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Posted
7 Apr 2020
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7 Apr 2020
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South Sudanese refugees practice social distancing as they wait to access a food distribution at Kakuma camp in Kenya. © UNHCR/Samuel OtienoSouth Sudanese refugees practice social distancing as they wait to access a food distribution at Kakuma camp in Kenya. © UNHCR/Samuel Otieno

This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesperson Babar Baloch – to whom quoted text may be attributed – at today's press briefing at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, is ramping up efforts to increase capacity to prevent, treat and limit the potential spread of COVID-19 among refugee communities across the East, Horn and Great Lakes region of Africa, which hosts some of the largest refugee populations in the world. Living in crowded conditions, without adequate access to water and sanitation facilities, and with precarious livelihoods and food security, refugees in the region are particularly vulnerable to the virus, both in refugee camps and in urban areas.

Following confirmation of the first cases of COVID-19 in South Sudan and Eritrea last week, all countries in the region are now responding to the outbreak. While to date there have been no confirmed cases amongst refugees, asylum-seekers or internally displaced people in the region, the need to be prepared is urgent.

UNHCR is actively engaged with Ministries of Health and other government authorities, and the World Health Organization, on the inclusion of refugees, asylum-seekers and internally displaced people (IDPs) in national response plans. A number of countries in the region already have exemplary policies in place that allow refugees to access public health-care services. However, many refugees live in remote areas many miles from the nearest government health facilities. Others live in small, overcrowded dwellings in densely populated urban areas where they face significant challenges in adhering to guidelines around physical and social distancing.

Many of our operations in the region have provided refugees increased quantities of food and basic relief items including soap to reduce the frequency of distributions and the risks posed by queues and large crowds.

The outbreak comes on the top of existing emergency conditions in the region, where 60 per cent of refugees are experiencing food ration cuts due to underfunding. This may be further exacerbated by breaks in the regular supply chain due to a variety of COVID-19 measures, including border restrictions and controls.

The pandemic is also having a severe impact on refugees’ abilities to work and generate income. Many refugees have seen the business they run or work for, often as day workers, forced to close. Those who rely on cross-border trade have been particularly impacted.

UNHCR is advocating to governments to ensure refugees are included in any emergency social protection schemes, while also exploring possibilities to provide the most vulnerable with one-off cash assistance to help meet basic needs. Schools across the region have been closed and it is estimated that some one million refugee students are currently out of school. UNHCR is working with government and non-government partners on distance-learning and digital-learning programs, building on existing partnerships with the private sector to provide online learning in Kenya, South Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda.

Across the region, UNHCR is engaged in COVID-19 awareness, prevention and treatment information campaigns, including through community groups and religious leaders, telephone hotlines, flyers, posters, bulk SMS and WhatsApp messaging, radio announcements, focus group discussions, posters, leaflets, billboards and mural drawings. While bolstering primary-care capacity, including isolation facilities at camp level, we are concerned that health systems across the region are in need of support, particularly to referral hospitals and intensive care units, in case the virus rapidly spreads.

We continue to support the efforts of countries across the region, together with UN agencies and NGO partners, maintaining existing programmes where possible, and implementing a number of new measures to address humanitarian needs related to the COVID-19 pandemic, including:

In Djibouti, more than 4,500 refugees and asylum-seekers were provided with new shelters to reduce overcrowding and facilitate physical distancing in Ali Addeh and Holl-Holl villages.

In Ethiopia, supplies of water and soap in the camps are being increased and handwashing stations are being installed, including 127 communal stations and over 14,700 household stations in Gambella refugee camp alone.

In Kenya, isolation wards have been identified with additional beds added in the country’s two refugee camps. Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is being given to health workers in clinics, while an assessment is underway to identify possible new locations for field clinics to provide health care in refugee camps. The distributions of food, soap and other items have been altered to adhere to social distancing standards. Refugees who have mobile phones are sent messages communicating COVID-19 information and prevention measures.

In Somalia, shelters are being improved and provisions of relief items increased to help with social and physical distancing for the large IDP populations. High-risk IDP sites are being targeted for decongestion and upgrading of shelter and provision of relief items, with plans for UNHCR to support 27,600 IDPs living in high-density IDP sites.

In Sudan, more than 320,000 refugees, IDPs and members of host communities across the country have received soap and other hygiene relief items. A 1,000-litre water tank was installed in Beliel registration centre, South Darfur. New refugee arrivals in eastern Sudan are having their temperature taken upon arrival and monitored for two weeks for symptoms.

In Tanzania, monthly provisions of soap have been doubled and larger jerry cans have been distributed to aid with handwashing in all three refugee camps. Additional handwashing stations have been installed, including new fittings at reception centres, distribution points, markets and schools.

In Uganda, a number of measures were already in place as a result of the response to the threat of Ebola, including health and temperature screening and increased handwashing facilities in, transit and reception centres as well as in refugee settlements. In addition, distributions of soap have been increased and health workers are being provided with additional training specifically on COVID-19.

All countries in the region have introduced strict movement measures, ranging from border closures to lockdowns and curfews. UNHCR urges these countries, some of which have generously hosted refugees for decades, to continue to provide protection and access to asylum to people fleeing war and persecution during this challenging time.

A part of the broader UN Global Humanitarian Response Plan, UNHCR issued an Emergency Appeal requesting US$255 million for life-saving interventions and preparations in response to COVID-19, of which an initial $15 million has been requested specifically for countries in East and Horn of Africa. UNHCR urges the international community to provide the requested financial support needed to ensure the health and safety of refugees, IDPs and host communities during this crisis.

UNHCR’s Bureau for the East and Horn of Africa and the Great Lakes region covers 11 countries: Burundi, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda.

Relevant broadcast-quality footage is available for download on UNHCR's content platform Refugees Media.

For more information on this topic, please contact:
In Nairobi, Dana Hughes, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., +254 733 440 536
In Geneva, Charlie Yaxley, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., +41 795 808 702
In Geneva, Babar Baloch, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., +41 79 513 9549

April 7, 2020 Ethiopia, News

Hitsats Refugee camp

It is clear that Eritreans who have fled from the dictatorship and are seeking sanctuary in Ethiopia are in danger.

As noted by the UN Refugee Agency yesterday, there have been attempts to close the camp.

But the threats do not end there. They have also been physically threatened by agents of the Tigrayan military and Eritrean opposition forces.

Below are letters from Eritreans living in Hitsats, followed by notes made by a researcher working with the refugees and a reply to their concerns from the UNHCR.

Martin


First letter

From Eritrean Refugees in Hitstsa camp

To all Eritrean refugees Agencies at Hitsats camp

Subject: The closing and displaced of hitsats refugee camp

It was on 27th of march 2020, there was meeting in ARRA office by [names removed] with RCC (refugee central committee).

In that meeting they continue to disturb the peace of the refugees, they gave three opportunities for Eritrean refugees at Hitsats . There are the following;

  1. We will relocate you to Adi-Harush and Mai-Ayni, and you will live with other refugees but we didn’t prepare for you any basically needs for you.
  2. You can use all OUT OF CAMP POLICY (OCP) to any Ethiopia city.
  3. If you stay choice to stay at the refugee’s camp of Hitsats, you will never have any service from ARRA and all other NGO’S like UNHCR, IRC, NRC, ZOA and DRC.

Above this the other opportunity are not allowed to choice and to give any other suggestion. Also they told us if we choice to go other camp they aren’t allow us to carry any asset that we have only to carry one bag, because the people of the host community to pay compensation, so you will not take anything from the refugees camp which means from our home.

And we have said there is shortage of budget; the budget isn’t belonging to refugees, to belong to ARRA officers that are ARRA monthly salary.

According the above, the representative Eritrean refugees at Hitsats, as some question that are

  1. Before the previous we asked you to give us official letter but until now it is oral information, so do you have the official letter with you from federal government?
  2. What about UNHCR, did this information know before or not?
  3. We came from Eritrea because of persecution of our right, and you do also the same, you precaution our rights why it is that?
  4. In the last day 21/03/2020, the militant came with guns and cars, why didn’t give us protection, because you are the one you give us a protection  before, but at this time, why you left us without protection.
  5. The message you give us it is unclear, and the refuge may not accepted us so you go down to the refugees and tell by your self

The ARRA Representative also gives like this answer,

  1. We have formal letter from federal but we will not give that letter it isn’t belongs to you.
  2.  UNHCR is under federal so, the one who has power is the federal, so UNHCR must do what we say, and so it is not important to know by UNHCR.
  3. They didn’t give answer for right persecution
  4. When the militant came here we were not here.
  5. We will not give any meeting at this time because of corona, so we tell them during ration food distribution time.

At the last we start to relocate you will be the first one to be going and you will support up for refugees to other camps. When we have finished the meeting, directly went to UNHCR, but the UNHCR told us they have never known about these things.

Because of that Eritrean refugees at Htsats are in bad situation, because of unclear displacement and relocate to other camps, all the refuges from underage up to old people are in stress of mentally and physically.

So at the last we would like to say UNHCR and other human organization, we Eritrean refugees at Hstats need emergence protection, and emergence supporting. And if Ethiopian federal government can’t give us refuges asylum as has agreement with United Nations, must communicate UNHCR, and can relocate out of Ethiopia, that can we have a good protection. If we continue like this situation in Ethiopia we may lose some life. Because of bad situation some people have became mental problem, and there is no any good hospital especial mental illness, like MSF before. So UNHCR all other humanitarian organization so give emergence response for us.

Yours sincerely

Eritrean refugee at Hitsats camp


Second letter

From Eritrean Refugee at Hitsats Camp

                 To all Eritrean Refugees Agencies at Hitsats   

Subject: The problem of the  protection that we had

It was on 21st of march 2020,the Eritrean government opposites which is the the part of the against Eritrea government came to the camp at 5:00pm to Zone D, 6 person they wearing military with guns and other they wear civil cloth together by military car and started to threaten for underage and women to be join with them and to be out from their home and to follow them but the people that leave their zone (D) started to hidden their selves from that situation.

Then the party (the group with military clothes and guns) came to zone A by their cars. It was at 6:45pm the militant that consider as themselves as the operant of Eritrean government, also continued to threaten to  all Eritrean refugees representatives at that time Administration of Refugees and Returnee  Affairs (ARRA) was left us and out of the camp and they told us they will never give us any protection for refugees.

Because of that, when that bad situation happen to us, we called to hitsats polis station and told them all the things happened on us, the hitsats polis came to the camp and caught for them .when the polis checked to the group who threaten for Eritrean refugees ,they found three colts (gun) and kalashnikov (totally 4 guns)with them.

At the next day it is on 22/03/2020 we went to the polis station to give our accuse to the one whom that threaten for us, the polis sent us and told there are also some refugees were supporting them because of their profit but give your name that the militant pointed their guns and we give the name of that persons.

When we return to the refugee camp, we got for some refugees that have relation with the militant. we converse with them, they told us we have given different awareness to some people by the supporting of ARRA for three years ,even in those things what we have done is the knowledgeable tigray government region. Because of they released us from prison.

As we have mentioned what have had happened for us the main problem on us about the children that are below eighteen years old, the children at this time in bad situation, they afraid and lose their confidence, so please take care for those are not matured in their age, especially those are living at the camp without their parents even relatives.

At the last and conclusion we would like to inform that, at this time we are with out of any protection from ARRA and this are difficult for us to live at Ethiopia as refugees, because of the situation that persecuted for us as refugees.

IF there is possibility of transfer us to other countries that can give us a protection, please resettle us to other nearer countries to Ethiopia. We can’t live in we can’t live in Ethiopia because of the game that play on the refugees by different four parts, that are Ethiopian federal government Eritrean president, Militant and Tigray region ,so our life is in danger in this time.    

Yours sincerely

Eritrean refugees in Hitsats camp


Third Letter

From: Eritrean Political refugees of Hitsats Camp

To: The Office of________________________________

Issue:-About  Current affair’s of Eritrean refugee at Hitsats camp

Forwarding Our heartfelt regard’s, We are thankful for the service you giving to us.

On the 5th of March 2020,We (Refugee Central Committee-RCC of Hitsats) were told that all the Eritrean refugees at hitsats Camp (18000) population will be replaced to May-Ayni and Adi-Harush camps by  [name removed], who is ARRA protection Officer at Shire. Since then we all are in crisis. He told us that the information is directly from the federal government of Ethiopia and hence. We the RCC are ordered to inform and convince our people as soon as possible.

However when we kindly requested why this order is given to us suddenly and it was orally not official letter. He responded that it was about a budget deficit and left us.

As the result we the RCC informed our people, the [name removed] information (order) as it is. However our people was at shocked and distributed to hear this. Then we tried to stabilize our people and selected committee to discuss about this issue to assess and to gather the reliable information.

Next we went to UNHCR Office on the 6th of march 2020, and met with [name removed] UNHCR protection officer in Shire. After we asked him about the issue, He responded that he didn’t have any information about it. He told us that he will request to UNHCR at Addis –Ababa and the officers of the Ethiopian government and as soon as, He got reliable information he will share us. Finally he told us that the [name removed]’s reason for replacement the camp to other camp was about budget deficient was not correct information, rather the budget of the four camps has been budgeted for the whole year 2020.

Besides even if there is a replacement of a refugees from a camp to other camps that could never happen suddenly, because it takes long time and carefully assessment and without acknowledge  of the UNHCR Officer. Therefore, based on the above information, we kindly request  the Following question for clarification.

01.So the UNHCR Office shall be concerned about the attempt of the Ethiopian government to move us to other camp without any acceptable reason ,because we are in a critical situation and hence the UNHCR have to negotiate with the federal government.

02.We are Eritrean political refugee in Hitsast camp of Ethiopia.We migrated from our country because of interference the of the government on our religious aspects, unstable peace ,unable to live where want  at our country and absence of freedom to talk what we feel, due to these reasons we migrated here.

03.This sudden crisis in our camp is not more different from what has happened in our country before. Therefore this issue makes us to be psychologically violated and our status is becoming worse from time to time.

  1. We are in a deep fear, psychological stress and protection instability. For this heavy issue, we are kindly requesting the world to put it’s glance on us. First and foremost we are asking the different agency of the world including UNHCR to pass pond us to third country rather than making us to be confused and stressed.

05.The agreement  and Diplomatic meeting of Ethiopian government with Eritrean government makes us to be in a critical protection instability, therefore all agency of the world have to attend and put their glance on us.

06.We need to announce the different agency of the world, UNHCR, Ethiopian government and others that we are really a refugee who asks for asylum but not the supporters and parts of any individual or organized political parts.

07.Finally as refugees we mentioned and asked more critical questions and requests. There fore we are waiting a valuable and sustainable feed back as soon as possible.

THANK’S FOR YOUR CO-OPERATION AND CONSIDERATION ON US.

YOURS SINCERELY

Eritrean refugee of hitsats camp.

Copy;

UNHCR

ARRA

DRC

NRC

IRC


Hitsats interview by a researcher, 30.03.2020

6 people, 3 from various refugee associations in the camp

2 weeks ago the head of ARRA in Shire, [name removed]… informed refugee committee members that the camp will be closed down. The committee have subsequently issued 2 letters addressed to ARRA and UNHCR but at the time of writing haven’t received a reply. Refugees don’t know who made the decision and were only told that this is due to budget constraints although UNHCR said that their budget is secure. Refugees suspect there is less money in the pot for corrupted ARRA officials. They say that ARRA staff in Addis comes from Tigray anyway, and that ARRA does not represent the federal government.

Refugees were told to leave the camp immediately (that was before COVID state of emergency), and to leave any assets/ livestock in the camp. They were told to relocate to Adi Harush and Mai Ayni although the refugee committees there disagreed with the decision due to lack of space and services in both camps.

Some NGOs are still in the camp, but with limited staff members (2-3 people from ARRA, namely protection officers). Again, not clear if they left because of planned camp closure, or because of COVID-19. UNHCR on the ground is supportive of refugees.

On 21 March, a group of 20 Tigrayan and Eritrean opposition soldiers entered the camp with guns and pistols. They tried to forcibly recruit people to join the Eritrean military opposition. They also told them to chant ‘Down with Isaias’ and ‘Down with Abiy’. Some refugees were threatened with guns. Refugees managed to take the intruders to Hitsats police station, but they were released without charge after 4 hours. No aid agency has intervened.

People don’t know what is happening to refugees stuck at the border which is currently closed. Endabaguna reception centre was open until recently, and one interlocutor’s relative was asked to pay between 30-60,000 ETB to be registered as a refugee there.

There are 12,000 people now in the camp (I suspect more) and there is a sense of bitterness about reception of Eritrean refugees in Tigray. I was told that only 500 people were resettled since the camp’s opening in 2013, and many were allegedly Tigrayans, not Eritreans. People don’t know about the new Refugee Proclamation (only about the previous Out of Camp Policy) and said that they would feel more insecure in cities. They said if someone tries to kidnap them in the camp, there are other refugees around to protect them. I got a sense that refugees just want to leave Ethiopia in the long run and are not interested in local integration. They mentioned the urgency of resettlement.

Those who oppose the camp closure are afraid of repercussions – they sleep at a different shelter every night to ensure safety. They said that previously outspoken refugees were forced to give false testimony as ‘Eritrean spies’, and some ended up in prison for 6 years. Refugees are also afraid of deportations. A woman from women’s association said that they feel constantly persecuted, moved from one place to another.

In terms of services, ARRA hospital in the camp has only around 20 beds, it is poorly equipped and staffed with few Ethiopian nurses. The food ratios for refugees were reportedly given to IDPs; wheat was replaced with maize, and it decreased from 15kg to 7kg. Refugees were told to stay in the camp because of COVID-19, remain in their overcrowded shelters, and to wash their hands but the water is as scarce as before. There are no special provisions in case of an outbreak.

In conclusion, Eritrean refugees feel that they are used in a political game between Eritrean regime, Eritrean military opposition, Ethiopian federal government and Tigray regional state government. There is lots of confusion about which of those actors does what, and refugees were cautious to say that nobody really knows the truth behind the decision to close the camp.


Reply from UNHCR to camp residents

UNHCR Letter to Hitsats camp residents page 1

April 4, 2020 News

Source: Assenna

Isaias’s holocaust moment:  The threat of mass deaths in SAWA camp By Petros Tesfagiogis Human crisis is looming large on the horizon because of the killer COVID-19 pandemic spreading all over the world.  Governments are issuing guidelines

Isaias’s holocaust moment:  The threat of mass deaths in SAWA camp

By Petros Tesfagiogis

Human crisis is looming large on the horizon because of the killer COVID-19 pandemic spreading all over the world.  Governments are issuing guidelines to their citizens to stay put in their houses to avoid the spread the virus to the public.  People leaving their houses are advised to keep their distance from other people and avoid shaking hands.   Governments are closing schools and churches and mosques. This is a global guideline and all governments are duty bound to follow it.

The Regime in Eritrea did not adhere to the guidelines and has not closed the most crowded place in the country, the high school and national service training centre in SAWA.  In Sawa, every year thousands of students gather to complete their 12th grade, the school leaving year.  After finishing their studies, they are made to stay there to do military training and continue to serve in the indefinite national service, widely known as forced/ slave labour.  They are assingned to work in different fields or kept as foot soldiers in the trenches to defend the country, mainly from the threat of Ethiopian invasion. It is an excuse to hold hostage the youth so they will not oppose the gross human rights violations in Eritrea for the same reason that the regime closed the only university in Eritrea. The indefinite national service policy has destroyed the future of the Eritrean youth and deprived the country of its most productive members of the society. It gave rise to the influx of huge number of refugees to exile.

As a priority, the Eritrean government should have sent all the occupants of the camp to their houses/families and not ignore the world wide expert advice for people to avoid any crowding or gatherings and stay isolated in their homes. Furthermore, the regime should have released all prisoners of conscience and those incarcerated for petty crimes to avoid the spread of the disease in the prisons. This is another evidence that Isaias does not care about the welfare of the Eritrean people.

The corona virus has already made it into Eritrea with passengers carrying the virus found on arrival at Asmara Airport and the number of cases is quickly spreading. The students in Sawa remain highly vulnerable and a single carrier could contaminate the entire camp and people could die in their thousands unless the necessary measures are taken urgently.  It could be a mayhem and a catastrophe of historical proportion. It will be the same for the prisoners of conscience and other prisoners dumped in 360 prisons around the country.

The spread of the disease in Sawa and the prisons will be Eritrea’s holocaust caused by Isaias’s arrogance and inaction. They are abandoned to die from the virus.  For the people of Eritrea this is not new.  A few months ago the regime closed 27 health centres that were run by the Catholic Church and used to serve more than 200,000 people a year. For Isaias, the lives of Eritreans are not a concern. He has subjected the entire population to gross human rights violations for years. All the violations are recorded by international human rights organisations such as Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Journalists Without Borders, Defend the Defenders and others and by various Eritrean human right activists. All these has given rise to protests, appeals and condemnations by Eritreans abroad.

The UN Commission of Inquiry on Eritrea’s report was a confirmation of what the humanitarian organisations the world over were saying. Presenting the findings in June 2015, Mike Smith the chairman of the UN inquiry commission said: “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 been occurred with regard to torture, extrajudicial executions, forced labour and in the context of national service. “

Therefore, it is doubtful that the Government of Eritrea will seriously act to stop the spread of the Coronavirus. The guidelines it issued forbidding people to gather in groups of more than 10 people is a public relations exercise designed to mislead the population. Despite the much celebrated peace deal with Ethiopia, Isaias did not bother to release a single prisoner of conscience. He used the peace with Ethiopia to come out of international isolation and perpetuate repression. It is against the wish people of Eritrea who want a genuine peace with the people of Ethiopia. This was proved during the short time when the border with Ethiopia’s Tigray region was opened. No one could forget the joy and happiness expressed by the people from the border regions of Eritrea and Ethiopia. It was an unforgettable moment. But their jubilations were cut short as the border was closed soon by Isaias.

The Eritrean People have given up on Isaias. The justice seekers in Diaspora are rising up in masses and established powerful mass movements (YIAKL), saying ENOUGH, Isaias has to go. It started in Washington DC and spread to Europe, Canada, and Australia etc. In United Kingdom the Yiakl movement was also celebrated.  On March, Eritrean women from many states in USA held a successful conference in Washington DC and pledged to contribute to the struggle to get rid of Isaias. The Eritrean women in the United Kingdom did the same.  This shows that there is a noticeable growth in the confidence and determination among Eritrean women.

The Eritrean just seekers in diaspora are concerned about the corona virus and are trying to help.  The dilemma is that the regime cannot be trusted.  How can a regime that brought poverty and destitution to the population be trusted?  Isaias is corrupted by power and he is morally bankrupt and nothing good can be expected from him.  The only way for help is to come through the UN.

It has become apparent that the poor third world countries do not have the capacity and the resources to prevent the spread of the virus.  The Economist magazine predicts that COVID-19 would be much more devastating for the world’s poor countries were running water and basic medicine is still a luxury, let alone intensive care for hundreds of thousands of patients.

Ethiopian Prime Minister, Dr Abiy Ahmed has written to the world’s rich countries of the consequences of failing to help the poor counters to prevent the spread of Covid-19. The title of his article reads: “If Covid-19 is not beaten in Africa it will return to  haunt us all”. Advanced economies are unveiling unprecedented economic stimulus packages. African countries by contrast, lack the wherewithal to make meaningful interventions. Yet if the virus is not defeated in Africa, it could bounce back to the rest of the world.  He concluded “We can defeat this invisible and vicious adversary – but only with global leadership. This goes to show that there is a consensus the poor countries need help.

In the case of Eritrea, is the Eritreans in Diaspora who must take the initiative to expose the Eritrea repressive regime. They must seek help for the people of Eritrea.

What is encouraging is that Eritreans are showing concern and want to help. But many people are in a dilemma how can they trust the regime who has total grip on the people. For example, Awet T. Weldemichael, in his facebook page said the following: “Eritrea during this covid-19 pandemic. The country needs robust inter-ministerial task-force on covid-19, led by capable professionals. Composed of senior representatives of relevant ministries, the taskforce transparently. Without  such an accountable, transparent body, & effectiveness and flexible policy framework informed with up-to-date science, no amount of resources will be adequate. Such a body and framework will give nationals the confidence to do their utmost.” He further put 6 points work and responsibility details.

This is well thought but the regime do not have the capacity and the manpower to do it. There is no functional ministry in the country. There are many capable Eritrean professionals abroad willing to go and help. But the regime does not welcome such Eritrean people and their safety would be in danger.

The only way is to campaign to have UN bodies to send volunteers to Eritrea to asses the needs and provide support. WHO (the world Health organisation) and UNESCO are already working in Eritrea.   The presence of the UN bodies to help in building the capacity and do the monitoring is crucial. Help could be requested from the Chinese who are offering help to both developed and developing in a big way.

It is the Chinese who are sending ventilators and medical teams to Italy and face masks to Africa. A Chinese charity sent 300,000 face masks to Belgium in a container on which was written the slogan “Unity Makes Strength” in French, Flemish and Chinese. 

The world would definitely respond to the plea of Eritreans in the diaspora and help Eritrea. But the just seekers must initiate a task-Force composed of professionals with a workable organisational structure that enables the various units to act in a centralized manner, with speed and effectiveness as the task-force will face unpredictable challenges. The Task force can use skype to engage in discussions clarify the objectives and the action plan. Then, they could formulate the request to put pressure to the regime so it sends home the occupants of SAWA and the 360 illegal prisons.

In this collective effort Eritrea Focus could contribute a lot. Through its persistent work it has many sympathisers in high government officials in UK, the States and in some European countries.

It has already sent a letter of protest to H. E  Dr Abiy Ahmed, Prime Minister of Ethiopia  not to  close the Hitsats  refugee camp were 18,000 Eritreans are languishing, with copies sent to local and international bodies in Europe, Ethiopia and Africa. It is also looking into ways to put in place  a watch dog on the situation of refugees and the risk of exposure to the corona virus.

This not the time for complacency. Those of us who live in the democratic countries have to translate the slogan “We are the voice of the voiceless” into action.          

Diaspora Eritreans have a very challenging responsibility to expose the conspiracy of the dictator Isaias in his decision not to close Sawa and the illegal prisons.

April 4, 2020 News

Source: VOA

ADDIS ABABA – Much publicized COVID-19 supplies donated by Chinese billionaire Jack Ma and his Alibaba Group never made it to Eritrea, despite Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s saying the supplies had been delivered to the entire continent.

The reasons why the goods did not reach Eritrea are unclear, but rights activists accuse the government of ignoring the needs of its people.

Two officials at the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which helped organize delivery of the coronavirus masks and test kits to various African countries, confirmed to VOA that no supplies reached Eritrea.

A senior Africa CDC official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly about the matter, said the plane carrying the supplies was supposed to fly from Sudan’s capital to Asmara on March 23, but Eritrean officials never authorized the plane to land.

Forced to bypass Eritrea, the pilots instead flew to Djibouti and Kenya before returning to their starting point, Addis Ababa, he said.

James Ayodele, a spokesperson for the Africa CDC, said “the issue is still being discussed at a diplomatic level.”

Threat to health

Whatever the reason for Eritrea’s failure to accept the medical supplies, Meron Estefanos, executive director of the Eritrean Initiative on Refugee Rights, said the government is severely jeopardizing the health of its own citizens.

“I don’t believe that it was incompetence. I believe it’s just that they don’t care. If it was just because of bureaucracy, they would have just fixed the airline and they would have had it the next day. This is a country that can do lots of things. Importing something from Ethiopia to Asmara is a one-hour flight. They could even allow them to land right now, you get the point, just for medical purposes,” Meron said.

Health experts and human rights activists are gravely concerned that Eritrea is severely under-equipped in the event of a severe coronavirus outbreak. The government has confirmed 18 COVID-19 cases to date.

Meron said that rather than accepting goods from abroad, the government is asking its diaspora across the globe to give money to the government.

”Eritrea is not ready for anything. First of all, just eight months ago they shut down 29 Catholic clinics. These were the best clinics in the country, giving free service to the public. But because of the Catholics’ call for peace [and the] release of political prisoners, they shut down the clinics. But who is getting hurt?  It’s the people,” Meron said.

Talks continuing

Asked to comment on the matter, Billene Seyoum, a spokesperson for Ahmed, said only that talks were ongoing to resolve the issue. The Alibaba Foundation declined to comment.

Daniela Kravetz, the U.N. special rapporteur on human rights in Eritrea, said she did not want to specifically address the matter of Jack Ma’s supplies as she did not have firsthand information.

She did underline the dire need for medical supplies in Eritrea and the need to open the door to humanitarian aid.

“I am concerned about the fact that, if this continues to escalate, the reality is that many Eritreans will not be able to seek or obtain medical help. There is a lack of functioning intensive care units with adequate ventilators, shortage of water, shortage of medical staff, shortage of labs to carry out tests. I don’t really think the country has the medical capacity to deal with a pandemic like this one,” Kravets said.

She also called on Eritrea to release political prisoners and low-risk offenders because of the risk of COVID-19 spreading inside the country’s overcrowded prison system.

To: H.E. Mr. Filippo Grandi

High Commissioner, UNHCR, Geneva,

To: H.E. Dr. Tedros Adhanom,

Director General, WHO Geneva

CC:

Other Concerned UN Bodies,

Host Countries of Eritrean Refugees

March 31, 2020

Subject:

An Appeal for Protection of Eritreans at Home

and abroad from the Scourges of Corona virus

Dear UNHCR Commissioner, Mr. Filippo Grandi,

Dear WHO DG, Dr. Tedros Adhanom,

We, the undersigned entities representing the ensemble of Eritrean political organizations in exile, felt the obligation of sending this earnest appeal to Your Excellencies at UNHCR and WHO, with copies to concerned UN organs and countries hosting Eritrean refugees, on top of them Sudan, Ethiopia, Yemen, Israel and Libya, in order to draw the attention of the international humanitarian community to the plight of Eritreans in many countries of the world.

We are deeply concerned, Sirs, that the pandemic caused by COVID-19 has now reached our ill prepared country and the countries in the region that provide shelter to most of the Eritrean refugees in one of world’s most conflict ridden and sensitive regions. We are worried that, given the situation where many of our people lack access to hand washing facilities and detergents - the most effective preventive treatment, the pandemic would leave an even bigger number of people killed and cause more societal disruption than in any other country in the world. For that we need the timely and immediate attention and support of the international community led by appropriate initiatives from your esteemed organizations, the UNHCR and WHO.

We believe you are well aware of the problems in Eritrea where young people flee the country in thousands leaving the old and vulnerable at home. Local community structures, charities and long-established religious support institutions and other societal safety networks have been systematically demolished and exist no more. Most of the UN humanitarian organizations and INGOs have not been active in Eritrea for decades.

Excellencies,

The general public in today’s Eritrea is left pauperized and helpless. The reported over 300 dungeons in the country where thousands of pollical prisoners languish under inhuman conditions are congested and poorly equipped to handle the current pandemic. Divisions of the Eritrea’s huge army of conscripts and “national service” forced-labor workers living in spartan and overcrowded camps will be an easy prey to the pandemic.

On the other hand, Eritrean refugees in camps and urban concentrations in Sudan, Ethiopia, Yemen and Israel are likely to be ravaged by this pandemic without an effective intervention of international humanitarian actors. Eritrean refugees in reception camps and temporary shelters in many countries, including in many European countries, shall be exposed to danger unless the host countries are advised and supported by concerned bodies, especially the UNHCR and WHO.

We, therefore, strongly appeal for your most urgent measures that could prevent the spread of COVID-19 in Eritrea, and in particular in the refugee camps and urban concentration of Eritreans in several countries, especially in Africa. Needless to say, the topmost priorities of action will include:

  • Making sure that health clinics in those areas have access to adequate supply of water, detergents, disinfection liquids, gloves, masks and napkins;
  • Looking to it that local health centers and agencies have check-up facilities for timely identification of persons infected with the vicious corona virus;
  • The international humanitarian community to do what it takes to help people inside Eritrea from the scourges of this pandemic.

Dear Sirs,

We very much feel that you understand the essence of this modest call to you to seriously look at the precarious situation of the estimated four million Eritreans at home and about two million Eritreans in the diaspora who are exposed to the looming danger facing our world today.

Sincerely yours,

(Signatories) Chairpersons of

  1. Eritrean National Council for Democratic Change (ENCDC)
  2. Eritrean National Front (ENF)
  3. Eritrean People’s Democratic Party (EPDP)
  4. Organization Unity for Democratic Change (UDC)
  5. United Eritreans for Justice (UEJ)
  6. Red Sea Afar Democratic Organization (RSADO)

European Court

The ruling underscores Europe’s bitter divisions over migration, though the three ex-communist nations face no immediate penalty as the relocation of tens of thousands of people agreed by the EU was only envisaged until 2017.

“By refusing to comply with the temporary mechanism for the relocation of applicants for international protection, Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic have failed to fulfil their obligations under European Union law,” the Luxembourg-based Court of Justice of the European Union said in its ruling.

The eurosceptic, nationalist governments on the EU’s eastern flank had cited national security reasons in refusing to take in any of the mostly Muslim refugees and migrants who had fled wars and poverty in the Middle East, North Africa and beyond.

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Wealthy northern European states such as Germany also criticised the ex-communist east for refusing to help while continuing to benefit from generous EU financial aid.

More than a million people reached Europe’s shores from across the Mediterranean in 2015, catching the EU unprepared as they trekked across the continent and triggering a new wave of support in some quarters for far-right, anti-immigrant parties.

The EU has since cracked down on immigration, fortifying its external borders and offering money and aid to countries such as Turkey to help prevent migrants from heading to Europe.

But the internal EU divisions on migration are far from healed. The 2015 mass influx of migrants at least partly contributed to Britain’s 2016 decision to leave the EU, in the worst setback for European integration since World War Two.

The EU now faces a fresh test of its unity from the coronavirus pandemic, with member states mostly pursuing their own strategies to counter the spread of the disease and the worst affected nations - Italy and Spain - again complaining of a lack of European solidarity and aid.

Reporting by Gabriela Baczynska; Editing by Gareth Jones

 
Source=https://www.reuters.com/article/us-europe-migrants-east-ruling-idUSKBN21K0YA

Former Somali PM Dies of Coronavirus in London

Thursday, 02 April 2020 21:02 Written by
Somalia's former prime minister Nur Hussein Hassan speaks during the opening ceremony of peace talks between Somalia's opposition Alliance for the Re-Liberation of Somalia (ARS) and the government in Djibouti, Jan. 25, 2009.
Somalia's former Prime Minister Nur Hussein Hassan speaks during the opening ceremony of peace talks between Somalia's opposition Alliance for the Re-Liberation of Somalia (ARS) and the government in Djibouti, Jan. 25, 2009.

 

Former Somali Prime Minister Nur Hassan Hussein has died of coronavirus at a London hospital, the family told VOA’s Somali service.

Relatives of the former prime minister, popularly known as Nur Adde, confirmed his passing. A family member said Nur Adde died at around 5:00 a.m. Wednesday. He was 82.

Nur Adde was prime minister between November 2007 and February 2009. During his term, he was credited with leading peace talks between the Ethiopia-backed government and Eritrea-based rebels. The talks, held in Djibouti, led to the formation of a unity government in which the leader of the rebels, Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, was elected as Somalia’s president on January 30, 2009.

Nur Adde competed against Ahmed in the election but lost. 

Prior to entering politics, he served as secretary general of the Somali Red Crescent for 17 years. 

Nur Adde also served in the Somali police department, where he rose to the rank of colonel during the government of Mohamed Siyad Barre.

In a statement, the family said Nur Adde will be buried in London.

In Mogadishu, Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo announced three days of national mourning, during which flags will be flown at half-staff.

Members of the Somali communities in Britain and in Sweden have been severely affected by the coronavirus. Community leaders have blamed lack of awareness, crowded housing and a close-knit community for spreading the ailment. Fourteen Somalis in Britain and six in Sweden have died of the infection. They include a 13-year-old boy in Britain.

Source=https://www.voanews.com/science-health/coronavirus-outbreak/former-somali-pm-dies-coronavirus-london

April 2, 2020 News

Eritrea must free political prisoners and low-risk offenders to reduce COVID-19 threat in crowded jails, says UN expert

Screenshot 2020-04-02 at 11.19.37

GENEVA (2 April 2020) – A UN rights expert has urged Eritrea to reduce the risk of COVID-19 spreading in its overcrowded jails by immediately releasing all political prisoners, low-risk offenders and others such as the sick and elderly who are particularly vulnerable to illness or death.

Daniela Kravetz, the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Eritrea, highlighted the case of an American-Eritrean dual national and daughter of a former information minister being held for more than seven years since she was a teenager.

“This Friday, Ciham Ali Abdu is celebrating her 23rd birthday in an Eritrean prison. Ciham has been in incommunicado detention, without charge, since the age of 15. She was arrested in December 2012 as she tried to flee the country into Sudan, shortly after her father requested asylum in a third country. Since her arrest, her family has received no information about her whereabouts,” Kravetz said.

She said that repeated appeals for Ciham’s release had been ignored by the Eritrean authorities.

“I call on the Eritrean authorities to immediately and unconditionally release those detained without legal basis, including all political prisoners and prisoners of conscience, and to adopt urgent measures to reduce the number of people in detention to prevent the spread of COVID-19,” the Special Rapporteur said.

“Eritrea has recently confirmed 18 cases of COVID-19 and has put in place measures to control the spread of the disease, including a 21-day lockdown, describing the situation as very grave. The pandemic could have devastating consequences for the prison population in Eritrea due to the fragile healthcare services, unhygienic conditions, and overcrowding,” Kravetz said.

“Over the years, many have died in Eritrean prisons due to malnutrition, lack of basic healthcare and ill-treatment. Essential medical care services are often unavailable for detainees.”

She said that some of the many political prisoners and prisoners of conscience being held in Eritrea had been behind bars for decades because of their political views or their faith. In 2019 alone, more than 200 individuals were imprisoned because of their faith.

“I also call upon the Eritrean authorities to respect the rule of law and protect human rights in the implementation of their measures to respond to the outbreak of COVID-19,” the UN Special Rapporteur said

ENDS

Ms. Daniela Kravetz (Chile) was appointed as the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Eritrea by the Human Rights Council in October 2018. She is an attorney with extensive experience in human rights, accountability, gender-based violence and access to justice in conflict and post-conflict settings. Her experience covers countries in Latin America, Africa, and the former Yugoslavia.

The Special Rapporteurs are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.

For more information and media requests, please contact Dieudonne Munyinga at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts, please contact Xabier Celaya at:This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Follow news related to the UN’s independent human rights experts on Twitter: @UN_SPExperts.

April 1, 2020 Ethiopia, News

Source: SIPRI

By Jason Mosley

Note: this is a short extract from his much longer analysis: Ethiopia’s Transition: Implications for the Horn of Africa and Red Sea Region

Eritrean–Ethiopian rapprochement

By far the most significant shift in regional relations under Abiy has been the rapprochement with Eritrea.

Abiy’s inaugural speech in April 2018 signalled his intention to repair relations with Eritrea, although these were received with some scepticism, given similar sentiments were expressed by Hailemariam when he took office as premier in 2012, with little effect.

However, the shift within the EPRDF to marginalize the TPLF, combined with Abiy’s tendency to govern from the prime minister’s office, meant that he was in a position to make some significant departures from previous policy.

Indeed, his rapprochement with the administration in Eritrea was also a signal to the TPLF and the senior figures in the security sector (historically aligned with the TPLF, if formally apolitical) that their concerns were being sidelined. This put political pressure on the TPLF, whose Tigray region borders Eritrea, that dovetailed with the Abiy administration’s prosecutions of leaders (often associated with the TPLF) of state-owned or party-affiliated enterprises.

The Saudis and the Emiratis were both keen to support the rapprochement process. Relations between Eritrea and both countries have deepened somewhat since 2015. Eritrea made Assab port available to the Emirati military for operations related to the war in Yemen. Eritrea has also participated in the establishment of a new regional body—the Council of Arab and African Coastal States of the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden (or Red Sea Council, see below)—launched by the Saudi Government, adapting a platform that Egypt had been advocating for some time.

The Saudis and the Emiratis have also been keen to improve relations with Ethiopia, and Abiy’s rise gave them an opportunity to engage. While Eritrea and Ethiopia’s initiative to repair relations was overwhelmingly driven by domestic political considerations, the support of Saudi Arabia and the UAE provided a useful additional benefit to both governments. For Ethiopia, the embrace of Saudi Arabia and the UAE produced some quick financial support to (temporarily) alleviate foreign exchange pressure amid economic disruption and tepid export performance.

For Eritrea, Saudi Arabia and the UAE’s embrace (as well as Ethiopia’s new stance) provided an avenue to the elimination in 2018 of the UN Security Council’s sanctions regime, first initiated in 2009.

However, after an initial flurry of goodwill meetings—including awards ceremonies for both leaders in Saudi Arabia and the UAE and the reopening of border crossings for the first time since 1998—by early 2019 momentum had begun to drain out of the process.

By April 2019 all the border crossings had been closed on the Eritrean side. The Ethiopian Airlines flights between Addis Ababa and Asmara that were quickly restored after the initial agreement still connect the two countries; however, questions have been raised about the viability of these flights and the prospect of reducing their frequency has been floated.

President Isaias did not attend a ceremony to mark the inauguration of Ethiopia’s Unity Park in October 2019 (which included heads of state from all other IGAD members), and Eritrea has not resumed its participation in IGAD, despite Ethiopia finally relinquishing the rotating chair to Sudan in November 2019.

In some sense the loss of momentum was inevitable: neither the initial Asmara declaration in June 2018 nor the subsequent Jeddah declaration signed by Abiy and Isaias in September provided clarity on the path forward, beyond agreement by the two countries to cooperate. Many economic factors have still not been worked out since before the war, not least a new bilateral trade framework after the introduction of the Eritrean currency in 1997.

An initial wave of trade and movement of people from in 2018 allowed for some pent-up economic pressures to be eased in Eritrea. However, this was not sustainable for the Eritrean Government, whose tight control over the formal economy was challenged by the influx of goods from Ethiopia. Indications are that Eritrea has shut the crossings while a trade arrangement is being negotiated.

This would be consistent with Eritrea’s history since independence. The limited access order of Eritrea’s political economy has been a stumbling block for external engagement, undercutting the assumption (by donors or other bilateral actors, including from the Gulf) that the government is seeking significant inflows of aid or other payments.

For example, while Somalia and Sudan have received aid for their cooperation with the Saudi–Emirati alliance, Eritrea does not appear to have done so, and even takes payment for the use of Assab port in kind rather than in rents. Moving beyond this order will be a difficult transition for the current government, which does not appear ready to liberalize or exit power. As such, progress towards full normalization of relations with Ethiopia will be slow.

March 31, 2020 Ethiopia, News

“Many Ethiopian think that Egypt, using the U.S. and the World Bank, wanted to impose unjust colonial treaties on Ethiopia.”

Source: Ethiopia Insight

March 30, 2020

The Blue Nile hydropower dam has been constructed in accordance with international legal principles and Ethiopia has the right to make it operational.

In an apparent fit of pique at Ethiopia’s refusal to sign on to its terms, on 28 February the U.S. Treasury Department warned Ethiopia not to start filling and testing the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam without an agreement with Sudan and Egypt

In addition to expressing concerns about dam safety, it said:  “Consistent with the principles set out in the DOP, and in particular the principles of not causing significant harm to downstream countries, final testing and filling should not take place without an agreement.”

But does international law, including the 2015 Declaration of Principles (DoP), require an agreement for filling dams like the GERD? It does not seem so.

Principles

Considering the first filling and testing of the GERD as parts of the construction, Ethiopia has said that it will start filling the dam with or without an agreement. Egypt rejects this, stating that “Ethiopia violates the article No. 5 of …[DoP], which stipulates that all three countries shall reach an agreement on the rules of filling and operating the dam before starting the process of filling the reservoir with water.”

This is a stretch and contravenes the DoP, which does not say that the parties “shall reach on an agreement before” Ethiopia starts filling the dam. Instead, it states that “The three countries, in the spirit of cooperation, will utilize the final outcomes of the joint studies…to agree on guidelines and rules on the first filling of GERD which shall cover all different scenarios, in parallel with the construction of GERD.”

One may dispute Ethiopia’s position and argue that first filling and testing is not part of the construction as striking a deal on the first filling is impossible after filling has begun. But, even assuming for the sake of argument that is valid, Ethiopia can still legally fill the dam without an agreement.

The DoP states only that the three countries will use studies to agree on the first filling and annual operation of the dam. That is why they have been negotiating since 2015. But what if they fail to agree on the studies?  The DoP is silent and did not address this scenario. In other words, nothing in the DoP prohibits Ethiopia from filling and testing the GERD, even if the DoP commitment was to agree on “first filling.”

After the Permanent Court of International Justice (PCIJ) landmark decision on the lotus case in 1927, it has been a longstanding principle of international law that “that which is not prohibited is allowed.”

Indeed, as advocated by proponents of natural law theory, this presumption is reputable if a given action or inaction, regardless of its source (state consent or other norms), is prohibited by international law. As demonstrated below, there is no international law prohibiting Ethiopia from filling the GERD without an agreement.

Precedent

True, under international law, states are required to take all appropriate measures to prevent and mitigate significant transboundary harm to other states. But the nature of the obligation is due diligence which requires states to take only reasonable actions. Due diligence means there is an obligation of conduct, rather than an obligation to take action that guarantees non-harm will result, for instance, by signing a preliminary agreement. This is shown by legal precedents.

In the Lake Lanoux arbitration case between France and Spain, in ruling against Spain’s claim that “the exclusion of the French project required the preliminary agreement of the two Governments and that in the absence of such agreement [France] could not have freedom of action to undertake the works,” the tribunal concluded: “The rule that states may use the hydraulic power of international waterways only if a preliminary agreement between states concerned has been concluded cannot be established as a customary rule or, still less, as a general principle of law.”

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) also confirmed the tribunal’s decision in its 2010 judgment in the Pulp Mills Case between Uruguay and Argentina. In deciding whether Uruguay was entitled to proceed with the construction and commencement of the manufacturing operations on the River Uruguay after having failed to reach an agreement with Argentina, “the court concluded that there was nothing that prevents Uruguay from doing so.” The court explained that there was nothing that alters the rights and obligations of Uruguay, including the right to implement the project as its sole responsibility, since the period for negotiation has expired.

In both cases, the justification behind ruling against the need for preliminary agreement is that a ruling otherwise would hinder the state’s “right to act alone as a consequence of unconditional and discretionary opposition of another state. This is to admit a right of consent or a veto right, which at the discretion of state paralyzes another state’s exercise of territorial competence.”

Therefore, under international law, including the DoP, an agreement is not a precondition and Ethiopia can start filling and testing the GERD as planned without a deal.

Process

But unilateralism does not mean acting irresponsible, let alone illegally. Since the beginning of the GERD project in 2010, Ethiopia has taken various measures to prevent significant harm to the downstream countries, thus meeting its international obligations and showing concern for its neighbors.

Ethiopia conducted transboundary impact studies; initiated a tripartite committee consisting of experts from the three countries, and established an International Panel of Experts (IPoE) comprising ten members, six from the three countries (two from each) and four international experts. Ethiopia also submitted all 153 design and study documents of the GERD to the IPoE.

In June 2013, after a rigorous review of the documents and several site visits, the IPoE release its final report. The report, reaffirming the benefits of the GERD to the three countries, confirmed and “appreciated” that the design and construction process of the dam is in line with “a number of international standards, Codes and Guidelines…” The IPoE also recommended the three countries conduct two studies: one on hydrological modeling and the other on the impact of GERD on Sudan and Egypt.

While international law allows Ethiopia to conduct transboundary impact studies by itself and report the finding to Sudan and Egypt, Ethiopia agreed to joint studies and established a Tripartite National Committee (TNC) as a mechanism to conduct the two studies.

Later, the TNC decided international consultants would carry out the studies, and hired two French firms, BRLi Group and Artelia to carry out the studies. However, when the studies started, Egypt apparently insisted that the baseline data to determine the impact should be its current uses of the Nile waters and even reportedly suggested the exclusion of Sudan from the GERD negotiations.

Practice

After the TNC process ran aground, Ethiopia agreed to establish a new National Independent Scientific Research Group (NISRG) to develop scenarios on the filling and annual operation of GERD. However, instead of refining and agreeing on the work of NISRG, Egypt submitted unacceptable proposals in August 2019 and later internationalized the GERD issue, with the U.S. and World Bank involved in the negotiation as observers.

Many Ethiopian think that Egypt, using the U.S. and the World Bank, wanted to impose unjust colonial treaties on Ethiopia. No doubt that coming to the U.S. was historic wrong on Ethiopia’s part, but the fact that it agreed to the process shows the extent to which Addis Ababa is going to perform its due diligence obligation of preventing significant harm on Egypt and Sudan.

Although a way forward is absent thus far because of Egypt’s insistence to maintain its claimed “historical rights”, Ethiopia is likely to continue to undertake all necessary measures in good faith to prevent significant harm on Egypt and Sudan.

The concern about dam safety can also be addressed under the due diligence obligation detailed above. As noted, under international law, Ethiopia is required to undertake a transboundary impact study and notify the outcome to Sudan and Egypt. But Ethiopia went beyond this and established the IPoE, NTC, and NISRG. The three countries have already recognized and appreciated these measures in the DoP. Since ensuring dam safety is a continuous process, Ethiopia should in good faith continue to take all related measures throughout the lifespan of the GERD.