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On Monday Radio Erena broadcast news that Eritrean refugees in Ethiopia were being pressurised to return home.

I put out this tweet: “According to Radio Erena, Eritrean refugees in Ethiopia are being told to sign the regret form at the new Eritrean embassy and to go back home. What is UNHCR doing? This is refoulment and against international law.”

I have now received this email from the UNHCR clarifying the situation.

“Thanks for writing and I did see your tweet.  In response, I can tell you that while UNHCR welcomes the initial peace negotiations between the Government of Eritrea and Ethiopia as a sign of willingness to put an end of decades of dispute between both states, the discussions over the fate of the over 200,000 Eritrean refugees in Ethiopia have yet to take place.

If and when these discussions take place, UNHCR will work with both governments to ensure that the possibility of any repatriation process is done voluntarily and that it is sustainable, so that it can signify a durable solution to the refugees’ plight. However,  as I stated above, with the peace deal having just been signed, and the embassy  only opening yesterday, the official  repatriation discussions involving UNHCR have not taken place.

While many refugees may dream of going home, it may not be the solution for others who feel they have compelling reasons to not yet do so. Voluntary repatriation in safety and dignity requires the full commitment of the country of origin to help reintegrate its own people, of the host government to help facilitate it, as well as the refugees’ willingness to do so. The answers to these uncertainties will depends on how the peace deal develops in due course, which will require meaningful discussions with both governments as well as the refugees.”

Dana Hughes
Snr Regional Comms and Spokesperson, UNCHR


July 16, 2018 Martin Plaut News

The British government has just published its 2017 Human Rights Report.

The human rights situation in Eritrea showed no improvement in 2017. The main problems related to civil and political rights. The authorities restricted freedom of expression: Eritrea is a one-party state with no political opposition or independent media. Citizens continued to be subject to arbitrary extension of national service, a form of modern slavery. The
right to freedom of religion or belief was violated. Citizens suffered arbitrary detention on religious grounds, with a lack of due process in subsequent criminal proceedings.
This contrasts with the progress which  Eritrea made in 2017 on social, cultural and economic rights. The UK has supported the work of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) with the government of Eritrea to address gender inequality in education and wellbeing. The UNDP assess that more girls are now in school compared with 15 years ago, and most
regions have reached gender parity in primary education. Eritrea achieved antenatal care attendance of 98% of pregnant mothers, skilled delivery of 60% of births, and immunisation coverage of 95% of babies.
The UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Eritrea, Sheila Keetharuth, was continually denied access to the country by the government and was therefore unable to fulfil the mandate given by  the UN Human Rights Council (HRC). However, we welcome the Government of Eritrea’s continued cooperation with the UN OHCHR, including with representatives who visited Eritrea for the second year in succession, in October. Despite cooperating with this visit, the government gave no update regarding progress made on the four-year implementation programme agreed with the UN Development Programme (UNDP) following Eritrea’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR) in 2014.

The UK continued to work bilaterally and with international partners in the EU and the UN to press Eritrea  to improve its human rights record. The UK made statements in human rights dialogues on 14 June in the HRC in Geneva and at the UN General Assembly Third Committee meeting in New York on 27 October. On both occasions, the UK stressed the need
to ensure that those engaged in the national military service system had a clearly defined limit to their period of service, and received financial compensation commensurate to their duties. We also reiterated calls for the Government of Eritrea to implement the Eritrean Constitution, to respect fully the right to freedom of religion or belief, and to release individuals held in
arbitrary detention.
Severe constraints on media freedoms have resulted in the absence of independent media in the country. The diaspora radio station, Radio Erena, received an award from the London-based charity World One Media on 6 June, in recognition of the continued absence of a free press and media in Eritrea. The station provides an alternative voice through its cultural, social, political and entertainment programmes. A number of journalists and politicians remained in long-term detention. Among these is Dawit Isaac, who was awarded the UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize in absentia on 31 March.
In late October, several senior Catholic and Muslim figures were arrested as the government sought to exert influence over religious schools and colleges. This led to protests on 31 October by between 100 and 200 students, parents and administrators from a Muslim school in Asmara, who were dispersed by gunfire from the Eritrean security forces. The UK will continue to monitor closely reports of the excessive use of force, of arbitrary arrests, including of minors, and of the lack of clear due process. FCO officials raised these
issues in November with the Eritrean Ambassador to London.
On 26 June, the UK joined international partners in calling attention to the prolonged detention of Patriarch Abune Antonios, the former head of the Eritrean Orthodox Church. The Patriarch has been under house arrest since 2007. For the first time since his detention, he was allowed on 16 July to attend mass. However, he has not been seen in public since, and he
appears to remain under house arrest. The European Parliament, in a resolution on 6 July, condemned human rights violations in Eritrea and in particular highlighted the cases of Dawit Isaac and Patriarch Antonios.
In 2018, the UK will continue to press  the Government of Eritrea to improve its human rights record. Alongside international partners, the UK will seek to work constructively with Eritrea, encouraging engagement with the UPR process and OHCHR, and urging improved cooperation with the HRC and any Special Rapporteur appointed.


Ethiopia based journalists have been asked to go to Addis Airport early on Saturday
Eritrean President Isaias to visit Ethiopia: Eritrea minister

ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) – Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki will visit Ethiopia on Saturday, Eritrea’s information minister Yemane Meskel said on Friday, days after the two neighbors declared their “state of war” over.

The visit comes a week after Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed visited Eritrea and signed a pact on resuming ties with Isaias.

Under the historic deal, the Horn of Africa neighbors agreed to open embassies, develop ports and resume flights, in concrete signs of rapprochement away two decades of hostility since war erupted over their disputed border in 1998.

(Reporting by Aaaron Maasho; writing by George Obulutsa; editing by Maggie Fick and Jason Neely)


A lasting peace between Ethiopia and Eritrea would be an enormous strategic win for the West.

By Daniel Runde | July 12, 2018, 5:48 PM

Abiy Ahmed














Ethiopia's Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed (R) and Ethiopia's Foreign Minister Workeneh Gebeyehu prepare to welcome an Eritrean delegation at the international airport in Addis Ababa on June 26, 2018. (YONAS TADESSE/AFP/Getty Images)

The United States has plenty of strategic reasons to immediately invest diplomatic capital in the rapidly thawing relations between Ethiopia and Eritrea. It’s a historic opportunity that, if it continues heading in the right direction, promises fewer refugees for the West, more stability in the Horn of Africa region, and a potential new ally for the Trump administration in Eritrea, assuming it changes some of its behavior.

I was in Eritrea a few weeks ago for my day job looking at why so many people are fleeing to Europe and other parts of Africa. These root causes of migration are underresearched and often misunderstood, even more so in countries such as Eritrea that few have ever studied. Eritrea has a recognizably bad track record on human rights, a recognizably bad track record on democracy, and a recognizably bad track record on forcing people to leave and become refugees. It has earned its reputation, though there may now be an unprecedented opening for reform.

While in Eritrea’s capital, Asmara, I met with several senior Eritrean officials and senior diplomats from Western countries. By chance, I witnessed President Isaias Afwerki’s speech on Martyrs’ Day. The president’s speech called for a peace delegation to Ethiopia — a breakthrough in light of the two nations’ 20-year conflict. Less than a week later, and for the first time in 20 years, an Eritrean delegation, led by Foreign Minister Osman Saleh, was welcomed into Addis Ababa. After talks with the delegation in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia’s prime minister arrived in Asmara in the last couple of days for a historic meeting with Isaias at which they declared the war to be over.

Clearly, this is a rapidly moving situation. Though remarkable progress has already been made, U.S. diplomacy will be needed to definitively end the 20-year Ethiopia-Eritrea frozen conflict.

Ending this conflict would strengthen Ethiopia’s new political leadership and create the conditions necessary for an end to Eritrea’s indefinite national service — along with Eritrea’s other human rights violations, which are a major driver of migration by the tens of thousands to other countries in Africa and to Europe.

There are many benefits to achieving a peace deal. First, such an agreement would create a new economic dynamic in the Horn of Africa, especially if Ethiopia were then able to use Eritrea’s two ports at Massawa and Assab. Eritrea would connect to an economy nearly 25 times its size. Second, ending this conflict could open the door to political liberalization in Eritrea. Eritrea uses the conflict with Ethiopia as an excuse for not making any government reforms. Third, a peace deal would open a new dynamic in the dysfunctional and tension-ridden Horn of Africa. It is true that Eritrea has supported bad actors in its neighborhood. If Eritrea had peace with Ethiopia, it would feel more secure and Eritrea would be less prone to causing trouble in the region and more likely to reduce tensions. Fourth, if the United States and Eritrea had a new relationship, Eritrea could be our Plan B African military base, as Djibouti is getting a little too friendly with China.

The first thing to know about Eritrea is that it nearly didn’t exist. The United Kingdom and the United States — through the United Nations — proposed merging the former Italian colony with Ethiopia in the early 1950s. Eritreans disagreed with this solution, fought a 30-year war against Ethiopia and won independence in 1991. During its struggle, Eritrea had no reliable friends. The current Eritrean leadership is made up of the former military leaders who led the country to its independence.

Eritrea has had tense relations with the West. In the early 1990s, the Clinton administration provided financial aid and military assistance to the country. Less than a decade later, the United States ended those relations and suspended the sale of weapons to Eritrea when war broke out in 1998. The Bush administration had serious concerns in the mid-2000s that Eritrea was providing sanctuary to al-Shabab terrorists, which led to the imposition of an arms embargo in 2009. The Obama administration signed an executive order in 2009 with a series of financial sanctions against Eritrea for its failure to address human trafficking.

I asked senior leaders in Eritrea if they see al-Shabab as a terrorist group, and all of them agreed that it is. It is important to note that Eritrea has been deemed al-Shabab-free for more than six years, according to outside monitors known as the Somalia Eritrea Monitoring Group. Given that this is the case, this would be a moment to revisit the sanctions on Eritrea and consider removing them.

Even if Eritrea has rid itself of its ties to the worst terrorist groups, it remains true that Eritrea has a persistently bad record as a human rights violator.

According to a 2018 Human Rights Watch report, “Eritrea remains a one-man dictatorship under President Isaias Afewerki, now in his 26th year in power. It has no legislature, no independent civil society organizations or media outlets, and no independent judiciary. The government restricts religious freedoms, banning all but four groups.”

Eritrea also has had tense relations with most of its neighbors. Its worst relations are with Ethiopia, which it has fought two wars against in the last 50 years. The latest Eritrea-Ethiopia war was fought over lingering border disputes and lasted from 1998 to 2000, continuing to cause conflict between the two countries to this day. This war was notorious for being one of the deadliest wars in Africa, killing some 90,000 people.






“The UAE mediation between Ethiopia and Eritrea has resulted in the signing of a joint friendship and peace declaration.”
Mustafa Al Zarooni/Dubai
Filed on July 11, 2018


Sheikh Abdullah voiced the UAE’s aspiration to ensure a durable peace between the two nations.


A number of diplomats and academicians have hailed the UAE government’s efforts to foster security and stability around the world.

They praised the role His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, has played in effecting a rapprochement between Ethiopia and Eritrea – two African nations that have been at war for almost 20 years.

The UAE mediation between Ethiopia and Eritrea has resulted in the signing of a joint friendship and peace declaration. The two countries have agreed to re-establish trade relations, open their embassies and jointly develop Eritrea’s Red Sea port. They have also decided to reinstate the Ethiopian flights to Eritrea starting next week.

UAE’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, has welcomed the reestablishment of cordial relations between Ethiopia and Eritrea, stressing that such an agreement will positively reflect on boosting security and stability in both countries, the Horn of Africa and the MENA region.

Sheikh Abdullah voiced the UAE’s aspiration to ensure a durable peace between the two nations.

Workneh Gebeyehu, Ethiopian Foreign Minister, said the historic accord between his country and Eritrea was a result of the extensive efforts made by His Highness Shaikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan and thanked him for the seminal role he played in the diplomatic breakthrough.

Dr Anwar Gargash, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, said the UAE has become a key partner in the Horn of Africa, ahead of all other Arab nations that have a presence in such a vital region.

In a series of tweets on Tuesday, Dr Gargash said: “Maintaining political communication with the Horn of African countries has both risks and opportunities, but it is essential because the Horn of Africa is important for the security and progress of our Arab world. The long term policy the UAE is pursuing is gaining respect in the Horn of Africa and internationally.”

Talking about the UAE foreign policy, Dr Gargash said: “Our foreign policy is clear and transparent, which is based on credibility. First, our policy is Arab whose objectives are moderation, stability, counter-terrorism, development and common progress. Those objectives make the UAE a welcome partner in the region.”

Meanwhile, the UAE Red Crescent is continuing its efforts to support the humanitarian and development activities in Ethiopia. It is building 1,000 homes for the displaced people and completed the third phase of distribution of humanitarian relief materials.

President Yoweri Museveni (L) shakes hands with President al-Bashir at his arrival to the Ugandan capital on 13 Nov 2017 (Photo Ugandan presidency)

July 10, 2018 (KHARTOUM) - The European Union condemned two east African countries, Djibouti and Uganda, for refusing to arrest Sudanese President Omer al-Bashir, the only sitting head of state wanted by the International criminal court.

President al-Bashir was in Djibouti on 5 July to attend the inauguration of a regional trade zone. Also, he was in Entebbe on Saturday for meeting on peace in South Sudan with Presidents Yoweri Museveni and Salva Kiir and SPLM-IO leader Riek Machar.

“The European Union and its Member States regret that Djibouti and Uganda, both States Parties to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC), did not comply with their obligations under international law and as State Parties to the ICC and did not surrender President Al-Bashir to the Court,” said

The statement, which is issued by the EEAS Spokesperson, further called on all Member States of the United Nations to abide by and implement the UN Security Council resolutions related to the referral of Darfur crimes to the war crimes court.

“The European Union remains a strong supporter of the ICC and is committed to enforcing international criminal law and to ending impunity”.

Sudanese foreign ministry didn’t react to the statement but the Sudanese embassy in Cairo distributed a statement by the Arab Parliament Speaker Mishaal bin Fahm Al-Salami denouncing the provocative EU statement against an Arab leader.



Source: Zazim, Israeli community action

At the height of the anti-deportation campaign, dozens of African refugees requested to join the Histadrut – Israel’s national trade union – with the hope that its political power could protect them from the government’s cruel deportation plan. Yet the Histadrut’s leadership rejected the refugees’ requests, citing “technical issues.”

But the refugees and union activists didn’t give up – and neither did our members:

Over 2,600 Zazim members sent direct letters to the Histadrut’s chairman – a Labor Party member with political ambitions for the Knesset – calling on him to accept the requests and remind him that we’re watching. In the meantime, refugees and union activists from Hadash [Israel’s communist party] took the case to the union’s internal court – pointing to international conventions that require the Histadrut to accept all workers, including asylum seekers and refugees.

Our pressure worked, and the Histadrut announced that refugees can join as union members and receive union protections just like any other worker!

But the Israeli government is still scouring the globe for a place to deport thousands of refugees, and the fight for a just and permanent solution for the refugees is far from over.


July 10, 2018 9.34am BST


Source: The Conversation

This week Ethiopian Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed visited neighbouring Eritrea, to be greeted by President Isaias Afwerki. The vast crowds that thronged the normally quiet streets of Eritrea’s capital, Asmara, were simply overjoyed. They sang and they danced as Abiy’s car drove past. Few believed they would ever see such an extraordinarily rapid end to two decades of vituperation and hostility between their countries.

After talks the president and prime minister signed a declaration, ending 20 years of hostility and restoring diplomatic relations and normal ties between the countries.

The first indication that these historic events might be possible came on June 4th. Abiy declared that he would accept the outcome of an international commission’s finding over the disputed border. It was the border conflict of 1998-2000, and Ethiopia’s refusal to accept the commission’s ruling, that was behind two decades of armed confrontation. With this out of the way, everything began to fall into place.

The two countries are now formally at peace. Airlines will connect their capitals once more, Ethiopia will use Eritrea’s ports again – its natural outlet to the sea – and diplomatic relations will be resumed.

Perhaps most important of all, the border will be demarcated. This won’t be an easy task. Populations who thought themselves citizens of one country could find themselves in another. This could provoke strong reactions, unless both sides show flexibility and compassion.

For Eritrea there are real benefits – not only the revenues from Ethiopian trade through its ports, but also the potential of very substantial potash developmentson the Ethiopia-Eritrea border that could be very lucrative.

For Ethiopia, there would be the end to Eritrean subversion, with rebel movements deprived of a rear base from which to attack the government in Addis Ababa. In return, there is every chance that Ethiopia will now push for an end to the UN arms embargoagainst the Eritrean government.

This breakthrough didn’t just happen. It has been months in the making.

The deal

Some of the first moves came quietly from religious groups. In September last year the World Council of Churches sent a team to see what common ground there was on both sides. Donald Yamamoto, Assistant Secretary of State for Africa, and one of America’s most experienced Africa hands, played a major role.

Diplomatic sources suggest he held talks in Washington at which both sides were represented. The Eritrean minister of foreign affairs, Osman Saleh, is said to have been present, accompanied by Yemane Gebreab, President Isaias’s long-standing adviser. They are said to have met the former Ethiopian prime minister, Hailemariam Desalegn, laying the groundwork for the deal. Yamamoto visited both Eritrea and Ethiopiain April.

Although next to nothing was announced following the visits, they are said to have been important in firming up the dialogue.

But achieving reconciliation after so many years took more than American diplomatic muscle.

Eritrea’s Arab allies also played a key role. Shortly after the Yamamoto visit, President Isaias paid a visit to Saudi Arabia. Ethiopia – aware of the trip – encouraged the Saudi crown prince to get the Eritrean president to pick up the phone and talk to him. President Isaias declined, but – as Abiy Ahmed later explained – he was “hopeful with Saudi and US help the issue will be resolved soon.”

So it was, but one other actor played a part: the UAE. Earlier this month President Isaias visited the Emirates. There are suggestions that large sums of money were offered to help Eritrea develop its economy and infrastructure.

Finally, behind the scenes, the UN and the African Union have been encouraging both sides to resolve their differences. This culminated in the UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, flying to Addis Ababa for a meeting on Monday– just hours after the joint declaration. Guterres told reporters that in his view the sanctions against Eritrea could soon be lifted since they would soon likely become “obsolete.”

It has been an impressive combined effort by the international community, who have for once acted in unison to try to resolve a regional issue that has festered for years.

Risks and dividends

For Isaias these developments also bring some element of risk. Peace would mean no longer having the excuse of a national security threat to postpone the implementation of basic freedoms. If the tens of thousands of conscripts, trapped in indefinite national service are allowed to go home, what jobs await them? When will the country have a working constitution, free elections, an independent media and judiciary? Many political prisoners have been jailed for years without trail. Will they now be released?

For Ethiopia, the dividends of peace would be a relaxation of tension along its northern border and an alternative route to the sea. Families on both sides of the border would be reunited and social life and religious ceremonies, many of which go back for centuries, could resume.

But the Tigrayan movement – the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) – that was dominant force in Ethiopian politics until the election of Prime Minister Aiby in February, has been side-lined. It was their quarrel with the Eritrean government that led to the 1998–2000 border war.

The Eritrean authorities have rejoiced in their demise. “From this day forward, TPLF as a political entity is dead,” declared a semi-official website, describing the movement as a ‘zombie’ whose “soul has been bound in hell”. Such crowing is hardly appropriate if differences are to be resolved. The front is still a significant force in Ethiopia and could attempt to frustrate the peace deal.

These are just some of the problems that lie ahead. There is no guarantee that the whole edifice won’t collapse, as the complex details of the relationship are worked out. There are many issues that have to be resolved before relations between the two countries can be returned to normal. But with goodwill these can be overcome, ushering in a new era of peace and prosperity from which the entire region would benefit.


UN official list of human traffickers in Libya.

Note: This list contains 26 individuals and two organisations.

Full list here: UN Libyan Traffickers List

Of the individuals named, many hold Libyan positions, for example the Governor of Ghat (South Libya), Director Military Intelligence, Defence Minister, etc.

Most are Libyan, but two Eritreans are named [Fitiwi Abdelrazak and Ermies Ghermay], one is Sudanese [Abdullah al-Senussi] and one may be Egyptian [Sayyid Mohammed Qadhaf al-Dam]