Category Archives: International

Ethiopia and Eritrea Open Borders

By Shujaa Kwanzaa

Ethiopian and Eritrean Border

Ethiopian and Eritrean Border

The land border between Ethiopia and Eritrea has been opened for the first time in two decades according to international reports.

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki opened the frontier at Burre on Tuesday, September 11, 2018 a region that saw some of the fiercest fighting during their 1998-2000 war.

Tensions over the border burned on after the fighting ended until Abiy offered to end the military standoff this year as part of a package of reforms that has reshaped the political landscape in the Horn of Africa and beyond.

The two leaders also celebrated the Ethiopian new year together with their troops at Burre, before opening another border crossing point between Ethiopian border town of Zalambesa and Serha on the Eritrian side.

“PM Abiy Ahmed and President Isaias Afwerki are visiting Bure Front along Ethio-Eritrea border to celebrate the New Year with members of the Ethiopian & Eritrean Defense Forces following the full normalization of the relations between the two countries. #Ethiopia #Eritrea,” Fitsum Arega, Abiy’s Chief of Staff, said on Twitter.

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Eritrea’s Information Minister Yemane Meskel said on Twitter the border post was now opened for road transport.

“President Isaias Afwerki & Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed today officially opened the Debay Sima – Burre border point between two countries for road transport connectivity,” Yemane said.

The reopening of the border will pave the way for the flow of people and goods between the neighbors.

Since signing an agreement in the Eritrean capital, Asmara, on July 9 to restore ties, the leaders from the neighboring countries have moved swiftly to end the two decades of hostility.

Eritrea reopened its embassy in Ethiopia in July 2018, and Ethiopia reciprocated last week.

Commercial flights have been resumed between the two countries and telephone lines restored, while Asmara has agreed to open up its ports to its landlocked neighbor and last week announced plans to upgrade a road between them. The opening of the Burre crossing will provide Ethiopia with access to the Red Sea port of Assab.

Residents at another part of the border said Eritrean and Ethiopian soldiers started clearing landmines on Monday, ahead of a potential opening.

Ethiopia follows a calendar similar to the ancient Julian calendar, which started disappearing from the West in the 16th century, meaning the country will enter its year 2011 on September 11.

Unlike the Gregorian calendar used officially in Eritrea and the West, Ethiopia’s version has 13 months into every year – 12 months comprising 30 days each and a final month made up of just five or six days depending on whether it is a leap year. This calendar is similar to the calendar used in ancient Egypt.

Mauritius Makes Claims Against Britain

By Shujaa Kwanzaa

The Mauritius Island is circled in red.

The Mauritius Island is circled in red.

According to international reports the government of the island of Mauritius, which is just east of Madagascar, told the United Nations’ top court that former colonial power the United Kingdom (UK) unduly pressured it in 1965 to give up a remote Indian Ocean island chain in exchange for independence.

Judges at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on Monday began hearing arguments for an advisory opinion the UN General Assembly requested on the legality of British sovereignty over the Chagos Islands. The largest island, Diego Garcia, has housed a major US airbase for decades.

“More than 50 years after independence … the process of decolonization of Mauritius remains incomplete,” Anerood Jugnauth, former Mauritian president, told the judges.

This was “as a result of the unlawful detachment of an integral part of our territory on the eve of our independence,” he told the judges.

Judges at the ICJ, or “World Court”, are expected to spend three more days hearing representatives from 22 countries and the African Union (AU) arguing over colonial history and the rights of exiled islanders to return.

The majority of these states oppose the UK’s assertion that it has sovereignty over the island, but the United States, Australia and Israel are expected to support the UK.

No date has been set for a decision. Although the ICJ’s opinions are not binding, they carry great weight under international law. The case is seen by some as a test of whether colonial-era deals struck by great powers and weaker states are legitimate, given the power imbalance.

Britain in 1965 detached the Chagos Islands from Mauritius, a British colony that became independent three years later.

It leased Diego Garcia to the US in 1966, clearing the way for the construction of the airbase that required the forced removal of around 1,500 people. The islanders have never been allowed to return home.

Mauritius’ government claims this was in breach of UN resolution 1514, which banned in 1960 the breakup of colonies before independence.

Today, Diego Garcia is believed to be hosting one of the largest US military bases in the world, and home to an estimated 4,000 troops.

The UK, which has yet to respond, is expected to argue that Mauritius is trying to improperly use the ICJ to settle a bilateral dispute. Its position is that it has the right to use the islands as long as they are needed for military purposes and refuses to give a date for when it plans to return the islands.

The people displaced from the Chagos Islands have lobbied for years for their return. But in 2016, the UK’s foreign ministry extended Diego Garcia’s lease until 2036, and declared the expelled islanders would not be allowed to go back.

Outside the court, a small group of Chagossians gathered to protest. They unfurled banners denouncing “modern slavery” and called for Chagossians to be allowed self-determination.

“I want the world to see that we are still suffering,” Isabelle Charlot, whose father was born on Chagos, told reporters.

Ethiopia to Receive $1 Billion From World Bank

thiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed.

thiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed.

By Chuma Kisu

According to international reports the Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed announced that the World Bank will provide $1bn in direct budgetary funds to support his country.

This aid is to come to Ethiopia over the next few months according to Ahmed. Back in 2005 the World Bank suspended aid after Ethiopian election disputes.

Speaking on Saturday, August 25, 2018 at his first press conference since taking power in April, Abiy Ahmed credited his government’s economic and political changes for the development.

“This is due to the reforms taking place in the country,” he said, vowing to continue with dramatic transformation “at any cost”.

Abiy also said the longtime ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) coalition, which controls all 547 seats in Ethiopia’s parliament, will soon prepare for a “free and fair election” in 2020.

“My dream is that doubts about the ballot box will disappear,” he said, saying the vote would not be delayed and promising a peaceful transfer of power if he loses.

The World Bank established the International Development Association (IDA) in 1960 to give aid to the world’s poorest countries by providing grants and low to zero-interest loans for projects and programs that boost economic growth, reduce poverty, and improve poor people’s lives.

The IDA is one of the largest sources of assistance for the world’s 75 poorest countries, 39 of which are in Africa. Resources from IDA impact 1.5 billion people. Since 1960, IDA has supported development work in 113 countries. Annual commitments have averaged about $18 billion over the last three years, with about 54 percent going to Africa.

Since his election the 42-year-old has overseen a number of changes, including restoring diplomatic ties with neighbouring Eritrea after two decades, pledging to open up state-owned companies to outside investment, and releasing thousands of prisoners.

The reforms have been praised by the international community and attracted investors interested in one of Africa’s fastest-growing economies.

Ebola Grows In the Congo

By Chuma Kisu

Ebola Workers in Northern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Ebola Workers in Northern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

The World Health Organization (WHO) stated Friday, August 17, 2018 that Ebola workers were being prevented from reaching areas in the Northern Kivu region in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) leaving open the possibility of the Ebola virus spreading.

At least 1,500 people could be exposed to the virus, WHO spokesperson Tarik Jasarevic told reporters in Geneva.

Congo’s health ministry declared an outbreak of Ebola on Aug. 1 in the North Kivu region. WHO reports 51 confirmed cases and 27 probable cases of Ebola in the region, with 44 people (17 confirmed, 27 probable) having died of the disease.

“We don’t know if we are having all transmission chains identified. We expect to see more cases as a result of earlier infections and infection developing into illness,” Jasarevic reportedly said. “We still don’t have a full epidemiological picture. … The worst-case scenario is that we have these security blind spots where the epidemic could take hold that we don’t know about,” the wire service quoted him as saying.

According to reports North Kivu is a mineral-rich area in the northeast part of the DRC with little policed protection.

WHO states that the area “has been experiencing intense insecurity and worsening humanitarian crisis, with over one million internally displaced people and a continuous efflux of refugees to the neighboring countries, including Uganda, Burundi and Tanzania.”

About 1,500 miles away in the DRC’s northwest Equator province, the WHO had just declared a previous Ebola outbreak over on July 24, 2018. It said the next day that 33 people had died in that outbreak that had been declared in early May 2018. This is a relative success compared with the devastating outbreak in 2014 through 2016 in West Africa that left more than 11,300 people dead.

The WHO’s response in May involved the first widespread use of the experimental Ebola vaccine rVSV-ZEBOV since testing started in 2015.

On Friday, the WHO said more than 500 people, including health workers, had been vaccinated against the disease in the North Kivu outbreak.