Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Abiy, Hemedti discuss conflict resolution efforts in Sudan

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed (PhD) met with Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo “Hemedti” (Lt. Gen.), Commander of the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), in Addis Ababa to discuss the ongoing conflict in Sudan and explored potential avenues for resolving the crisis, which has persisted since mid-April.

“Earlier today I received Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo and his delegation for a discussion on securing peace and stability in the Sudan,” said Abiy after the meeting in a short post released on X.

Hemetti offered no public remarks following the meeting with Abiy.

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This visit falls within the scope of Hemedti’s international efforts to articulate his perspective on IGAD’s ongoing efforts to resolve the Sudanese conflict.

He previously met with Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni in Kampala, on Wednesday.

Hemedti’s foreign trip commenced concurrently with the postponement of a scheduled meeting between himself and Sudanese Army Commander in Chief Abdel Fattah al-Burhan in Djibouti.

Following his meeting with President Museveni, Hemedti indicated that he presented his vision for negotiations, ceasefire, and the construction of a Sudanese state founded on “new, just foundations.”

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(Sudan Tribune)

WFP launches new operating model to restart food distribution to millions of vulnerable Ethiopians

The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) is activating its revamped approach to operations in Ethiopia, a major step which will start to reach 3.2 million people with food assistance for the first time since June 2023.

WFP food aid was suspended nationwide following reports of large-scale diversions earlier this year.

This is the culmination of a complete evaluation and reset of WFP operations in Ethiopia focused on transparency, evidence, and operational independence.

WFP’s new approach is underpinned by a robust set of safeguards and controls that have been extensively tested.

These include using clear criteria to identify and digitally register the most vulnerable households and people; working with local communities to verify those in greatest need; reinforced commodity tracking to follow food movements from warehouses to beneficiaries; and increased monitoring and community feedback and reporting mechanisms that will unearth and quickly escalate potential misuse of food aid.

“WFP teams and our partners have been working around the clock to get to this point”, said Cindy McCain, WFP Executive Director. “This approach, supported by both the Government and partners, sets a new standard for humanitarian assistance in the country. We are now fully focused on getting food aid into the hands of Ethiopians who have gone too long without it.”

Following the success of limited-scale distributions carried out in Ethiopia’s Tigray region to test the new systems, WFP will roll out food distributions for drought- and conflict-affected people in Afar, Amhara, Somali, and Tigray regions. Food assistance will then expand to more of the most vulnerable populations once the new controls and measures are implemented at the regional level.

Last month, WFP resumed food assistance to nearly 900,000 refugees in camps across five regions in the country, after making major reforms to refugee programs.

While initially drawing upon in-country food stocks, WFP urgently needs USD 178 million to keep reaching and delivering food assistance to the most vulnerable people in Ethiopia until April 2024.


Justice for past abuses must be victim-centered and include all components of transitional justice – UN report

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A new report issued by the UN Human Rights Office and the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC) calls on the Government of Ethiopia to ensure that ongoing efforts to address the country’s legacy of human rights violations and abuses are grounded in applicable international human rights law, and consistently focus on the rights and needs of victims and their families.

The 90-page report sets out findings of 15 community consultations held from July 2022 to March this year with more than 800 participants, including 319 women, in Afar, Amhara, Harari, Oromia, Somali and Tigray regions, and in the Dire Dawa city administration.

“I welcome Ethiopia taking concrete steps to develop a national transitional justice policy in line with the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement,” said the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Türk. “It is crucial for such efforts to be holistic and consistent with international human rights norms and standards, placing victims and affected populations, especially women and girls, at the center.”

The report’s findings point to broad consensus among participants on the need to implement all components of transitional justice, equally. These encompass criminal accountability, truth-seeking, reparations and guarantees of non-recurrence, including effective remedies for victims, legal reforms and reconciliation.

The participants agreed that for Ethiopia to break the cycle of violence and impunity, it is essential that ongoing transitional justice processes entail criminal accountability, including for possible crimes under international law, which cannot be subject to amnesty.

The peaceful resolution of ongoing conflicts and violence and durable solutions for internally displaced people, especially their safe, voluntary and dignified return to their homes, were also seen as a priority for Ethiopia’s path towards peace, accountability and reconciliation.

The report comes two years after the UN Human Rights Office and the EHRC in November 2021 published the findings of their joint investigation in the Tigray Region, which among other measures recommended the adoption of a human-rights based, holistic and victim-centered transitional justice policy – a recommendation subsequently reflected expressly in the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement signed in Pretoria in November 2022.

“By amplifying the experiences and voices of directly affected populations across Ethiopia, it is important that this report properly informs ongoing discussions on the development of a legitimate, holistic, genuine, and inclusive policy on transitional justice,” added Türk.

The report makes 31 recommendations to various stakeholders, including the government and the Transitional Justice Working Group of Experts, for their consideration in the design and implementation of a transitional justice policy. Civil society organizations, religious and traditional leaders, political parties, the media, development partners and the international community are among identified actors with key roles to play in the transitional justice process.

“States have a duty to investigate and prosecute gross human rights violations and abuses and serious violations of international humanitarian law, including those which amount to crimes under international law. Those who have been subjected to violations or abuses are entitled to justice, including adequate, comprehensive, prompt, and effective reparations,” said the High Commissioner.

(APO Group)

IATA confirms British Airways, Ethiopian, other foreign airlines could leave Nigeria soon

The International Air Transport Association has highlighted that international airlines faced challenges over trapped ticket revenues in Nigeria and other countries. It stated that if the situation is not quickly resolved, it could lead to foreign airlines exiting the country, according to Kamil Alawadhi, the regional Vice-President for Africa and Middle East, International Air Transport Association.

This comes after a report that British Airways, Ethiopian Airlines, Turkish Airlines, and others might leave Nigeria soon.

The vice president claims that Lagos and Abuja airports in Nigeria are the two most costly in the region.

Despite this, he claimed, the airport does not provide very high-quality services to travelers or airlines, who pay exorbitant fees to fly to and from those airports.

Alawadhi said: “These are all charged in hard currency. They are willing to reap the benefits of the taxes and charges in Nigeria for the aviation industry, but they are not willing to give the airlines their due. This is getting to a breaking point for Nigeria where airlines will stop dropping off and not operating to Nigeria, which will then mean that their source of hard currency when it comes to aviation will also start reducing and it becomes a vicious cycle.”

He added that numerous African airlines are experiencing financial difficulties due to blocked funds, to the point where they are unable to make purchases or pay their invoices.

In solving the blocked funds issue, Alawadhi said that the first step is for both parties to engage, as failure to do so would mean difficulty in terms of moving forward.


Ethiopia intensify effort to join WTO

Ethiopia’s preparation for the 5th Working Party Meeting intensified, and recently the Steering Committee approved the Goods offer first revision, Services schedule of commitment first revision, and other important documents submitted by the technical committee with amendments which soon will be sent to the Secretariat after all the necessary adjustments are finalized.     

Through a series of continued working party meetings, the World Party members of Ethiopia’s accession negotiates with Ethiopia on the terms of entry both at the bilateral level on market access for goods and services and multilaterally on commitment on rules.

During the new Chief negotiator visit to Geneva and discussion with the secretariat, some Member states and development partners, a roadmap prepared jointly with the WTO Secretariat which set a timeline to complete the accession negotiation at the 14th Ministerial Conference expected to take place in Cameroon in 2026.  The first move to achieve this is the fifth working Party Meeting planned to be held in April 2024.

Minister of Trade and Regional Integration and Chief Negotiator, Gebremeskel Chala, and State Minister of Foreign Affairs and Deputy Chief Negotiator, Ambassador Mesganu Argawere tasked by the Prime Minister to lead the World Trade Organization (WTO) accession, Regional and Bilateral negotiations. Other key institutions and higher officials were also assigned as members of the re-established Steering Committee. Besides, UK Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations Office in Geneva, Ambassador Rebecca Fisher Lamb, has been appointed as our Working Party Chairperson by the choice of Ethiopia in consultation with members.  

While Ethiopia’s commitment to create a favorable investment climate plays a major role in ensuring its global competitiveness, membership to regional and global trade platforms enhances the credibility of our reforms.  The government of Ethiopia sees its WTO accession negotiation as a key tool to consolidate and anchor its economic reform achievements that have been achieved so far and make further progress. In this sense Membership to the WTO must not be seen as an end in itself but as a key element in the pursuit of national development policy objectives.

Ethiopia’s negotiation for accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO) has been aligned with the country’s development policies, strategies, and economic reform agendas. This demonstrates the careful and attentive approach taken to safeguard Ethiopia’s national interest and maximize the benefits for the nation.

In this regard, Ethiopia has made ample progress in reforming its investment regime while it is taking concrete actions to improve its business climate. Ethiopia has increasingly and successfully positioned itself as a competitive investment destination over recent years. It has been able to attract a growing investment inflow and larger individual investments.

In general, the overall cost of exclusion from the WTO outweighs the cost of joining.


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