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UN Begs Ethiopia’s Neighbours To Keep Borders Open For Refugees

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The Office of UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said on Wednesday that it is working with Sudanese authorities to help more than 7,000 refugees who have fled Ethiopia in recent days, following major clashes in the Tigray region of the country.

The UN refugee agency and local authorities are screening and registering people arriving in Sudan.

“We are urging Governments in the neighbouring countries to keep their borders open for people forced from their homes,” said UNHCR Regional Bureau Director Clementine Nkweta-Salami.

Since 2018, when Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed was elected and merged several ethnically-based regional parties into a single national force, regional and political tensions have risen, amidst an ambitious reform programme.

Violence erupted last week in Tigray involving federal and local forces, following the reported takeover of an army base in the Tigrayan capital, Mekelle, after which the Prime Minister ordered a military offensive and the cabinet declared a six-month state of emergency.

In a statement issued at that time, the UN Secretary-General called for “immediate measures to de-escalate tensions and ensure a peaceful resolution to the dispute”.

Prior to that, dozens in the western Oromia region of the country were killed and injured during brutal attacks.

As Ethiopian refugees are also fleeing over the border into other countries, UNHCR is stepping up its preparations for emergency relief by working with governments and partners.

With thousands of refugees arriving at the Sudanese border and with the conflict appearing to escalate, UNHCR projected that the number is likely to rise sharply.

“This will require a significant mobilization of resources to address the needs of those seeking asylum,” the UN agency said.

Inside the country, UNHCR expressed deep concern for the more than 96,000 Eritreans who are living in four refugee camps and the host community living alongside them.

Moreover, they are also worried about 100,000 people in Tigray who were already internally displaced at the start of the conflict.

Mr. Nkweta-Salami said that UNHCR has asked Ethiopian authorities to “take steps that will allow us to keep providing assistance in safety to refugees and internally displaced within Tigray”.

Meanwhile, many roads are blocked and electricity, phone and internet services are down, making communication nearly impossible, according to UNHCR.

And there is a shortage of fuel, while some shopping and banking services have halted, resulting in cash shortages.

While camps are not in the immediate conflict zone, due to their relative proximity to the fighting and the deteriorating situation, UNHCR remains worried about the safety of refugees and humanitarian workers.

Furthermore, access to refugees and others affected by the conflict remains a concern, including lack of access to border areas.

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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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