 January (IRIN) - The Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Rodrigo Rato, has appealed for adequate and timely assistance to east African nations in the grip of severe drought.

Ethiopian children walk past the carcass of a cow in Denan, southern Somali region of Ethiopia, January 16, 2006. East Africa is gripped in drought while the south is blessed with rain but as aid agencies scramble to feed millions across the world's poorest continent, it is by no means clear what the 2006 harvests will bring, even in areas that have been wet. Picture taken on January 16, 2006. REUTERS/Andrew Heavens

Rato said the international community must take steps "to avert the risk of a humanitarian crisis".

"I urge the international donor community to respond generously and pro-actively in addressing the food needs of Africa's people," he said in a statement on Tuesday. "In view of income levels in most countries, such aid should be provided preferably in the form of grant financing or in-kind."

"It will be critical to respond in a timely manner - avoiding the human tragedies and adverse economic consequences that have all too often been associated with droughts in the past," he added.

According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, an estimated 11 million people "are on the brink of starvation" in Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia.

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said on Monday that failed rains had left Ethiopia's southeast and east "confronting an escalating humanitarian crisis", with some 1.75 million people likely to be acutely affected by the drought.

OCHA said about two million people in Somalia and 150,000 in Djibouti - nearly a fifth of the population - were also in desperate need of food assistance.

In Kenya, the government has appealed for assistance to feed an estimated 3.5 million people in 37 drought-affected districts.

Expressing "deep concern" about the food insecurity, Rato said the IMF would advise the African countries on how best to strengthen their macroeconomic stability and income growth.

"We are prepared, as in the past, to provide financial support by augmenting existing programs or by providing new financial assistance to countries that experience drought-related balance of payments needs," Rato said.

"The donor community can also help with securing more durable solutions to the food insecurity in Africa," he added. "This could include support for reforms to improve agricultural productivity as well as steps to improve the internal distribution and food storage capacities in the region."

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Britain cuts off aid to Ethiopian government

January 17th, 2006


Britain cuts off aid to Ethiopian government

"The U.K. is seriously concerned about governance, human rights and the detention of and serious charges faced by opposition, media and members of civil society," Benn said in a statement. "Because of our concerns over the political situation I have told the (Ethiopian prime minister) that we cannot provide direct budget support under the current circumstances."
Hillary Benn, Britain's international development secretary

Money redirected to aid agencies after protesters killed, jailed

Hillary Benn
ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (AP) -- Britain cut all of its aid to Ethiopia's government on Wednesday and plans to redirect the 73 million euro ($88 million U.S.) to humanitarian agencies working in the Horn of Africa nation.

Hillary Benn, Britain's international development secretary, said his government was "seriously concerned" by the unrest sparked by disputed elections last year that returned the ruling party to power and led to 88 protesters being killed by security forces. Benn met with Ethiopia's Prime Minister Meles Zenawi before the announcement.

Meles Zenawi has served on British Tony Blair's Commission on Africa and had been widely praised as a reformer

Political and civil unrest has shaken the country since the May general elections and police have arrested hundreds of opposition supporters and journalists on charges of treason, sparking international concern over Meles' commitment to human rights.

Benn said concerns had also been raised over "ongoing clashes involving students and security forces in schools and colleges across the country." He also called for an independent investigation into alleged human rights violations in Oromiya.

Media, opposition, aid workers jailed
On Friday, an international human rights group said Ethiopian authorities are intimidating, arresting and using excessive force in rural areas to quell dissent over the election results. Some 129 opposition leaders, journalists and aid workers are facing trial on charges of treason, genocide and other crimes which carry the death penalty.

"There needs to be a prompt, fair and open judicial process for those currently detained," Benn said. "I also hope that the international jurists will be able to observe the trial, and that an independent organization will be able to inspect all the places where people are currently being detained."

"The U.K. is seriously concerned about governance, human rights and the detention of and serious charges faced by opposition, media and members of civil society," Benn said in a statement. "Because of our concerns over the political situation I have told the (Ethiopian prime minister) that we cannot provide direct budget support under the current circumstances."

Ethiopian mother Ayan, left, holds Asma Monday; her daughter holds Nemo, who doctors say will die within a week from malnutrition.
In June, Britain froze 29.23 million euro ($35.3 million) in direct budget support to the Ethiopian government, but Wednesday's announcement officially cut off that amount, plus 43.87 million euro ($52.95 million U.S.) in additional aid that was still in place.

Benn said that funding for aid agencies in Ethiopia will continue as normal and that aid earmarked for the government will now be redirected to assist with a major drought and other problems. Ethiopia is one of the poorest countries in the world.

Other Western donors have said they are considering redirecting $375 million U.S. in budget support for the government to other areas because of the political crisis in the country.


Up to the Minute Ethiopian NEWS from News Aggregator

ETHIOPIA: Humanitarian crisis in the south - OCHA

January 17th, 2006


NAIROBI, 17 Jan 2006 (IRIN) - Failed rains in southern Ethiopia have left some 1.75 million people in urgent need of humanitarian assistance, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) has warned.

"Failed meher [June-September] rains have left Ethiopia's southern Somali region and the Borena zone of Oromiya region confronting an escalating humanitarian crisis," it said in a statement released on Monday.

OCHA added that the people estimated to require assistance from January to June 2006 were "above and beyond the 5.5 million people already receiving food assistance in the country". Ethiopia is one of the world's most food aid-dependent nations.

A malnourished child is weighed in the therapeutic treatment unit of Gode Hospital in the southern Somali region of Ethiopia January 16, 2006. East Africa is gripped in drought while the south is blessed with rain but as aid agencies scramble to feed millions across the world's poorest continent, it is by no means clear what the 2006 harvests will bring, even in areas that have been wet. Picture taken on January 16, 2006. REUTERS/Andrew Heavens

The agency also warned that a crisis loomed in the northeastern Afar region, where pastures had dried up and communal grazing lands had become "dust bowls".

It noted that the growing number of measles cases in the Somali and Afar regions were also a matter of concern. More than 30 people died from the disease in the two regions between October and December 2005.

"The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) has warned that very low immunisation levels in Somali region, combined with population displacement, which has been exacerbated by the drought, could indicate wider transmission throughout the region," it said.

OCHA added that to avoid further outbreaks in 2006, UNICEF estimated that US $18 million would be needed for anti-measles programmes for 12.6 million children throughout Ethiopia. Plans are already underway to immunise some 750,000 children in Somali region in the coming weeks.

Paul Hebert, head of OCHA in Ethiopia, said the government and its humanitarian partners would launch a humanitarian appeal for Ethiopia on 23 January.

"This appeal will address the emergency food needs of 2.6 million people, out of which the most urgent are about 1.75 million from Somali and Oromiya who are acutely affected by the drought," he added.


Up to the Minute Ethiopian NEWS from News Aggregator

Boat Missing As More Migrants Leave for Yemen

January 17th, 2006

Somalia: Boat Missing As More Migrants Leave for Yemen

UN Integrated Regional Information Networks
January 17, 2006
Posted to the web January 17, 2006

A boat carrying 110 Somali and Ethiopian migrants destined for Yemen went missing after leaving the northeastern coast of Somalia on Monday, according to sources in the port of Bosasso.

No news has been heard from the missing boat, which was one of six vessels en route across the Gulf of Aden, according to Muhammad Said Kashawito, of the Bosasso-based Midnimo Radio.

Quoting sources close to brokers who arranged passage for the migrants, Kashawito said it was not clear whether the missing boat had capsized, or whether it was experiencing technical problems.

Between them, the boats were carrying at least 700 Somali and Ethiopian migrants. They had embarked from the coastal villages of Marero, Qaw and Baran, all in the self-declared autonomous region of Puntland in northeastern Somalia.

Most of the passengers were "young men between the ages of 15 to 30, from southern Somalia and Ethiopia," Kashawito said. "There were some women and children, but not many."

The travellers had paid between US $30 and $50 each for the voyage to Yemen, which would be the point of departure in their search for work in Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states.

The trip to Yemen should take about 24 hours.

"Unfortunately, something always goes wrong," Kashawito said. "Hundreds of migrants have lost their lives in similar trips in the last five years."

Unscrupulous traffickers have been known to throw passengers overboard, leaving them to drown miles from the Yemeni coast.

Despite the risks, hundreds of Ethiopian migrants have been arriving at Bosasso, the commercial capital of Puntland, since late last year, according to Abdiaziz Sa'id Ga'amey, Puntland's deputy police chief.

"Between 200 to 300 migrants come to Bosasso every day," he said.

Kashawito said the migrants started arriving in Bosasso in October 2005, but "their numbers increased dramatically in December and this month [January]."

The majority of migrants are from the Oromo ethnic group. They reportedly walk for days from Ethiopia to Bosasso, where they hope to catch a boat to Yemen, said Sagal Hussein, of Horn Relief, a Bosasso-based nongovernmental organisation.

"Many of those interviewed told me they were running away from what was happening in their country," she said.

"Bosasso is just a transit point for them," she added. "Their ultimate destination is Yemen and the Gulf states."

No one seems to know the exact number of migrants living in five makeshift camps around Bosasso because their numbers fluctuate depending on how quickly they depart for Yemen, she said.

"We estimate their numbers to be between 3,000 to 4,000," said Ga'amey, the deputy police chief.

The United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR) said the migrants "are not coming to Bosasso to ask for UNHCR's protection in Somalia," said Kitty McKinsey, the agency's regional public information officer. "They are coming to Bosasso to catch boats to leave Africa."

[ This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations ]