Saturday, April 20, 2024

Libya to investigate claims oil smuggling is fuelling Sudan civil war

Libyan authorities have said they will investigate allegations of wholesale mismanagement in the country’s National Oil Corporation, with officials telling the Guardian rampant smuggling is helping to fuel the civil war in Sudan.

Mohamed al-Menfi, the chair of the presidential council, will launch an inquiry this week, t he scope of which is likely to also cover the widespread practice of fuel smuggling and its key beneficiaries.

The allegations, ranging from profligacy to corruption, are not only an internal Libyan matter. Officials said widespread smuggling was helping to provide fuel to the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces fighting in Sudan, a point highlighted in a recent report submitted to the UN security council.

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Some of the money may also be going indirectly to the Russia-backed Wagner Group, now rebranded as the Africa Corps.

Although Libya is an oil-rich country it imports most of its fuel, since its small domestic refineries are not producing enough to meet domestic needs. Instead of subsidising poorer Libyans directly, the government in Tripoli sells imported fuel at heavily subsidized prices. Gasoline often sells at a discount of 90% to market price.

Fuel oils, which comprise heating oil, diesel oil and heavy fuel, are on average sold at a price 70% cheaper than it costs the government to buy.

Officials say as much as 40% of imported fuel – worth billions – is then re-exported and smuggled out of the country at a profit.

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(The Guardian)

Emirates denies report of near-miss air collision with an Ethiopian Airlines flight

Emirates denied social media reports of a near-miss air collision event with an Ethiopian Airlines flight, the national carrier confirmed late on Wednesday.

“Emirates can confirm that there was no instance of an aircraft proximity event compromising the safety of the aircraft over the airspace and during the date and time in question,” according to a statement from an Emirates spokesperson. “All Emirates aircraft are equipped with capabilities to maintain safe separation and distance during operations.”

According to a media report on X (formerly twitter), the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) of Somaliland announced that an Emirates B777, operating as flight EK722, “narrowly avoided a collision” with an Ethiopian Airlines B737 MAX, operating as flight ET690.

The media report quoting Somaliland’s CAA detailed on X that the incident took place on Sunday evening, March 24. “As of now, the Civil Aviation Authority of the Federal Government of Somalia has not responded to the incident,” it added.

“The incident reportedly occurred when both planes were directed to maintain an altitude of 37,000 feet by the Federal Government of Somalia’s Mogadishu Control Centre. The authority explicitly accused the Mogadishu Control Centre of negligence. The Somaliland control post observed this and instructed the crew of the Ethiopian airliner to ascend to 39,000 feet.”


Sudanese military Strikes RSF in north Darfur amid aid blockade

Tensions escalated in North Darfur on Wednesday as Sudanese military warplanes targeted a Rapid Support Forces (RSF) convoy near the city of Mellit. The strike came in response to the RSF allegedly attempting to block vehicles carrying humanitarian aid destined for El Fasher, according to a commander in the joint force formed by signatories of the Juba Peace Agreement.

The incident follows the RSF’s refusal to allow aid deliveries through the Al-Dabba crossing of Northern State, accusing the joint force of planning to transport weapons to the Sudanese army in El Fasher. A high-ranking member of the joint force revealed that the RSF had amassed around 40 military vehicles in Mellit since Tuesday, causing concern among residents in the city controlled by armed movement forces.

The joint force managed to secure the passage of seven vehicles carrying relief supplies to Mellit, with plans to continue towards El Fasher after completing security measures. However, a North Darfur state official confirmed the RSF’s earlier detention of three trucks carrying #UNICEF medical aid for children.


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Ethiopia’s CBE bank recovers $10mil taken during technical glitch

Ethiopia’s largest bank says it has recovered almost three-quarters of the $14m (£12m) it lost in a glitch that allowed customers to withdraw more money than they had in their accounts.

Abe Sano, head of the Commercial Bank of Ethiopia (CBE) said on Tuesday about $10m has been recovered.

Thousands of customers returned the cash voluntarily. Mr Sano warned those who had not will face criminal charges.

Most of the money was withdrawn by university students.

On 16 March, news of the glitch spread across universities – largely via messaging apps and phone calls – and long lines were seen at campus cash machines.

The bank has never explained exactly what the problem was, but the CBE said the glitch was not the result of a cyber-attack and that customers should not be worried as their personal accounts were intact.

Initial reports said that more than $40m was lost in the technical glitch.

A CBE employee told the BBC it was harder to find money transferred to other banks than to trace sums moved to another CBE account.

A total of 490,000 transactions were made before CBE realised there was a problem.


Ethiopian shipping company struggles with disrupted cargo shipments amid RedSea security crisis

Ethiopian Shipping and Logistics Service Enterprise disclosed on Wednesday the impediments it faces in its cargo operations due to the ongoing security crisis in the Red Sea, significantly impacting the country’s import and export activities. In an official statement, the state-owned enterprise highlighted that “major shipping companies have curtailed their visits to the region, with some ceasing operations altogether” due to the precarious conditions prevailing in the Red Sea. This development has resulted in logistical challenges concerning both the time and expenses involved in shipments to and from Ethiopia.

The company elaborated that numerous cargo vessels, previously integral to its operations through collaborative arrangements, have refrained from docking at the Djibouti port owing to the heightened risks in the Red Sea vicinity.

Consequently, the shipping company has escalated the utilization of its own fleet to transport goods from the ports of origin for inbound shipments, ensuring the continuity of the import supply chain.

Acknowledging the hurdles in exporting Ethiopian products, notably coffee, to global markets amidst the avoidance of the area by major shipping lines, the company unveiled its initiative to provide competitive freight services from its vessels to ports in China, India, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), aiming to facilitate exports effectively.


Russian warship docks in Eritrea port

In a rare visit, a Russian navy warship has arrived at Eritrea’s main Red Sea port of Massawa, amid tension in the region caused by Iran-backed Houthi militants.

Senior Eritrean military chiefs and officials were there to welcome the ship, the Marshal Shaposhinkov, as it docked on Thursday,

Russia’s ambassador to Eritrea was also present.

According to Eritrea’s Minister of Information Yemane GebreMeskel, the frigate belongs to Russia’s Pacific Fleet.

He said, in a post on X, that it was there to mark the “30th anniversary of diplomatic ties between Russia and Eritrea”.

A US naval task force is deployed in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden to protect commercial and military ships sailing up and down the vital trade route from Houthi attacks.

Eritrea has always viewed Western military presence in the region with suspicion. The Horn of Africa nation has recently forged closer ties with Moscow.

The Houthis, who control northern Yemen, have been attacking ships passing through the Red Sea in response to the war in Gaza. The militants are part of the “axis of resistance” against Israel.


PM Abiy Ahmed holds talks with South Sudan’s General Akol Koor Kuc

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed (PhD) today received and held talks with General Akol Koor Kuc of the Republic of South Sudan.

“This morning I received General Akol Koor Kuc from the Republic of South Sudan,” Abiy wrote on his social media.

The Prime Minister via a social media post confirmed that their discussions focused on shared goals for fostering stability and development in the Horn of Africa region.



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