The main humanitarian concern in Somalia continues to be the situation of agro-pastoralist families in rain-fed areas in the south and centre of the country, particularly in the regions of Bakool and Gedo, IRIN was informed this week. One million people from a population of an estimated four million in the south-central area are 'at risk' of food insecurity, while 600,000 of this number - mostly in Bay, Bakool and Gedo - remain in need of food aid. Relief agencies are keeping a close eye on both insecurity and the harvest obtained in rain-fed areas, which are considered critical in a very fragile situation, but - whatever the change in those - substantial food aid will be required, at least until June, humanitarian sources said. The situation in the north of Somalia was not considered immediately threatening, especially since recent rains had improved pastures somewhat, they added.
SOMALIA: Arms embargo committee asks for intelligence on violations
A UN committee aimed at improving the implementation of a UN Security Council arms embargo on Somalia has requested countries that have knowledge of violations to inform it, since the committee itself does not have any effective monitoring mechanism. The committee viewed the efficacy of the arms embargo as "more necessary than ever" to underline "the firm commitment of the international commitment to establishing a lasting peace in Somalia", and was considering a number of proposals for action, but it relied "solely on the cooperation of states and organisations in a position to provide information on violations" for its intelligence, a letter from outgoing committee chairman Jassim Mohammed Buallay to the Security Council stated.
ETHIOPIA: Parliament rejects "unfair and biased" US criticism
The standing committee on foreign affairs of Ethiopia's House of People's Representatives has dismissed as "totally unfair and highly biased" comments by Benjamin A Gilman, Republican chairman of the US foreign relations committee, last week in which he stressed the need for the US and the international community to "condemn the Ethiopians' intransigence" over the Ethio-Eritrea conflict. Gilman said Ethiopia had rejected international goodwill, economic growth and an improving relationship with the US "to exact the pound of flesh demanded by a narrow and frightened domestic constituency", and called on the UN Security Council to "consider calling on Ethiopia to leash its dogs of war."
Ethiopia's foreign affairs committee, in a statement reported on Ethiopian radio on Tuesday, said Meles had not rejected the OAU Framework Agreement for peace but the "technical arrangements (that are) inconsistent with the Framework Agreement and the modalities which Ethiopia had accepted earlier." It said Ethiopia's conflict with Eritrea was neither "a minor border dispute" nor was it motivated revenge. The core of the fact was that Ethiopia was a victim of unprovoked Eritrean aggression, and "there would not be any international pressure - be it from the USA or the international community - that would prevent Ethiopia from restoring its sovereignty," the statement added.
DJIBOUTI-ETHIOPIA: Media watchdog issues alert over Djibouti journalist
Reporters sans frontieres on Tuesday protested the alleged detention in Harer, eastern Ethiopia, of Amir Adaweh, editor in chief of 'La Republique', the newspaper of the Djibouti opposition Partie nationale democratique (PND). In a letter to Djibouti's Minister of Foreign Affairs Ali Abdi Farah and Ethiopian Minister for Justice Wolde Woredewolde, RSF asked for the journalist's location and the reason for his detention to be made known. "If it turns out that he is imprisoned because of his work as a journalist, we ask for his immediate release," said RSF secretary-general Robert Menard. According to information gathered by the organisation, Adaweh has been held in Harer for more than seven months, since he and other people were reportedly arrested by Ethiopian police while on holiday. "The reason for the arrests remains unknown. The journalist's jailers are reported to have recently fired at his legs, and Adweh is said to have been taken to the nearest hospital," the RSF alert stated.
ERITREA-SUDAN: Minister emphasises "strategic ties"
Eritrean Foreign Minister Haile Woldetensae arrived in Sudan on Thursday to officially open the Eritrean embassy in Khartoum - an event that follows the 3 January agreement between the two countries to restore diplomatic relations and reopen their borders. Sudanese Foreign Minister Mustafa Osman Ismail, who officially received Woldetensae, said the tensions of the past "must be an exception" - Eritrea and Sudan severed diplomatic ties in 1994 - and the rule should be constructive cooperation. "We view Sudan's relations with Eritrea as strategic ties between two neighbouring countries ... therefore, we have no ceiling for the development of these ties: we are working to develop them in all aspect - in the political, security, economic and cultural aspects," Ismail said on Sudanese television. Eritrea last week handed back the Sudanese embassy in Khartoum, which had been occupied by the opposition National Democratic Alliance (NDA).
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