UN looks to Igad as new power bro­ker in E. Africa

O∞cials fear the con­flict in the Gulf has mi­grated to East Africa

The East African - - NEWS - By DICTA ASIIMWE

United Na­tions of­fi­cials were in Kam­pala re­cently to re-en­gage the In­ter-govern­men­tal Au­thor­ity for De­vel­op­ment, which is emerg­ing as the most de­ci­sive re­gional body in deal­ing with con­flict in East Africa.

The UN of­fi­cials said that with the Red Sea be­com­ing more mil­i­tarised, they fear the con­flict in the Gulf has mi­grated to East Africa. The of­fi­cials said they are now look­ing to Igad as an in­sti­tu­tion that can con­trol the da­m­age.

As it is, the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity can­not af­ford fur­ther con­flict in East Africa. Henry Oryem, Uganda’s Min­is­ter for Re­gional Af­fairs, said the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity spends up to $70 bil­lion in an­nual hu­man­i­tar­ian as­sis­tance and peace­keep­ing in­ter­ven­tions in the re­gion.

Igad ex­ec­u­tive sec­re­tary Mah­moub Maalim added that 40 per cent of the World Food Pro­gramme bud­get is spent in eastern Africa.

“And that ex­cludes the school feed­ing pro­grammes that are a com­mon fea­ture in this re­gion,” he said.

Mr Maalim added that the kind of poverty that re­quires WFP feed­ing for chil­dren to at­tend school turns the re­gion into a breed­ing ground for rob­bers and po­ten­tial ter­ror­ists.

East Africa as a breed­ing ground­ing for ter­ror­ists is high on the list of things the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity is wor­ried about. There are fears the ef­fects of the war in Ye­men are spilling into coun­tries like So­ma­lia. Also high on the agenda of the UN de­part­ment for po­lit­i­cal af­fairs is en­sur­ing the Gulf con­flict be­tween Saudi Ara­bia, backed by the United Arab Emi­rates on one side and Qatar on the other, does not ex­tend to the re­gion.

Alexan­der Ran­dos, the Eu­ro­pean Union’s spe­cial rep­re­sen­ta­tive to the Horn of Africa said play­ers like the East African Com­mu­nity and Igad have to find a way to over­come chal­lenges as­so­ci­ated with Saudi Ara­bia’s in­flu­ence in places like So­ma­lia. Saudi Ara­bia has been ac­cused of train­ing armed forces in dif­fer­ent So­mali states.

Ac­cord­ing to the As­sis­tant Sec­re­tary Gen­eral in charge of the UN’S De­part­ment of Po­lit­i­cal Af­fairs Brook Zer­i­houn Taye, the UN is craft­ing a strat­egy to help Igad ad­dress con­flicts in its re­gion. The steps to be un­der­taken in­clude up­grad­ing the of­fice of the spe­cial en­voy for Su­dan and South Su­dan to cover the en­tire Igad re­gion, which will also have a UN po­lit­i­cal of­fice.

A UN po­lit­i­cal of­fices al­ready ex­ists in Cen­tral, West and South­ern Africa.

He said that Igad would use this of­fice in ef­forts sim­i­lar to those of mend­ing re­la­tion­ships be­tween Ethiopia, Eritrea and Dji­bouti, as well as those be­tween Uganda and Su­dan.

The EAC and Igad have to find a way to over­come chal­lenges as­so­ci­ated with Saudi Ara­bia’s in­flu­ence in places like So­ma­lia.” Alexan­der Ran­dos, EU spe­cial rep­re­sen­ta­tive to the Horn of Africa

Pic­ture: File

Eastern Africa, as a breed­ing ground­ing for ter­ror­ists, is high on the list of the things the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity is wor­ried about.

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