JUNE 29, 2020  NEWS

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From: Eritrean Research Institute for Policy and Strategy

It is time to bring together our professionals, build hope, and shape the future of Eritrea with compassion for our people, professional ethos and effective solutions. The repression of Eritreans under the brutal PFDJ dictatorship and the scale of the current political crisis in Eritrea are unprecedented. Apparently, we share grave concerns about the fate of our people and the future of our nation, and we express a profound sense of solidarity with those who continue to take a firm stand against injustice. We also recognize that the situation requires a significant number of well-meaning Eritreans with knowledge, drive and persistence, effectively carrying out their duties to bring change and recover our great country from one of its gloomiest periods.

As you may be aware, we have recently released a letter to the public titled “The 2020 Manifesto of Eritrean Scholars and Professionals in the Diaspora” and in it we have highlighted our shared concerns over the regime’s continued and horrific human rights abuses, reckless political games and a need for building cohesive strategies. The Manifesto was signed by 114 Eritrean scholars and professionals with doctorate degrees, and it was heartwarming to many Eritreans to see so many intellectuals firmly standing with their people and exposing the abuses and oppression committed by the Isaias regime. Some also urged that Eritrean scholars and professionals assume the responsibility of providing direction and guidance in the fight for justice and beyond.

Acting in response to calls from several signatories of the Manifesto and other Eritreans, the organizing team invited all signatories for a follow up meeting, which was held on May 30, 2020. The meeting was by all means a great success with over 70 signatories attending and discussing about how they can further assist Pro-Justice Eritreans in the fight against dictatorship. As a result of the meeting and discussions that followed, decisions have been made (a) to form and name the organization “Eritrean Research Institute for Policy and Strategy (The Institute)”, (b) to expand the scope and membership of the Institute to include Eritrean professionals, academics and experienced activists with and without doctorate degrees, (c) to collaborate with political and civic organizations that share similar values and goals. The meeting also underscored the importance of collaborating with all well-meaning Eritreans to speed up the process of bringing about a positive change, completely transforming the political system of the country and ending the suffering of the Eritrean people. The Institute is committed to engage in all that is necessary and research-based activities and ensure that there will be a smooth transition to a democratic rule in the aftermath of regime change. Moreover, the Institute is now in the process of forming discipline-based Think Tank groups that will help to prepare the necessary blueprints and policy documents that may be launched during the transition period.

These blueprints will serve as the basis for the country’s economic development, the reformation of public institutions and the overall improvement of the welfare of the Eritrean people.

To this end, we are posting this public announcement to invite all Eritreans who are willing and have the ability, the knowledge, experiences and the commitment to contribute to the success of The Institute. Our aim is to position our discipline-based Think Tank Groups for effectively responding to and solving the toughest challenges of our people. We are therefore appealing to all who have the requisite expertise and the willingness to join and serve as members of the Think Tank Groups. Please join ERIPS and one of the Think Tank groups by providing your background and area(s) of interest in the following questionnaire: https://forms.gle/fBtDrdFJQc35PVJh6

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Regards, The ERIPS Organizing Team 6/28/2020

ጻውዒት ንኹሉኹም ኣብ ስደት እትነብሩ ኤርትራውያን ንፍትሒ ካብ፡ ትካል ምርምር ኤርትራውያን ንፖሊሲን ስትራተጅን ኤርትራውያን ሞያውያን ተኣኪቦም፡ ንናይ ህዝቦም ሓልዮትን ሞያዊ ግዴታቶምን ብቑዕ ፍታሕ ንምርካብ ዘለዎም ዓቕምን ኣብ ግምት ብምእታው፡ ተስፋ ዝሃንጽሉን ንኩነታት መጻኢት ኤርትራ ኣቐዲሞም ዝቕይስሉን ግዜ ሎሚ ኢዩ። ብሰንኪ ምልካዊ ስርዓት ህግደፍ፡ ግህሰት ሰብኣዊ መሰላት ህዝቢ ኤርትራን ፖለቲካዊ ቁሉውላው ሃገርናን ካብ ዓቐኑ ዝሓለፈ ኢዩ ዘሎ። እቲ ርኡይ ሓቂ ንሱ ስለ ዝኾነ፡ ብኩነታት ህዝብናን መጻኢ ዕድል ሃገርናን ኣዚና ከም እንሻቐል ክበርህ አለዎ ጥራይ ዘይኮነ ምስ’ቶም ፍትሒ ንምንዳይ ጸኒዖም ዝቃለሱ ዘለዊ ደቂ ሃገር ዘለና ምሕዝነት ክንገልጽ ንፈቱ። ኣብ ርእሲኡ፡ ኩነታት ክብርቲ ሃገርና ተቐይሩ ካብ’ዚ ጸላም ዘመን ክትገላገል እንድሕሪ ደኣ ኮይና፡ ብዙሓት ኤርትራውያን ብቕንዕናን ንጥፈትን ተስፋ ብዘይ ምቕራጽን በብዓቕሞም ምስ ዘበርክቱ ኢዩ። ከም ዝዝከር፡ ኣቐድም አቢልና “ማኒፈስቶ 2020 ብኤርትራውያን ምሁራትን ሞያውያንን ኣብ ስደት” ዘርእስቱ ጹሑፍ ዘርጊሕና ነይርና:። ኣብ’ቲ ናይ ሓባር መረዳእታናን ስክፍታታትናን ዘንጸባርቕ ጽሑፍ፡ ስርዓት ህግደፍ ኣብ ህዝብና ብቐጻሊ ዘውርዶ ዘሎ ዘስካሕክሕ ግፍዕን ግህሰት ሰብኣዊ መሰላትን ፖለቲካዊ ቁማርን ነዞም ተርእዮታት ንምግታእ ዘድልየና ዘሎ ምህናጽ ዝተወሃሃደ ስትራተጅን ብሕጽር ዝበለ መንገዲ ገሊጽና ነይርና። እዚ ናይ 114 ኤርትራውያን ምሁራት ክታም ዝሓዘለ መንቀሊ ሰነድ፡ ንብጣዕሚ ብዙሓት ኤርትራውያን ፍናን ክህቦም ዝኸኣለ፡ ከም’ዚኦም ዝኣመሰሉ ብዙሓት ምሁራትን ሞያውያንን ኤርትራውያን ኣብ ጎድኒ ህዝቦም ተሰሊፎም ነቲ ብምልካዊ ስርዓት ኢሰያስ ዝወርድ ዘሎ መሪር ግፍዕን ጭቆናን ብትብዓት ከቃልዑ ምኽኣሎም ኢዩ። ነዚ ቅዱስ ተበግሶ እዚ ምርኩስ ብምግባር ድማ ገለ ግዱሳት ኤርትራውያን እዚ ተጀሚሩ ዘሎ ምትእኽኻብ ክቕጽል፡ ከምኡ ድማ ምሁራትን ሞያውያንን ኤርትራውያን ኣብ ምምእዛንን ምምሕዳርን ቃልሲ ግቡእ ሓላፍነቶም ክጻወቱ ጸዊዖም። ነዚ ናይ ዝተፈላለዩ ኤርትራውያን ጻውዒት ምላሽ ምእንቲ ክረክብ፡ አወሃሃድቲ ሽማግለ ማኒፈስቶ 2020 ንኹሎም እቶም ኣብ’ቲ ጽሑፍ ክታሞም ዘስፈሩ ምሁራትን ሞያውያንን ብምዕዳም ኣብ ጉምበት 30, 2020 ቀዳማይ ኣኼባ ኣካይዳ። እቲ ልዕሊ 70 ምሁራትን ሞያውያንን ዝተሳተፍዎ ኣኼባ ዕዉት ዝገበሮ ምኽንያት ድማ ንፍትሒ ምስ ዝቃለሱ ደቂ ሃገር ሓቢርካ ብምስራሕ ዕምሪ ውልቀ ምልካዊ ስርዓት ህግደፍ ዝሓጽረሉ መንገድታት ዝድህስሱ ምዙሓት ሓሳባት ስለ ዝመንጨዉ ኢዩ። ከም ውጽኢት ናይ’ቲ ኣኼባን ብድሕሪኡ ዝቐጸሉ ዝርርባትን፡ እዞም ዝስዕቡ ውሳነታት ጸዲቖም፣ ሀ) ሓንቲ ማሕበር ክትፍጠርን ስማ ድማ “ትካል ምርምር ኤርትራውያን ንፖሊሲን ስትራተጂን (The Institute)” ክኸውን፡ ለ) ኣባልነት ማሕበር ሰፊሑ ንዶክተረይት መዓርግ ዘለዎምን ዘይብሎምን ሰባት ዘጠቓልል ኮይኑ ኩሎም ኣብ ፍትሒ ዝኣምኑ ምሁራትን ሞያውያንን ምኩራት ተቓለስትን ክጽምበሩዎ ክተባብዑ፡ ሐ) ምስ ኩሎም እቶም ተመሳሳሊ ዕላማን ባህርን ዘለዎም ፖለቲካውያንን በርጌሳውያንን ማሕበራት ተመሓዚኻ ምስራሕ። ከም ተወሳኺ፡ እቲ ኣኼባ ንኣድላይነት ናይ ምስ ኩሎም ደለይቲ ፍትሒ ኤርትራውያን ሰሪሕካ ኣዎንታዊ ለውጢ ምቅልጣፍ፡ ፖለቲካዊ መርሓ ሃገርና ኣመዓራሪኻ ምምዕባል፡ ከምኡ ድማ ስቓይ ህዝቢ ኤርትራ ከብቅዕ ኣጸቢቕካ ምጽዓር ብምባል ኣድሚቑ ኣስሚሩሉ። እዚ ትካል፡ ኣብ ኩሎም ኣድለይትን ምርምር ምርኩስ ዝገበሩን ዕማማት ኣትዂ ብምስራሕ፡ ድሕሪ ምውዳቕ ህግደፍ ስልጣን ብዘይ ሓርጎጽጐጽ ናብ ህዝቢ ክመሓላለፍን ደሞክራሲያዊ ምሕደራ ክጸንዕን ክሰርሕ ኢዩ። ክንዮ እዚ ዕላማ ዝኸይድ፡ ትካልና ብሞያ ዝተኸፋፈሉ ጉጅለታት መጽናዕቲ መስሪቱ ኣድለይቲ ምርምራት ብምክያድ ኣብ መሰጋገሪ ግዜ ክጠቕሙ ዝኽእሉ ጽሑፋት ክቕርብ ተበጊሱ ኣሎ። እዞም ጽሑፋት ነቲ ድሕሪ ለውጢ ዝበጋገስ ቁጠባዊ ተሃድሶን ምምዕርራይ መንግስታውያን ትካላትን ኩሉ መዳያዊ ምምሕያሽ ሂወት ኤርትራውያንን ከገልግሉ ኢዮም። እዞም ኣብ ላዕሊ ዝተጠቕሱ ዕላማታት ኩዉናት ንምግባር፡ ኩሉኹም ዓቕምን ፍልጠትን ተመክሮን ድሉውነትን ዘለኩም ደለይቲ ፍትሒ ክትጽምበሩና ብትሕትና ንዕድም። ተበግሶና እተን ብሞያ ዝተኸፋፈላ ጉጅለታት መጽናዕቲ ትካልና ብግቡእ ተወሃሂደን ነቶም ሰፍ ዘይብሉ ብድሆታት ህዝብና ክፈትሓ ኢዩ። ስለ’ዚ ኩሉኹም እቶም ነዞም ኣብ ላዕሊ ዝተጠቕሱ ቅጥዕታት እተማልኡ ወለንተኛታት ደለይቲ ፍትሒ፡ ክትጽምበሩናን ኣብ’ተን ናይ መጽናዕቲ ጉጅለታት ተዋፊርኩም ዓቕምኹም ዝፈቕዶ ኣበርክቶ ንህዝብኹም ክትልግስሉን ንላቦ። ኣባላት እዚ ትካል ክትኮኑን ኣብ’ተን ናይ መጽናዕቲ ጉጅለታት ክትዋፈሩን ምእንቲ ንድሕረ ባይታኹምን ምርጫታትኩምን ዝምልከት ሓበሬታ ኣብዚ ብምጥዋቕን https://forms.gle/fBtDrdFJQc35PVJh6 ውሑዳት ሕቶታት ብምምላስን ክትሰዱልና ንምሕጸን። ምስ ትካልና ተሓባቢርኩም ክትሰርሑ ትደልዩ ማሕበራት ወይ ድማ ምስ ኣባላት ትካል ምርምር ኤርትራውያን ክትዛተዩ እትደልዩ ወከልቲ ማሕበራት፡ ንዝያዳ ሓበሬታ በዚ ዝስዕብ ኢመይል ክትረኽቡና ትኽእሉ፡ This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. ካብ ትካል ምርምር ኤርትራውያን ተወሳኺ ሓበሬታ እትደልዩ ሰባት እውን በዚ ኢመይል ርኸቡና፡ This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. ሰሰናዩ፡ ኣወሃሃዲት ሽማግለ ትካል ምርምር ኤርትራውያን ንፖሊሲን ስትራተጅን 6/28/2020

المعهد االرتري للسياسات واالبحاث االستراتيجية نداء لكل االرتريين طالبي العدالة في المهجر شعبنا، متحل ين لقد آن األوان لتجميع أصحاب االختصاص، وبناء األمل، وصياغة مستقبل إرتريا باالستجابة لرغبات بالروح المهنية ومعتمدين عىل الحلول الناجعة إن مستويات القمع والوحشية التي يتعرض لها شعبنا تحت ظل دكتاتورية الجبهة الشعبية للديمقراطية والعدالة وصلت مراحل غير مسبوقة، هذ ا في ظل مخاوف جدية متنامية حول مصير شعبنا وأمتنا، وهو ما يجعلنا نعبر عن عميق تضامننا مع الذين يقفون بحزم ضد هذا النظام الظالم، ويزيد أدراكنا بأن الوضع يتطلب من االرتريين ذو الفطرة السليمة الرافضة للظلم ويمتلكون المعرفة والدافع والمثابرة للقيام بواجباتهم بفعالية إلحداث التغيير وتمكين بالدنا من تجاوز واحدة من أكثر مراحل تاريخها قتامة. باسم )مانفيستو كما تعلمون فقد أصدرنا مؤخرا بيانا 2020م لألكاديميين والمهنيين بالمهجر(، عبرنا فيه مخاوفنا المشتركة بشأن انتهاكات النظام ً عاماً المستمرة والمروعة لحقوق اإلنسان، وسياساته المتهورة، وأوضحنا فيه الحاجة إلى بناء استراتيجيات متماسكة بديلة. لقد جاء المانفيستو بتوقيع مائة وأربعة عشرا من العلماء والمهنيين اإلرتريين الحاصلين على درجات الدكتوراه. وأوجد صدروه حالة من االرتياح لدى بعض قطاعات شعبنا وهم ً يرون العديد من اإلرتريين المثقفين يقفون بقوة مع شعبهم ويفضحون االنتهاكات والقمع الذي يرتكبه نظام أسياس. كما حث البعض على أن يتحمل األكاديميون والمهنيون اإلرتريون على عاتقهم مسؤولية التوجيه واإلرشاد لمسيرة النضال من أجل العدالة وما يلي ذلك. استجابة للنداءات الواردة من العديد من الموقعين على المانفيستو وغيرهم من اإلرتريين، دعا الفريق المنظم جميع الموقعين الى اجتماع لمواصلة الجهود، وتم عقد االجتماع في 30 مايو 2020 .كان االجتماع ناجحا نجاحا باهرا بكل المقاييس حيث حضره أكثر من 70 موقعًا. وقد ناقش المجتمعون وسائل المساعدة الممكنة التي يمكن أن يقدمها هذا التجمع لطالبي العدالة من االرتريين في مكافحة الدكتاتورية. وبناء على المناقشات التي دارت في االجتماع والنقاشات التي تلته، تم اتخاذ القرارات التالية )أ( تأسيس و تسمية مؤسسة باسم -المعهد االرتري ألبحاث السياسات والدراسات االستراتيجية- ) يشار اليه الحقا بالمعهد ( )ب( توسيع نطاق وعضوية المعهد لتشمل اإلرتريين من المهنيين واألكاديميين والناشطين ذوي الخبرة بدرجة الدكتوراه أو بدونها )ج( التعاون مع كافة المنظمات السياسية والمدنية التي تشترك مع المعهد في القيم واألهداف المماثلة. أكد االجتماع على أهمية التعاون مع جميع اإلرتريين ذوي المواقف الواضحة من النظام لتسريع عملية إحداث التغيير السياسي الكامل وإنهاء معاناة الشعب اإلرتري. المعهد من جانبه ملتزم بالمشاركة في كل األنشطة الضرورية التي تقوم على إجراء البحوث والدراسات لضمان انتقال سلس إلى حكم ديمقراطي في أعقاب تغيير النظام. عالوة على ذلك، يقوم المعهد في الوقت الحالي بتشكيل مجموعات من مراكز البحث او الخبراء المتخصصين )Tanks Think )والتي سوف تساعد في إعداد الدراسات المطلوبة والتي يمكن االستفادة منها خالل الفترة االنتقالية، ويمكن أن تكون هذه الدراسات أساس للتنمية االقتصادية، وإصالح المؤسسات العامة واالصالح الشامل من أجل رفاهية الشعب اإلرتري. تحقيا لهذه الغاية، ننشر هذا اإلعالن العام لدعوة جميع اإلرتريين الراغبين ولديهم القدرة والمعرفة والتجارب وااللتزام بالمساهمة في نجاح المعهد . ً هدفنا في ذلك هو تمكين هذه المجموعات من مراكز البحث )الخبراء المتخصصين( بغرض االستجابة الفعالة لمواجهة التحديات الصعبة التي يواجهها شعبنا. وعليه نناشد جميع من لديهم الخبرة المطلوبة واالستعداد لالنضمام والعمل كأعضاء في مجموعات المراكز البحثية المتخصصة، ويمكن افادتنا عن كيفية وطبيعة مساهماتكم من خالل توفير معلومات عن خلفياتكم العلمية ومجاالت اهتمامكم من خالل تعبئة هذا االستبيان الموجود في هذا الرابط: https://forms.gle/fBtDrdFJQc35PVJh6 ولطلب التعاون بشكل رسمي مع المعهد، أو أي استفسار يتعلق بالمعهد نأمل ارسال كافة المراسالت الى االيميل التالي: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. فريق العمل بالمعهد م2020/06/28

Source UNHCR
Posted 23 Jun 2020
 
Originally published 23 June 2020
 
Origin
 

View original

Much of Solomon’s work is inspired by his faith, featuring images of saints and other biblical scenes © UNHCR/Mohamed AlalemMuch of Solomon’s work is inspired by his faith, featuring images of saints and other biblical scenes © UNHCR/Mohamed Alalem

By Caroline Gluck

Painting and drawing offers an escape for one refugee living in Tripoli at a time of conflict and a lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic

In an unfinished building in a downtrodden neighbourhood of Tripoli, Solomon Gebreyonas Alema, a 29-year-old Eritrean refugee, can be found most days sketching and painting.

One small room in the dimly lit, overcrowded building that houses around 200 refugees from Eritrea, Ethiopia and Sudan has been designated by the residents as an “art room” – a space for people to paint, draw, write and play music.

Since mid-March, few residents have been able to venture far from the building due to stringent restrictions on movement introduced to limit the spread of COVID-19 in Libya, as well as ongoing security concerns linked to the conflict in Tripoli, which until recently had raged for more than a year. This has prevented most from being able to earn money through daily labour.

“Painting means life to me, I don’t want to be separated from it,” said Solomon, as he displayed his sketches and drawings. “When we get money, we spend it on necessary essentials like food and rent. Even so, because art is a necessary thing for me, for my life, my friends and other people around me help in whatever way they can by providing some items for painting and drawing.”

Solomon has been drawing and painting since he was a young child. He is self-taught and never attended formal art classes. His faith informs much of his work – large canvases in rich, vibrant colours portraying scenes from the bible, including figures of saints.

Painting these not only gives him purpose and inspiration, said Solomon, but has also helped other Eritrean and Ethiopian refugees struggling to get by in Libya.

“We don’t have any place to pray here in this country. So we use these pictures” he explained. “When people pray, it gives them hope. Using this painting to pray helps them with their faith and makes them feel they are protected from danger.”

There are currently close to 49,000 registered refugees and asylum seekers living in Libya. Many face violence and abuse on their journeys here, as well as in detention when they reach the country­­­. Most continue to face huge challenges on a daily basis as they struggle to get by.

Many were smuggled into the country, like Solomon, who left his home and family determined to find a safe place to study and make a career as a professional painter. He paid smugglers US$5,500 to take him to Europe, which he paid for with the help of his mother, who sold her gold jewellery, and money from relatives in the Eritrean diaspora.

His attempt to reach Europe by boat, however, ended when the vessel was intercepted by the Libyan Coast Guard, and he was put in a detention centre with others.

On his release into the urban community in Tripoli, he developed tuberculosis – a common disease among refugees living in cramped, unsanitary conditions – and re-entered another detention centre in order to seek medical assistance, which he was unable to afford outside with no means to support himself.

He is grateful now to be living in a place where he has the support of others in his community, despite the tough conditions.

“People’s thoughts are very much on coronavirus. They are so worried because most of the people live a hand-to-mouth existence,” he explained, saying that with his housemates and friends, food and other items are shared among the group.

“I honestly would prefer to spend everything I have on materials to paint. But life is very difficult and it is not easy to focus on painting when there are other really important things that are priorities for us, necessities for us to survive,” he said.

UNHCR, the UN refugee agency, and its partners provide help to refugees and asylum seekers in urban settings in Libya, including documentation, cash assistance to the most vulnerable, hygiene and household items, medical assistance and psychosocial support.

Together with the U.N. World Food Programme, the agency will also start providing monthly emergency food assistance for up to 10,000 refugees and asylum seekers until the end of the year, to help those struggling to provide for themselves having lost access to daily work due to the COVID-19 restrictions.

One of Solomon’s most recent sketches, which he is turning into a painting, shows life in Tripoli during the coronavirus pandemic. One side of the drawing depicts the city at war: shelling, fighting and tanks on the move; on the other side, a man wears protective clothing as he sprays disinfectant to fight the disease.

In the centre, surrounded by people who are praying and washing their hands, is a Madonna-like mother and baby. These central figures are protected by the shade of an umbrella, with the letters UNCHR written on it.

“I have tried my best to focus on my art,” he explained. “We have tried to stick with the little hope that we have. And one thing that has given us all hope is having UNHCR’s help.”

“We have a feeling that somehow, we are safe. We didn’t lose hope due to this and due to our faith. We didn’t give up.”

Source=https://reliefweb.int/report/libya/art-provides-comfort-and-hope-eritrean-refugee-libya

AFRICAAFRICAN UNIONSOUTH SUDAN

AFRICAAFRICAN UNIONSOUTH SUDAN

African Union suspends South Sudan over unpaid bill

AU sanctions South Sudan over $9m membership debt

By Abdur Rahman Alfa Shaban
Source: africanews

The African Union (AU) has suspended South Sudan from the continental
body over failure to honour its financial obligations over the past
three years.

A letter from the country’s mission in Ethiopia to the Foreign Affairs
Ministry confirmed the development saying the amount in question came
up to over 9 million dollars. The Xinhua News Agency said the Ministry
had confirmed the suspension from the Addis Ababa-based body.

In clarifying the extent of the suspension, Hakim Edward, deputy
Foreign Affairs Spokesperson, said Juba’s AU membership attained in
July 2011 remained intact except that the country cannot participate
in AU meetings.

“We would like to confirm to the public that South Sudan is one of the
countries that have been sanctioned by the AU due to lack of yearly
financial contributions,” Edward said in a statement late last week.

“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs would like to assure the public that
it is coordinating with the ministry of finance to resolve the matter
not only with the AU but with other regional bodies,” he added.

Local news outlet Eye Radio also reported that South Sudan has a lot
of unpaid arrears to regional, international, and global bodies it
subscribes to. The country is also yet to clear its arrears to the
East African Community to which it owes about 24 million dollars.

South Sudan, which seceded from Sudan on 9 July 2011, joined the
African Union on 27 July 2011, becoming the 54th member.

A year ago, the AU’s Peace and Security Council voted to suspend
neighbouring Sudan from all AU activities until a civilian government
has been formed. The decision followed violent military action against
pro-democracy activists who helped toppled the government of Omar
Al-Bashir.

The council made the announcement after a meeting in Addis Ababa of
the member states of the pan-continental body. The country’s
membership was restored after the ruling military council and
opposition groups agreed to share power in a transition to democracy.

EU says no more money to Eritrea

Thursday, 18 June 2020 21:32 Written by

JUNE 18, 2020  NEWS

17 June 2020

Eritrea Focus

By Habte Hagos

On Monday, 15 June 2020, the European Union (EU) at the meeting of the Committee on Development (DEVE) on the EU’s development cooperation with Eritrea (state of play and the EU’s policy objectives) meeting, declined the Eritrean government’s request for €50 million for more road works in the country. The EU is also sending €30 million originally reserved for Eritrea to Sudan instead.

Disappointingly, however, and despite the appalling human rights abuses in Eritrea, the EU has provided or has committed the following funding allocations to the country over the last couple of months:

  • €6.6 million was allocated in the middle of April. This was a ring-fenced allocation through WHO specifically for COVID-19. This aid was apparently given at the request of the “self-reliance” champion president of the country and despite him rejecting COVID-19 Personal Protection Equipment shipments and aid from various countries.
  • €19.7 million for 4 new projects to be implemented by UNDP (2 projects), IOM and UNODC.
  • €5 million to support the implementation of the UPR by the UNDP. The aim here is to increase capacity to follow up on UPR recommendations;
  • €5 million to support diaspora engagement in support of national development to be implemented by the IOM. The aim here seems to be for the temporary and voluntary return of Eritrean diaspora members to assist in socio-economic development in Eritrea. This funding seems to be specifically targeted towards PFDJ members in diaspora. The EU knows full well the destiny of any Eritrean justice seeker returning to Eritrea whilst the ruthless regime is still in Asmara. Clearly, that has not crossed the mind of EU technocrats on this occasion because it does not suit their interest;
  • €5 million for judiciary administration. Apparently to support and enhance efficiency of the judiciary administration in the country through the partnership framework with UNODC. Yes, improving a judiciary system where none exist. Makes you wonder in which planet these EU technocrats live; and
  • €4.7 million for promotion of economic growth, jobs and public finance management to be implemented by UNDP. The aim of this project is to enhance capacities of national institutions involved in economic governance. I would describe this as a subsidy for the national service programme. The regime in Asmara can enslave more youth and for longer period so it stops them from coming to Europe.

The above four projects funding has apparently been accepted by the “self-reliant” regime in Asmara but are yet to be rubber stamped by EU member states. 

What is incredibly difficult to fathom with these funding to Eritrea is the incredible duplicity of the EU. It is mind boggling for the EU to work on the hypothesis that “at the very end we don’t like it [Eritrea], we cannot change it but let’s throw millions of Euros at it”. But again the funding to Eritrea at the end of the day, is in the interest of the EU; to stem the flow of Eritrean refugees to the EU and more crucially, and as one of the officials said at the end of the meeting “I don’t think we have an interest to leave it all to China and Saudi Arabia”. Alas the EU sees Eritrea for sale to the highest bidder. And why shouldn’t they?

Maybe it is not only Isaias that should be brought to the ICC but also the EU technocrats too because without their money he may not be able to commit crimes against humanity.

A rough translation of the meeting notes inserted below:


Transcription of the meeting of the Committee on Development (DEVE) on the EU’s development cooperation with Eritrea: state of play and the EU’s policy objectives

(Exchange of views with the Commission and the EEAS)

15 June 2020

Full meeting can be viewed via this link.

Opening remarks by the Chair, T. Tobe:

The EU relations with Eritrea are challenging. It’s development cooperation support has been subject of intense debates in our Parliament and DEVE committee. Most recently in February, we have discussed with the UNOPS, HRW, the Commission and EEAS. As a result of massive human rights violations and a strong isolation tendencies from the Eritrean government, cooperation was suspended for many years. At the centre of the development cooperation is the road rehabilitation project which aims to rebuild road from the border with Ethiopia to its’ Read Sea coast. After a brief reopening the border with Ethiopia was closed again. If the border is again reopen the road will provide a landlocked Ethiopia with a valuable connection to the sea. The road rehabilitation project is being carried out with the help of the national service labour. Let us start by hearing the Commission and EEAS how this work is going and what progress, if any there is now on the human rights track. We would be interested in your assessment on the ongoing dual-track approach and how you view the possibilities of getting results on the very difficult situation. Thank you to the Commission for engaging with us today and I give floor to Han Stausboll.

Hans Stausboll, Head of Unit on Eastern Africa, Horn of Africa at DG DEVCO: 

Thanks you, it is an honour to be here today and continue conversation with this committee that started in February 2020. You have also seen that our Director General informed the DEVE Committee in the middle of April about specific COVID-19 action in Eritrea where we are providing €6.6 million through WHO to support the government its in response to pandemic. Lhotar from EEAS will cover the political part and I will focus on the cooperation side. Since the launch of the dual-track approach we have committed €125 million for Eritrea. All the funds we are providing serves to provide opportunities and livelihoods of the people of Eritrea. All projects are now implemented and closely monitored by the UN. Within the strategic cooperation framework signed between UN and Eritrea covering period 2017 – 2021. There are no blind checks or transfer funds to the government of Eritrea without our sight counter the allegations that you would have seen in media articles. This is easily traceable from the contracts that the EU signed with the UN implementing partners – UNOPS, UNDP etc. On the road project as it has been referred to, and it is indeed the biggest action we have, the objective is to rehabilitate the main road in order to reinforce the peace agreement and economic integration between Ethiopia and Eritrea. As we have said previously, this is a joint request we have received from the two governments. It will help to create economic opportunities, and it will help Ethiopia to break its’ isolation of Ethiopia and get the access to the Sea.

The project is not road construction project. We are procuring equipment that is indeed being made available to the Eritrean authorities. But we are not directly involved in road construction. Activities under the phase 1, which was €20 million action, are almost completed and it’s progressing in line with the EU and UN standards for project and financial management. 4 procurements contracts with suppliers – 3 with European based and 1 international supplier were authorised for procurement of construction equipment. Plans were completed by November 2019 and delivery started in late 2019 and continues. The contract for the second phase has been signed on 10th of June. The EU delegation together with the UNOPS follows up the implementation regularly, including several field visits. To date, we had carried out 5 missions. Inspection of the equipment supplied are also conducted. A tripartite dialogue between EU, UNOPS and Government also ensures close monitoring and continues dialogue. All that without hiding implicit limitations faced when working in Eritrea. Field visits are organized with Eritrean authorities and access to information is limited. We are keen to facilitate the joined mission to Eritrea by the representatives from the Budget committee and DEVE committee. And we assure that this will give you a unique opportunity to have better understanding of the country and our engagement there.

On the link to the national service. Among the people employed by the government on the road construction project by construction companies through cash-for-work schemes, there are individuals belonging to national service as is the case for all areas of economic and social sectors in Eritrea. Reform of the national service can only be done gradually. And we cannot pretend that the EU can change workers’ conditions in Eritrea through the development projects we have now. Within the limits of the EU funded procurement project, a space has been secured for the dialogue with the government about the labour conditions and also to impact on then possibly through the provisions of health and security equipment for workers, as a preliminary step. The government continues to inform us but also publicly, about generalized increase of salaries for people serving under the national service. And have also recently gave indications that demobilisation is being considered. These were reconfirmed few days ago. Within the cooperation track there is much more than procurement for road rehabilitation. Decisions within €125 million I referred to have been adopted to support job creation in agriculture, an action to reinforce statistic for economic governance, and a project on strengthening capacities of health services to respond to the crisis with WHO. Contracting is progressing and we have contracted 70% of funds that have been committed.

Just last week, my Director General informed the Chair of the DEVE committee, I apologize it came so late, about our intentions. We have proposed to our member states 4 new actions for Eritrea for total amount of €19.7 million. The proposed pack is a set of actions which build on recent exchanges with the European Parliament, EU member states, and it represent the best compromise to accommodate the different views expressed by EU member states but also views expressed by the EP notably on the 2018 EDF discharge procedure. We have also conclusions of [the meeting] 7th May, which confirmed that the member states are globally in favour to continue with the dual approach. The package that is on the table now, firstly I would like to emphasize that we listen very carefully to the Parliament – no more roads. It was very clear request from you and obviously we took that very seriously despite the fact that the government have one major priority and that is roads. The package targets soft areas and it consists of four main elements: €5 million to support the implementation of the UPR to be implemented by the UNDP; €5 million to support diaspora engagement in support of national development to be implemented by IOM; support to enhance efficiency of the judiciary administration in Eritrea through the partnership framework with UNODC; 4.7 million for promotion of the economic growth, jobs and public finance management implemented by UNDP. The fact that the government has accepted this package is an illustration that it is keen to maintain its engagement with the EU. We have also informed the government that this package will be the last under the current MFF which means a reduction of a amount for Eritrea by €30 million. Our intention is to transfer that amount to Sudan to support the positive political transition we see there.

It is important to recall that the Trust fund is not only activity that we have there and we are also using our lines to promote within the possibilities engagement with civil society and support for human rights within Eritrea.

Looking to the next MFF 2021-2027 – this was very clear request from our member states, we have been invited to make an evaluation of the dual track approach before the next programming cycle starts. We will not take any operational decisions before we have a thorough evaluation of our engagement with Eritrea and the dual approach. The outcome of the evaluation will orient the EU’s policy towards the country and will obviously be giving us the guidance for the upcoming programming. My Director General to the Chair of this Committee has committed to keep the EP closely informed about the evaluation that should start before the end of this month. With that, whatever form our engagement with Eritrea will take the overall objective is obviously to ensure that the EU can stay engaged in this crucial country and crucial region. Strategic patience is in our opinion is the best recipe for engaging with Eritrea and facilitating reform of the country.

Lothar Jaschke, EEAS:

Dear members, it is honour to be present here today and follow up on the exchange that we had in February. On Eritrea – the EU has strategic interest in promoting stable, prosperous and secure Horn of Africa which gets increasingly integrated provides maritime security and becomes reliable partner for  the EU. We have interest to offer its youth perspective to become resilient to extremist ideologies. Eritrea will remain to be a key component of peace prosperity and stability in the Horn of Africa with a strategic location. Over the past year Asmara improved its relations with Ethiopia, Somalia and Sudan and maintain close relations with Saudis and Emiratis. In December 2019 it signed the Red Sea Charter. It has also contributed to develop a trilateral cooperation with Mogadishu and Addis. Concerning Ethiopia, yes, we would like to see the peace agreement to be implemented much faster. And the border be reopened. But first, Eritrea needs to build up its economic base which is very low and that is also through our cooperation. Moreover, internal tensions between Ethiopian federal authorities and Tigray authorities should be mitigated in order to make progress on joint border commission. The EU is present in Asmara since 1995, promoting political engagement and development cooperation. Following the 2018 peace declaration, and in support to the peace process of two arch rivals, the EU decided to put engagement with Eritrea on a new dual-track approach. The idea is to pursue a robust political dialogue in view of promoting political reforms and in parallel, not as a condition, to invest in pragmatic development cooperation, which promotes regional integration, human rights, jobs and economic opportunities. This approach has been confirmed two times by the member states, last time on 7 May.

We consider this approach the best chance to pursue our key objective, which is to ensure Eritrea contributes to advancing our objectives in the region, to bring tangible objectives to Eritrea’s population, to increase our leverage to impact on reforms, to promote regional integration, and to build better positions for the EU in the future. And as you know, the future starts now.

While it is true that the Eritrean regime did not carried out the reforms that we wanted to see, the dual approach increased engagement opportunities and promoted Government to take more open, constructive attitude towards the EU. It has improved bilateral relations. Two examples are – when COVID-19 came to Eritrea, the leader turned to the EU asking for support forgetting about proud policy of self-sufficiency and rejecting humanitarian aid from the past. This can be seen as improvement in bilateral relations. Secondly, taboo issues, for example human rights violations are now discussed regularly and have entered the mainstream of our political dialogue and bilateral relations. When in Asmara, a presidential advisor told me, we want to better understand EU positions through the political dialogue that we have with you. And on human rights be assured, that we will address issues consistently, critically and constructively and encourage improvements and if they happen we will welcome them. We welcome Eritrea’s participation in the UPR process. It is quite remarkable that only high official with human rights in his title is the EU special representative Eamon Gilmore, who has been in Asmara and who has long standing invitation to Eritrea. This approach of constructive and robust engagement allows us to secure the gains and achieve through our dialogue while remain firm on our political objectives. We have made it clear to Asmara that we appreciate new possibilities to engage but also that the dual track approach is not a one-way street ant that it needs to be nurtured by strong drive for reforms in Eritrea and important progress on human rights. In engaging with Eritrea, we face criticism we respond to criticism and debunk false allegations. You have seen articles and statements against the EU engagement in Eritrea, but they do not suggest any constructive alternative. It is only through this constructive engagement and trust building however uncomfortable this is, that we stand a chance to be heard on sensitive issues. It is clear that we cannot expect miracles, and that we need to be patient and realistic. But we need to be part of the game and not be left out of it. This engagement would reduce our leverage and make it harder to come back. And we would have no chance to pursue our objectives when it comes to strengthening the rule of law, democracy, human rights and improving the wellbeing of Eritreans. Within the population and the government Europe is considered an attractive alternative to over dependence vis a vis Saudi Arabia and China. EU is the best place and help best positions for the future. Looking ahead, another meeting of the political dialogue is planned whenever the COVID restrictions allow it and discussion on long awaited Eritrean plan on human rights which is the action plan in implementing UPR recommendations. A visit of this committee is scheduled in the first week of November. This is welcomed event for more interaction and engagement. This is expression of interest that I know Eritrean people hugely appreciate.

Questions & Comments from the DEVE members

Gyorgy  Holvenyi:

We have to pay attention to shrinking space of religious freedom in Eritrea. Authorities closed down almost 30 catholic health facilities and expelled patients receiving treatments without compensations. This is not a religious act it is important to note that many of the facilities were in the rural areas were there are no alternative medical services. Do you know about this? What do you think about this? The UN HRC also addressed the issue in its report.

  1. Bullmann, S&D:

I heard in every sentence balance for reasonable approach. This is something we have to appreciate. But please, you have to understand that the very concrete accusation is in this specific Eritrean case that the EU’s money is being used to make use of forced labour in this road project and the conditions that are hardly justifiable. This is the very concrete issue. And perhaps we could come back to this issue. I very well understand that if you say it’s not in our command. At the very end we don’t like it but we cannot change it. But it should then be more clear and we should talk about – do we really not have any trigger points to change the situation of these workers, in a way of dialogue with Eritrean authorities, involved partners, international organisations and what would you say if these kinds of attempts have already taken place is the understanding of the other side? Is there willingness of the Eritrean authorities to accept the codes of values that we would present here or is there a major resistance? We have to be clear about these issues. Especially if at the end we would like to strike a fair balance of what we are doing or not doing.

  1. Goerens, Renew:

The Commission representative just told us that they are going to carry out the evaluation. Can we get the terms of reference for the evaluation and criteria that will have to be respected by Eritrea?

  1. Bilde, :

I think we are all paying careful attention to the national service and the impact that it has on project supported by the EU in this country. I had asked the Commission a written question about motorway between Adi-Guadad and Agordat and cooperation with Chinese companies as we heard that the project supported by China in Africa do not resect the social standards required. And I wonder if you are going to find out about the working conditions on those sites? And to find out if the national services are making contributions. Eritrea has also adopted ILO convention on the worst forms of child labour – do you have any idea on the progress that has been made since then? Because the American labour department noted the absence of efforts of the country in that area.

And my last question is on religious freedom. We know that church is having issues since 2007 and international press has mentioned persecution of the catholic church. Do you have any information on those key issues?

Michele Rivasi, Greens:

We have to admit, that I was rather disappointed what the commission had to say here. We’ve been asking since February, about financing that goes to the government and you are still telling us the same thing. So I’d like to give a couple of pieces of information that shows that this EU money has been poorly utilized and indeed puts us in a difficult situation. Most recent report of from the UN special rapporteur which came out on 11 May on 5 criteria to measure progress in Eritrea. The rapporteur says that there has been no progress made up to the date of May 2020. The rapporteur identifies four concrete measures that could easily be taken by the Eritrean regime to show progress in transformation of the national service, a)  stopping the forced roundups; b) separate the education system from the national service conscription; c) implementing an independent system to monitor and follow up on violence and abuse in the national service; and d) stop forced labour and child labour in the national service. None of these measure has been taken during these times.

I have two questions –How does the EU believe it continues saying that its dual approach is bearing fruit and what sorts of results in terms of human rights are we seeing for the population on the ground? In this context how does the EU justifies the statements according to which positives measures have been taken by the Eritrean government in terms of the national service? How can the EU justify in the light of this information that conscripts under the national service set up are being used in the motorway project – the most important project of the EU. In which the EU is providing money to companies directly under Eritrean regime’s control.

And finally, in the report from February 2020 from the World Bank, in which the WB has identified Eritrea as a country where humanitarian aid is associated with offshore tax havens and illegal activities of this nature. Given the lack of financial transparency in Eritrea, how can that EU guarantee that the EU’s taxpayers’ money is not being used to enrich Eritrean elite? Are you sure that 80 million is helping the population and not the government?

In the light of this information, which shows that this EU approach is not helping an improvement on the ground at all, and you have said that yourself, what does the EU intend to do under MFF 2021-27? Are you going to continue with this dual track approach which is actually benefiting the Eritrean government? Because through this policy in staying in Eritrea you actually favouring the dictatorship there. I think what has been done is extremely worrying for democracy and EU values. I would like some answers to my questions. 

Answers:

Hans Stausboll:

On the question of balance and trigger points – we do believe that we certain trigger points, we have dialogue on national service but it is correct that if you walk to Eritrea and say – unless you do A,B,C we will walk away – that approach simply does not work in Eritrea. And this is a tricky issue that we need to get along. I said that government continues to confirm that they are prepared to reform the national service as soon as the conditions allow. They say there are two conditions there must be jobs. There are no jobs currently. If they abolish the national service they have no other opportunities. And don’t forget that majority of the people in the national service get a salary that is bigger that the most ministers in Eritrean government get today. Yes, we do believe that there is willingness involved.

The question on evaluation – I need to check with my authorities, but I believe we can share the reference for the evaluation. Our intention is to ask an institute to make an assessment we are doing this with the member states now.

Obviously, I am disappointed that Mrs Rivasi is disappointed. I do think that we are changing our approach. We have listened very carefully to the discussion concerning the discharge. The Government has the expectation that they will receive 50 million more for the roads but we have said no. And programs that are being put in front of our member states right now is indeed targeting the soft areas, human rights, economic governance etc. We are not here to support the government we are here to support the people of Eritrea in the best possible way we can do. We have seen the report of the special rapporteur and we do agree that we have never pretended that there is major progress. We continue to say that engagement is better than disengagement. We have change directions of the programs that we are supporting now. And before we decide on the next MFF programming we want to have serious evaluation which will be also discussed with the Parliament. There are no money given to the government. Money stays within the UN and we are providing expertise and equipment. So the notion that there is corruption and that the EU’s money disappear in the government’s hands are not correct. We continue to monitor very closely everything is implemented by the UN on the basis of their criteria and their procedure. Obviously it is political appreciation whether you want to stay engaged in Eritrea or not. We continue to believe that this is the best possible within the limitations that we have to operate on in Eritrea.

Lothar Jaschke, EEAS:

Disappointingly, the number of Catholic health facilities have been closed. Some of them have reopened, some not. Overall healthcare situation has not improved by this. This could be seen as a reaction to statements by the Catholic Church that did not go well by the regime. This is event that we are concerned with that we have told the regime in the political dialogue that they should reconsider this decision and that it might not have been good move. The strength is that at least there is a political dialogue where we can address issues. The same goes for human rights. We have continuously encouraged them to participate in the UPR. Now they have accepted 131 recommendations including free speech, economic and social rights. They also told us that they will accept the visits of the UN of special mandate holders. Let’s see but that is positive move. I think this stronger openness and little shift in policy is paying off. It is certainly about the future. The EU is seen as an attractive alternative as a positive force. I don’t think we have an interest to leave it all to China and Saudi Arabia.

————————- ENDS ———————–

Source

 
 
Posted
 
17 Jun 2020
 
Originally published
 
11 May 2020
 
Origin
 
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Summary

The present report is submitted pursuant to Human Rights Council resolution 41/1, in which the Council extended the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Eritrea for one year and requested the mandate holder to present a report on the implementation of the mandate to the Council at its forty-fourth session.

As in previous years, the Special Rapporteur was not granted access to Eritrea to conduct in-country visits. The Government of Eritrea remains opposed to engaging in cooperation under the mandate. The Special Rapporteur has continued to monitor the human rights situation in the country by conducting field missions to third countries and by engaging with a broad range of stakeholders.

During the period under review, the Special Rapporteur has found no evidence of a substantial improvement in the situation of human rights in the country. While Eritrea has increased its engagement with regional and international actors throughout the reporting period, this engagement has not yet translated into tangible reforms in human rights. A telling sign is that Eritreans continue to flee the country in large numbers. In the present report, the Special Rapporteur provides an update on the situation of human rights in the country, highlights specific areas of concern and sets out recommendations for the Government of Eritrea for achieving sustainable progress in human rights.

JUNE 13, 2020  ETHIOPIANEWS

“Ethiopian Prime Minister Dr. Abiy Ahmed has urged South Sudan President Salva Kiir Mayardit to stay out of its dispute with Egypt over the construction of Ethiopia’s multi-billion dam.

This comes days after unnamed senior government officials in Juba said the world’s youngest nation had agreed to a request by the Egyptian government for a military near Pagak, a town in the east of the country that borders Ethiopia.”

Source: The Afrikana

June 9, 2020, Ethiopian Prime Minister Dr. Abiy Ahmed has urged South Sudan President Salva Kiir Mayardit to stay out of its dispute with Egypt over the construction of Ethiopia’s multi-billion dam.

Pagak Map

This comes days after unnamed senior government officials in Juba said the world’s youngest nation had agreed to a request by the Egyptian government for a military near Pagak, a town in the east of the country that borders Ethiopia.

Speaking to Media news this afternoon, a senior foreign ministry official in Addis Ababa said the government of Ethiopia has written to the government of South Sudan through its embassy in Addis Ababa and warned of consequences should it allow Egypt to have base in the country.

Screenshot 2020-06-13 at 20.27.39

“The government has written to President Salva Kiir of South Sudan through the embassy here in Addis [Ababa] and has made it very clear that South Sudan will face consequences should the news that is ongoing for a Egyptian military base are to be true,” the official said on condition of anonymity.

The government official said the Ethiopian premier has urged Kiir in the letter to stay out of the dispute between Egypt and Ethiopia over the dam saying “this is what we have to tell our South Sudanese brothers that let them stay out of the game.”

South Sudan however had issued a statement denying the reports saying there was no intention to do so and the country will not allow foreign troops to use it as a launching pad for attacks against “our neighbors.”


Note these earlier reports

Africa Intelligence, 15 November 2019

The South Sudanese president Salva Kiir is helping Cairo to deploy its troops to the border between his country and Ethiopia. According to our information, he has authorised Egypt to use the airports of Bor, Pibor, Pochalla, Paloic and Malakal to convey its forces to the Greater Upper Nile and Juba in the event that a conflict should break out with Ethiopia over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD).

The Ethiopian government, which has learnt of the existence of secret security pacts between Salva Kiir and his Egyptian opposite number Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, has ordered the South Sudanese government to withdraw the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) from Pagak and regions bordering Ethiopia to enable the National Intelligence and Security Service and the Ethiopian National Defence Forces to monitor the deployment of the Egyptian army. Representatives of the Ethiopian prime minister Abiy Ahmed Ali have also warned Salva Kiir’s government to be sceptical of Cairo’s claims about the impact of the GERD on Nile water flows and of the serious repercussions that maintaining a SPLA presence in the border region may have. In recent days, the SPLA has moved its crew-served weapons and munitions from Pagak to Maiwut. 


Sudan Tribune


June 5, 2020 (JUBA,) — South Sudan’s foreign ministry denied reports claiming that Juba had given green light for Egypt to establish a military base near the Ethiopian border.

“The ministry of foreign affairs and international cooperation hereby denies in the strongest terms possible, the information which has been circulated in the social media that the government of South Sudan has agreed to Egyptian request to build a military base in Pagak,” reads a statement issued on Wednesday.

Relations between Egypt and Ethiopia are strained by the disagreement over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) particularly the filling of its reservoir.

“There is nothing of that kind, no agreement has been reached whatsoever to allocate a piece of land for Egyptian military base in the territory of the Republic of South Sudan,” said the South Sudanese government distancing itself from any suspicion.

Juba further said the “spurious allegation” was forged and disseminated by the enemies of peace who seek to create tensions for the South Sudanese government with the neighbouring countries.

Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan are expected to resume technical meetings to finalize talks on the safety of the dam, environmental issues, data exchange facilitation and the resolutions of disputes.

(ST)

OPINION

  | June 11, 2020 05:41 PM

It is often forgotten that the worst dictators are often, early in their careers, lauded as reformers. In Iraq, Saddam Hussein was initially embraced as a “pragmatist” by diplomats and journalists alike. In 1991, the Norwegian Nobel Committee awarded Burmese dissident Aung San Suu Kyi the Nobel Peace Prize; only in subsequent decades would she expose herself as an apologist for ethnic cleansing. Of course, she is not the only figure to sully the preeminent peace prize’s legacy.

In Africa, the trend of reformists becoming dictators has been especially acute.

In April 1976, Secretary of State Henry Kissinger declared that the United States supported black rule in Rhodesia, today’s Zimbabwe. He was cautious about Soviet and Cuban inroads among certain liberation movements. President Jimmy Carter, however, had no such caution. He drew parallels between Robert Mugabe’s Marxist Zimbabwe African National Union and the civil rights fight in the U.S. South. Mugabe was, therefore, a reformer and a social justice warrior. Many officials likewise greeted Isaias Afwerki as a democrat and reformer when he became Eritrea’s first president upon its 1993 independence. Indeed, Bill Clinton congratulated his Eritrean counterpart on “Eritrea's good start on the road to democracy and free markets” when, in 1995, they met in the Oval Office. Diplomats likewise once praised Rwandan leader Paul Kagame for his progressive attitudes toward women and liberal approach to the economy, but most human rights groups today criticize him for intolerance to dissent and human rights abuses.

Now, it appears, another Nobel laureate, Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, may be heading down the same path. Perhaps buoyed by the praise he receives on his frequent post-Nobel trips abroad, Abiy on Wednesday announced that he would remain in office beyond the end of his term. For all of Abiy’s enthusiastic and, at times, naive peacemaking abroad, his tenure has exacerbated ethnic tensions at home. Reelection was no certainty, but his decision to seek to hold power extra-constitutionally could precipitate conflict in Africa’s second-most populous country.

Not to be outdone, Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo has also signaled he seeks to delay elections and remain in power. Farmajo’s tenure has already seen a backsliding of democracy and resurgence of the al Qaeda-affiliated al Shabab terror group. If the deeply unpopular Farmajo tries to hold onto power, he will return Somalia into full-blown civil war.

The U.S., in recent years, may have diminished presence on the world stage, but the cards the White House and State Department have still matter. From a realist standpoint, Abiy and Farmajo are both weaker than they themselves admit or realize. Abiy may seek to become the new Mugabe, and Farmajo the new Siad Barre, but their respective peoples will not stand for it. Unbridled ambition will lead to civil war in their respective states. This is in no one’s interest. Rather than promote silly photo-ops with regional presidential summits, like that which the State Department’s Bureau of African Affairs plans for this coming week in Djibouti, the U.S. government should signal both to Abiy and Farmajo that they risk pariah status if they continue their undemocratic tendencies.

Central to President Trump’s international philosophy is the idea of restraint: The U.S. should not deploy its forces across the globe in pursuit of agendas that do not directly impact the security of the American homeland. In these troubled economic times, that makes sense, but it requires effective diplomacy now to avoid scenarios where state failure mandates far more expensive responses. The best way to promote regional security is to continue to cultivate democracy and provide a peaceful mechanism for ordinary citizens to hold ineffective leaders and would-be dictators to account.

Michael Rubin (@Mrubin1971) is a contributor to the Washington Examiner's Beltway Confidential blog. He is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute and a former Pentagon official.

Source=https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/opinion/democracy-imperiled-in-africa-by-reformers-turned-dictators

Source

 
Posted
 
12 Jun 2020
 
Originally published
 
12 Jun 2020

Overview

• East Africa is currently experiencing a desert locust outbreak of an unprecedented nature. The outbreak, which began in January 2020, is now in its second phase, with FAO projecting that this phase could be 20 times worse than the first one. Already, tens of thousands of hectares of farmland and pasture have been damaged by locusts in Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan and Uganda.
Given that most of these countries are heavily reliant on agricultural production, this outbreak could not only threaten the livelihoods and food security of residents, but the respective countries’ economies as well.

• The triple threat of COVID-19, floods and locusts poses a major threat to food security in East Africa. These shocks do not just have immediate, short-term effects, they exacerbate prevailing food insecurity and undermine livelihoods and development gains that took years to build.

• WFP estimates that 20 million people are food insecure in nine East African countries: Ethiopia, South Sudan,
Kenya, Somalia, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Djibouti and Eritrea. WFP projects that the number of food insecure people in the region could increase to 34 million or more in the coming months due to the impact of COVID-19, locusts and flooding

• The region is now seeing the spread of swarms of desert locusts that may eat crops in many countries before the main harvest from July to September. FAO currently projects that an additional 1.5 to 2.5 million people could become severely food insecure as a result solely of locust outbreaks.

• WFP anticipates a localized impact on the harvest, though at this stage the impact is still uncertain pending on control operations, locust surveillance and other factors such as wind and weather conditions.

• The restrictions imposed by countries in the region to contain COVID-19 are creating logistical challenges to the supply of pesticides, bio-insecticides and delays in obtaining equipment for control operations

WFP Preparedness

• At a regional level, WFP works through the Food Security and Nutrition Working Group to harmonize methodologies and tools for ongoing ground impact assessments, food security projection and reporting on the locust outbreak.

• WFP and FAO have worked together in a number of ways since the beginning of the locust crisis, including by supporting logistical capacity and opportunities for the triangulation of equipment. FAO has launched a regional appeal for the fight against desert locusts in the Greater Horn of Africa and Yemen amounting to US$231 million for the period January to December 2020. This appeal aims at enhancing gains made in surveillance and control efforts, especially, in Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia, which are the three worst affected countries in the region.

• WFP is assessing the situation closely and preparing more detailed estimates on potential locust-related requirements for our country level responses together with FAO, the World Bank and governments.

• WFP is supporting ongoing food security assessments in the affected countries which are seeking to quantify the impact the locusts are having on food production and availability. While these assessments will further inform response strategies, anticipated needs are already being incorporated within the existing Humanitarian Response Plans (HRPs) in the affected countries. The support to affected communities will include a combination of relief, social protection and livelihood support interventions, in conjunction with the host Governments and FAO

• In East Africa, WFP’s existing funding requirements for the next 6 months are US$813 million. However, as the impacts of COVID-19 deepen and new swarms continue to spread, needs are expected to increase significantly.

Source=https://reliefweb.int/report/ethiopia/wfp-east-africa-update-desert-locust-outbreak-12-june-2020

 

JUNE 11, 2020  NEWSWORLD BANK

Source: World Bank

This study shows the coincidence of aid and increases in holdings in off-shore tax havens. To put the findings crudely: when aid arrives, the funds in the tax havens increase – indicating that the aid has been diverted for corrupt practices.

This is what the study says – full report here.

In this paper, we study aid diversion by combining quarterly information on aid disbursements from the World Bank (WB) and foreign deposits from the Bank for International Settlements (BIS). The former dataset covers all disbursements made by the World Bank to finance development projects and provide general budget support in its client countries. The latter dataset covers foreign-owned deposits in all significant financial centers, both havens such as Switzerland, Luxembourg, Cayman Islands and Singapore whose legal framework emphasizes secrecy and asset protection and non-havens such as Germany, France and Sweden. Equipped with this dataset, we study whether aid disbursements trigger money flows to foreign bank accounts. In our main sample comprising the 22 most aid-dependent countries in the world (in terms of WB aid), we document that disbursements of aid coincide, in the same quarter, with significant increases in the value of bank deposits in havens. Specifically, in a quarter where a country receives aid equivalent to 1% of GDP, its deposits in havens increase by 3.4% relative to a country receiving no aid; by contrast, there is no increase in deposits held in non-havens. While other interpretations are possible, these findings are suggestive of aid diversion to private accounts in havens.

Letter from Eritrea Focus, Jubilee Campaign USA and  The America Team for Displaced Eritreans

President David Malpass

The World Bank Group

1818 H Street NW,

Washington, D.C. 20433

cc: Ethiopis Tafara

Acting Vice President

Integrity Vice Presidency

The World Bank Group

1818 H Street NW,

Washington, D.C. 20433

Dear World Bank President David Malpass and INT Vice President Ethiopis Tafara,

We, the undersigned, are a collection of individuals and organizations who collectively strive to promote religious freedom and human rights around the world. We would first like to express our gratitude to the World Bank for its leadership in continuously providing development assistance and aid to developing nations in order to encourage necessary economic and infrastructural development in such stagnating or slowly developing nations.

Keeping in mind the unending visible benefits and new opportunities that the World Bank’s provision of foreign development aid provides to hundreds of nations around the world, we would like to express our concern regarding the findings related to Eritrea In the February 2020 World Bank Policy Research Working Paper 9150, Elite Capture of Foreign Aid: Evidence from Offshore Bank AccountsThis report examined whether there is a visible and verifiable relationship between World Bank receipt of foreign aid to a certain country and correlating money flows from such countries to foreign banks, which suggests that corrupt elites are capturing the aid and pocketing it for themselves rather than using it for their nation’s development plans. This research found that “in a quarter where a country received aid equivalent to 1% of GDP, its deposits in havens [foreign banks in nations whose laws allow for secrecy regarding personal finances and private assets] increase by 3.4% relative to a country receiving no aid.”

In this policy paper, the World Bank Group determines that “aid disbursements are associated with wealth accumulation in offshore accounts” and that data leaks and tax documentation conclude that such accounts remain at the top of the wealth distribution and therefore that these accounts are owned by elites. Of greater interest, however, is that Eritrea is one of the nations whose statistics represents this corrupt phenomenon: in Eritrea, World Bank aid flows account for 3.2% of the annual GDP, the nation has 8 deposit accounts in foreign bank ‘havens,’ and the nation exhibits a 2.29% quarterly growth rate in deposits to foreign accounts.

We fear that the statistics raised in this policy paper reveal the extent to which corruption is an overwhelming political problem in Eritrea and, similarly, the extent to which the World Bank’s foreign aid directed to Eritrea is not utilized for its intended purposes, thus feeding increasing corruption. It is reprehensible that the funding provided by the World Bank to Eritrea for the purpose of development is simply being stockpiled in overseas banking institutions by wealthy elites and corrupt government officials to fund their personal expenditures and prop-up the oppressive authoritarian regime.

Eritrea is one of, if not the most, repressive nations on the African continent, and is a repetitive perpetrator of human rights violations. The most noteworthy and deplorable of these violations includes arbitrary and prolonged detention with no access to legal counsel and exposure to overcrowded prison conditions; curtailment of freedom of speech and expression, and targeting of independent journalists; harassment and imprisonment of religious minorities, as well state-supported mass closures of churches and houses of worship; and Eritrea’s infamous program of indefinite military and labor conscription forced upon the majority of the nation’s citizens, including men and women, who are forced to work extended hours in lifelong careers that the government chooses for them regardless of their interests or qualifications, where they are paid extremely insufficient wages and often experience substandard working conditions.

In addition to the World Bank’s acknowledgement of the growing corruption in Eritrea, Eritrea is consistently considered highly corrupt by Transparency International, and was ranked the 38th most corrupt nation in the world as of 2019. Such corruption hinders the advancement of the nation’s citizens, as Eritrea is recognized by numerous human rights organizations to be ‘the North Korea of Africa’ due to its fervent repression of civil, political, and social rights. Moreover, the 2017 Natural Resource Governance Index measures the governance standards of developing countries’ extractive industries. Eritrea ranks dead last over all – 89th place and its state-owned mining company is ranked as the worst governed state enterprise.

Given the well-documented concerns regarding the mismanagement of state funds by the Government of Eritrea, we collectively and respectively make the following recommendations regarding the World Bank’s future investments in Eritrea:

  • Decrease with immediate effect foreign aid transfers to Eritrea until Eritrea improves its human rights record and government transparency practices; or
  • Deliberately consider ceasing the practice of providing large sums of foreign aid to Eritrea;
  • Require mandatory monitoring and reporting mechanisms to ensure that World Bank foreign aid is being used for its intended purposes of economic and social development

Respectfully signed with great appreciation for your attention to these matters,

Jubilee Campaign USA

Eritrea Focus (UK)

The America Team for Displaced Eritreans