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  • U.N. to plant 1 million trees in Gambella

    ROME, Feb 8 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - A million trees are to be planted in Ethiopia to fight deforestation around camps hosting hundreds of thousands of South Sudanese refugees who rely almost entirely on wood for fuel, a United Nations agency said on Wednesday.

    A view over part of Tierkidi refugee camp, hosting almost 50,000 south Sudanese refugees, mostly from the Nuer ethnic group in the Gambella region of western Ethiopia. Photo credit:

    The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said the trees would be planted on 150 hectares of land in Ethiopia's western Gambella region to meet the growing refugee population's demand for energy.

    Almost 300,000 people, mostly women and children, have found shelter in Ethiopia since conflict erupted in South Sudan in December 2013.

    Fires used by the refugees for cooking are fuelled almost entirely by chopped wood, putting considerable pressure on local forests, FAO energy and forestry expert Arturo Gianvenuti said.

    "Imagine tens of thousands of people - the population of a small city - who suddenly arrive in a location and start using forest resources," Gianvenuti told the Thomson Reuters Foundation in an interview. "The impact is visible".

    The depletion of forests risks creating tensions with local communities and disrupting the ecosystem, as trees stabilize the climate, regulate water flows and provide shelter to numerous animal species, according to the FAO.

    It also exposes refugee women to the risk of sexual abuse as they have to walk long distances in isolated areas to fetch firewood, Gianvenuti said.

    To address some of these issues, the FAO plans to set up nurseries for fast-growing trees, like Leucaena and Eucalyptus, to supply refugees from four camps in Gambella with wood, he said.

    The FAO and U.N. refugee agency (UNHCR) have also agreed to monitor deforestation with high resolution satellite images and train local craftsmen to produce energy-saving clay stoves that would cut wood consumption by up to 25 percent, Gianvenuti said.

    FAO also plans to monitor deforestation in Uganda, which has received 600,000 South Sudanese refugees so far, he added.

    South Sudan plunged into civil war in December 2013 after a long-running feud between President Salva Kiir and his former deputy, Riek Machar, exploded into violence, often along ethnic lines.

    The conflict has driven more than 3 million people from their homes and 600,000 more are expected to be displaced in 2017, according to U.N. estimates. (Reporting by Umberto Bacchi @UmbertoBacchi, Editing by Katie Nguyen.; Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women's rights, trafficking, property rights, climate change and resilience.

    Source: Reuters


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  • Ethiopia's ex-minister in race to become Africa's first WHO boss

    Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Ethiopia’s immediate past Foreign Affairs Minister is getting close to becoming the first African to fill the position of Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO).

    He made the final shortlist of three candidates picked by the WHO’s Executive Board. The next head of the global health outfit will be picked from the three.

    51-year-old Tedros is joined by the United Kingdom’s nominee 67-year-old Dr David Nabarro and 53-year-old Pakistani Dr Sania Nishtar. Tedros is seen as Africa’s candidate and he has gone round the continent meeting leaders to solicit for their support.

    He served in two ministerial capacities back home over the last twelve years. First, as a Minister of Health for eight years before taking the top diplomatic portfolio for the last four years.

    Last year he wrote on his official facebook handle: ‘‘I have been humbled to serve my country in many positions …… I am extremely grateful to the Ethiopian people and the Government of Ethiopia for allowing me to serve our great country.

    ‘‘I also thank the Government of Ethiopia for letting me now focus on my candidacy for Director-General of the World Health Organization,’‘ he added.

    He was replaced as Foreign Affairs Minister by Workneh Gebeyehu, who was formerly Transport Minister. Ethiopia’s foreign relations have taken a hit in the past year following heavy security clampdown on anti-government protesters in the Oromo and Amhara regions.

    The election of a new WHO boss has been necessitated by the imminent exit of Margaret Chan. All Member States will choose among the three nominees by voting at the World Health Assembly in May 2017. The new Director-General will take office on 1 July 2017.

    The Director-General is WHO’s chief technical and administrative officer and oversees the organization’s international health work. The current Director-General, Dr Margaret Chan, was appointed in 2006 and will complete her second term on 30 June next year.

    Source: africanews

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  • Sudan donates two buses to Addis Ababa University

    January 2, 2017 (ADDIS ABABA) - The Sudanese government has donated two buses to the state-owned Addis Ababa University.

    The country’s oldest institution, in a statement, said the donations followed a pledge made by the Sudanese president in July.

    Speaking at the handover occasion in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, Sudan’s Ambassador to Ethiopia, Jamal el-Sheikh Ahmed, said the donation symbolizes the gift of cooperation and long standing relations between the two neighbouring countries.

    Ahmed said Ethiopia and Sudan have historic and cordial relations based on mutual interest, vowing to work on cultural exchanges between students of Khartoum and Addis Ababa universities.

    The university’s president, Prof. Admasu Tsegaye expressed gratitude for the donation, saying the two buses would ease the transport problems faced during field trips to industries and the business firms.

    He said the university was committed to further bolster cooperation with Khartoum University and other higher institutions within Sudan.

    Each of the two buses, Sudan Tribune has learnt, was valued at up to $50,000.

    President Omer Hassan al-Bashir pledged the donation when he received the "African Dignity Champions award" during the African dignity forum held at Addis Ababa University’s Nelson Mandela hall.

    The Sudanese leader was honoured with the accolade in recognition for his contributions towards adopting principles that reject modern slavery and foreign interventions in African affairs.

    Also recognized at the occasion was Ethiopian Prime Minister, Hailemariam Desalegn for pushing for an African solution to its problems.

    The forum is a partnership between the United Nations University of Peace, Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural organizations, the Addis Ababa University’s Peace and Conflict Studies Institute and the Sudanese Peace and Human Rights Center.

    Source: ST

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  • Nile Politics: Where does Eritrea fit?

    In his recent visit to Egypt, Isaias was received at the airport in Cairo by the president of the council of ministers and by the minister of irrigation. The presence of the irrigation minister is significant since Egypt’s irrigation is synonymous to the Nile. If the visit was expected to be provocative, it achieved more than that. The fact that of all the ministers Egypt would send the irrigation minister to receive Isaias is possibly a calculated gesture given the current frustrated Egyptian agitation against the GERD. The visit must have appeared as a threat to Ethiopia even if it was not intended to be so.

    That incident would implicate Eritrea as a suspect simply because the policy of Isaias Afwerki and his government has always been focused on finding a way to entangle Eritrea in conflicts that has no dividend for the Eritrean people.

    For years, the Eritrean regime has been helplessly cajoling one side or the other to immerse itself in the Yemeni crisis. Finally, with a mediation by Sudan’s AlBashir, who plunged into the Yemeni fray earlier, Isaias attempted to be part of the Saudi led alliance in Yemen in a very humiliating manner and failed. Yet, he never gave up, but continued to cajole the UAE at the expense of Qatar, his only loyal friend in the region.


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  • UN: "Two Eritrean Airforce Captains Missing In Italy"

    In  a report is issued on 31 October 2016, the UN Somalia-Eritrea Monitoring Group (UNSEMG) stated that two Eritrean Airforce captains didn’t report to the Italian Embassy in Asmara, Eritrea after their travel to Italy.

    According to the report, those who are granted visa by the embassy to visit Italy are required to report to the embassy to acknowledge their return.

    Italian authorities confirmed to the UNSEMG that Major General Teklai Habteselassie the chief of the air force, and Major Yonas Tesfai Tedla, a member of the delegation, have left Italy on September 9, 2016. However, as of the same date, the two helicopter pilots in the delegation, Captain Yonas Henok Ghebretensae and Captain Asmerom Amanuel Gebremedhin, “had not presented themselves for obligatory return check procedures at the Embassy of Italy in Asmara” and have not applied for asylum in Italy.

    The report added, “given that they were in possession of Schengen visas, the pilots would have been able to travel to any of the 26 European countries within the Schengen area.”

    The two captains are believed to have absconded in Italy but travelled to other European countries.

    Private sources informed Gedab News that last year, the Eritrean regime hired an unknown number of technicians from Romania and Ukraine to modify the weapon mounts of its helicopters. The sources added, “Major General Teklai was in Italy to meet arms dealers to procure ammunition and rockets for the helicopters.”

    In a similar flight incident, the Associated Press reported two weeks ago the defection of two Eritrean pilots with their fighter jet to neighboring Ethiopia. The Eritrean government media have not reported any of the two incidents.

    Read more at Awate

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