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Calais migrants: Five shot in mass brawl

%PM, %02 %869 %2018 %20:%Feb Written by

A migrant receives medical assistance by rescue workers following clashes near the ferry port in Calais, northern France, 01 February 2018. Image copyright EPA Image caption A man gets medical help from rescue workers after clashes in Calais, northern France

At least five migrants have been shot during a mass brawl between Afghans and Eritreans in the French port city of Calais, local officials say.

A 37-year-old Afghan man is suspected of firing shots at a queue for food handouts. Four Eritreans aged between 16 to 18 are in a critical condition.

Hundreds of migrants have converged on the area in an attempt to cross the Channel to the UK.

A sprawling camp known as the "Jungle" was dismantled near Calais in 2016.

Interior Minister Gérard Collomb said the violence had reached a new level and accused gangs that try to smuggle migrants to the UK of instigating the violence.

This is the worst outbreak of violence between migrants in Calais for months, and the use of firearms is a worrying escalation of the tensions, the BBC's Hugh Schofield in Paris reports.

How did the violence unfold?

The cause is not yet clear but an initial fight on the city's southern outskirts broke out on Thursday afternoon, where migrants had been queuing for food handouts.

Around 100 Eritreans and some 30 Afghans were caught up in the violence, which lasted almost two hours after the shots were fired.

The four critically injured were shot in the neck, chest, abdomen and spine, AFP news agency reported.

A group of migrants carry sticks during clashes in Calais on 1 February 2018. Image copyright EPA Image caption A group of migrants pictured with sticks during the clashes

A second melee erupted shortly afterwards at an industrial site around 5km (three miles) away, when between 150 and 200 Eritreans armed with iron rods and sticks clashed with about 20 Afghans, the local prefecture said.

Later in the afternoon further violence broke out at a food distribution point in an area of Calais not far from the site of the old "Jungle" camp.

Security forces were sent to the area and there were no reports of incidents during the night.

In total, 22 people were injured, including some with stab wounds, AFP added.

Map showing the location of the fighting

Visiting Calais, Mr Collomb added: "There's been an escalation of violence that has become unbearable for both the people of Calais and the migrants".

The government would take control of food distribution, currently done by charities, with those groups working in association with authorities, he said.

Why are the migrants there?

Though the "Jungle" camp was demolished in 2016, hundreds of migrants are still living rough in the nearby woods, hoping to reach the UK. Many are young men.


Media captionViolence broke out near the old "Jungle" camp

Local charities put the number of such migrants living in Calais at around 800, while the authorities say there are between 550 and 600.

Mr Collomb urged migrants not to head to Calais if they wanted to try to get to the UK, saying their attempts from there - often trying to hide themselves in lorries - would be unsuccessful.

The Calais "Jungle" became the French symbol of the European migrant crisis, and some 7,000 people - most from the Middle East and Africa - were living there before the area was cleared.

Earlier this month, President Emmanuel Macron and UK Prime Minister Theresa May signed a treaty to speed up the processing of migrants in Calais.


Media captionThe migrants living where the Calais Jungle once stood

Mr Macron has said that France will not allow a new migrant camp to be set up in Calais, and French police have been accused of brutality by some activists.

He is expected to unveil a new migrant policy next month, which will include speeding up the application process for asylum seekers and faster removal of those who fail to be accepted.

Charities and some of the president's allies have accused the government of taking a hard line on immigration.

Egypt's FM Shoukry said that Cairo, Khartoum and Addis Ababa have agreed to resolve all disagreements on Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam technical issues within one month

Ahram Online , Monday 29 Jan 2018


President Sisi with Sudan's Bashir and Ethiopian PM Desalegn after tripartite summit in Addis Ababa (Snapshot ONTV)

Following a tripartite summit between the leaders of Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan in the Ethiopian capital on Monday to discuss differences over the Grand Ethiopian Renainssance Dam, Egypt's president told reporters, "People should be assured. None of [us three] countries – Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia – will be harmed."

President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi added, "Egypt's interests are one with Ethiopia's and also one with Sudan's. We are speaking as one voice."

In a response to a question by reporters on whether the crisis over the dam has been resolved, El-Sisi said, "There is no crisis."

Sudan's President Omar Al-Bashir concurred with El-Sisi, saying, "There is no more crisis."

Immediately after the end of the summit, Egypt's Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry said in press statements that the leaders of Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan agreed on resolving all disagreements on the technical issues on the Ethiopian dam within one month.

"There are no mediators in the Renaissance Dam negotiations," Shoukry added.

The meeting between El-Sisi, Al-Bashir and Ethiopian PM Hailemariam Desalegn, which came on the sidelines of the African Union summit in Addis Ababa, aimed at breaking the deadlock in negotiations over disputes on the impact of the GERD on downstream countries.

Ethiopia and Sudan have not accepted the results of a report issued in March 2017 by a European consultancy firm on the potential impact of the dam on downstream countries, which concluded that the speed of construction could negatively affect Egypt's water share.

Ethiopia has reportedly rejected a recent proposal by Cairo to involve the World Bank in the stalled technical negotiations.

In response to questions from reporters at the Egyptian TV channel ONTV to the President about the dam issue following the meeting, El-Sisi called on the media not to convey messages that cause the public concern or that insult others. 
"We already have mechanisms in place, we have committees on the issue," he said.
El-Sisi explained that "there is a high-level committee including the ministries of foreign affairs and irrigation who are following up on the issue," asking the public to rest assured.
The Egyptian president had met on Saturday with Al-Bashir, and the two leaders agreed to form a joint ministerial committee to deal with all outstanding bilateral issues between the two countries.

El-Sisi has been in Addis Ababa since Saturday to participate in the 30th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the African Union, which is taking place from 22 to 29 January.

On Saturday, El-Sisi chaired a meeting by the Peace and Security Council (PSC), the AU body in charge of maintaining continental peace and security, which Egypt is heading in January.


Southern separatists backed by the UAE have seized control of a key military base in the coastal city of Aden after a UAE fighter jet bombed the facility, according to a senior Yemeni official.

The official told Al Jazeera that the fighters are from the Southern Resistance Forces (SRF) - the armed wing of the Southern Transitional Council (STC), a political movement demanding secession for southern Yemen.

The fighters seized the base early on Tuesday, despite a ceasefire being brokered by coalition partners Saudi Arabia and the UAE hours earlier.


Unofficial translation of letter sent by the Dutch Ministery of Foreign affairs in response to the Dutch parliament motion on closure of the Eritrean embassy
The official document (Dutch) can be found here:

To the Chair of the Second Chamber of the States General

Date: 17 January 2018
Concerning: Motion of Sjoerdsma and Azmani (kst. 22831-132) about closing the Eritrean embassy
Dear Chair,
With this letter, the Cabinet informs your Chamber about the subsequent steps taken in response to the motion of members Sjoerdsma and Azmani (kst. 22831-132) in which the ‘government is requested to close the Eritrean embassy’.
The Cabinet has noted with concern the broadcast of Argos on Saturday 23 December. The broadcast confirms the current picture of the way in which the Eritrean community has to pay the diaspora tax to gain access to consular services from the Eritrean embassy office in The Hague. On 28 December 2017, the Eritrean ambassador in Brussels (co-accredited in the Netherlands) was summoned. In the talks with the ambassador, the great concerns of the Netherlands about the current practices around the collection of the diaspora tax in the Netherlands have again been explicitly conveyed.
Based on this meeting and earlier talks with the Eritrean authorities, the Cabinet concludes that there is no understanding from the Eritrean side about the great political and societal resistance in the Netherlands towards the way in which the diaspora tax is collected, and also that there is no willingness on the Eritrean side to conform to this.
For that reason, partly in light of the continuing indications that intimidation and coercion take place in relation to the collection of the diaspora tax and the resulting societal and political unrest, the Cabinet is obliged to give off a powerful diplomatic signal to the Eritrean authorities. By doing so, the Cabinet wants to make clear that the Netherlands does not accept these undesirable practices.
At the same time, the Cabinet recognises that no judge has as yet recorded proof of wrongful or punishable offenses by the Eritrean embassy office in The Hague. If the Public Prosecutor receives indications of possible punishable offenses, it will investigate these for leads for further criminal investigation and could instigate prosecution.
Considering the above, the Cabinet has decided to declare the chargé d’affaires of the Eritrean embassy office in The Hague persona non grata and has demanded his departure. The Eritrean ambassador was summoned on Tuesday 16 January to receive the note verbale containing this decision.
In the diplomatic world, a declaration of persona non grata counts as a very severe measure. The Netherlands rarely uses this measure and has never before closed an embassy (office) in the Netherlands unilaterally. The Netherlands understands that this measure is highly exceptional, which is intended as a signal to the Eritrean authorities.
The Cabinet has not decided to close the embassy office in The Hague. If the embassy office would be closed, the bilateral relations with Eritrea would be damaged to such an extent that adequate representation, for example in the area of migration, human rights and consular affairs and missions, would be virtually impossible. In addition, it was considered during the decision making process that the Eritrean community in the Netherlands benefits from nearby access to consular services. It would experience great practical hinderance of the closing, in which case the journey to Brussels has to be made for every consular service.
In order to reach a sustainable solution for the circumstances around the collection of the Eritrean diaspora tax, hard diplomatic measures alone will not suffice and it remains, among other things, crucial that police reports about punishable facts are filed.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs,

Halbe Zijlstra


Sudan deploys more troops to Eritrea border

%AM, %15 %451 %2018 %10:%Jan Written by

Sudan deploys more troops to Eritrea borderThe latest tension was sparked after Sudan signed an agreement to temporarily hand over the Red Sea island of Suakin to Turkey [Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah/Reuters]

Sudan says it has sent more troops to its eastern border with Eritrea as tension in the Red Sea region continues to rise. 

Early this month Khartoum closed its borders with Eritrea and sent troops to its border region of Kassala, following reports that Egypt has deployed troops in Asmara.

"Sudan's national army has sent part of its forces to this area to protect Sudan's security as we have information that some parties are targeting us," Sudanese foreign minister, Ibrahim Ghandour, said after meeting his Ethiopian counterpart Workneh Gebeyehu in Khartoum on Sunday.

Ghandour said that they were not talking "about threats to a country per se" but that they have information that shows there are some who would mean them harm.

"This is why we are anticipating whatever danger can come from there," Ghandour said.

The meeting took place amid deteriorating relations between Sudan and Ethiopia on one side and Egypt and Eritrea on the other. Khartoum has also recalled its ambassador in Cairo following the reports of Egyptian troops presence in Eritrea.

The latest tension was sparked after Sudan signed an agreement to temporarily hand over the Red Sea island of Suakin to Turkey. 

Ankara and Khartoum said Turkey would rebuild the ruined, sparsely populated Ottoman island to increase tourism and create a transit point for pilgrims crossing the Red Sea to Islam's holiest city of Mecca. Turkey is also set to build a naval dock on the island.

Egyptian media criticised the agreement and alleged Turkey would build a military base on the island.

Ties between Turkey and Egypt have been frosty for some time.

Ankara strongly condemned Egypt's military coup in 2013, which overthrew democratically elected President Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Political tension between the Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia has been rising for years over the use of the water of the Nile River and Ethiopia's decision to build the continent's biggest hydroelectric dam on the river.

Egypt has been at odds with Sudan and Ethiopia over the $4.8bn dam project, with Cairo fearing that its position downstream may affect its access to water from the Nile River basin, which will feed the dam.

Cairo accuses Sudan of supporting the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) project, while Khartoum accuses Egypt of supporting rebels in Sudan.

Meanwhile, Eritrea has fought two border wars with Ethiopia - which has had a decades-long dispute with Egypt over the Nile River water. The border wars left more than 80,000 people dead and the two East African countries are technically still at war.

SOURCE: Al Jazeera News

Friday, 12 January, 2018 - 07:00
Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki, left, shakes hands with Egyptian President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi at the presidential palace, in Cairo, Egypt, Tuesday, January 9, 2018. (AP)
Khartoum, Cairo - Ahmed Younis and Asharq Al-Awsat
Sudan announced on Thursday arrangements to confront what it called potential threats from Egypt and Eritrea near its borders with the latter.

Cairo meanwhile avoided responding immediately to the claim, declaring through its Foreign Ministry spokesman Ahmed Abu Zeid that the Egyptian position on Sudan has been “expressed by Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry on several occasions.”

Ibrahim Mahmoud, assistant to the Sudanese president and his deputy in the ruling National Congress Party, said that the authorities received security information about possible threats, which may come from Egypt and Eritrea in the Eritrean area of Sawa.

Mahmoud explained that the meeting of the leadership of the ruling party, which began Wednesday evening and concluded early Thursday, directed the continuation of security arrangements on the eastern border of the country, to face potential threats from the two countries.

Cairo, in turn, avoided escalation with Khartoum. Contacted by Asharq Al-Awsat, the official spokesmen of the Egyptian Ministries of Defense and Foreign Affairs refused to comment on the Sudanese accusations.

In a press conference with his Tanzanian counterpart on Thursday, Shoukry said that Egypt “has always the hope that relations with Sudan will be satisfactory to take into account the aspirations and interests of the two peoples in accordance with previous agreements.”

“This requires efforts and policies of openness... This has always been the aspiration of Egypt”, he stated.

A well-informed Egyptian political source told Asharq Al-Awsat that Egypt wanted to “soothe the atmosphere with Sudan at this time, and hopes that Sudan will not be the tool of a regional force that wants to pressure Egypt and poison the current situation.”

Sudan had closed its eastern border with Eritrea and deployed thousands of troops near the joint border after President Omar al-Bashir announced a state of emergency in the states of Kassala and North Kordofan on December 30.

The official statements at the time said that the closure of the border, and the transfer of troops to the east of the country, aimed at fighting smugglers and traffickers.

However, Mahmoud revealed for the first time on Thursday that they received “security information about possible threats, which may come from Egypt and Eritrea.”

Earlier this week, Egyptian President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi received his Eritrean counterpart, Isaias Afwerki, to discuss bilateral relations and coordination of efforts on all issues related to the situation in the Horn of Africa.

According to observers who spoke to Asharq Al-Awsat, Egypt, through extensive cooperation with Eritrea, is seeking greater influence in the Horn of Africa, which is strategically important for its national security, with the growing Turkish and Qatari presence there, and the current tensions with Ethiopia and Sudan.
  • By maggie michael, associated press

Issaias and Abdulfetah

In this photo provided by Egypt's state news agency, MENA, Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki, left, meets with Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi at the presidential

more +

Egypt's president and his Eritrean counterpart met in Cairo on Monday amid heightened tensions with Sudan and Ethiopia over border disputes and the construction of a massive upstream Nile dam.

Egypt fears the soon-to-be completed dam in Ethiopia could cut into its share of the river, which provides nearly all its freshwater. Eritrea and Ethiopia have long been bitter rivals and went to war in the late 1990s. Ethiopia denies it is cutting into Egypt's share of the Nile, and has accused Eritrea of training rebels to carry out sabotage attacks on the dam.

Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi hosted Isaias Afwerki at the presidential palace. "The two sides have agreed on continuing intensive cooperation in all issues related to the current situation to support the security and stability in the region," Egyptian presidency spokesman Bassam Radi said, referring to the Horn of Africa and the Red Sea strait of Bab al-Mandab as two major areas for ensuring stability.

The Qatar-based Al-Jazeera network recently reported that Egypt is deploying troops in Eritrea. The Red Sea Afar Democratic Organization, an Eritrean opposition group, last year claimed that Egypt is building a military base on Eritrea's Dahlak island and will deploy up to 30,000 Egyptian naval forces.

Eritrean Information Minister Yemane G. Meske denied the Al-Jazeera report in a tweet this week, saying: "Al-Jazeera News Channel seems to relish propagating false and preposterous news on Eritrea: latest is phantom deployment of Egyptian troops/weapons!"

Egypt's relations with Sudan, which has lent support to Ethiopia in the Nile dispute, have meanwhile deteriorated.

Sudan recalled its ambassador for consultation last week, and has said a 2016 maritime demarcation agreement between Egypt and Saudi Arabia infringes on its territorial waters. The waters in question are off the coast of an Egyptian-held border region claimed by Sudan. Egypt's pro-government media have accused Sudan of conspiring against Cairo with Turkey and Qatar.

Ethiopia says the $5 billion dam is essential for its economic development, noting that the vast majority of its 95 million people lack electricity. The dam's hydroelectric plant will generate over 6,400 megawatts, a massive boost to the country's current production of 4,000 Megawatts.

Egypt, with a population roughly equal to Ethiopia's, receives the lion's share of the Nile's waters under agreements from 1929 and 1959 that other Nile nations say are unfair and ignore the needs of their own large and growing populations.


Sudan shuts border with Eritrea

%PM, %07 %503 %2018 %12:%Jan Written by
Sat Jan 6, 2018 01:11PM
Members of the Sudanese border security patrol the Sudan-Eritrea border for smugglers and illegal migrants near the eastern Sudanese border town of Kassala on May 2, 2017. (Photo by AFP)
Members of the Sudanese border security patrol the Sudan-Eritrea border for smugglers and illegal migrants near the eastern Sudanese border town of Kassala on May 2, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

Sudan has shut its eastern border with Eritrea, state media reported Saturday, days after Khartoum declared an emergency in the neighboring state of Kassala.

"The governor of Kassala issued a decree to close all border crossings with Eritrea from the night of January 5," the official SUNA news agency reported.

It did not explain why the border was closed but said the decision comes after President Omar al-Bashir declared on December 30 a state of emergency in Kasala and in North Kordofan state for six months.

Officials have said that decision was part of a government campaign to collect illegal arms in those two states.

A resident of Kassala told AFP that hundreds of Sudanese soldiers, several military vehicles and tanks had crossed through the town towards the border with Eritrea over the past two days.

Thousands of Eritreans, fleeing a repressive regime at home, cross into Sudan illegally through the border with Kassala every year and later make perilous voyages across the Mediterranean to Europe.

Apart from Kassala and North Kordofan, a state of emergency is in place in Sudan's war-torn regions of Darfur, Blue Nile and South Kordofan.

(Source: AFP)