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Ethiopia Asked Tigrayan Forces To Surrender



The Ethiopian government has urged Tigrayan forces to surrender, as federal troops battle to take control of the region.

This comes as parliament has voted to strip dozens of MP’s from Tigray of their immunity from prosecution.

The fighting, which began over a week ago, is reported to have killed hundreds of combatants on both sides.

Ethiopia’s federal government is sounding confident. Defence Minister Kenea Yadeta said it would not be long before the leaders in Tigray, from the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) party, were on trial.

He talked of appointing an interim administration in areas taken by federal troops.

But with all telecommunication switched off it is hard to verify what has been happening since the fighting began.

Both sides have been speaking of success and are also accusing the other of committing atrocities.

What is clear is that civilians are suffering. Thousands have fled to Sudan.

The UN fears a major emergency may be brewing and says its negotiating with both sides to enable humanitarian corridors to be opened.

Business News

Rwanda Cancels Plan to Increase RwandAir Fleet

The government says expansion of the airline’s fleet will wait until business goes back to normal.



Rwanda has announced that it is putting on hold the acquisition of new airplanes for its national carrier RwandAir, mainly due to the impact of Covid-19 on businesses.

The additional planes were to enable RwandAir serve the increasingly opened skies through the Bilateral Air Services Agreement (BASA).

Due to the global pandemic, RwandAir was forced to suspend operations following the lockdown in March, and only resumed operations in August when the country started a gradual re-opening of the economy.

The airline has gradually re-opened routes, though passenger occupancy remains low as some parts of the world remain in a lockdown while in other countries, travel remain restricted.

The government says expansion of the airline’s fleet will wait until business goes back to normal.

RwandAir currently has 12 airplanes including two Boeing 737-700NG, two Bombardier CRJ-900 NextGen, four Boeing 737-800NG, two Bombardier Q-400 NextGen, one Airbus A330 – 300, and one Airbus A330 – 200.

Before the pandemic hit, the airline had planned to lease two Airbus A330neo and two Boeing 737 Max 8.

Read also: Rwanda, Qatar sign aviation pact

Rwanda’s Minister of Infrastructure Claver Gatete says “Even the planes we have are not being used to the maximum due to the Covid-19. We have to wait until the passengers are free to keep travelling in a safer environment, so that we can now expand as we cannot expand in this environment.”

He spoke during a press briefing on Friday after signing a bilateral air services agreement (BASA) with the Republic of Korea, bringing the total to 101 BASAs within and outside Africa. Out of these, 52 have been ratified, 17 signed, and 32 initiated.

According to the airline’s earlier plans, the A330neos were to be deployed on long-haul routes to Guangzhou, China, and New York, as well as boost capacity to Dubai, Lagos, and Johannesburg.

RwandAir recently secured clearance to serve New York on code-share and wet-lease basis; an arrangement where one airline provides an aircraft, complete crew, maintenance, and insurance to another airline or other type of business acting as a broker of air travel (the lessee), which pays by hours operated.

The 737 Max 8s were scheduled to serve Tel Aviv in Israel, and other regional flights such as Addis Ababa in Ethiopia.

Despite the halting of airplane acquisitions, the government says infrastructure investment to support the aviation sector will continue.
Qatar is set to acquire 60 per cent stake in RwandAir and is expected to complete construction of Bugesera Airport.

According to Gatete, negotiations with Qatar have advanced, and inking the deal between the two parties should take place anytime soon, under which the construction work should take off.

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East Africa News

Tigray Conflict: Sudan Shows Traditional Hospitality to Refugees – UN



The United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) Commissioner, Filippo Grandi, has visited some refugee camps near the Sudanese borders with Ethiopia where over 43,000 Ethiopians fleeing from fighting in their homeland have arrived in Sudan.

Grandi says urgent assistance is needed for the refugees, most of whom are children

“I am in Sudan and visiting areas near the Ethiopian border, where 43,000 refugees from Ethiopia’s Tigray region have arrived so far,.” said UNHCR Commissioner, Filippo Grandi, shortly after landing in Kasala, one of the areas hosing the Ethiopian refugees.

“Sudan once again is showing its traditional hospitality to people in need — and urgently requires international assistance to support its efforts,” the UN High Commissioner, Mr Grandi, tweeted on Friday.

Meanwhile, the UNHCR spokesperson, Babar Baloch, told the international media at the Palais des Nations in Geneva, that the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, is visiting Khartoum as the country is receiving a growing number of refugees from Ethiopia.

The Spokesperson said since the start of fighting in Ethiopia’s northern Tigray region in early November, more than 43,000 refugees have crossed into Sudan seeking protection and shelter.

The spokesperson stressed that “even before this influx, the country was hosting nearly one million refugees, mainly from South Sudan”.

The Spokesperson said in eastern Sudan, UNHCR continues to ramp up its relief effort together with Sudan’s Commission on Refugees and local authorities amidst complex logistical challenges.

“Aid is being mobilized to help refugees almost half of whom are children. Humanitarian agencies continue to provide shelter and other facilities to help refugees but more resources are required and Sudan needs international support urgently,“ the UN official underlined.

Already, UNHCR has helped relocate nearly 10,000 refugees to the Um Rakuba site, 70 km further from the border inside Sudan, as work continues to put up shelters and improve services.

The spokesman announced that on Friday “a plane carrying 32 tons of UNHCR emergency aid from our global stockpile in Dubai landed in Khartoum”, adding that another airlift is scheduled to leave Dubai on Monday with 100 tons of additional relief items. UNHCR’s global stockpile is hosted by the International Humanitarian City in Dubai (IHC). “In total, we plan to send four airlifts”.

“Today’s cargo included 5,000 blankets, 4,500 solar lamps, 2,900 mosquito nets, 200 plastic sheets and 200 plastic rolls. A second airlift will carry 1,275 family tents and 10 prefabricated warehouses. This aid will meet the immediate shelter needs of more than 16,000 people. The transportation costs of both flights were generously covered by the Government of United Arab Emirates. The UNHCR said as workers in the ground started complaining that with almost two weeks elapsing since the arrival of the refugees, very little was done on the ground.”

The UN body has meanwhile complained that inside Tigray region, concerns are growing for the safety of civilians in the conflict, particularly in its capital, Mekele, home to more than 500,000 people.

“UNHCR remains concerned as the humanitarian situation continues to worsen in Tigray, including for those displaced and for some 96,000 Eritrean refugees who will run out of food as soon as Monday if supplies cannot reach them. We join other humanitarian agencies to reiterate our call for the protection of civilians and immediate humanitarian access in order to resume the delivery of life sustaining assistanc,” the UNHCR complained.

However, the office of the Ethiopian Prime Minister, Abyei Ahmed, tweeted that the leaders of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front are seeking to manipulate the international community into backing a power-sharing deal that grants it impunity for past crimes.

The Prime Minister underlined that the overall safety and well-being of the people of Tigray is of paramount importance to the Federal government and “we will do all that is necessary to ensure stability prevails in the Tigray region and that our citizens are free from harm and want.”

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East Africa News

Three-Year-Drought Pushes 1.5 Million People Into Hunger In Southern Madagascar



UN’s World Food Programme (WFP) says a three-year drought in southern Madagascar has pushed 1.5 million people – over half of the population – into crisis and in need of emergency food and nutrition assistance.

Those affected include 75,000 pregnant and breastfeeding women. Also, 100,000 children aged under 5 are in danger of acute malnutrition with about 19,000 appearing to be in a ‘severe’ situation.

The WFP said the number of people in need of assistance had tripled in the past few months.

In the worst-hit area of Amboasary, three-quarters of children have dropped out of school to help their parents look for food.

Some people are exchanging essential household items, such as cooking utensils, for food.

The WFP said about $35m is needed to avert catastrophe in the area in the coming months

WFP’s Aina Andrianalizaha, who is visiting affected areas, said people are digging into the sand to find water “but rarely find any”, adding that “they have to walk several kilometres from their villages or hamlets to fetch water”

She added: “They can no longer plant and have, as a result, come to offer to exchange their scarce cooking utensils for a piece of cassava.”

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