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20,000 Flee Ethiopia’s Conflict into Sudan

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The number of people who have fled into Sudan from the conflict in Ethiopia’s Tigray region has risen to at least 20,000, the U.N. refugee agency said on Sunday.

More than 12,500 crossed at Hamdayat and nearly 7,500 to the south at al-Luqdi between Nov. 7-14, according to UNHCR data.

Local and U.N. agencies are trying to assist the refugees, who have been arriving in growing numbers with few possessions or provisions.

On Saturday, Ethiopians fleeing war in the northern Tigray region reportedly crossed a border river into neighbouring Sudan, some in boats, some swimming or wading through the water to the Sudanese border town of Hamdayat.

The refugees gave accounts of the escalating conflict in Tigray state, where Ethiopian government forces are battling fighters loyal to rebellious local leaders.

Hamdayat, a small town, is home to a camp hosting 8,000 refugees. Several hundred arrived on Saturday morning with hundreds more crowded onto the rocky bank of the Tekeze river.

Refugees told stories of artillery attacks and shooting in the streets, with fighting spilling over into neighbouring Amhara state.

With access blocked to Tigray and communications largely down, it was impossible to verify the state of the conflict or to corroborate the refugees’ accounts.

On Thursday, the UN Refugee Agency said witnessed a significant increase in numbers of asylum seekers, with over 11,000 having crossed the border into Eastern Sudan from the Tigray region in Ethiopia.

“The recent development has led to a new refugee situation. Every effort counts to ensure the safety of the thousands of men, women and children seeking safety in Sudan,” says Axel Bisschop, UNHCR Representative in Sudan.

UNHCR is coordinating closely with other UN agencies, non-governmental organisations and partners to support the Sudanese Government and local authorities in carrying out an urgent response to register and facilitate the transportation of the new arrivals to temporary reception centres away from the border.

At the reception centres, everyone is working together to provide people with food and water. Due to the scale of arrivals, UNHCR and the Government have identified a new site which is currently being prepared to host the arrivals. A UNHCR mission is deployed at the border and is continuously monitoring the situation.

The sudden escalation has created an urgent need for further assistance and services at the refugee sites, such as shelter, water and food. UNHCR and partners are mobilizing and deploying additional resources to the border areas to accommodate the arrivals.

Eastern Sudan is already hosting about 100,000 refugees, with the majority coming from Eritrea.

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Kenya Planning To Destabilise Somalia, Minister Alleges

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Osman Abukar Dubbe, the Minister for Information Culture & Tourism of The Federal Republic of Somalia, has accused neighbouring Kenya of plotting to destabilise his country as it prepares for general elections.

Dubbe accused Kenya of political interference and hosting opposition leaders in Nairobi.

Politicians from Somalia’s southern Jubbaland regional state were among those who have previously held meetings in Nairobi amid discussions over Somalia’s 2020/2021 elections.

Speaking during a press conference broadcast live on the Facebook page of the state TV, Dubbe said, “We respect Kenya, appreciate our neighbourliness and mutual interest. On our side, we always uphold these principles. However, Kenya seems not to be interested in that but rather wants to pursue an inappropriate daydream and is a state focused on ambitions to pursue taking the Somali land and waters.

“Mogadishu has never hosted a single opposition politician from Kenya, who want to create tension in our neighbours, but instead, Nairobi has become a base where attacks on Somalia are launched from. It has become the base where agreements reached inside Somalia are violated.

“(Nairobi) has become a place where plans to cause political tensions intended to destabilise the emerging governance in our country… That is why we had recalled our ambassador from Nairobi for consultation,” the information minister said.

Dubbe also said al-Shabab seized territories in southern Somalia after the Kenyan Defence Forces that are part of AU Mission in Somalia (Amisom) withdrew from strategic towns in the region.

“After the Kenyan forces withdrew from the towns without informing anybody they were seized (by al-Shabab). Imagine the problems the Somali people who lived there experienced. Is that something we can ignore. Go and ask the residents in Fahfadhun what had happened to them,” the minister told reporters in Mogadishu.

On Monday 30 November, the Somali federal government recalled its ambassador to Nairobi and asked Kenya’s ambassador to Mogadishu “to depart for consultations”.

The Kenyan Ministry of Foreign Affairs denied reports that it is interfering in Somalia’s internal and political affairs.

Relations between Kenya and Somalia have been marred in recent years largely due to a maritime dispute over a 150,000 square kilometre area in the Indian Ocean rich in oil and gas deposits.

According to the National Electoral Commission, Somalia will hold presidential elections on February 8, 2021, which will be preceded by legislative elections from December 1 to 27, 202.

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Uganda Presidential Election: Bobi Wine Resumes Campaign Tomorrow

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Bobi Wine, the candidate of the National Unity Platform (NUP) in the forthcoming Ugandan presidential election, has said he will resume campaigning on Thursday.

Bobi Wine, a former reggae musician whose real name is Robert Kyagulanyi, said this after a meeting with the electoral commission on Wednesday.

He told reporters that he had asked the electoral body to protect opposition politicians from harassment by the security forces.

The 38-year-old had requested a meeting with the Electoral Commission chairman, Simon Byabakama after police blocked him from holding a campaign rally at Budondo sub-county headquarters in Jinja city.

Security operatives were also said to have fired live bullets at Bobi Wine and some of his supporters. A bullet was said to have hit the tyres of the presidential candidate’s car.

Kyagulanyi told journalists that since he started his campaign, security personnel have continued to harass him and the Electoral Commission has remained silent on the matter.

“I have been forced to think that the electoral commission has lost track of this race and left us to be tormented and disrespected by security organs which are meant to be protecting us,” he said on Tuesday.

At the meeting, Bobi Wine told Byabakama to ensure that the security forces stop blocking roads and venues to prevent opposition candidates from campaigning.

The police have repeatedly defended themselves, saying they were implementing guidelines to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

Uganda will hold its election in January 2021.

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Tigray Crisis: Top Official Linked To TPLF Surrenders – Ethiopian Govt

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The Ethiopian government said on Tuesday that the former speaker of the House of Federation, Keria Ibrahim, who was one of the top officials of Tigray Peoples Liberation Front (TPLF) has surrendered.

Ibrahim is one of nine executive committee members of TPLF, whose forces have been fighting government troops for the past month.

She served as speaker of the House of Federation, Ethiopia’s upper parliamentary chamber, before resigning in June after the planned August election was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

At the time, Ms Ibrahim accused Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed of running a “dictatorial regime” and violating the constitution.

In September TPLF went on and held its local elections, a move that angered the Federal Government.

Mr Ahmed launched a military offensive in Tigray on 4th November, accusing TPLF leaders of treason after its fighters attacked a government military base.

The month-long conflict has killed hundreds and displaced thousands of people.

Despite the PM announcing over the weekend that the military campaign was over and successful, fighting is reportedly still ongoing in parts of Tigray region.

It has been difficult to verify claims from the Federal and Tigray regional governments because communication is heavily hampered.

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