Today North Korea has finally admitted that its policy of a strict lockdown without a vaccination programme against Covid-19 has failed.

North Korean dictator, Kim Jong-un, had vowed to eradicate the outbreak, which it called a “severe national emergency” that had breached the country’s “quarantine front”. But observers believe the virus has long been present in the country.

Outsiders say the nation’s 25 million population is vulnerable as North Korea has declined to administer a Covid-19 vaccine programme, even rejecting offers from the international community to supply millions of AstraZeneca and Chinese-made Sinovac jabs last year.

Eritrea mirrors North Korea

President Isaias Afwerki is the only African leader who – echoing the North Koreans – has turned down vaccinations.

Eritrea has yet to start vaccinating its population against COVID-19, the head of the African Centres for Disease Control said in December.

“Eritrea is the only country now that has not joined the family of 55 member states (of the African Union) that are moving forward with vaccination, but we are not giving up,” John Nkengasong told an online media briefing.

Even Tanzania, which used to refuse vaccinations under its former President John Magufuli, is now promoting vaccinations to protect its people from Covid.

Eritrea’s status as a vaccine denier is confirmed in the latest World Health Organisation Covid briefing.

Forty-six countries out of the 47 in the African region are rolling out COVID-19 vaccination. Eritrea remains the only country in the region that has not yet introduced COVID-19 vaccination in the national response to the pandemic.

Eritrea’s failure to vaccinate has left the country’s people vulnerable to the virus and they have been dying.

Covid-19 Eritrea

The only factor that is preventing Eritrea from an even worse pandemic is its isolation. But this has not stopped deaths.

Until President Isaias reverses his policy and welcomes the offers of Covid vaccines, this is certain to continue.

Martin Plaut 12 May

By Gilad Liberman

Israel Rwanda Agreement 2

Following the recently announced trafficking in persons agreement between the UK and Rwandan strongmen Paul Kegame’s government, it is useful to be reminded of the similar scheme between Israel and Rwanda.

What happened to refugees deported by Israel to Rwanda?

The deportees were given only a paper document by Israel. Upon landing in Kigali, they would be approached by a person who introduced himself as “John”, without uniform but in what appeared to be a semi-official capacity, took the papers from them, and led them to bypass the passport control. Then, they’d be driven to a villa in Kigali, where they’d stay up to a few days. Sometimes it was guarded, sometimes the guard was armed. At some point, they’d be taken by cars to the border with Uganda and be smuggled over there, by foot. A car on the other side would take them to a hotel in Kampala. They’d have to pay separately for the Rwandan and Ugandan side. In Kampala, left without any documents, they’d be pushed to continue, to South-Sudan, Sudan, Libya, and Europe. This scenario has been repeated almost perfectly, in many testimonies, over years of deportations. Many have perished in the sea, and many more have died on the way, in the Sahara and Libya, abused harshly by the traffickers. Many have also survived and arrived in Europe. The immigration authorities in Europe, and most probably in the UK too, have heard such testimonies many times, again and again, from the refugees themselves.

(Reports and interviews have shown this procedure to continue repeatedly and systematically over several years, with virtually no exceptions: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 )

Similarities and differences between the Israeli and the UK’s agreement

In contrast to the Israeli agreement, the UK’s agreement at least names Rwanda publically. It is still very vague, opaque and half-baked. The home office has indicated that the deportees will be housed in “Hope Hotel”, still to be leased by the government, containing only a few rooms. The low number of rooms indicates a mechanism for slowly disappearing small groups of people at a time, in a similar way to what was done to the deportees from Israel.

No mechanism for ensuring the safety of the deportees has been discussed.

We do not know what Israel gave Rwanda, but arms deals have been publically discussed, and reports show hacking and persecution of dissidents using the pegasus software shortly afterwards, guaranteeing that Rwanda is now an even more repressive society than it was a few years ago.

The plan fundamentally relies on disappearances

The streamlined process of disappearances is not a peculiarity of the situation or of individual action. The UK agreement, as the Israeli one, cannot be conceived but to rely on the disappearance of deportees. Their continued stay as free persons, with free access to media, would put enormous pressure on the UK and the Rwandan governments. Basic human rights and respectful living conditions do not constitute useful deterrence. Deterrence means deporting people to misery and death, a term that is understood by anyone involved. While statements such as “I will make their life miserable until I could deport them” (Eli Yishai, Israel’s former interior minister) might not be to the taste of British audiences, appeals to Rwanda’s “safety” and “dynamic economy” take a similar approach. And as we would like not to know about what exactly happens to the people we send to misery, and provide a comforting sphere of denial, the role of Rwanda as a disconnection unit is required.

Lessons learned

As the agreement relies on disappearances, any continuous communication with the deportees will weaken the scheme. The British government must be held accountable for their survival. The Australian-Cambodian agreement, in which journalists and activists followed the few people who were deported, collapsed at the cost of dozens of millions for Australia. The Israel-Rwanda deal was broken mostly by exposing it. The Rwandan government has many ways to discommunicate a person, beyond technological means. Fear of reprisal is ubiquitous, and preserving communication channels with people under threat of arbitrary and extreme violence is difficult. People further pushed from Rwanda to Uganda and elsewhere, and survive, also live in fear, and have very little faith and trust in media and activists.

 

Source: Eritrean Press Agency

[Details of drone at end]

Eritrea receives 8 Russian-made Zala K.Y.B drones!

Russia gave the drones in the form a support to Eritrea which it considered its friend in need for Eritrea is a key for the region’s peace and as an input for the military base which Russia is going to built in the future in Afabet, 40km away from Massaw.

Eritrea which provided drone today has also warmly welcomed 26 drone technicians at Bebats drone station who had been receiving training in Russian for the last three months

What makes the Zala K.Y.B Russian drones unique?

The triangular drone can carry out its mission in secret attacks. Apparently this is why it is also known as “the killer” or “the destroyer”.

The wing length of the drone is 1.2 meters wide from end to end; The width is said to be 0.95 meters and 0.165 meters height.

It is also said that the drone is equipped with a small electric motor and can fly at speeds of 80 to 130km per hour.

The drone is said to last up to 30 minutes in the air and can easily hit targets both in the water or on land at up to a distance of 40 km.


Zala KYB Strike Drone, Russia

Zala Aero’s KYB-UAV is a high-precision kamikaze drone operated by the Russian Army to strike remote ground and sea targets.

The Russian army is reported to have used the KYB-UAV drone system with an explosive device during its military operation in Ukraine in March 2022. Credit: Ukrainian Military Center.

Zala Aero’s KYB-UAV is a new loitering munition system that can effectively destroy small-sized targets on the ground and sea. Credit: Kalashnikov Concern JSC, part of the Kalashnikov Group.

KYB-UAV’s updated naval version can be operated as part of a guided swarm. Credit: Zala Aero Group.

The drone can be launched from a pneumatic catapult or a naval platform. Credit: Ukrainian Military Center.

The Russian army is reported to have used the KYB-UAV drone system with an explosive device during its military operation in Ukraine in March 2022. Credit: Ukrainian Military Center.

Zala Aero’s KYB-UAV is a new loitering munition system that can effectively destroy small-sized targets on the ground and sea. Credit: Kalashnikov Concern JSC, part of the Kalashnikov Group.

It was built based on the combat experience of Russian armed forces in Syria between 2015 and 2018.

Launched at the International Defence Exhibition (IDEX), held in Abu Dhabi in February 2019, the loitering drone is operated by the Russian Army.

The military-grade drone can deliver a variety of weapon payloads with high precision during military operations based on manually set target coordinates or image-based target guidance payload. It can be used as a suicide drone or kamikaze drone to effectively destroy small-sized targets on the ground and sea.

Ukraine claimed to have shot down a Zala KYB drone equipped with an explosive device in the Podilskyi district of Kyiv in March 2022, during the Russianinvasion of Ukrainethat began in February 2022.

Zala KYB drone design and features

The wide triangular-winged unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) is designed for hidden launch and silent operation during missions. It can attack ground and sea-based enemy infrastructure as well as lightly armoured targets.

The kamikaze drone has a wingspan of 1.21m, length of 0.95m and height of 0.165m. It can be used for missions such as intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR), as well as target engagement.

The Zala KYB-UAV incorporates artificial intelligence visual identification (AIVI) technology for real-time recognition and classification of targets. The AIVI technology increases the area covered during a single flight by 60 times and improves the drone’s real-time lethality and autonomy.

Launch and strike mechanism

The standard version of the kamikaze drone can be launched from a catapult. It hovers in the air after launch to identify a target.

The drone crashes into the target from the upper atmosphere through a vertical trajectory, with precision. It can strike battle tanks and detonate anexplosive, piercing the turret.

Propulsion and performance

The tail part of the UAV houses the propeller in a pusher configuration. Powered by an electric motor unit, the drone can travel at a speed between 80km/h and 130km/h.

The loitering munition can carry a maximum payload of up to 3kg of sensors and explosive warheads.

It can stay in the air for 30 minutes and hit targets at a range of up to approximately 40km.

Export and modified variants of KUB-BLA

The export variant, which is known as KUB-E, passed the state tests successfully in November 2021. Equipped with guided munition, it was approved by the Russian authorities for export in January 2022.

The serial supply of KUB-E to the Russian armed forces is planned for 2022. Kalashnikov Group partnered with Rosoboronexport, a state-owned defence products exporter, to promote theloitering munitionin the international market.

A modification to the drone, which was demonstrated at the ‘ARMY 2021’ international military and technical forum in Moscow in August 2021, allows it to be operated as part of a guided swarm. The sea-based drone can be launched from high-speed boats and special-purpose ships.

The updated naval version can be launched from a special launcher installed on high-speed boats, such as Kalashnikov’s BK-016 high-speed landing craft, as well as special-purpose ships and other naval platforms.

A deck container launcher is planned for future development to allow the launch of guided swarms.

Britain’s Gambit With Rwanda on Refugees

Thursday, 21 April 2022 09:21 Written by

By Nosmot Gbadamosi

 

Britain on Thursday unveiled a plan to send asylum-seekers to Rwanda in a deal that will almost certainly face legal challenges. In return for an upfront payment of 120 million pounds (about $157 million) the Rwandan government will take responsibility for asylum-seekers, excluding children, who seek refuge in the United Kingdom via irregular migration routes.

Refugee organizations and some British civil servants immediately criticized the plan as “cruel” and “callous.” As recently as last year, the British government raised concerns at the United Nations over Rwanda’s human rights record, calling for “independent investigations into allegations of extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances and torture.”

The deal being proposed by British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government has in some ways already been attempted and failed. The Israeli government offshored several thousands of asylum-seekers to Rwanda between 2014 and 2017, and it abandoned the scheme when it emerged that almost all ended up in the hands of people smugglers and were subjected to slavery when traveling back to Europe. It is clear that sending asylum-seekers to Rwanda will not reduce the role of traffickers, who will continue to prey on persecuted people who have no legal routes into the U.K. to claim asylum.

Rwanda’s opposition leaders have denounced Britain’s shamelessness as the country struggles to host over 127,000 refugees—of whom 90 percent live in camps. “How could a richer, bigger country be unable to host refugees and think they could just dump them in Rwanda because they have money. It is unacceptable,” Frank Habineza, president of the Democratic Green Party and member of Parliament, told the East African.

In the past few months, Britain’s Home Secretary Priti Patel had attempted to close a similar deal with democratic countries like Ghana and Kenya, but both rejected it in the face of heavy criticism from their citizens. Patel and Johnson then found a more willing (if less palatable) partner in Rwandan President Paul Kagame, who has no such qualms about domestic opposition.

As journalist Michela Wrong, who has been covering Rwanda since the genocide, argues in her book Do Not Disturb, Kagame is an authoritarian governing permanently, because “every election in Rwanda is rigged.” (In 2017, Kagame managed to win 99 percent of the vote.)

Kagame, who seized power in the wake of the 1994 genocide, has been lauded by many leaders abroad, even as he rules with an iron fist at home. Former U.S. President Bill Clinton called Kagame “one of the greatest leaders of our time,” while Britain’s former Prime Minister Tony Blair declared him a “visionary leader.”

On the exterior, Rwanda appears a seemingly robust economy with rapid growth and improvements in health and education under a progressive Parliament in which roughly 60 percent of lawmakers are women. It ranked 38th on ease of doing business in a World Bank survey of 190 nations in 2020.

But as Kavitha Surana wrote in Foreign Policy in 2017, “there is a sort of Pleasantville quality to the country.” Behind the veneer is a regime critics describe as a brutal dictatorship.

Kagame’s political opponents have raised concerns over the killings and disappearances of opposition members at home and abroad. In Belgium, an exiled Rwandan politician was found floating in a canal in 2005, and in 2011 London’s metropolitan police warned a number of defectors they faced an “imminent threat” of assassination by Rwandan government agents. In 2021, a Rwandan ex-army officer was gunned down in Mozambique. The U.S. State Department recently cited politically motivated forced disappearances by the Rwandan military intelligence in its country report. 

In 2021, Paul Rusesabagina—who was immortalized in the 2004 film Hotel Rwanda—was imprisoned on terrorism charges after calling for “any means possible to bring about change” in a widely circulated video in 2018. “Rwanda is a country that has never known democracy. Kagame has exhibited many characteristics of the classic African strongman since taking power. He was elected with 95% of the vote and there is nobody in the world that can call results like that a free election and keep a straight face,” Rusesabagina wrote in a 2006 memoir.

Despite such accusations, British support for Kagame appears unwavering. As two of Rwanda’s highest-profile opposition leaders put it when French President Emmanuel Macron visited Kigali in May last year, “there are good dictators and bad dictators.”

Rwanda’s Western backers are perhaps not fooled by Kagame’s laundered image but choose to ignore it because of his reputation as an effective leader who is always ready to assist U.S. and European governments. Rwandan troops provide much-needed security services in Mozambique and the Central African Republic. Under a deal funded by the European Union, Rwanda has taken in evacuees from Libya and offered temporary asylum to hundreds from Afghanistan in transit to the United States.

Yet, even before the ink dries on the U.K. deal, the Rwandan government is revealing what lies beneath its seemingly benevolent facade. Kigali is much less willing to welcome refugees from neighboring countries such as the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Burundi, Uganda, and Tanzania. Rwanda’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Vincent Biruta said on Thursday during a media conference in Kigali, “We would prefer not to receive people from neighboring countries.”

Ignoring Rwanda’s double standard, Johnson called the plan an “innovative approach” driven by a “shared humanitarian impulse” that will provide “safe and legal routes for asylum.” But, more significantly, he said that the deal would act as a “deterrent” to those illegally crossing the English Channel.

The plan is contingent on the passage of Britain’s Nationality and Borders Bill currently being reviewed by Parliament. In the meantime, Kagame under the Rwandan Constitution, revised in 2015, can serve until 2034 as the head of what has become a de facto single-party state.

Evidence emerges of war crimes by forces allied to Abiy Ahmed’s government

Source: Economist


Apr 13th 2022
ADDIS ABABA

The lucky ones were frogmarched onto buses and driven across the river. The less fortunate were slung into detention camps and left there to rot. Others were murdered in the streets or hacked to death as they cowered in their homes. “We don’t need a single one of them any more,” a militiaman told a foreign researcher last year. “They cannot be trusted.”

Since the start of Ethiopia’s bloody civil war 18 months ago, there have been frequent allegations of ethnic cleansing targeting people from the northern region of Tigray. Antony Blinken, America’s secretary of state, first levelled this charge more than a year ago, infuriating the government of Abiy Ahmed, Ethiopia’s prime minister, which strongly denied it. Because the government has imposed a tight blockade of the region, it has been hard to assess the claims of atrocities. But some horrifying hints have emerged, such as the corpses with their hands bound that have washed up on river banks in Sudan.
Now a thorough investigation by Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, two pressure groups, leaves little doubt of the enormities committed by government forces and their allies. The joint report, published on April 6th, concludes that authorities from the Amhara region have systematically killed or evicted hundreds of thousands of ethnic Tigrayans from territory seized from Tigray since the start of the war. The campaign, carried out with the connivance of federal authorities, was as methodical as it was brutal. Notices ordering Tigrayans to leave were pinned around towns. Freshly appointed Amhara officials handed out title deeds for plots of stolen land. Identification cards were given to new Amhara arrivals, but denied to Tigrayans, who were prevented from receiving aid and government services. The new authorities even granted permits for shipments of looted sesame, a lucrative cash crop at the heart of the territorial dispute between the two regions.
This matters not only because of the frightful human toll. The contested area, known officially as Western Tigray before the war, is now arguably the biggest obstacle to ending the conflict. “It’s definitely the thorniest issue,” says a senior official of the ruling party. Both sides have long claimed this land. Both are hardening their stances. Just days before the report was published Amhara investigators announced the discovery of mass graves, which they allege contain the remains of Amharas murdered decades ago by the Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front (tplf), the party-cum-militia that runs Tigray.
Meanwhile, hundreds of thousands of Tigrayans are starving. A “humanitarian truce” that started on March 24th is already teetering. The government has allowed just one aid convoy to enter Tigray (the first since mid-December) and has been withholding permission for more until the tplf withdraws to Tigray. The tplf wants aid to flow freely before it pulls back entirely, ideally in tandem with the withdrawal of Amhara forces from Western Tigray. Without a breakthrough to ease the blockade, the horror of ethnic cleansing will be matched by an equally grotesque abuse: deliberate, mass starvation.

Source: Al-Monitor

Mariam al-Mahdi

April 7, 2021

CAIRO — The round of negotiations on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam between the Egyptian, Sudanese and Ethiopian ministers of water and irrigation concluded April 6 without agreement in Kinshasa, Congo. No consensus was even reached to continue the diplomatic process to settle the unresolved disputes over the filling and operation of the dam.

Egyptian Foreign Ministry spokesman Ahmed Hafez said in a press statement after the meetings ended, “The meeting has not achieved any progress and will not result in an agreement on relaunching the negotiations. Ethiopia refused the Egyptian and Sudanese proposal to form an international quartet led by the Democratic Republic of Congo as mediator between the three countries.” He also said, “Ethiopia also refused a proposition that Egypt made during the closing session and Sudan supported to resume negotiations under the wing of the Congolese president and with the participation of observers.”

He added, “The Ethiopian stance once again proves the lack of Ethiopia’s well-intentioned political willingness to negotiate. It is stalling and procrastinating, and it is clinging to a formal and ineffective negotiation mechanism.”

The round of talks was held in Congo because the country now heads the African Union Commission. The three-day talks between the ministers of water and irrigation of Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia began April 4 after Ethiopia insisted on proceeding with the second stage of filling the dam reservoir during the flood season in July and retaining around 13.5 billion cubic meters of water.

The Ethiopian Ministry of Foreign Affairs blamed Sudan and Egypt for the failure of the talks and seeking to “undermine the AU-led process and take the matter out of the African platform,” adding that the scheduled second filling of the dam will proceed as scheduled.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi released statements that directly threatened and warned against any measures that infringe upon Egyptian interests in Nile water.

The talks aimed at determining the approach, process and timing of negotiations, in addition to mechanisms ensuring commitment to them to secure constructive negotiations and overcome the stalemate that has cast a shadow over the talks since the sponsorship of the African Union began in June 2020. The objective was to reach a comprehensive and legally binding agreement on the filling and operation of the dam in a way that would ensure the interests of the three countries and maintain the rights of the two downstream countries, avoiding the creation of risks or damages for Egypt and Sudan when the dam stores water.

Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry said during the first session of the Kinshasa talks April 4 that the negotiations “are the last chance to reach an agreement on the operation and filling of the dam before the next flood season.”

An Egyptian technical source who participated in the Kinshasa meetings told Al-Monitor, “The Egyptian delegation attended the Kinshasa meetings based on instructions from the political leadership to offer several alternative solutions to the remaining points of contention through serious dialogue and diplomatic means. The Egyptian suggestions were backed by Sudan and observers participating in the meetings.”

The source added on condition of anonymity, “A detailed report about the meetings and their outcomes will be presented, and the situation will be assessed, given the failure to reach an agreement and the Egyptian political leadership’s halt of negotiations. Moving forward, Egypt has several scenarios to deter any attempts to impose a fait accompli and sabotage the Nile water.”

During the talks, Sudanese Foreign Minister Mariam al-Mahdi had warned against unilateral measures that Ethiopia might take in filling the dam reservoir. In statements cited by the Sudan News Agency, she said Ethiopia’s first filling of the dam “unilaterally resulted in a week of thirst, and it negatively affected irrigation and the animal wealth needs. By proceeding with the second filling despite Sudan’s warnings, Ethiopia would be achieving short-term political gains.” She said, “Sudan refuses any unilateral filling of the dam because a conflict over resources would mean an unwanted future for Africa.”

Mohamed Nasreddin Allam, a former Egyptian minister of water resources, told Al-Monitor, “If Ethiopia proceeds with the second filling without Egypt and Sudan’s approval, it would be somewhat declaring war.”

Hani Raslan, an expert at the Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies, told Al-Monitor, “Ethiopia has made its own bed by proceeding with the second filling in any case. Egypt is unlikely to accept that another state controls the fate and lives of 100 million Egyptians. The Ethiopian leadership is responsible for dragging the region into an unjustified conflict.”

Raslan said, “There were many opportunities to reach consensual solutions to cooperate in the eastern Nile and achieve the interests of all parties by generating electricity to Ethiopia and not harming the water supplies of Egypt and Sudan, thus avoiding a conflict that would be costly for all. However, Ethiopia has dealt with the GERD issue as a zero-sum game, without caring about peaceful coexistence with its neighbors.” The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam is also known by its initials, GERD.

He said any decision to launch a military attack on the dam could strengthen Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s administration “amid the conflicts and divisions inside Ethiopia, particularly with the nearing elections.”

With the failure of the negotiations, international law expert Musaed Abdel Aty told Al-Monitor, “Egypt and Sudan have a legal commitment to return to the Security Council, under Article 7, and brief it by giving a unified speech that includes a legal and technical narration of what happened during the negotiation rounds under African Union auspices. Their briefing must describe the current situation in the region and Ethiopia’s clear and direct threats to peace and security, and it must urge the council to fulfill its role and issue a decision to stop the second filling until a satisfactory agreement that guarantees the interests and rights of the downstream countries is reached.”

He added, “The Kinshasa talks revealed the Ethiopian recklessness and foiling of any chance at peaceful settlement of the conflict by refusing international mediation. This is a violation of the rules of international law.”

Before the meetings, Sisi had addressed the Congolese president in a letter in which he said Egypt was striving for an agreement to be reached fairly quickly, before the flood season.

Abdel Aty said, “Sisi’s discourse carried several connotations about Egypt’s respect for the African Union’s efforts and quest to solve the dispute through diplomatic and peaceful means.”

Coincidentally with the meetings of the ministers of water and irrigation in Kinshasa, the chief of staff of Egypt’s armed forces, Mohamed Hegazi, was in Sudan attending the end of air maneuvers of the Nile Eagles 2 exercise, in which top Egyptian fighter jets participated, at Merowe air base. The exercise follows the Nile Eagles 1 maneuvers held in November. Hegazi said, “Egypt stands by the Sudanese army. We are in the same boat, and we look forward to a promising and secure future.”

By Habte Hagos

In February 2018, demonstrations were held by Jewish and African activists around the world, including one in front of the Rwandan High Commission in London to protest against the deportation of African refugees from Israel to Rwanda.

At the London demonstration, the Rwandan High Commission issued a statement stating[1] “Rwanda’s position on migrants, wherever they may originate from, was informed and shaped by a sentiment of compassion towards African brothers and sisters who are today perishing at high seas, sold in the market like cattle or expelled from the countries in which they sought shelter. Rwanda is happy to help in a limited way it could by welcoming anyone arriving at its borders in need of a home, voluntarily and without any constraints.” The letter dated 7 February 2018 adds “ .. Rwanda’s policy vis-à-vis Africans in need for a home, temporary or permanent, within the country’s means, remains open.”

It is surprising that the UK now plans, and indeed signed an agreement with the Rwandan authorities, to send refugees to the country in breach of international law. This is particularly true given the UK Government’s condemnations of Rwandan human rights record at the UN and other forums.

The UNHCR has expressed “strong opposition and concerns about the United Kingdom’s plan.” In the words of the Rwandan High Commission such act would be tantamount to people being “sold in the market like cattle”.

Putting ethics aside, one asks whether UK paying Rwanda an initial sum of £120m [with an estimated £30,000 per deportee once the scheme is up and running] delivers value for money for the tax payer, especially coming at a time when the living standard for people in Britain is in freefall. The true cost will be “eyewatering” according to Conservative MP, Andrew Mitchell.

The UK, a country renown for decades as a shining example for its rule of law and adherence to international norms, is sadly now seen as a country led by a government that repeatedly flouts, not only its domestic laws, but international laws too.

No wonder some 160 civic societies and others have so far raised concerns about the UK/Rwanda unhealthy alliance over vulnerable refugees. I have no doubt the campaign against the plan will accelerate over the coming days and weeks. In the end the UK citizens humanity, fair play, underpinned by the rule of law, will triumph and this government will eventually back down on its unworkable plan.

Habte Hagos is chair of Eritrea Focus

[1] Statement from Rwanda on Israeli deportations of African refugees | Eritrea Focus (eritrea-focus.org)

In its meeting of March 5, 2022 the social affairs administration discussed in depth the conditions and or progresses achieved in the branches under the main office of the social affairs administration. Summary of the evaluations and decisions made in the meeting were as following:

According to reports from Wedsherifey school management, members of the meeting understood that this 37 year old school is still fulfilling its academic obligations (teaching) from year to year despite the many shortcomings it encounters every time. Putting these problems into account, the meeting decided first to show its appreciation and gratitude to the non-profit organizations and Eritrean donors who have been giving a hand of help to the needy school. Furthermore, the meeting called upon the generous donors if, possible, to increase their donations one tiny step up. In the meantime, the social affairs administration agreed to elevate its activities anew. To those who are not familiar with Wedsherifey school: it is 37 years old located near Kassala Sudan; about 800 Eritrean refugees are enrolled in the school where they get their education from 1st to 8th grade.  Since its founding, ELF-RC then and now EPDP play an important role in ensuring its continuity.

Considering the shortfalls facing the program of foster parenting, the administration office discussed and hinted solutions for its revival. Likewise the office administration, in conjunction with the board of the association for the disabled veterans, called for the support to continue.

  1. When the global pandemic (Covid 19) threatened the world the advanced countries created their own vaccines and have been fighting to eliminate the virus or at least to slow it down. Now, some of these countries offered vaccines, though not sufficient, to third world countries. Only Isaias declined the offer because he is dead set to depopulate and weaken Eritrea. Eritreans are furiously horrified by his negligence and cruelty against the very people he claims is their leader. In this regard the administration office of social affairs reminded the world community to find ways of reaching the abandoned people of Eritrea for they are also part of the global community.
  2. Administration committee discussed in detail about the Eritrean refugees in general and particularly about those who were caught off guard in the inexplicable savagery being committed on Tigray by Isaias and his evil company of Aby Ahmed and Formagio of Somalia. In the end the committee put its observations and evaluation as follows:
  1. After the hostilities against Tigray flared up the two camps of Shemeleba and Hitseatse that used to house Eritrean refugees were totally blown off. Some of them died at the hands of the Eritrean army, some others were arrested and allegedly taken back to Eritrea or most likely executed and the rest were scattered away in search of safety.
  2. Other refugees who used to live in the 2 camps of Maiaini and Adi Harish were also very insecure because they were in the middle of the war region of Ethiopia. Apparently they only moved some to the new camp near Dabat right under the nose of the notorious militia known as Fanno. This is like putting the fox in the hen - hole in order to protect the chicks! Nonetheless, due to lack of security, communication and transportation, employees of the High Commission for refugees could not shift to the new camp. Dabat is about 80 km North of Gondar.
  3. When TDF and Afar soldiers started fighting each other in the Afar region, Eritrean refugees in Abala and Ashaita camps became the immediate victims of the war. As is always the case some were killed, and those who could escape the two camps alive took refuge in Samera, the capital city of Afar region.
  4. Due to destructions or closures of the refugee camps in Northern Ethiopia, Eritrean refugees flocked to Addis Ababa but to no avail. The office that used to handle refugee issues in Addis is nowhere to be found. Those who come in and the ones who wanted to leave are all stuck in the unfriendly streets of Addis Ababa.
  5. with no one to offer them food and shelter. At this point it is estimated that there are 80,000 Eritrean refugees in Ethiopia.

Ethiopian government and the other relevant international human rights organizations have been almost all times short in giving adequate assistance to Eritrean refugees. Observing the dilemma of our refugees, the office of social affairs administration urged the human rights organizations to give more attention and assistance as soon as conditions permit.

Respect the rights of Refugees.

Office of Social affairs EPDP.

Source: Kjetil Tronvoll Tweets

Will a new major military offensive be launched in Ethiopiasoon? All sides: the federal government, Amhara and Afar regional governments; Eritrea and Tigray appear prepared for it.

Over the past couple of weeks, information about new large-scale troops deployment on Tigray ’s borders in the north by Eritrea and in south by Ethiopia have emerged.

Eritrean reinforcements are allegedly deployed on the Zalambessa, Rama, Badme and Humera fronts along Tigray border, while reportedly new ENDF recruits and regional special forces are dispatched to Amhara and Afar fronts.

The so-called declaration of truce by Ethiopia has not met its stated objective, as the federal and Afar governments continue to block much needed humanitarian aid to the famine struck population of Tigray. Only 22 trucks reached Mekelle since the truce was announcement.

Ethiopian government declaration of a truce is either a) a ploy to once again buy time to prepare for new offensive; or b) shows how incapacitated and powerless PM Abiy Ahmed is to negotiate a peace with Tigray, since he relies on political fractions advocating war to stay in power.

Tigray regional government cannot sit idle for much longer, watching their famine struck population starve to death in their thousands. They must either surrender or break the Ethiopia siege before their army, the TDF, is rendered incapable of fighting by starvation.

As all international attention is on Russia’s war on Ukraine, Western diplomatic interest and capacity to address Ethiopia war is waning. The new international relations are also relevant here, as Ethiopia is supporting Russia, further alienating Western powers from Ethiopia.

Finally, we should keep in mind that the key traditional “season of war” in Ethiopia follows Easter holiday and before rains start in June. If all the above are adequate indications, a new major military offensive on Tigray by Ethiopia and Eritrea will soon be launched…

Source: Time

Putin’s Exploitation of Africa Could Help Him Evade Sanctions

By George Clooney, Justyna Gudzowska, and John Prendergast
April 8, 2022 9:00 AM EDT

Since the invasion of Ukraine, an extraordinary coalition of allies is
working together to isolate Russia economically, imposing sanctions
and cutting off access to the global financial system. This campaign
has shown success in degrading Russia’s economy. The Kremlin, however,
may find a financial lifeline in an unlikely place—Africa. The more
successful the economic war on Russia is, the more the Kremlin will
rely on plundered African resources as a means of evading sanctions
and keeping the Russian war machine going. To understand this danger,
it is important to grasp the manner in which Moscow has planned for a
moment like this.

Over the last few years, Vladimir Putin and his cronies have sought to
project Russian power in corrupt but resource-rich African countries,
exerting their influence through a shadowy mercenary force known as
the Wagner Group. While this murderous outfit has itself been
sanctioned by the U.S., the E.U., and the U.K., its membership and
tactics remains shrouded in secrecy. What we do know is that Russia
has used Wagner operatives to provide a security shield for African
despots in exchange for access to precious natural resources.

Financed by Yevgeny Prigozhin, sometimes called “Putin’s Chef” because
he rose to power after running a catering company favored by the
Kremlin, the Wagner Group first appeared on the scene in 2014 in
Ukraine. “Putin’s shadow army” is estimated to have as many as 5,000
members and has acted as a mercenary force fighting on behalf of
Russia, but in a way that allows Moscow a measure of deniability. The
group has deployed to other hot spots around the world, including
Libya, Sudan, the Central African Republic, Madagascar, Mozambique,
Mali, and Syria (where Wagner mercenaries fought a bloody battle with
U.S. special forces in 2018).

In Sudan, where the fall of Omar al-Bashir in 2019 could have left
Russia without a corrupt partner, the Wagner Group found a friend in
Mohammed Hamdan Dagalo (aka Hemedti)—Sudan’s second in command and
leader of the genocidal militia the Rapid Support Forces, previously
known as the Janjaweed. Hemedti had made his own fortune running a
shadow economy dominated by gold exports. He also helped Russia secure
access to gold mines.

In fact, even as Russia was initiating its bombing of Ukraine,
Hemedti’s Twitter account posted pictures of his meeting with Russia’s
foreign minister Sergey Lavrov. Hemedti had been in Moscow to discuss
ways of deepening economic ties between Sudan and Russia. More notable
than Hemedti’s public show of allegiance to Russia during this moment
of international opprobrium was that Lavrov actually made time for
Hemedti at such a critical juncture. Russia hopes to set up a Red Sea
naval base in the country, projecting its naval power into a strategic
transport corridor.

In the Central African Republic, where the Wagner Group has an
outsized role and a Wagner operative serves as the president’s
security advisor, a joint investigation by The Sentry and CNN
established that mercenaries from the group have engaged in atrocities
including murder, rape, and torture to capture areas that are rich in
gold, diamonds, and other minerals. Wagner has also initiated a
process to change the mining code to create a monopoly for itself in
the country’s gold and diamond mining sector.

By using the Wagner Group to burrow into these resource-rich countries
and secure lucrative mining concessions, Russia has been trying to
future-proof itself against the kinds of sanctions now being imposed
by the U.S. and its allies. Russia’s Africa strategy is clear: through
the private military proxy, it sets up shop in countries with unstable
political and security environments and high levels of corruption; it
forges opportunistic relationships with powerbrokers in the government
or security services; it provides training to state security forces
and non-state armed groups alike; it carries out missions marked by
atrocities; and it maintains strong, if quiet, links to the Kremlin,
conducting operations that directly support Putin’s geopolitical
objectives.

To be sure, the robust steps taken in recent weeks by the U.S. and
allies to sever Russia’s connections to the international economy are
critical. But however surprised Putin may be by the swift and
multilateral imposition of sanctions in response to the invasion,
Russia’s Africa strategy suggests that the Kremlin has been doing some
quiet contingency planning for this sort of scenario. Denying Russia
long-term access to resources in Africa is therefore essential to
ensuring that these sanctions are truly effective. Gold and diamonds
are attractive assets for international pariahs because they can be
sold and exchanged while avoiding the regulated banking sector, and
this playbook has been used in the past by both Iran and Venezuela.
Steps must be taken to ensure that Russia doesn’t continue to have
access to new sources of gold, diamonds, and other natural resources.

But how does one go about that? The impulse might be to force African
leaders to choose between Russia and the West. But rather than
imposing this outdated Cold War choice, Washington and its allies
should instead focus on expanding their efforts to counter the
creeping spread of kleptocracy on the continent.

Africa might seem remote from the current war in Ukraine; worse yet,
some may disregard Africa as a strategic priority for the U.S. But
make no mistake: Putin and his allies favor kleptocracy. They thrive
on corruption. In the end, their only real ideology is graft, and when
they are able to spread it, they create new zones in which they can
exert their influence. Corrupt leaders in places like Sudan, CAR, and
Mali welcome Moscow’s mercenaries under the guise of law and order,
but in reality they use the hired guns to maintain their own power. In
exchange, they barter away precious national resources to Russia.

Last year, President Joe Biden wisely deemed the fight against
corruption a core national security interest. As Russia is further
isolated and looks for allies and resources in Africa, it’s time to
earnestly take up that fight by focusing on dismantling the key
networks that enable kleptocracy deploying smarter financial pressure,
renewed diplomacy, and robust private sector engagement. The choice
for African countries should not be between the West and Russia.
Rather, it should be good governance, development, democracy,
responsible investment, and human rights versus cycles of corruption
and atrocities that only benefit authoritarian regimes and their
enablers.

Clooney is Co-Founder of the Clooney Foundation for Justice and
Co-Founder of The Sentry. Prendergast is Co-Founder of The Sentry.
Gudzowska is Director of Illicit Finance Policy at The Sentry.

https://time.com/6165246/putin-africa-evade-sanctions/

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