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TPLF – Ethiopia conflict: implications for the humanitarian crisis

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TPLF – Ethiopia conflict: implications for the humanitarian crisis

Fecha 20/12/2020 por Raimundo Gregoire Delaunoy

Since the start of the confrontation between the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), the international community has been worried about the consequences for the population that currenly lives in the Tigray regional state but also in the bordering areas. While millions of people face precarity, in the Tigray the situation could be even worse, as the conflict threatens to imply other ethiopian states and countries like Sudan and Eritrea.

(Militaries of the Ethiopian National Forces)

Raimundo Gregoire Delaunoy | December 19th, 2020

At the end of 2018, Ethiopia had nearly 3,000,000 internal displaced people (IDP) and some months later the number increased up to a 3,080,000 record-high. Since then, thanks to Abiy Ahmed’s policy of return, an estimated number of 1,800,000 IDPs had returned to their original location in June 2019. Nevertheless, the situation once again worsened and, in fact, as reported by the Ethiopia Displacement Report 5 (June-July 2020), the number of IDPs changed from 1,606,086 in September-October 2019 to 1,820,811 in June-July 2020. In relation to this, it is necessary to point out that 1,233,557 of the IDPs registered in the mentioned report have been displaced due to conflicts in the place of origin. Droughts (351,062), seasonal floods (104,696) and flash floods (50,093) are the following main sources of displacement but way far from the first one. So, in the current context of war between the Ethiopian federal government and the TPLF, these numbers should be monitored with special attention.

In the regional state of Tigray, the report says that there are 100,266 internally displaced (+0,7% in relation to the previous report), with 48,084 displaced households. All of the 100,266 internally displaced escaped from conflict, concentrating in the Eastern and Southeastern zones of the Tigray. Concerning the newly arrived IDPs, they have been located in the Western and Southern zones.

Tigray has 1,504 non-functioning latrines on-site, being the second regional state with the highest number and only surpassed by Oromia (1,916). Also, there are five sites with no access to food and the whole region has 600,000 food beneficiaries. Finally, only 14% IDP households in Tigray owe livestock.

Concerning health issues, in 45% of the sites in Tigray pneumonia is the main concern, followed by diarrhea (20%). In relation to the Covid-19 pandemia, the Tigray region has registered 121 infections, converting it in the national leader. In order to have a better notion of the situation, Oromia and Amhara come in the second and third place, but only with six and five cases, respectively.

Lastly, it is worth checking the figures of refugees and asylum seekers in Ethiopia. Currently, Ethiopia is home to 796,437 refugees and asylum seekers, of which 12.4% live in the Tigray regional state. Of the total population of refugees and asylum seekers residing in Ethiopia, 178,315 (22%) are Eritrean citizens, with  96,223 of this latter ones living in the regional state of Tigray and mainly in four camps located in the western part of the Tigray. The other Eritreans live in the neighbouring region of Afar (54,000) and in Addis Abeba (28,000). Concerning the Sudanese, even if they only represent 5.5% of the country’s population of refugees and asylum seekers, it should not be forgotten that, with 43,789 people, they are the fourth most populous group in the country.

What about the other countries?

     In Sudan, there are 990,223 refugees and asylum seekers, while the number of internally displaced people is 1,885,782. Most of the refugees and asylum seekers come from South Sudan (729,530), Eritrea (121,337) and Siria (93,497). Ethiopians appear in the fifth place (13,112).

About the bordering states with Ethiopia, the Kassala state has 100,347 refugees and asylum seekers (10.1% of the country’s total),  being followed by Al Qadarif with 20,549 (2.1%), Sennar with 9,899 (1%) and Blue Nile with 3,726 (0.4%).

In Eritrea, there are only 199 refugees living in the Eritrean territory and there are no figures for internally displaced people. This, because the country has an autocratic government (without euphemisms, a dictatorship) and it has not signed the international refugee convention, nor the statelessness convention. Also, Eritrea does not have a national asylum legislation. Therefore, it is very difficult to really know how many IDPs, refugees and asylum seekers reside in the country (International ONGs are prohibited in Eritrea and just a few United Nations’ agencies, such as FAO, UNHCR and UNICEF, have received authorisation to work in the country).

Consequences of the current conflict

     Before the military confrontation started, nearly 2.3 million children needed humanitarian assistance in the Tigray regional state, a figure that was reafirmed by Unicef on November 19. In total, about 8.4 million people need humanitarian assistance in Ethiopia

Concering the refugees, according to the UNHCR, 51.068 people arrived to Sudan from Ethiopia. The figure takes into account the period between November 7 and December 17. Since November 10, there is an average of 1.340 people per day (the number started to decrease but during November and December it passed the 2.000 barrier), while since November 21 can be seen a decrease in the daily number of refugees entering Sudan. About this latter, Kassala state hosts 35.762 refugees (70%), while Gedaref and Blue Nile states shelter 14.604 (29%) and 702 (1%), respectively.

According to FAO, Eastern Africa had 133.1 million people undernourished in 2018. It is a very worrying situation, as the number has been consistently increasing since 2005. Even more, Eastern Africa leads the continent and the world in the prevalence item, with 30.8% of its population being undernourished in 2018. What is even worse is that the same report establishes that 62.7% of Eastern Africa’s population suffer from moderate or severe food insecurity.  In the particular case of Ethiopia, the economic growth of the country since 2007 has had a positive effect in the food security issue. Even if it is still a humanitarian crisis, the population facing hunger has dropped from 61% (2007) to 31% (2017), while prevalence of undernourishment has fallen from 47.1% during the 2000-2002 period to 19.7% in 2017-2019 interval . In relation with the current year, the World Food Programme assisted 5.5 million people between January-September 2020 and 11.8 million people fase acute food insecurity. In addition, 38% of the children between six and 59 months suffer of chronic malnutrition. Still more, the same source claims that 3.9 million women and children are nutritionaly vulnerable. Finally, it is important to see how Ethiopia’s situation in this issue has been seen by international rankings. According to the Food Security Index, Ethiopia is in the ‘moderate performance’ group (91th of 113 countries in the list), whereas the Global Hunger Index rates the country in the ‘serious’ category. Nevertheless, it has to be said that Ethiopia has been experiencing a constant improvement, as in 2000 was ranked as ‘extremely alarming’ but then, in 2006 and 2012,  it was placed in the ‘alarming’ category. Lastly, in 2020, the country has entered the ‘serious’ category and not so far from the ‘moderate’ one, which would be an impressive improvement since 2000.

The problem is that conflicts and droughts are the main factors that explain this situation. Therefore, what has been hapenning between the Federal Government of Ethiopia and the TPLF is a big threat to the population that already face a humanitarian crisis but also to those who are on the edge of it. Even worse, roads were blocked for a long time (during the conflict), while electricity, internet and phone are shut down. Thus, the humanitarian organizations have not been able to give aid and, in fact, between November 4 and December 3, only three humanitarian organisations obtained a partial access to the region. According to UNICEF, on December 15, 2.3 million children in need of humanitarian assistance in Tigray were out ot reach due to the military conflict, something that could worsen the already complicated situation in that regional state.

In this context, it is important to highlight that besides the eventual consequences of the confrontation between the Ethiopia federal government and the TPLF, Ethiopia, Sudan and Eritrea have been facing other menaces, like the COVID-19 pandemia, desert locusts’ invasion, economic crisis and huge and historical floods. All these events have already deepened the humanitarian crisis in the region (in Sudan, 9.3 million people need humanitarian assistance, while in Ethiopia the number is 15 million, with nearly 2 million of them living in the regional state of Tigray) and, therefore, it has to be understood that the military conflict has worsened the already worrying and dramatic context. In fact, even the current pandemia of Covid-19 seems to be less important, something that obviously worries local and international authorities. On the same hand, the fate of the Eritrean refugees living in the Tigray regional state is a source of concern, as the UNHCR has declared. For example, on November 26, the Islamic Relief said that the Tigray refugee families could run out of food, something that may be even worse as the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) projected, for the February – June 2020 period, an increase of the acute food insecurity in the Tigray regional state (the projection for June 2020 establishes that 17.1% of Tigray regional state’s population would be in ‘crisis’ (16.6%) or ‘emergency’ (0.5%)). In addition, IPC also established that 8.6 million should face high levels of acute food insecurity during the October – December 2020 period.

Furthermore, the last report of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) has demonstrated the dramatic situation in the region. Among other issues, there is shortage of vital (food, water, fuel and cash) and medical supplies, while food prices have doubled or tripled. Even more, people must walk even 25 kilometers in order to get water. The worst of all is that La Niña phenomena could generate rainfalls bellow the normal numbers. This could drive millions of people into hunger, as the Oxford Committee for Relief (Oxfam) declared on December 11.

Lastly, there have been incidents of violence against civilians, something that even if it is not a new issue, still has dramatic consequences. As an example, a massacre of at least 600 people has been confirmed in May Kadra, a village in the Tigray region.

* Raimundo Gregoire Delaunoy is a journalist and bachelor in Social Communication. He also has a Master in International Studies.

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Key elements to understand the Ethiopia – TPLF tension

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Key elements to understand the Ethiopia – TPLF tension

Fecha 6/11/2020 por Raimundo Gregoire Delaunoy

On November 3, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) attacked an army base of Ethiopia’s federal government. Immediately after, Abiy Ahmed, Prime Minister of Ethiopia, announced that they would respond with a military offensive. The following hours were too tense as telecommunications were shut down and the air space in the northern region of the country was closed. Furthermore, the Federal Council of Ministers declared a six-month state of emergency.

Raimundo Gregoire Delaunoy | November 4, 2020

(Financial Times)

In this context, it is very useful to give a brief summary of the main issues that are involved in this political and, now, military conflict in Ethiopia. Therefore, in this article will be exposed some of the key elements that make it easier to understand what is going on in this country located in the Horn of Africa.

Historical context

In 1991, the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) -a coallition that fostered ethnic federalism and formed by different ethnic-regional political parties- ousted Mengistu Haile Mariam and, hence, put an end to the marxist dictatorship that held power between 1987 and 1991. After that, in 1994, the EPRDF established a new Constitution based in ethnic and linguistic federalism. This allows to ethnic groups the possibility of self-administration but also the right to secession.

During the era of EPRDF’s dominance, the TPLF was the most important party, having governed between 1991 and 2012 (Meles Zenawi’s period). In 2018, Abiy Ahmed -a member of the Oromo Democratic Party (ODP)- became the first Oromo chairman of the EPRDF and he quickly demonstrated that he did not want to continue with the ethnic federalism that was imposed during 1991 and 2018. So, in 2019, he formed the Prosperity Party (PP), which is a merge of various political parties, including three of the four former members of the EPRDF. Only the TPLF decided to stay away from this national party.

In this scenario, the TPLF feared losing power (and influence) but also was worried about the economic paradigma of the PP, which is more liberal and gives more space to the private sector.

Political system in Ethiopia

1994’s Constitution established a parliamentary federalism in Ethiopia, which, moreover, is an ethnical federalism. The  Prime Minister is the Head of Government and the President is the Head of State. While the first one comes from the political party that wins the legislative elections and is chosen by the Parliament, the second one is appointed indirectly by the Parliament. This latter one is composed by the House of Federation and the House of People’s Representatives, which have 112 and 547 members, respectively. It is important to highlight that the House of Federation has a very particular distribution, as each of the ten regional states has a proportional number of representatives according to the number of nationality groups that reside in the state and the population of each one of them. Literally, article 61 of Ethiopia’s Constitution says the following:

Each Nation, Nationality and People shall be represented in the House of the Federation by at least one member. Each Nation or Nationality shall be represented by one additional representative for each one million of its population”.

There are ten regional states plus two cities with a special status (Addis Abeba and Dire Dawa). Each of the ten states have a wide range of self-administration and they even have the right to establish their own Constitution. Nevertheless, this latter one has to be subordinated to the Constitution of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia.

Ethnics in Ethiopia

According to the 2007 census, there are 85 different ethnic groups and 87  mother tongues in the country. The Oromo (34.49%) and the Amhara (26.89%) are the biggest ones, followed by the Somali (6.21%) and the Tigray (6.07%). These four ethnicities sum up 82.66% of the Ethiopian population.  While the Amhara and the Tigray are mostly christians (orthodoxs, catholics and protestants), the Somali are muslims (sunna). The Oromo are mixed with two main majorities, which are the christians and muslims.

In terms of political power, the Tigray were dominant between 1991 and 2012, while the Amhara people were powerful under the monarchy era, which ended in 1974. The Oromo have been excluded from power in the modern history of Ethiopia. Concerning the Somalis, they are well known for their separatists movements.

Who is Abiy Ahmed?

He was born, in August 1976, in Beshasha, in the Oromia regional state. He was part of the forces that fought against Mengistu Haile Mariam’s dictatorship and also served in the Ethiopian military forces. He studied Computer Engineering and holds two Masters degrees, one in Leadership and another in Business Administration. In 2017, he obtained the degree of PhD in Philosophy, at Addis Abeba University, thanks to a final work about Peace and Conflict Research.

During a long period he was a political activist and in 2010 got a seat in the Ethiopian Parliament. After that, in 2015, he worked as Minister of Science and Technology.  Finally, in 2018, he was chosen as Prime Minister of the country, becoming the first Oromo to be appointed as Chairman of the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF).  He has been a member of the Oromo Democratic Party (ODP) and in 2019 he founded the Prosperity Party (PP).

He is the son of a muslim farmer and a christian orthodox woman, both of them from the Oromo ethnical group. Abiy Ahmed was free to chose his own beliefs and he is a well known protestant. His wife is an Amhara woman and they have four chilidren.

Once in power, on April 2 2020, he gained admiration as he and Isaias Afwerki ended the war that opposed Ethiopia and Eritrea and agreed to start a new era in their bilateral relation. Eritrea also restaured its ties with Somalia and, some months later, these two countries signed with Ethiopia an agreement of cooperation and peace in the region. Then, Djibouti and Eritrea normalized their ties after ten years of “freezing”.

Abiy Ahmed has an important participation in South Sudan’s peace process and in the transitional period in Sudan. He has been seen as a peacemaker and that is why he won, in October 2019, the Nobel Peace Prize.

Recent context

After coming to power, Abiy Ahmed has confronted the Tigray people as he is an oppositor to the ethnic and linguistic federalism of the country. Since then, his relation with the TPLF has not been good and that was remarked in December 2019, when Ahmed decided to end the ethnical-based EPRDF and founded the Prosperity Party. While all of the main former members of that coalition followed the steps of the Primer Minister, the TPLF chose not to be part of this new political party.

Then, in March 2020, Abiy Ahmed announced that the legislative elections, scheduled for August, were going to be postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemia. The Tigray did not accept his statement and said that Ahmed’s decision violated the Constitution. Therefore, the Tigray regional state organized and held their own regional elections on September 9. Ethiopia’s Prime Minister declared that the electoral process was illegal and did not recognize the results (the TPLF won 189 of the 190 seats).

In October, the Ethiopian Parliament decided to severe ties with the Tigray regional state. With this, Tigray’s regional budget was cut and the federal government of Ethiopia announced that they would continue the relations but only with local institutions.

In this context, during the last weeks the tension between Abiy Ahmed and the TPLF increased and on November 3, the TPLF said to the Tigray population that they should prepare for war. One day later, the military attack made by the TPLF was a reality and so was the response of the Ethiopian National Forces.

Implications of this political dispute

In Ethiopia, it could incite historical ethnical rivalries, such as the one between the Tigray and the Amhara, which, in fact, already have a territorial dispute. Also, it could spread the nationalist stances to another regional states. It should be said that this breakout between the Tigray regional state and the federal government could weaken the already unstable democratic institutionality of the country, something that, if it happens, could destabilize the Horn of Africa and, particularly, Eritrea. In relation to this latter one, Isaias Afwerki, current President (or dictador if we do not want to use euphemisms) has been a rival of the TPLF during the last years. He does not like the ethnical federalism and he has been constructing very good relations with Abiy Ahmed, so it is very obvious that he would stay beside the Ethiopian Prime Minister.

 If the conflict increases, it could also be very dangerous for the region, as during the last years -since Abiy Ahmed was appointed as Primer Minister- there have been efforts to resolve diplomatic and/or border disputes. Even more, the presence of international powers has been complicating the relations between Horn of Africa’s countries, as their own tensions -such as the one that Turkey and Qatar have with United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia- hinder or slow down the pace of the solution of conflicts in the region. So, in a conflict scenario, in which Ethiopia, Eritrea and even Sudan could be implicated, the external powers could also play their role in the dispute.

Concerning the ties between the Horn of Africa’s countries, it is necessary to remember that Eritrea, Ethiopia and Somalia have established an emerging alliance. They even suggested the creation of a new integration bloc (Horn of Africa Cooperation) and have exchanged official visits. This has been seen with some distance by other states of the region, like Djibouti and Kenya. This latter one, having a maritime delimitation conflict with Somalia. Furthermore, Sudan has been facing a transition period and regional confrontation or even only a crush between Ethiopia, Eritrea and the TPLF could be a menace or at least a problem to the Sudanese authorities. The articulation of the ties (among countries) in the Horn of Africa have a triple dimension (intra-Horn of Africa, between external powers and a merge of the first two ones) and, thus, the region has a very fragile balance.  

Finally, it should not be forgotten that there is a potential risk that the Qimant ethnic group -a minority within the Amhara regional state that demands autonomy- could make an Alliance with the TPLF, generating a clash between the Amhara, Tigray and Qimant. This issue has been deeply studied and analyzed by International Crisis Group.

Raimundo Gregoire Delaunoy

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El Cuerno de África y su lucha contra las langostas

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El Cuerno de África y su lucha contra las langostas

Fecha 18/06/2020 por Raimundo Gregoire Delaunoy

Afectado por el cambio climático, conflictos político-sociales y la hambruna, el Cuerno de África agregó una nueva preocupación en octubre de 2019. En aquel entonces, comenzó una invasión de langostas del desierto, generando mucha preocupación y poniendo en riesgo alimentario a millones de personas en dicha zona de África. Con el paso de los meses, cabe preguntarse cuál es la situación actual de este fenómeno que ha adquirido, según la misma Organización para la Alimentación y la Agricultura (FAO), proporciones bíblicas.

Raimundo Gregoire Delaunoy | 19 de junio de 2020

La historia del Cuerno de África habla por sí sola y muestra las dificultades que ha enfrentado esta región, que, por lo demás, es una de las más importantes de la geopolítica mundial. En este sentido, basta con revisar algunos acontecimientos de los últimos años para darse cuenta de la magnitud del problema. Por ejemplo, entre marzo y junio de 2018 hubo terribles inundaciones, mientras que entre junio y septiembre del mismo año tuvo lugar un brote de la fiebre del Valle del Rift en Kenya y Somalía. Poco después, en octubre de 2018 y septiembre de 2019, habría hitos en la sequía que afecta a África Oriental, la cual comenzó en 2016 y que ha significado que más de 20 millones de personas hayan tenido que desplazarse y/o enfrentar drásticos cambios en su vida cotidiana. Luego, entre octubre y noviembre de 2019, se producirían las peores inundaciones desde 1997, con montos de precipitaciones que superaron en un 300% lo normal. Esto generó 250 muertos y 2,8 millones de personas afectadas. Y, por si fuese poco, en octubre de 2019 comenzó la actual plaga de langostas del desierto, que se desarrolló, al inicio, en Etiopía, Kenya y Somalía. Mientras en territorio etíope y somalí no había ocurrido algo así en 25 años, en el caso de Kenya un registro de tal nivel se encontraba 70 años atrás.

Si bien los países del Cuerno de África han comenzado a trabajar para mejorar la condición de vida de sus habitantes, este proceso es aún incipiente y, para peor, acompañado de grandes desigualdades socioeconómicas. Además, se trata de estados con una gran fragilidad institucional, lo cual ha impedido, entre otras cosas, una mayor integración regional. A pesar que existe la Autoridad Intergubernamental para el Desarrollo (IGAD), las relaciones entre los estados miembros siguen siendo irregulares y marcadas por los vaivenes regionales. Mientras Kenya ha avanzado en pos de consolidar un sistema político democrático, Etiopía recién en 2018 optó por esta senda, aunque, debido al Covid-19, no se pudieron realizar las elecciones generales anunciadas y que serían claves para ver hacia dónde iba el país. En paralelo, Eritrea y Djibouti siguen siendo gobernados por dictaduras, en tanto que Somalía lucha para fortalecer su sistema federal, el cual siempre está amenazado por Al Shabaab y la fragmentación interna (como principales ejemplos aparecen los casos de Somaliland y Puntland). Por último, en Sudán del Sur recién se están dando algunos pasos hacia el fin de las hostilidades y la consolidación del estado, mientras que en Sudán cayó Omar al Bashir, pero aún es incierto el camino que seguirá dicho país, el cual estuvo férreamente marcado por una dictadura de muchos años. Desde la llegada de Ahmed Abiy al poder de Etiopía, como primer ministro, comenzaron a soplar nuevos vientos en la región. Esto implicó que Eritrea y Etiopía sellaran la esperada paz, pero también que se produjeran otros importantes movimientos diplomáticos en la zona. Así, Eritrea y Somalía restauraron sus nexos, en tanto que estos dos últimos y Etiopía firmaron un acuerdo de cooperación económica. Además, tras diez años de congelamiento, Djibouti y Eritrea anunciaron la normalización de su vínculo, mientras que Eritrea y Somalía declararon la reapertura de sus embajadas. Estos son algunos de los principales cambios, pero también se debe mencionar que ha habido disputas diplomáticas. La más famosa es la que han mantenido Kenya y Somalía por aguas territoriales, pero a eso se debe sumar la pugna entre Djibouti y Kenya por un cupo como miembro no permanente del Consejo de Seguridad de la ONU.

La presentación llega a dar escalofríos. Y eso que podría ser peor, pues a lo mencionado previamente se deben sumar, entre otros, la actividad terrorista de Al Shabaab, la piratería -por más que en los últimos años haya bajado considerablemente-, el fenómeno migratorio, la inestabilidad político-social, la presencia de refugiados y los conflictos internos y regionales. En resumen, el Cuerno de África es una zona en la cual viven cerca de 214 millones de personas, muchas de las cuales sufren por estos problemas, pero, además, por la falta de alimentos. Según la FAO, 70 millones de habitantes de esta región se ven enfrentados a la inseguridad alimentaria, lo cual se explica, entre otros motivos, por las condiciones climáticas -una zona árida o semiárida que alterna sequías con inundaciones-, los conflictos, la explosión demográfica, la precariedad institucional o gubernamental y la baja productividad de la agricultura.

En este contexto, es necesario entregar unas cifras sobre la situación de los refugiados y los desplazados internos de la región. Según datos de la Organización Internacional para la Migración (IOM), en 2019 había 8,1 millones de desplazados internos y 3,5 millones de refugiados en el Cuerno de África y África Oriental. En detalle, algunos casos son llamativos. Por ejemplo, en Somalía hay 2,6 millones de desplazados internos por la sequía y los conflictos, a lo cual se deben agregar 5,4 millones en condiciones de inseguridad alimentaria. La situación de Somalía es aún más dramática si se toma en cuenta que 775.484 somalíes dejaron su país y fueron acogidos, como refugiados, en los países del Cuerno de África y Yemen. En el caso de Etiopía, llegó a tener 3,1 millones de desplazados internos, pero en abril de 2018 ya eran 2,3 y en octubre de 2019 la cifra era menor a 100.000 personas.  Eso sí, Etiopía alberga a 763.827 extranjeros, la mayoría provenientes de otros países del Cuerno de África. A su vez, Uganda acoge a cerca de 1,4 refugiados y, a nivel continental, ocupa el primer puesto en este ítem. Por último, Sudán del Sur anota 1,7 millones de desplazados internos, lo cual demuestra que la inestabilidad política y social genera desplazamientos masivos. Muchas de estas personas terminan en otros países, pero otros tantos se mueven al interior de las fronteras. Completando el panorama de los desplazados internos, Sudán tiene cerca de dos millones, en tanto que Somalía se anota con 810.000 aproximadamente. Djibouti y Eritrea no tienen cifras oficiales, mientras que Kenya ronda los 150.000.

En este contexto, la plaga de langostas del desierto ha sido una mala noticia para una región que, como se pudo ver en los párrafos previos, ya tenía una serie de problemas por resolver y que, peor aún, mantiene a millones de personas en condiciones de vida muy precarias. En este escenario, la invasión de langostas solo vino a empeorar la situación alimentaria.

¿Qué ha pasado y cuál es la proyección?

Primero, es necesario tener una noción acerca de lo que significa esta plaga de langostas del desierto, la cual ha sido catalogada como “severa y aguda”. Según la FAO, al menos 25,3 millones de personas sufren, en el Cuerno de África, por la inseguridad alimentaria y 11 millones de ellas se encuentran en áreas amenazadas por las langostas. Al respecto, cabe recordar que un enjambre (de langostas) de un kilómetro cuadrado puede comer, en un día, lo mismo que 35.000 personas, en tanto que, de no tomarse las medidas adecuadas, la cantidad de langostas del desierto podría aumentar en 400 veces. Sobre esto último, en época de plaga, las langostas se pueden diseminar a través de un área de hasta 29 millones de kilómetros cuadrados, es decir, podrían llegar hasta 60 países.

Lo anterior se traduce, en términos económicos, en la necesidad de contar con 231,6 millones de dólares para que la FAO pueda llevar a cabo una rápida respuesta. Como se puede ver, son números bastante contundentes, pero lo positivo es que los recursos económicos han llegado. De hecho, se han recaudado 144 de los 231,6 millones de dólares necesarios, lo cual asegura que se podrá actuar en los países del Cuerno de África (Djibouti, Eritrea, Etiopía, Kenya, Somalía, Sudán y Sudán del Sur), pero también en otros cercanos (Tanzania, Uganda y Yemen).

El problema es que las proyecciones de la FAO aseguran que la plaga aumentará en escala a través de Etiopía, Kenya y Somalía. Durante junio, se extenderá hacia el norte, en algunas zonas de Etiopía, Eritrea, Somalía y Sudán. Lo anterior es preocupante, ya que en esa fecha comienza la actividad agrícola en dichos países y, de hecho, el principal efecto de esta plaga es que la cosecha estacional podría disminuir en gran forma. Si se toma en cuenta el peor escenario pronosticado por la FAO, hacia fines de año, entre 2,5 y 4,9 millones de personas entrarían en fase de crisis alimentaria.   

Según el último reporte de la FAO, correspondiente al 13 de junio, los enjambres avanzarían hacia el norte, llegando a Etiopía y Sudán. En caso que efectivamente llegaran a territorio sudanés, ahí podrían emigrar a la región oriental de Chad, pero solo si es que encontraran las condiciones áridas ideales en Sudán. Si llegase a pasar a Chad, entonces podrían seguir su paso, eventualmente, por el Sahel. La buena noticia es que esta amenaza solo duraría cuatro semanas, ya que luego comenzaría la temporada estival de lluvia en Sudán.

Para ver la imagen amplificada, pinche sobre la misma.

En paralelo, en Yemen habrá importantes movimientos internos de enjambres, los cuales podrían llegar hasta el noreste de Etiopía y el norte de Somalía. Finalmente, la FAO sugiere que Etiopía, Sudán y Sudán del Sur se mantengan en alta alerta durante las próximas semanas, mientras que África Occidental debe seguir tomando medidas preventivas. En Eritrea, unos pocos enjambres, provenientes de Etiopía, podrían llegar al sur y a las tierras bajas de la región occidental del país. En cuanto a Djibouti, unos pocos grupos y pequeños enjambres podrían arribar, desde Etiopía y Somalía, al sur del territorio.

Respecto de la situación en Somalía, lamentablemente aumentarán los enjambres, especialmente en el centro y norte del país, en tanto que, en Kenya, también se producirán estos grupos y enjambres, los cuales emigrarán hacia el norte una vez que las condiciones atmosféricas sean más secas.

Como se puede ver, la situación es dramática y seguirá generando sufrimiento por al menos tres o cuatro semanas más. Además, existe la posibilidad que las langostas sigan avanzando y pongan en riesgos a regiones tan lejanas como el Sahel, la Península Arábiga, algunas zonas de Medio Oriente, Irán y parte del subcontinente indio. Así, es fundamental que los gobiernos del Cuerno de África mantengan sus esfuerzos y medidas, lo cual debe ser acompañado por el apoyo de organismos internacionales y ciertos estados desarrollados. Así ha sido hasta ahora y, gracias a eso, se han podido tomar medidas al respecto. Finalmente, así como la actual pandemia de Covid-19 ha generado un debate respecto de la cooperación internacional y la integración regional en asuntos sanitarios, la presente plaga de langostas del desierto también debiese significa que ciertos países generen políticas comunes para enfrentar a este tipo de crisis. Al igual que la salud, los alimentos no pueden esperar y siempre deben estar disponibles para el ser humano.

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Abiy Ahmed, un digno y merecido ganador del Premio Nobel de la Paz

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Abiy Ahmed, un digno y merecido ganador del Premio Nobel de la Paz

Fecha 11/10/2019 por Raimundo Gregoire Delaunoy

Más allá de lo que digan los eternos críticos, que nunca encuentran algo bueno y que siempre ven dobles lecturas donde no las hay, el Premio Nobel de la Paz sigue siendo un importante hito anual. No solo porque es un potente símbolo, sino que por el hecho de premiar, en forma concreta, a quienes luchan por un mejor mundo. Suena cliché, pero es real.

Raimundo Gregoire Delaunoy | 11 de octubre de 2019
(originalmente publicado en

Sin embargo, es cierto que ciertas nominaciones o premiaciones habían generado polémica en los últimos. Por ejemplo, los premios entregados a Barack Obama (2009) y la Unión Europea (2012). Junto a ellos, la nominación de Greta Thunberg en la presente versión del Premio Nobel de la Paz.

Es por eso que darle el Premio Nobel de la Paz a Abiy Ahmed, actual primer ministro de Etiopía, no solo es algo justo, sino que también un tremendo espaldarazo para esta importante institución. Al respecto, cabe resaltar lo más evidente, es decir, Ahmed firmó la paz con la vecina Eritrea y puso término al “estado de guerra” que imperaba desde 2000. En este sentido, es necesario recordar que Etiopía y Eritrea enfrentaron una guerra entre 1998 y 2000, la cual finalizó con el Acuerdo de Argel (2000). Sin embargo, las tensiones se mantuvieron hasta 2018, año en el cual ambas partes acordaron dejar atrás décadas de conflicto y, entre otras cosas, asumir las fronteras establecidas en el Acuerdo de Argel.

Apenas ocurrido esto, algo tan básico como realizar llamadas telefónicas desde un país al otro pudo concretarse. Después, seguirían otros hitos, como reapertura de embajadas, apertura de fronteras, creación de comisiones, visitas recíprocas, circulación de personas y, lo principal, un aire de paz en una zona (el Cuerno de África) que ha sufrido por males como el terrorismo, la sequía, las disputas fronterizas y la carencia de una integración social, política y económica.

Pero esto no fue todo, ya que los “nuevos aires” impulsados por Abiy Ahmed –quien también realizó grandes reformas internas, tendientes a democratizar al estado etíope y a buscar un equilibro étnico- llegaron a los demás países de la región. Es así que Eritrea y Somalía restablecieron sus relaciones diplomáticas, en tanto que Djibouti y Eritrea destrabaron su situación y, tras diez años, normalizaron sus nexos. Por si fuese poco, Eritrea, Etiopía y Somalía firmaron un acuerdo de cooperación política, económica, social, cultural y securitaria, a lo cual sumaron la generación de una comisión conjunta tripartita. Todo esto, promoviendo la paz regional. Lo anterior ha sido acompañado por otros movimientos, los cuales han incluido avances en los vínculos bilaterales de los estados de la región y, quizás lo principal, en los asuntos multilaterales del Cuerno de África. Y aunque ha habido algunos problemas, como la disputa marítima entre Kenya y Somalía o una polémica entre Eritrea y Djibouti (la cual fue solucionada), no se puede negar que los progresos han sido evidentes.

Además, se han creado diversos proyectos de integración, los cuales incluyen líneas ferroviarias, creación de más vuelos entre los países de la región, mayor comercio, construcción de autopistas, inversión en puertos, seguridad fronteriza, lucha contra el terrorismo y disminución de visados para los africanos.

Hoy, a pesar que falta mucho para que el Cuerno de África pueda respirar tranquilo, el trabajo de Abiy Ahmed asegura que, más allá de las dificultades que han aparecido y seguirán emergiendo, el proceso va bien encaminado. Etiopía y sus vecinos comienzan a recibir más apoyo internacional –lo cual debe ser tomado con precaución, pues las potencias ya se muestran sus dientes en la lucha geopolítica por esta importante región- y empiezan a tejer una red de vínculos diplomáticos que deberían llevarlos a fortalecer la integración regional y africana. Eso sí, habrá que tener cuidado con las “ayudas” y los “buenos consejos” de las potencias externas y, como se ha dicho en el último tiempo, todo deberá basarse en la premisa de “buscar soluciones africanas para los problemas africanos”.

En resumen, que un conflicto histórico, como el que mantenían Eritrea y Etiopía, haya llegado a su fin es una noticia esperanzadora y, por supuesto, merecedora del reconocimiento internacional. Por eso, a celebrar el Premio Nobel de la Paz recibido por Abiy Ahmed, el “reformista”. Que sus pares regionales se contagien e inicien la apertura, sin miedos, hacia una democratización política, social y comercial. Es lo que necesita África.

Es lo que necesita el mundo actual.

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African countries processes to follow in 2018

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African countries processes to follow in 2018

Fecha 28/12/2017 por Raimundo Gregoire Delaunoy

With the arrival of a new year, it is important to analyze some important topics that will fill the African agenda of international and specifically, interafrican, issues during the current year. So, this article will present some countries that should be tracked in 2018 as they will possibly face important changes and strong (and sometimes hard) sociopolitical processes.

Raimundo Gregoire Delaunoy | December 28th, 2017

(Fotografía: Agencias)

Only by looking the electoral calendar of Africa for 2018 it seems that it will be an important year. There will be nine presidential elections and 15 legislative ones, which will be complemented with others like local elections, referendums or municipal processes. Even more, Cameroon, Egypt, Democratic Republic of Congo, Mali, Madagascar, Mauritius, Sierra Leona, South Sudan and Zimbabwe will choose a new President. So, just talking about elections it will be a year full of expectations.

At the same time, there are key events that are developing in Africa and that, obviously, will be part of 2018’s agenda por this continent. For example, the dispute of the Nile, the tasks of the new chief of the MINURSO, the immigration issues in Northern Africa but also in Eastern and Central Africa, the transformation of the African Union, advances in the African integration, the rise of terrorism, the drug traffic routes and the fight against hunger, among others. Different and tough challenges for a continent that has improved in a lot of aspects but that still confronts eternal social conflicts and, surely, a lack of a deeper integration as a whole. As Julius Nyerere declared, the fragmentation of Africa still causes damage to the path that will give Africans better life conditions.

In the following paragraphs, the context of different countries will be analyzed, so that the study of such a huge continent can be realized in a less dense way.


Abdelfatah Al Sisi’s announcement of running for the presidential election – which should be held on Mars 26th– confirmed what all Egyptians knew, it is, he will not hold out­ the power and he will continue with his ambitions. And if there was any doubt in relation to his rivals, now everything is clear, as all of the other candidates have ended their presidential dream and al Sisi’s victory is only a matter of time.

It is true that he saved the country from the Muslim Brotherhood -a group that tried to be seen as a moderate islamist political party but that finally tried to establish changes that would have conducted Egyptian society into a more conservative one- but Egypt still faces the problem of discrimination against women, Christian minorities (nearly 10% of the country’s population) and secular sectors of the society.­ Also, the threat of terrorism is very active in the Egyptian territory and specially in the Sinai. The attacks of last months are a demonstration of this and reflect the fragile security context of the country. The situation worsens if the analysis deepens in topics like the economic reality of Egypt, the corruption and the strong-hand leadership of al Sisi, who never hesitates before sending to prison political rivals, islamists, ONGs representatives and anyone who opposes to him.

Even if the lack of civilian liberties has been a problem through decades, there was a hope that after Hosni Mubarak’s fall a new paradigm could be established, specially in freedom to express, religious liberty and, maybe the most important, the end of that deep and strong relation between politics and military in the government or power. Sadly, none of those situations have changed and, even worse, Egypt faces 2018 with lot of problems and big challenges in those issues. Then, it will be a key moment for the future of the country. The reforms are waiting and al Sisi has the opportunity to rectify the path and give, once again, hope to the Egyptians.


If there is a country that faces a crucial year for its social, political and economic re-order, it is Libya. Since the fall of Muammar al Gaddafi (in 2011), the former stable country has become into a semi-failed state. Two governments and two Parliaments, slavery, immigration crisis, difficulties for the oil production and social discontent. Also, the strong menace of Al Qaida of the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) and the Islamic State, among other terrorist groups. So, the Libyan scenario doesn’t seem to be very well during 2018. Nevertheless, there are some challenges for the Maghrebian country.

During the last months was revealed the existence of numerous human-trafficking networks and, even worse, the practice of slavery in the Libyan territory. The dramatic issue generated summits, meetings and political compromises in Sub-Saharan Africa, the Maghreb, the European Union and the Organization of the United Nations (ONU), among others. However, this conflict should be solved as possible and, therefore, has to be one of the priorities for the Libyan authorities.

The problem is that in 2018 the expectations turn around two sociopolitical key facts, it is, the reconciliation process that brings with itself a new Constitution for the country and the correct realization of the presidential and legislative elections. Thus, the first step is to work for the re-construction of the state infrastructure, as with this goal being achieved all the further projects should be faced with more strength and order. This is why the oil situation is other of the key topics for Libya in 2018. Since 2017, the numbers of oil production and exportation have been showing a positive trend, so one of the ambitions should be the consolidation of this process. With oil, new Constitution, national reconciliations and a stronger and better state apparatus, the other challenges –as fight against immigration (and slavery), terrorism, separatism and ethnic conflicts (tebou and amazigh claims) should be developed in a better context, it is, one with high levels of chaos and violence but at least with the hope given by a newly created process of rebirth of the Libyan state and society.

South Sudan

The peace talks have failed and the future of the country will be shaped, once again, by violence, poverty and other conflicts associated to the main problem, that is, hunger, displacement and immigration. To avoid this, or at least soften the consequences, the efforts of the international community (and the government, of course) should be directed to the cessation of hostilities. In this scenario, the AU5 (an African Union commission of five countries) will have the great opportunity to recover the path and return the trust to an African solution as external powers like the European Union have not been able to establish as a trustful partner in this process.

The Nile conflict

Recently, Sudan, Egypt and Ethiopia met in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Abeba, to solve the dispute about the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), which has been involving these three countries and other ones, as Eritrea, in the conflict. While the image of seeing the governments of the three named states trying to find a final agreement is a positive step, the fact that Sudanese troops were deployed in the Eritrean border makes it impossible to assure that the problem will be ended in a peaceful way. Even more, the “Nile Conflict” involves countries that normally have faced diplomatic and/or military confrontations. That is the case, for example, of the ties between Sudan and Egypt, Ethiopia and Eritrea, Sudan and Eritrea and Ethiopia and Egypt. So, it is clear that a little spark could start a big fire and, therefore, the “Nile Conflict” should be solved as soon as possible.

Cameroon, Democratic Republic of Congo, Mali and Zimbabwe: recovery through presidential elections

For different reasons, this countries have been fighting for establishing a re-order of its social, political and economic situation. In Cameroon, the Anglophone region –which waves the flag of separatism- continues to give strong headaches to the government and riots that still generate disorder and, the worst, deaths. In the Democratic Republic of Congo, the challenge of eradicating the ‘Kabila Clan’ from the control of the country has been a very tough issue. So, the main goal in this giant state should be the organization and development of transparent and democratic elections. In Mali, another African semi-failed state, the division is still a great obstacle in the process of re-order of a country that has been facing conflicts –separatism of the Azawad region, rise of terrorism groups that formerly were not active in the Malian territory, consolidation of the governments power and drug and human trafficking- since 2012. Finally, in Zimbabwe, the end or Robert Mugabe’s era was a very good step but the next challenges seem to be even more difficult and heavy. The construction of a new state –as Mugabe was the only leader in the independent Zimbabwe-, which implies the modernization of the political structure and a huge change in the Zimbabwean social map is just the beginning of a long process.

So, these countries will need to do well in the presidential elections that will be held during 2018. Not only for having a president but, the most important, to return the hope of a better future for their population. Wars, divisions and corruption should be left aside and the African community should be able to help in this process. The same for the United Nations.

The Horn of Africa and the challenge of facing intern and extern sources of conflicts

Al Shabaab’s presence in Somalia is just enough to be worried about this region but if we add the recent political (and social) convulsions in Kenya –due to the still contested presidential election’s results- the outlook gets darker. Unfortunately, the Yemen conflict and the Arab-Iran-Turkey crisis have splitted into the Horn of Africa and, specially, into Somalia, a country that needs the help of states like United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey. About this latter context, the situation seems to be very cloudy, as the net of political supports has been changing in the last months and still is in motion.

Therefore, 2018 should be an opportunity to demonstrate that Somalia and Kenya –but also Ethiopia, which has given some tiny hints of a depressurization of the social and political situation- can reach balanced and strategic diplomacy objectives, in order that the Horn of Africa can avoid more tension in the region and, in consequence, to prevent a high risk of conflict. The decision that will be made in relation to Al Shabaab, ties with external powers, the Nile issue and political reconciliation will be key elements.

The Maghrebian context

Algeria, Morocco and Mauritania can be categorized as countries that have maintained the status quo and, also, the equilibrium in their social and political aspects. Surely, with risks –among others, Bouteflika’s health and Kabilia’s movement in Algeria; the social protests in the Rif and the raise of the life’s cost in Morocco; and the authoritarian rule of Abdelaziz in Mauritania- but with some stability. Different is the situation of Libya (already analyzed) and Tunisia. This latter has confronted economic crisis, political disfunction and protests of Tunisians that year after year lose hope of the country’s recovery.

Nevertheless, there is a silent topic that should be observed with a lot of care during 2018. It is the relation between Morocco and the Polisario and Algeria, which should change as in 2017 two important facts took place. The first, and most important, the official return of Morocco into de African Union. The second, the appointment of the Canadian Colin Stewart  and the German Horst Kohler as the new head of the MINURSO and as the new General Secretary Personal Envoy for Western Sahara, respectively.

With these movements and the permanent hostilities witnessed along 2018, the Sahara conflict should not be forgotten. Even if the risk of a military conflict is nearly nonexistent, the political consequences of this issue could threaten, once again, the political cohesion of the Maghreb and regional blocks of integration, including the African Union.

Countries looking for the democratization of their state and society

For different reasons, Equatorial-Guinea, Central African Republic, Angola, South Africa and Madagascar have the obligation of advancing towards democracy and/or social reconstruction. In Equatorial Guinea, Teodoro Obiang Nguema has been in power for 38 years and is the oldest African governor. In December, he faced another coup attempt and, as all the previous ones, he survived. However, the opposition will not stop their fight, even if the use of military abuses (detentions and repression) is one of the most recurrent strategies of the current government in order to confront the political and social rivals.

Central African Republic is still facing one of the most difficult and long peace processes in Africa, so in 2018 the goal is to achieve more objectives and to continue fostering arrangements, reconciliation and social peace. Concerning, Angola, South Africa and Madagascar, they will have new challenges. In Angola, there is a new (and younger) president, while in South Africa the corruption scandals are a big threat to Zuma’s era. Finally, Marc Ravalomanana, ousted and exiled president of the country, will try to return to power after he suffered a coup d’etat in 2009. He will do that amid political, economic and social crisis, so the scenario does not seem to be very calm in 2018.

Nigeria, the big leader in trouble

Oil? Not really. Sure it will be one of the most important topics, which explains many of economic,political or social processes that take place in Nigeria, but during 2018 the agenda should keep a special place for the territory conflicts. The first of them is one already known and is the current presence of Boko Haram in different regions of the country and, mainly, in the northeast part of the territory. Nevertheless, the main issue will be the territorial disputes between farmers (of Central region of Nigeria) and nomadic herdsmen (coming from the North), a conflict that should worsen due to the difficulties to find the necessary amount of water for agricultural activities and works. The clashes have already erupted and only in 2016 they took the life of nearly 2.500 people, a number that should be analyzed with special attention in a country that has within its margins more than 100 ethnical groups and also faces the threat of separatists from Biafra and terrorists of Boko Haram.

Liberia, with the hope of better times

With George Weah recently sworned as the new President of the country, Liberia starts a new political cycle, in which a former football star will be in charge of changing the country’s image but, the most important, of strengthening the sociopolitical transition that has been taking place in the westerner African state. The challenge will be very big, the same as the hopes and expectations of seeing a well carried transition in this state used, unfortunately, to see riots, political division and lack of democracy.

Final comments

Apart from the conflicts that were described in the previous paragraphs, it should be said that Africa, as a continent, will be facing problematic trends or contexts such terrorism, integration difficulties, fight against corruption, fragile situation of some states, economic growth, gender equality, relations with the European Union and United States of America and the advance of Turkey, China, Qatar, Saudia Arabia, Iran and United Arab Emirates.

These big challenges will be an opportunity for Africa, a continent that should demonstrate to itself and to the world –particularly, to the major powers- that African countries and leaders have the capacity and the will to affront this situations. In this context, the reform of the African Union, specially those about the origin of the funds, should have an important place and weight in the African agenda of 2018.

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Indicadores sociales del Cuerno de África

Fecha 15/06/2017 por Raimundo Gregoire Delaunoy

Conocida por ser una de las regiones del mundo con más conflictos, es una de las zonas más relevantes dada su ubicación geográfica. Es así que se convierte en un paso comercial que une Asia con Europa, pero también es el lugar de enfrentamientos geopolíticos entre diversos actores regionales y mundiales.

Más allá de lo anterior, es necesario conocer, a grandes rasgos, cuáles son los principales datos de esta región, la cual tiene a países tan diferentes como Djibouti, Eritrea, Etiopía, Kenya, Sudán y Sudán del Sur. Además, se deben sumar Puntland y Somaliland, entidades territoriales pertenecientes a Somalía, pero que funcionan como territorios autónomos.

Producto Interno Bruto
(Fuente: FMI)

Producto Interno Bruto | Variación porcentual
(Fuente: FMI)

Otros indicadores socioeconómicos

Indicadores de diversa índole

GSIGlobal Slavery Index 2018
FW Freedom in the World 2019
FoPFreedom of Press 2019 (RSF)
GGRGlobal Gender Gap Report 2018
DIDemocracy Index The Economist 2018
CRIGlobal Climate Risk Index 2019
GPIGlobal Peace Index 2018
CPICorruption Perceptions Index 2018 – Transparency International
GTIGlobal Terrorism Index 2018
GRRGlobal Risk Report 2019 – World Economic Forum
WRIWorld Risk Index 2018
GCIGlobal Competitiveness Index 2018 – World Economic Forum
FSIFragile States Index 2018
IDHÍndice de Desarrollo Humano
PIBpcProducto Interno Bruto per cápita
ESPVEsperanza de vida
POB Población

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Los desafíos del Covid-19

En diciembre de 2019 comenzaba uno de los momentos más complicados del siglo XXI. Mientras el mundo seguía con su cotidianeidad, China se esforzaba para ocultar el avance de una nueva gripe, pero que, a diferencia de otras, parecía ser demasiado contagiosa y letal.

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