Cyclone Idai: Mozambique survivors desperate for help

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE BBC)

 

Cyclone Idai: Mozambique survivors desperate for help

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Media caption Cyclone Idai: Survivors rescued by land and air

Mozambique’s port city of Beira is reeling from the damage inflicted by Cyclone Idai.

So far 200 people have been confirmed dead in the southern African country, along with another 100 in neighbouring Zimbabwe, but the death toll could be much higher.

Those who survived the disaster have had little reprieve to mourn the loss of their loved ones or salvage the little that is remaining of their belongings. They are in desperate need of food, shelter and clothing, as the BBC’s Pumza Fihlani reports from Beira.

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Inside a makeshift response centre at the airport in Beira, aid agencies are scrambling to get to those still trapped across the region.

It’s the first point of call for all the teams coming in from around the world and offers the first glimpse of how heavily this operation is relying on outside help.

A few kilometres away, panic is setting in. The people of Beira are growing anxious – help is coming, but it is really slow and not nearly enough.

“I have nothing. I have lost everything. We don’t have food. I don’t even have blankets. We need help,” one woman tells me as we make our way through the village of Manhava.

A general view of the damage after a cyclone swept through BeiraImage copyright REUTERS
Image caption Most of the port city of Beira is under water

Beira’s geography, with parts of it lying below sea level, has always made it vulnerable to effects of extreme weather like Cyclone Ida which made landfall last week with winds of up to 177 km/h (106 mph).

The city bore the full brunt of the destructive storm, which triggered flooding of the whole city and knocked down buildings and cut off roads. This is now stalling rescuers from reaching desperate people in need.


More on Cyclone Idai:


Some people here are trying to salvage what they can to create shelter. Those who can are repairing their metal roofs, while others are tying together pine branches to sleep under.

Homes have been damaged, some even completely destroyed, and there are pools of water everywhere.

Man mending roof
Image caption Some people have been trying to repair their houses

A local church has become a temporary home for scores of people. Half of its roof was blown off, but the walls have held and to some it is better than being out in the cold.

Locals stand beside a damaged section of the road between Beira and Chimoio in Nhamatanda district, central MozambiqueImage copyright AFP
Image caption Floodwaters have cut off roads and knocked down buildings

The UN has said that Cyclone Idai triggered a “massive disaster” in southern Africa, affecting hundreds of thousands if not millions of people.

Neighbouring Zimbabwe and Malawi have also been affected by the freak storm that has caused the deaths of dozens and displacement of thousands of people.

A map showing areas of Mozambique before and after they were flooded

Everyone we come across here is begging us to come into their homes to show us what they have lost and how nature has stolen from them.

We are the first people they have seen since the cyclone hit on Thursday night.

“Please help us. Tell the world we are suffering. We don’t know where we are going to sleep,” says Pedro, a father of three children – all under the age of 10.

The residents here feel like they have been forgotten.

A UN camp for the people displaced in BeiraImage copyright AFP
Image caption A UN camp for the people displaced in Beira

As the full picture of this crisis slowly becomes clear, there are questions about whether the government of Mozambique could have done more to prepare for the disaster.

The floods of the year 2000 claimed hundreds of lives and yet some here feel lessons have not been learned.

“Our city was destroyed so easily because our infrastructure is not taken care of. Every time there is a problem here we need foreign countries to save us. What is our government doing, what is our own plan?” our driver asks me.

‘100,000 people at risk’

Back at the airport, a helicopter has just landed and rescue workers rush out, carrying in their arms children whose eyes are wide with fear.

“Many villages have been washed away. We found women and children holding on to trees. We are doing what we can,” said one of the rescuers.

A map showing flooding in Beira
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Many of those trapped are trying to get to higher ground but persistent rainfall has been hampering rescue operations.

Those rescued are being taken to a network of 56 camps dotted across the region.

More rains are expected and those who made it to safety are the lucky ones. Mozambique President Felipe Nyusi has said more than 100,000 people are at risk – and there is growing concern that help may not get to them in time.

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Cyclone Idai: ‘Massive disaster’ in Mozambique and Zimbabwe

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE BBC)

 

Cyclone Idai: ‘Massive disaster’ in Mozambique and Zimbabwe

Media caption Cyclone Idai survivors are being rescued by land and air

Cyclone Idai has triggered a “massive disaster” in southern Africa affecting hundreds of thousands if not millions of people, the UN has said.

The region has been hit by widespread flooding and devastation affecting Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi.

Mozambique’s President Filipe Nyusi called it “a humanitarian disaster of great proportion”.

He said more than 1,000 people may have been killed after the cyclone hit the country last week.

Cyclone Idai made landfall near the port city of Beira in Sofala province on Thursday with winds of up to 177 km/h (106 mph).

“This is shaping up to be one of the worst weather-related disasters ever to hit the southern hemisphere,” Clare Nullis, from the UN’s weather agency, told the BBC on Tuesday.

Christian Lindmeier from the UN’s World Health Organization, said: “We need all the logistical support that we can get.”

Media caption Aerial footage showing the disaster in Mozambique

Mozambique’s government said 84 people had died and 100,000 needed to be urgently rescued near Beira.

An aerial survey of the province showed that a 50km (30 mile) stretch of land was under water after the Buzi river burst its banks, charity Save The Children said.

Image shows a general aerial view of a damaged neighbourhood in Sofala Province, Central MozambiqueImage copyright EPA
Image caption An aerial view of a severely damaged neighbourhood in Mozambique

The governor of neighbouring Manica province, Manuel Rodrigues, says there is an urgent need to rescue people still trapped, the BBC’s Jose Tembe reports.

“It’s very sad and very complicated, given what we saw when we flew over the area. We saw people besieged and asking for help,” Mr Rodrigues told reporters.

“They were on top of their roofs made up of zinc sheets. Others under flood waters. We saw many people.

“We can only imagine that they had been there for more than two or three days, without food and without clean drinking water.”

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‘It was like a war’

A general view shows destruction after Cyclone Idai in Beira, MozambiqueImage copyright REUTERS

Nelson Moda was in Beira in Mozambique when the storm hit. He told his story to the BBC OS radio programme:

It was my son’s birthday on 14 March and we were all at home. In the morning this strong storm started and it was moving the city, the trees, and the houses.

It was like a war. It was horrific. The children were crying and we were hiding in the bathroom. I could see people dying and the house where I live has been destroyed.

There are children who now have no father, no mother, and no home. I saw the city where I grew up being destroyed with my naked eyes.

In Beira, there are no basic services and people don’t know what they’re going to eat or where they’re going to sleep.

I haven’t been able to sleep since that night.

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In Zimbabwe, the government says 98 people have been killed and more than 200 are missing.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa said that the government was conducting rescue missions and delivering food aid.

In the south-eastern town of Chimanimani residents told harrowing stories of how they lost their relatives when the storm hit.

Some rescuers said homes and even bodies were washed away in the rivers to neighbouring Mozambique, the BBC’s Shingai Nyoka reports.

Timber company workers stand stranded on a damaged road on March 18, 2019, at Charter Estate, Chimanimani, eastern ZimbabweImage copyright AFP
Image caption Timber company workers were stranded after a road was damaged in Chimanimani, eastern Zimbabwe

Floods of up to six metres deep had caused “incredible devastation” over a huge area in Mozambique, World Food Programme regional chief Lola Castro said.

At least 1.7 million people were in the direct path of the cyclone in Mozambique and 920,000 have been affected in Malawi, the UN said.

In Zimbabwe, at least 20,000 houses have been partially damaged in the south-eastern town of Chipinge, 600 others were completely destroyed.

Local officials say they are distributing rice and maize from the national food reserve to those displaced.

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What are the relief teams doing?

In Mozambique, several aid agencies are assisting government efforts in the search and rescue operations and in the distribution of food aid, ReliefWeb reports.

Telecoms Sans Frontiers has sent a team to Beira to help set up communication networks – which has been severely hindered – for humanitarian operations.

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Many aid trucks are stuck on the impassable roads and unable to reach their destinations. The conditions have also limited air operations.

Mozambique’s National Institute for Disaster Management is also housing 3,800 families in Sofala province.

The Red Cross has warned there could be an outbreak of waterborne diseases, including cholera, due to the expected contamination of the water supply and disruption of usual water treatment.

A cargo plane carrying emergency supplies is also scheduled to arrive in Mozambique on Tuesday, Sacha Myers, from Save The Children, told the BBC.


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Mozambique’s president says cyclone death toll may be 1,000

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE JOURNAL TIMES)

 

Mozambique’s president says cyclone death toll may be 1,000

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Mozambique Cyclone
This image made available by International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) on Monday March 18, 2019, shows an aerial view from a helicopter of flooding in Beira, Mozambique. The Red Cross says that as much as 90 percent of Mozambique’s central port city of Beira has been damaged or destroyed by tropical Cyclone Idai. (Caroline Haga/International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) via AP)

JOHANNESBURG — Mozambique President Filipe Nyusi says that more than 1,000 may have by killed by Cyclone Idai, which many say is the worst in more than 20 years.

Speaking to state Radio Mozambique, Nyusi said Monday that although the official death count is currently 84, he believes the toll will be more than 1,000.

“It appears that we can register more than 1000 deaths,” said the PR, adding that more than 100,000 people are at risk of life.

“The waters of the Pungue and Buzi rivers overflowed, making whole villages disappear and isolating communities, and bodies are floating,” said Nyusi. “It is a real disaster of great proportions.”

Nyusi spoke after flying by helicopter over the central port city of Beira and the rural Manica and Sofala provinces in which he saw widespread flooding and devastation.

Other officials in emergency services cautioned that while they expect the death toll to rise significantly, they have no way of knowing if it will reach the president’s estimate of 1,000.

The Red Cross said that 90 percent of Beira, a city of 500,000, had been damaged or destroyed.

Beira has been severely battered by the cyclone which cut off electricity, forced the airport to shut down and cut off road access to the rest of the country. Cyclone Idai first hit Beira last week and then moved inland to Zimbabwe and Malawi.

Beira has been severely battered by the cyclone which cut off electricity, forced the airport to shut down and closed road access to the city, said the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies on Monday.

Cyclone Idai first hit Beira last week and then moved inland spreading heavy winds and rainfall to Zimbabwe and Malawi. More than 215 people have been killed by the storm according to official figures in the three countries, hundreds more are missing and more than 1.5 million people have been affected, according to the Red Cross and government officials.

The scale of the damage to Beira is “massive and horrifying,” said Jamie LeSueur, who led a Red Cross aerial assessment of the city. The team had to view the city by helicopter because roads were flooded, he said.

“The situation is terrible. The scale of devastation is enormous. It seems that 90 percent of the area is completely destroyed,” said LeSueur.

With Beira’s airport closed, the team drove from Mozambique’s capital Maputo before taking a helicopter for the last part of the journey because roads into Beira have been flooded.

While the physical impact of Idai is beginning to emerge, the human impact is unclear.

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“Almost everything is destroyed. Communication lines have been completely cut and roads have been destroyed. Some affected communities are not accessible,” said LeSueur.

“Beira has been severely battered. But we are also hearing that the situation outside the city could be even worse. Yesterday (Sunday), a large dam burst and cut off the last road to the city.”

The storm hit Beira late Thursday and moved westward into Zimbabwe and Malawi, affecting thousands more, particularly in areas bordering Mozambique.

At least 126 people had died in Mozambique and Malawi, according to the Red Cross. In Zimbabwe, 89 people have died from the floods, the country’s information ministry said Monday.

Mozambique’s President Filipe Nyusi and Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa both returned from foreign trips to attend to the emergencies caused by the storm.

Zimbabwe’s president returned home from the United Arab Emirates “to make sure he is involved directly with the national response by way of relief to victims of Cyclone Idai,” the information ministry said. The Zimbabwean government declared a state of national disaster.

U.N. agencies and the Red Cross are helping with rescue efforts that include delivering food supplies and medicines by helicopter in the impoverished countries.

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Eritrea: Truth, Knowledge, History Of This East African Nation

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE CIA WORLD FACTBOOK)

 

Eritrea

Introduction Eritrea was awarded to Ethiopia in 1952 as part of a federation. Ethiopia’s annexation of Eritrea as a province 10 years later sparked a 30-year struggle for independence that ended in 1991 with Eritrean rebels defeating governmental forces; independence was overwhelmingly approved in a 1993 referendum. A two-and-a-half-year border war with Ethiopia that erupted in 1998 ended under UN auspices in December 2000. Eritrea currently hosts a UN peacekeeping operation that is monitoring a 25 km-wide Temporary Security Zone (TSZ) on the border with Ethiopia. An international commission, organized to resolve the border dispute, posted its findings in 2002. However, both parties have been unable to reach agreement on implementing the decision. On 30 November 2007, the Eritrea-Ethiopia Boundary Commission remotely demarcated the border by coordinates and dissolved itself, leaving Ethiopian still occupying several tracts of disputed territory, including the town of Badme. Eritrea accepted the EEBC’s “virtual demarcation” decision and called on Ethiopia to remove its troops from the TSZ which it states is Eritrean territory. Ethiopia has not accepted the virtual demarcation decision.
History The oldest written reference to the territory now known as Eritrea is the chronicled expedition launched to the fabled Punt (or Ta Netjeru, meaning land of the Gods) by the Ancient Egyptians in the twenty-fifth century BC under Pharaoh Sahure. Later sources from the Pharaoh Hatshepsut in the fifteenth century BC present a more detailed portrayal of an expedition in search of incense. The geographical location of the missions to Punt is described as roughly corresponding to the southern west coast of the Red Sea.

The modern name Eritrea was first employed by the Italian colonialists in the late nineteenth century. It is the Italian form of the Greek name Erythraîa (Ερυθραία; see also List of traditional Greek place names), which derives from the Greek term for the Red Sea `Erithrá thálassa (Ἐρυθρὰ Θάλασσα).

 

Geography Location: Eastern Africa, bordering the Red Sea, between Djibouti and Sudan
Geographic coordinates: 15 00 N, 39 00 E
Map references: Africa
Area: total: 121,320 sq km
land: 121,320 sq km
water: 0 sq km
Area – comparative: slightly larger than Pennsylvania
Land boundaries: total: 1,626 km
border countries: Djibouti 109 km, Ethiopia 912 km, Sudan 605 km
Coastline: 2,234 km (mainland on Red Sea 1,151 km, islands in Red Sea 1,083 km)
Maritime claims: territorial sea: 12 nm
Climate: hot, dry desert strip along Red Sea coast; cooler and wetter in the central highlands (up to 61 cm of rainfall annually, heaviest June to September); semiarid in western hills and lowlands
Terrain: dominated by extension of Ethiopian north-south trending highlands, descending on the east to a coastal desert plain, on the northwest to hilly terrain and on the southwest to flat-to-rolling plains
Elevation extremes: lowest point: near Kulul within the Denakil depression -75 m
highest point: Soira 3,018 m
Natural resources: gold, potash, zinc, copper, salt, possibly oil and natural gas, fish
Land use: arable land: 4.78%
permanent crops: 0.03%
other: 95.19% (2005)
Irrigated land: 210 sq km (2003)
Total renewable water resources: 6.3 cu km (2001)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural): total: 0.3 cu km/yr (3%/0%/97%)
per capita: 68 cu m/yr (2000)
Natural hazards: frequent droughts; locust swarms
Environment – current issues: deforestation; desertification; soil erosion; overgrazing; loss of infrastructure from civil warfare
Environment – international agreements: party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Ozone Layer Protection
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements
Geography – note: strategic geopolitical position along world’s busiest shipping lanes; Eritrea retained the entire coastline of Ethiopia along the Red Sea upon de jure independence from Ethiopia on 24 May 1993
People Population: 4,906,585 (July 2007 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 43.5% (male 1,073,404/female 1,060,674)
15-64 years: 52.9% (male 1,286,613/female 1,310,294)
65 years and over: 3.6% (male 85,052/female 90,548) (2007 est.)
Median age: total: 17.9 years
male: 17.7 years
female: 18.2 years (2007 est.)
Population growth rate: 2.461% (2007 est.)
Birth rate: 33.97 births/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Death rate: 9.36 deaths/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Net migration rate: 0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.03 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.012 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.982 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.939 male(s)/female
total population: 0.993 male(s)/female (2007 est.)
Infant mortality rate: total: 45.24 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 51.05 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 39.25 deaths/1,000 live births (2007 est.)
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 59.55 years
male: 57.88 years
female: 61.28 years

South Sudanese singer Nyaruach calls out ‘boring man with no plan’ in feminist hit

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF GLOBAL VOICES)

 

South Sudanese singer Nyaruach calls out ‘boring man with no plan’ in feminist hit

Nyaruach. Photo by Tania Campbell-Golding, used with permission.

A man named Gatluak is probably feeling a bit embarrassed as South Sudanese singer Nyaruach calls him out for being a “boring man with no plan” in a hit song shared widely since its release in June 2018. Or, rather several Gatluaks — the name is common in South Sudan and “all know a Gatluak [who behaves this way]”, Nyaruach says.

With fierce feminist messaging, Nyaruach’s playful song reclaims a woman’s dignity after getting burned in love. It also reminds the world that vibrant music and art emerge out of Kakuma Refugee Camp in northern Kenya, one of the largest refugee camps in the region.

Nyaruach, a single mother of two who lives in Kakuma, told Global Voices during a Skype interview:

South Sudanese men fail women with the wrong kind of love. So, my message is to the young girls of the new generation … Love is killing the new generation.

The catchy song and music video, which features some of Nyaruach’s Kakuma co-residents, released in November 2018, caught the world’s attention for its hypnotic Afro-beats and bold lyrics.

Nyaruach@nyaruachmusic

Ladies… there is nothing worse than a boring man, with no plan 😝. Gatluak pick up your phone ?!? 📞😂💥😂 New video and album with my brother @emmanueljal out now. Click on my bio ☝🏾 Naath Album | Gatluak https://www.facebook.com/nyaruachmusic/videos/762482210751137/ 

See Nyaruach’s other Tweets

Gatluak bought her cold drinks, they went on long walks, and then ghosted her! “You refuse to pick my phone after you get what you want. You are such a bastard guy, I just want to say goodbye! May God bless you where you are. You boring man — with no plan. With no plan!” sings Nyaruach.

“Gatluak” is the second release on the album NAATH (“humans” in Nuer) produced by Nyaruach and her brother Emmanuel Jal, a hip-hop artist who gained notoriety after his autobiography, “War Child: A Child Soldier’s Story”, was published in 2009. As children, the siblings were forced apart through extreme circumstances.

The two draw on Nuer traditional folk and love songs and interlace them with addictive dance beats. “We can’t forget our culture”, Nyaruach said. “We have to remind the new generation about the past — and music makes people happy.”

Nyaruach and Jal named the album NAATH after the “glorious Kingdom of Kush” of the Nile as an antidote to images of war and poverty that have characterized South Sudan.

A long road to music

Nyaruach was born in 1983 in Tonj, Sudan and separated from her family at the age of four when her mother died. Her brother Jal was taken as a child by the Sudan People’s Liberation Army and forced to fight. He was then taken to Kenya at the age of 11 with the help of a British aid worker who was married to then-senior SPLA commander Riek Machar. There he discovered hip-hop, which he used to encourage peace.

Nyaruach’s life took a different turn. She spent several tumultuous years with relatives and ran away from an abusive father at the age of 10, surviving several arduous escapes from Sudan, first to Ethiopia and later, to Kenya.

South Sudan gained independence from Sudan in July 2011, after a 22-year long civil war (1983-2005). The peace did not last long despite major investments in South Sudan’s development. In 2013, armed conflict broke out in Juba, the capital of South Sudan. This spread to other areas of the country, gradually turning into an inter-ethnic conflict between the country’s two largest ethnic groups: the Dinka, represented by President Salva Kiir Mayardit, and the Nuer, represented by then-Vice President Riek Machar.

Nyaruach did not reunite with Jal until they met in Nairobi. They collaborated on a song called Gua, or “peace” in the Nuer language. She was 22. The song was a hit in Kenya in 2005 and a breakthrough song for Jal, who went on to become an award-winning musician and peace activist.

Jal also faced criticism for contradicting his role model status with using social media to air divisive views that stoked ethnic tensions when conflict erupted in South Sudan in 2013.

In 2015, Nyaruach traveled to South Sudan for a short visit. Upon her return, she spoke out against the violence she witnessed. Pregnant with her second child, she decided to shift to Kakuma, seeking security.

Kakuma Refugee Camp was originally established by the UNHCR in 1992 to host 20,000 Sudanese children and youth known later as the “Lost Boys of Sudan” fleeing violence during the Second Sudanese Civil War.

Today, over 56 percent of the population of Kakuma and neighboring Kalobeyei settlement are from South Sudan. At the end of January 2018, the camps hosted a total of 185,449 registered refugees and asylum-seekers.

Nyaruach said that living in a refugee camp is especially hard on women with children.

They give us firewood for a month, it finishes after seven days. We need to eat our meal, we wake up at 4 a.m. to steal. Yes, we have to steal it — and it’s very dangerous. They rape us they can even shoot and kill us. But we can’t report. Who is going to report? We have no voice or authority.

Enduring years of hardship has taken at toll on Nyaruach’s spirit. Reuniting and making music with Jal has felt like salvation. “I have a heart of singing”, says Nyaruach. “Jal taught me how to rhyme.”

‘Woman have no rights’

Nyaruach’s song uplifts women and girls in South Sudan who she says have “no rights, no matter how young you are” in a recent interview with Kenya’s The Star.

South Sudanese women are among the most marginalized, and the conflict has made conditions untenable. More than 80 percent of those who have fled the violence in South Sudan are women and children.

https://www.instagram.com/p/Ba6tDPYlDZl/embed/captioned/?cr=1&v=12&wp=722&rd=https%3A%2F%2Fglobalvoices.org&rp=%2F2018%2F12%2F01%2Fsouth-sudanese-singer-nyaruach-calls-out-boring-man-with-no-plan-in-feminist-hit%2F#%7B%22ci%22%3A0%2C%22os%22%3A3753.499999991618%7DSouth Sudan has gone through several rounds of failed and fragile peace negotiations, but data shows that women have been far less involved than men in the peace process, despite research that suggests including women at higher levels would improve stability.

Machar returned to South Sudan in October 2018 after two years in exile in South Africa to work with Kiir, but many are wary of the peace deal after five years of protracted conflict.

“Women in South Sudan have been treated by government soldiers and armed actors, including local militias, as spoils of the conflict”, UN investigators said in September 2018. “The plight of South Sudan’s women and girls should no longer be ignored”, they said — referring to disturbing testimonies of rape victims.

According to a 2017 survey issued by the International Rescue Committee and Global Women’s Institute, 65 percent of South Sudanese women interviewed had experienced physical or sexual violence.

Nyaruach has her own testimony.

[South Sudanese] men’s ideas are changing about love. They get married to many wives and then destroy our lives. They fail to take care of their children properly. They rape us, use young girls, get us pregnant and leave us.”

Nyaruach says music is her calling. “If I hide what is killing me in my heart, what can I do to make a change?” she asks.

No wonder “Gatluak” is a hit. This is Nyaruach’s chance to demand the men in her life to do better, not just in love but war — and peace.

Ethiopia: Truth, Knowledge, History Of This Very Important Ancient African Nation

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE CIA WORLD FACTBOOK)

 

Ethiopia

Introduction Unique among African countries, the ancient Ethiopian monarchy maintained its freedom from colonial rule with the exception of the 1936-41 Italian occupation during World War II. In 1974, a military junta, the Derg, deposed Emperor Haile SELASSIE (who had ruled since 1930) and established a socialist state. Torn by bloody coups, uprisings, wide-scale drought, and massive refugee problems, the regime was finally toppled in 1991 by a coalition of rebel forces, the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF). A constitution was adopted in 1994, and Ethiopia’s first multiparty elections were held in 1995. A border war with Eritrea late in the 1990’s ended with a peace treaty in December 2000. The Eritrea-Ethiopia Border Commission in November 2007 remotely demarcated the border by geographical coordinates, but final demarcation of the boundary on the ground is currently on hold due to Ethiopian objections to an international commission’s finding requiring it to surrender territory considered sensitive to Ethiopia.
History Early history

Human settlement in Ethiopia dates back to ancient times. Fossilized remains of the earliest ancestors to the human species, discovered in Ethiopia, have been assigned dates as long ago as 5.9 million years.[31] Together with Eritrea and the southeastern part of the Red Sea coast of Sudan (Beja lands), it is considered the most likely location of the land known to the ancient Egyptians as Punt (or “Ta Netjeru,” meaning land of the Gods), whose first mention dates to the twenty-fifth century BC.[32][33]

Dʿmt and Axum

Around the eighth century BC, a kingdom known as Dʿmt was established in northern Ethiopia and Eritrea, with its capital at Yeha in northern Ethiopia. Most modern historians consider this civilization to be a native African one, although Sabaean-influenced due to the latter’s hegemony of the Red Sea,[34] while others view Dʿmt as the result of a mixture of “culturally superior” Sabaeans and indigenous peoples.[35] However, Ge’ez, the ancient Semitic language of Ethiopia, is now thought not to have derived from Sabaean (also South Semitic). There is evidence of a Semitic-speaking presence in Ethiopia and Eritrea at least as early as 2000 BC.[36][37] Sabaean influence is now thought to have been minor, limited to a few localities, and disappearing after a few decades or a century, perhaps representing a trading or military colony in some sort of symbiosis or military alliance with the Ethiopian civilization of Dʿmt or some other proto-Aksumite state.[38]

After the fall of Dʿmt in the fifth century BC, the plateau came to be dominated by smaller successor kingdoms, until the rise of one of these kingdoms during the first century BC, the Aksumite Kingdom, ancestor of medieval and modern Ethiopia, which was able to reunite the area.[39] They established bases on the northern highlands of the Ethiopian Plateau and from there expanded southward. The Persian religious figure Mani listed Aksum with Rome, Persia, and China as one of the four great powers of his time.[40]

In 316 AD, a Christian philosopher from Tyre, Meropius, embarked on a voyage of exploration along the coast of Africa. He was accompanied by, among others, two Syro-Greeks, Frumentius and his brother Aedesius. The vessel was stranded on the coast, and the natives killed all the travelers except the two brothers, who were taken to the court and given positions of trust by the monarch. They both practiced the Christian faith in private, and soon converted the queen and several other members of the royal court. Upon the king’s death, Frumentius was appointed regent of the realm by the queen, and instructor of her young son, Prince Ezana. A few years later, upon Ezana’s coming of age, Aedesius and Frumentius left the kingdom, the former returning to Tyre where he was ordained, and the latter journeying to Alexandria. Here, he consulted Athanasius, who ordained him and appointed him Bishop of Aksum. He returned to the court and baptized the King Ezana, together with many of his subjects, and in short order Christianity was proclaimed the official state religion again.[41] For this accomplishment, he received the title “Abba Selama” (“Father of peace”).

At various times, including a fifty-year period in the sixth century, Aksum controlled most of modern-day Yemen and some of southern Saudi Arabia just across the Red Sea, as well as controlling southern Egypt, northern Sudan, northern Ethiopia, Eritrea, Djibouti, and northern Somalia.[42]

The line of rulers descended from the Aksumite kings was broken several times: first by the Jewish (unknown/or pagan) Queen Gudit around 950[43] (or possibly around 850, as in Ethiopian histories).[44] It was then interrupted by the Zagwe dynasty; it was during this dynasty that the famous rock-hewn churches of Lalibela were carved under King Lalibela, allowed by a long period of peace and stability.[45]

Ethiopian Empire

Around 1270, the Solomonic dynasty came to control Ethiopia, claiming descent from the kings of Aksum. They called themselves Neguse Negest (“King of Kings,” or Emperor), basing their claims on their direct descent from Solomon and the queen of Sheba.[46]

Restored contact with Europe

In the early fifteenth century Ethiopia sought to make diplomatic contact with European kingdoms for the first time since Aksumite times. A letter from King Henry IV of England to the Emperor of Abyssinia survives.[47] In 1428, the Emperor Yeshaq sent two emissaries to Alfons V of Aragon, who sent return emissaries that failed to complete the return trip.[48] The first continuous relations with a European country began in 1508 with Portugal under Emperor Lebna Dengel, who had just inherited the throne from his father.[49]

This proved to be an important development, for when the Empire was subjected to the attacks of the Adal General and Imam, Ahmad ibn Ibrihim al-Ghazi (called “Grañ”, or “the Left-handed”), Portugal responded to Lebna Dengel’s plea for help with an army of four hundred men, who helped his son Gelawdewos defeat Ahmad and re-establish his rule.[50] However, when Emperor Susenyos converted to Roman Catholicism in 1624, years of revolt and civil unrest followed resulting in thousands of deaths.[51] The Jesuit missionaries had offended the Orthodox faith of the local Ethiopians, and on June 25, 1632 Susenyos’ son, Emperor Fasilides, declared the state religion to again be Ethiopian Orthodox Christianity, and expelled the Jesuit missionaries and other Europeans.[52][53]

All of this contributed to Ethiopia’s isolation from 1755 to 1855, called the Zemene Mesafint or “Age of Princes.” The Emperors became figureheads, controlled by warlords like Ras Mikael Sehul of Tigray, and later by the Oromo Yejju dynasty.[54] Ethiopian isolationism ended following a British mission that concluded an alliance between the two nations; however, it was not until 1855 that Ethiopia was completely reunited and the power in the Emperor restored, beginning with the reign of Emperor Tewodros II. Upon his ascent, despite still large centrifugal forces, he began modernizing Ethiopia and recentralizing power in the Emperor, and Ethiopia began to take part in world affairs once again.

By the 1880s, Sahle Selassie, as king of Shewa, and later as Emperor Menilik II began expanding his kingdom to the South and East, expanding into areas that hadn’t been held since the invasion of Ahmed Gragn, and other areas that had never been under Ethiopian rule, resulting in the borders of Ethiopia still existing today.[55]

European Scramble for Africa

The 1880s were marked by the Scramble for Africa and modernization in Ethiopia, when the Italians began to vie with the British for influence in bordering regions. Asseb, a port near the southern entrance of the Red Sea, was bought in March 1870 from the local Afar sultan, vassal to the Ethiopian Emperor, by an Italian company, which by 1890 led to the Italian colony of Eritrea. Conflicts between the two countries resulted in the Battle of Adwa in 1896, whereby the Ethiopians surprised the world by defeating Italy and remaining independent, under the rule of Menelik II. Italy and Ethiopia signed a provisional treaty of peace on October 26, 1896.

Selassie years

The early twentieth century was marked by the reign of Emperor Haile Selassie I,who came to power after Iyasu V was deposed. It was he who undertook the modernization of Ethiopia, from 1916, when he was made a Ras and Regent (Inderase) for Zewditu I and became the de facto ruler of the Ethiopian Empire. Following Zewditu’s death he was made Emperor on 2 November 1930.

The independence of Ethiopia was interrupted by the Second Italo-Abyssinian War and Italian occupation (1936–1941).[56] Some of Ethiopia’s infrastructure (roads most importantly) was built by the fascist Italian occupation troops (not by corvee) between 1937 and 1940. Following the entry of Italy into World War II, the British Empire forces together with patriot Ethiopian fighters liberated Ethiopia in the course of the East African Campaign (World War II) in 1941, which was followed by sovereignty on January 31, 1941 and British recognition of full sovereignty (i.e. without any special British privileges) with the signing of the Anglo-Ethiopian Agreement in December 1944.[57] During 1942 and 1943 there was an Italian guerrilla war in Ethiopia. On August 26, 1942 Haile Selassie I issued a proclamation outlawing slavery.[58][59]

In 1952 Haile Selassie orchestrated the federation with Eritrea which he dissolved in 1962. This annexation sparked the Eritrean War of Independence. Although Haile Selassie was seen as a national and African hero, opinion within Ethiopia turned against him due to the worldwide oil crisis of 1973, food shortages, uncertainty regarding the succession, border wars, and discontent in the middle class created through modernization.[60]

Haile Selassie’s reign came to an end in 1974, when a pro-Soviet Marxist-Leninist military junta, the “Derg” led by Mengistu Haile Mariam, deposed him, and established a one-party communist state.

Communism

The ensuing regime suffered several coups, uprisings, wide-scale drought, and a massive refugee problem. In 1977, there was the Ogaden War, but Ethiopia quickly defeated Somalia with a massive influx of Soviet military hardware and a Cuban military presence coupled with East Germany and South Yemen the following year.

Hundreds of thousands were killed due to the red terror, forced deportations, or from using hunger as a weapon.[61] In 2006, after a long trial, Mengistu was found guilty of genocide.[62]

Recent

In 1993 a referendum was held & supervised by the UN mission UNOVER, with universal suffrage and conducted both in and outside Eritrea (among Eritrean communities in the diaspora), on whether Eritreans wanted independence or unity with Ethiopia. Over 99% of the Eritrean people voted for independence which was declared on May 24, 1993. In 1994, a constitution was adopted that led to Ethiopia’s first multi-party elections in the following year. In May 1998, a border dispute with Eritrea led to the Eritrean-Ethiopian War that lasted until June 2000. This has hurt the nation’s economy, but strengthened the ruling coalition. On May 15, 2005, Ethiopia held another multiparty election, which was a highly disputed one with some opposition groups claiming fraud. Though the Carter center appreciated the preelection conditions, it has expressed its dissatisfaction with postelection matters. The 2005 EU election observers continued to accuse the ruling party of vote rigging. Many from the international community are divided about the issue with Irish officials accusing the 2005 EU election observers of corruption for the “inaccurate leaks from the 2005 EU election monitoring body which led the opposition to wrongly believe they had been cheated of victory.”[63] In general, the opposition parties gained more than 200 parliament seats compared to the just 12 in the 2000 elections. Despite most opposition representatives joining the parliament, some leaders of the CUD party are in jail following the post-election violence. Amnesty International considers them “prisoners of conscience”.

September 12, 2007 on the Gregorian calendar marked the beginning of the year 2000 on the Ethiopian calendar.

Geography Location: Eastern Africa, west of Somalia
Geographic coordinates: 8 00 N, 38 00 E
Map references: Africa
Area: total: 1,127,127 sq km
land: 1,119,683 sq km
water: 7,444 sq km
Area – comparative: slightly less than twice the size of Texas
Land boundaries: total: 5,328 km
border countries: Djibouti 349 km, Eritrea 912 km, Kenya 861 km, Somalia 1,600 km, Sudan 1,606 km
Coastline: 0 km (landlocked)
Maritime claims: none (landlocked)
Climate: tropical monsoon with wide topographic-induced variation
Terrain: high plateau with central mountain range divided by Great Rift Valley
Elevation extremes: lowest point: Denakil Depression -125 m
highest point: Ras Dejen 4,620 m
Natural resources: small reserves of gold, platinum, copper, potash, natural gas, hydropower
Land use: arable land: 10.01%
permanent crops: 0.65%
other: 89.34% (2005)
Irrigated land: 2,900 sq km (2003)
Total renewable water resources: 110 cu km (1987)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural): total: 5.56 cu km/yr (6%/0%/94%)
per capita: 72 cu m/yr (2002)
Natural hazards: geologically active Great Rift Valley susceptible to earthquakes, volcanic eruptions; frequent droughts
Environment – current issues: deforestation; overgrazing; soil erosion; desertification; water shortages in some areas from water-intensive farming and poor management
Environment – international agreements: party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Ozone Layer Protection
signed, but not ratified: Environmental Modification, Law of the Sea
Geography – note: landlocked – entire coastline along the Red Sea was lost with the de jure independence of Eritrea on 24 May 1993; the Blue Nile, the chief headstream of the Nile by water volume, rises in T’ana Hayk (Lake Tana) in northwest Ethiopia; three major crops are believed to have originated in Ethiopia: coffee, grain sorghum, and castor bean
Politics Politics of Ethiopia takes place in a framework of a federal parliamentary republic, whereby the Prime Minister is the head of government. Executive power is exercised by the government. Federal legislative power is vested in both the government and the two chambers of parliament.

On the basis of Article 78 of the 1994 Ethiopian Constitution, the Judiciary is completely independent of the executive and the legislature.[64] The current realities of this provision are questioned in a report prepared by Freedom House (see discussion page for link).

According to The Economist in its Democracy Index, Ethiopia is a “hybrid regime” situated between a “flawed democracy” and an “authoritarian regime”. It ranks 106 out of 167 countries (with the larger number being less democratic). Cambodia ranks as more democratic at 105, and Burundi as less democratic at 107, than Ethiopia.[65]

The election of Ethiopia’s 547-member constituent assembly was held in June 1994. This assembly adopted the constitution of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia in December 1994. The elections for Ethiopia’s first popularly-chosen national parliament and regional legislatures were held in May and June 1995 . Most opposition parties chose to boycott these elections. There was a landslide victory for the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF). International and non-governmental observers concluded that opposition parties would have been able to participate had they chosen to do so.

The current government of Ethiopia was installed in August 1995. The first President was Negasso Gidada. The EPRDF-led government of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi promoted a policy of ethnic federalism, devolving significant powers to regional, ethnically-based authorities. Ethiopia today has nine semi-autonomous administrative regions that have the power to raise and spend their own revenues. Under the present government, some fundamental freedoms, including freedom of the press, are circumscribed.[66] Citizens have little access to media other than the state-owned networks, and most private newspapers struggle to remain open and suffer periodic harassment from the government.[66] At least 18 journalists who had written articles critical of the government were arrested following the 2005 elections on genocide and treason charges. The government uses press laws governing libel to intimidate journalists who are critical of its policies.[67]

Zenawi’s government was elected in 2000 in Ethiopia’s first ever multiparty elections; however, the results were heavily criticized by international observers and denounced by the opposition as fraudulent. The EPRDF also won the 2005 election returning Zenawi to power. Although the opposition vote increased in the election, both the opposition and observers from the European Union and elsewhere stated that the vote did not meet international standards for fair and free elections.[66] Ethiopian police are said to have massacred 193 protesters, mostly in the capital Addis Ababa, in the violence following the May 2005 elections in the Ethiopian police massacre.[68] The government initiated a crackdown in the provinces as well; in Oromia state the authorities used concerns over insurgency and terrorism to use torture, imprisonment, and other repressive methods to silence critics following the election, particularly people sympathetic to the registered opposition party Oromo National Congress (ONC).

People Population: 76,511,887
note: estimates for this country explicitly take into account the effects of excess mortality due to AIDS; this can result in lower life expectancy, higher infant mortality and death rates, lower population and growth rates, and changes in the distribution of population by age and sex than would otherwise be expected (July 2007 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 43.4% (male 16,657,155/female 16,553,812)
15-64 years: 53.8% (male 20,558,026/female 20,639,076)
65 years and over: 2.7% (male 953,832/female 1,149,986) (2007 est.)
Median age: total: 18 years
male: 17.8 years
female: 18.1 years (2007 est.)
Population growth rate: 2.272% (2007 est.)
Birth rate: 37.39 births/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Death rate: 14.67 deaths/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Net migration rate: 0 migrant(s)/1,000 population
note: repatriation of Ethiopian refugees residing in Sudan is expected to continue for several years; some Sudanese, Somali, and Eritrean refugees, who fled to Ethiopia from the fighting or famine in their own countries, continue to return to their homes (2007 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.03 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.006 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.996 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.829 male(s)/female
total population: 0.995 male(s)/female (2007 est.)
Infant mortality rate: total: 91.92 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 101.57 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 81.99 deaths/1,000 live births (2007 est.)
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 49.23 years
male: 48.06 years
female: 50.44 years (2007 est.)
Total fertility rate: 5.1 children born/woman (2007 est.)
HIV/AIDS – adult prevalence rate: 4.4% (2003 est.)
HIV/AIDS – people living with HIV/AIDS: 1.5 million (2003 est.)
HIV/AIDS – deaths: 120,000 (2003 est.)
Major infectious diseases: degree of risk: high
food or waterborne diseases: bacterial and protozoal diarrhea, hepatitis A and E, and typhoid fever
vectorborne diseases: malaria
respiratory disease: meningococcal meningitis
animal contact disease: rabies
water contact disease: schistosomiasis (2008)
Nationality: noun: Ethiopian(s)
adjective: Ethiopian
Ethnic groups: Oromo 32.1%, Amara 30.1%, Tigraway 6.2%, Somalie 5.9%, Guragie 4.3%, Sidama 3.5%, Welaita 2.4%, other 15.4% (1994 census)
Religions: Christian 60.8% (Orthodox 50.6%, Protestant 10.2%), Muslim 32.8%, traditional 4.6%, other 1.8% (1994 census)
Languages: Amarigna 32.7%, Oromigna 31.6%, Tigrigna 6.1%, Somaligna 6%, Guaragigna 3.5%, Sidamigna 3.5%, Hadiyigna 1.7%, other 14.8%, English (major foreign language taught in schools) (1994 census)
Literacy: definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 42.7%
male: 50.3%
female: 35.1%

Israel Is Working To Forge Ties With Bahrain, Chad And Sudan

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

 

Israel said working to forge ties with Bahrain amid unprecedented Gulf opening

News of effort to normalize relations with Manama comes after reports that Israel is eyeing ties with Sudan, as Chadian leader makes historic visit to Israel

Bahraini voters queue outside a polling station in the Bahraini city of Al-Muharraq, north of Manama on November 24, 2018, as they wait to cast their vote in the parliamentary election. (AFP)

Bahraini voters queue outside a polling station in the Bahraini city of Al-Muharraq, north of Manama on November 24, 2018, as they wait to cast their vote in the parliamentary election. (AFP)

Israel is working to normalize ties with Bahrain, as Jerusalem ramps up its drive to forge more open relations with the Arab world amid shifting alliances in the Middle East driven by shared concerns over Iran, Hebrew-language news sites reported late Sunday.

The reports, sourced to an unnamed senior official, did not detail Israel’s efforts to get closer to Manama, but came hours after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hinted he would soon travel to unspecified Arab states, during a press conference with visiting Chadian leader Idriss Déby Sunday.

Déby’s historic visit is part of a campaign to lay the groundwork for normalizing ties with Muslim-majority countries Sudan, Mali and Niger, according to a report on Israel’s Channel 10 news Sunday.

The revelation that Israel is actively working to forge closer ties with Bahrain comes as Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman is visiting the island kingdom. The prince, who is attempting to rehabilitate his image in the West after the killing of writer Jamal Khashoggi, is seen as a key part of a US-backed drive for Gulf states to open their doors to Israel amid shared concern over Iran’s expansion in the region.

In May, Bahrain Foreign Minister Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa wrote on Twitter that Israel has the right to defend itself against Iran.

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, left, participates in a ministerial meeting with the foreign ministers of Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates, in Jiddah, Saudi Arabia, Wednesday, July 12, 2017. (US State Department, via AP)

Oman, which has often played the role of regional mediator, welcomed Netanyahu in a surprise visit last month, an apparent sign of Israeli progress in improving ties with Gulf countries.

At a security conference in Bahrain following the visit, Omani foreign minister also offered rare words of support for the Jewish state.

“Israel is a state present in the region, and we all understand this. The world is also aware of this fact and maybe it is time for Israel to be treated the same and also bear the same obligations,” Yussef bin Alawi bin Abdullah said, according to Reuters.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (L) talks with Sultan Qaboos bin Said in Oman on October 26, 2018 (Courtesy)

During a press conference with Déby on Sunday, Netanyahu remarked that “there will be more such visits in Arab countries very soon,” without providing details.

The Israeli premier has for years spoken about the warming ties between Israel and the Arab world, citing not only Iran as a common enemy but also many countries’ interest in cooperating with Israel on security and defense matters, as well as Israel’s growing high-tech industry.

The effort to forge ties with Sudan comes as Khartoum has looked to move closer to Sunni Gulf states after years as an ally of Iran.

In early 2017, Khartoum joined Sunni Bahrain and Saudi Arabia in severing its ties with the Islamic Republic.

Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir prepares to cast his ballot for the country’s presidential and legislative elections in Khartoum, Sudan, April 13, 2015. (AP Photo/Mosa’ab Elshamy, File)

At the time, the country also appeared to make overtures toward Israel. Foreign Minister Ibrahim Ghandour said in a 2016 interview that Sudan was open to the idea of normalizing ties with Israel in exchange for lifting US sanctions on Khartoum. According to Hebrew-language media reports at the time, Israeli diplomats tried to drum up support for Sudan in the international community after it severed its ties to Tehran.

In the past, Sudan has allegedly served as a way-station for the transfer of Iranian weapons to the Hamas terrorist group in Gaza. Israel has reportedly intercepted and destroyed transfers of weapons from Sudan bound for Gaza.

In 2009, the International Criminal Court also issued an arrest warrant for Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir for genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity, relating to the bloody conflict in the western Darfur region.

However, since it broke ties with Iran, Sudan is no longer perceived by Israel as a threat, but rather as a potential ally.

New era

Earlier on Sunday, Déby became the first president of Chad to visit Israel and pledged a new era of relations when meeting Netanyahu, 46 years after ties were severed.

In remarks to journalists after a closed-door meeting, Déby spoke of the two countries committing to a new era of cooperation with “the prospect of reestablishing diplomatic relations.”

Déby said he was “proud” that he had accepted Israel’s official invite. “It can be called breaking the ice,” he said. “We came here indeed with the desire to renew diplomatic relations. Your country is an important country. Your country, like Chad, fights against terrorism.”

Chad, a Muslim-majority, Arabic-speaking country in central Africa, broke off relations with Israel in 1972.

Despite the lack of formal ties, both Déby and Netanyahu on Sunday stressed the centrality of security cooperation between the two countries.

Chad is also one of several African states engaged in Western-backed operations against Boko Haram and Islamic State jihadists in West Africa. Earlier this month, the US donated military vehicles and boats worth $1.3 million to Chad as part of the campaign against Islamist militancy in the country.

File: Chadian soldiers gather on February 1, 2015 near the Nigerian town of Gamboru, just across the border from Cameroon. (AFP/Marle)

Under Déby, Chad’s government has been accused of widespread human rights abuses and rigged elections. He took over the arid, impoverished nation in 1990 and won a disputed fifth term in April 2016.

On Sunday, Chadian security sources were quoted by Reuters saying that Israel had sent Chad arms and money earlier this year to help the country in its fight against Islamist groups. Netanyahu in his remarks to journalists thanked Déby for his visit and hailed “flourishing” ties between Israel and African nations. He declined questions about whether the two leaders discussed potential Israeli arms sales to Chad.

Netanyahu portrayed the unprecedented visit as the result of his hard-won diplomatic efforts, referring to his three visits to Africa over the last couple years and his surprise trip to Oman in October.

According to Israel’s Channel 10, Israel’s diplomatic push in Africa is driven in part by a desire to ease air travel to Latin America. Flying in the airspace of traditionally hostile African countries — namely Chad and Sudan — would allow airlines to offer faster, more direct flights between Israel and the continent.

Channel 10 estimated that flying directly from Israel to Brazil over Sudan would shave some four hours off the average journey, which currently takes at least 17 hours, and requires a stopover in either Europe or North America.

Separately, Hadashot television news reported on Sunday that Netanyahu has secured reassurances from Oman that airlines flying to and from Israel — including national carrier El Al — would be permitted to fly over the kingdom’s airspace. The prime minister received this message during his surprise visit to Muscat last month — the first by an Israeli leader in over 20 years, the television report said.

Agencies contributed to this report.

READ MORE:

Brazil: PERSECUTION NOT FOR: ANOTHER ACTION LAVA JET AGAINST LULA

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE BRAZIL NEWS AGENCY BRAZIL 247)

(IS BRAZIL A DEMOCRACY WHERE THEIR POLITICIANS ARE AS BIG A LIARS AND AS CROOKED AS THE POLITICIANS IN THE U.S.?)(oldpoet56)

After cozying up to Chad, Israel reportedly eyeing ties with Sudan

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

 

After cozying up to Chad, Israel reportedly eyeing ties with Sudan

Top official tells Israeli TV that efforts to extend diplomacy to central African Muslim states, including Niger and Mali, driven in part by air travel considerations

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (C) and his wife Sara host Chad's President Idriss Deby Itno (L) at the Prime Minister's Residence in Jerusalem on November 25, 2018. (Marc Israel Sellem/POOL)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (C) and his wife Sara host Chad’s President Idriss Deby Itno (L) at the Prime Minister’s Residence in Jerusalem on November 25, 2018. (Marc Israel Sellem/POOL)

Israel is working to establish diplomatic ties with a number of central African nations, including Sudan, Israeli television reports said Sunday night, as Chadian leader Idriss Déby made a historic visit to the Jewish state and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu signaled he would soon travel to unspecified Arab states.

A senior Israeli official told Channel 10 that Déby’s visit was laying the groundwork for normalizing ties with Muslim-majority countries Sudan, Mali and Niger.

According to the report, Israel’s diplomatic push in Africa is driven in part by a desire to ease air travel to Latin America. Flying over airspace of traditionally hostile African countries — namely Chad and Sudan — would allow airlines to offer faster, more direct flights between Israel and the continent.

Channel 10 estimated that flying directly from Israel to Brazil over Sudan would shave some four hours off the average journey, which currently takes at least 17 hours, and requires a stopover in either Europe or North America.

Separately, Hadashot television news reported on Sunday that Netanyahu has  secured reassurances from Oman that airlines from Israel — including national carrier El Al — would be permitted to fly over the kingdom’s airspace. The prime minister received this message during his surprise visit to Muskat last month — the first by an Israeli leader in over 20 years, the television report said.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (L) talks with Sultan Qaboos bin Said in Oman on October 26, 2018 (Courtesy)

Israel has long been wary of Sudan, which was traditionally seen as close to Iran. However, in early 2017, Khartoum joined Sunni Bahrain and Saudi Arabia in severing its ties with the Islamic Republic.

At the time, the country also appeared to make overtures toward Israel. Foreign Minister Ibrahim Ghandour said in a 2016 interview that Sudan was open to the idea of normalizing ties with Israel in exchange for lifting US sanctions on Khartoum. According Hebrew-language media reports at the time, Israeli diplomats tried to drum up support for Sudan in the international community after it severed its ties to Tehran.

In the past, Sudan has allegedly served as a way-station for the transfer of Iranian weapons to the Hamas terrorist group in Gaza. Israel has reportedly intercepted and destroyed transfers of weapons from Sudan bound for Gaza.

In 2009, the International Criminal Court also issued an arrest warrant for Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir for genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity, relating to the bloody conflict in the western Darfur region.

However, since it broke ties with Iran, Sudan is no longer perceived by Israel as a threat, but rather as a potential ally.

Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir prepares to cast his ballot for the country’s presidential and legislative elections in Khartoum, Sudan, April 13, 2015. (AP Photo/Mosa’ab Elshamy, File)

Earlier on Sunday, Déby became the first president of Chad to visit Israel and pledged a new era of relations when meeting Netanyahu, 46 years after ties were severed.

In remarks to journalists after a closed-door meeting, Déby spoke of the two countries committing to a new era of cooperation with “the prospect of reestablishing diplomatic relations.”

Chad, a Muslim-majority, Arabic-speaking country in central Africa, broke off relations with Israel in 1972.

Despite the lack of formal ties, both Deby and Netanyahu on Sunday stressed the centrality of security cooperation between the two countries.

Chad is also one of several African states engaged in Western-backed operations against Boko Haram and Islamic State jihadists in West Africa. Earlier this month, the US donated military vehicles and boats worth $1.3 million to Chad as part of the campaign against Islamist militancy in the country.

Under Deby, Chad’s government has been accused of widespread human rights abuses and rigged elections. He took over the arid, impoverished nation in 1990 and won a disputed fifth term in April 2016.

On Sunday, Chadian security sources were quoted by Reuters saying that Israel had sent Chad arms and money earlier this year to help the country in its fight against Islamist groups. Netanyahu in his remarks to journalists thanked Déby for his visit and hailed “flourishing” ties between Israel and African nations. He declined questions about whether the two leaders discussed potential Israeli arms sales to Chad.

Netanyahu portrayed the unprecedented visit as the result of his hard-won diplomatic efforts, referring to his three visits to Africa over the last couple years and his surprise trip to Oman in October.

The visit to Oman, a major diplomatic victory for Netanyahu, was an apparent sign of Israeli progress in improving ties with Gulf countries.

Also Sunday, Netanyahu added that “there will be more such visits in Arab countries very soon,” without providing details.

Agencies contributed to this report.

READ MORE:

Mozambique’s New China-Funded Bridge (Will Cost Them Their Sovereignty)

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF GLOBAL VOICES)

 

Mozambique’s new China-funded Maputo-KaTembe bridge, the longest in Africa, comes with high tolls

The Maputo-KaTembe bridge. Photo by Alexandre Nhampossa, used with permission.

On November 10, Mozambique inaugurated the Maputo-KaTembe Bridge, a four kilometer- long piece of infrastructure connecting the center of the capital Maputo with the KaTembe district on the south side of the bay.

It’s the largest suspension bridge in Africa and one of the 60 longest in the world, as well as a symbol of Chinese investment in Mozambique.

The bridge was built by the China Road and Bridge Corporation at a cost of 785 million US dollars, making it the most expensive infrastructure project undertaken in Mozambique since the country’s independence in 1975. It was 95 percent funded by loans from China’s EXIM bank, to be paid by the Mozambique state in 20 years time at a four percent interest (the remaining five percent came directly from the public coffers).

The construction affected around 900 families, who had to be rehoused. Authorities say the relocation process contributed to delaying the bridge’s inauguration, originally scheduled for June 25, the date Mozambique celebrates its independence.

The government hopes that the Bridge will serve the hundreds of residents of the KaTembe district who commute by small boats and ferry boats to the center of Maputo for work and study.

KaTembe is officially part of the metropolitan area of Maputo, but both regions are very different: the northern half of Maputo is a highly-urbanized center, with a population of around two million, while KaTembe lacks infrastructure and still has plenty of unused lands.

Authorities also hope to boost trade and tourism from South Africa — the driving time between its east coast border and Maputo will now take around 90 minutes instead of the previous six hours.

The bridge, which has no pedestrian lane, will be tolled from 160 to 1200 Meticais (2.60 to 20 USD). Frequent users will have an up to 75 percent discount. Currently, boat-crossing of Maputo costs between 10 and 1050 meticais (0.16 and 17.24 USD).

The inauguration ceremony of the Maputo-KaTembe bridge. Photo by Alexandre Nhampossa, used with permission.

However, the bridge has faced criticism from Mozambicans for the high costs of the loans that permitted its construction — as well as the toll charges that will help service them.

University student Sérgio Wiliamo said on Facebook:

There is here a failure of the government when determining such fees. In projects like those, the fees do not aim to recover the initial investment, but to upkeep the infrastructure. It seems to me, and taking into account the high values I have seen, there are gains that are expected to be obtained above the simple operationalization and maintenance of the infrastructure

Also commenting on the fees, philosopher and professor of Eduardo Mondlane University, Ergimino Mucale, wrote on Facebook:

The essence of a bridge is to connect, to unify, to (re-)establish contact. Mozambique is now the first country in history to distort the traditional meaning of the concept of the bridge. The beautiful and one of the largest suspended bridges of Africa, Maputo-KaTembe, was born to establish or unveil, painfully, the gap between the wealthy and the wretched of one same nation. It is no longer the few miles separating the Maputo residents from here and there, but the many meticais of the coming tolls.

The inauguration ceremony of the Maputo-KaTembe bridge. Photo by Alexandre Nhampossa, used with permission.

A contributor of World Vision, a development organization, Elvino Dias expects the bridge to be a relief for the citizens of KaTembe, but also has reservations regarding the toll:

When we applauded that the Maputo KaTembe Bridge marked the end of the suffering of the citizens of that part of Maputo, I didn’t imagine that it would be the beginning of another form of slavery, and this time without an end in sight.

I do not care where the money came for the construction of the bridge or road came from, because I know I’ve paid taxes that supposedly were for building such infrastructures. That’s why I sometimes wonder where taxpayer’s money goes to. Dear brothers, if they persist with such prices, we must say no to the eliticization of a public good.

Mozambican authorities are expecting the bridge to sustain a daily average traffic of over four thousand vehicles, a significant increase of the average of 200 vehicles that cross the bay by boat today.

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