Eritrea Liberty Magazine Issue No. 40

Friday, 09 September 2016 20:44 Written by

All-Party Parliamentary Group on Eritrea update

Friday, 09 September 2016 20:10 Written by

Good afternoon,                                                                                        

Please find below an update from the APPG on Eritrea.


The recent APPG meeting discussed the economic impact of indefinite national service in Eritrea. Daniel Nelson, News and Special Reports Editor at One World, who was in attendance at the meeting, wrote a summary outlining the contributions of the speakers and the dire economic and social impact of indefinite national service in Eritrea. The full article is available here

 

Charlotte King, senior analyst at the Economist Intelligence Unit, provided an analysis of the Eritrean economy, highlighting the dominance of party-controlled, State led firms, stifling any private sector enterprise. Professor Gaim Kibreab, research professor and course director of the MSc Refugee Studies at London South Bank University, discussed how the initially useful nation-building policy of national service was now producing terrible economic and social effects and is the prime reason for many Eritreans fleeing their homeland.

 

In other news, this August, the Home Office updated its guidance on asylum seekers from Eritrea -including those fleeing indefinite national service- following mounting pressure and criticism from various human rights groups and the Home Affairs select committee. The full guidance report is available here

 

Jim Shannon MP asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth affairs what discussions he has had with the governments of Ethiopia and Eritrea in reducing conflict in border areas between those countries, availablehere

 

Lord Hylton asked what action the Government and the UNHCR planned to take to protect Eritrean and Somali families now in Ethiopia, the Sudan, or South Sudan without legal status, availablehere

 

The APPG is currently planning its next meeting, and will be in touch soon with more information.

Thank you all for your continued support.

Germany and Eritrea: defending human rights or curbing migration?

Wednesday, 07 September 2016 20:40 Written by

eRITrea

Eritrea is often called the North Korea of Africa. Tens of thousands of people flee the country each year. This week an Eritrean delegation is set to visit Berlin for political talks.

Mittelmeer Rettung von Flüchtlingen

The trip to Germany is important to Eritrea's government. Two ministers and the influential presidential advisor, Yemane Gebreab, are part of the delegation. The agenda: an economic forum, a panel discussion and a meeting with German parliamentarians.

"The visit is the result of talks that were held in December 2015 when a delegation from the German development ministry, headed by minister Gerd Muller, visited Asmara," a spokesperson from the German Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development told DW.

Eritrea has been politically isolated for years. The small state was once a beacon of hope in the Horn of Africa. In the early 1990s, after a 30-year-long war, it declared itself independent from Ethiopia. In 2007, Germany stopped its remaining development aid to Eritrea. The United Nations have repeatedly accused Eritrea's government of committing crimes against humanity in its detention camps and military facilities, including torture, enslavement, rape and murder. "Eritrea is an authoritarian State. There is no independent judiciary, no national assembly and there are no other democratic institutions," said Mike Smith, chair of the UN's Commission of Inquiry, in June.

Eritrea Hauptstadt Asmara Bushalotestelle

Eritrea was once a beacon of hope for the Horn of Africa. Today many young people want to leave

Stopping the exodus

All that has, however, not deterred Germany from extending its feelers towards the north African country. In December 2015, development minister Muller set the ground for political dialogue. The Eritrean government needs to improve its human rights situation and start political reforms, Muller said during his visit. "We can support Eritrea in stopping the exodus of its youths, by improving living conditions for the people on the ground," he added.

Germany has felt the consequences of the mass exodus from Eritrea. Just last year, 25,000 Eritreans sought aslyum in Germany. Approximately 200,000 refugees are currently estimated to be in neighboring Sudan and Ethiopia. Many young people flee because of the infamous compulsory "national service". Officially, the service is branded a military service, but human rights organizations have compared it to forced labor because the recruits have to work in state run companies for several years.

"We have to take care that the talks between Germany and Eritrea don't just prevent the migration to Europe and change nothing about the human rights situation in Eritrea, warned the German Green Party parliamentarian, Kordula Schulz-Asche. The German government needs to be clear about that, added the lawmaker who is also the deputy chairperson of the German-East African group in the Bundestag.

"What is important, is that the Eritrean government allows an investigation into the human rights situation before the two governments speak to each other," argued Schulz-Asche. To date, Eritrea has not let independent observers into the country. The UN report, for instance, relies on testimonies from Eritreans who have fled the country.

Eritrea Kinder im Flüchtlingslager in der Region Tigrai Äthiopien

Ethiopia and Sudan receive many of Eritrea's refugees. Human rights groups have, however, also complained about the deplorable conditions in some of the camps

'The approach is naive'

Experts, however, fear that precisely this issue could be undermined in the current talks between Europe and Eritrea. "From the European side, there is the hope that if they invest money in the country, people will no longer be forced into this long military service and as a result, will not want to flee. That is simply naive," argued Nicole Hirt, an expert on Eritrea at the GIGA institute in Hamburg. "I don't see any motivation from the Eritrean side to change their policies. I think that Europe should rather put more pressure on Eritrea before putting money into it."

The European Union's recent actions, however, point to a different approach. In May and June, media reports suggested that the EU was seeking a stronger "border protection" cooperation with eight African states. Eritrea was one of them. Additionally, Brussels promised to pour 40 million euros ($44.9 million) over the next three years into itsTrust Fund for Africa.

In Eritrea itself, a policy change in its national service sector has not been a topic of discussion. And the most recent tension between Eritrea and Ethiopia, make a change in Asmara's forced recruitment policy very unlikely.

Source=http://www.dw.com/en/germany-and-eritrea-defending-human-rights-or-curbing-migration/a-19532224

 

DW RECOMMENDS

 

Martin Plaut / 10 hours ago 07/09/2016

Eritrea remains one of the most repressive countries on earth, but the government of President Isaias Afewerki has attempted to downplay this reality.

No international media are allowed to have a correspondent based inside the country.

But in the run-up to the 25th anniversary in May this year the international media were invited in for carefully staged tours. Eritreans from the diaspora came to join the celebrations.

MartinPlaut 1But the image of a country celebrating its freedom, happy and contented with its government is in sharp contrast to the tens of thousands who flee – only to have to be rescued in the Mediterranean.

Now photographs and film have been smuggled out of Eritrea by the Freedom Friday network, which is encouraging resistance to the regime.

The material portrays a much stacker reality.

They also show underground opposition, with resistance graffiti sprayed on walls – only to be covered up by government agents.

These are translations from Tigrigna, from the top. Most refer to the May celebrations.

  1. 25 years of suffering and anxiety [from May]
  2. 25 years – a lot of deceptive words through zero-three (the government’s rumour-mill). Many heroes in prison – we are being wiped out because of the Isaias administration
  3. The government of Eritrea dwells on past history, while the Europeans discover new technology
  4. The seas of Libya are filled with Eritrean youth, while the foolish people are laughing and dancing

MartinPlaut 2This writer simply asks: “Isaias please step down”

The video that has been secretly sent out reinforces the message of poverty and repression.

Here are two stills showing undercover police (security agents) stopping and searching cars in Asmara. Freedom Friday’s network says they now routinely do this – looking for resistance material: posters, paint, printing equipment and even arms. They also look for currency.

MartinPlaut 3searched, boot open

Undercover police question driver

MartinPlaut 4

MartinPlaut 5

There is also video showing how people – mostly women – have to sit for hours, waiting to buy everyday goods.

Here they are waiting to purchase fuel for cooking.

The Freedom Friday activists comment: ‘This was a good day! People were hopeful for getting some lamba [cooking fuel].’

Children are used to stake a family’s place in a queue.

But this is a long, arduous and entirely wasteful process.

No wonder productivity is so low and the economy relies so heavily on the mine at Bisha and the remittances from the diaspora!

Indefinite National Service has left many families desperately poor.

This has been exacerbated by drought and by the change in the currency (the Nakfa) and requirements that withdrawals from bank accounts are severely restricted.

A permanent ‘no-war, no-peace’ confrontation with Ethiopia over their disputed border has only made matters worse.

Little surprise that there is growing discontent and – as the graffiti shows – growing resistance.

Source=https://martinplaut.wordpress.com/2016/09/07/repression-resistance-and-poverty-secretly-filmed-photos-and-video-smuggled-out-of-eritrea/

Homo Erectus 5

Homo Erectus 1 The footprints were found by the team's local guide in sediment.Courtesy of Pr Coppa

 

The discovery of the oldest Homo erectus footprints in the world, alongside fragments of fossilised skulls, could advance palaeontologists' knowledge of the stature and anatomy of modern man's closest ancestors. The fossils were unearthed in a region known as Buia in the heart of the Semi-arid Danakil Depression in eastern Eritrea, during an expedition led by researchers from the Italian university of Sapienza and the National Museum of Eritrea.

Their latest research started in late 2015, in an area constituted by many geological layers spanning several hundred thousand years. One day, the team's local guide made a surprising discovery: he came across a 26-square-metre foot-printed sediment surface.

Due to their ephemeral nature in soft sediments, footprints tend to be altered and eroded very quickly, so their preservation is an exceptional phenomenon. Analysing the different sediment layers, researchers found out the prints were approximately 800 000 years old. At this time, the only member of the human family tree to live in the region was Homo erectus.

The researchers thus say the prints are the oldest known to belong to Homo erectus and this is a rare occasion to get a glimpse of the lives of Homo erectus individuals in motion in their ecosystem hundreds of thousand years ago.

Homo Erectus 2

The footprints were found in the Danakil desert, EritreaStephan Gladieu/Getty Images

The sediments and the shape of the prints as well as their location alongside an extinct species of antelopes' footprints suggest the environment in which these early humans lived in was very different that it is today. Instead of a desert, it would probably have been a lakeside buffered by grassland.

Significance of the footprints

The discovery is significant because ancient fossilised footprints are very rare, but also because it has the potential to improve scientists' understanding of Homo erectus.

"The importance of the footprints is due to their extreme rarity. In Africa, archaeological sites with human fossils in Africa are not very numerous, but are still in the hundreds. The footprints of our ancestors however have so far only come from three locations but they can provide us with information that is not deductible by skeletal or dental fossils", lead researcher Alfredo Coppa told IBTimes UK.

Homo Erectus 3Probable adult footprints of Homo erectusCourtesy of Pr Coppa

Here, the footprints appear very similar to that of modern men. They show details of the toes, and the foot shape includes a prominent arch and big toe in line with the others - features that make human feet distinctive and efficient when walking and running.

A more detailed study of these footprints will now take place and may reveal unique information about foot anatomy, stature, body mass, and locomotor biomechanics - including gait and walking speed of H erectus. Scientists may gain critical clues to better understand how hominins behaved and fared in their environment some 800 000 years ago.

Significance of the skulls fragments

In addition to the footprints, the skull fragments offer useful perspectives on the evolution of Homo erectus over thousands of years.

The Pleistocene (between around 2.588 million to 11,700 years) era represents a period of major transition in human evolution, when some of our primitive H erectus ancestors evolved into species with larger brains and more modern bodies.

Homo Erectus 4

Detail of the Homo erectus footprints found at the site.Courtesy of Pr Coppa

 

The problem is human fossils from that time are fragmentary between 1.3 and 0.5 million years ago, especially when it comes to the postcranial area of the skull. These new fossils in Buia could therefore help to fill the gap.

The Buia fossils have an intriguing blend of primitive and more modern characteristics, combining more primitive H. erectus traits with an increase in brain size and some modern aspects of hip structure.

"In this way, the Buia fossils link H erectus with anatomy seen in later species such as H. heidelbergensis", the authors explain. The fossils and the prints thus add a new piece to the puzzle of human evolution.

Source=http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/eritrea-oldest-homo-erectus-footprints-ever-discovered-adds-piece-puzzle-human-evolution-1566082

The Interior Ministry has rejected the asylum requests of thousands of Eritreans based solely on their status as army deserters in their home country, a precedent that can no longer continue after new ruling.

Ilan Lior  Sep 05, 2016 9:22 AM

Demo in Israel
 Eritrean asylum seekers protest against their government at the EU's office in Ramat Gan on June 21, 2016. Credit Moti Milrod

  • Why are the Jews not preparing a plan to help the refugees?
  • At least 7,000 Eritreans in Israel survived torture, rape in Sinai
  • Israel outright rejects asylum requests by Eritreans and Sudanese
  • For Eritrean asylum seekers in Israel, cycling success is overshadowed by threat of jail

 

A custody appeals tribunal Sunday overruled the Interior Ministry’s legal opinion that Eritreans who deserted from their country’s army are never entitled to refugee status. The ministry has used this opinion to reject asylum applications for thousands of Eritreans.

The ruling could affect tens of thousands of Eritreans in Israel. Those whose asylum requests have been rejected are now likely to ask that they be considered. For those whose applications are still pending, the state will no longer be able to systematically reject them because they were based on desertion or draft-dodging.

In addition, over the past year, the state has used a procedural issue – the fact that the applications were submitted more than a year after the asylum seeker entered Israel – to reject many asylum applications without even discussing them. Now, Eritrean asylum seekers will be able to argue that they didn’t bother submitting applications before because they knew they would be rejected, but in light of Sunday’s ruling, the circumstances have changed.

According to information provided by the ministry’s Population, Immigration and Border Authority in response to a freedom of information request by Haaretz, from 2009 until the start of July 2016, Eritrean nationals submitted 7,218 asylum requests in Israel. Of these, only eight were approved, while 3,105 are still awaiting a response. All the others were either rejected or withdrawn.

Commenting on this data, Elad Azar, the custody judge hearing the case in Jerusalem, wrote, “Even in the completely theoretical case in which it was found that refugee status had to be granted to all those asylum seekers, I believe this isn’t a quantity Israel is incapable of digesting or that would lead to unreasonable results, given that in any case, all of them are expected to remain in Israel for a long time even if their applications are rejected.”

Azar said the state can’t refuse to apply the 1951 Refugee Convention to an entire group of asylum seekers making similar claims just because that group is large. If a person deserted for political reasons and would face an exceptionally harsh sentence if he returned, this could justify refugee status, it said.

“In general, desertion in and of itself doesn’t constitute grounds for granting political asylum,” wrote Azar. “But desertion that is seen as expressing a political view, and for which the punishment exceeds reasonable bounds, could amount to persecution in the sense in which Israel interprets the Refugee Convention.”

This would not apply to someone who deserted due to economic reasons, conscientious objection “or ordinary ‘cowardice,’” Azar stressed. But if a deserter’s government views the desertion as a political act, it could justify granting asylum.

One of the ministry’s arguments in the case was that if its legal opinion were rejected, Israel could be forced to grant asylum to thousands of Eritreans, with serious consequences. But Azar rejected that argument.

“Limiting the protection given under the Refugee Convention by not applying it to people entitled to refugee status, just because there are many of them, doesn’t comply with the Refugee Convention or the rules of Israeli administrative law,” he wrote. “We are talking about the personal, individual rationales of many people, not about a general group rationale.”

The appeal was filed two years ago on behalf of an Eritrean asylum seeker by Tel Aviv University’s Refugee Rights Clinic and the Hotline for Refugees and Migrants. The asylum request was based on his having deserted from the Eritrean army and then leaving the country, in violation of the law.

On the basis of the ministry’s legal opinion, the interior minister’s advisory committee on refugee affairs had rejected his application without even considering it. The appeals tribunal did not order the committee to accept the application, but did say it had to reconsider the issue without reference to this opinion.

“We can’t accept the clear trend in the cases that have been brought to this tribunal to date, in which asylum requests by Eritrean nationals that are based on claims of having evaded or deserted from military/national service are rejected at hasty meetings, without any reason, and without even being discussed by the full advisory committee on refugee affairs and brought to the interior minister for a decision,” Azar wrote.
Attorney Anat Ben-Dor of the Refugee Rights Clinic, who submitted the appeal, welcomed the tribunal’s decision. The ruling “requires the Interior Ministry to discuss individual applications for asylum in accordance with the rules of the Refugee Convention, without relying on an opinion that was meant to be a tool for systematically rejecting thousands of asylum requests,” she said.

Now, she added, the ministry should reconsider all the applications that were rejected on the basis of this opinion.

Reut Michaeli, executive director of the Hotline for Refugees and Migrants, said, “It’s regrettable that judicial intervention was needed so that the Interior Ministry would apply the rules of the Refugee Convention, to which Israel is committed, instead of trying to find tortuous ways of circumventing them. In every Western country, large proportions of Eritrean asylum seekers are accepted as refugees, and just recently, another UN report revealed the torture, slave conditions and systematic human rights violations that happen in the Eritrean army, and in the country in general.

“I hope that now, the asylum system will finally begin to operate in compliance with international standards,” she added.

Ilan Lior
Haaretz Correspondent
read more: http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-1.740249


Ilan Lior  Sep 05, 2016 9:22 AM
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Eritrean asylum seekers protest against their government at the EU's office in Ramat Gan on June 21, 2016. Moti Milrod
Why are the Jews not preparing a plan to help the refugees?
At least 7,000 Eritreans in Israel survived torture, rape in Sinai
Israel outright rejects asylum requests by Eritreans and Sudanese
For Eritrean asylum seekers in Israel, cycling success is overshadowed by threat of jail
A custody appeals tribunal Sunday overruled the Interior Ministry’s legal opinion that Eritreans who deserted from their country’s army are never entitled to refugee status. The ministry has used this opinion to reject asylum applications from thousands of Eritreans.
The ruling could affect tens of thousands of Eritreans in Israel. Those whose asylum requests have been rejected are now likely to ask that they be considered. For those whose applications are still pending, the state will no longer be able to systematically reject them because they were based on desertion or draft-dodging.
In addition, over the past year, the state has used a procedural issue – the fact that the applications were submitted more than a year after the asylum seeker entered Israel – to reject many asylum applications without even discussing them. Now, Eritrean asylum seekers will be able to argue that they didn’t bother submitting applications before because they knew they would be rejected, but in light of Sunday’s ruling, the circumstances have changed.
According to information provided by the ministry’s Population, Immigration and Border Authority in response to a freedom of information request by Haaretz, from 2009 until the start of July 2016, Eritrean nationals submitted 7,218 asylum requests in Israel. Of these, only eight were approved, while 3,105 are still awaiting a response. All the others were either rejected or withdrawn.
Commenting on this data, Elad Azar, the custody judge hearing the case in Jerusalem, wrote, “Even in the completely theoretical case in which it was found that refugee status had to be granted to all those asylum seekers, I believe this isn’t a quantity Israel is incapable of digesting or that would lead to unreasonable results, given that in any case, all of them are expected to remain in Israel for a long time even if their applications are rejected.”
Azar said the state can’t refuse to apply the 1951 Refugee Convention to an entire group of asylum seekers making similar claims just because that group is large. If a person deserted for political reasons and would face an exceptionally harsh sentence if he returned, this could justify refugee status, it said.

“In general, desertion in and of itself doesn’t constitute grounds for granting political asylum,” wrote Azar. “But desertion that is seen as expressing a political view, and for which the punishment exceeds reasonable bounds, could amount to persecution in the sense in which Israel interprets the Refugee Convention.”
This would not apply to someone who deserted due to economic reasons, conscientious objection “or ordinary ‘cowardice,’” Azar stressed. But if a deserter’s government views the desertion as a political act, it could justify granting asylum.
One of the ministry’s arguments in the case was that if its legal opinion were rejected, Israel could be forced to grant asylum to thousands of Eritreans, with serious consequences. But Azar rejected that argument.
“Limiting the protection given under the Refugee Convention by not applying it to people entitled to refugee status, just because there are many of them, doesn’t comply with the Refugee Convention or the rules of Israeli administrative law,” he wrote. “We are talking about the personal, individual rationales of many people, not about a general group rationale.”
The appeal was filed two years ago on behalf of an Eritrean asylum seeker by Tel Aviv University’s Refugee Rights Clinic and the Hotline for Refugees and Migrants. The asylum request was based on his having deserted from the Eritrean army and then leaving the country, in violation of the law.
On the basis of the ministry’s legal opinion, the interior minister’s advisory committee on refugee affairs had rejected his application without even considering it. The appeals tribunal did not order the committee to accept the application, but did say it had to reconsider the issue without reference to this opinion.
“We can’t accept the clear trend in the cases that have been brought to this tribunal to date, in which asylum requests by Eritrean nationals that are based on claims of having evaded or deserted from military/national service are rejected at hasty meetings, without any reason, and without even being discussed by the full advisory committee on refugee affairs and brought to the interior minister for a decision,” Azar wrote.
Attorney Anat Ben-Dor of the Refugee Rights Clinic, who submitted the appeal, welcomed the tribunal’s decision. The ruling “requires the Interior Ministry to discuss individual applications for asylum in accordance with the rules of the Refugee Convention, without relying on an opinion that was meant to be a tool for systematically rejecting thousands of asylum requests,” she said.
Now, she added, the ministry should reconsider all the applications that were rejected on the basis of this opinion.
Reut Michaeli, executive director of the Hotline for Refugees and Migrants, said, “It’s regrettable that judicial intervention was needed so that the Interior Ministry would apply the rules of the Refugee Convention, to which Israel is committed, instead of trying to find tortuous ways of circumventing them. In every Western country, large proportions of Eritrean asylum seekers are accepted as refugees, and just recently, another UN report revealed the torture, slave conditions and systematic human rights violations that happen in the Eritrean army, and in the country in general.
“I hope that now, the asylum system will finally begin to operate in compliance with international standards,” she added.
 
Ilan Lior
Haaretz Correspondent
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Sunday, September 4, 2016 at 9:44 am |א' אלול תשע"ו
African illegal migrants walking out of the Holot detention center in the Negev on Tuesday, after the High Court ordered their release. (AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov)African illegal migrants walking out of the Holot detention center in the Negev. (AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov)

YERUSHALAYIM- Hundreds of Eritrean residents of the Holot detention facility in southern Israel broke curfew and remained outside the facility in protest over the arrest and jailing of four residents of the camp,Haaretzreported. The four were arrested by authorities after they demanded that managers of the facility separate supporters and opponents of the Eritrean government in order to prevent tension between the two groups.

According to authorities, the four were inciting the groups to commit acts of violence against each other, but residents said that they were unfairly arrested.

Many of the Eritrean migrants in Israel have requested political asylum, claiming that they are afraid to return to their country because they feared persecution by the government. But according toHaaretz, residents have complained that there are dozens of supporters of the government in Holot, and political tensions between the two groups have spilled over into violence and rioting.

The four arrested Eritreans, according to authorities, were planning a “payback” attack on another group of residents. Authorities dismissed the issue of tension between pro- and anti-government supporters, saying that it had nothing to do with the day-to-day living conditions in Holot.

The Holot detention facility is a halfway house for illegal immigrants from Africa who are demanding to stay in Israel, claiming asylum from persecution. While their cases are considered, the migrants remain in Holot. The facility is open during the day, but residents must return and remain inside between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. the next morning. Those who fail to return are subject to deportation.

Source=http://hamodia.com/2016/09/04/holot-residents-go-curfew-strike-eritrean-politics/

September 02, 2016 5:57 PM

  • Lisa Schlein

A migrant prays on the Migrant Offshore Aid Station ship Topaz Responder after being rescued around 20 nautical miles off the coast of Libya, June 23, 2016.

A migrant prays on the Migrant Offshore Aid Station ship Topaz Responder after being rescued around 20 nautical miles off the coast of Libya, June 23, 2016.

The U.N. refugee agency estimates nearly 4,200 people have died or gone missing in the Mediterranean Sea since Alan Kurdi’s lifeless body washed ashore on a Turkish beach one year ago. During the first eight months of this year, the agency reports, more than 280,000 people have made the treacherous sea crossing to Europe.

The number of arrivals in Greece has practically dried up, following the implementation of a European Union-Turkey accord under which migrants are prevented from leaving Turkish shores. But the numbers leaving Libya for Italy remain high.

UNHCR spokesman William Spindler said Friday that the change in the migratory pattern had caused a spike in the number of casualties.

“So far this year, one person has died for every 42 crossings from North Africa to Italy, compared to one in every 52 last year," he said. "This makes 2016 to date the deadliest year on record in the central Mediterranean. The chances of dying on the Libya-to-Italy route are 10 times higher than when crossing from Turkey to Greece.”

Migrants stand in a line in front of Red Cross member after disembarking from the Italian navy ship Borsini in the Sicilian harbor of Palermo, southern Italy, July 20, 2016.

Migrants stand in a line in front of Red Cross member after disembarking from the Italian navy ship Borsini in the Sicilian harbor of Palermo, southern Italy, July 20, 2016.

Legal pathways

Spindler said these dangers reinforce the urgent need to increase legal pathways for refugees to seek asylum in European countries. These, he said, could involve resettlement or private sponsorship, family reunification and student scholarship schemes.

Meanwhile, the U.N. Children’s Fund estimated that 500,000 refugee and migrant children had fallen prey to smugglers. The agency said people smuggling and human trafficking were now estimated to be worth up to $6 billion annually.

UNICEF spokeswoman Sarah Crowe told VOA that children, especially unaccompanied youngsters, who use smugglers to reach European countries of destination were very vulnerable to exploitation.

“It may mean that they have to pay off their debts in favors, in exploitative services, such as labor, sexual prostitution, sexual exploitation and so on," she said. "But sometimes, just out of desperation, they will fall into the hands of other criminals, organized crime, et cetera.”

To help protect refugee and migrant children, UNICEF is calling for greater efforts in tracking and documenting smuggling and trafficking networks that target children on the move.

Source=http://www.voanews.com/a/death-toll-among-refugees-crossing-mediterranean-highest-ever/3491811.html

How Eritrea became a major UAE base

Saturday, 03 September 2016 11:03 Written by

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This fascinating article from the War on the Rocks website provides some important insights into the involvement of Eritrea in the Gulf’s military ambitions.

Martin


 West of Suez for the United Arab Emirates

September 2, 2016

UAE base AssabBases on the Horn of Africa serve Emirati power projection ambitions.

Britain militarily withdrew from areas “east of Suez” in 1971, triggering the Trucial States to form today’s United Arab Emirates. Now, 45 years later, this Arab country is increasingly focused on projecting military power “west of Suez.” Events such as the Arab Spring in 2011, Iran’s growing confidence and escape from nuclear sanctions, plus the rise of the Islamic State have convinced Emirati leaders to become more activist in managing the risks facing their federation. Most recently this has resulted in this tiny Gulf nation establishing its first power projection base outside of the Arabian Peninsula in the Eritrean port of Assab. Over the last year, this port was built up from empty desert into a modern airbase, deep-water port, and military training facility.

The progression of Emirati expeditionary operations is fascinating to retrace. In the 1980s and 1990s, the Emirates sent de-mining forces to Lebanon, peacekeepers to Somalia, and Apache attack helicopters to the NATO intervention in Kosovo. In the 2000s, the United Arab Emirates provided fully-armed attack helicopters to Lebanon and equipped Yemeni government forces with armored vehicles and weapons to fight the Houthi rebellions in the north of that country. An Emirati special forces and stabilization force spent 12 years in Afghanistan as part of the NATO International Security Assistance Force (ISAF).

After the 2011 Arab Spring, the United Arab Emirates sent its troops alongside the Saudi military to stabilize the Bahraini capital of Manama. In parallel with a domestic crackdown on Muslim Brotherhood elements in the Emirates, their military intervened in Libya to support nationalist and tribal militias against the regime of Muammar Qadhafi, Salafi militants, and –most recently – the Tripoli-based Islamist coalition Libya Dawn. The United Arab Emirates welcomed the 2013 military coup that evicted the Muslim Brotherhood government in Egypt and has since worked to tighten military relations with Cairo, including joint airstrikes within Libya from Egyptian airbases, naval exercises, and the provision of U.A.E.-owned IOMAX AT-802U counter-insurgency aircraft to Egypt’s campaign against the Islamic State in Sinai.

In the Red Sea: Djibouti’s loss, Eritrea’s gain

Next the Emirates turned towards the Horn of Africa and Indian Ocean. This process was driven by their strident intervention in Yemen, which began when Yemeni President Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi was ousted from Aden by Houthi rebels and subsequently requested military intervention citing Article 51 (self-defense) of the Charter of the United Nations and also the Charter of the Arab League. On March 26, Saudi Arabia announced the beginning of Operation Decisive Storm, the pan-Arab military operation to halt the advance of Yemen’s Houthi militia.

Saudi Arabia and the Emirates initially sought to use Djibouti, just across the Gulf of Aden, to support the liberation of Aden, but a twist of fate intervened. In late April 2015, an altercation between the chief of the Djibouti Air Force and Emirati diplomats derailed relations between the two countries. There were actually fisticuffs after an Emirati aircraft taking part in the Gulf Coalition operations over Yemen landed without authorization at Djibouti-Ambouli International Airport. Emirati Vice Consul Ali al-Shihi even took a punch, setting off a diplomatic spat. The dispute escalated quickly due to pre-existing tensions concerning a long-running legal dispute over the contract for the Doraleh Container Terminal, the largest container port in Africa, operated by Dubai Ports World, the Dubai-based Emirati port operator and one of the biggest U.A.E. soft-power assets. On May 4, 2015 the United Arab Emirates and Djibouti formally broke off diplomatic relations. Djibouti evicted Saudi and Emirati troops from a facility at Haramous adjacent to Camp Lemonnier. This former French Foreign Legion outpost (used by U.S. Africa Command and Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa) also had been leased to the Gulf coalition in early April to support its operations in Yemen.

But Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates had an on-hand replacement: neighboring Eritrea, Djibouti’s regional rival, which boasts rudimentary ports on the Red Sea just 150 kilometers further north. On April 29, the very day that Djibouti evicted Gulf troops, Eritrean President Isaias Afewerki met with Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdel Aziz and concluded a security and military partnership agreement with the Gulf states offering basing rights in Eritrea. High-level delegations from the Gulf Cooperation Council had already met Eritrean officials that year to discuss using Eritrea as potential base for operations. This insurance policy paid dividends: potentially crippling strategic risk in the anti-Houthi campaign – the loss of Djibouti – was overcome with ease and within days.

Build-up at Assab

As part of the partnership agreement, the United Arab Emirates concluded a 30-year lease agreement for military use of the mothballed deep-water port at Assab and the nearby hard-surface Assab airfield, with a 3,500-meter runway capable of landing large transport aircraft including the huge C-17 Globemaster transports flown by the Emirati air force. The Gulf states agreed to provide a financial aid package and undertook to modernize Asmara International Airport, build new infrastructure, and increase fuel supplies to Eritrea.

The early operations at Assab were hasty but effective. On April 13, a CH-47 Chinook carried an eight-man team of Emirati Presidential Guard special operators and Joint Terminal Attack Controllers (JTACs) into the Little Aden peninsula, the site of Aden’s refinery and oil storage tanks. These forces called in airstrikes and naval gunfire missions, enabling forces loyal to President Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi and local Aden popular resistance committees to hang onto two defensive pockets with their backs to the sea. Emirati landing ships dropped Saudi and Emirati security forces and U.A.E.-trained local militias mounted into the defensive pockets in May.

The naval lifeline sustained by Assab port and airbase allowed the pro-Hadi forces to retake Aden in August 2015’s Operation Golden Arrow. Emirati landing ships and chartered commercial vessels made repeated runs between the new Emirati naval base at Fujairah on the Gulf of Oman and the bare-bones Assab port. U.A.E. Air Force C-17s and C-130s were also seen at Asmara International Airport in the Eritrean capital. By late July 2015, the buildup at Assab airfield was complete, with the base serving as a logistics support area and staging hub for the brigade-sized Emirati armored battlegroup that would spearhead the Aden breakout. This was composed of two squadrons of Leclerc main battle tanks, a battalion of BMP-3 infantry fighting vehicles, and two batteries of G6 howitzers. The Emirates also shipped a 1,500-man strike force of U.A.E.-trained Yemeni troops mounted in U.A.E.-provided armored vehicles after they were trained and equipped at Assab.

In mid-July 2015, the Emirati battlegroup began landing at the Little Aden oil terminal. Emirati Al-Futaisi-class landing ships and other landing craft including the Swift, a former U.S. Navy vessel, made repeated runs between Assab port and Aden. In October and November 2015, Assab served as the logistics hub for the deployment of three 450-man Sudanese mechanized battalions to Aden. The two Sudanese battalions undertook a lengthy route movement from Kassala on the Sudan-Eritrea border to Assab port and were shuttled across to Aden by U.A.E. vessels. Assab port also served as the base for the Gulf naval blockade of the Red Sea ports of Mokha and Hodeida, with several Emirati navy vessels including new Baynunah-class corvettes and Rmah-class logistics vessels docking at the port through late 2015 and 2016. Since the offensive against al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) in Hadhramout in April 2016, Assab has also served as a transshipment hub for Emirati vessels delivering humanitarian aid and reconstruction materials, including generators and fuel to Mukalla.

A major aerial hub and training base

Significant expansion of Assab airfield has turned the site from an austere forward operating location into a powerful expeditionary base, the first Emirati power projection site outside the federation’s homeland. Emirati forces doubled the airfield’s available tarmac space +Eritrea/@13.0757788,42.644258,429m/data=%213m1%211e3%214m5%213m4%211s0x1619cf977d5236a3:0x7fcd15390d06bafe%218m2%213d13.0139405%214d42.7369299">and built an air traffic control tower and new hangars.

By early 2016, the airfield was hosting several Apache attack helicopters of the Emirati Joint Aviation Command as well as Presidential Guards’ Special Operations Command Chinook, Black Hawk, and Bell 407MRH helicopters conducting operations over southwest Yemen. In November 2015, AT-802 ground attack turboprops of the UAE Special Operations Command’s Aviation Group 18 also began flying strike sorties across the Bab al-Mandeb Strait from Assab. New Yemeni air corps pilots trained on U.A.E.-donated aircraft at Assab prior to their transfer to Al-Anad Air Base to the north of Aden in October 2015.

A huge containerized housing and tent city were also built as the base was developed for Yemeni counterterrorism forces being trained and equipped by the United Arab Emirates to liberate southern Yemeni cities such as Mukalla held by AQAP. Units of the Aden counterterrorism force and Hadhramout Tribal Confederation mobile infantry were flown into Assab to be trained and equipped by the UAE. The scale and speed of the training effort is impressive: new units trained using UAE-provided tactical vehicles before being transported back into Aden for the anti-AQAP offensive that kicked off in May. A mixed battalion-sized U.A.E. battlegroup +Eritrea/@13.0687454,42.6556198,429m/data=%213m1%211e3%214m5%213m4%211s0x1619cf977d5236a3:0x7fcd15390d06bafe%218m2%213d13.0139405%214d42.7369299">remained based at Assab throughout the spring and summer of 2016, allowing U.A.E. troops from the similarly-sized battlegroup engaged in operations against AQAP in Yemen to rotate to a nearby rest and recuperation site.

In late 2015, the United Arab Emirates also began constructing new deep-water port facilities on the coast directly adjacent to Assab airfield, removing the need for U.A.E. military convoys to transit through Assab city as they travelled from the airbase to the port ten kilometers to the south. The U.A.E. National Marine Dredging Company’s dredging vessels began work in late 2015. By May 2016, a 60,000 square meter square of coastline had been excavated and dredged, and a 700-meter pier built. Emirati forces also extended a security perimeter around the airfield and port facilities and re-routed the P-6 coastal highway between Assab and Massawa around the outer perimeter of the base.

The growing Horn of Africa footprint of the United Arab Emirates

Though Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have cooperated in major security ventures such as the Manama intervention in 2011 and the Yemen war since 2015, the two leading Gulf Cooperation Council military powers are also competitors. In terms of population, oil production, and defense spending, Saudi Arabia is by a considerable margin the larger of the two, but the Emirates are determined to punch well above their weight. In Yemen, the objectives of the two Gulf States are slowly diverging, with the Saudis backing Islamist militias against the Houthis in the north, whilst the United Arab Emirates is focused on countering AQAP in the south of the country.

In the Horn of Africa region there are signs of competition as well. Saudi Arabia patched things up with Djibouti by October 2015, with Saudi access restored to the airfield at Camp Lemonier and with Djibouti receiving Saudi-donated patrol boats, helicopters, weapons, and ambulances. In March 2016, discussions were underway between Riyadh and Djibouti for the signing of comprehensive bilateral security agreement including the return of a long-term Saudi military base to Djibouti.

The Emirates appear to be adopting a broader-based approach to the Horn of Africa, East Africa, and Indian Ocean region. Abu Dhabi has long been a generous benefactor and investor in the Indian Ocean island-states such as the Seychelles, Maldives, Mauritius, Madagascar, and the Comoros. In these areas the large Emirati investment banks and foundations have supported tourism, ports, and humanitarian projects. The United Arab Emirates is interested in East Africa also, with natural gas, ports, and food security in mind. To support the development of a broader Indian Ocean and East Africa policy the United Arab Emirates is getting drawn into security cooperation relationships with a range of Horn of Africa states, aiming to reduce instability and the growth of Islamist militias in the region.

Somalia is a case in point. In early May 2015, the United Arab Emirates expanded its long-running train and equip partnership with Somalia’s counterterrorism unit and National Intelligence and Security Agency (NISA), opening a new U.A.E.-funded training center in Mogadishu where Emirati special forces operators have trained several units of Somali commandos. In late May 2015, the Emirates supplied the Interim Jubba Administration at Kismayo with a batch of RG-31 Mk. V MRAPs and Toyota Land Cruisers. These were followed in June by a shipment of Reva Mk. III armored personnel carriers, water tanker trucks, and police motorcycles for the Somali federal government’s Ministry of Internal Security and Police. In October 2015, the United Arab Emirates pledged to pay the salaries of the Somali federal government security forces over a four-year period.

The United Arab Emirates has also wooed Somalia’s regional rival, the autonomous Somaliland region. In May 2016, Dubai Ports World won a 30-year contract to manage the port of Berbera and expand it into a regional logistics hub, breaking up Djibouti’s virtual monopoly on Ethiopian freight via the Doraleh Container Terminal through the joint development by Somaliland and Ethiopia of the Berbera Corridor as an alternative logistics route. The United Arab Emirates is also said to be seeking access to the Berbera port and airstrip to support its operations in Yemen, and may provide Somaliland with a financial aid package and an Emirati-built military training center.

In Puntland, an autonomous region in northeastern Somalia, the United Arab Emirates also paid for the Puntland Maritime Police Force to be established in 2010, with anti-piracy training provided by a succession of private security companies, a cause for some controversy. The PMPF operates bases in Bosaso, Puntland’s primary port on the Gulf of Aden coast, and Eyl on the Indian Ocean coast. The PMPF air wing operates three UAE-donated Ayers S2R Thrush aircraft and an Alouette III helicopter. The UAE also finances and trains the Puntland Intelligence Agency. When the Gulf Coalition naval blockade sought to interdict Iranian weapons smuggling to the Houthis, the Emirati investment in Puntland and Somaliland seems to have paid off, shutting off known Iranian transshipment points like Bosaso and Berbera.

The UAE’s “west of Suez” moment?

In combination with the development of a closer military relationship with Egypt and Sudan, the construction of a major decades-spanning power projection base in Eritrea will give the United Arab Emirates a leading role in the protection of the Suez and Bab el-Mandab sea-lanes. The United Arab Emirates could begin to emerge as a powerful actor in the Horn of Africa, East Africa, and western Indian Ocean. Like prior trading empires from the Portuguese to the Omanis, the United Arab Emirates is aiming to become an important player up and down Africa’s eastern seaboard, mixing hard military power with soft-power approaches.

The development of large and well-armed Yemeni forces at the Assab base also points to a second way that the United Arab Emirates could become a major influence on the local balance of power. Within just a few months the United Arab Emirates trained and equipped a few thousand mobile infantry mounted in MRAPs and armed with advanced anti-tank weaponry. In many regional conflicts, battles are regularly won by such compact and cohesive forces backed by external airpower and special forces. This could have implications for the struggle against local extremist groups like Al-Shabab, which the United Arab Emirates may turn its sights on in the future. Other regional conflicts and civil wars could be influenced by Emirati security cooperation, particularly the Emirates’ ability to gift significant numbers of modern vehicles and weapons to proxy forces. The United Arab Emirates could begin to play a kingmaker role across the region.

A final implication could be the strengthening of the Emirati deterrent posture against Iran. The Yemen intervention was indirectly aimed at Iran, an effort by the Gulf states to prevent what they view as an Iranian-backed Houthi movement from taking over Yemen. The Emirati naval and air base at Assab was critical in blockading the Houthi-held ports on the Red Sea and preventing Iran from resupplying the rebels. Over the last couple of years there has been a growing clamor regarding the potential for Iran to develop “blue water” naval capabilities that might allow Tehran to project military power into the western Indian Ocean and Red Sea. In fact, it is the UAE that has achieved this first, creating the base infrastructure to sustain operations by muscular surface combat platforms like the Baynunah-class corvettes.

In addition to contesting Iranian naval expansion, bases like Assab could contribute to the United Arab Emirates’ strategic depth in an eventual clash with Iran, threatened or actual. Whereas the entire Emirati homeland’s littoral is within the range of Iranian missiles, Assab provides depth that might allow a reserve force of Emirati surface combatants, aircraft, and even submarines to remain active and able to interdict Iran’s coastline and shipping during an extended war.

The Emirates’ track record of involvement in expeditionary operations has been rather formless in the past, pointing towards the federation’s keenness to simply “get involved” in different types of operations in many parts of the Islamic world without necessarily serving any broader strategic roadmap. Although evolved out of military necessity to support the Yemen war, the development of Assab might mark the beginning of a more purposeful, considered phase of Emirati military expansion.

Alex Mello is lead security analyst at Horizon Client Access, an advisory service working with the world’s leading energy companies.

Michael Knights is the Lafer Fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. He has worked in the Gulf States and Yemen as an advisor to local security forces and as an analyst of regional conflicts including Yemen’s wars against the Houthis, southern secessionists and AQAP.

Source=https://martinplaut.wordpress.com/2016/09/02/how-eritrea-became-a-major-uae-base/

Things change and life goes on. It is inevitable because change is the natural law and order of life. A person has to look not only the past and present but it is also essential for the person to see what and how change has to happen in the future. As Winston Churchill said, “To improve is to change, to be perfect is to change often.” If we don’t change, we don’t grow and if we don’t grow, we cannot say that we are really living in this changing world. As Barack Obama said, “Change will not come if we wait for some other person, or for some other time. We are the ones we have been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.” In other words, we must be the change that we wish to see in ourselves, households, community, religious institutions, and generally in our society. If we do not change the direction in which we are heading, we may end up walking into the same situation where we were, with no change or growth. Our attitude and way of thinking determine the kind of change we expect to observe in our lives. Those people who cannot change their attitudes and perspectives cannot change anything else. We have to be the change to make the necessary change in our Eritrean society in Diasporas.

If a situation is bad, it has to change to a better situation. To create a better situation, an effort has to be made, or a struggle has to take place, to make the change. However, any change, even a change for the better, is always accompanied by drawbacks and obstacles. There is always some discomfort, resentment, and struggle in the process of making the desired change. If there is no struggle, there can be no change and progress. It is evident that some of us do not like change because we don’t like to take risks. We have to take calculated risks because not doing so is the greatest risk of all. We need to embrace change, particularly if the alternative is disastrous and counter-productive. In most instances, only the ultra-opportunists and ignorant people never change. If the struggle for a change is supported by the people affected – by making them actively participate in the process starting from the initial stage – making the change will involve minimal problems. The following story, adopted from our Tigrigna traditional folk tales, narrates the need for change in a dreadful and life-threatening situation. The story is slightly modified in order to fit and convey the desired message.

Once upon a time, a great number of mice used to live in holes around a farm house. The farm was raising livestock and producing a variety of crops. The mice ate the fresh, tasty wheat, corn, oats, and left over food of rice, bread, cheese and biscuits that were kept in the farm house. They were having a great time and living easy, comfortable lives, as they grew fatter day by day. One day a certain unexpected crazy cat came to the farm house and started troubling the mice every single day. From the day he came to the farm house, the cat began to catch and kill the mice one by one. The mice were terrified of even stepping out of their holes. They could not reach the food anymore. This was a great cause of worry and anxiety for them because they started to starve to death. They decided to call an emergency meeting of the entire mice in the farm to discuss and solve this big and horrible situation. Immediately, all the mice got together and started talking and thinking critically about this horrific problem. The mice wanted to get rid of the fat cat, but no one could think of a better way of doing it. So, they kept thinking of other practical ways and means of solving the problem. The mice sat and talked for a very long time, but they could not come to any meaningful solution.

Finally, one young mouse stood up and said, “I know what we should do! We should tie a bell around the cat’s neck. When the bell tinkles, we will know where the cat is! That way, whenever the cat is near or is coming in our direction, we would get to know by the ringing of the bell and we can quickly run back to our holes.” All the other mice liked the idea. Since the idea was much appreciated by all the mice, they began dancing and celebrating with joy. They thought that this was the best plan to solve their problem. But their celebrations did not last very long for soon an old and experienced mouse stood up and said, “You fools! Stop celebrating and start thinking again. You may think that tying a bell around the neck of the cat is a good idea. Yes, it is a wonderful idea, but tell me: who is going to put the bell on the cat’s neck?” None of the mice had the courage to give a reasonable answer to the question of the old and wise mouse. They had not thought critically about the other obvious constraints of this major problem in their seemingly perfect plan. The old mouse then boldly said, “It is easy to sit and have big ideas. But it is never easy to carry them out.” This is why it is said that making a plan is one thing but executing it is an entirely different thing.

It is certain that the mice and the cat cannot co-exist in the same place in peace and harmony. A cat is a predator and a mouse is its prey. Cats by virtue of nature are major predators of mice. If these mice desire to save their lives and live in peace, they have to change their situation. The mice have three choices. The first choice is to go on as it is and do nothing. To plan to do nothing is by itself a plan to fail. The result is that the mice will starve to death because they will be confined in their respective holes and will not be able to get their food. If, at any time, they get out of their holes, they will become the daily meal of the cat. The second choice is to boldly face the enemy all together. If they collect their resources and bring themselves together and angrily shout and scream at the cat, it is possible that the cat may get scared and run away. If that doesn’t scare him, they have to fight him to change their grim situation. They are many and he is only one, though he is huge and scary to them. If every one of them dares to take a bite out of him, they can win the fight even though they may sacrifice some of them. The third choice is to remove themselves from their old holes and go somewhere else to a new location where they can find a safe place to live in peace. They will need to dig new holes for their new residence and start a new life. Hopefully, the cat will not follow them to their new location, but a predator is always a predator who naturally and ruthlessly preys on others. It may seem to be a safe alternative, but it is not a good choice.

Similarly, we have a bad situation in our Eritrean society in Diasporas. Our dysfunctional communities are dismantled beyond repair. Our religious institutions are fragmented to our frustration and they are struggling to survive against all odds. It is absurd to observe that there are Eritreans who worship and receive spiritual services for wedding, funeral, baptism, house blessings, and others from Greek, Egyptian, or Ethiopian Orthodox Christian churches when they can worship and receive the same spiritual services from the Eritrean Orthodox Christian Churches which happen to be located in the same town and neighborhood. It is appropriate to put matters into proper perspective when you observe that the Greeks, Egyptians, or Ethiopians, under any circumstances would never worship or receive spiritual services at the Eritrean Orthodox Christian churches because they respect their own churches and cherish their own ethnic identity. In addition, the evil and backward regional, religious, and political polarization and alienation is adversely affecting our social relationship in the Eritrean society in Diasporas. To anybody’s surprise, our scholars and professionals are usually the main actors and leaders in all these ugly and offensive social episodes. Consequently, our innocent children are at risk beyond their control and became the prime victims of our inconsiderate, egoistic, and self-centered behavior. Honestly, the children have nothing to do with these social and political dramas. Our children do not have Eritrean community centers where they can associate with each other. Our youth cannot find prominent Eritrean role models to relate and emulate their ethnic identity and learn their cultural heritage. This unfavorable situation in our Eritrean society has encouraged our youth to get married to individuals outside their ethnic identity at an alarming rate. Also the old and aging Eritreans, particularly those who came recently from Eritrea, irrespective of their social, religious and political affiliations, cannot find an Eritrean community center where they can meet and share their experiences on how and where to get health care services for their illness from the federal government. Our current situation reflects that respecting our traditional practices, honoring our cultural heritage, cherishing our ethnic identity, and strengthening our social values and integrity have become the old norms and order of the past. In short, our Eritrean society in Diasporas is seriously in disarray and confusion. Our beautiful traditional values, our social characteristics and our decent behavioral relationships are currently replaced with enmity, animosity and hostility, causing social chaos and disorder in our society. We are just acting like a swarm of houseflies scattered everywhere without any kind of binding force, or common ground that can bring us all together and support one another. There is an urgent call for change of situations to restore our social values and create a desirable environment for unity and trust by all means and deeds.

Change is good. We may hate change, yet it is the only thing that brings progress in this world. At times we want things to remain the same. But nothing is as painful as remaining in the same desperate situation. The cost of doing the same old thing is far higher than the cost of making change. As we all know, it would be hard for an egg to learn how to fly while remaining an egg. It would be odd for an egg to go on indefinitely being just an ordinary decent egg without turning into a bird. Sooner or later, it must hatch into a bird and fly in the big sky. Likewise, the situation in our dysfunctional communities and divided religious institutions is not getting better. In fact, it is getting worse every single day. The situation should not remain in the same norm and order indefinitely; it has to change for a better situation. Many times we wait and expect God to do the change for us. God will not do it for us, not that He is not capable of doing it, but because He has already given us all the resources we need to make the change. If we show effort on our own and face difficulty to do the change, then it makes sense if we ask God for help. God will definitely give us His blessing to boost our effort. However, change comes only through people (us). Situations do not change by themselves because change does not come by itself. People have to be the change to make the change. We also say that time changes situations. Time goes on, but it doesn’t change situations by itself. We actually have to change the situations ourselves. If we do not work towards changing, a situation, it means that we have lost the challenge and failed in our commitment to change ourselves. We have to change ourselves, if we want to keep up with the changing world. If we don’t cop up with the global change, we will be left far behind. It is evident that, we cannot change the whole situation in our society, may be not all at once and at one time, but we can change one person, one animal, and one good deed at a time. The collective effort is usually the most effective and the very essential tool in this process. It is very interesting to observe that we don’t usually resist changing a situation for the better, but it is a pity to observe that we usually resist being changed ourselves. It is crucial to be aware that we can change a situation only when we become the change. Life gets better only by changing the undesirable situations. We just need to change our attitudes and perspectives and put our anchor of hope down and secured and protect ourselves against all unfavorable situations that keep us offshore and off-guard. H.O.P.E. means Hold On, PainEnds.