May 14, 2011

Statement On Fatal Attack On WFP Staff Members In Ethiopia

Filed under: Ethiopia — ethiopiantimes @ 7:20 pm

ADDIS ABABA – The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) today confirmed the death of one of its staff members in a fatal attack in Ethiopia. “I am deeply saddened by this deplorable killing,” said WFP Executive Director Josette Sheeran. “This is the second deadly attack on a WFP humanitarian worker in less than a month.”

Farhan Hamsa – a WFP driver – was killed in an ambush on 13 May by unknown assailants in the Somali Region of Ethiopia. He was on a monitoring mission with three colleagues when the vehicles they were travelling in were attacked.

One other WFP staff member was injured in the attack and two remain missing. WFP urges anyone in the vicinity of this incident who has knowledge of the whereabouts of the staff members to contact WFP so that they can be brought home safely to their families and loved ones.

“Humanitarian workers need and deserve the protection of all as they seek to protect the vulnerable and save innocent lives,” Sheeran said. “We call upon the world to join us in condemning such actions as the killing of Farhan. Every day WFP drivers like Farhan deliver life-saving help to the most vulnerable under conditions of great danger and hardship. They are my heroes.”

Farhan had worked for WFP in the Jijiga sub-office in the Somali Region since 2006. He leaves behind a wife and seven children.

WFP provides food assistance to 4.5 million people in Ethiopia, including refugees and school children in highly food insecure areas.

The fatality in Ethiopia follows the killing of WFP Senior Programme Assistant, Santino Pigga Alex Wani in Southern Sudan last month. He was killed in an ambush on 22 April by unknown assailants in Jonglei State. Santino was on mission with WFP’s partner Joint Aid Management when the vehicle they were travelling in was attacked.


Djibouti sends troops to turbulent Somalia

Filed under: Djibouti,Somalia — ethiopiantimes @ 7:10 pm
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Djibouti on Saturday announced that it will send two battalions of troops to the war-torn Somalia to join the African Union peacekeeping mission in Somalia (AMSIOM).

Mohamoud Ali Yusuf, Djibouti’s minister of foreign affairs, said that his government was hecticly training and preparing those troops over the last few years, adding they are fully equipped right now and ready to perform regional peacekeeping duties as deputized by African Union (AU).

“At the end of this month or the start of June, our troops will be deployed to Mogadishu to be as a part of AU peacekeeping forces to help the interim government bring peace, law and order back to the eastern African country of Somalia” Yusuf said in an interview with VOA Somali Service.

Before deploying the troops, Djibouti discussed the issue with a number of countries and organizations including the Unites States, African Union and the neighboring Ethiopia, the minister noted.

Djibouti will be the third African country to send troops to Somalia.

However, the announce of Djibouti comes as al Shabaab vowed to launch reprisal attacks after the US Special forces killed al Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden in an operation in Pakistani city of Abbottabad on early this month.

Uganda and Burundi, who have more about 9,000 soldiers in Mogadishu, have been the first nations deployed their forces to Somalia under the AU mission in Somalia.

Mohammed Abdullahi Mohammed, the prime minister of Somalia recently called for an additional 4,000 troops to be deployed as soon as possible. Uganda and Burundi pledged to send an additional 4,000 troops to Somalia as part of the African Union peacekeeping mission in Somalia.

In March, Burundi deployed one battalion (1,000 soldiers), but the remaining 3,000 soldiers would be deployed around the middle of the year.

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Naval crew took photos of us adrift at sea, says migrant

Filed under: Eritrea,Ethiopia — ethiopiantimes @ 10:22 am
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The crew of a naval vessel took photographs of African migrants begging for help from a broken-down boat adrift on the Mediterranean but refused to offer any assistance, a survivor told the UN refugee agency.

The account, given to the UN high commissioner for refugees (UNHCR) by an Ethiopian survivor now in a Tunisian camp, confirms a Guardian report on Sunday and adds new details that make clear western military forces off the Libyan coast were well aware of the plight of the migrants they failed to help.

“We passed by a military big boat,” one of the survivors, an ethnic Oromo, told a UNHCR official. “We wanted to go with them as it looked safer than staying in our boat, but they refused [to allow us to board] their boat. We also saw a military helicopter flying above us.

“A second helicopter flew above us and threw biscuits and water at us. Then we passed by a second military boat, but they did not rescue us – they just took pictures of us from their boat.”

The refugees’ boat set off from Libya on 25 March carrying 50 men, 20 women and two small children. When the boat washed up back on the Libyan coast only 11 were left alive after 15 days at sea without food or drinkable water. A woman survivor died on the beach and the remaining 10 men were arrested by the Libyan authorities and put in jail, where another of the men died.

“People were dying every day on board, from dehydration, sun stroke, hunger,” the Ethiopian survivor told the UNHCR. “When some of us realised others were about to die, we were trying to pay more attention to them, to comfort them. We were keeping the bodies one or two days, hoping to reach a coast and give them a proper burial and prayers, but also sometimes we did not know if they were really dead or just in a coma. After two days and no coast in view, we had to throw the bodies overboard as they were starting to smell bad.”

Nato repeated its denial that warships under its command were involved. A spokesman said there were two reports from Nato ships about migrant boats in distress in the week in question, and both were offered help. Nato also said a Romanian ship under alliance command helped another boatload of 150 migrants on Thursday night, fixing their engine, mending a leak and providing food.

Nato said the defective boat in this latest incident was “allegedly provided by Libyan military officials and crewed by three Syrians”. There have been allegations that the regime in Tripoli has been using migrants as a propaganda weapon, deliberately allowing them to leave in unseaworthy vessels.

The US, France, Germany and Spain all have warships off the Libyan coast that are not formally taking part in Nato operations there. None has admitted being involved in the incident described by the survivors.

Melissa Fleming, the UNHCR spokeswoman, said: “We are hugely concerned that boats are encountering other boats in distress at sea but are doing nothing. There is a legal obligation to carry out rescue at sea.”

According to the account given to the UNHCR, the Oromo survivor was one of three Ethiopian men on the boat. They had paid smugglers $800 (£495) to make the sea voyage to Europe, although the migrants were expected to operate the boat on their own. They had to pay a further $900, provided by Ethiopian friends, to get out of the Libyan prison, from where they crossed the border into Tunisia.

According to the UNHCR, a total of 12,505 migrants have arrived in Italy from Libya since March. There have been 130 arrivals in Malta. At least 800 – possibly many more – are believed to have drowned making the crossing.

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