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17 January 2017
09:01 CET+01:00

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   Italy sends in the army to assist Italians trapped by snow

Heavy snow has seen schools closed and thousands left without electricity. Photo: AFP

UPDATED: Heavy snowfall and unusually harsh weather have left hundreds of thousands of homes without electricity, schools closed, and roads unusable.

Recent days have seen up to a metre of snow in southern areas, strong winds in the north and coastal areas, and temperatures well below the average for the season in most of the country, reaching lows of below -30C in some northern mountain towns.

The wintery conditions are expected to last for at least another week, due to the arrival of a polar air mass in the country, weather experts at Meteo.it explained.
On Tuesday evening, Italy's Defence Minister Roberta Pinotti confirmed that the army had deployed soldiers to Abruzzo, which is suffering the brunt of the wintery spell with road closures, power blackouts and some smaller villages isolated.
   
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Over a quarter of the local population - 300,000 people - are without electricity, according to the region's councillor for Civil Protection. A further 12,000 people in the Marche region also suffered power blackouts, while 2,000 in the towns of Chieti and Pescara had no running water.
Fire services are also assisting in the central Italian regions, rescuing trapped farm animals and helping to clear roads, as well as continuing to work on recovery in the areas hit by earthquakes last year.
   
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Since the weekend, at least three people have been reported dead from weather-related conditions. A 67-year-old man was reported dead from hypothermia in Teramo, Abruzzo, after falling from a boat into icy water, and a 53-year-old homeless person was found dead by police due to exposure in Agrigento, Sicily. On Wednesday morning, a third victim was found dead in his car in Brindisi.

In Salerno, Campania in southern Italy, the small mountain village of Pruno had been isolated by the snow for several days without access to food or medical supplies. Soldiers and firefighters conducted relief operations on Monday, bringing medicine and food supplies for the next few days.


Photo: AFP

Heavy snowfall in the areas affected by the 2016 earthquakes has left already fragile buildings struggling under the added weight, with further damage to the towns' historic centres feared.

Residents have raised concerns for their farm animals in damaged barns and stables while temperatures remained at around 0C in most of the region on Tuesday, with both Amatrice and Arquata del Tronto at -1C.

"We're back on our knees: we have a meter of snow, isolated hamlets, no light, and the Via Salaria [the main road from Rome to the region] is blocked. We need help," said Sante Stangoni, mayor of Acquasanta Terme in the Marche region.

Over the weekend, residents of the affected areas held demonstrations over the lack of government assistance, with one protester telling The Local: "The rubble is still there; nothing has been moved, and then there's the aggravating factor of the snow and frost."

Five months after the earthquake, Italy residents say 'nothing has changed'
Photo: Mario Laporta/AFP

There has also been huge disruption to travel, with the A14 reopening at 9:30am on Wednesday morning after two days' closure due to snowfall. Other partial road closures remain in place in Sicily, Tuscany and Emilia Romagna and boat travel to some of the country's islands is severely disrupted, with Capraia, and the islands of Elba and Giglio all isolated due to agitated seas.


chool closures continue across the country, including in the mountainous parts of the Umbria and Marche regions, Prato in Tuscany, and northern Sardinia.

IN PICTURES: Italy transforms into a winter wonderland with heavy snowfall
The wintery spell is expected to continue until next Thursday at the very earliest, the weather boffins at Meteo.it predict, with continued cold weather across the country and more snow in the centre-south and extremely strong winds of over 100km/h in Trieste and Tuscany.

Wednesday will likely bring widespread cloud and rain, with snow in Emilia Romagna, Marche and northern Abruzzo at 100-300m altitudes, while elsewhere snowfall will be constrained to areas above 400m. Temperatures are expected to remain low before seeing slight increases on Thursday and Friday.
But the weekend should finally bring some moderate relief, with slight improvement in conditions expected across the country but especially in the central-south.

Source=http://www.thelocal.it/20170117/thousands-without-electricity-as-snow-and-wind-batter-italy

Europe’s African ‘wall’ now almost complete

Tuesday, 17 January 2017 10:10 Written by

frontex-migration-2016

Martin Plaut and Leonard Vincent


frontex-migration-2016
Date: 16/01/2017
Author: Martin Plaut
1 Comment
Martin Plaut and Leonard Vincent

It may not be a physical barrier comparable to Donald Trump’s wall to prevent Mexicans from reaching the USA, but it is nearly in place. Europe is close to sealing the routes refugees and migrants take across the Mediterranean. Consider the facts. These are the routes into southern Europe. (Map: Frontex Risk Analysis, Q2 2016) frontex-migration-2016


frontex-migration-2016

The graphic produced by the EU’s Frontier Agency is clear: the major route that Africans are taking is via Libya.

The map below, from the same source, underlines the point.

frontex-illegal-entry

Two routes that Africans have used in the past have almost been sealed. There is next to no transit by sea from West Africa through the Canary Islands and only a limited number arriving in Spain.

The route through the Sinai and Israel has been closed.

The brutal treatment of Eritreans and Sudanese in the Sinai by mafia-style Bedouin families, who extracted ransoms with torture and rape, was certainly a deterrent. So too has been the increasing propensity of Egypt to deport Eritreans to their home country, despite the risks that they will be jailed and abused when they are returned. But this route was sealed in December 2013 when the Israeli authorities built an almost impregnable fence, blocking entry via the Sinai.

This has left Libya – and to a lesser extent Egypt – as the only viable routes for Africans to use. Both are becoming more difficult. Although the International Organisation for Migration calculates that roughly 17 men, women and children perishing every day making the crossing, or nearly one every hour, they have not been deterred.

Libya is critical to the success of the EU’s strategy, as a recent European assessment explained:  “Libya is of pivotal importance as the primary point of departure for the Central Mediterranean route.”

Libya: the final brick in the ‘wall’

The European Union has adopted new tactics to try to seal the central Mediterranean route.

The countries keenest to push this for this to take place are Germany and Italy, which took the bulk of the refugees that arrived in recent years. Germany received nearly 1.2 million asylum seekers over the past two years, while Italy received 335,000 arrivals over the course of 2015 and 2016.

Earlier this month Italy’s Interior Minister Marco Minniti was dispatched to Tripoli to broker an agreement on fighting irregular migration through the country with Fayez al-Sarraj, head of the UN-backed Government of National Accord.

Minniti and al-Sarraj  agreed to reinforce cooperation on security, the fight against terrorism and human trafficking.

“There is a new impulse here — we are moving as pioneers,” Mario Giro, Italy’s deputy foreign minister, told the Financial Times. “But there is a lot of work to do, because Libya still doesn’t yet have the capacity to manage the flows, and the country is still divided.”

The deal has, apparently, hit a snag. The Libyan government is resisting Italy’s proposals, although their detailed objections have not been revealed.
Germany’s aid threat

While Italy’s attempting to strike a deal with Libya, Germany is issuing threats.

With Chancellor Angela Merkel facing elections in 2017 and keen to show she is no longer a ‘soft touch’ for refugees, a much harder line is now being taken with anyone seeking asylum in Germany.

Germany deported 25,000 migrants in 2016 and another 55,000 were persuaded to return home voluntarily.

German Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière is pushing a plan that would make it easier to detain rejected asylum seekers considered a potential security threat, and to deport them from “repatriation centres” at airports.

Germany is underling its determination to cut numbers by threatening to end development aid to countries that refuse to take back rejected asylum seekers. “Those who do not cooperate sufficiently cannot hope to benefit from our development aid,” Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel told Der Spiegel.


Europe and Africa


The Italian proposals are very much in line with agreements the EU reached with African leaders during their summit in Malta, in late 2015.

The two sides signed a deal to halt the flight of refugees and migrants.

Europe offered training to “law enforcement and judicial authorities” in new methods of investigation and “assisting in setting up specialised anti-trafficking and smuggling police units”. The European police forces of Europol and the EU’s border force (Frontex) will assist African security police in countering the “production of forged and fraudulent documents”.

This meant co-operating with dictatorial regimes, like Sudan, which is ruled by Omar al-Bashir, who is wanted for war crimes and crimes against humanity by the International Criminal Court.

But President al-Bashir is now seen as a western friend, despite his notorious record. One of President Obama’s last acts in office has been to lift sanctions against Sudan.
What is clear from the Italian and German initiatives is that Europe is determined to do all it can to reduce, and finally halt, the flow of Africans through Libya – the only viable route left for most African migrants and refugees to reach Europe.

A legal route into Europe

While the informal and illegal routes are being sealed a tiny legitimate route is being opened. The Catholic Church, working through its aid arm, Caritas and the Community of Sant Egidio, has managed to negotiate an agreement with Italy for 500 refugees from the Horn of Africa to be allowed to come to Italy.

Oliviero Fortis, Head of the Immigration Department of Caritas, said: “We must, as far as possible, promote legal and secure entry solutions. Being able to enter Italy with a visa is an operation that works perfectly. Except at the political level, and that’s the big problem! It is the Italian Church that will bear the costs, in the hope that this initiative will be a model for the acceptance of refugees that can be monitored and replicated by European institutions.”

EU and Eritrea

Eritrea – among the most brutal dictatorships in Africa – remains one of the key sources of migration and refugees. Although Eritrea has fewer citizens than most other African states more Eritreans arrived illegally in Europe in early 2016 than from any other African country.

This comes at a time of unprecedented pressure on Eritrean refugees, as they make their way through Sudan and into Libya.  The Sudanese government’s ‘Rapid Support Force’ – an autonomous special force headed by a notorious Janjaweed commander – has been used to round up refugees, to deport them back to Eritrea.

The EU is floundering around attempting to halt this exodus. Recently it offered €200 million in aid to Eritrean ‘projects’, but has few means of monitoring just how it will be spent. Eritrea is a one-party state, in which the ruling PFDJ has never held a congress.

The country is ruled by a narrow clique surrounding President Isaias Afwerki, which uses National Service conscripts on the farms and factories that they control.

While the EU has outlined a range of programmes it is willing to support, given the monopoly power exercised by the sole party and army commanders over the entire Eritrean society, it has next to no means of ensuring that the funds do not ultimately end up reinforcing this autocracy.

Conclusion

If the EU initiatives fail (and it is highly likely that they will) they will only serve to strengthen the Eritrean and Sudanese regimes. At the same time attempting to block Libya and Egypt as the only remaining means of reaching European soil is likely to force Eritrean and Sudanese citizens to take even longer and more dangerous journeys to reach safety.

The EU is working hard to strengthen its ties with Libya so that it can go into Libyan waters and destroy the boats and other infrastructure used to smuggle Africans into Europe.

In a report to EU’s 28 member states, Rear Admiral Enrico Credendino, who heads the European Union Naval Force Mediterranean (EU NAVFOR MED) explained that it is vital that

European navies operated inside Libyan territorial waters to halt trafficking. But this cannot happen at present. “It is clear that the legal and political pre-conditions have not been met,” said Admiral Credendino, indicating that greater cooperation with the Libyan authorities was needed.

The tiny legal route offered by Italy is unlikely to meet the needs of Africans desperate to seek refuge in Europe. Instead, the increasing restrictions are likely to lead to increased deaths and despair as destitute African youths take ever-more risky routes out of Africa – and further destabilisation of an already fragile part of the world.

This is the likely outcome of Europe’s African ‘wall’.

It will neither end the flow of refugees fleeing suffocating repression, nor will it seal the borders of Europe. Thousands of people fleeing for their lives will be forced away from Europe (and away from European public opinion). Instead it will place the burden of this crisis on brutal and often racist regimes along the fugitives’ routes.

And all this for what?


Refusing to accommodate, for a reasonable period of time, a few thousand young women and men who are only too eager to learn, live and contribute to European societies, until eventually circumstances change and they can return home with gratitude towards their European hosts.


It’s not only a shame; it is a political mistake of historic proportions.

Source=https://martinplaut.wordpress.com/2017/01/16/europes-african-wall-now-almost-complete/

Two routes that Africans have used in the past have almost been sealed. There is next to no transit by sea from West Africa through the anary Islands and only a limited number arriving in Spain.

The route through the Sinai a

nd Israel has been closed.

The brutal treatment of Eritreans and Sudanese in the Sinai by mafia-style Bedouin families, who extracted ransoms with torture and rape, was certainly a deterrent. So too has been the increasing propensity of Egypt to deport Eritreans to their home country, despite the risks that they will be jailed and abused when they are returned. But this route was sealed in December 2013 when the Israeli authorities built an almostimpregnable fence, blocking entry via the Sinai.

This has left Libya – and to a lesser extent Egypt – as the only viable routes for Africans to use. Both are becoming more difficult. Although the International Organisation for Migrationcalculatesthat roughly 17 men, women and children perishing every day making the crossing, or nearly one every hour, they have not been deterred.

Libya is critical to the success of the EU’s strategy, as a recent European assessmentexplained:  “Libya is of pivotal importance as the primary point of departure for the Central Mediterranean route.”

Libya: the final brick in the ‘wall’

The European Union has adopted new tactics to try to seal the central Mediterranean route.

The countries keenest to push this for this to take place are Germany and Italy, which took the bulk of the refugees that arrived in recent years. Germanyreceivednearly 1.2 million asylum seekers over the past two years, while Italy received 335,000 arrivals over the course of 2015 and 2016.

Earlier this month Italy’s Interior Minister Marco Minniti was dispatched to Tripoli to broker an agreement on fighting irregular migration through the country with Fayez al-Sarraj, head of the UN-backed Government of National Accord.

Minniti and al-Sarraj agreed to reinforcecooperation on security, the fight against terrorism and human trafficking.

“There is a new impulse here — we are moving as pioneers,” Mario Giro, Italy’s deputy foreign minister, told theFinancial Times. “But there is a lot of work to do, because Libya still doesn’t yet have the capacity to manage the flows, and the country is still divided.”

The deal has, apparently, hit a snag. The Libyan governmentis resistingItaly’s proposals, although their detailed objections have not been revealed.

Germany’s aid threat

While Italy’s attempting to strike a deal with Libya, Germany is issuing threats.

With Chancellor Angela Merkel facing elections in 2017 and keen to show she is no longer a ‘soft touch’ for refugees, a much harder line is now being taken with anyone seeking asylum in Germany.

Germanydeported25,000 migrants in 2016 and another 55,000 were persuaded to return home voluntarily.

German Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière is pushing a plan that would make it easier to detain rejected asylum seekers considered a potential security threat, and to deport them from “repatriation centres” at airports.

Germany isunderlingits determination to cut numbers by threatening to end development aid to countries that refuse to take back rejected asylum seekers. “Those who do not cooperate sufficiently cannot hope to benefit from our development aid,” Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel toldDer Spiegel.

Europe and Africa

The Italian proposals are very much in line with agreements the EU reached with African leaders duringtheir summitin Malta, in late 2015.

The two sides signed a deal to halt the flight of refugees and migrants.

Europe offered training to “law enforcement and judicial authorities” in new methods of investigation and “assisting in setting up specialised anti-trafficking and smuggling police units”. The European police forces of Europol and the EU’s border force (Frontex) will assist African security police in countering the “production of forged and fraudulent documents”.

This meant co-operating with dictatorial regimes, like Sudan, which is ruled by Omar al-Bashir, who iswantedfor war crimes and crimes against humanity by the International Criminal Court.

But President al-Bashir is now seen as a western friend, despite his notorious record. One of President Obama’s last acts in office has been tolift sanctionsagainst Sudan.

What is clear from the Italian and German initiatives is that Europe is determined to do all it can to reduce, and finally halt, the flow of Africans through Libya – the only viable route left for most African migrants and refugees to reach Europe.

A legal route into Europe

While the informal and illegal routes are being sealed a tiny legitimate route is being opened. The Catholic Church, working through its aid arm, Caritas and theCommunity of Sant Egidio, hasmanaged to negotiatean agreement with Italy for 500 refugees from the Horn of Africa to be allowed to come to Italy.

Oliviero Fortis, Head of the Immigration Department of Caritas, said: “We must, as far as possible, promote legal and secure entry solutions. Being able to enter Italy with a visa is an operation that works perfectly. Except at the political level, and that’s the big problem! It is the Italian Church that will bear the costs, in the hope that this initiative will be a model for the acceptance of refugees that can be monitored and replicated by European institutions.”

EU and Eritrea

Eritrea – among the most brutal dictatorships in Africa – remains one of the key sources of migration and refugees. Although Eritrea hasfewer citizensthan most other African states more Eritreans arrived illegally in Europe in early 2016 than from any other African country.

This comes at a time of unprecedented pressure on Eritrean refugees, as they make their way through Sudan and into Libya.  The Sudanese government’s ‘Rapid Support Force’ – an autonomous special force headed by a notorious Janjaweed commander – has been used to round up refugees, to deport them back to Eritrea.

The EU is floundering around attempting to halt this exodus. Recently it offered€200 million in aid to Eritrean ‘projects’, but has few means of monitoring just how it will be spent. Eritrea is a one-party state, in which the ruling PFDJ has never held a congress.

The country is ruled by a narrow clique surrounding President Isaias Afwerki, which uses National Service conscripts on the farms and factories that they control.

While the EU has outlined arange of programmesit is willing to support, given the monopoly power exercised by the sole party and army commanders over the entire Eritrean society, it has next to no means of ensuring that the funds do not ultimately end up reinforcing this autocracy.

Conclusion

If the EU initiatives fail (and it is highly likely that they will) they will only serve to strengthen the Eritrean and Sudanese regimes. At the same time attempting to block Libya and Egypt as the only remaining means of reaching European soil is likely to force Eritrean and Sudanese citizens to take even longer and more dangerous journeys to reach safety.

The EU is working hard to strengthen its ties with Libya so that it can go into Libyan waters and destroy the boats and other infrastructure used to smuggle Africans into Europe.

In a report to EU’s 28 member states, Rear Admiral Enrico Credendino, who heads the European Union Naval Force Mediterranean (EU NAVFOR MED)explainedthat it is vital that European navies operated inside Libyan territorial waters to halt trafficking. But this cannot happen at present. “It is clear that the legal and political pre-conditions have not been met,” said Admiral Credendino, indicating that greater cooperation with the Libyan authorities was needed.

The tiny legal route offered by Italy is unlikely to meet the needs of Africans desperate to seek refuge in Europe. Instead, the increasing restrictions are likely to lead to increased deaths and despair as destitute African youths take ever-more risky routes out of Africa – and further destabilisation of an already fragile part of the world.

This is the likely outcome of Europe’s African ‘wall’.

It will neither end the flow of refugees fleeing suffocating repression, nor will it seal the borders of Europe. Thousands of people fleeing for their lives will be forced away from Europe (and away from European public opinion). Instead it will place the burden of this crisis on brutal and often racist regimes along the fugitives’ routes.

And all this for what?

Refusing to accommodate, for a reasonable period of time, a few thousand young women and men who are only too eager to learn, live and contribute to European societies, until eventually circumstances change and they can return home with gratitude towards their European hosts.

It’s not only a shame; it is a political mistake of historic proportions.

 

Disaster comes day after more than 550 migrants rescued between Libya and Italy

Saturday 14 January 2017

med-rescue-4.jpg The disaster came a day after two migrants were found crushed to death in a dinghy AP

More than 100 refugees have drowned after a boat sank in rough conditions in the Mediterranean Sea as the crisis shows no sign of slowing.

The Italian Navy was searching for survivors from the vessel, which was believed to be carrying up to 110 people.

Only four survivors were pulled from the water, with at least eight bodies found so far.

​Flavio Di Giacomo, from the International Organisation for Migration, told The Independent around 106 people were thought to have died and described the conditions at sea as "extremely bad".

The boat went down in waters between Libya and Italy, which has become the deadliest sea crossing in the world since the start of the refugee crisis.

It claimed the vast majority of more than 5,000 lives lost in treacherous boat journeys to Europe in 2016, the deadliest year on record, with people drowning or being crushed or suffocated in overcrowded smugglers' boats.

Saturday's disaster was the worst single incident so far this year, which has already seen at least 122 deaths at sea.

Source=http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/refugee-crisis-migrants-asylum-seekers-mediterranean-sea-disaster-boat-sinking-100-rescue-latest-a7527596.html

Tribute to Dr. Habte Tesfamariam

Saturday, 14 January 2017 20:33 Written by

The news about the passing away of Dr. Habte Tesfamariam in the early evening of 13 January 2017 in German at 74 years of age had once more struck as a thunderbolt the rank and file of the Eritrean National Salvation Front, in particular, and its sister organizations in the opposition camp, and the wider change and justice seekers’ national movement, in general. The death of Dr. Habte is yet another devastating loss the ENSF has suffered in the span of the past few years. 

His involvement in the Eritrean national movement had started at youthful age. As a student he had joined the Eritrean Liberation Movement whose message and organization had soon after its formation in 1958 spread countrywide in 7-person clandestine formations.  During his enrollment as veterinary science student in Alemaya College, Ethiopia, he continued his activities from there as well. Subsequent to graduation with the first degree, he moved to Poland to pursue higher studies. From there, too, he joined other fellow compatriots to organize Europe-wide student union, which they wanted to link with the General Union of the Eritrean students whose members were studying in Cairo, Baghdad and Syria.

As chairman of his union in Europe he was frequent visitor to the Middle East in the 60s for the purpose of consulting with the ELF leadership of the time (The Supreme Council and the ELF later), and unifying the student unions under the General Union of the Eritrean Students (GUES). One of those travelers was in 1968. These missions had continued during his time as Ph.D. candidate in Berlin, East Germany. Following the completion of his studies there, he joined the ELF as a full timer fighter

The first encounter the writer of these lines had with him in person was at the venue of the ELF Second National Congress in 1975 where he was elected as a member of the higher political leadership the front, the Revolutionary Council. It was in that capacity that he was assigned to lead the European and African desk of the ELF Foreign Relations from his base in Damascus, Syria. Close working relationship between the Foreign Relations office and the ELF Foreign Information Center in Beirut, Lebanon, had given me as a member of the staff of the latter an opportunity to know Dr. Habte more as a person and an activist.

Dr. Habte was a kind, humble and modest man. A first impression was sufficient for a person to mark his jovial nature. His humility and respect for individual’s regardless of rank or status manifested themselves in practical life. Whenever he happened to be for work visits, he had shared his stipend or allowance with his subordinates, and did the shopping and prepared meals for them while they attended their jobs. I was one of those who had enjoyed his kindness and affection.

During his tenure as head of Euro-African desk in the ELF Foreign Relations bureau, his effort to open relations with European and African countries was relentless. It must be recalled that during those times these countries were almost totally closed area to ELF, and the Eritrean activists in general due to Ethiopia’s dominant diplomatic influence that encompassed the two superpowers of the time and their allies. Therefore, his movement was closely watched, and in one incident in 1976 in Lusaka, Zambia, he had narrowly escaped kidnapping by enemy security agents thanks to the then Ambassador of Somalia.

Due to this hurdles his efforts had faced, his pursuit of political and diplomatic openings for the ELF were run in two directions: political and diplomatic where possible and humanitarian aid channels to help refugees mainly in the camps in Eastern Sudan. In regard to the latter, he joined hands in 1975 with his friend from his student days, Dr. Yusuf Birhanu Ahmaddin, to found the Eritrean Red Cross-Crescent Society. This became crucial means in establishing contacts and relations with humanitarian and non-governmental aid agencies, and provided valuable medical and school facilities to needy refugees and their children such as UNESCO school in Kassala, Sudan, and the primary school at Wed-Sherifey refugee camp  kilometers outskirt of Kassala.

His tenure in the Foreign Relation office had continued up to the end of the year 70s, and the setback the ELF had suffered in 1982 due to the allied EPLF-TPLF assault. The internal crisis and the unfortunate March 25 military takeover by contingents of the ELF under the late Abdalla Idris Mohammed, and detention of most of the top leadership had embarked Dr. Habte on extremely difficult mission.

The principal challenge was how to preserve at least some semblance of what the ELF had represented: demographic representation and programmatic ideals. It was then that his leadership quality had factored to manifest in resoluteness for principles and pragmatism in dealing with problems in the context of existing realities. During that difficult time, when the mainstream segment of the ELF that retained the name ELF-RC faced impossible options of disbanding or continuing as an organization, Dr. Habte had to rely on his pragmatism and find maneuvering space. That was the time when he and other leaders decided to opt for merger with the late Osman Saleh Sabbe’s organization and avoid dispersal and oblivion. That decision gave accorded the organization a breathing space until it could reorganize its rank and file re-emerge again as viable organization. Thus, Dr. Habte joined by the late Ahmed Mohammed Nasser and Ibrahim Mohammed Ali and many others, were able to lead the ELF-RC to hold its 3rd National Congress in 1989 from where it re-launched itself to play its role.

Ever since, thus, he served the organization in top level positions such as the chairmanship of the higher political leadership council (RC) and numerous ad hoc political missions and dialogue committees for unity. There had hardly been an attempt in the long unity efforts in which Dr. Habte had not played prominent role. This was true even in post-liberation years since 1991, when the monopolistic and dictatorial nature of the EPLF regime became more and more entrenched. Indeed, the struggle to unify the opposition organizations and rally support for them has demanded patriots with Dr. Habte’s level of commitment to national unity and liberation.

For that reason, he was conspicuously visible at various stages in the forums and conferences that produced opposition umbrellas. He had never missed any significant platform of which the 2010 Akaki Conference that led to Hawassa Congress a year after mere examples. He had served so diligently on the committees that he had co-authored of the Road Map which the Hawassa Congress of 2011 had adopted.

His comrades-in struggle, and generations to come, shall remember Dr. Habte an as accomplished patriot who had uniquely combined resoluteness on principles and flexible pragmatism on expediency whenever circumstances had called for it. This outlook reinforced by personal character had served him well in times of political crises. Whenever contradictions made political divorce, and thereby, decision making inevitable, the fate of national unity to which he was totally committed was deal maker or deal breaker. He shall be remembered as a man with unshaking faith in national unity through solidarity and integration as opposed to unity through compromise oriented military and political balances. On this matter, thus, no expediency or power of persuasion could sway him to compromise.

Dr. Habte had passed away while still the beloved and respected fatherly chairman of the Eritrean National Salvation Front. He shall be missed for long time as those who preceded him. He is survived with three bright children and their beloved mother.

May his soul rest in eternal peace, and his widow and children be graced with the strength that enable them work through the devastating grief.

REPORT

fromInternational Organization for Migration

Published on13 Jan 2017

Switzerland

Switzerland - IOM reports that 1,159 migrants and refugees entered Europe by sea in 2017, through 12 January, arriving mostly in Greece and Italy, compared with 22,590 through the first 12 days of January, 2016.

A year ago, IOM reported 22,322 migrants and refugees had landed on Greece’s islands after short runs from Turkey – a number consistent with the surge of Turkey-to-Europe passages that began the previous summer. This year through 12 January, IOM Athens reports that only 430 migrants from Turkey have landed in Greece.

Arrivals in Italy, while also quite low, are running slightly ahead of 2016’s totals this winter. IOM Rome reports 729 migrant arrivals in Italy from North Africa in 2017, compared to 268 at this time last year. Deaths recorded at sea so far in 2017 total 27 – compared with 64 through the first 12 days of 2016 – based on a report this morning that 14 bodies were found off Libya Thursday.

“This report is rather alarming,” said Julia Black of IOM’s Missing Migrants Project in Berlin. “Bodies washing up in Libya is something we often see preceded by a large shipwreck in the Central Mediterranean."

IOM Rome reported that of the 181,436 migrants arriving in Italy in 2016, the largest number came from Nigeria – 37,551 or more than 20 percent of total arrivals. Of these, 11,700 were women and children. Just over 3,000 were unaccompanied minors.

Eritreans were the second largest group at 20,718, including 3,832 unaccompanied minors – the largest child contingent from any sending country on this route. Despite the high number, this is the lowest total from Eritrea in three years (see chart below).

Eritrea was the top country of origin for arrivals in Italy in 2015, with 39,162, and the second largest – after Syria – in 2014, when 34,329 Eritreans sailed to Italy from North Africa. Between the years 2014-2016 Italian authorities recorded a total of 94,209 Eritrean migrants arriving by sea.

IOM Rome also reported a steep decline in the number of Syrian migrants risking the central Mediterranean route from North Africa. From a high of 42,323 in 2014, Syrian arrivals in Italy fell to 7,448 in 2015 and just 1,200 in 2016.

“We saw very little evidence that Syrians, who were disembarking from Turkey in 2015, returned to the North African route last year,” said IOM Rome spokesperson Flavio Di Giacomo. “It is quite possible those few who did come on this route in 2016 were already based in Egypt, Jordan or elsewhere in the region.”

Among other surprising statistics reported by IOM Rome this week: arrivals in Italy from the Gambia (11,929), Cote d’Ivoire (12,396) and Guinea (13,342) all topped 10,000 in 2016. The three West African countries also sent a combined total of over 4,000 unaccompanied minors.

Other sending countries with at least 10,000 of their citizens rescued between Libya and Italy in 2016 included Senegal and Mali.

The only non-African sending country among the top ten on this route was Bangladesh, with 8,131 migrants rescued in 2016. Of these, over 1,000 were unaccompanied minors, but only five were women.

The total number of unaccompanied minors rescued on the central Mediterranean route in 2016 was 25,846. The total number of women was 24,133.

For latest arrivals and fatalities in the Mediterranean, please visit:http://migration.iom.int/europe
Learn more about the Missing Migrants Project at:http://missingmigrants.iom.int

For further information please contact: Joel Millman at IOM Geneva, Tel: +41.79.103 8720, Email:
Flavio Di Giacomo at IOM Italy, Tel: +39 347 089 8996, Email:
Sabine Schneider at IOM Germany, Tel: +49 30 278 778 17 Email:
IOM Greece: Daniel Esdras, Tel: +30 210 9912174, Email:or Kelly Namia, Tel: +30 210 9919040, +30 210 9912174, Email:
Julia Black at IOM GMDAC, Tel: +49 30 278 778 27, Email:
Mazen Aboulhosn at IOM Turkey, Tel: +9031245-51202, Email:
IOM Libya: Othman Belbeisi, Tel: +216 29 600389, Email:or Ashraf Hassan, Tel: +216297 94707, Email:

For information or interview requests in French:
Florence Kim, OIM Genève, Tel: +41 79 103 03 42, Email:
Flavio Di Giacomo, OIM Italie, Tel: +39 347 089 8996, Email:

Source=http://reliefweb.int/report/italy/mediterranean-migrant-arrivals-reach-1159-deaths-sea-27

‘Judging’, in the true sense of the word, means to form an opinion or conclusion of someone or something after careful consideration of our thoughts, feelings and evidence. When we choose to cross a street, we look both ways of the street and decide whether to continue walking or not based on the condition of the traffic. That is then making judgement based on hard facts because we looked at both sides of the street. We judge based on what we see with our eyes; what we hear with our ears; what we smell with our nose; what we taste with our tongue or mouth; and what we feel or touch with our hand or skin. These are the five major senses of our body that we use as our tools every time we attempt to collect the necessary information. The five senses may not function all at the same time or situation and they may not even collect all the needed information at any time. If we do not collect adequate and appropriate information about a certain subject or object through our five senses, we may end up making the wrong judgement about any situation.  Lack of adequate information and too much irrelevant information from unreliable sources {such as social media, gossiping, political demagogue, etc) can cause serious problems in making a rational judgement of any situation because in both cases there is lack of hard facts or evidence that should reflect objective reality. In general, it is hard to always have sufficient and most relevant information about a particular situation.

 

In our social interactions the word ‘judging’ usually reflects and denotes negative connotation. Evidently, we do not want to be judged. Yet, despite our best efforts to be rational and decent, we all judge other people. It might be over small things, or it might be over big issues. We might even seek support by appealing to popular desires and prejudices rather than using rational argument. As an example, suppose that we are walking through the woods and we find a small dog. From the outset it looks cute and friendly. We may try to approach and move to pet the dog. Suddenly, the dog snarls and tries to bite us. The dog no longer seems cute and we feel fear and possibly anger. Then, as the wind blows, the leaves on the ground are carried away and we observe the dog has one of its legs caught in a trap. Now, we feel compassion for the dog. Eventually, we came to know that the dog became aggressive because it is in pain and is suffering. We were judgmental at the very beginning before knowing the situation of the dog. What can we learn from this story? It is important to note that for every event that takes place in nature there is always a cause-effect relationship. However, if we ask the right questions and do proper analysis, there is always a logical or scientific explanation for the cause-effect relationship of the event. That is the reason why we need to keep on seeking for information by asking appropriate questions in order to collect actual facts and enrich our knowledge base so that we can make rational judgements based on reality. The story below from Keisha (UK) is another typical example that narrates the kind of irrational judgement that we make without having a better understanding of the objective reality of a certain situation.

 

Once upon a time, a doctor entered the hospital in hurry after being called in for an urgent surgery. He answered the call as soon as possible. He changed his clothes and went directly to the surgery block where a young boy was prepared for surgery. He found the boy’s father pacing in the hall waiting for the doctor. Upon seeing the doctor, the father yelled, “Why did you take all this time to come? Don’t you know that my son’s life is in danger? Don’t you have any sense of responsibility?” The doctor smiled and said, “I am sorry, I was not in the hospital and I came as fast as I could after receiving the call and now, I ask you to calm down so that I can do my work.” “Calm down?! The father said angrily, “What if your son was in this room right now, would you calm down? If your own son dies while waiting for a doctor then what would you do?”  The doctor smiled again and replied, “We will do our best by God’s grace and you should also pray for your son’s healthy life.” The father murmured, “Giving advice when we are not concerned is so easy.”  The surgery took some hours after which the doctor was very pleased of the result, “Thanks goodness! Your son is saved!” and without waiting for the father’s reply he went on his way while saying, “If you have any questions, ask the nurse.” The nurse entered minutes after the doctor left and the father commented “Why is he so arrogant? He couldn’t wait a minute so that I could ask about my son’s state.” The nurse answered, tears coming down her face, “His son died yesterday in a car accident, he was at the funeral when we called him for your son’s surgery. And now after he saved your son’s life he rushed out to the burial of his own son.” Now, how would the father of the boy feel about the doctor after he heard what the nurse said about the reality of the situation? Obviously, he would feel very much embarrassed and would regret of what he hastily said about the doctor. As it is commonly said, “Haste makes waste.” In other words, haste conclusion leads to wrong judgement. In most instances happy people are indeed slow to judge, while unhappy people are too quick to judge.

 

The moral lesson of the story is that we should never judge anyone at any time because we never know how the life of the other person is at any particular time and situation. It is absurd to make any kind of judgement without knowing what others are going through in life or what kind of battle they are fighting at any particular moment. One thing to keep in mind is that there is always a story behind every single person on the planet and it could be a story we never know anything about.  It is important that we should not judge people before we truly know them. Just because someone is wearing a good smile on their face does not mean their problem is less than ours. Since there is always a reason why people are the way they are, it is essential to think about other person’s situation before we judge someone. Judging a person does not define who they are, it actually defines who we are. At times, judging someone is not actually bad, but the difference is in the way we do the judging. If we attempt to quickly form unfounded personal opinion about someone without having adequate information, the way we end up doing it will be biased and irrational. However, if we collect and accumulate concrete evidence, the approach we use to judge someone will be rational and unbiased. In fact, it would simply be telling the truth.

 

One day, a woman was flying from Seattle to San Francisco. Unexpectedly, for some good reason or another, the plane was diverted to Sacramento along the way. The flight attendant explained to the passengers that there would be a delay for some time. The passengers were informed that if they want to get off the aircraft, the airplane would re-board in about one hour.  Everybody got off the airplane except one lady who was blind. A man had noticed her as he walked by and could tell the lady was blind because her guide dog lay quietly underneath the seats in front of her throughout the entire flight. He could also tell that she had flown this very flight before because the pilot approached her and calling her by name, said, “Kathy, we are in Sacramento for almost an hour, would you like to get off and stretch your legs?” The blind lady said, “No thanks, but may be Buddy would like to stretch his legs.” So the pilot proceeded to take the dog off the plane for a walk. Meanwhile, there were people waiting in the gate area. They all came to a complete stand still when the pilot walked out with a guide dog for the blind. Even worse, the pilot was wearing dark sunglasses. Seeing the pilot with a guide dog for a blind, the passengers assumed that the pilot was blind. They did not take time to stop and think or even ask questions if the pilot is really blind. Immediately, they got scattered all over the terminal and they were not only trying to change their flight, but they were trying to change airlines.

 

The question to ask is that how many times in our lives did we know with certainty that something happened in a certain way, only to discover later that it wasn’t true? How many times has our lack of trust within us made us judge other people unfairly with our conceited ideas, often far away from reality? The moral lesson of the story is that things are not always as they appear. When the passengers made their judgment, they were actually judging on limited information. It is always better to ask, if we seek to know and understand the facts than simply assume otherwise. We should not guess or imagine the intention of other people. Instead, talking is how we come to understand others, and clear up a great many problems. That is why we have to think twice and ask the right questions to get the right answers before we judge other people or situations. If we are able to secure a clear understanding of a certain situation based on collected concrete evidence, we cannot have the pleasure to be judgmental unless otherwise we are in denial of the actual facts. The truth is the thing that cannot be long hidden. However, denial of the truth happens many times by many of us. In fact, most misunderstandings and conflicts that happen among ourselves could be avoided, if we would be a little more patient and a bit more understanding when things happen in any kind or form. We should simply take the time to ask the right questions in order to seek for the truth.  According to Thomas Berger, “The art and science of asking questions is the source of all knowledge” which leads to rational judgment.

 

 No human race is superior or inferior. All gross or collective judgments are wrong. It is human nature that we are all judgmental. When we become judgmental we are inevitably acting on limited knowledge. We need to be aware that every person is an individual and a product of different circumstances. Have we ever thought seriously how easily we can think ill or evil of someone without any grounded reason or justification? It is most unfair and mistaken to allow ourselves to judge someone based on appearance as narrated in the following story (David Mikkelson). There was a young boy in school whose mother used to cook for students and teachers to support her family. She had only one eye. The boy hated her because she was such an embarrassment to him. One day he was terribly angry at her when she came to the elementary school to say hello to him. He ignored her, threw a hateful look at her and ran out. The next day at school one of his classmates said, “EEEE, your mom only has one eye!”  The young boy wanted to bury himself in the ground and for his mother to just disappear. He confronted his mother that day and said, “If you are going to make me the laughing stock of the school, why don’t you just die?” His mother did not respond and he did not even stop for a second to think about what he had said because he was full of anger. He was oblivious to her feelings. He wanted out of the house and have nothing to do with his mother. So he studied real hard and got an opportunity to study abroad. After a few years, he came back, got married, had children of his own, bought a house, and built a happy life with his own family in a town far away from his mother. Then one day, his mother came to visit him. She had not seen him in years and she hadn’t even met his spouse nor her grandchildren. When she knocked and stood by the door, his children laughed when they saw a one-eyed woman. Her son yelled at her for coming to his house even uninvited. He screamed at her, “How dare you come to my house and scare my children! Get out of here now!” At this time, his mother quietly answered, “I am so sorry, I must have the wrong address.” Then, she quickly disappeared out of his sight.

 

 One day, her son received a letter regarding his high school reunion. He made an excuse to his wife that he had to go out of town for a business trip. He made the trip to the school reunion. After the reunion, for mere curiosity, he went to his old neighborhood where he grew up. His old neighbors told him that his mother died a few days before the reunion. He was not sad about the death of his mother. Nevertheless, his mother left a letter for him because she knew that he would come for the reunion. In the letter she indicated to him that she has always been proud of him though she was sorry to be a constant embarrassment for him as he was growing up. However, what she wanted him to know and understand is that when he was very little, he got into an accident and lost his eye. As a loving mother, she could not stand watching her son growing up with one eye. Selflessly, she donated one eye to her son and she was so proud to see him growing up with two eyes.  A  Tigrigna proverb really fits well to the story and says, “Alem grinbiT, (siginTir) zizerakayo gedifa zeizerakayo tihbeka.” It means, it happens in life that we may harvest what we did not plant. According to our culture in a mother and son relationship, the son was acting as an embarrassment to his mother more than she was to him. The mother received such cruel treatment that she had never expected from her son in return for the good deeds she did for him. Sadly, he never asked his mother how she lost her eye because he was preoccupied with his own feelings and pride. What did the young man feel when he learned the true story of his mother? When he learned of how she gave her eye to him, he should feel deep sadness and regret for all that he did to his wonderful mother. His mother did not tell him the story either when he was growing up. Perhaps she did not want her lost eye to be a constant reminder for him as he was growing up. She did want to make him feel guilty thinking that she made such a motherly sacrifice for the love of her son.  

 

It is also commonly observed among our children in our Diaspora society that we, the parents, can be a constant embarrassment to them when we wear our cultural dress with traditional hair-do, when we speak English, or others with an accent, and when we drive an old taxi or work odd jobs like parking, security guard, housekeeping, nursing homes, food services, and babysitting. Since we are generally treated on how we look, or seem to have and know, it is essential that our children should be open-minded and have a better perspective of the facts of life and develop the pride to appreciate and cherish their cultural heritage and ethnic identity. We need to create a conducive and suitable environment in which we can freely have a morally charged and sustainable interpersonal communication with our young generation in order to enlighten and empower their perspective and aspiration. The dialogue that may occur at family level can be used as a powerful approach to gravitate them to avoid negative judgmental attitudes towards any situation and to encourage all of us to maintain peace and harmony in our society.

 

 How we judge other people is a direct reflection of how we feel about ourselves. We judge because of our own selfish interests. When we judge, we invite judgment upon ourselves. By judging others, we hide our hypocrisy. The judgmental people have the courage to criticize and put others down, but they are too shallow and cowardly to recognize their own weaknesses. When we point our finger at someone, anyone, it is often a moment of judgement. We usually point our fingers when we want to scold someone, or point out what they have done wrong. It is futile to point fingers of condemnation because we are all guilty and innocent in many of life’s trials. What we need to understand is that each time we point our finger at someone, we simultaneously point three of our fingers back at ourselves. It means that we must have a look at ourselves at least three times before judging someone else one time. While it is in our nature to be judgmental, it is not at all useful to us when we look down on others, as if we are so much better than them. In a public discussion or in a political debate, we can learn tremendously from each other, if we stop and listen carefully to the argument of the other person and respond respectfully instead of judging with the intent of destroying personal character and creating unnecessary hostility and animosity among ourselves. Since we see what we want to see, for that same or exact reason we need to look the good side in people rather than the bad side. We need to be aware that being judgmental creates division, mistrust, and ruins lives and relationships. If other people are not what we want them to be, or think differently from the way we think, it is quite alright to disagree with their thoughts or opinions. However, it does not give us the right to judge them differently, or deny them the right to express their ideas, beliefs, or perspectives. We need to recognize the good intention, aspirations and desires of other people, even if it means overcoming our pride or ego for it can open our narrow mind beyond our comfort zone.  

 

 It is evident that the more we know ourselves, the less judgmental we become. However, we seem to have a clear idea of how other people should lead their lives, but we usually do not have a clear idea about how we should lead our own lives because we are very good lawyers for our own mistakes, but very good judges for the mistakes of other people. We try to find fault in others to prove that we are smarter, or better looking, or to feel better about ourselves. We get critical when others fail to meet our expectations, or when situations do not turn out the way we desire. We also judge or create opinion about others based on their looks or actions without even knowing them. We really should make it a goal each day not to judge people before we truly know them. If we know them, the truth might truly surprise us. Things do not usually happen the way we want them to happen.  If we do not like certain things the way they are, we need to try to change it to the way we think is right or proper. If we cannot change it because it is a natural thing, we need to change the way we think about it and accept the way it is created. According to the Holy Bible, Matthew, 7/1 “Judge not, that you be not judged” because for the same way we judge others, we will be judged. The measure we use to judge others, it will be the same measure applied to us too. Consistent with the holy script, the Eritrean scholars and professionals together with the Eritrean communities and religious institutions in Diasporas, must take the responsibility in becoming the most prominent role models to our young and the restless. They have the moral obligation to teach the young to adopt the rational thinking and to do the right thing. They have to volunteer to guide and lead the young generation to stop and think before being judgmental so that they can develop a better perspective and positive judgmental attitude about any situation. Being judgmental can usually keep them away from embracing new experience and knowledge, from respecting their parents and siblings, from associating with good friends and new people, and from cherishing their cultural heritage and ethnic identity.  

 

 In general, we are humans who should care for each other. We should never wrongly judge someone because we never know, someday we might find ourselves in the same situation. We should not judge others because we usually see what the other person chooses to show us and we also see what we want to see. It is better to learn the facts before we assume; to think clearly before we speak; and to understand the cause-effect relationship of any situation before we judge. It is evident that the more we know, the more we realize how much we do not know. It is also true that the less we know, the more we think we know. That is why those people who know the least always have the most to say and what they say is mostly nonsense. Thus, we need a moral uplifting, perhaps a divine intervention, that enriches our perspectives and strengthen our human relationships because where truth is denied, where arrogances is enforced, where prejudice is celebrated, where condemnation is endorsed, where hate is embraced, and where character is degraded, human dignity is disgraced and decent people are disrespected. To be open-minded or non-judgmental is neither automatic nor inevitable. It requires the tireless sacrifice, passionate concern, rational thinking, and dedicated effort from every one of us to do the right thing. Our own society in Diasporas has a great potential resources to offer, if we collectively take the initiative and responsibility to bring our people together to cultivate and nurture our young generation with our indigenous knowledge, wisdom, cultural heritage, and moral character in a peaceful and harmonious environment. It usually takes less energy to be positive than to be negative. If we focus our energy in becoming compassionate instead of being judgmental, we can grow and evolve with love, honor, respect, and human dignity.

 

Dr. Tesfa G. Gebremedhin, West Virginia University

12th AU-EU Human Rights Dialogue Held in Brussels, Belgium.

Thursday, 12 January 2017 13:16 Written by

January 10, 2017

EU-AU Press Release

AU EU Banners

 

JOINT COMMUNIQUE

 

1.    The 12th African Union (AU) - European Union (EU) Human Rights Dialogue took place on 10 January 2017 in Brussels, Belgium.

2.    The Dialogue was led by Dr Aisha Laraba Abdullahi, AU Commissioner for Political Affairs, and Mr Stavros Lambrinidis, the EU Special Representative for Human Rights. The AU participants included Hon. Justice Sylvain ORE, President of the AfCHPR; Hon Prof Benyam Dawit Mezmur, Chairperson the ACERWC, Hon. Maya Sahli-Fadel, Commissioner of the ACHPR; and Human Rights; Mr. Omar Farouq, ECOSOCC as well as staff from the AUC and other AU organs. On the EU side the participants included Amb.  Mara Marinaki, EEAS Principal Advisor on Gender and on Implementation of UNSC Resolution 1325 Women, Peace and Security; Ms. Birgitte Markussen, Deputy Managing Director Africa, EEAS, as well as EU staff working on human rights-related issues. Both sides reaffirmed their joint commitment to the promotion and protection of human rights on both continents and to collaborate on the effective implementation of continental and international human rights instruments.

3.    Both parties discussed recent developments in Africa and Europe in the area of human rights, notably the work of the AU organs with a human rights mandate and the implementation of Project 2016 to celebrate 2016 as the year of human rights in Africa with particular focus on the rights of women.

4.    The AU and EU welcomed the Declaration of the Human and Peoples’ Decade in Africa and the launch of the drafting of the African Human Rights Action and Implementation Plan 2017–26. The two parties agreed that it is a unique opportunity for concrete and tangible improvements in the protection and promotion of the fundamental rights. The EU agreed to support the AU with its plan to ensure the ratification and implementation of international and continental human rights instruments at the national level.

5.    The AU acknowledged with appreciation the EU 10 million euros support to the African Human Rights system under the EU Panafrican Programme. Both sides also welcomed the High-Level Dialogue on Democratic Governance focusing on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights in Africa, which was held in November 2016 in Arusha, Tanzania. They also welcomed the exchange of experiences during the High Level Meeting of Chief (Election) Observers organised by the AU in the margins of the Declaration of Principles on International Election Observation (DOP) meeting in Johannesburg in October 2016 and agreed on the importance of regularly repeating the event.   

6.    Both sides recalled the outcomes of the Kigali Joint Communique in which they reaffirmed their commitment to the promotion and protection of human rights on both continents and to collaborate on the effective implementation of continental and international human rights instruments.

7.    It was also noted that many countries are making progress in the advancement of gender equality and women's rights, in particular the participation of women in politics and representation in decision making structures, ownership of land and the right to inheritance, measures to address sexual and gender-based violence against women and harmful traditional practices. Yet, notwithstanding achievements, too many women are still at risk. The parties also welcomed the adoption of the Maputo Plan of Action on Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights.

8.    On the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, both parties welcomed the adoption of the Draft Protocol on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in Africa at the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights in February 2016. In order for the Protocol to come into force, the EU expressed its full support to the AU efforts in obtaining its swift adoption.

9.    On Human Rights and Business, the parties welcomed the efforts of the AU to develop an AU Policy Framework for the Implementation of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights in Africa. The AU welcomed with appreciation the support of the EU to assist with this process.

10.The AU and the EU followed up on the previous recommendations made within this context. On the abolition of death penalty, both parties recalled that the Draft Additional Protocol on the Abolition of Death Penalty in Africa was adopted at the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights in April 2015.

11.Both institutions reiterated their commitment to fighting impunity of all sorts and to holding perpetrators of human rights violations and abuses accountable. The EU welcomed the AU decision to establish the Hybrid Court for South Sudan and encouraged the AU to move forward as quickly as possible with the implementation of the justice and accountability measures in the 2015 peace agreement. The EU also committed to continue its support to the AU efforts to develop a Policy on Transitional Justice in Africa to enhance cooperation on justice, truth and reconciliation mechanisms.

12.The EU and AU are committed to international justice and rules-based international order. Both parties committed to fighting impunity, promoting justice at all levels and placing special emphasis on the importance of reinforcing national judiciaries. The EU reiterated its staunch support for the ICC and strongly encouraged those African countries who have not done so to ratify the Rome Statute. Both sides emphasised that ICC is the Court of last resort. The AU reaffirmed its commitment to the principle of complementarity of the justice system from the national, regional, continental levels with the apex continental body being the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights.

13.The EU commended the renewed efforts of the AU to deploy human rights observers to monitor human rights in conflict situations and report violations of human rights and international humanitarian law. The AU welcomed the ongoing EU support for the AU Human Rights Observer mission in Burundi. Both sides committed to working together to develop a robust roster for African Human Rights Observers as well as developing a training manual with a view to institutionalise the AU Human Rights Observation in the long run.

14.The parties reiterated their outstanding cooperation in the area of election observation. They welcomed the deployment of first core teams as integral part of AU Electoral Observation Missions in 2016. The parties also welcomed the progress achieved in improving the AU capacity and methodology through EU support in 2016. The parties agreed to further strengthen the methodology, including through strengthened coordination on the ground.

15.In preparation for the Africa-EU Summit in 2017, the EU welcomed the AU Youth Engagement Strategy for the Promotion of Democratic Governance and Human Rights in Africa and committed itself to support this initiative.

16.Both sides committed to promoting and protecting freedom of expression and the right of access to information in the digital age. They welcomed the ACHPR 2016 Resolution on the Right to Freedom of Information and Expression on the Internet in Africa, and emphasised that the same rights that people have offline must also be protected online.

17.The question of a shrinking space for civil society organizations and human rights defenders was discussed. Both sides reiterated their commitment to jointly support a Continental Conference on Freedom of Expression in 2017 in Africa as agreed in 2015. Both sides are looking forward to the adoption of the Guidelines on Freedom of Association and Assembly in Africa by the ACHPR and agreed to organize a seminar on the implementation on these guidelines.

18.The AU and the EU commended the work of Civil Society Steering Committees in organizing the 6th AU-EU Civil Society Seminar on Democratic Governance and Human Rights on 9 January 2017 in Brussels. The seminar focussed on counter-terrorism and human rights. The parties welcomed and took note of the recommendations, including an initiative on human rights and counter-terrorism in Africa. They also welcomed the adoption of the Mandate and Terms of Reference of the Steering Committee of the AU-EU Civil Society Seminar on Human Rights and Democratic Governance. They also jointly reaffirmed the need for greater space for civil society within this partnership in order to fulfill their obligations without undue interference and called on the civil society to inclusively and meaningfully contribute to the implementation of activities and programmes of the AU-EU Partnership on Democratic Governance and Human Rights, including on the preparation of the Africa-EU Summit.

The AU and the EU agreed to hold the next round of the Human Rights Dialogue in Africa in 2017/18.

 Brussels, 10 January 2017

Total people in need: 2 million

Total children (<18) in need: 1.2 million

Total people to be reached in 2017: 505,0002

Total children to be reached in 2017: 450,000

In Eritrea, where the vast majority of livelihoods depend on subsistence agriculture and pastoralism, 80 per cent of the population is vulnerable to recurrent drought.

Since 2015, Eritrea has experienced drought conditions caused by El Niño that further undermined household food and livelihood security, particularly for women and children, and contributed to a cholera outbreak across three of the country’s six regions. These dynamics have led to high levels of malnutrition among children under 5, pregnant women and lactating mothers, particularly in the lowland areas. According to the Nutrition Sentinel Site Surveillance System, malnutrition rates have increased over the past three years in four out of the country’s six regions, where malnutrition rates already exceeded emergency levels, with 22,700 children under 5 projected to suffer from severe acute malnutrition (SAM) in 2017.

Nutrition and water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) practices are sub-optimal, with less than half of the rural population accessing safe drinking water and only 11.3 per cent of the overall population accessing improved sanitation. Half of all children in Eritrea are stunted, and as a result, these children are even more vulnerable to malnutrition and disease outbreaks.

Humanitarian strategy

UNICEF and partners will continue to mainstream humanitarian response within regular development programmes targeting the most vulnerable children and will apply an integrated multi-sectoral approach to lifesaving interventions in Eritrea, building on linkages between the humanitarian and development programmes. In 2017, UNICEF will support the Government to implement blanket supplementary feeding to prevent the further deterioration of the nutritional status of children under 5, pregnant women and lactating mothers. This will include procuring routine medicines for the management of SAM and moderate acute malnutrition (MAM).

UNICEF will apply a multi-sectoral approach in drought-prone rural communities facing heightened risk of diarrhoea and cholera and high levels of food insecurity and malnutrition.

Local capacities will be built in these communities through outreach and training programmes to support the provision of safe water and access to appropriate hygiene practices. UNICEF will strengthen health systems to support service delivery and will prioritize routine immunization coverage and community case management of childhood illnesses. Schools in the most-affected areas will offer programmes designed to raise children’s awareness of explosive remnants of war. UNICEF will also support the enrolment of 15,000 (currently out-of-school) nomadic children from drought-prone areas, working with the Ministry of Education, via advocacy campaigns, outreach and enrolment programmes to support children’s return to school. Communication for Development will be used to achieve programme results in all sectors.

Source=http://reliefweb.int/report/eritrea/humanitarian-action-children-2017-eritrea

January 6.2017. Open letter to Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn.

Your Excellency,

I am writing to you on behalf of Tesfaledet Kidane Tesfazghi and his colleague, Saleh Idris Gama, Eritrean nationals who have been languishing in an unknown Ethiopian prison since the beginning of 2007.

Eritrean journalists Tesfalidet Kidane Tesfazghi and Saleh Idris Gama have been held in custody without charge since they were captured in Kenya in December 2006, and transferred to Ethiopia from Somalia at the beginning of 2007. These men are professional journalists sent to Somalia for routine TV reporting by Eritrean Television (Eri-TV). They were not combatants or involved in any espionage or illegal activities.

I am aware that your country is proud of its concern for human rights and its record in such matters, which it confirmed by signing and ratifying the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) in 1993. As you are aware, Article 9 of this Covenant guarantees that no one should be arrested or deprived of their liberty except in accordance with legally established procedures; and that those arrested must be brought before a judge and are “entitled to a legal trial within a reasonable time, or otherwise to be released”.

In September 2011, the late Prime Minister Meles Zenawi promised that the journalists would be freed if the investigation determined they had not been involved in any acts of espionage. Five years have elapsed since this announcement. I am sure you will agree that more than “a reasonable time” has passed without such a trial. But the two Eritrean detainees have neither had their cases heard in court, nor have they been released or repatriated.

The only occasions on which we have heard any news about these individuals were in April 2007 from the Ethiopian mass media and in September 2011, from the late Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, in a press conference with exiled Eritrean journalists in Addis Ababa (interview video timeline 40:26 – 43:37). The present conditions, location and legal status of these journalists are not known to their immediate families and relatives, who are exceptionally concerned about their wellbeing. In addition to this very real concern, may I mention that the families of the two detainees have had no contact with them for a decade.

Tesfalidet’s family miss him very much, but they have recently sustained the shock of several deaths within their close family circle: both his parents and his sister have died whilst he has been in detention. Saleh has 3 sons and a daughter who have not seen their father for 10 years. It would be particularly welcome for them to receive the good news of the release of Tesfaledet and Saleh at this time. Is it possible that you personally could take the initiative to make this good news happen?

In view of your country’s concern for justice, as witnessed by the ratification of the ICCPR, may I request most fervently that you undertake an urgent review of the cases of the two detainees mentioned above and make every possible effort to secure their immediate release?

Yours respectfully,

Elizabeth Chyurm
Director
Human Rights Concern – Eritrea (HRCE)
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
www.hrc-eritrea.org

Source=http://www.geeskaafrika.com/26262/eritrean-journalists-who-have-been-languishing-in-an-unknown-ethiopian-prison-letter/

Eritrea Liberty Magazine Issue No. 42

Thursday, 05 January 2017 10:01 Written by