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By Aaron Maasho

Ethiopia and Eritrea are still at each others’ throats. The two neighbours fought hammer and tongs in sun-baked trenches during a two-year war over a decade ago, before a peace deal ended their World War I-style conflict in 2000. Furious veRed Sea, UNrbal battles, however, have continued to this day.

Yet, amid the blistering rhetoric and scares over a return to war, analysts say the feuding rivals are reluctant to lock horns once again. Neighbouring South Sudan and some Ethiopian politicians are working on plans to bring both sides to the negotiating table.

Asmara has been named, shamed and then slapped with two sets of U.N. sanctions over charges that it was aiding and abetting al Qaeda-linked rebels in lawless Somalia in its proxy war with Ethiopia. However, a panel tasked with monitoring violations of an arms embargo on Somalia said it had no proof of Eritrean support to the Islamist militants in the last year.

Nevertheless, Eritrea's foreign ministry wasted little time in pointing a finger of accusation at its perennial rival. “The events over the past year have clearly shown that it is in fact Ethiopia that is actively engaged in destabilising Eritrea in addition to its continued occupation of sovereign Eritrean territory in violation of the U.N. Charter,” the ministry said in a statement last month.

The Red Sea state was referring to Addis Ababa’s open declaration in 2011 in which its late Prime Minister Meles Zenawi said his country would no longer take a “passive stance” towards its rival following Eritrea’s alleged plot to bomb targets in the Ethiopian capital during an African Union gathering of heads of state.

Then foreign minister (and now premier) Hailemariam Desalegn followed up on the rhetoric soon afterwards by disclosing his government’s support to Eritrean rebels. Meles and Eritrean President Isaias Afewerki were once comrades-in-arms, even rumoured to be distant relatives. Ethiopia’s late leader rubber-stamped a 1993 referendum that granted independence to the former province after their rebel groups jointly toppled Communist dictator Mengistu Haile Mariam’s military junta two years earlier.

The love affair did not last long. The pair fell out spectacularly after Eritrea introduced its own currency in 1997 and Ethiopia responded by insisting on trading in dollars. Their economic spat aggravated already simmering border tensions, which culminated in Eritrea deploying its tanks months later and occupying hotly disputed territory that was under Addis Ababa’s administration.

Ethiopian troops breached Eritrea’s trenches nearly a year later and retook contested ground - namely the flashpoint town of Badme – before a peace deal was signed. What then followed is the sticking point that remains today. An independent boundary commission awarded Badme to Eritrea in 2002 but the ruling is yet to take effect. Ethiopia wants to negotiate its implementation and warns that delimitation of the border as per the finding would unreasonably split towns and other geographical locations into two.

Asmara on the other hand insists on an immediate hand-over. The bickering has evolved into a proxy war and diplomatic skulduggery as both sides attempt to bring about regime change in the other. But despite the harsh words, mediation efforts are in the pipeline. Deng Alor, neighbouring South Sudan's Minister for Cabinet Affairs, told Reuters on Wednesday his newly-independent country is about to embark on rounds of shuttle diplomacy between the capitals of Ethiopia and Eritrea. Both countries, he said, have given their blessing.

A handful of Ethiopian members of parliament are also devising a similar initiative, local sources say. Addis Ababa has never ruled out mediation. But even though Eritrea publicly dismisses any idea of a thaw in strained relations before the Badme spat is resolved, recent developments might change its mind, some believe.

Ethiopian analysts think Asmara now realises that its neighbour may easily adopt a more belligerent stance following the sudden death of Meles, who they say stood firm against a potential slide towards full-scale conflict. And of course not all Ethiopians express enthusiasm about an independent Eritrea, the creation of which left their country without access to the Red Sea.

Some diplomats say the chances of both sides making drastic concessions from their current positions remain slim. So will the mediation efforts finally yield a deal?

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A potentially catastrophic food crisis in the Sahel region of West and Central Africa could affect as many as one million children. The food and nutrition crisis resulting from a severe drought, threatens the survival of an entire generation of children. Those children in eight countries - Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger, Cameroon, Nigeria and Senegal - are at risk of severe acute malnutrition. Sparse rainfall, poor harvests and rising food prices have left many vulnerable and weak, seeking medical attention. Sahel is one of the poorest regions in the world where children already face daunting odds of survival. The current crisis makes their survival even more tenuous. Associated Press photographer, Ben Curtis, documented the conditions in the region. -- Paula Nelson (EDITORS NOTE: We will not be posting Monday, May 14) (32 photos total)
A woman carries her child amidst dusty winds in the desert near Mondo, a village in the Sahel belt of Chad, April 19, 2012. UNICEF estimates that 127,000 children under the age of 5 in Chad's Sahel belt will require lifesaving treatment for severe acute malnutrition this year, with an estimated 1 million expected throughout the wider Sahel region of West and Central Africa in the countries of Niger, Nigeria, Mali, Chad, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Senegal and Mauritania. (Ben Curtis/Associated Press)

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The locations are the battlefields of the Democratic Republic of Congo. The images are made with the Cold War-era satellite film Aerochrome, a discontinued Kodak infared color film originally designed for reconnaissance and camouflage detection. The film sees normal foliage as magenta or red, showing camouflage as purple or blue. In the vivid pages of Infra, the question of objectivity is moot, as we are invited to appreciate a metaphor stretched to its limit. Our personal experience “colors” all that we see, and making us imperfect observers and less-than-neutral witnesses.

Photographer Richard Mosse writes: “My work is not a performance of the ethical. I’m concerned less with conscience than with consciousness. And so I became enthralled by Aerochrome’s inflation of the documentary, mediating a tragic landscape through an invisible spectrum, disorienting me into a place of reflexivity and skepticism, into a place in consonance with my impenetrable, ghost-like subject.” With this new book from Aperture, Mr. Mosse ventures into territory typically covered by photojournalists or “war photographers.” In doing so, he joins ranks with a small group of fine-art photographers who have made similar forays—this time adding a new layer of dissonance to painful photographs of the mutilated, prisoners, and child soldiers.

All images and captions by Richard Mosse


Men of Good Fortune, 2011. Tutsi Pastureland near Mushaki, Masisi Territory, North Kivu.


General Février, 2010. CNDP rebel on day of integration into FARDC, near Mushaki, Masisi Territory, North Kivu.


Colonel Soleil’s Boys, 2010. CNDP rebels being integrated into the Congolese national army, the FARDC, at Mushaki, Masisi Territory, North Kivu.


Rebel Rebel, 2011. Young APCLS rebel, Lukweti to Pinga Road, Masisi Territory, North Kivu. Photographer’s own sunglasses.


Nowhere To Run, 2010. The mountains of South Kivu are home to a large population of Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) rebels, a Hutu paramilitary group that has lived in exile in Congo since the 1994 Rwandan genocide. These hills are also rich in rare minerals like gold, cassiterite, and coltan, which are extracted by artisanal miners who must pay taxes to the rebels.

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joseph_kony_1_20120307100621_320_240

Why does it matter, if Invisible Children was funded by controversial donors? Two reasons – one, we can assume those donors thought IC aligned with their agenda – which is antagonistic to LGBT rights. Two, it fits an emerging pattern in which Invisible Children appears selectively concerned about crimes committed by Joseph Kony but indifferent to crimes, perhaps on a bigger scale, committed by their provisional partner, the government of Uganda – whose president shot his way into power using child soldiers, before Joseph Kony began using child soldiers. Like Kony, the government of Uganda was also indicted by the International Criminal Court in 2005, for human rights abuses and looting in the DRC Congo. Like Kony, the Ugandan army preys upon civilians and is currently accused, by Western human rights groups, with raping and looting in the DRC Congo, where it is hunting for Kony. In the late 1990s, Uganda helped spark a conflict in DRC Congo that, by the middle of the next decade it is estimated, had killed up to 5.4 million civilians, more than any conflict since World War Two.

http://blogs.alternet.org/speakeasy/2012/03/11/invisible-children-funded...

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With East Africa facing its worst drought in 60 years, affecting more than 11 million people, the United Nations has declared a famine in the region for the first time in a generation. Overcrowded refugee camps in Kenya and Ethiopia are receiving some 3,000 new refugees every day, as families flee from famine-stricken and war-torn areas. The meager food and water that used to support millions in the Horn of Africa is disappearing rapidly, and families strong enough to flee for survival must travel up to a hundred miles, often on foot, hoping to make it to a refugee center, seeking food and aid. Many do not survive the trip. Officials warn that 800,000 children could die of malnutrition across the East African nations of Somalia, Ethiopia, Eritrea, and Kenya. Aid agencies are frustrated by many crippling situations: the slow response of Western governments, local governments and terrorist groups blocking access, terrorist and bandit attacks, and anti-terrorism laws that restrict who the aid groups can deal with -- not to mention the massive scale of the current crisis. Below are a few images from the past several weeks in East Africa. One immediate way to help is to text "FOOD" to UNICEF (864233) to donate $10, enough to feed a child for 10 days, more ways to help listed here. [38 photos]

Mihag Gedi Farah, a malnourished seven-month-old child weighing only 7.5 pound (3.4kg), is held by his mother in a field hospital of the International Rescue Committee, IRC, in the town of Dadaab, Kenya, on July 26, 2011. The U.N. will airlift emergency rations this week to parts of drought-ravaged Somalia that militants banned it from more than two years ago, in a crisis intervention to keep hungry refugees from dying along what an official calls the "roads of death." Tens of thousands already have trekked to neighboring Kenya and Ethiopia, hoping to get aid in refugee camps. (AP Photo/Schalk van Zuydam)

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