Child Malnutrition Levels High in Ethiopia's Refugee Camps
Publisher: VOA, Voice of America
Story date: 16/11/2011
Language: English

The U.N. refugee agency is reporting high levels of malnutrition among young children in Ethiopia's Dollo Ado camps, which are home to tens of thousands of Somali refugees. The UNHCR says a nutrition survey at the Kobe and Hilaweyn camps found Somali refugee children under age five in a critical state.

International attention to the crisis in the Horn of Africa seems to have peaked. But, according to the United Nations, the crisis itself is still going strong. It says more than 12 million people continue to be affected by the worst drought to hit the region in 60 years. Of those, people in Somalia, who are suffering from both famine and conflict, are hit the hardest.

UNHCR spokesman Andrej Mahecic says the number of Somalis seeking refuge in Ethiopia and Kenya has tapered off recently. But much of this, he says, is due to the fighting and the heavy rains in southern Somalia, which are making it difficult for people to move.

Nonetheless, he says between 170 and 200 people a day are arriving in both Kenya and Ethiopia.

"The problem is that the people who are arriving now are again very exhausted and in extremely dire condition. The sad evidence of that are their stories, of their basically losing the most vulnerable, the youngest among them en route to either Kenya or to Ethiopia," Mahecic said.

While only the strongest children make it alive to the refugee camps, the nutrition survey at the Kobe and Hilaweyn camps confirms the desperate state in which they arrive.

Mahecic says health and nutrition programs have been set up to treat severely malnourished children, especially the youngest. But the survey, he says, confirms that progress in bringing these children back to good health is slow.

"However, the number of deaths among the children under five has decreased dramatically compared to the very high level seen at the height of the refugee influx this summer. This reflects improved access to quality health care and nutrition services, as well as improved water and sanitation facilities. We are leading the coordination of a nutrition response to the survey's findings," Mahecic said.

He says bad weather conditions are hampering the provision of aid. Mahecic adds that intermittent downpours in Dollo Ado are causing flash floods in the area. He says floods hit the local airstrip in the past four days, putting it out of service. As a consequence, relief supplies cannot be flown in.
 

La crise alimentaire persiste en Ethiopie
Publisher: Le Monde, France
Author: Gilles van Kote
Story date: 16/11/2011
Language: Français

La situation s'est améliorée depuis l'été, mais le pays reste confronté à un afflux de réfugiés somaliens

A Gondar, dans le nord de l'Ethiopie, les églises font le plein. " Les gens prient pour que les pluies s'arrêtent ", raconte une employée du Programme alimentaire mondial (PAM). Après la sécheresse qui a frappé la Corne de l'Afrique et projeté 13 millions de personnes – essentiellement en Somalie, au Kenya et en Ethiopie – dans une situation critique, les précipitations ont fait leur retour. Mais la crise alimentaire provoquée par la perte de la récolte d'été n'est pas pour autant terminée : il est encore trop tôt pour savoir si les moissons en cours permettront de rétablir la situation.

Dans le sud de l'Ethiopie, région la plus touchée par la sécheresse, les pluies de ces dernières semaines ont réalimenté les points d'eau et soulagé les éleveurs, dont les animaux trouvent de nouveau de quoi se nourrir. Mais, en certains endroits, il a plu si violemment que les récoltes, qui s'annonçaient plutôt bonnes, sont compromises. L'entreprise indienne Karuturi, qui loue 100 000 hectares de terres à l'Etat éthiopien dans l'ouest du pays, a vu ainsi sa première récolte de maïs détruite par des inondations.

" Vingt-deux équipes parcourent le pays pour faire le point sur la situation, dans le cadre d'une enquête que nous effectuons deux fois par an, à chaque récolte, explique Tadesse Bekele, directeur adjoint chargé de la prévention des catastrophes et de la sécurité alimentaire au ministère éthiopien de l'agriculture. Mais ce que nous savons déjà, c'est que les événements climatiques deviennent de plus en plus imprévisibles. "

Environ 4,5 millions d'Ethiopiens, sur une population de 88 millions, ont reçu une aide alimentaire depuis juillet, dont 3,5 millions par l'intermédiaire du PAM. " Le pays a une longue histoire de sécheresses, et le gouvernement a su répondre rapidement à la situation, estime Lynne Miller, directrice adjointe de l'agence onusienne en Ethiopie. Le principal défi était d'acheminer rapidement l'aide alimentaire, d'autant qu'il n'y en avait pas de disponible dans la région et qu'il a donc fallu la faire venir d'autres continents. "

" Pour longtemps "

La situation semble se stabiliser en Somalie, même si de nouvelles régions y ont été déclarées récemment en état de famine. Le nombre de Somaliens traversant chaque jour la frontière éthiopienne est descendu à environ 300 personnes par jour, contre 3 000 au plus fort de la crise, en juillet. " Nous ne parvenons pas à déterminer clairement s'ils quittent leur pays à cause de la situation politique ou de la crise alimentaire ", reconnaît Giorgia Testolin, chargée de la question des réfugiés au bureau du PAM, à Addis-Abeba.

Les quatre camps de réfugiés de Dolo Ado, qui accueillent 137 000 Somaliens du côté éthiopien de la frontière, sont saturés. L'ouverture d'un cinquième camp de tentes, actuellement en construction, est attendue incessamment.

" Il faut tenter de se projeter dans l'avenir, car on peut imaginer que ces personnes sont là pour longtemps, reprend Giorgia Testolin. Il faudrait être en mesure de leur proposer des activités génératrices de revenus. " Les plus anciens habitants de ces camps sont des réfugiés somaliens arrivés en 2009.

La situation alimentaire reste critique, même si les taux de malnutrition ont baissé depuis l'été. Selon une étude conjointe menée par le PAM et les organisations non gouvernementales présentes dans l'un des camps, la situation nutritionnelle des réfugiés a même recommencé à se dégrader à cause de pratiques alimentaires et sanitaires inadéquates. Par ailleurs, des tensions sont apparues avec les populations locales, celles-ci se plaignant que les réfugiés ramassent du bois de chauffage.

La question des réfugiés est en passe de devenir un sujet majeur en Ethiopie, qui en accueillait, fin octobre, 273 000, selon le Haut Commissariat aux réfugiés. Car aux Somaliens s'ajoutent près de 40 000 Soudanais qui ont traversé la frontière ces dernières semaines pour fuir les combats dans l'Etat du Nil Bleu, plus de 50 000 Erythréens au nord du pays, ainsi que quelques milliers de Kenyans chassés par des troubles ethniques.
 

Les dirigeants régionaux adoptent une approche commune pour combattre les Shebabs
Publisher: Xinhua News Agency, China
Story date: 16/11/2011
Language: Français

NAIROBI, 16 novembre (Xinhua) – Les dirigeants régionaux ont décidé mercredi de mener une approche commune coordonnée pour démanteler le groupe de miliciens somaliens shebabs afin de maintenir la paix dans la région.

Dans une déclaration commune publiée à l'issue d'une réunion tripartite à Nairobi entre les présidents Yoweri Museveni de l'Ouganda, Mwai Kibaki du Kenya et Cheikh Sharif Ahmed, du Gouvernement fédéral de transition (GFT) de la Somalie, les trois leaders ont également appelé la communauté internationale à résoudre la crise des réfugiés.

Ils ont exprimé leur confiance que l'opération conjointe Kenya- Somalie présente une occasion historique à la région pour rétablir la stabilité et la sécurité en Somalie », ont-ils déclaré dans un communiqué publié après la réunion.

Les trois pays ont appelé à la solidarité régionale afin de mettre fin à l'état d'anarchie qui a prévalu dans la majeure partie de la Somalie au cours des deux dernières décennies.

Les trois présidents ont également encouragé les organismes d'aide humanitaire à déménager vers la partie sécurisée du sud de la Somalie en vue de fournir une assistance humanitaire plus proche des communautés frappés par la famine dans sud de la Somalie d'une façon plus efficace.

Les présidents Shérif, Museveni et M. Kibaki ont souligné la nécessité d'une coordination renforcée entre l'AMISOM (Mission de l'Union africaine en Somalie), le GFT et les Forces de défense du Kenya afin de réussir à vaincre les Shebabs d'autres groupes militants qui continuent de menacer la paix et la stabilité dans la région.

Ils ont rendu hommage à l'AMISOM et aux Pays contributeurs de troupes (PCT) pour leurs sacrifices constantes dans la restauration de la paix et la sécurité en Somalie. Ces sacrifices ont abouti à la libération de Mogadiscio et ses environs.

Notant avec satisfaction la décision de Djibouti de fournir des troupes à l'AMISOM d'ici la fin de l'année, les dirigeants ont appelé à d'autres pays africains qui ont promis de contribuer des troupes à l'AMISOM de tenir d'urgence leurs promesses.

La réunion tripartite a vu la participation de ministres des Affaires étrangères et de la Défense des trois pays parmi d'autres hauts responsables du gouvernement des trois pays.
 

Somali civilians say they want recognition for conflict losses
Publisher: News Press, France
Story date: 16/11/2011
Language: English

Parties to the conflict in Somalia can take immediate measures to lessen its impact on civilians, said CIVIC, the Washington-based organization advocating on behalf of civilians in war, in a report launched today (10 November 2011). Civilian Harm in Somalia: Creating an Appropriate Response details what Somalis want in response to harm. Research was conducted with support from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

Drawn from over one hundred interviews,the report reflects civilians' experiences living in Somalia and desire for formal systems to address inadvertent civilian harm.CIVIC makes technical recommendations to AMISOM and warring parties to track, investigate, and respond to civilian casualties they cause, drawing on traditional Somali dispute resolution mechanisms.

"Nothing will be able to bring back what Somalis have lost," said Sarah Holewinski, executive director of CIVIC who conducted interviews in Mogadishu in April. "But civilians told us it's important to be recognized and to receive tangible assistance for losses of property, life and limb."

The report's recommendations are made for all parties to the conflict. However, Al-Shabaab's behaviour in the conflict, including allegations of directly targeting civilians, suggests little interest in addressing the harm it has inflicted or in preventing further civilian casualties. The report identifies AMISOM as the probable leader in developing a system, given the broad agreement among AU leadership to minimize civilian casualties and properly respond to the harm it creates, as well as its role in mentoring Somali Transitional Federal Government (TFG) forces. The AU will need financial assistance and expert human resources to create the model mechanisms and procedures outlined in the report.

"Prevention of harm always comes first. But if those measures fail, all parties to the conflict with an interest in the well-being of the Somali people should have a response that matches the tragedy they've caused" said NikolausGrubeck, lead researcher and author of the report. "Mechanisms to track, analyze and make amends for civilian harm can and should be created immediately."

Civilians felt that the traditional mechanisms held important lessons for responding appropriately to instances of harm, including focusing on reconciliation for the resolution of disputes and compensation. Respondents also felt that any mechanism should also be compliant with the basic principles of Shari'a law.

"The report provides an important guide in showing what responding to civilian harm in Somalia could look like, incorporating the voices and opinions of civilians on the ground," said UNHCR Somalia Representative Bruno Geddo. "We hope that donors will provide adequate funding to AMISOM to implement its recommendations," he added.

Notes to the editor

UNHCR Somalia Representative Bruno Geddo, primary author of the report Nikolaus Grubeck and Executive Director of CIVIC Sarah Holewinski are available for interview.

The report was drawn from over one hundred interviews with Somali civilians, humanitarian agencies, the UN and international donors, and AMISOM personnel between February and July 2011.

This report does not focus on accountability for violations of human rights and international humanitarian law. Instead it focuses on assistance for civilians legally harmed in warfare; those civilians who are caught in the crossfire and accidentally harmed. There is currently no international legal obligation for warring parties to make amends to these civilians.

CIVIC works on behalf of civilians in war by advocating that warring parties prevent harm and recognize and make amends for civilian losses. CIVIC has worked with the AU and AMISOM on civilian protection policies. www.civicworldwide.org
 

South Sudan Rebels Urge UN to Move Refugees Out of Conflict Zone
Publisher: IHS Global Insight Daily Analysis, UK
Author: Richard Cochrane
Story date: 16/11/2011
Language: English

The rebel South Sudan Liberation Army (SSLA) has urged the UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) to evacuate 15,000 Nuba refugees located near Bentiu in Unity State, saying they are blocking the path of its military advance. In a statement released on 14 November, the SSLA said if they were not contacted by the UNHCR by 20 November, they would launch an attack on Bentiu regardless of the civilian situation in the area. The rebels, who have repeatedly clashed with the South Sudan army in the area, allege that the governor of Unity State, Taban Deng, is refusing to move the refugees so as to secure UN military support when they are caught up in the fighting. The SSLA also criticised Deng for suggesting that they do not have the military capacity to capture Bentiu, citing attacks on Mayom on 28 October and Nhial Diew on 30 October as evidence of their capabilities.

The rebels claim to be fighting the government of South Sudan on behalf of the people of Unity State, pledging to free them from the alleged corruption and misrule of Juba. Sudanese refugees who have fled the fighting across the border in South Kordofan have mostly settled in Unity State and Upper Nile in northern South Sudan.

Significance: It is difficult to accurately assess the progress of the SSLA campaign in Unity State, with the rebels claiming to have won several notable victories, while the South Sudan army dismisses them as a serious threat. The aid group Oxfam last week (12 November) announced that it was withdrawing its staff from two locations in Unity State, citing increased instability in the region; suggesting that the rebels pose a credible threat. South Sudan's President Salva Kiir yesterday (15 November) accused the SSLA of waging a proxy war instigated by the Sudanese government with the intention of taking control of the oil-rich border region between the two countries. Escalating tensions between Sudan and South Sudan risks sparking a large-scale confrontation, as both sides continue to build up their forces along the border.
 

Sudan's Nuba refugees stuck on border, lack aid
Publisher: AFP, Agence France Presse
Author: Hannah McNeish
Story date: 16/11/2011
Language: English

At sunset in Yida refugee camp, the dust settles around the scraps of cloth where market vendors have laid out tiny circles of coffee and spices, hoping to sell enough to buy some food.

Bilal Issa Johar is one of around 25,000 people who fled Sudan's South Kordofan state and sought refuge across the border, in the newly independent south, after fighting erupted in June and his village near Kadugli was bombed.

But then, last Thursday, an Antonov aircraft flew in from the north and dropped five bombs in and around Yida, according to the United Nations, terrifying the residents and causing international outrage.

A large circle forms around Johar, as he speaks for the people in Yida, indigenous non-Arab Nuba who fled from the north and now feel abandoned by the international community, as hunger sets in and services are lacking.

"We are given little food here. All the people here complain about the food because it is not enough... Some of them, they still have nothing," he said.

The former teacher brought enough with him to carve out a small existence in the market, but others came empty handed.

"Some of them, they went back because of this lack of sorghum," Johar added.

Claims of refugees heading back to the war zone echo around the camp.

"We are the same as the refugees in Ethiopia. The UN, they are doing a good job there... But here they forget us," said Hussein Al-Gumbulwa, head of the refugee camp.

Up to 30,000 people have fled across the border into Ethiopia from Sudan's Blue Nile state, after conflict spread from nearby South Kordofan in September.

In both states, Sudan's ruling National Congress Party has been battling militiamen who fought alongside the former southern rebels during their decades-long conflict with the north.

Al-Gumbulwa said the three kilograms (6.6 pounds) of sorghum per person handed out each week "is not enough for a human being to keep living," while around 300 new refugees are arriving daily.

Others left the camp after last week's air strike, which scattered 614 children into the bush, according to educational coordinators there.

Gumbulwa said 200 boys and some families had gone back to South Kordofan, after promises of a school and food in Yida failed to materialise.

On Tuesday, the United Nations flew in a mobile school and 12 tons of food, the equivalent of one day's ration, while three more World Food Programme flights arrived on Wednesday, the first UN aid since the bombing.

Only Samaritan's Purse, which has run the camp since July, and Non-Violent Peace Force aid agencies have kept international staff on the ground.

At Yida's only clinic, people crowd around three dark rooms waiting for medical treatment, even though the shelves are all but empty.

"Many of the drugs like anti-malarial and antibiotics we are lacking," said Chaluma Hassan Ialo, a Sudanese nurse for aid agency Care International, which was bringing in medicines for the World Health Organisation before the bombing.

"Very soon we are going to stop because there is no drug. And the organisations we are working with have not come since the bombing has taken place... up to now," she said.

As another nurse shakes out the last multivitamins from a large pot to hand to a waiting mother, Ialo says food shortages have caused a worrying increase in anaemia and child malnutrition and the clinic is dealing with about 400 people a day.

Samaritan's Purse had appealed for help in October, warning that supplies were running out, and the first UN food delivery had only just taken off when the bombs struck.

Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir has fuelled security fears at Yida by claiming the camp is housing rebels, which aid agencies there is no evidence of, while bomber planes are frequently sighted overhead.

The UN High Commission for Refugees has discussed moving refugees further south to Nyeel, away from the volatile border, but closer to rebel southern militias that threaten Unity state with attacks on civilian areas and the laying of mines.

This week, the SPLA found two anti-tank mines at Tor Junction, on the way to Nyeel.

Some of the refugees are keen to start planting crops, to be able to provide for themselves, but Nuba elders have already deemed the proposed destination unsafe.

"We brought our people here to escape danger... If we are forced to go there, we will go back to (the) Nuba Mountains," said one.
 

Retour des réfugiés ivoiriens vivant au Togo : un accord tripartite signé
Publisher: APA, Agence de Presse Africaine
Story date: 16/11/2011
Language: Français

APA-Lomé (Togo) Un accord tripartite a été signé à Lomé entre le Togo, la Côte d'Ivoire et le Haut commissariat des Nations unies aux réfugiés (HCR) pour le rapatriement volontaire de 5.066 Ivoiriens réfugiés au Togo, suite à des violences postélectorales dans leur pays, a constaté APA.

L'accord a été signé à l'occasion de la visite au Togo du chef de l'Etat ivoirien Alassane Ouattara. Aux termes de cet accord, les réfugiés qui le désirent pourront rentrer volontairement en Côte d'Ivoire.

Selon le HCR, sur les 5.066 Ivoiriens réfugiés au Togo, 2.791 vivent sur des sites construits par l'organisation onusienne et 2.275 dans des familles.

Une délégation de ces réfugiés a rencontré M. Ouattara à qui elle a remis un mémorandum.

''Cette rencontre concrétise les discours que vous avez tenus ces dernières semaines. C'est la preuve que vous tenez à la réconciliation'', a dit Mamadou Chérif, le responsable des réfugiés, s'adressant à Alassane Ouattara.

''Le pays nous manque et nous voulons vite y retourner. Le travail nous manque. Nous voulons vite participer à la reconstruction de notre pays et avec vous nous avons l'assurance que notre place y est'', a-t-il ajouté

Le président ivoirien à encourager ses compatriotes à retourner en Côte d'Ivoire, car le pays s'est déjà remis au travail et la réconciliation est également en marche.

''La signature de l'accord tripartite est une confirmation de notre volonté d'organiser le retour de nos compatriotes qui vivent au Togo. Bien entendu, je comprends les préoccupations des uns et des autres, à cette occasion j'ai indiqué que la réconciliation était en marche au pays et que la Côte d'Ivoire était au travail'', a dit au cours d'une conférence de presse Alassane Ouattara.

Selon lui, toutes les personnes qui ont commis des crimes lors des violences postélectorales en Côte d'Ivoire seront poursuivies quel que soit leur bord.

''Il n'y aura pas de discrimination entre citoyens en Côte d'Ivoire. La justice sera la même pour tous, quelle que soit l'appartenance politique ou autre, à telle ou telle personne. C'est pour cela que nous avons mis en place la commission nationale d'enquête parce que avant de rentrer dans cette phase, il faut nécessairement faire la lumière, également, sur la réalité des faits. On ne peut pas accuser sans preuve. La justice a besoin de s'appuyer sur des faits avant de rendre son jugement'', a conclu M.Ouattara.
 

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