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Sarah Montgomery OBE has been appointed UK New Envoy to the Horn of Africa and the Red Sea.

Britain has named a new envoy for the Red Sea and the Horn of Africa, a strategic region beset by multiple security and humanitarian crises.

The appointment of diplomat Sarah Montgomery was announced Tuesday just as Beijing’s special envoy to the Horn of Africa was in Ethiopia seeking to play a greater role in the region.

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“From a humanitarian crisis enveloping the Horn of Africa to our deepening ties across the Gulf, the UK’s relationship with the Red Sea region is at a critical juncture,” Britain’s Minister for Africa Vicky Ford said in a statement.

UK Appoints New Envoy For The Red Sea And Horn Of Africa
Sarah Montgomery, UK Special Envoy for the Red Sea Horn of Africa. Photo courtesy of her official Twitter account @SEMontgomery.

The Horn of Africa has a strategic position opposite the Arabian Peninsula and the Gulf of Aden.

Montgomery was previously at the British embassy in Washington and also held senior roles in the Gulf, Yemen, and Iran section at the UK’s National Security Secretariat, the statement said.

“Her experience on security issues in the Gulf indicates that the Red Sea will be her focus,” Ben Hunter, East Africa analyst at risk intelligence company Verisk Maplecroft, told AFP.

“Saudi Arabia and the UAE have become a major security and economic players in the Horn.”

UK Special Envoy to the Horn of Africa and the Red Sea Sarah Montgomery said: “I am delighted to take up this role at a vital time for the region. The Horn of Africa is facing a humanitarian catastrophe as extreme weather events linked to climate change, conflict, and instability, and the rise in global food prices following Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine combine to push large numbers of people towards famine.”

UK Appoints New Envoy For The Red Sea And Horn Of Africa
Sarah Montgomery, UK Special Envoy for the Red Sea Horn of Africa. Photo courtesy of her official Twitter account @SEMontgomery.

“The UK is strengthening our links across the Gulf on the key issues of our time, from free trade to regional security and climate change. I am looking forward to working with our partners in the region and internationally on all of these issues,” the new envoy added.

Four countries in the region, Somaliland, Ethiopia, Kenya, and Somalia, are in the grip of a punishing drought, with warnings that Somalia is at risk of famine.

Northern Ethiopia has been engulfed in a war that erupted in November 2020 between government forces and Tigrayan rebels, and the country is also being shaken by several local conflicts of varying intensity.

China’s special envoy Xue Bing, who was appointed to the role in February, said Tuesday after a two-day regional conference in Addis Ababa that Beijing wanted to play a “more important role” in promoting peace and security in the Horn.

The United States earlier this month named veteran diplomat Mike Hammer as its latest envoy for the Horn with the delicate task of building on Ethiopia’s fragile efforts towards peace.


About Sarah Montgomery OBE

Sarah Montgomery OBE
Sarah Montgomery, UK’s new Envoy for the Red Sea Horn of Africa. Photo courtesy of the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) website

Biography

Sarah Montgomery OBE is the UK’s New Envoy for the Red Sea and the Horn of Africa, having taken up the role in June 2022.

Prior to this, Sarah was:

  • Trade and Economic Counsellor in the British Embassy Washington

  • Head of the Gulf, Yemen, and Iran teams in the UK National Security Secretariat (and NSS lead on international strategy and engagement during the COVID-19 response)

  • Development Director in the British High Commission, Kenya (in the then Department for International Development)

She has previously held roles as:

  • Head of DFID Iraq overseeing the UK’s humanitarian and stabilization response to the Daesh crisis

  • DFID’s Ukraine lead, establishing teams in London and Kyiv in 2014

  • Senior DFID Representative to the Helmand Provincial Reconstruction Team in Afghanistan

  • Middle East lead in the UK Government’s Stabilisation Unit

  • Private Secretary to the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government

Before joining the UK Civil Service in 2007, Sarah worked as a researcher in the House of Commons.

Social media links

Sarah Montgomery on Twitter: @SEMontgomery

Special Envoy for the Red Sea and the Horn of Africa

Special representatives use their expertise to develop a greater coherent effort in making sure that the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) works closely and effectively with foreign powers.

The role of the Special Envoy for the Red Sea and the Horn of Africa is to lead the UK government’s response to international activity in the Red Sea region. The Special Envoy engages with those involved on both shores of the Red Sea and beyond.

Previous roles in government

  • Counselor for Trade and Economics, USA

    • 2021 to 2022

  • Head of DFID Kenya

    • 2018 to 2019


What is a CBE?

Standing for Commander of the Order of the British Empire, the CBE is the highest-ranking Order of the British Empire award (excluding a knighthood/damehood), followed by OBE and then MBE.
The CBE is awarded to individuals for having a prominent role at the national level, or a leading role at the regional level. CBEs are also awarded for distinguished and innovative contributions to any area.

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