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Tuesday, November 01, 2005

 

Bebera Port Serves Land-locked Ethiopia and Somaliland

Dir Era



Nairobi (HAN) October 30, 2005 - Somaliland faces the considerable challenge of having to establish a central administration and a diversified economy in a predominantly pastoralist territory. Key to this will be the fortunes of Berbera port. Berbera is not only a key regional corridor, but is also Somaliland's single biggest income generator. Exports from Berbera support farmers and herders in Somaliland, as well as those in the self-declared autonomous region of Puntland, northeastern Somalia. Livestock also reaches Berbera from southeastern Ethiopia and southern Somalia. With the imposition of the recent embargo, the lives of hundreds of thousands of pastoralists and traders have been adversely affected.

In northern and central regions (including Somaliland and Puntland) huge income losses have resulted from the Gulf livestock import ban, placing enormous strains on household budgets, warned the multi-agency Food Security Assessment United (FSAU) in its February report. Local currency has lost value, and there has been a dramatic drop in the amount of hard currency brought into the region. Imported and local cereal prices have risen steeply, and purchasing power has dropped.

For traders, pastoralists and farmers in the Horn of Africa, the port of Berbera is one of the main gates to foreign markets and a key to future development. The port currently serves both land-locked Ethiopia and Somaliland and has the potential to become a regional trade hub. This could, in turn, make the Addis Ababa-Hargeisa-Berbera transport corridor a major catalyst for trade and economic development. To support these objectives, the EU selected Louis Berger SAS and Afro-Consult to assess the feasibility of upgrading the port and transportation links supporting it, including the Berbera Corridor Highway, the Berbera and Hargeisa Airports and the Ethiopia-Somaliland border crossing facilities.

The Team assessed the condition of the road links between Berbera and Addis Ababa, the Berbera port facilities, the Hargeisa and Berbera Airports and established current and future demand. Although current demand along the corridor is relatively low, the consultants anticipated that reconstruction of the area and the growing export of livestock will encourage increased traffic. The Team also compared the costs and advantages of Ethiopia using the port of Berbera with those of competing ports, including Djibouti, Assab, Massawa, Mombassa and Port Sudan.


Berger team members established that the development of the port of Berbera is the key to improved regional trade links. Port specialists analyzed the current depth and capacity for each of the existing quays and considered a number of proposals for improving the port, including the expansion of existing quays and yards to provide increased capacity, the development of the "American Quay" to accommodate large ships and the rehabilitation of the oil jetty. In addition, the Team recommended the preparation of a port master plan to ensure that all future developments are carefully integrated. Once the demand studies were completed, specialists prepared recommendations for the improvement of the corridor transportation networks, including upgrading the Harar-Jijiga and Jijiga-Togochale roadways in Ethiopia and bridging several wadis, or flood channels.

To improve air travel and cargo shipment, the Team evaluated the two principal airports in Somaliland-Hargeisa and Berbera. Increasingly, air freight carriers in the Middle East and Africa are switching from propeller aircraft to jets. This requires the modernization of the runways, aprons and taxiways at both airports. To reduce costs, the Team recommended that the improvements be included with a proposed €32 million contract to resurface the roads in the corridor.


The improvement of this international trade route provides significant potential for increased revenues in both Somaliland and Ethiopia. To foster and monitor this trade, Berger also evaluated the current capacity of the customs system and prepared recommendations to reduce smuggling between Ethiopia and Somaliland and streamline customs procedures. Among the recommendations, Team members suggested the revision of tariffs to meet recent changes in the market value of goods and the use of pre-shipment inspections for higher valued items. The Team then assisted customs officials in establishing separate procedures for goods in transit and drafted improved enforcement regulations.

The Berger Group also worked in Ethiopia to improve rail connections with Djibouti. Along with Hifab International and Swederail, Berger evaluated the current demand and revenues of the Chemin de Fer Djibouti-Ethiopien railroad which connects Addis Ababa and Djibouti and identified programs to increase use of the railroad through a private concession and an improved operations and marketing plan.



HAN Note: "This country is going to be the first African economic tiger"

Mohamed Ibrahim Egal

 

IGAD and East Africa States Must End Targeting Human Rights Defenders

Dir Era



Belgium (HAN) October 31, 2005 - The East Africa is an extremely heterogenous region, and human rights violations come in many forms as well. From ethnic genocide, Clan conflict, mass disappearances and torture, to denial of political participation, freedom of speech or of the press, there is little that will not be found somewhere in the Horn of Africa. The HAN & Geeska Afrika Online (www.geeskaafrika.com) Magazine only hopes to guide you to some resources with information on human rights in the Horn of Africa. If you know of other resources, please let us know.


The IGAD region made up of Uganda, Kenya, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Sudan, Djibouti, Somalia as well as Somaliland. These Horn of African States are joined in a regional organization called the Intergovernmental Authority for Development (IGAD).

As the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights prepares to meet next month, Amnesty International and human rights defenders from across East Africa and the Horn of Africa expressed fears that progress made during the last two years could be lost in political negotiations. They today opened a conference to address this concern in the run-up to the African Commission’s gathering, which begins on 21 November in Banjul.

Over 60 grassroots activists from Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, Somaliland, Sudan, Tanzania, and Uganda will be participating in the conference, which is taking place in Entebbe, Uganda from 31 October to 04 November 2005. The talks have been organized by Amnesty International and the East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders’ Project (EHAHRDP).

The African Commission’s Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders, Mrs Jainaba Johm, will deliver the conference's keynote speech on the protection of human rights defenders in Africa. The conference will be followed by a press briefing on 4 November 2005, with the publication of a Final Declaration directed at government leaders.

"Human rights defenders across Africa continue to be subjected to a wide range of human rights violations -- including harassment, intimidation, banning or restriction of their activities, unlawful arrest, incommunicado detention, imprisonment on bogus charges, torture, ill-treatment and extra-judicial killings -- while exercising their right to defend the human rights of others," said Kolawole Olaniyan, Director of Amnesty International’s Africa Programme.

"We are asking the African Commission to reflect these regrettable facts in their negotiations and take all necessary steps to improve the protection of human rights defenders across the continent."

Amnesty International and the East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project are deeply concerned at what they see to be a widespread wave of human rights violations against activists legitimately investigating human rights violations committed by government authorities and elements of armed groups.

Recent examples include:


In Ethiopia, between 8 and 14 June 2005, three investigators and three regional managers of the Ethiopian Human Rights Council (EHRCO) were arrested in Addis Ababa and Dessie. The three investigators were conducting research on the military shootings of at least 36 people in Addis Ababa on 8 June, during street protests against alleged election fraud in the May 2005 elections. Cherinet Tadesse, Yared Hailemariam and Berhanu Tsegu were held incommunicado for about a month, accused of incitement to violence and organizing opposition demonstrations. All six activists were released on bail but have not been formally charged.
On 10 August 2005, twenty-three activists participating in a demonstration against the irregular allocation of public land in Kitale Town, western Kenya were arrested and detained in police custody for two days -- charged with “malicious damage of property by a rioting assembly group and taking part in unlawful assembly”. On 12 August, Gabriel Dolan -- a human rights defender, Roman Catholic priest and coordinator of the Justice and Peace Commission -- went to the police station to visit those arrested during the protest. He was promptly arrested, charged with “incitement to violence, malicious damage of property by a rioting assembly group and taking part in unlawful assembly”. He has since been released on bail, but his case is still pending.
In Somalia, the human rights community was shocked to learn about the murder of well-known peace activist Abdulkadir Yahya Ali in Mogadishu on 10 July 2005. Abdulkadir Yahya Ali, then director of the Centre for Research and Dialogue, was assassinated in his home by unidentified armed men.
Sudanese human rights defenders, including members of development and women’s rights NGOs, lawyers, and journalists, often experience arbitrary detention, short-term arrest, lengthy interrogation, and harassment by government security services. Criticism or reporting on human rights violations -- especially in the context of the humanitarian and human rights crisis in Darfur -- is vigorously suppressed.

The director of the West Darfur office of the Sudan Social Development Organization (SUDO) was detained without charge or trial for seven months in 2004-5, and Sudan’s best-known human rights defender and chair of SUDO, Dr Mudawi Ibrahim Adam, was briefly detained on 8 May 2005 to prevent him from travelling to Ireland to receive an international human rights defenders award.

Human rights abuses have also been committed by armed opposition groups in Darfur. Three SUDO staff members were kidnapped in North Darfur by rebel fighters on 29 September 2005 but released a few days later.

"We are urging governments in East Africa and the Horn to ensure that the principles contained in the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders -- adopted in 1998 -- are fully respected and incorporated into national laws and mechanisms," said Hassan Shire Sheik, Coordinator of the East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project. "The defenders of the rights of African people deserve no less than the full protection of their governments and the international community."

Background
Amnesty International has documented and campaigned on cases of violations against African human rights defenders over several decades. Human rights defenders include all those who act collectively or independently to peacefully promote and protect universal human rights -- be they civil and political rights or economic, social and cultural rights -- based on international human rights treaties and standards. However, their work is often hampered by abuses by government agencies and, in some instances, armed groups and non-state actors.

Human rights defenders are active in all countries of East Africa and the Horn, except for Eritrea, where human rights organizations are not allowed to operate independently and freely. In Kenya and Uganda in particular, they have been for years at the forefront of civil society activism.

Press conference details:

When: 11am (local time), Friday, 4 November 2005
Where: Windsor Lake Victoria Hotel, Entebbe, Uganda
Who: Jean Lokenga, Amnesty International; Hassan Shire Sheikh, Co-ordinator -- East
and Horn of Africa HRD Project; Musa Gassama, International Service for Human Rights

Contacts for media:

Hassan Shire Sheikh, East Africa and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders’ Project (Uganda) + 256 71 39 48 43
Jean Lokenga, Africa Human Rights Defenders Coordinator, Amnesty International (Uganda): + 256 71 77 00 83
Eliane Drakopoulos, Press Officer, Amnesty International (London): +44 20 7413 5564, m +44 7778 472 109




HAN Note: "The Republic of Somaliland has indeed accomplished a remarkable feat and without international assistance. The success or failure of the September 29 elections will determine which road Somalilanders adhere to: a continuing compromise or a frustrated abandonment of their ideals."


 

Somalia: UN envoy commends Somaliland's stability

Dir Era

Somalia: UN envoy commends Somaliland's stability[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]

HARGEYSA, 1 November (IRIN) - The UN Secretary-General's Special Representative to Somalia, Francois Lonseny Fall, on Monday praised efforts by the self-declared republic of Somaliland to nurture democracy and enhance stability in the territory.

"The people of Somaliland are to be commended for the progress they have made towards security and true democracy," Fall, who visited Somaliland for talks with senior officials, political party leaders and civil society representatives, said.

Residents of Somaliland, he said, had "succeeded in rising above the conflicts that have stifled social progress and the peaceful aspiration of the vast majority of the Somali people for the past 14 years".

The visit was Fall's first trip to Somaliland, the northwestern Somali region that unilaterally seceded from the rest of Somalia after the collapse of regime of the late Muhammad Siyad Barre, in 1991.

The Somaliland president, Dahir Riyale Kahin, in a statement issued after meeting Fall expressed his dismay over what he alleged was a deliberate stand by both the UN and the international community not to recognise Somaliland's achievements.

He said the people of Somaliland believed they had been held hostage for 15 years, despite their desire to be separated from the rest of Somalia.

"In May 2001 the people of Somaliland reaffirmed their independence in a referendum in which more than 97 percent voted to maintain Somaliland as a separate state but still they are being kept hostage by the desire and designs of warlords....they view the UN ignorance as injustice," said Kahin.

Fall promised to report his observations to the UN Secretary-General.

"I am pleased to get this opportunity to see Hargeysa, listen, learn and discuss with leaders from diverse sectors. I will definitely report what I saw, heard and learnt here back to the UN Secretary-General and also to the UN Security Council session on Somalia on 9 November in New York," he said.

[ENDS]

IRIN-CEA
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Fax: +254 2 622129
Email: IRIN@ocha.unon.org

[This Item is Delivered to the "Africa-English" Service of the UN's IRIN humanitarian information unit, but may not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations. For further information, free subscriptions, or to change your keywords, contact e-mail: IRIN@ocha.unon.org or Web: http://www.irinnews.org . If you re-print, copy, archive or re-post this item, please retain this credit and disclaimer. Reposting by commercial sites requires written IRIN permission.]

Copyright (c) UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs 2005

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