Daily Archives: August 11, 2015

Walking into danger: migrants still head to Yemen

By Katie Riordan

HARGEISA, 11 August 2015 (IRIN) – Qader and Abdi are two weeks into their journey. Carrying only one empty plastic water bottle each, flattened, with no liquid to return it to its cylindrical shape, the two men figure they will be walking for another month-and-a-half before they reach the sea. From there, they will take a smuggler boat the short distance to Yemen, where another 600-kilometre walk lies ahead before they may reach their final destination, Saudi Arabia.

The pair – members of Ethiopia’s largest ethnic group, the Oromo, which activists charge is systematically disenfranchised by the government – are walking along an uncrowded road connecting the capital of Somaliland, Hargeisa, to a northern port city. They walk because they cannot afford the roughly $150-200 that a series of smugglers would charge to take them from the Ethiopian border east through Somaliland to the port of Bosaso in the neighbouring semi-autonomous region of Puntland.

“We will walk until we become weak,” said 30-year-old Qader, who withheld his last name to protect his identity. He and his 19-year-old companion are dressed in dirtied long-sleeve shirts to shield them from the early morning sun, which will become unbearable by midday. They have made it this far off the good will of Somalilanders who offer them small change or meals as they pass.

There is a small risk they could be arrested so they veer off the paved road near checkpoints but quickly return so as not to lose their way. Although walking along roads in Somaliland – a self-declared nation that the international community still classifies as a region of Somalia – puts migrants like them at increased risk of robbery or assault, Somalilanders generally do not wish the duo ill will. Government officials have even been known to stop and provide food and drink to migrants despite their illegal status in the country.

When they reach Bosaso the help will likely come to an end and Qader and Abdi will have to pay. Unlike on land, which the destitute can traverse without charge as long as they can avoid arrest, the sea is only passable by ships operated by smugglers, who are more than happy to continue transporting people to war-torn Yemen for a fee.

Ever more dangerous journey

Migration to and through Yemen – historically the backdoor for migrants and asylum seekers from the Horn of Africa trying to reach Saudi Arabia – has always put people at risk of death and inhumane treatment. Last year, there were numerous drownings in the Gulf of Aden and Human Rights Watch released a report in 2014 documenting “torture camps” where smugglers held newcomers for ransom.

But a civil war, precipitated by the departure of Yemen’s internationally-recognised government and a Saudi Arabian-led bombing campaign to restore its legitimacy, has made an already perilous journey for migrants all the more death-defying.

“It’s very dangerous, and I cannot stress that enough,” said Teddy Leposky, an external relations officer for the UN’s refugee agency, UNHCR, in Yemen.

Not only has the war given smugglers license to act more ruthlessly than before, but also the ability of aid agencies to provide services to migrants and refugees has been severely compromised and the conflict’s violence has been indiscriminate. Five migrants were caught in shelling near the Saudi border in May and, at the end of March, a camp for displaced people camp was bombed, killing at least 45.

But as migrants and refugees know, the grinding poverty, political persecution or violence that typically push them out of the Horn of Africa, do not conveniently abate as wars break out in their path. So they continue to risk life and liberty and end up on Yemen’s shores. According to figures from UNHCR, more than 10,500 people have arrived in Yemen since March when the bombing campaign began. Although some of those might be part of the 51,000 who are now also leaving, as war in Yemen has created a circular flow in the region.

“I know it’s a high risk, but I will take it,” said Fila Aden, 24, in a café in Hargeisa. He is familiar with what lies ahead. This is the second time he left home in Ethiopia for work in oil-rich Saudi Arabia. Although he struggles to provide a precise timeline of events, he estimates he was deported from the kingdom about a month ago after working there for almost a year.

Hiding the risks

Some aid officials believe that boat smugglers in Bosaso and Djibouti (for the Red Sea route to Yemen) may be downplaying the conflict in Yemen or flat-out lying to clients about the dangers they have seen.

Fila Aden in Hargeisa doesn’t doubt smugglers are sugarcoating forecasts, but he thinks the conflict in Yemen might actually work to his advantage. He is reassured by news that one of his friends just traversed Yemen and slipped unnoticed across the border with Saudi.

“We worry about Yemen. We could be accused of fighting [for a certain side] in the conflict. People are more paranoid now,” he said. “But looking at it from the Saudi perspective, they aren’t concerned about us. They are fighting a war in Yemen.”

As long as those like Aden are willing to go, there is money to be made. Several sources said the smugglers had doubled their asking price in Bosaso, which pre-war ran from $60 to $120 for the sea crossing. Omar, who asked that a pseudonym be used, smuggles Ethiopians from the border into Somaliland. He is fairly new, joining the ranks of the illicit business just five months ago. But the job has proven lucrative. He saw a drop in numbers around the time war broke out in Yemen, but Ramadan (which straddled June and July this year) was profitable, suggesting an uptick in those still willing to go to Yemen.

“People know damn well that they are taking a risk,” he said, when IRIN asked if smugglers were taking advantage of the war and luring clients under false pretenses. But he said smugglers too were taking extra risks, and more and more fearful of arrest. “I feel bad sometimes but what can I do? I have to make a living.”

No refuge any more

While Omar continues to facilitate a migrant march east, deteriorating conditions in Yemen have destroyed a refuge that many once sought.

Abdulqader Ahmed, a 17-year-old Ethiopian migrant, arrived in Yemen in March from Djibouti right as street battles began to erupt in the southern port city of Aden. He made his way to the UN-sponsored al-Kharaz camp nearby, too afraid to begin his journey north to Saudi Arabia. He watched as the camp ran short of food and water, with aid agencies unable to get supplies in. Finally, he managed to secure passage on a ship that evacuated him to Somaliland.

At a migrant response center in Hargeisa, where he was waiting to be repatriated back to Ethiopia, Ahmed said the war in Yemen had helped him reach the realisation that his goal of getting to Saudi Arabia would likely cost him his life. He now intends to return to farming with his father in Ethiopia, even though it will be almost impossible to earn a living.

For UNHCR’s Leposky, Yemen’s collapse is particularly concerning because of the country’s history of opening its borders to refugees and asylum seekers. He told IRIN that those arriving now in Yemen are making the costly journey across the see only to find themselves in a similar situation, if not worse.

“It’s so unfortunate that a country that has provided protection and asylum to people for so many years is now in dire straits.”

kr/ag

Latest from OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) to Ukraine based on information received as of 10 August 2015

The SMM monitored the implementation of the “Package of measures for the implementation of the Minsk agreements”. Its monitoring was restricted by the parties and security considerations*. The overall situation at and around Donetsk airport remained tense. The SMM observed a significant increase in ceasefire violations in areas east and north of Mariupol, particularly in the wider area of Starohnativka.

The situation continues to be volatile at and around the destroyed “Donetsk People’s Republic” (“DPR”)-controlled Donetsk airport (9km north-west of Donetsk). Between 13:00 and 18:00hrs, the SMM, from its position at the Joint Centre for Control and Co-ordination (JCCC) observation post at Donetsk railway station (“DPR”-controlled, 8km north-west of Donetsk) heard a total of 14 explosions consistent with mortar or artillery impacts, two incidents of sporadic small arms fire and one airburst 2-7km north, north-east, west and north-west of its position.

The security situation remains calm in Mariupol, however there was a significant increase in ceasefire violations in areas east and north of the city, particularly in the area of government-controlled Starohnativka (51km south of Donetsk). The SMM followed up on reports from a “DPR” member on heavy shelling on 9 August in and around “DPR”-controlled Styla (34km south of Donetsk). In “DPR”-controlled Starobesheve (32km south-east of Donetsk), a representative of the city hospital told the SMM that three “DPR” members had been killed and an unspecified number of civilians had been wounded in the shelling. The SMM also monitored the situation near “DPR”-controlled Styla and observed no military activity, but it could not enter the village due to security concerns. In government-controlled Mykolaivka (39km south-south-west of Donetsk) between 14:40 and 15:25hrs, the SMM heard a total of 11 explosions including two explosions assessed as incoming 82mm mortar rounds and a few bursts of small-arms and light-weapons (SALW) including heavy machine gun (HMG) and grenade launcher fire 2km north and 2-3km east of the village.

A Ukrainian Armed Forces officer at the JCCC headquarters in Soledar informed the SMM of the attack in Starohnativka with heavy weapons over the reporting period. According to the interlocutor, 400 armed persons attacked Ukrainian Armed Forces positions and in response the Ukrainian Armed Forces was forced to use heavy weapons prohibited according to Minsk.

In government-controlled Dzerzhynsk (58km north of Donetsk) the SMM visited three sites shelled on 8 August, based on a report from a Ukrainian Armed Forces representative at the JCCC in Dzerzhynsk. The SMM conducted crater analysis and concluded that they had been caused by 152mm calibre artillery from a south-south-easterly direction. Between 10:35 and 10:55hrs, the SMM heard four incoming mortar rounds and two bursts of machine-gun fire.

In government-controlled Sopyne (16km east of Mariupol), at 08:00hrs, the SMM heard sporadic SALW fire 4km north-east of its position, consistent with the direction of “DPR”-controlled Sakhanka (24km north-east of Mariupol). Later at 09:58hrs, the SMM heard one undetermined explosion in the area of Shyrokyne. The SMM visited government-controlled Lebedynske (16km east of Mariupol), where the resident in the village informed the SMM of shelling on 9 August. The SMM analysed three out of ten craters at the outskirts of the village and concluded that they were caused by 120mm mortars fired from an easterly direction. Between 14:28 and 15:11hrs the SMM heard a total of 22 explosions east of its position and a round of heavy-machine gun (HMG) fire and one burst of a 33mm anti-aircraft gun. In government-controlled Vodiane (24km north of Mariupol), at 17:05hrs, the SMM heard sounds consistent with SALW fire in the distance to the east of its position.

In government-controlled Trokhizbenka (33km north-west of Luhansk), the SMM heard ten explosions of artillery north of its location.

In government-controlled Troitske (69km west of Luhansk) the SMM followed up on information from a Ukrainian Armed Forces officer about alleged shelling on 9 August. At two sites, the SMM analyzed a total of eight craters and assessed them to have been caused by artillery gun (122mm) fire originating from the east and north-east.

In government-controlled Stanytsia Luhanska (16km north-east of Luhansk), a Ukrainian Armed Forces officer at the JCCC showed the SMM a crater which he said was a result of shelling during the night of 8 August. The SMM analyzed the crater and assessed it to have been caused by 120mm mortar from a south-westerly direction.

The SMM revisited two Ukrainian Armed Forces heavy weapons holding area whose locations comply with the respective withdrawal lines. At the first area the SMM observed that all previously recorded weapons were again missing as during the previous visit on 24 July (see SMM Daily Report 24 July). At the second area, 17 howitzers were missing and the serial numbers of one of the present 11 howitzers did not match the number recorded during last SMM visit (see SMM Daily Report 24 July). The SMM also revisited two “DPR” heavy weapons holding areas, whose locations comply with the respective withdrawal lines. At the first “DPR” area, the SMM verified that all previously registered weapons were present. At the second “DPR” area six previously registered self-propelled howitzers 122mm (Gvozdika) were missing.

The SMM observed the following weapons in areas that are non-compliant with the Minsk withdrawal lines: in a government-controlled area, one main battle tank (MBT), and one tank (T-64, 125mm calibre).

On 8 August, at Kulykove Pole in Odessa, the SMM monitored the weekly demonstration and commemoration of victims of 2 May 2014 events attended by 50 anti-Maidan activists, mostly middle aged to elderly women and the counter-demonstration attended by 15 pro-Maidan activists, mostly men of different ages. Seventy police officers formed a line around the anti-Maidan group, separating them from the pro-Maidan group. There were verbal exchanges but no physical contact between the groups and the gatherings ended peacefully.

On 8 August, in Kyiv the SMM monitored a public protest on Independence Square (the Maidan). The gathering consisted of approximately 20 middle-aged males and females who were holding Ukrainian, Georgian and Chechen flags and displaying banners expressing their concerns about Russian policies in Ukraine and in Chechnya. No police officers were present. The gathering ended peacefully.

The SMM continued to monitor the situation in Kharkiv, Dnepropetrovsk, Kherson, Lviv, Ivano-Frankivsk and Chernivtsi.

*Restrictions on SMM monitoring, access and freedom of movement:

The SMM is restrained in fulfilling its monitoring functions by restrictions imposed by third parties and security considerations, including the presence – and lack of information on the whereabouts – of mines, and damaged infrastructure. The security situation in Donbas is fluid and unpredictable and the ceasefire does not hold everywhere. Self-imposed restrictions on movement into high-risk areas have impinged on SMM patrolling activities, particularly in areas not controlled by the government. Most areas along the Ukraine-Russian Federation international border, particularly those controlled by the “LPR”, have ordinarily been placed off limits to the SMM. 

Denied access:

–   The SMM was prevented from passing a Ukrainian Armed Forces checkpoint near government-controlled Zolote (60km north-west of Luhansk).The SMM left the checkpoint due to nervous signalling of a soldier.

–   At a checkpoint near government-controlled Troitske (Popasna area) (69km north-west of Luhansk), a Ukrainian Armed Forces officer denied the SMM passage.

Delay:

–   At a checkpoint in “LPR”-controlled Donetskyi (40km north-west of Luhansk), the SMM was allowed to proceed after 20 minutes, having made a call to the relevant “LPR” member.

For a complete breakdown of the ceasefire violations, please see the annexed table.

ContourGlobal and the Republic of Armenia Announce Purchase of the Vorotan Hydroelectric Facility

– IFC of the World Bank Group to Invest Alongside ContourGlobal
– Rehabilitation Investments of over Euro 50 million to Strengthen Armenia’s Power Sector
– Expands ContourGlobal’s Sizable Renewable Energy Portfolio

– Acquisition Financing Provided by HSBC and Ameria Banks

NEW YORK, Aug. 11, 2015 / PRNewswire – ContourGlobal and the Republic of Armenia announced the completion of the acquisition of the assets of the Vorotan hydroelectric facility, a series of three individual power plants with a total electrical capacity of 405 MW on the Vorotan River in southern Armenia.

ContourGlobal also announced that the International Finance Corporation (“IFC”), a member of the World Bank Group, has acquired a 20% interest in ContourGlobal Hydro Cascade to help acquire, operate, and rehabilitate the Vorotan Hydropower Cascade. The project aims to enhance electricity supply reliability and strengthen the country’s power sector.

The acquisition represents the largest single U.S. private investment in Armenia’s history and the first U.S. investment in Armenia’s energy sector. The Vorotan Hydro Cascade accounts for roughly 15% of the installed capacity of Armenia’s electricity system and provides sufficient energy to power 250,000 homes.

Under the terms of the agreement, ContourGlobal Hydro Cascade will own and operate the three hydroelectric facilities located on the Vorotan River and will supply power to the Armenian grid under a long-term power purchase agreement. ContourGlobal will invest more than Euro 50 million over the next six years in a refurbishment program to modernize the plants and improve their operational performance, safety, reliability and efficiency. ContourGlobal expects the modernization to create 150 near-term jobs in addition to the 150 long-term technicians employed at the plants.

Mr. Brandt stated that the company is committed to being an effective partner for the Republic of Armenia.

“We are very pleased to announce the closing of the Vorotan transaction and that IFC will join us as an equity partner.  We thank the Government for the trust they have placed in us and look forward to making a significant and lasting contribution to a key part of the country’s infrastructure. We also are very pleased to build upon our nearly decade-long cooperation with the IFC investing together in development projects across the globe.”

Mr. Yervand Zakharyan, the Armenian Minister of Energy and Natural Resources, stated, “We are pleased to conclude this process with ContourGlobal, a proven and experienced owner and operator of power generating facilities around the world. We are confident that ContourGlobal will successfully own, maintain and operate this important power complex and are gratified by ContourGlobal’s planned investment, which will improve the stability, security and performance of the Armenian power system for many years to come.”

“Private sector participation can play an important role in addressing key infrastructure challenges in Armenia, and this transaction is an important step in that direction,” said Tomasz Telma, IFC Director for Europe and Central Asia. “The planned rehabilitation of the Vorotan Cascade will help improve access to energy and support Armenia’s energy self-sufficiency”.

The acquisition will contribute to ContourGlobal’s renewable energy portfolio, which currently comprises approximately 1000 MW of hydro, wind, solar and biogas production in Latin America, Europe and Africa.

About ContourGlobal
ContourGlobal is an international power-generation company with approximately 4000 MW in operations or under construction in 20 countries on four continents. ContourGlobal’s 1650 employees manage, own and operate a portfolio of 58 power plants utilizing a wide range of fuel types and technologies including renewable energy production based upon hydro-electric, wind, solar and biomass, as well as an extensive fleet of conventionally powered thermal power plants. In Central and Eastern Europe, ContourGlobal currently owns and operates approximately 1220 MW of power generation businesses in Austria, Italy, Bulgaria, Ukraine, Romania and Poland.

For more information about IFC, visit www.ifc.org.

Air China met en service un vol direct Pékin-Johannesburg

PÉKIN, 11 août 2015 /PRNewswire — Air China ouvrira un vol direct entre Pékin et Johannesburg, le 29 octobre 2015, ce qui constituera la première ligne aérienne assurée par une compagnie chinoise entre la Chine continentale et l’Afrique du Sud, mais également première ligne d’Air China vers l’Afrique. Le service évitera aux voyageurs chinois vers l’Afrique du Sud d’avoir à faire une escale en cours de route. Au terme de 14 heures de vol, les voyageurs peuvent se rendre à l’extrême pointe sud du continent africain afin d’explorer une Afrique étonnante et mystérieuse.

Permanent Air China met en service un vol direct Pékin Johannesburg

Logo – http://photos.prnasia.com/prnh/20141017/0861407509LOGO

L’année 2015 coïncide avec l’Année de la Chine en Afrique du Sud. Johannesburg sera la première destination qu’offrira Air China à partir du 29 octobre, après de nombreuses années d’absence sur le marché africain ; cette mise en service renforcera davantage encore les échanges politiques, économiques et culturels entre la Chine et l’Afrique. Cette année, Air China démarrera également le service Pékin-Addis-Abeba. Ces deux liaisons font partie intégrante de l’effort fourni par Air China en vue de mettre en place son réseau mondial de liaisons aériennes, avec Pékin comme plaque tournante, mais aussi de rendre plus faciles aux voyageurs provenant de pays comme la Chine, le Japon, la Corée du Sud et Singapour les déplacements vers et depuis l’Afrique du Sud et l’Afrique dans son ensemble et de leur offrir des possibilités de vol supplémentaires.

Cette année, Air China poursuit le renforcement de sa présence internationale en ouvrant plus de liaisons internationales. L’année 2015 sera celle où la compagnie a ouvert le plus grand nombre de nouvelles liaisons aériennes. Outre ces deux nouvelles lignes aériennes en direction de l’Afrique, Air China a également mis en service la liaison Chengdu-Colombo en février, Hangzhou-Osaka en mars, Tianjin-Dalian Sapporo en avril, Pékin-Minsk-Budapest en mai, un vol direct Pékin-Melbourne en juin et Pékin-Hakodate en juillet. Ces nouvelles liaisons aériennes font d’Air China l’une des rares compagnies au monde – et la seule chinoise – à desservir les six continents.

À propos des vols
Les vols CA867/8 Pékin-Johannesburg seront assurés les mardi/jeudi/dimanche (aller) et lundi/mercredi/vendredi (retour). Le vol au départ de Pékin décollera à 23h15 (heure locale) et arrivera à Johannesburg à 07h35 (heure locale) le lendemain. Le vol retour décollera de Johannesburg à 11h50 (heure locale) et atterrira à Pékin à 07h30 (heure locale). Les vols devraient être assurés par des Boeing 777-300ER, un type d’aéronef très apprécié des voyageurs d’affaires dans le monde.

Agribusiness Opportunities in Africa to be Revealed at 4th Commercial Farm Summit

LUSAKA, Zambia, Aug. 11, 2015 / PRNewswire — A comprehensive discussion focusing on latest opportunities in Africa’s commercial farming — across palm oil, cassava, cocoa, grains, sugar, soybean, fruits & vegetables as well as investments, PPPs, value-added products and modern technologies – is expected at 4th Commercial Farm Africa in Lusaka, Zambia on 7-9 October, 2015.

The summit organised by Centre for Management Technology brings together ministerial representatives, technology providers and leading agribusiness players from around the world aiming to grow the African agribusiness value chain. Held in Zambia, an opening address on ‘Diversification Strategy to Grow Zambia’s Agri Sector’ will be delivered by Honorable Given Lubinda, MP & Minister, Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock, Zambia.

Corporate Sponsor SGS Precision Farming Services and Networking Reception Sponsor AGCO Corporation will also be sharing insights on ‘Use Of Drones For Farmland Surveys & Crop Monitoring’ and ‘Modernization & Mechanization of Farming Practice’ respectively.

Valuable information on Zambia’s commercial farming will be further provided by Zambia Sugar and Zambeef Products, with two separate sessions ‘Developing Outgrowers’ Program For Sustainable Agriculture’ and ‘Challenges of Agribusiness Investment in Zambia’ respectively.

Featured speakers also include Uganda’s Connie Magomu Masaba, Project Manager, Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries sharing the opportunities and challenges of public-private partnership in the country’s agri sector and Dr. John Mususa Ulimwengu, Senior Advisor, Agriculture & Rural Development to Prime Minister of Democratic Republic of Congo and Senior Research Fellow, IFPRI speaking on ‘Transforming DRC’s Land into Profitable Commercial Farm’.

Additionally, two country-focused sessions on ‘Developing Commercial Fruits & Vegetables Farm in Ethiopia‘ and ‘Investing in a Sustainable Oil Palm Plantation in Cote D’voire’ will be addressed by Horizon Plantations Ethiopia and DekelOil/ Director of Agribusiness, AXYS Consulting DMCC, respectively.

Other notable sessions include:

  • Demand/Supply & Price Trends in Soft Commodities – Groupe Ecobank
  • Future of Bioenergy & Value-Added Investments in Sub-Sahara Africa – Sunbird Bioenergy
  • Infrastructure Development to Strengthen Agri Value Chain – COMESA Secretariat
  • Healthy Soils, Profitable Farms: How Soil Conservation Techniques Lead to Success in Large-Scale Farming – Soil Capital
  • Panel Discussion: Funding Agri Projects in Africa – African Development Bank Group, SwissRe
  • Panel Discussion: Local Sourcing & Building a Sustainable Supply Chain – Diageo

Attendees can also sign up for an optional site visit to Zambia Sugar Plantation & factory in Mazabuka on 7 October 2015.

For more information, visit website or contact Ms. Grace at grace@cmtsp.com.sg or +65-6346-9147.