There is no firm evidence, but the signs are that Somalia may be about to invite Ethiopia and Eritrea to send troops into its territory to replace the African Union’s AMISOM forces that are due to depart.

If this is confirmed, then the discussions between Somalia, Ethiopia and Eritrea in the Ethiopian town of Bahr Dar on 9th of November might be among the most important held in the region in recent years. They could see a re-shaping of the political relations in the Horn of Africa.

The three leaders, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo, and President Isaias Afwerki were not in the city to enjoy the tourist sites on Lake Tana and the Blue Nile. At the end of their talks they signed an agreement.

These were the key sentences.

“They noted with satisfaction the tangible and positive outcomes already registered, and agreed to consolidate their mutual solidarity and support in addressing challenges that they face individually and collectively. In this regard, they stressed the importance of respecting the sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of Somalia as well as their firm support for the Somalia people and Federal Government of Somalia and all its institution.”

This was hardly transparent, but they may presage an invitation from the Somali government for Eritrean and Ethiopian soldiers to be based on its territory.

A brief recap

The African Union Mission in Somalia – AMISOM – is going ahead with plans to withdraw its troops in February next year. By December 2020, all AMISOM combat troops are scheduled to leave all of Somalia’s cities, towns, and villages that they’ve liberated from the al-Shabaab terrorist organization.

Amisom Somalia

Troops from Uganda, Ethiopia, Djibouti, Kenya and Burundi, are currently deployed across the country, funded by EU and UN.

They fight alongside the Somali National Army, and continue to take casualties. They protect the Somali government and keep roads connecting the Somali capital to the regions. Their forces have liberated towns from al-Shabaab including Mogadishu, Kisimayo, Beletweyne and Baidoa.

Backed by US air and drone strikes, they have held al-Shabaab at bay. But the Islamists are by no means defeated.

Progress has been slow and difficult. “Somalia is like cleaning a pig,” one Ugandan AMISOM colonel told a reporter Foreign Policy. “You clean it, and it gets dirty.”

Everyone has attempted to train the Somali army. Turkey has a military academy, so too does Qatar. Egypt, Britain and the USA provide training. But what have they achieved? Arms and ammunition supplied to the Somali national army disappear – only to re-appear on the hands of al-Shabaab. The army’s communications systems are tapped by the Islamists.

Without AMISOM can President Farmajo survive?

This is an issue for the whole of the region and beyond. Keeping Islamists at bay has been a critical element in the American war on terrorism.

The US effort has been bolstered by the deployment of one of its most respected and knowledgeable diplomat  to the region.

Donald Yamamoto is the new ambassador to Somalia, and he is a heavyweight. Yamamoto played a key role in the reconcilliation between Ethiopia and Eritrea.

He was joined in Mogadishu by the head of US Africa Command in Mogadishu, General Thomas Waldhauser.

USA Somalia

So, will Ethiopia and Eritrea ride to the rescue?

As indicated at the start of this article there is no hard evidence. But with AMISOM winding down its operation, there are suggestions that Ethiopia’s Abiy Ahmed that his forces establish a military base inside Somali during the talks at Bahir Dar. President Farmajo is said to have agreed to the idea, with the town of Merca as a possible site.

The idea of Ethiopian forces being in Somalia has been around for nearly two decades. It was in November 2000 that the then Somali President, Abdiqassim Salad Hassan visited his opposite number, Meles Zenawi. It was the first visit to Ethiopia by a Somali head of state since 1974.

Since then Ethiopian troops have been in and out of Somalia, attempting to resist Islamist insurgents and – more recently – to bolster the Somali government.

For its part, Eritrea has played a double role in Somalia. There is evidence that it provided training and arms for al-Shabaab until this was uncovered by UN Monitors in 2011.

As their report stated: “While the Eritrean Government acknowledges that it maintains relationships with Somali armed opposition groups, including Al-Shabaab, it denies that it provides any military, material or financial support and says its links are limited to a political, and even humanitarian, nature.” The UN exposure did the trick and the Eritrean backing for al-Shabaab ended.

Now, it appears, President Isaias is considering sending his forces into Somalia to support President Farmajo.

Eritrea Somalia 1

Their forces could be joined by the Ugandans, who are already supplying most of the AMISOM troops. A visit to Kampala in November appears to have cemented these ties.

If all these developments come together it is possible to imagine the following:

  • Eritrean and Ethiopian forces replacing AMISOM, with a continuing Ugandan presence.
  • Ongoing backing for the Somali government by the various outside powers, including the USA, UK and Turkey.
  • The retention of Kenyan forces in Jubaland, which they have controlled since 2011.

Will this be enough to keep President Farmajo in power? Perhaps. It is hard to be more definitive when so much is still up in the air.

‘World’s worst environmental disaster’ set to be repeated with controversial new dam in Africa

November 28, 2018 12.34pm GMT

Source: The Conversation
Damning development. Wikimedia Commons/Mimi Abebayehu, CC BY-SA

 

Encompassing swathes of Ethiopia, South Sudan and Kenya, the Omo-Turkana Basin is one of the oldest landscapes in the world that is known to have been inhabited by Homo sapiens and is now one of the world’s most extraordinary examples of ethnic diversity. In the lower Omo Valley alone, a varied history of cross-cultural encounters has played out to produce eight distinct ethnic groups, speaking many languages from Afro-Asiatic to Nilo-Saharan.

In a cattle camp on the bank of the ancient Omo River a Mursi elder implored me to “tell our story so that others might know us before we are all dead in the desert”. Where the river ends in Lake Turkana, this sentiment was echoed by local fishermen: “You will find our bones in the desert.” The story of the Omo-Turkana Basin is now that of the Ethiopian state exploiting its periphery in the name of “development”, trampling on the human rights of its citizens in the process.

Hamar children milk one of their family’s cattle. J. Dubosson, Author provided

The dam and the damned

Over the past decade, the Ethiopian government has pushed ahead with a huge hydro-electric dam on the Omo, known as Gibe III. Without any meaningful consultation with the communities affected, the state has also appropriated grazing lands and freshwater, threatening their vital resources and local heritage.

All of this has happened despite the area gaining the status of a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1980. As Richard Leakey, the Kenyan paleoanthropologist, conservationist and politician put it, “these happenings are profoundly disturbing”.

The completion of Gibe III, Africa’s tallest dam to date, has eliminated the annual flood and radically reduced the Omo’s flow, which produces 90% of Lake Turkana’s freshwater input. In doing so, it has reduced sediments and nutrients critical for traditional agriculture, riverside pastures and fish habitat.

 
The former lake bed. What remains of the Aral Sea is heavily polluted. T. Clack, Author provided

Over 30% of the lake inflow will be diverted for commercial irrigation projects. The result could be a fall in lake level comparable to that of Central Asia’s Aral Sea, which has shrunk by over two thirds since the 1960s because of irrigation abstractions and which has been called “the world’s worst environmental disaster”. To make way for the commercial plantations planned for the Omo Valley, tens of thousands of hectares of land will be expropriated and thousands of local people displaced.

Development at any cost

The need to see “development” as more than a simple matter of an increase in GDP is well established. In his seminal work, Development as Freedom, the Nobel Prize winning economist, Amartya Sen, demonstrated that sustainable development must be based on universal access to social and economic necessities as well as political and civil rights. The many communities in the Omo-Turkana Basin have suffered a systematic curtailment of their most basic and essential rights.

International agreements which the Ethiopian government signed up to, such as the 1993 International Convenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights require it to protect and promote the rights of minority cultures and ensure the “right of everyone to take part in cultural life”.

Formerly the fourth largest lake in the world, the Aral Sea has reduced to around 10% of its size in the 1960s. T. Clack, Author provided

Since 1948, Ethiopia has also been signed up to the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. Article II provides against the destruction of “a national, ethnical, racial or religious group”. Raphael Lemkin, who coined the word “genocide”, famously defined the specific need to protect against the “disintegration of the political and social institutions of culture, national feelings, religion, and the economic existence of national groups”.

It is difficult not to conclude that what we are seeing in the Omo is the wholesale disregard of these commitments by the Ethiopian government. Its development policies are not only transforming landscape and heritage but destroying complex systems of sustainable living that have endured for millennia. The huge injustice of all this is that the ecological costs will be borne by local communities while the profits will be enjoyed by central and international corporations.

Meanwhile, centuries of collective wisdom relating to livestock diversification, flood dependant cultivation and customary obligations and mechanisms of livestock exchange, will be made redundant.

 
Two Mursi warriors prepare for a ceremonial duel. T. Clack, Author provided

This is not to deny, of course, that development, in the sense defined by Sen, is a laudable and necessary enterprise. But we must also recognise that large-scale infrastructure projects are likely to have far reaching consequences for the lifestyles and cultural identities of those they displace.

Projects which set out to increase economic growth without regard for social justice and individual rights are not worthy of the name “development”. Development must benefit locals and for this to happen their voices must not only be heard but also given a central and determining role in any discussions about the future of their lands and livelihoods.

Both cradle and crucible of our species, the Omo-Turkana Basin is unique and precious. Its heritage and history, as well as responsibility for its future, are shared by us all.

Africa and EU to manage refugees

Thursday, 29 November 2018 22:01 Written by
 
Source: The ConversationNovember 28, 2018 12.37pm GMT
Migrants arriving on the island of Lampedusa, southern Italy in April 2011. EPA/Ettore Ferrari

Early in 2019 the Eritrean government will take over the chair of the key Africa and European Union (EU) forum dealing with African migration, known as the Khartoum Process.

The Khartoum Process was established in the Sudanese capital in 2014. It’s had little public profile, yet it’s the most important means Europe has of attempting to halt the flow of refugees and migrants from Africa. The official title says it all: The EU-Horn of Africa Migration Route Initiative. Its main role is spelled out as being:

primarily focused on preventing and fighting migrant smuggling and trafficking in human beings.

Chairing the Khartoum Process alternates between European and African leaders. In January it will be Africa’s turn. The steering committee has five African members – Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, South Sudan and Sudan. A number of others nations, such as Kenya to Tunisia, have participating status.

The African countries chose Eritrea to lead this critical relationship. But it’s been heavily criticised because it places refugees and asylum seekers in the hands of a regime that is notorious for its human rights abuses. Worse still, there is evidence that Eritrean officials are directly implicated in human trafficking the Khartoum Process is meant to end.

That the European Union allowed this to happen puts in question its repeated assurances that human rights are at the heart of its foreign policies.

The Khartoum Process

The Khartoum Process involves a huge range of initiatives. All are designed to reduce the number of Africans crossing the Mediterranean. These include training the fragile Libyan government’s coastguards, who round up migrants at sea and return them to the brutal conditions of the Libyan prison camps.

The programme has sometimes backfired. Some EU-funded coastguards have been accused of involvement in people trafficking themselves.

The EU has also established a regional operational centre in Khartoum. But this has meant European officials collaborating with the security forces of a government which has regularly abused its own citizens, as well as foreigners on its soil. President Omar al-Bashir himself has been indicted for war crimes and crimes against humanity by the International Criminal Court.

The centre requires European police and other officers to work directly with the security officials who uphold the Sudanese government. According to the head of the immigration police department,

The planned countertrafficking coordination centre in Khartoum – staffed jointly by police officers from Sudan and several European countries, including Britain, France and Italy – will partly rely on information sourced by Sudanese National Intelligence.

The centre also receives support from Sudan’s Rapid Support Forces, which grew out of the Janjaweed: notorious for the atrocities it committed in Darfur.

These initiatives are all very much in line with the migration agreement signed in the Maltese capital in 2015. Its action plan detailed how European institutions would co-operate with their African partners to fight

irregular migration, migrant smuggling and trafficking in human beings.

Europe promised to offer training to law enforcement and judicial authorities in new methods of investigation and to assist in setting up specialised anti-trafficking and smuggling police units.

It is this sensitive relationship that will now come under Eritrean supervision. They will be dealing with some of the most vulnerable men, women and children who have fled their own countries. It is here that the process gets really difficult, because Eritrean government officials have themselves been implicated in human trafficking. UN researchers, working for the Security Council described how this took place in 2011.

More recently, survivors of human trafficking interviewed by a team led by Dutch professor Mirjam van Reisen, described how the Eritrean Border Surveillance Unit ferried refugees out of Eritrea, at a price.

The danger is that implicated Eritrean officials will play a critical role in the development of the Khartoum Process.

Europe’s commitment to human rights

The EU has repeatedly stressed that its commitment to human rights runs through everything it does. Yet the Eritrean government, with which the EU is now collaborating so closely, has been denounced for its human rights abuses by no less than the Special Rapporteur for Eritrea to the UN Human Rights Council as recently as June 2018.

As Mike Smith, who chaired the UN Commission Inquiry into Eritrea in 2015, put it:

The many violations in Eritrea are of a scope and scale seldom seen anywhere else in today’s world. Basic freedoms are curtailed, from movement to expression; from religion to association. The Commission finds that crimes against humanity may have occurred with regard to torture, extrajudicial executions, forced labour and in the context of national service.

The EU itself has remained silent. It is difficult to see how the EU can allow its key African migration work to be overseen by such a regime, without running foul of its own human rights commitments. European leaders need to reconsider their relationships with African governments implicated in gross human rights abuses if they are to uphold these values.

The Khartoum Process may have reduced the flow of refugees and asylum seekers across the Mediterranean. But it hasn’t eliminated the need for a fresh approach to their plight.

Reports are beginning to circulate that as part the deal President Isaias struck with Somalia in Ethiopia, he is preparing to deploy troops to support the government in Mogadishu.

There is no confirmation at the moment that this is about to take place. But, as Kjetil Tronvoll remarks, if it did take place it would mean an end to plans to reduce the length of National Service, which currently continues indefinitely.

Sending Eritrean troops to Somalia would – of course – solve one of President Isaias’s dilemmas: what to do with thousands of demobilised young men and women, for whom he has no work. Having them hang around towns, including Asmara, could prove very difficult. With nothing to do and all day to do it they might become restless and law and order could evaporate.

Eritrea’s forgotten wars

Far better to send them on another foreign adventure.

This would not be Eritrea’s first international intervention: it has had a number of forgotten wars since independence.

These include conflicts in:

  • Sudan
  • Somalia
  • Congo
  • Djibouti
  • Yemen

Back into Somalia

President Isaias invervened in Somalia in the past.

The previous occassion followed the re-location of Somalia’s Islamic Courts to Eritrea in 2007, after the invasion of Somalia by Ethiopia.

Eritrea subsequently sent advisers and military equipment to the Islamist group, al-Shabaab, which arose out of the Islamic Courts.

As the UN Monitors put it in their 2011 report to the Security Council: “Asmara’s continuing relationship with Al-Shabaab, for example, appears designed to legitimize and embolden the group rather than to curb its extremist orientation or encourage its participation in a political process. Moreover, Eritrean involvement in Somalia reflects a broader pattern of intelligence and special operations activity, including training, financial and logistical support to armed opposition groups in Djibouti, Ethiopia, the Sudan and possibly Uganda in violation of Security Council resolution 1907 (2009).”

In President Isaias’s own words

Although the president later denied supporting Al-Shabaab, this was not always his position. As he declared in 2009: “We support all resistance from anyone in Somalia.”

This came in an interview with Channel 4 – the independent British news channel.

This is what he said:

In an interview with Channel 4 News Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki defended Somalia’s militants saying that as his country supported all Somalis it would be a “mistake” to limit this support to “one or two groups.”

“We support all resistance from anyone in Somalia,” he said.

“Somalis have worked with outside forces for money for fame for what have you. They have collaborated with outsiders, we are against collaborators – we are with Somalis.”

“You may not agree with the ideology of al-Shabaab, Somalis may not agree with the ideology of al-Shabab but it’s up to them to have their own ideology. You need to respect their choice.

“Categorising anyone political group as terrorist isn’t qualified as a common understanding of that qualification. Now, anyone in any government will call an opposition a terrorist organisation.”

Mr Afwerki claimed that the United States and its allies had “created a situation of chaos in Somalia by providing weapons” to warlords but that he didn’t think a culture of blame was the solution.

“I wish we had the resource and we had the ability to support Somali resistance in any way. Physically, it hasn’t been possible. Theoretically, we may want to see that happen.

“We don’t want to get into this cycle of accusations and counter-accusations on who’s being supplying this or that faction in Somalia for the last 20 years.

“We would like resistance to succeed in Somalia and Somalis to be left alone to find a solution for their own problems without an external intervention.

“If you agree to that, pull out from Somalia. Don’t supply weapons to warlords. Don’t divide and weaken Somalia. You leave Somalia to Somalis and Somalis will find a solution for themselves. As long as this conflict continues, we remain supportive of the resistance in Somalia in any form.”

Intervention in 2019

If the report quoted at the start of this article is correct, and the Eritreans go into Somalia again, it will be on the other side.

They will be backing President Mohamed Abdullahi “Farmajo” – not Al-Shabaab.

However this would not alter one fact: young Eritreans would be dying in a foreign land.

That has been the pattern of foreign policy followed by President Isaias since 1991: he is unlikely to change.

The past is not a sure means of predicting the future, but it is an important indicator. So what happened during the Ethio-Eritrea Common Market which existed between the effecive independence of Eritrea and the outbreak of the border war (1991-1998)?

Here is one assessment by Professor Worku Aberra, of Dawson College, Westmount, Quebec. If anyone has reached a different conclusion, please get in touch.

Below is the conclusion and the full paper can be found here: The Ethio-Eritrea Common Market (1991-1998)

Conclusion

“The decision of the transitional government to enter into a preferential trade agreement with the EPLF that benefitted Eritrea was not due to its carelessness, negligence, indifference, naiveté, hubris, or incompetence. It was a rational political decision that the TPLF leadership made to consolidate its grip on power in the early 1990s, but it resulted in a net economic loss for Ethiopia and a net economic gain for Eritrea.

The common market allowed the EPLF to transfer a large amount of Ethiopia’s resources, worth billions of dollars, to Eritrea over eight years. The transferred resources generated income, foreign exchange, and employment for Eritrea. Khadiagata (1999, p. 43), for example, asserts that the common market produced some 300,000 jobs in Eritrea.

Beyond the common market, the strategic alliance that the two fronts forged in the early 1990s, in part based on their shared negative attitude if not outright enmity towards Ethiopia, enabled the EPLF to acquire Ethiopia’s physical assets in Eritrea and to forego Eritrea’s share of Ethiopia’s national debt without any compensation or obligation to Ethiopia.

The preferential treatment of Eritrea at the expense of Ethiopia by the TPLF-controlled government is emblematic of its resolve, even today, to stay in power by pursuing policies that undermine Ethiopia’s economic interests, national unity, and political transformation to democratic governance.”

 

By Petros Tesfagiorgis 11-22-18

 

The amazing peace campaign by the new Ethiopian Prime Minister Dr Abiy Ahamed (PMAA) is one of the key moments in the history of Ethiopia. When PMAA signed peace with Eritrea, I was over the moon with happiness. I wrote an article on an Eritrean and Ethiopian websites encouraging my fellow Eritreans to be part of this remarkable initiative. For us, Eritreans, peace is priceless. However, for the people of Eritrean peace is not only with Ethiopia but more important internal peace that ends repression which is destroying the fabric of the Eritrean society.

However, President Isaias has failed to take advantage of this wind fall momentum. He has not released all prisoners of conscience, ended repression and become part of the movement bringing democracy to Eritrea. If he did adopt these win-win policies Isaias could have resigned with dignity and live the life of an elder, until his creator recalls him. For his part PMAAi s ignoring the repression in Eritrea. Yes the people of Eritrea are being sacrificed in order to appease his soul mate Isaias.

But Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has missed the point, it is in Isaias DNA to thrive and rejuvenate through conflict. He is already creating a problem. Questions are being raised by Ethiopians about his interference in Ethiopian internal affairs. Indeed, he has become part of the conspiracy to isolate and weaken the Tigray Peoples Liberation Front (TPLF), the vanguard of the people of Tigray. This is in support of the Amhara -who felt that their right to rule Ethiopia from the Centre Addis Ababa  came to end when in 1991 the TPLF army defeated the military regime and entered   Addis Ababa in triumph, forming a government with other groups that represented the Amhara, Oromo and Southern people. Since then those Amhara who were part of Emperor Haile Selassie’s regime, or the Military Junta, have hated the TPLF. This, despite the fact that TPLF/EPRDF transformed the country from an undeveloped, famine stricken country, into a country with the highest economic growth in Africa. They build the infrastructure of roads and services and more that 40 universities, which provide the oppressed nationalities the skilled man power to govern themselves. More than that, they introduced a federal system of government that helped the formerly oppressed nationalities to be confident in themselves and to affirm their rightful place in Ethiopia.  Because of that the Amhara hate the TPLF and they have to alley with a devil to destroy them.

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It is absolutely right   to bring some corrupt TPLF/EPRDF officials to court and persecute them. But to politicise it in such a way as to undermine the heroic struggle of the people of’ Tigray is wrong. Isaias’s outburst of: “Game Over” has said it all although I don’t like Johar’s extremist politics  his complaint that PM Abiy is getting orders from the Arabs and Isaias is beginning to make sense.

The people of Eritrea has nothing to do with the interference of Isaias in the internal affairs of Ethiopia. On the country,we want to see a united, strong and prosperous Ethiopia at peace with itself and its neighbours. That is why many of us “justice seekers” resent the unholy alliance between PMAA and Isaias in order to damage the TPLF. Also there are things unforgettable: that it is the TPLF and the people of Tigray who unequivocally supported the right of Eritreans to determine their future because they were clear about the colonial history of Eritrea. While the Amhara movements such as EPRP (Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Party) wavered. They sought armed struggle training in the liberated areas of Eritrea on the basis of “my enemy’s enemy is my friend”. It is dangerous game which does not serve the interest of the Ethiopian people including the ordinary Amhara, because they too were oppressed under the feudal repressive Amhara rule.

For us Eritreans, it is the welfare of the people that has to be central to the peace. Peace is meant to bring repression to an end; to allow people to freely build their shattered lives and engage in economic and social development. In peace Ethiopia can have an access to the sea and there will be economic cooperation between the countries of the region that may develop into a Horn of Africa common market. Many Ethiopian intellectuals accuse TPLF/EPRDF of repression at home but when it comes to Eritrea they maintain silence. It is a double standard devoid of principle. Their claim about our brothers/sisters to Eritreans is a fake. Some Ethiopian know that Isaias is abusing   the people of Eritrea, that he has side-lined them and impoverished them by mismanaging the society and the economy.  Also, he had undermined the struggle for independence that encouraged some Ethiopians to dismiss it as a failure.

In his article Mamo Muchie said “Moving from failed 1991 -1993 transition to the 2018 re-union transition. From his perspective the victory of 1991 and the referendum in which the people of Eritrea voted for independence is a failure and a disaster." Eritreans are conscious of their own history (our own) history, his remarks exposed his chauvinist mind set.

 For Eritreans who fought for 30 years, it was a victory against the illegal annexation of Eritrea to Ethiopia which resulted in the destruction of our democratic institutions, including our political parties, student organisations and trade unions. It resulted in the abolition of Eritrean languages (Tigrinya and Arabic) which was replaced by Amharic, the ruling class language. All this gave rise to the beginning of arms struggle: the rest is history that led to an extraordinary achievement:  independence. It was  an amazing victory.

For Mamo Muchie it is OK to see Eritrea an ex-Italian colony, ripe to be appropriated by repressive feudal rulers of Ethiopia, unaware of the loss to life and property through air raids bombing of villages, and burning houses in addition to the death of thousands of fighters.

 

This perspective is not unique to Ethiopian intellectuals. In history we find that those who benefited from a repressive system have a different perspective of history from their victims. Mamo may have short memory but under the Amhara feudal rule Ethiopia was labelled a “prison of nationalities”. The 1974 revolution, spearheaded by the Ethiopian University progressive students was designed to get rid of the feudal repressive system and to allow all nationalities to participate in the Government as equal partners.

 

 

Take the example of the Oromos.  The Oromos have different perspective of history to that of the Amharas. For them Menelik1I is a brutal colonizer.  I quote from a publication titled OROMIA- a brief introduction by Gadaa Melban.

 

The Oromos were colonized during the last quarter of the 19th century by a black African nation –Abyssinia.  During the invasion Menelik reduced the Oromo population by about half. After colonization, Menelik continued to treat Oromos with utmost cruelty. Many were killed by colonial settlers, died of famine and epidemics of vicious diseases, or are sold as slaves. Haile Selassie consolidated Menelik’s gain and with the use of violence obstructed the free operation of the process of natural and historical development of the Oromo society. The military junta headed by Mengustu Haile Mariam (believed to be a distant relative of Menelik) continued on the path of Menelik and Haile Selassie in the oppression of Oromos.

 

The Amhara have a different perspective of this history. For the Amhara, the Amhara king, Menelik 11 (17 August 1844 – 12 December 1913) is a legend.  From his seat, Addis Ababa- Shoa –) he invaded the South inhabited mostly by Oromo’s and other minorities and build a strong feudal Ethiopia.  He is a king warrior and a modernized opened modern schools and built roads.  He famously is known for defeating the Italian army at the battle of Adwa in 1906. (see picture)

 

 Mamo Muchie’s perspective is shared by many Ethiopians.  They think that there was no need for Eritreans to fight for their independence and that it is a failure. This is simply incorrect. Many leaders of liberation movements who took up arms against occupation and seize power ended up as dictators. But their right to fight for independence was not disputed.

 

Petros Tesfagiorgis article 2

The key question is this:  Are Ethiopians going to respect Eritrean sovereignty? The people of Eritrea expected the marking of the boundary on the ground to take place, since Prime Minister Abiy has accepted the outcome of the boundary commission. But Isaias says there is no need for this boundary.

 

The Eritrean people are being side-lined in the peace process.  Isaias refused to end repression, hence, the Eritreans have no choice but to wake up, and stand up against these injustices in order to bring democratic change in Eritrea. The Eritreans in Diaspora have already risen up to the challenge and are engaging in debates and conferences to build united resistance with their aim of “power to the people”.

 

An understanding of history and acknowledgement of historical wrongs are essential to any honest and accurate evaluation of the present.  To continue

The end

 

Source=http://www.aigaforum.com/article2018/In-the-name-of-peace-eritrean-sacrifice.htm

 

 

By EEPA

Aljazeera and other media report that Libyan security forces raided a ship, using rubber bullets and tear gas to force the refugees to disembark in the Libyan city Misrata. A commander of the Libyan coast guard said that some migrants were wounded during the operation, but were better “in good condition” after being brought to the hospital. Reportedly, two underaged Eritreans were among those seriously injured. The group had refused to leave the ship as they feared abuse and being sold to human traffickers.

A reporter for France24 said that the Libyan coast guard has extended the area it monitors and that migrants are brought back to Libyan ports, which might be contrary to the Geneva convention which requires ships with rescued persons to head for safe ports. The UNHCR earlier this year deemed Libyan ports unsafe in a report.

Having been intercepted in the Mediterranean Sea, a group of at least 79 Eritrean refugees had pledged not to leave the boat they boarded to reach Europe and were starving, said refugees in two videos posted on Facebook. The group was brought back to the Libyan coast by a Panamanian-flagged cargo ship. A young man who says he is 16 years old stated that he had lived in Libya since 2016 and had been sold three times, that he had been punished and that his brother died during his stay. He said that he did not care if he gets killed and that the whole group had decided that they would stay on the boat until they die. “If you saw this condition, I swear to you, even for a microsecond no one can live this life in this country.”

While they were still on the boat, the group said they had not gotten any food for a week and that they used plastic bottles as toilets. The people in the videos speak Tigrinya, Afar, Arabic and English.

Source=https://eritreahub.org/eritrean-refugees-fearing-torture-for-ransom-forced-off-libyan-boat

Information | November 23, 2018 at 4:27 pm | Tags: Coast Guard, Eritrea, Libya, UNHCR | Categories: Immigration & refugees, Other, Top news | URL: https://wp.me/p9mKWT-rX

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Former Eritrea finance minister of finance Mr Berhane Abrehe. PHOTO/COURTESY

By AGENCIES

The Eritrean Law Society has joined the furore towards the Eritrean Government to release detained former finance minister of finance Mr Berhane Abrehe. The Eritrea Law Society applied and secured a grant of Provisional Measures, delivered by the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights.

Through this grant the Eritrean law society and the African Commission has adopted Provisional Measures, requesting the State of Eritrea to:

End the incommunicado detention of the victim by disclosing his location, providing him with access to legal representation  and unhindered access to his family

Inform the victim of the reason for his arrest, and bring him before a competent court of law within the shortest possible time, or alternatively if no charges are brought against the victim, to ensure his immediate release. The Eritrean state should provide Mr Berhane with regular and unhindered necessary access to medical and health care and guarantee Mr Berhane’s safety and well-being while in custody.

The Africa Commission Provisional Measures was communicated to President Isaias Afwerki of Eritrea office in a letter dated 29 October 2018, with reference number: ACHPR/PROVM/ERI/704/18/1689/18.

Speaking from Sweden, Mussie Ephrem a lawyer and member of the law society of Eritrea says ‘This proves again the credibility of the regional human rights instrument we have in the continent. This is the new Africa where rule of law is the future’.

On September 13th 2018, a number of former and exiled Eritrean leaders issued a joint statement of support for Mr Berhane Abrehe saying, ‘We, the undersigned exiled members of the Eritrean National Assembly, would like to express our strong support to the courageous act taken by our colleague, Ato Berhane Abrehe Kidane, the former Minister of Finance, against the dictatorial regime of Ato Isaias Afwerki.

They included AMB. ADHANOM GHEBREMARIAM, AMB. ANDEBRHAN WELDE, GIORGIS ATO, MESFIN HAGOS, ATO MOHAMED, BERHAN BLATA, ATO MOHIADIN, ABUBAKER SHENGEB,

In a recent message, Ato Berhane Abrehe has outlined a process in which Ato Isaias Afwerki would surrender power to the Eritrean National Assembly in a “peaceful, legal, civilized and Eritrean manner.” We strongly support the call to end the reign of tyranny, hand power to the people and bestow legitimacy on the Government of the State of Eritrea.

The Eritrean office of the president is yet to reply and has remained silent on this matter and requests for comments on the matter from the president press secretary has been futile.

In a recent interview with Eri-tv President Isaias Afwerki only made comments on the lost 25 years of isolation and the need for cooperation with the African Union saying ‘Without going too far, if we look at our region–Sudan, Ethiopia, Uganda, Kenya, Somalia, Djibouti–if we can create cooperative relationship, the tense situation would give way to joint infrastructure based on co-operation and mutual respect’.

Source=http://www.reporter.co.ke/2018/11/21/lawyers-in-eritrea-ask-government-to-release-former-finance-minister-berhane-abrehe/

Assistant Secretary Nagy Travels to Ethiopia, Djibouti, Eritrea, Kenya, and Germany

State Department
 
Media Note
Office of the Spokesperson
Washington, DC
November 21, 2018

Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of African Affairs Tibor P. Nagy will travel to Ethiopia, Djibouti, Eritrea, Kenya, and Germany from November 27 to December 8, 2018. During his trip, Assistant Secretary Nagy will focus on promoting stronger trade and commercial ties between the United States and Africa, harnessing the potential of Africa’s youth, advancing peace and security through partnerships, and underscoring the United States’ enduring commitment to the people and nations of Africa.

In all stops, Assistant Secretary Nagy will conduct bilateral meetings with government officials. In addition, in Addis Ababa, he will participate in the United States – African Union High-Level Dialogue and in Djibouti, he will meet with the Executive Secretariat of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD). Throughout his visit, the Assistant Secretary will also engage with business leaders and alumni of the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI). The final stop on the trip will be Stuttgart, Germany, where Assistant Secretary Nagy will have meetings with the United States Africa Command.

Follow @AsstSecStateAF on Twitter for trip updates. For press inquiries, please contact .

 

Children tell of being starved and beaten in camps part-funded by British government

Migrants gather at the Tajoura detention centre in Tripoli.

Migrants found by Libyan security forces while waiting to be smuggled to Europe gather at the Tajoura detention centre in Tripoli. Photograph: Mahmud Turkia/AFP/Getty Images

Child refugees are facing abuse and malnutrition in a network of 26 Libyan detention centres the British government is helping to fund, the Guardian has learned.

In the first accounts to the media from minors being held in the camps, the children described being starved, beaten and abused by Libyan police and camp guards. One said the conditions were like “hell on earth”.

According to documents seen by the Guardian, there are 26 active camps which are part-funded by the UK across Libya. While the existence of the camps had previously been reported, the scale of the network was not public. There are no exact figures available on the number of children being held but there are thought to be hundreds and possibly more than 1,000. There are at least 5,400 refugees and migrants being detained in total, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) says.

Child refugees are facing abuse and malnutrition in a network of 26 Libyan detention centres the British government is helping to fund
Child refugees are facing abuse and malnutrition in a network of 26 Libyan detention centres the British government is helping to fund Photograph: Handout

The Department for International Development confirmed the government was contributing funds for the centres: “We continue to help fund the European Union Trust Fund’s work to improve conditions for migrants in detention centres.”

The government insists the funding is necessary as part of a humane effort to dissuade people from making the dangerous Mediterranean crossing. Arguing that migrant detention centres are the responsibility of the Libyan authorities, it is understood to have raised concerns over the treatment of detainees with the Libyan government.

But critics see the Libyan camps as a way for European countries to outsource their problem with migrants and asylum seekers and contend that they are implicated in the problems with a system they fund “to make sure they don’t get to Europe”.

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The revelations from the children – who risk severe punishment if guards discover they have been speaking to the media – provide the most detailed account yet of life in the camps for minors. Earlier this month, Amnesty International said conditions in the detention centres were unsustainable and that torture and ill-treatment were rife.

“There is a callous disregard on the part of Europe and other states for the suffering of those languishing in detention centres,” the Amnesty report said.

A 16-year-old boy in one of the centres said: “I have been here for four months. I have tried to escape three times to cross the sea to Italy but each time I have been caught and brought back to the detention centre. We are dying here but no one is taking responsibility. We need to be taken to a place of safety but we are locked in here 24 hours a day. We do not see sunrise and we do not see sunset.”

The centres are designed to keep asylum seekers from crossing the Mediterranean to Europe. The UK and other EU countries have spent tens of millions trying to prevent asylum seekers from conflict zones, such as Eritrea and Sudan, entering the region. Last year the UK government spent £10m in Libya on various initiatives, including the detention centres.

Critics see the work as part of the government’s former “hostile environment” migration policy, intended to deter people from seeking sanctuary in the UK as well as removing those who were already in the country.

A 13-year-old Eritrean asylum seeker in a Tripoli camp told the Guardian detainees got just one or two small portions of white pasta a day and many were starving and malnourished. Diseases such as TB were rife. Many possessed just one T-shirt and one pair of shorts and were freezing now temperatures were dropping.

“I am very scared and very hungry,” the boy said. “I want to reach the UK where I will be safe. We have nothing here, no food, no clothes, no phones. I miss my mother and father so much.”

A 30-year-old Eritrean asylum seeker in the camp said the boy had travelled from Eritrea via Sudan with a 16-year-old cousin.

“He cries all the time for his parents,” she said. “He is so sad I let him go to sleep with me. The conditions here are so bad. We are treated like donkeys, not like human beings. We are not allowed to have phones so we have to hide them when the police come.”

This week a 24-year-old refugee tried to hang himself in the toilet area of one of the camps, a 16-year-old in the same camp said. Three others saw him and quickly cut him down. He survived.

The teenager said his friend had lost hope because he was registered with UNHCR in January 2018 but was still languishing in the detention centres.

In a message sent late on Monday evening he said: “All the refugees are waiting to do like what our bro do cos they suffered long time. Libya is hell on earth. The world never help us and see our problem.”

There are believed to be hundreds and possibly more than a thousand child refugees in the camps Photograph: Handout

One 17-year-old Eritrean boy who escaped from a detention centre and reached the UK has claimed asylum. An expert medical report found almost 50 torture scars on his body, consistent with being beaten with batonsand sticks. In a witness statement the boy said some of the injuries were sustained in beatings from guards at the camp, and others from traffickers. Many of those in the camps are from Eritrea but there are also asylum seekers from Ethiopia, Iraq, Somalia, Sudan and Syria.

The policy to keep out as many asylum seekers as possible by holding them at key crossing points into Europe appears to be working. In the year ending March 2018, the number of asylum applications in the UK from main applicants decreased by 8% to 26,547. The falls are consistent with the wider trend across Europe, with a decrease of around 41% in applications to EU countries in the last year.

Giulia Tranchina, of Wilsons solicitors, who is representing the 17-year-old Eritrean boy in London, said: “What young men, women, children and babies are suffering in detention in Libya is one of the biggest failures of our human civilisation. European governments, in our name, with our taxpayers’ money, are paying Libyan authorities, militias and army generals to continue detaining and torturing refugees on our behalf, to make sure they don’t get to Europe.”

A spokeswoman for UNHCR said: “We remain incredibly concerned about the plight of detained refugees and migrants. Conditions in detention are extremely dire.”

She said the current figure of 5,409 refugees and migrants being detained in Libya did not include those being held captive by smugglers.

A DfID spokeswoman said government funding was also used to encourage migrants to return to their home countries, for emergency evacuations of refugees, and for healthcare. UK government officials had raised with their counterparts in the Libyan Government of National Accord the need to respect the human rights of migrants, ensure the provision of basic services and explore alternatives to detention centres, she said.

Source=https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/nov/20/child-refugees-facing-abuse-in-libyan-detention-centres