Africa
Ethiopia

Ethiopian regions battle starvation

Nearly 400 people have died of starvation in Ethiopia’s Tigray and Amhara regions in recent months, according to the national ombudsman. This is a rare admission of hunger-related deaths by a federal body—the government normally dismisses famine warnings as “politicking.” Despite the lifting of a nationwide food aid freeze imposed by USAID and the World Food Program over large-scale government-linked food thefts, just 14% of 3.2 million people targeted for food relief in Tigray received rations last month. There have reportedly been technical problems over fitting GPS trackers to food trucks and putting QR codes on ration cards. A lack of money is also an issue: the UN called on donors last month to urgently ramp up funding to avoid a catastrophe in Tigray, Amhara, Afar, Oromia, and southern Ethiopia, where some 4 million people need immediate food aid. (Map via EthioVisit)

Africa
Somaliland

Regional lines drawn over Somaliland conflict

Addis Ababa held talks on military cooperation with Somaliland, after announcing a controversial deal on sea access through the self-governing but unrecognized republic. As the talks began, Somalia’s President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud visited Eritrea (Ethiopia’s regional rival) seeking support for his harsh opposition to the deal, decried as a step toward recognition of Somaliland’s independence. President Mohamud also signed a law nullifying the New Year’s Day memorandum of understanding (MoU) between the governments of Ethiopia and Somaliland, which grants the landlocked regional power a corridor to Somaliland’s port of Berbera. The Somaliland government, based in Hargeisa, claims full sovereignty, and does not recognize Mogadishu’s jurisdiction over the territory. (Map: Somalia Country Profile)

Watching the Shadows
computer smash

Podcast: for a meme moratorium

Meta has tweaked the Facebook algorithm to sideline links to news articles and boost “memes“—precisely the format most subject to the fabrications and distortions being aggressively peddled by both sides (yes) in the Gaza conflict. Such propaganda has already been implicated in genocide in Burma and Ethiopia. But even apart from such egregious abuses, memes are dumbing down discourse and entrenching groupthink and dogmatism—and are being pushed by Meta as part of its sinister corporate design to enclose the internet. In Episode 207 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg calls for a total moratorium on posting or sharing memes as a means of pressure on Meta to re-emphasize actual news articles, and deep-six the war propaganda. Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon. (Image: Earth First! Newswire)

Planet Watch
displaced

El Niño’s global food fallout

El Niño will drive global food aid needs even higher in the coming months, a new analysiswarns. The prediction comes as food aid agencies are already making ration cuts amid a budget squeeze. In July, meteorologists declared the onset of El Niño, a periodic climate phenomenon that usually brings drought to large stretches of the globe and wetter weather elsewhere. The analysis by the Famine Early Warning Systems Network says that humanitarian groups must prepare for “high food assistance needs.” Another climate phenomenon, the Indian Ocean Dipole, could amplify El Niño’s effects—with both compounded by the climate crisis. This September was the hottest ever recorded. “The temperature anomalies are enormous—far bigger than anything we have ever seen in the past,” Petteri Taalas, head of the UN’s meteorological agency, WMO, said in a press release. (Photo of displaced families in Somalia: UN Photo/Tobin Jones via Flickr)

Greater Middle East
Yemen

Saudi border guards massacre Ethiopian refugees

Saudi Arabian border guards have killed hundreds of Ethiopian migrants and asylum-seekers attempting to cross the border from Yemen, according to a report from Human Rights Watch. The report documented incidents between March 2022 and June 2023, based on interviews with migrants, satellite imagery, and social media posts. According to the report, Saudi border guards used explosive weapons such as mortars against migrants, and shot them at close range with live ammunition. Border guards reportedly fired on people even when they complied with orders. HRW called the recent pattern of killings a change from “an apparent practice of occasional shootings” to “widespread and systematic killings.” (Map via PCL)

Africa
ethiopia

Ethiopia: Eritrean forces still in Tigray?

Eritrea lodged a diplomatic protest with the United Kingdom after the British ambassador to Ethiopia publicly called “for Eritrean forces to withdraw completely back to their own borders.” Eritrean forces intervened in support of Ethiopia’s federal government during the two-year war in northern Tigray region, but supposedly withdrew after last year’s ceasefire. Asmara’s diplomatic statement decried “unwarranted remarks” by the ambassador, without explicitly stating that it no longer has forces in Tigray. A day earlier, the UK Minister of State for Development & Africa issued a finding that “Eritrean forces remaining in Tigray present an obstacle to the overall objective of peace and stability within the region.” The controversy comes 10 months after a formal ceasefire in Tigray that has led to a reduction of violence in the region, although rights abuses and a humanitarian crisis persist, exacerbated by a devastating drought. (Map: Political Geography Now)

Africa
Fano

Ethiopia: Amhara militia in new clashes with army

Ethiopia’s government declared a state of emergency in Amhara state over ongoing clashes between the federal army and local Amhara Fano militiamen. The Ethiopian army and the Fano militia were allies in the two-year war in the northern Tigray region. Their relationship later deteriorated, in part over recent efforts by federal authorities to disband regional paramilitary groups. (Photo via Facebook)

Africa
Tigray

Ethiopia: Tigray protests demand land restitution

Thousands of people displaced by the conflict in Ethiopia’s northern Tigray state took to the streets in demonstrations, demanding a prompt return to their homes and the withdrawal of central government troops. Protesters in multiple cities, including regional capital Mekele, chanted slogans such as “return us quickly to our homelands” and “invading forces should leave our land.” Nearly 3 million people have been displaced due to the conflict in Tigray, which broke out two and half years ago and officially ended with a a peace agreement last November. Efforts to address the humanitarian crisis and resolve outstanding conflicts on the ground are ongoing, with international organizations led by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs providing assistance to the affected. (Photo: TigraiTV via Twitter)

Africa
OLA

Ethiopia: peace talks with Oromo rebels

Preliminary peace talks between Ethiopia’s government and the rebel Oromo Liberation Army (OLA) opened on Tanzania’s semi-autonomous island of Zanzibar. The confidence-building discussions, mediated by Kenya and Norway, are aimed at paving the way for future negotiations to end the five-year conflict. The OLA, labelled a “terrorist organization” by Addis Ababa, says it’s fighting for greater autonomy for the Oromo people, Ethiopia’s biggest but historically marginalized ethnic group. Violence has surged in Oromia following a peace deal in November that ended the war in northern Tigray. The OLA is accused of targeting ethnic Amharas who live in Oromia, while militias from the Amhara region—which borders Oromia—have killed Oromo civilians. (Photo via Addis Standard)

Africa
Ethiopia

Ethiopia: food aid to Tigray plundered

The World Food Program has suspended aid deliveries “until further notice” to Ethiopia’s northern Tigray region following the discovery of the large-scale theft of relief food and its sale on local markets. USAID has also paused its funding of food assistance over the issue. According to USAID, “parties on both sides” of the two-year civil war have colluded to steal food through a “criminal network” established since last November’s ceasefire. Tigray is still facing “severe” food insecurity, despite improved humanitarian access. (Map via EthioVisit)

Africa
ethiopia

Ethiopia: clashes erupt in Amhara region

Gun battles and mass protests broke out in Ethiopia’s Amhara region over the government’s decision to absorb regional special forces into the national army. Some units refused to disarm and resisted the federal military. Amhara’s security forces and allied militia played a key role in the government’s two-year war in neighboring Tigray. A peace deal signed in November was heavily criticized in Amhara, with some believing rival Tigrayan forces had not fully disarmed. Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said that integration will be carried out by force if necessary. (Map: Political Geography Now)

Africa
Somaliland

Oil contracts at issue in Somaliland conflict?

Fighting continues in Somalia’s northern breakaway state of Somaliland, where three administrative regions—Sool, Sanaag, and Aynaba—have taken up arms in a bid to rejoin the internationally recognized Mogadishu government. Somaliland accuses the government of Ethiopia (which is officially attempting to broker a dialogue in the conflict) of intervening on the side of the re-integrationist rebels, headquartered in the town of Las Anod, Sool region. Somaliland has been effectively independent since 1991, and has seen a more stable and secular social order than the regions controlled by the Mogadishu government. But now Mogadishu is asserting its right to grant oil contracts to foreign companies within Somaliland’s territory. Local media note that the new conflict erupted just after Mogadishu announced the issuing of an exploration lease to Turkish Genel Energy in Somaliland—indeed, within Aynaba, one of the contested regions. The move was protested as “illegal” by the Somaliland government, based in the city of Hargeisa. (Map: Siirski via Ethiopia Insight)