19 May 2007 04:18

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  • Title: [SW News] (IRIN) Horn of Africa Update
  • From: []
  • Date:  [Monday, 19 June  2000 2:00 PM EST ]

IRIN Horn of Africa Update


 

Story Filed: Monday, June 19, 2000 2:00 PM EST

Nairobi (UN Integrated Regional Information Network, June 19, 2000) - ETHIOPIA-ERITREA: Peace deal signed - Ethiopia and Eritrea on Sunday signed a peace agreement, raising hopes that the two year-old border dispute may be at an end.

The 15-point plan, brokered by the OAU in Algiers, provides for an immediate cessation of hostilities, the deployment of a UN peacekeeping force in a buffer zone extending 26 km into Eritrea, and the withdrawal of Ethiopian troops from areas occupied inside Eritrea since 6 February 1999. Demarcation of the border will follow later. The accord was signed by the foreign ministers of the two countries. Eritrean Foreign Minister Haile Woldetensae said the agreement was the "first step, but not the end of the process", Eritrean radio reported. He said the road to sustainable peace would be full of obstacles and complications, but stressed his government's commitment to the agreement. His comments were echoed by his Ethiopian counterpart, Seyoum Mesfin. Quoted by Tigray radio in Mekele, Seyoum however said the agreement had created a "conducive environment for the next round of talks", and described it as a "political victory" for Ethiopia.

ETHIOPIA-ERITREA: Accord hailed by international community

The accord has been hailed in various quarters. UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan said the signing now paved the way for a "speedy implementation of the Framework Agreement and Modalities". Speaking in Cairo, he added that he hoped UN peacekeepers would be quickly deployed to the buffer zone to consolidate the agreement. UNICEF's Executive Director Carol Bellamy, who is currently in the region, said the cessation of hostilities cleared the way for renewed emphasis on humanitarian relief in the drought-affected areas. US President Bill Clinton described the deal as a "breakthrough" which should allow the two countries to "realise their potential in peace, instead of squandering it in war".

UNHCR officials in the Eritrean capital Asmara and the Sudanese capital Khartoum expressed the hope that the peace agreement would enable refugees and displaced people to regain their homes. "From the humanitarian point of view it is now essential that the agreement is honoured on the ground," UNCHR official in Asmara Tahir Ali was quoted as saying. A UNHCR report recalled that the latest bout of fighting last month had caused large-scale displacement within Eritrea, and had driven some 85,000 people into neighbouring Sudan. Plans to repatriate an existing 150,000 Eritrean refugees from Sudan had also been put on hold.

ETHIOPIA: Troops pull out of Tesseney

Ethiopia said on Monday it had withdrawn troops from the western Eritrean town of Tesseney, which it captured last week. Speaking the day after Addis Ababa signed the peace deal with Asmara, the Ethiopian government spokeswomen Selome Tadesse said the troops had "successfully completed their mission" and had withdrawn "to positions from which they can defend themselves and liberated Ethiopian territories on the western front".

ERITREA: UN official urges more aid for displaced people

A senior UN official on Friday appealed for increased aid for displaced Eritreans. Carolyn McAskie, the acting emergency relief coordinator, described the situation in Eritrea as "dire", noting that the latest fighting had taken place in the country's "bread basket" region. "With the window for the annual planting season rapidly closing with the approach of the rainy season, there will be a need for external food aid for at least one year," she said, in a statement issued in New York. UNHCR on Sunday began the latest in a series of airlifts into Asmara, bringing in blankets and other supplies.

Also on Sunday, UNHCR and the Eritrean authorities evacuated 1,228 Somali refugees from the port of Assab, to a transit centre outside Massawa. UNHCR said the Somalis had been stuck in Assab and virtually cut off from aid since fighting resumed between Ethiopia and Eritrea in mid-May. One hundred refugees decided to stay in Assab, the agency added.

SOMALIA: Heavy fighting at Baidoa airport

Heavy fighting broke out at Baidoa airport on Saturday, and resumed again on Monday, humanitarian sources told IRIN. On Saturday, militiamen of the governing Rahanwein Resistance Army (RRA) opened fire on militiamen guarding a khat flight, unhappy with their allocation of the narcotic plant. The khat dealer himself returned to the airport on Monday, after a UN flight had landed, and his considerable militia force seized the airport from the RRA, with very heavy shooting ensuing. UN personnel were forced to run for cover, and one associated UN staffer was shot in the knee. The khat dealer warned that any plane attempting to land at Baidoa would be shot down. The sources pointed out that his weaponry includes a 23 mm anti-aircraft weapon. Later in the day however, the RRA reportedly regained control of the airport after a UN officer made contact with their leadership to complain about the incident.

SOMALIA: Puntland rejects Djibouti peace process

The Puntland authorities have officially rejected the Somali peace talks currently underway in Djibouti, according to the Somali newspaper 'Ayaamaha'. In a letter to the Djibouti president, the UN Secretary- General, the regional IGAD grouping, the OAU and other involved parties, the president of the Puntland regional government Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmad said his administration "will never participate in the ongoing Somali conference and will not recognise its outcome". "We would like to make clear to the world that Puntland has no delegation at the conference," the letter stated. It pointed out that any attempt by the Djibouti government to appoint Puntland representatives would be considered as a "hostile provocation". The Puntland authorities claimed the aim of the Djibouti conference was to make "short-term political and economic gains".

UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan meanwhile urged all Somalis to take part in the Djibouti process. His spokesman quoted Annan as saying he was encouraged by the fact the peace conference had moved into its second phase. Annan added he hoped this would lead to agreement on a transitional arrangement "that would safeguard Somalia's sovereignty and prepare the ground for a lasting settlement".

SUDAN: Ten countries discuss regional crime prevention

Ten central and east African countries were due to meet in Khartoum on Monday to discuss ways of combating organised crime throughout the region, the official SUNA news agency reported. It said interior ministers and police directors from Sudan, Kenya, Uganda, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Burundi, Rwanda, Djibouti, Tanzania and the Seychelles would come together for what Sudanese Interior Minister Major-General Abd al- Rahim Muhammad Husayn described as a "great African gathering". Regional and international organisations, such as the UN and OAU, will also attend to discuss issues such as drugs control.

This item is delivered by the UN's IRIN humanitarian information unit (e-mail: irin@ocha.unon.org; fax: +254 2 622129; Web: http://www.reliefweb.int/IRIN), but may not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations. If you re-print, copy, archive or re-post this item, please retain this credit and disclaimer.

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