Somalia

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Ethiopian military plane crashes at Somali airport

August 10, 2013 (ADDIS ABABA) – An Ethiopian Air force plane on Friday crash landed at Mogadishu airport in Somalia, where thousands of Ethiopian forces are helping the country in the battle against al-Qaeda-linked Al-Shabaab insurgents.

The African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) said four of the six crew members, including two senior pilots on board, were killed in the incident.

AMISOM said the military plane which was carrying logistical support to African Union (AU) peacekeepers in the region “burst into flames immediately on crashing”.

The Ethiopian military cargo plane reportedly missed the runway before crash landing at Somalia’s international airport, where many military aircraft carrying supplies for AU peacekeeping forces land daily.

AMISOM firefighters helped to extinguish the fire at the airport.

The exact cause of the accident remains unclear, with the Somali government to launch an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the crash.

The Ethiopian government has yet to issue an official statement on the incident.
Military officials in Ethiopia also refused Sudan Tribune’s requests for comment.

There are unconfirmed reports that the Soviet-made Antonov 24 plane had been carrying ammunitions.

Ethiopia first deployed its troops inside war-ravaged Somalia in 2011 to help the weak Somali government forces defeat the Islamist insurgent group, al Shabaab which was in control to many parts of the country.

(ST)

Article source: http://www.sudantribune.com/spip.php?article47606

UNICEF steps up efforts to stop polio outbreak in Somalia with help of Japanese grant

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5 August 2013 An emergency contribution from Japan will enable the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and its partners to tackle a polio outbreak in Somalia that has already paralyzed nearly 100 children and threatens hundreds of thousands more who are not vaccinated.

UNICEF said it will be able to procure and distribute urgently needed polio vaccines, and prevent the further spread of the virus across the Horn of Africa nation and into neighbouring countries with the $1.3 million provided by the Japanese Government.

“Lack of access to routine immunization in Somalia has created the largest known reservoir of unvaccinated children in a single geographic area in the world. The total number of Somali children who had never been vaccinated between 2008 and 2012 was estimated to reach a million,” says Sikander Khan, UNICEF Somalia Representative.

“The poliovirus in such a large reservoir has the potential to result in a catastrophic outbreak, the likes of which are beginning to be seen and as such constitutes an international emergency,” he added in a news release.

In May, a two-year-old girl from the capital, Mogadishu, became the first confirmed case of polio in Somalia in more than six years. The country had been polio-free since March 2007.

As of July, the virus has paralyzed 95 Somali children: 94 confirmed cases in South Central Zone, which includes Mogadishu, and a case in Somaliland. Another nine cases have also been reported in the Dadaab camp in Kenya – the largest refugee complex in the world.

With the help of UNICEF and the World Health Organization (WHO), Somali communities have launched emergency vaccination campaigns to boost their low polio vaccination coverage. The country currently has the second lowest coverage in the world at 47 per cent, after Equatorial Guinea.

So far, polio vaccines were prepared for six immunization campaigns between May and August, and five rounds have already been carried out. However, vaccines for additional campaigns between September and December have not yet been secured.

More than 2.8 million children under the age of 10 are expected to benefit from Japan’s contribution, which will cover more than 5 million doses of oral polio vaccines for two rounds of immunization activities in the coming months.

UNICEF has been working to support partners and local communities to minimize the scale of this outbreak. However, it warned that frequent movement of people within and between Somalia, Kenya, Ethiopia and South Sudan could transport the virus further from Somalia to the entire Horn of Africa.

Before the new outbreak, the worldwide number of polio cases had decreased by more than 99 per cent from 350,000 in 1988 to 223 cases in 2012 with active cases reported in only three endemic countries: Afghanistan, Pakistan and Nigeria.

“The outbreak in Somalia, if not controlled quickly, could jeopardize global efforts to wipe out polio once and for all,” UNICEF warned.

Article source: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=45564&Cr=polio&Cr1=

Eritrea ‘continues support’ to Somalia’s Al-Shabab, says Ethiopia

By Tesfa-Alem Tekle

July 29, 2013 (ADDIS ABABA) – In fresh allegations made by Ethiopia on Monday, the East African nation said that efforts to maintain peace and stability in Somalia is taking longer due to Eritrea’s continued support of the Islamist militia group, Al-Shabab.

The Ethiopian government said despite ongoing efforts by regional governments and the African Union peace keeping force (AMISOM), Eritrea continues to undermine peace efforts in war-ravaged Somalia.

“Although relative peace and security is gained in Somalia, Eritrea didn’t reduce its support to Al-Shabab and remains to be a destabilising influence”, Ethiopia’s foreign affairs spokesperson, Dina Mufti, told Sudan Tribune.

“Eritrea continues to violate UN Security Council (UNSC) resolutions and the country absolutely remains to be a regional security threat”, he added.

The Ethiopian government said it has its own, as well as international evidence to support its latest allegations against the secretive Red Sea nation.

Mufti said there was a need for tightened sanctions to cripple Eritrea’s negative role across the volatile East African region.

Eritrean envoy to the African Union (AU) in Addis Ababa was on Monday unavailable for comment.

In 2009, the UNSC imposed sanctions against Eritrea for its role in financing, as well as providing arms and military training to the Al-Qaeda-linked group, Al-Shabab.

The sanctions also include an arms embargo, travel ban and assets freeze against the country’s senior political and military officials.

Asmara has repeatedly denied allegations of backing Al-Shabab, accusing the US and its regional ally Ethiopia of running “smear campaigns” aimed at tarnishing the country’s Image.

Eritrea has repeatedly demanded that sanctions be lifted, however, the UN monitoring group on Somalia and Eritrea – a panel which investigates violations of imposed sanctions, insists it is too early, arguing that Eritrea has shown little improvement.

Relations between Ethiopia and its former province remain tense after the two neighbours engaged in a 1998-2000 border war that killed an estimated 70,000 people.

TIMETABLE FOR PULL-OUT

Meanwhile, Mufti has dismissed unconfirmed reports that the Horn of Africa nation is planning to pull-out the thousands of troops it deployed in Somalia.

“There is no an immediate plan of withdrawing our troops from Somalia”, Mufti said

According to the Ethiopian official, troop pull-out depends on the pace of progress achieved in Somalia.

“Ethiopian forces will remain in Somalia until AU peacekeepers and particularly the Somali government forces build up military capability that would fully enable them to defend existing security threats in their soil,” he said.

He reiterated that Ethiopia will continue to extend all necessary support to the Somali government until such time durable peace and stability is achieved.

(ST)

Article source: http://www.sudantribune.com/spip.php?article47469

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