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  • Eritrea under fire at UN review

    Geneva (AFP) - Enforced disappearances, arbitrary detention and torture were just a few of the violations Eritrea was accused of during a UN review of its human rights record Monday.

    Diplomats gathered at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva condemned the isolated and autocratic country's brutal repression of basic rights, charging the lack of freedom was prompting a mass exodus.

    The government of Eritrea's "widespread violation of human rights and the lack of prospects for participatory democracy contribute to large numbers of Eritreans fleeing the country," US representative Peter Mulrean told the assembly.

    He was echoing the concerns of many of the 70 state representatives who spoke at Eritrea's so-called Universal Periodic Review, which all 193 UN countries must undergo every four years.

    Chile and others urged the country to probe all reports of enforced disappearances, Denmark said it had done far too little to eliminate torture, while Estonia lamented the "disregard of freedom of expression."

    Tesfamichael Gerahtu, Eritrea's ambassador to Britain, batted away the slew of charges, insisting that if anything was limiting human rights in Eritrea, it was the "unjustified sanctions" imposed on the country by the international community.

    "To add insult to injury, Eritrea has been subjected to a litany of accusations of gross violations of human rights,... (that) are mainly motivated by sinister political agendas," he told the council.

    Reporters Without Borders has ranked it the worst country in the world for press freedom, but Gerahtu insisted "There is no media censorship in Eritrea."

    He said the 10 journalists and 11 opposition politicians arrested in a 2001 crackdown -- many of whom have since died in custody while others are still being held in secrete locations "were not detained because they expressed their ideas, (but because of) treason."

    "I wish there had been a lie-detector device there. It was a mockery," exiled Eritrean journalist and writer Dessale Berekhet Abraham told AFP after listening to the session.

    The 38-year-old who now lives in Norway said he knew Gerahtu well -- he was once his teacher at Eritrea's Revolution School -- and that he didn't take the "lies" personally.

    "What else could he say if he wants to go back to Eritrea?" he asked.

    Gerahtu meanwhile called on the UN diplomats to focus on Eritrea's progress in areas like reducing maternal and child mortality rates and in fighting HIV, as well as its 2007 law banning female genital mutilation.

    And, he said, the country would hold its first free elections since it won independence from Ethiopia in 1993 and implement a 1997 constitution once the threats against its "national security" had dissipated.

    "Eritrea's security situation does not and never has justified the denial of basic human rights to its people," the British representative said.

    Only when the country has a democratically elected government and a constitution that ensures basic rights "will Eritreans stop fleeing," he added.

    The UN refugee agency has registered more than 300,000 Eritreans refugees in neighbouring countries, with thousands fleeing every month, often under very dangerous conditions.

    Eritreans, along with Somalis, accounted for most of the more than 300 migrants who perished in a boat tragedy off Italy's Lampedusa last October.

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  • Egyptian minister of Irrigation: Ethiopia should build ‘smaller dam’

    If Ethiopia wants to generate electricity, it should build a smaller dam, Minister of Irrigation Mohammad Abdul Muttalib said Monday, according to state-owned Al-Ahram.

    The remarks came during a visit to Sharqeya governorate to inaugurate a number of water pumping stations. There, the minister stressed that Ethiopia’s planned Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) should “work with higher efficiency without harming other countries,” asserting that the current dam’s current efficiency levels do not exceed 30%.

    Irrigation ministry spokesman Khaled Wassif said, “The minister meant they should build two small dams. This way they could generate electricity and not affect the water.”

    The minister added that the Egyptian government is “employing several means to inform the world about the reality of the situation… in the Renaissance Dam crisis”, adding that “Egypt has always aimed at the development of the Nile Basin.”

    The matter of the GERD has been disputed upon since its construction began in April 2011. Egypt and Sudan particularly expressed concern about the effect of the dam on their water allocation, with the former sending a delegation to Ethiopia in 2011 to inspect the site and the plans for the dam. In September 2012, Egypt denied allegations of plotting an airstrike on the dam.

    According to the state-run news agency MENA, the Ethiopian prime minister has promised the state will not allow the dam to affect Egypt’s share of the water, stressing that the dam serves only to generate electricity.

    The Ethiopian foreign ministry was not available to comment on the minister’s remark.

    source: dailynewsegypt

    If Ethiopia wants to generate electricity, it should build a smaller dam, Minister of Irrigation Mohammad Abdul Muttalib said Monday, according to state-owned Al-Ahram.

    The remarks came during a visit to Sharqeya governorate to inaugurate a number of water pumping stations. There, the minister stressed that Ethiopia’s planned Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) should “work with higher efficiency without harming other countries,” asserting that the current dam’s current efficiency levels do not exceed 30%.

    Irrigation ministry spokesman Khaled Wassif said, “The minister meant they should build two small dams. This way they could generate electricity and not affect the water.”

    The minister added that the Egyptian government is “employing several means to inform the world about the reality of the situation… in the Renaissance Dam crisis”, adding that “Egypt has always aimed at the development of the Nile Basin.”

    The matter of the GERD has been disputed upon since its construction began in April 2011. Egypt and Sudan particularly expressed concern about the effect of the dam on their water allocation, with the former sending a delegation to Ethiopia in 2011 to inspect the site and the plans for the dam. In September 2012, Egypt denied allegations of plotting an airstrike on the dam.

    According to the state-run news agency MENA, the Ethiopian prime minister has promised the state will not allow the dam to affect Egypt’s share of the water, stressing that the dam serves only to generate electricity.

    The Ethiopian foreign ministry was not available to comment on the minister’s remark.

    - See more at: http://www.dailynewsegypt.com/2014/02/03/ethiopia-build-smaller-dam-minister-irrigation/#sthash.hqDabVnj.dpuf
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  • Eight Business benefits of resuming economic relations between Ethiopia and Eritrea

    Ethiopia and Eritrea ceased business relations upon the commencement of the border war in 1998. While a small amount of barter trade still exists, it is fair to say that trade relations between the two countries are non-existent – this is very much to the detriment of the private sectors in both countries (and across the region).

    Since the closure of the border, the economic fortunes of Ethiopia and Eritrea could hardly have been more divergent. While both remain poor countries in terms of per capita wealth, Ethiopia has been among the fastest and growing countries in the world averaging a steady 10% per annum growth for the past nine years. Conversely, as per the chart below, Eritrea has suffered vast fluctuations in its economic growth from a low of – 9% in 2008 to the 2012 level of + 7.5%.

    Ethiopia has also been a leader in Africa in terms of infrastructure development, especially in the construction of roads, power infrastructure and water supply. Eritrea has endeavoured to rebuild its transportation infrastructure after the border war but progress has been slowed by inaccessibility of finance.  In terms of education, Ethiopia has built dozens of institutions of higher education in the past 10 years and has begun to develop a work force that is increasingly in demand by manufacturers from Turkey, China and India. Despite promising signs of self reliance immediately after Independence, Eritrea continues to find its work force diminished due to emigration and military service.

    Last, Ethiopia is rapidly modernizing its domestic and export agriculture whereas as Eritrea still relies on subsistence methods of production – albeit while eschewing food aid.

    As a business consultant who has worked on investment in both countries, I am confident that a comprehensive settlement of disputes that underlie the 1998-2000 border war and normalization of economic relations will create myriad benefits, including:

    Read the rest from africanarguments

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  • Khat: What impact will UK herb stimulant ban have?

    Home Secretary Theresa May is banning a herb called khat, a stimulant chewed by large sections of the Somali community and grown mainly in East Africa.

    The UK is the biggest western importer of the plant, which in the next few months will become classified as a class C drug.

    Alex Miller, editor-in-chief of Vice UK, looked into the use of the substance and the potential impact of the ban in a report on BBC Newsnight.

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  • Egypt may take Nile dam dispute with Ethiopia to UN

    After all attempts to solve the Egyptian-Ethiopian crisis over the Renaissance Dam at the negotiating table ended in failure after a third round of negotiations on Jan. 4, with Egypt withdrawing from the discussions and conferences being held in Khartoum, there is now talk at the governmental level about internationalizing the issue. At the same time, Egypt is witnessing rising popular demands to resort to the UN Security Council to establish Egypt’s right to veto the establishment of the Renaissance Dam, given the potential danger it represents to Egyptian water security.

    Khalid Wasif, the official spokesman for the minister of irrigation and water resources, revealed to Al-Monitor that Egypt has “begun to explore international channels for setting up alternative diplomatic and political tracks to ward off the dangers that might afflict the country if the Renaissance Dam is built, in light of the announced specifications of the dam.” He emphasized, “Egypt will not allow the dam to be built and will move to rally international pressure to prevent it from being funded. Moreover, Cairo will work [to secure] a public declaration by the international community rejecting the dam’s completion, in the absence of [Ethiopian] guarantees that Egypt and Egyptians will not suffer any loss in water security, nor will the other states of the Nile Basin. Egypt has rights guaranteed by international law and agreements, which the Ethiopian side is not respecting.”

    Wasif added, “According to existing agreements governing the river — which require upriver states to notify Egypt in advance and obtain its consent prior to embarking on any projects that would affect the Nile sources — Egypt’s is the stronger legal position. Yet, Egypt has nevertheless insisted upon resolving the issue in a friendly manner, through reciprocal dialogue with the Ethiopian side, devoid of any escalation. But the government in Addis Ababa has shown no appreciation for this fact. Thus, Egypt has refused to continue the latest Khartoum meetings, given Ethiopia’s insistence on not providing the necessary guarantees that Egypt’s share of the water supply will remain secure.”

    Read more from al-monitor

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