Image of the Spanish Navy frigate "Numanica" in action during its participation in Operation Atalanta
Horn of Africa
This area encompasses Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, and Somalia. In its widest sense it could also include Kenya, Sudan, South Sudan and Uganda. It is a particularly interesting geopolitical and geo-strategic region for the international community. A significant amount of international trade passes through its waters. Various countries in the Horn of Africa suffer from a marked political, social and economic instability that has caused conflicts that are still under way in countries such as South Sudan, Somalia and Sudan. In addition to the violence, under-development and drought continue to plague the region

Out of the countries that make up the Horn of Africa, Ethiopia stands out for its demographical importance, economic evolution and traditional stabilising efforts in the region, despite the disruptions it has suffered since 2015 with civilian protests. This is the second most populated country in Africa with around 96 million inhabitants, trailing only behind Nigeria. Ethiopia is currently the Horn of Africa's biggest driver of stability, via its implication in Somalia where its troops participated in the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), and via its mediating work in the serious conflict being suffered in South Sudan. Furthermore, in recent years Ethiopia has been able to consolidate itself as one of the largest growing economies, with growth rates of around 8% a year.

Kenya is another large country in the Horn of Africa which, in its position as a regional leader and the most developed country in East Africa (thanks to its sustainable growth levels of around 5% in recent years), also carries out a stabilising role in Somalia, where it takes a leading role with its troops contributing in the fight against the terrorist group Al-Shabab, as well as in the Great Lakes region.

Somalia is one of the key scenarios in the Horn of Africa. The country, after a period of great violence and disaggregation from 1991, lived through a difficult transition between 2005 and 2012. New authorities were chosen in 2012, and with that a political stabilisation and security process was started that is still not completed, with Al-Shabab terrorism representing the most enduring threat for the country's federal government and for the region as a whole. The humanitarian crises that have ravished Somalia, along with terrorism and piracy in the Indian Ocean have caused Spain to determinedly involve itself to help with the stabilisation process. Thus, our country actively participates in the European Union's and NATO's different operations that fight against piracy in Indian Ocean waters and Somali territory, particularly EU NAVFOR Somalia (Operation Atalanta).

Sudan, has lived through two long civil wars between the north and the south from 1955 to1972 and from 1983 to 2005. After the latter war, a transitory period started which came to a head with the holding of a referendum and South Sudan gaining its independence in July 2011. However, conflicts are still rife in various parts of the country such as Darfur and the "Two Areas": South Kordofan and Blue Nile.

The serious conflict that South Sudan has been subject to since December 2013 should also be highlighted. A confrontation for political power in the young country quickly led to an armed conflict with serious hints of inter-ethnic fighting, causing huge violations of human rights and the tremendous need for humanitarian aid in order to alleviate the consequences that the violence had on millions of victims.

From a multilateral perspective, the eight countries that make up the Horn of Africa are those that comprise the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD). This organisation was formally set up in 1996, succeeding the Intergovernmental Authority on Drought and Development which was created 10 years prior. The new IGAD was established with a new organisational structure and new areas of regional cooperation, which include the promotion of peace and security in the organisation's countries.

Spain's interest in the stability of the Horn of Africa, the maritime security in the Indian Ocean and the economic growth of some countries has translated into a growing implication of our action in the region. In the widest sense of the European Union's action framework, Spain has also significantly contributed to the stabilisation of the region. This effort is not only coordinated with the EU and its Member States, but also with the big regional actors, among which the African Union stands out.

 

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