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XINHUA NEWS SERVICE REPORTS FROM THE AFRICAN CONTINENT

 
Ethiopia says 78 dead in recent Oromo-Somali conflict

ADDIS ABABA, (Xinhua) -- The number of people killed in recent clashes between ethnic Oromo and Somali communities now stands at 78, an Ethiopian official said on Tuesday.

The conflict, which occurred on Dec. 14 in Hawi Godina and Daro Labo districts in West Hararghe zone of Oromia regional state, was triggered by the death a prominent ethnic Oromo individual, said Negeri Lencho, of the Ethiopia Government Communications Affairs Office.

“On Dec. 14, ethnic Oromos returning from collecting food aid was ambushed on their way by gunmen thought to come from villages inhabited by ethnic Somalis, leaving 29 dead,” Lencho told Xinhua.

The ambush also resulted in the burning of hundreds of houses and theft of the food aid. The area is hit hard by drought.

“Relatives of a prominent local person killed in the ambush carried out revenge attacks, killing at least 49 ethnic Somalis living in nearby settlements,” Lencho said.

He said the government is working with religious figures and elders as well as regional officials to calm the situation.

On Dec. 11, a clash between ethnic Oromo protesters and soldiers in Chelenko area, East Hararghe zone, Oromia regional state is also thought to have aggravated tensions.

The protesters were protesting deadly raids allegedly carried out by police from the Somali regional state.

Sixteen people died in the clash, causing widespread anger in Ethiopia’s Oromia regional state.

Oromia and Somali regional states have been locked in a dispute over the delineation of their common boundary for almost two decades.

A referendum in October 2004 was supposed to demarcate the boundary, but its implementation has been stalled with both sides accusing each other of non-compliance with the referendum results.

Fierce clashes along the Oromia-Somali boundary since September has spilled into ethnic violence, leaving scores of people dead and hundreds of thousands displaced.

The unrest is fueling fears about security in Ethiopia, east Africa’s biggest economy.

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UPDATE:

Ethiopian PM expresses sorrow over deaths in clash between Ethiopian Somalis and Oromos

ADDIS ABABA, (Xinhua) -- Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn expressed sorrow to families of victims who died due to recent conflicts between the Somali and Oromo ethnic groups along the boundary of the Oromia and Somali regional states.

Speaking at a nationally televised speech on Sunday evening, the PM said a task force has been established to investigate recently deadly unrest.

Tit-for-tat attacks between ethnic Oromo and Somali communities on the weekend left at least 61 dead, according to a statement from Oromia regional state spokesman Addisu Arega on Sunday.

The cause of the latest violence wasn’t immediately known but it followed a clash between ethnic Oromo protesters and soldiers on December 11 in Chelenko area near the Oromia-Somali regional states boundary that left 16 civilians dead. The deaths caused widespread anger in Ethiopia’s Oromia regional state.

The ethnic Oromo protesters were denouncing a deadly raid allegedly by police from the neighboring Somali regional state.

Oromia and Somali regional states have been locked in a dispute over the delineation of their common boundary for almost two decades.

A referendum in October 2004 was supposed to demarcate the boundary between the two regional states, but its implementation has been stalled ever since with both sides accusing each other of non-compliance with the referendum results.

Heavy clashes along the Oromia-Somali boundary since September has spilled into ethnic violence leaving scores of people dead and hundreds of thousands displaced.

The deadly unrest is fueling fears about security in Ethiopia, Africa’s second most populous nation.

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EARLIER REPORTS:

Ethiopian government urges resumption of classes at unrest-hit universities

ADDIS ABABA, (Xinhua) -- The Ethiopian government on Tuesday called on students to return to classes in unrest-hit universities.

Minister of Ethiopia Government Communications Affairs Office Negeri Lencho said the federal government is working with regional governments to calm the situation after four students were confirmed to have been killed in unrest in three universities.

He rejected claims by activists that the toll is higher.

Clashes between university students on Dec. 10-11 at the universities also left several other students dead injured.

The unrest seems to have significantly eased in recent days but scores of students in various universities have reportedly left their campuses for fear of violence.

“As a precaution to avoid deadly incidents, the Ethiopian government... has advised students in unrest-hit universities to stay in their dorms after 8 p.m.,” Lencho said.

In recent years, Ethiopia’s higher education institutions have become scenes of violence between students over ethnic and religious differences.

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AU-EU-UN taskforce wows better coordination in battling human trafficking

ADDIS ABABA, (Xinhua) -- The joint taskforce of the African Union (AU), the European Union (EU), and the United Nations (UN) on migration has vowed to strengthen coordination toward dismantling human trafficking and criminal networks.

The joint AU-EU-UN taskforce has recently discussed ways of addressing the migration situation in Libya, according to an AU statement on Tuesday.

The work of the taskforce is to be coordinated with the “recognized” Libyan authorities with the main goal of dismantling trafficking and criminal networks, while helping countries of origin and transit for migrants in tackling the root causes of migration via development opportunities and stability.

The AU Commissioner for Social Affairs, Amira El Fadil; the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice-President of the European Commission, Federica Mogherini; the Director General of the International Organization for Migration (IOM), William Lacy Swing; and UNHCR’s Assistant High Commissioner for Protection, Volker Turk, met last Thursday in Brussels, Belgium, to dwell upon the issue.

The officials have discussed the encouraging results of initiatives put in place and a set of concrete actions aimed at addressing the dramatic situation of migrants and refugees in particular inside Libya, following the formal launch of the Taskforce on Dec. 4th in Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa.

Since the emergency voluntary humanitarian return (VHR) operation started in line with the agreement reached during the AU-EU summit in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire, on Nov. 28th, 3,100 migrants have been assisted to return from Libya to their countries of origin.

This brings up the number of migrants that have been assisted by the IOM to return home safely to a total of 16,561 persons, compared to 2,700 for the whole of 2016.

All participants have confirmed the shared commitment to provide VHR assistance to an additional 15,000 migrants by February 2018.

In this context, IOM will scale up the reception, reintegration and community-based support to returnees and its counter-trafficking efforts and its assistance to victims of trafficking, according to the statement.

It is of paramount importance that the evacuation can rely on protection sensitive identification and disembarkation procedures in Libya for all nationalities, notably to cater for the needs of those who are in need of protection and unaccompanied minors.

The taskforce will work together with the Libyan authorities to ensure unhindered access for international organizations and NGOs to detention centers and to allow the full and transparent registration of all refugees and migrants both at the disembarkation points and in detention centers by international organizations.

In order to strengthen action targeting migrant smugglers and human traffickers, the parties have agreed to coordinate positions in Addis Ababa, New York and in Geneva to promote African, European and international initiatives aiming at reducing demand, disrupting the supply chain and bringing perpetrators to justice.

They have stressed the importance to cooperate with key origin, transit and destination countries on judicial as well as on law enforcement level to exchange information, build capacity and counter the culture of impunity and vowed to support enhanced efforts by Libya in the area.

The taskforce parties have reconfirmed their commitment to build stronger security architecture in the region, including through targeted action against all forms of organized crime, especially trafficking in human beings.

The AU, the EU, and the UN have agreed to meet on a regular basis at operational level and hold joint mission at senior official level to develop the operations further in close coordination with Libyan authorities.

           

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