Somali MPs scrap Dubai ports agreement

Last month, the UAE infrastructure giant accused Djibouti of illegally seizing the Doraleh container terminal, the main transit route to landlocked Ethiopia. (Reuters)
Updated 14 March 2018
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Somali MPs scrap Dubai ports agreement

MOGADISHU: Somalia’s Parliament has declared “null and void” a port deal signed by breakaway Somaliland that has raised tensions between Mogadishu and Hargeisa.
Dubai-based DP World this month struck a deal giving Ethiopia a 19-percent stake in Somaliland’s Berbera port.
The move has angered Somalia, which does not recognize Somaliland’s long-standing claim of independence and has a history of animosity with Ethiopia.
Declaring the deal unconstitutional and therefore “null and void” Mogadishu’s Parliament on Monday asserted in a resolution: “It is only the Federal Government of Somalia that can engage in international deals.”
“All ports, and airports in the country are national property and ... no one can privately claim ownership,” it said, after 168 out of 170 MPs voted the deal down. The resolution went on to ban DP World from operating anywhere in Somalia.
“The DP World company intentionally violated the sovereignty of Somalia, so this company is banned completely from operating in Somalia,” the Parliament said.
The company currently manages Bossaso port in semi-autonomous Puntland, as well as Berbera.
It is unclear how Mogadishu would enforce the proposed ban, nor whether President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed will assent to it.
Last month, the UAE infrastructure giant accused Djibouti of illegally seizing the Doraleh container terminal, the main transit route to landlocked Ethiopia.
The company plans to invest $442 million developing Berbera on the Gulf of Aden shipping route, and has retained a majority 51-percent share in the port. The remaining 30 percent is owned by Somaliland’s government.
Somaliland’s Foreign Minister Sacad Ali Shire defended both the initial deal with DP World, signed in 2016, and the recent buy-in by Ethiopia, which hopes the Berbera corridor will offer it another route to the sea for imports and exports.
“The deal was bilateral, one initially between DP world and Somaliland, and both of them have the right to sell their shares if the other side agrees. That is the basis under which Ethiopia is allowed to join,” he told reporters in Hargeisa on Sunday.
The Mogadishu parliamentary statement ratchets up tensions between Somalia and its breakaway northwestern region whose independence claim since 1991 has gone unrecognized.
Somaliland’s President Muse Bihi Abdi has taken a defiant stance toward Somalia over the port.
“We are ready to defend our sovereignty from this invasion,” he said last week.
“Somaliland has the right to decide what deals to engage in, without consulting anyone.”


UN, Palestinians launch humanitarian appeal after funding cuts

Updated 36 min 55 sec ago
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UN, Palestinians launch humanitarian appeal after funding cuts

  • The 2019 Humanitarian Response Plan outlined 203 projects to be carried out by 88 different groups
  • The plan prioritized 1.4 million Palestinians most in need of food, health care, shelter, water and sanitation

JERUSALEM: The United Nations and the Palestinian Authority on Monday appealed for $350 million in humanitarian relief for Palestinians next year, saying that they needed more but had to be realistic in the face of “record-low” funding.
The 2019 Humanitarian Response Plan outlined 203 projects to be carried out by 88 different groups, including UN agencies and non-governmental organizations.
The plan prioritized 1.4 million Palestinians most in need of food, health care, shelter, water and sanitation, said Jamie McGoldrick, the UN humanitarian coordinator in the Gaza Strip, West Bank and East Jerusalem.
“Humanitarian actors are facing unprecedented challenges, including record-low funding and a rise in attacks to delegitimize humanitarian action,” he said in a joint statement issued on Monday, ahead of the appeal’s launch in Ramallah in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.
Although “much more assistance is needed,” McGoldrick said, the plan was “reflecting what we can realistically accomplish in this highly constrained context.”
Over the past year, the United States has slashed its funding to the Palestinians, including to the UN agency that provides services to 5 million Palestinian refugees.
The United States promised $365 million to the agency in 2018, but paid only a first instalment of $60 million before announcing in August that it would halt all future donations.
The move was widely seen as a means of pressuring the Palestinian leadership to enter peace negotiations with Israel.
The Palestinians want to establish a state in the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem — territories that Israel captured and occupied in the 1967 Middle East war.
US-brokered peace talks between the sides collapsed in 2014 and a bid by US President Donald Trump to restart them has so far showed little progress.
Around 77 percent of the funds sought in the 2019 plan would go to Gaza, the appeal organizers said, because the densely populated coastal strip faced a “dire humanitarian situation” after years of an Israeli-led blockade, internal Palestinian political divisions and casualties from demonstrations and recurring hostilities.
“The humanitarian context in the oPt (Occupied Palestinian Territories) is still deteriorating due to the Israeli occupation violations in a time of lack of resources and declining funds because of the politicization of the humanitarian aid,” Palestinian Social Development Minister Ibrahim Al-Shaer said in the statement.