Ethiopia Beat Salah-Less Egypt In AFCON Qualifier

Egypt were runners at the last AFCON. Photo: CAF

 

Egypt sorely missed injured captain Mohamed Salah as they slumped to a shock 2-0 defeat by Ethiopia on Thursday in 2023 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifying.  

A strain ruled out the prolific Liverpool scorer after he defied his club last Sunday and played in a victory over Guinea despite not being fully fit.

Egypt lacked several other injured first choices, but were still expected to secure maximum Group D points in neutral Malawi against opponents 108 places lower in the world rankings.

But the quick Ethiopian forwards repeatedly troubled a slow Egyptian defence in the opening half and goals from Dawa Hotessa and captain Shemeles Bekele gave them a two-goal half-time advantage.

Egypt had more possession in the second half on a pitch badly cut up in places due to torrential pre-match rain.

Ethiopia were forced to play in Lilongwe because, like 16 other countries competing in qualifying, they do not have an international-standard stadium.

Coach Ehab Galal has only been in charge of Egypt for two matches after Portuguese Carlos Queiroz could not agree to terms for an extension of his contract.

Galal, who left Cairo club Pyramids to take over the Pharaohs, will now come under intense pressure as a year filled with disappointments for Egypt continues.

They lost the last Cup of Nations final to Senegal on penalties in February and one month later suffered a similar fate against the same team in a play-off to decide who went to the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

Egypt needed 87 minutes to score the goal that beat Guinea in the opening round of 2023 Cup of Nations qualifying and the loss to Ethiopia left them bottom of the table.

The only consolation for Galal and his squad is that the other teams in the section — Ethiopia, Malawi, and Guinea — have also won and lost so each side has three points.

READ ALSO: [AFCON 2023] Super Eagles Labour To Beat Sierra Leone In Abuja

Naby Keita Winner

Guinea left it late to beat Malawi 1-0 in Conakry with Naby Keita, a Liverpool teammate of Salah, scoring in added time.

Nigeria ended a five-match winless run by coming from behind to beat Sierra Leone 2-1 in a Group A match played behind closed doors in Abuja because of crowd trouble in a World Cup play-off against Ghana.

All the goals came before half-time with Jonathan Morsay nodding the Leone Stars into an early lead, Alex Iwobi levelling and Victor Osimhen scoring what proved the match winner on 41 minutes.

Guinea-Bissau lead Nigeria on goal difference after hammering Sao Tome e Principe 5-1 in the Moroccan city of Agadir with Belgium-based Zinho Gano bagging a brace within eight minutes.

The brilliance of South Africa captain and goalkeeper Ronwen Williams could not prevent Qatar-bound Morocco winning a high-profile Group K clash 2-1 in Rabat.

It was the first match for both teams in a group reduced to three teams by the banning of Zimbabwe over government interference and Ayoub el Kaabi won it with a superb 87th-minute volley.

Fellow World Cup qualifiers Cameroon were also narrow winners, edging plucky minnows Burundi 1-0 in Tanzania though a goal from Karl Toko Ekambi.

Minnows Lesotho exceeded expectations by holding an Ivory Coast side stacked with Europe-based stars 0-0 in cold Soweto.

The Ivorians qualify automatically as 2023 hosts but are competing in Group H to gain competitive match practice.

This leaves rivals the Comoros, Lesotho and Zambia fighting for just one place at the finals and the Zambian Chipolopolo (Copper Bullets) lie second on head-to head records.

Mali scored twice in added time with 10 men to defeat South Sudan 3-1 and build a three-point lead over Congo Brazzaville and the Gambia in Group G.

AFP

Mass Arrests After Anti-Muslim Attack In Ethiopia

Several hundred people have been arrested following a deadly attack on Muslims in the northern Ethiopian city of Gondar, a regional official said on Friday.

More than 20 people were killed on Tuesday when heavily-armed “extremist Christians” attacked mourners at the funeral of a Muslim elder and destroyed property belonging to Muslim residents, according to a local Islamic group.

Desalegn Tassew, head of the Amhara region’s peace and security bureau, said 373 suspects had been arrested “in relation to the disturbance that happened in Gondar”, according to a statement cited by the official Amhara Media Corporation.

He also announced a ban on firearms and other weapons until all suspects were arrested.

“We are making legally accountable members of the security forces and leaders who did not assume their responsibility,” he added, without elaborating.

The cemetery where the attack occurred neighbours a mosque and church and has been the subject of an ongoing dispute between Muslims and Orthodox Christians, who are the dominant group in Ethiopia.

Amhara’s regional government said the violence erupted as people clashed over using stones from the area for burial purposes, fighting over whether the materials were being taken from the cemetery or church compound.

In Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa on Friday, Muslims staged a demonstration over the Gondar violence as they gathered for a mass iftar, the traditional sunset meal breaking the fast during the holy month of Ramadan.

“Justice for Amhara victims in Gondar,” they chanted. “We need fair justice.”

Ethiopia Declares ‘Indefinite Humanitarian Truce’

(FILES) Tigrayan rebels agreed to a “cessation of hostilities” on February 25, 2022, a new turning point in the nearly 17-month war in northern Ethiopia following the government’s announcement of an indefinite humanitarian truce a day earlier.
 (Photo by Yasuyoshi Chiba / AFP)

 

 

Ethiopia’s government on Thursday declared “an indefinite humanitarian truce effective immediately”, saying it hoped to help hasten the delivery of emergency aid into the Tigray region, where hundreds of thousands face starvation.

Since war broke out in northern Ethiopia in November 2020, thousands have died, and many more have been forced to flee their homes as the conflict has expanded from Tigray to the neighbouring regions of Amhara and Afar.

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s government “is committed to exert maximum effort to facilitate the free flow of emergency humanitarian aid into the Tigray region,” it said in a statement.

“To optimise the success of the humanitarian truce, the government calls upon the insurgents in Tigray to desist from all acts of further aggression and withdraw from areas they have occupied in neighbouring regions,” it said.

“The government of Ethiopia hopes that this truce will substantially improve the humanitarian situation on the ground and pave the way for the resolution of the conflict in the northern Ethiopia without further bloodshed.”

The conflict erupted when Abiy sent troops into Tigray to topple the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), the region’s former ruling party, saying the move came in response to rebel attacks on army camps.

Fighting has dragged on for over a year, triggering a humanitarian crisis, as accounts have emerged of mass rapes and massacres, with both sides accused of human rights violations.

More than 400,000 people have been displaced in Tigray, according to the UN.

The region has also been subject to what the UN says is a de facto blockade.

The United States has accused Abiy’s government of preventing aid from reaching those in need, while the authorities in turn have blamed the rebels for the obstruction.

Nearly 40 percent of the people in Tigray, a region of six million people, face “an extreme lack of food”, the UN said in January, with fuel shortages forcing aid workers to deliver medicines and other crucial supplies by foot.

There was no immediate reaction from the TPLF to the government’s announcement.

 

(FILES) In this file photo taken on November 22, 2020 A damaged tank stands abandoned on a road near Humera, Ethiopia.  (Photo by EDUARDO SOTERAS / AFP)

 

– ‘Welcome news’ –
Western nations have been urging both sides to agree to a ceasefire, with the United States, the UK and Canada hailing the truce declaration.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the United States “urges all parties to build on this announcement to advance a negotiated and sustainable ceasefire, including necessary security arrangements.”

Diplomats led by Olusegun Obasanjo, the African Union’s special envoy for the Horn of Africa, have been trying for months to broker peace talks, with little evident progress so far.

Analysts said the truce was an important step but urged the government to follow up the announcement with action and ease humanitarian access to Tigray.

“The unconditional and unrestricted delivery of aid could also help create enough trust to pave the way for ceasefire talks and, eventually, dialogue,” said William Davison, the International Crisis Group’s senior analyst for Ethiopia.

 

(FILES) In this file photo taken on June 28, 2021 People celebrate the arrival of Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) fighters on a street in Mekele, the capital of Tigray region, Ethiopia.  (Photo by Yasuyoshi Chiba / AFP)

 

– ‘Ground to a halt’ –
More than nine million people need food aid across Afar, Amhara and Tigray, according to the UN’s World Food Programme.

But humanitarian organisations have been forced to increasingly curtail activities because of fuel and supply shortages.

“WFP operations in the Tigray region have ground to a halt, with only emergency fuel stocks and less than one percent of the required food stocks remaining,” the agency said this week.

A TPLF push into Afar has worsened the situation, driving up the need for emergency aid in the region.

The road from Afar’s capital, Semera, to Tigray’s capital Mekele is the only operational land route into Tigray, where the UN estimates hundreds of thousands are living in famine-like conditions.

The government previously declared a “unilateral ceasefire” in Tigray in June last year, after the TPLF mounted a shock comeback and retook the region from federal forces.

But fighting intensified in the second half of 2021, with the rebels at one point claiming to be within 200 kilometres (125 miles) of the capital Addis Ababa, before reaching a stalemate.

Ethiopia Declares ‘Indefinite Humanitarian Truce’

In this file photo taken on February 26, 2021 A damaged tank stands on a road north of Mekele, the capital of Tigray. EDUARDO SOTERAS / AFP
In this file photo taken on February 26, 2021 A damaged tank stands on a road north of Mekele, the capital of Tigray. EDUARDO SOTERAS / AFP

 

Ethiopia’s government on Thursday declared “an indefinite humanitarian truce effective immediately”, saying it hoped to help hasten delivery of emergency aid into the Tigray region, where hundreds of thousands face starvation.

Since war broke out in northern Ethiopia in November 2020, thousands have died, and many more have been forced to flee their homes as the conflict has expanded from Tigray to the neighbouring regions of Amhara and Afar.

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s government “is committed to exert maximum effort to facilitate the free flow of emergency humanitarian aid into the Tigray region,” it said in a statement.

READ ALSO: Burkina Attacks Kill 24 Troops

“To optimise the success of the humanitarian truce, the government calls upon the insurgents in Tigray to desist from all acts of further aggression and withdraw from areas they have occupied in neighbouring regions,” it said.

“The government of Ethiopia hopes that this truce will substantially improve the humanitarian situation on the ground and pave the way for the resolution of the conflict in the northern Ethiopia without further bloodshed.”

The conflict erupted when Abiy sent troops into Tigray to topple the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), the region’s former ruling party, saying the move came in response to rebel attacks on army camps.

Fighting has dragged on for over a year, triggering a humanitarian crisis, as accounts have emerged of mass rapes and massacres, with both sides accused of human rights violations.

Tigray itself has been subject to what the UN says is a de-facto blockade.

The United States has accused Abiy’s government of preventing aid from reaching those in need, while the authorities in turn have blamed the rebels for the obstruction.

Nearly 40 percent of the people in Tigray, a region of six million people, face “an extreme lack of food”, the UN said in January.

Meanwhile, humanitarian organisations have been forced to increasingly curtail their activities because of fuel and supply shortages.

The government previously declared a “unilateral ceasefire” in Tigray in June last year, after the TPLF retook the region from federal forces. But fighting intensified in the second half of 2021 before reaching a stalemate.

AFP

Ethiopia Starts Electricity Production At Nile Mega-Dam

This general view shows the site of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) in Guba, Ethiopia, on February 19, 2022. Ethiopia’s massive hydro-electric dam project on a tributary of the Nile has raised regional tensions notably with Egypt, which depends on the huge river for 97 per cent of its water supply. Government officials said the dam would begin producing electricity on Sunday, more than a decade since work first started. Amanuel SILESHI / AFP

 

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed inaugurated electricity production from the country’s mega-dam on the Blue Nile on Sunday, a milestone in the controversial multi-billion dollar project.

Abiy, accompanied by high-ranking officials, toured the power generation station and pressed a series of buttons on an electronic screen, a move that officials said initiated production.

“This great dam was built by Ethiopians but not only for Ethiopians, rather for all our African brothers and sisters to benefit from,” an official presiding at the launch ceremony said.

“The day every Ethiopian has sacrificed for, hoped and prayed for, is finally here.”

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The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) is set to be the largest hydroelectric scheme in Africa but has been at the centre of a regional dispute ever since work first began in 2011.

Ethiopia’s downstream neighbours Egypt and Sudan view it as a threat because of their dependence on Nile waters, while Addis Ababa deems it essential for its electrification and development.

The $4.2-billion (3.7-billion-euro) project is ultimately expected to produce more than 5,000 megawatts of electricity, more than doubling Ethiopia’s electricity output.

State media reported that the dam had started generating 375 megawatts of electricity from one of its turbines on Sunday.

– Project delays –
The 145-metre (475-foot) high dam lies on Blue Nile River in the Benishangul-Gumuz region of western Ethiopia, not far from the border with Sudan.

Egypt, which depends on the Nile for about 97 percent of its irrigation and drinking water, sees the dam as an existential threat.

Sudan hopes the project will regulate annual flooding, but fears its own dams could be harmed without agreement on the GERD’s operation.

Both countries have been pushing Ethiopia for a binding deal over the filling and operation of the massive damn, but talks under the auspices of the African Union (AU) have failed to reach a breakthrough.

The dam was initiated under former prime minister Meles Zenawi, the Tigrayan leader who ruled Ethiopia for more than two decades until his death in 2012.

Civil servants contributed one month’s salary towards the project in the year of the project launch, and the government has since issued dam bonds targeting Ethiopians at home and abroad.

But officials on Sunday credited Abiy with reviving the dam after what they claim was mismanagement delayed its progress.

“Our country has lost so much because the dam was delayed, especially financially,” project manager Kifle Horo said in his remarks.

Those in attendance at Sunday’s ceremony included First Lady Zinash Tayachew, the heads of the lower house of parliament and the Supreme Court, regional presidents and government ministers.

The process of filling the GERD’s vast reservoir began in 2020, with Ethiopia announcing in July of that year it had hit its target of 4.9 billion cubic metres.

The reservoir’s total capacity is 74 billion cubic metres, and the target for 2021 was to add 13.5 billion.

Last July Ethiopia said it had hit that target, meaning there was enough water to begin producing energy, although some experts had cast doubt on the claims.

Ethiopia To Start Generating Power From Nile Dam

In this file photo taken on December 26, 2019, a general view of the Blue Nile river as it passes through the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), is seen near Guba in Ethiopia. Ethiopia will start generating power from its mega-dam on the Blue Nile on Sunday. PHOTO: EDUARDO SOTERAS / AFP

 

Ethiopia will start generating power from its mega-dam on the Blue Nile on Sunday, government officials told AFP, a major milestone for the controversial project.

The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), set to be the largest hydroelectric scheme in Africa, has been at the centre of a regional dispute ever since Ethiopia broke ground there in 2011.

“Tomorrow will be the first energy generation of the dam,” an Ethiopian government official said on Saturday.

A second official confirmed the information. Both spoke on the condition of anonymity because the development has not been officially announced.

Ethiopia’s downstream neighbours Egypt and Sudan view the dam as a threat because of their dependence on Nile waters, while Addis Ababa deems it essential for its electrification and development.

READ ALSO: Burkina Faso Coup Leader Sandaogo Damiba Inaugurated As President

There was no immediate response from Cairo or Khartoum, which have been pressing Ethiopia to sign a binding agreement on the filling and operation of the dam ever since work first started.

The three governments have held multiple rounds of talks. but so far there has been no sign of any breakthrough.

The $4.2-billion (3.7-billion-euro) project is ultimately expected to produce more than 5,000 megawatts of electricity, more than doubling Ethiopia’s electricity output.

Ethiopia had initially planned an output of around 6,500 megawatts but later reduced its target.

“The newly generated electricity from the GERD could help revive an economy that has been devastated by the combined forces of a deadly war, rising fuel prices and the Covid-19 pandemic,” said Addisu Lashitew of the Brookings Institution in Washington.

 

– Failed talks –

The 145-metre (475-foot) high dam lies on Blue Nile River in the Benishangul-Gumuz region of western Ethiopia, not far from the border with Sudan.

Egypt, which depends on the Nile for about 97 per cent of its irrigation and drinking water, sees the dam as an existential threat.

Sudan hopes the project will regulate annual flooding but fears its own dams could be harmed without agreement on the GERD’s operation.

Talks sponsored by the African Union (AU) have failed to yield a three-way agreement on the dam’s filling and operations, and Cairo and Khartoum have demanded Addis Ababa cease filling the massive reservoir until such a deal is reached.

But Ethiopian officials have argued that filling is a natural part of the dam’s construction process and cannot be stopped.

The UN Security Council met last July to discuss the project, although Ethiopia later slammed the session as an “unhelpful” distraction from the AU-led process.

In September the Security Council adopted a statement encouraging Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan to resume negotiations under AU auspices.

Egypt claims a historic right to the Nile dating from a 1929 treaty that gave it veto power over construction projects along the river.

A 1959 treaty boosted Egypt’s allocation to around 66 per cent of the river’s flow, with 22 per cent for Sudan.

Yet Ethiopia was not a party to those treaties and does not see them as valid.

The process of filling the GERD’s vast reservoir began in 2020, with Ethiopia announcing in July of that year it had hit its target of 4.9 billion cubic metres.

The reservoir’s total capacity is 74 billion cubic metres, and the target for 2021 was to add 13.5 million.

Last July Ethiopia said it had hit that target, meaning there was enough water to begin producing energy, although some experts had cast doubt on the claims.

AFP

Buhari, Other G4 Members Develop New Strategies For Conflict Resolution In Africa

L-R: President Muhammadu Buhari and other world leaders.

 

President Muhammadu Buhari and the Presidents of Algeria and South Africa as well as the Prime Minister of Ethiopia under the auspices of the “G4” have resolved to strengthen the platform for the resolution of the various issues confronting the African continent.

At a meeting Thursday in Brussels, Belgium ahead of the 6th EU-AU Summit taking place in the country, the four African leaders used the opportunity to discuss crisis areas on the continent with a view to coming up with practical and effective solutions.

President Buhari and his colleagues stressed the need to reinvigorate the G4 within the African Union (AU) as a platform for bringing African countries closer, coordinating actions and reactions for the whole continent in a more proactive manner and looking at how decisions in the AU could be better implemented.

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Special media aide, Garba Shehu, in a statement on Friday disclosed that the presidents also agreed to convene a formal summit to chart a road map for Africa in the coming months.

The G4 Platform, an initiative of the Ethiopian Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed, was set up towards discussing and proffering solutions as well as aggregating positions to ensure that the African Union carries its work forward successfully, efficiently and quickly too.

President Buhari also held a bilateral meeting with the President of Czech Republic, Milos Zeman who renewed his country’s trust in the Nigerian leader and Nigeria as the most important country in ECOWAS as well as one of Africa’s greatest. He expressed the readiness of his country to revitalise the Joint Commission mechanism between the two countries in order to enhance qualitative relationship, diplomatically and people to people.

The Czech leader specifically expressed interest and desire for more robust collaboration and partnership in military cooperation and especially in equipment to assist Nigeria to enhance her security capabilities.

President Zeman, who informed that the Czech Republic would assume the Presidency of the European Union (EU) in July, expressed similar readiness to partner with Nigeria in the fields of Agriculture and Health and has decided to convene a pre-assumption of EU Presidency consultative meeting, to help set early agenda for her Presidency.

He invited Nigeria’s Minister of Health to attend the consultative meeting of highly respected countries in Prague in May 2022 and also extended an invitation to President Buhari to visit his country in the course of 2022.

While President Buhari accepted in principle the two invitations, assuring that the proposals would be considered through appropriate Diplomatic channels, he directed the Minister of Health of Nigeria to attend the meeting in May.

On the revitalisation of the relationship between the two countries and deepening partnerships in military cooperation procurement of equipment as well as in Agriculture, President Buhari assured his guest he would work with the proposals.

PHOTOS: Buhari Receives UN Deputy Secretary General, Amina Mohammed

President Muhammadu Buhari meets with the UN Deputy Secretary-General, Amina Mohammed in Addis Ababa Ethiopia on February 7, 2022. Credit: State House

 

President Muhammadu Buhari received the United Nations Deputy Secretary-General, Amina Mohammed on Monday. 

Buhari had a private audience with Mohammed on the sideline of the 35th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the Heads and Government of African Union held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

The President had jetted out of the country since Thursday to join other African leaders for the AU summit in the Ethiopian capital.

READ ALSO: Buhari Returns To Abuja After AU Summit

He also used the opportunity to hold bilateral meetings with some leaders, with a shared interest in improving trade relations, partnering to tackle security challenges, and maintaining relations with multilateral institutions for sustainable development.

Accompanying the President were the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama; Minister of Health, Osagie Ehanire;  Minister of Agriculture, Mohammed Abubakar and Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Sadiya Umar Farouk.

See photos below:

Africa Needs Stronger, Better Leadership To Grow – Buhari, Abiy Ahmed Agree At AU

A photo combination of President Muhammadu Buhari and the Ethiopian Prime Minister, Ahmed Abiy in Addis Ababa.

 

President Muhammadu Buhari and Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said on Sunday that African growth and development will require strong, visionary leadership that caters to the needs of the people, and effectively strengthens institutions that encourage peaceful co-existence, while providing disincentives to conflicts and coups. 

According to a statement by the presidential media aide, Femi Adesina, the two leaders came to agree on this during a meeting at the Headquarters of the African Union in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Adesina stated that at the meeting between both leaders, President Buhari commended the efforts of the Prime Minister in maintaining peace and unity in the country, and dedication to ensuring fairness and justice in development.

“You are leading a country that is large and diversified, just like Nigeria, and I know the sacrifices required to make the desired impact, especially in maintaining peace,” the President said.

READ ALSO: African Union Holds Summit Amid Crises Over Coups And COVID-19

President Buhari urged the Ethiopian leader to stay focused on keeping the country together, in spite of the difficulties, assuring that Nigeria will continue to support efforts in peaceful co-existence and unity.

The President said Ahmed had provided strong leadership for the country, encouraging him to sustain the good work in ensuring even development.

In his remarks, the Prime Minister thanked the President for support to the country over the years, on national and personal endeavours, particularly in encouraging unity and stability.

Ahmed noted that the African continent had been slow in growth due to conflicts, adding that the larger economies, like Nigeria and Ethiopia, should provide the leadership that will deepen progress and prosperity on the continent.

The Prime Minister said the resurgence of coups on the continent could further weaken institutions and reverse the gains of democracy, appreciating President Buhari for his position on zero tolerance for military interference in governance.

Ahmed said collective and visionary leadership will move Africa forward.

See photos below:

We Will Continue To Stand, Fight For Justice, Buhari Says At AU

President Muhammadu Buhari at AU summit on Saturday, February 5, 2022.

 

President Muhammadu Buhari Saturday in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, said Nigeria will continue to pursue peace and progress in Africa, and other parts of the world, by consistently pushing for justice, fairness, and inclusiveness in global affairs.

This was disclosed in a statement signed by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina.

President Buhari in a sideline meeting with the Prime Minister of Palestine, Mohammad Shtayyeh, at the ongoing African Union meetings said the country remains unwavering in supporting democracy, development, and good governance, particularly in ensuring the rights of individuals and institutions.

READ ALSO: African Union Holds Summit Amid Crises Over Coups And COVID-19

“As a country, we are doing our best, and we will continue doing our best to ensure justice and fairness,” he said.

The President assured the Palestinian leader that Nigeria will be “consistent” in pushing for peace and progress, while upholding the tenets of justice.

In his remarks, the Palestinian leader noted that the situation in the Middle East, particularly relations with Israel, had deteriorated over the years,  adding that the world needs to know the facts.

Shtayyeh thanked President Buhari for his leadership role in the continent.

“Your Excellency, we thank you for your wisdom. We need it more now. Please continue to stay well and healthy, because we need your wisdom,” he said.

Fuel Runs Out For Aid Groups In Ethiopia’s War-Hit Tigray

A fuel nozzle

 

Foreign aid groups operating in Ethiopia’s war-battered Tigray region are out of fuel and have been forced to deliver assistance to malnourished civilians on foot, the UN said Friday.

“All international NGOs operating in Tigray reported on 24 January that they have depleted their fuel stock with their staff delivering the little remaining humanitarian supplies and services on foot, where possible,” the UN’s humanitarian coordination office said in an update on the situation in northern Ethiopia, where war has raged for nearly 15 months.

Local groups are also struggling to reach people in need because of fuel and cash shortages, the UN said.

Last week, it said food distribution in Tigray had reached an all-time low.

Fighting in the neighbouring Afar region has impeded fresh deliveries along the only operational road route into Tigray, which has not received an aid convoy since December 14.

The Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) rebel group announced this week it had launched “robust” military operations in Afar, describing the move as a response to attacks by pro-government forces on its positions.

The International Committee of the Red Cross said it did manage to operate two flights carrying medical supplies into Mekele this week.

But a TPLF spokesman said the effort was “a far cry from the massive intervention required in the face of the crisis that Tigray is currently facing”.

Fighting broke out in Tigray in November 2020 after Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed sent troops to topple the TPLF, the region’s former ruling party, saying the move came in response to TPLF attacks on army camps.

The region of six million people has been subject to what the UN describes as a de facto blockade for months.

Washington accuses Abiy’s government of blocking aid, while Addis Ababa blames rebel incursions.

– Malnutrition ‘alarming’ –
Last year the UN said hundreds of thousands of people in Tigray faced what it termed “famine-like conditions”.

Malnutrition continues to soar, the UN said Friday, with 4.2 percent of screened children diagnosed with severe acute malnutrition during the latest week for which data is available — “a seriously alarming level”.

Tigray’s pre-war government said this week it had recorded 369 deaths of children under five that it attributed to the blockade, up from nearly 200 in November.

That figure could not be independently verified.

“In the absence of intervention by the international community, millions of Tigrayans will continue to face the risk of death due to hunger and lack of critical medical supplies,” Dr Hagos Godefay, head of Tigray’s pre-war health bureau, said in a report published Wednesday by the Ethiopia Insight website.

US Africa Envoy To Visit Saudi Arabia, Sudan And Ethiopia

In this file photo taken on September 4, 2019 the new US Ambassador to Turkey David M. Satterfield pays his respects as he attends a wreath-laying ceremony at the Mausoleum of the Turkish Republic's founder Mustafa Kemal Ataturk (Anitkabir), in Ankara. Adem ALTAN / AFP
In this file photo taken on September 4, 2019 the new US Ambassador to Turkey David M. Satterfield pays his respects as he attends a wreath-laying ceremony at the Mausoleum of the Turkish Republic’s founder Mustafa Kemal Ataturk (Anitkabir), in Ankara. Adem ALTAN / AFP

 

The US special envoy for the Horn of Africa will visit Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Ethiopia next week amid ongoing crises in the two African nations, the State Department announced Friday.

David Satterfield and Assistant Secretary of State Molly Phee will travel to Riyadh, Khartoum and Addis Ababa from January 17-20.

In Riyadh, the pair will meet with the Friends of Sudan, a group calling for the restoration of the country’s transitional government following a military coup in October.

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The meeting aims to “marshal international support” for the UN mission to “facilitate a renewed civilian-led transition to democracy” in Sudan, according to the statement.

Satterfield and Phee will then travel to Khartoum, where they will meet with pro-democracy activists, women’s and youth groups, civil organizations and military and political figures.

“Their message will be clear: the United States is committed to freedom, peace, and justice for the Sudanese people,” the statement read.

In Ethiopia, the pair will talk with Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed to seek a resolution to the deepening civil war.

“They will encourage government officials to seize the current opening for peace by ending the air strikes and other hostilities,” the statement read.

They will also ask for the establishment of a ceasefire, the release of political prisoners and the restoration of humanitarian access.

Satterfield, the former US ambassador to Turkey, was appointed to replace Jeffrey Feltman as special envoy on January 6.

Feltman quit just as he visited Ethiopia in a bid to encourage peace talks to end more than a year of war following the withdrawal of Tigrayan rebels.

The Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front, which last year threatened to march on Addis Ababa, by December had withdrawn to its stronghold, and the government has not pursued the rebels further on the ground.

Feltman had also sought to tackle the crisis in Sudan, but he was treated unceremoniously in October when Sudan’s military ruler, General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, carried out a coup just after the US envoy had left the country.

Feltman’s resignation came days after Sudan’s civilian prime minister, Abdalla Hamdok, quit, leaving Burhan as the undisputed leader of the country despite Western calls to preserve a democratic transition launched in 2019.

 

AFP