Somalia's opposition leaders predicted on Monday that a further surge in an Islamist-led insurgency in the capital, Mogadishu, could defeat Ethiopian troops supporting the government there within two months. "The liberation forces are gaining strength day after day," said Zakariya Mahamud Abdi, spokesperson of a congress in Eritrea's capital, Asmara.
Somalia's exiled opposition leaders on Monday lashed out at the international community's support for the Ethiopian-backed interim government and defended the deadly insurgency against Mogadishu. "The resistance of Somali people is a legitimate response" to Ethiopian occupation, former Parliament speaker Sharif Hassan Sheikh Aden said.
The United Nations special humanitarian envoy for the Horn of Africa on Wednesday kicked off a tour of the drought-stricken region in Eritrea where concerns are mounting that food aid may be rotting in warehouses. Since September, Asmara has cut the number of free food aid recipients by 95%, from 1,3-million to about 70 000.
Eritrea on Monday denied accusations by Ethiopia that it was behind three separate explosions that rocked Addis Ababa last week and wounded four people. Yemane Gebremeskel, director of the president's office, said that the weekend accusations by Addis Ababa were meant to shift "attention from their own domestic problems".
The United Nations has urged India and Jordan, the top contributors to the UN peacekeeping force in Ethiopia and Eritrea, not to withdraw their troops over restrictions imposed by Asmara. UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan has asked the two countries to delay any decisions about staffing the UN mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea in the hope that a stalemate over the Eritrean restrictions can be resolved.
The United Nations operation monitoring the increasingly tense border between Ethiopia and Eritrea said on Monday that Asmara's ban on helicopter overflights would force it to vacate nearly half its posts on Eritrean territory. The UN Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea said a review of the ban had led it to conclude that it could no longer staff 18 of the smallest and most isolated of its 40 observation posts.
About 1,9-million Eritreans currently in need of food aid could suffer even more because the world has shifted its focus to other crises such as Darfur in western Sudan, the United Nations has warned. Eritrea grew only 20% of the food it needed last year and has asked the international community for $120-million to offset the shortfall.
In the last story of her series about children behind bars, Athandiwe Saba speaks to young men who have committed serious crimes and are now living behind the walls of the Mogale Child and Youth Care Centre