March 23, 2020 Ethiopia, News

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To:       H. E Dr Abiy Ahmed, Prime Minister of Ethiopia

Cc:        Director General ARRA

            Ethiopian Minister of Health

             African Union

             IGAD

             Resident Representative UNHCR – Ethiopia

             Delegation European Union to Ethiopia

             All Party Parliamentary Group (UK)

             Foreign & Commonwealth Offices (FCO)

             USA State Department

 Open Letter on the Closure of Hitsats Eritrean Refugee Camp in Ethiopia

We, appreciate and encourage your Government’s efforts towards forging lasting peace between Ethiopia and Eritrea. In particular we are thankful that Ethiopia has accepted and supported so many Eritrean Refugees and that, under your leadership, this welcome has continued to date.

We also value your parliament’s, January 2019, legislation that has given refugees the legal right to work, access primary education, obtain a driver’s licence, register births and marriages and open bank accounts. These actions have been significant and have assisted many Eritreans.

However, recent developments in Ethiopia in regard to Eritrean refugees are very concerning. We are troubled, by reports that: (i) your Government has ceased to apply as of right refugee status to Eritreans; (ii) Hitsats refugee camp, holding 18,000 Eritrean refugees, is to be closed; and (iii) refugees will be relocated to a camp that has no infrastructure and is already overcrowded.

Considering the global Coronavirus pandemic, we strongly urge your Government to reconsider plans for the relocations of Hitsats refugees to a location that is overcrowded and has no infrastructure. We believe that such move will be contrary to the WHO drive to contain the spreading of the virus and will expose both refugees and host populations to unnecessary risk of contagion.

We encourage your Government to continue to adhere to International and National norms and standards for the protection of Eritrean refugees and to cease actions to close Hitsas camp.

Eritrean refugees are fleeing a human right abuse situation in their country that the UN Commission of Inquiry as to Human Rights in Eritrea has described as ‘Crimes against humanity’. After a thorough examination of the situation in Eritrea, in 2016, the UN Commission found that in Eritrea there are:

“…. reasonable grounds to believe that crimes against humanity have been committed in Eritrea since 1991. Eritrean officials have engaged in a persistent, widespread and systematic attack against the country’s civilian population since 1991. They have committed, and continue to commit, the crimes of enslavement, imprisonment, enforced disappearance, torture, other inhumane acts, persecution, rape and murder.”

Finally, any changes in the future status of Eritrean refugees in Ethiopia must include the voices of the refugees and must be linked to necessary social and political changes in Eritrea. Therefore, your Government’s ongoing peace dialogue with Eritrea should also address the following issues:

  1. Reform of the National Service. Starting with a freeze on new intakes, the application of the statutory 18 months limit. And, finally decoupling it from education;
  1. The recall of the National Assembly that has not met since 2002. The key institution to further the peace process with Ethiopia;
  1. Peace and reconciliation between the various Eritrea opposition groups including the release of political prisoners;
  1. Implementation of the 1997 Constitution.

If there are no changes within Eritrea, and there are not peace dividends for the people of Eritrea, the youth  will continue  to flee  the country and the best that Ethiopia  will achieve  from the peace process is a higher order  version  of the – “No War , No Peace” that existed  prior to  2018.

While there are no changes within Eritrea, we urge you not to close Hitsats camp and not to transfer refugees to camps that have no infrastructure and are already overcrowded. We also urge your Government to continue:

  1. accepting Eritrean refugees in as of right;
  1. protecting and safeguarding Eritrean refugees.

Yours Truly

Habte Hagos

Chairman

In Solidarity – Open Letter on Closure of Hitsats Eritrean Refugee Camp in Ethiopia

 

Organisation

Logo

1.     African Monitors

Africa Monitors

2.     Eritrea Diaspora in East Africa (EDEA)

Picture 2Eritrean Diaspora in East Africa (EDEA)

3.     Eritrean Movement for Democracy and Human Rights (EMDHR)

Picture 3Eritrean Movement for Democracy and Human Rights (EMDHR)

4.     Forum Human Rights For Eritreans

Picture 5Foundation Human Rights for Eritreans

In Solidarity – Open Letter on Closure of Hitsats Eritrean Refugee Camp in Ethiopia

5.     Horn of Africa Forum For Civil Society

Picture 6Horn of Africa Civil Society Forum

6.     Network for Eritrean Women

Picture 4Network of Eritrean Women

 

Putting the spotlight on defending the sovereignty of Eritrea By PetrosTesfagiorgis First let me congratulate the brotherly/sisterly people of Tigray and their vanguard TPLF for celebrating the 45 years anniversary of the beginning of their armed

Putting the spotlight on defending the sovereignty of Eritrea

By PetrosTesfagiorgis

First let me congratulate the brotherly/sisterly people of Tigray and their vanguard TPLF for celebrating the 45 years anniversary of the beginning of their armed struggle.  The TPLF defeated  the military Junta (the Dergue)  led by of Colonel Mengustu Hailemariam and brought to an ended the Ethiopian feudal Empire that was built on the total power of the Amhara ruling class over other nationalities.  This victory heralded a new era of self-rule and equality to the oppressed nationalities in Ethiopia. Although other liberation movements such as EPRP, OLF, Sidama Liberation Front, the Ogaden National Liberation Front, Hailu Fida’s MEISON and the Eritrean Liberation Front  contributed a lot to the downfall of the Dergue, it was the combined military offensive of EPLF and TPLF that finally defeated the heavily armed regime in Ethiopia.

As I started to write my article I listened to interviews by Haregu Keleta of ERENA with some Eritreans regarding the speech Dr Debrezion gave during the celebration of their 45 years anniversary.  Dr Debrezion expressed, not for the first time, his unreserved welcome to the Eritrean refugees in Tigray. This time he mentioned the Eritrean army saying “this is your home.”    One commentator said this statement is a call to the Eritrean army to surrender. He expressed that the TPLF has an evil design on Eritrea. His narrative can be taken that Tigray is no friend of the people of Eritrea. All these nonsense talk is out of context. The reality on the ground is different. We should not cheat ourselves; members of the Eritreans army do cross the border to Ethiopia and the Sudan as refugees. And to this day they continue to do so. They don’t need Dr Debresion to tell them to come to Ethiopia. It is an insult to their intelligence.  They are just running away from a brutal regime.

We have some Eritreans suffering from a sense of loss and fail to acknowledge the help the Tigreans are rendering to the Eritrean refugees. In their time of darkness they treat them with kindness.  But the show is polluted by bad language against TPLF/Tigray. This remark is unnecessary and is offending   Eritreans living in the border areas with Tigray.  The world has watched when both Eritreans and Tigreans   expressed their joy and happiness as they warmly greet each other when the border was opened after 20 years. Although it was for a short time only, Eritreans have benefitted from buying commodities at a much cheaper price to that in Eritrea. Witnessing this rendezvous the Just seekers in Diaspora who are talking from their comfort zone should realize that the Eritreans living in the border area have much greater stake in peace more than the rest of us. And they will oppose such anti-peace statements. A group of people from Senafe area did that on the social media. In addition peace and friendship between the two neighborly people could be a bridge for peace between Eritrea and Ethiopia in total. In building peace it is the language of peace that must prevail.

On the other hand in the interview there were rational voices such as that of Elen Tesfagiorgis from Yiakle Washington and Temesgen Kahsai – who took the words of Dr Debretzion as genuine.   Temesgen Kahsai is a mature nationalist journalist by any standard and has shown competence in assessing the present situation. On the other hand, it is an advantage for Tigray to be friends with Eritrea. They don’t want to be encircled by PFDJ.  People speculate that the recent visit of Dr Abiy and the Minister of Defense Lemma Megersa to Asmara was about Tigray.  TPLF has become an obstacle to replace the Federal system by Prosperity party the brain child of Dr Abiy Ahmed. It is therefore a question of mutual survival.

Genuine cordial relationship between Sovereign Eritrea and Tigray region of Ethiopia would contribute to the stability of Ethiopia. It is a bridge to   reach to the rest of Ethiopia. (More on part 2).

In this moment in time putting the spotlight on defending the sovereignty of Eritrea is the priority.

As the geopolitics of the horn changes, we Eritreans must move with it harnessing our energies and ways of thinking to ensure the sovereignty of Eritrea. Isaias is working in slow motion to give away Eritrea to Dr Abiy Ahmed’s Ethiopia. The people of Eritrea did not get peace divided. Eritrean prisoners of conscience are not released, indefinite national service, slave labor and other forms of human rights violations continue unabated. On the contrary Isaias and Abiy have become allies in the unholy mission to kill the Eritrean sovereignty and to crash the TPLF. The TPLF is spearheading the fight to defend the federal system.  In his address to the people of Eritrea on 7/02/20 Isaias declared he will support   Dr Abiy in his bid to abolish the federal system? This is a betrayal of the revolution in Ethiopia championed by the Haile Sellasie University progressive students union in Addis Ababa in the end of 60th and early 70th. The revolution was anti-imperialism, anti colonialism and anti-feudalism. Feudalism is the system that perpetuates oppression of nationalities in Ethiopia. This gave rise to the right of self-determination including secession.  That is why Oromo professionals mostly doctors sent strongly worded letter condemning Isaias talk against the Federal System.  Many Ethiopian social media have spoken out against Isaias and also have broken their silence of the gross human rights violations in Eritrea. The outspoken politician Ledetu Ayalew   and Jewar Mohammed – who runs the powerful Oromia Media Network (OMN) that played a leading role in the Oromo youth (Kero) uprising were among many political analysts who condemned Isaias and reminded him to take his hands off TPLF.  Ledetu said unequivocally the case of TPLF is an Ethiopian case and not Eritrea. Isaias is reckless who can go to war easily. For him the life of the people of Eritrea does not matter.

We Eritreans need peace more than any others because it is the lack of peace or the excuse of it that is ruining our country and destroying the fabric of the Eritrean society.  Peace does not come by itself we have to build brick by brick. We should not live in the past. Peace is about forgiveness and reconciliation. However we have to express our kind of peace that honors our sovereignty and protects the wellbeing of the people of Eritrea.  We are becoming too reactive to what has been said about Eritrea by Ethiopians.   We have to be pro-active and put on the table our terms of peace clearly. One of the terms is to honor the sovereignty of Eritrea.  This is the responsibility of organized bodies representing the justice seekers.  In this case professional people or   Think Tank bodies can be assigned to package the terms in a professional way.

In this extremely challenging period we need an ally and it is the TPLF. In spite of the avoidable Ethio-Eritrean destructive war of 1998 and the deportation of thousands of Eritreans from Ethiopia, the TPLF has never doubted the sovereignty of Eritrea.  And we know if Abiy and Isaias managed to defeat the TPLF then the Eritrean sovereignty will be at risk. Tamrat Negara said “we have to thank Isaias for making Eritrea weak” It is easy to invade Eritrea today; you can do it as you brush your teeth”. General Tzadkan said “it is a matter of time before the Port of Assab is owned by Ethiopia”.   This is not a mere wishful thinking, many Ethiopians wanted it badly. However, we have to differentiate between independent individuals and   Government spokespeople.

In conclusion let me express my Congratulations to the Eritrean Women in London celebrating the international women day. It brings back the fighting spirit of women during the long years of armed struggle.   It is profoundly   inspirational and successful. Women are ethically sensitive less likely to be corrupt. Once they rise up they could do wonders they are the nucleus of the Eritrean society.

The End:  Laluta continua.

Source=https://assenna.com/putting-the-spotlight-on-defending-the-sovereignty-of-eritrea/

  • 12 March 2020

People gather for the rally of Ethiopia's new Prime Minister in Ambo, about 120km west of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on April 11, 2018 Image copyrightGetty ImagesImage caption Abiy Ahmed drew a huge crowd when he visited Ambo city in his first week in office

Under Ethiopian Prime Minister and Nobel Peace Prize winner Abiy Ahmed, the city of Ambo has turned from being a symbol of freedom into a symbol of repression, as the security forces try to curb the growth of ethnically inspired rebel and opposition groups that threaten his "coming together" vision.

Ambo, which has a large student population because of its university, was at the centre of mass protests that saw Mr Abiy rise to power in April 2018 with a promise to end decades of authoritarian rule in a nation with more than 100 million people belonging to at least 80 ethnic groups.

Getty Images
Ambo is where we are going to build the statue of our liberty, our New York"
Abiy Ahmed
Ethiopia's prime minister
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Most of Ambo's residents are Oromos - and the protests were largely driven by anger that despite being Ethiopia's largest ethnic group, they were marginalised from political and economic power, with no Oromo ever serving as prime minister.

Acknowledging Ambo's role in bringing about change during a visit to the city within days of becoming the first Oromo to hold the prime minister's post, Mr Abiy said: "Ambo is where we are going to build the statue of our liberty, our New York."

At a fund-raising event in February 2019, the prime minister sold his watch for 5m birr (about $155,000, £120,000) to kick-start development in the city.

It was a further indication of the huge political significance he attached to Ambo, traditionally regarded as a stronghold of the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF), a former rebel group which laid down arms following peace talks with Mr Abiy.

People fill the road after the rally of Ethiopia's new Prime Minister in Ambo, about 120km west of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on April 11, 2018 Image copyrightGetty ImagesImage caption Students were at the forefront of demands for change

But a year later, there are few signs of development in Ambo, which is about 100km (60 miles) west of the capital Addis Ababa. Instead, residents are once again complaining of a return of police brutality, with young men being randomly beaten up or detained as they go about their daily lives.

'I was lucky'

I witnessed some of this during a visit to Ambo.

In one instance about six policemen forced two young men to kneel in front of pedestrians, before kicking them and hitting them with sticks.

In another instance, two young men were forcibly taken to a police station. Their elbows were tied behind their backs. One of them pleaded, in vain, with the officers to untie him.

No-one dared to intervene for fear that the police would assault them too.

Bekele
BBC
I saw policemen walk around with scissors, giving haircuts to young men perceived to have long hair or afros"
Bekele Atoma
BBC journalist
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The policemen were from the regional force - and their numbers were swelled last Sunday when hundreds more graduated, raising fears that the crackdown will intensify ahead of the general election slated for August. That is the first time that Mr Abiy will face the voters since the ruling coalition chose him as prime minister to order to quell the nationwide protests.

I also saw policemen walking around Ambo with scissors, giving haircuts on the spot to young men whom they perceive to have long hair or afros.

They considered my hair to be an afro but I was lucky - they let me off with a warning to chop it off myself, which I did not do as I was going to leave Ambo in two days' time.

'I was unable to access the internet'

Police just assume that men with such looks are troublemakers and supporters of rebel leader Kumsa Diriba, who they see as a major threat to western Oromia's stability and Mr Abiy's vision of forcing a new sense of national unity, known as "coming together" .

Kumsaa Diriba Image copyrightSocial mediaImage caption Rebel commander Kumsa Diriba refuses to make peace with the government

Having spurned Mr Abiy's peace overtures in 2018, Mr Kumsa, who is also known as Jaal Maro, is continuing to push for the "liberation" of Oromia from his forest hideout in the remote west.

He split from the OLF, the biggest Oromo rebel group, after it decided to turn into a political party, taking with him an unspecified number of fighters under his command.

The government suspects that Mr Kumsa's rebels have infiltrated Ambo, and were responsible for the bomb blast at a pro-Abiy rally held last month to show that the prime minister still commands significant support in the city.

The rebels, via their supporters and anonymous accounts, have also been slowly gaining a profile on social media in an attempt to raise discontent against the government, especially through the circulation of the names of victims of alleged brutality by the security forces.

The government's attempt to keep a lid on dissent has led to frequent internet shutdowns in much of western Oromia since January, and in some areas people cannot even make or receive phone calls. This is despite the fact that Mr Abiy has promised to liberalise the telecom sector and end the monopoly of state-owned Ethio Telecom.

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Read more about Ethiopia:

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In an interview with BBC Afaan Oromoo, the deputy chief of staff of Ethiopia's Defence Force, Gen Berhanu Jula, hinted that the shutdowns were linked to military operations to dismantle camps under Mr Kumsa's control, while a senior official of Mr Abiy's newly formed Prosperity Party (PP), Taye Dendea, denied that innocent people were victims of the security force operation.

"The government has no reason to target civilians, we care about our people more than anyone else," Mr Taye told BBC Afaan Oromoo.

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In Ambo, I was unable to access the internet over my mobile phone throughout my three-week stay. On the two occasions I went to an internet cafe, it had poor broadband connection and I had to wait for a long time before I could check my emails and social media accounts.

Residents suspect that apart from government concerns about the rebels, the shutdowns are intended to limit political campaigning and starve young people of news ahead of the general election.

Residents point out that Jawar Mohammed - who is probably the most prominent and controversial Ethiopian social media activist - is now also making life difficult for the prime minister.

Jawar Mohammed (C), a member of the Oromo ethnic group who has been a public critic of Abiy, addresses supporters that had gathered outside his home in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa after he accused security forces of trying to orchestrate an attack against him October 24, 2019 Image copyrightGetty ImagesImage caption Social media activist Jawar Mohammed has joined an opposition party

When exiled in the US, Mr Jawar used Facebook effectively to get Oromos on to the streets to rise against the former government.

Having returned to Ethiopia after Mr Abiy took power, he briefly became a supporter of the prime minister but is now a fierce opponent.

Nobel laureate booed

Mr Jawar put out a video on Facebook soon after Mr Abiy was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in October, accusing the government of trying to remove his guards from his home in Addis Ababa as part of a ploy to orchestrate an attack on him.

Despite government denials of any such plan, Mr Jawar's supporters staged protests against Mr Abiy in parts of Oromia - in one instance, burning copies of the prime minister's newly published book, which outlines his "coming together" vision.

When Mr Abiy subsequently visited Ambo for a meeting with selected guests in a hotel, pro-Jawar youths staged a protest and booed the prime minister, who had been awarded the Nobel prize for his "decisive initiative" to end the border conflict with Eritrea, and for the "important reforms" he had initiated in Ethiopia with a pledge to "strengthen democracy".

Abiy Ahmed
Getty Images
Key facts: Abiy Ahmed
  • Bornto a Muslim father and a Christian mother on 15 August 1976

  • Joinedthe armed struggle against the Marxist Derg regime in 1990

  • Served as a UN peacekeeper in Rwanda in 1995

  • Enteredpolitics in 2010

  • Becameprime minister in 2018

  • Wonthe Nobel Peace Prize in 2019

Source: BBC
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Mr Jawar has joined the Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC), which has formed an alliance with the OLF and the Oromo National Party (ONP) to contest the election on what is expected to be a strong ethno-nationalist ticket.

In Oromia, it is likely to pose the biggest electoral challenge to Mr Abiy's PP, which was launched in December after a merger of eight of the nine regional parties which make up Ethiopia's ruling coalition.

Mr Abiy hopes that the PP will foster national unity and keep ethnic nationalism in check.

Chart showing the ethnic make-up of Ethiopia

But he has taken a huge risk as the mass protests that propelled him to power were not just about political freedom - but also about the right of each group to express their ethnic identities more freely and to have greater autonomy for their regions.

So, as far as ethno-nationalists in Ambo and elsewhere in Oromia are concerned, Mr Abiy has sold out.

Worrying for the Nobel laureate, Defence Minister Lemma Megersa, a fellow Oromo with political clout, also expressed doubts about the PP's formation in November, though party officials say he and Mr Abiy have been ironing out their differences since then.

"The merger is not right and timely, as we are in transition, we are on borrowed time. Dissolving the regional party to which the public entrusted their demands is betraying them," Mr Lemma said at the time.

For Mr Abiy's supporters, he offers the best hope of getting Ethiopia's myriad ethnic groups to work together, and avoid the country's disintegration.

They are confident that he will demonstrate his popularity by leading the PP to victory in the election, though its legitimacy is bound to be questioned if the crackdown in Ambo continues.

Source=https://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-51657291

March 16, 2020 News

Source: Arab Weekly

Cairo traditionally dismissed the idea of overseas regional bases owing to political sensitivities but has been investing in a new strategy to bolster its maritime power.
Sunday 15/03/2020
A handout released by the Egyptian Presidency on January 9, 2018, shows Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi (C-L) welcoming the Eritrean President (C-R) Isaias Afwerki at the presidential palace in Cairo. (AFP)
A handout released by the Egyptian Presidency on January 9, 2018, shows Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi (C-L) welcoming the Eritrean President (C-R) Isaias Afwerki at the presidential palace in Cairo. (AFP)

There have been unconfirmed reports that Egypt may be moving close to an agreement with Eritrea, with which ties have been warming in recent years, to host a new Egyptian naval base on Nora island.

Cairo traditionally dismissed the idea of overseas regional bases owing to political sensitivities but has been investing in a new strategy to bolster its maritime power.

Nora Island Map

The reports suggest an agreement between Cairo and Asmara over an Egyptian deployment to Nora, an island on Dakhla Peninsula off the Eritrean coast. Egypt is believed to have a contingent of forces in Sawa, Eritrea, stationed at an Arab base reportedly secured by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates for a 30-year period.

Eritrea’s location at the southern entrance of the Red Sea gives it a growing strategic value. Rising international interest and competition in and around the Red Sea, with the Bab el Mandeb choke point to its south and the Suez Canal to its north, generated a renewed effort by Cairo and Riyadh to coordinate on the region’s maritime security architecture.

In January, Saudi efforts to build a new Red Sea bloc moved forward when representatives from eight countries signed a charter to establish the Council of Arab and African States bordering the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden.

For Egypt, this development comes as part of a multipronged strategy to restore its influence and take on a greater security role in the region — particularly within the maritime sphere.

Egypt has seen new risks emerge with Yemen’s implosion, instability in Libya and earlier with maritime piracy off the Horn of Africa. Cairo’s policies are being driven by a new military build-up in the wider region that has featured a growing footprint for Iran and Turkey.

Turkey, which in December concluded a maritime border delimitation agreement with Libya, has its largest overseas military base in Somalia and secured a long-term lease for Suakin port from Sudan two years ago. More recently, massive gas finds in the Eastern Mediterranean raised tensions as Ankara lays claim to resources off the coast of Cyprus.

Egypt has agreements with Israel and Cyprus for the supply of natural gas by ship and via pipelines from their offshore fields, which it processes and re-exports from gas liquefaction stations in Idku and Damietta.

Last year, Egypt convened the East Mediterranean Gas Forum with the participation of Jordan, Cyprus, Greece, Italy, Israel and the Palestinian territories in a bid to establish regional cooperation for the region’s expanding gas market.

Geological surveys suggesting potential gas reservoirs under the Red Sea’s seabed could signal an added maritime security significance for the basin beyond freedom of navigation.

In response to the region’s evolving security dynamics, Cairo has been investing in a major modernisation of its ageing, largely Soviet-era naval fleet to reassert itself as a true blue-water navy. In 2016, Cairo added two Mistral-class amphibious assault ships to its fleet to serve as command centres for the Egyptian Navy’s newly created North and South fleets.

Cairo added a FREMM multipurpose frigate and is said to be finalising the purchase of two more from Italian shipbuilder Fincantieri. Earlier, it concluded orders for six German-made MEKO A-200 frigates, four Gowind-class corvettes, three of which are to be built in Alexandria, and is awaiting delivery of 20 Falaj 2-class patrol boats.

Egypt has also been developing strategically positioned joint bases in Gargoub, on its north-western coast near the border with Libya, in Ras Banas on its south-eastern coast overlooking the Red Sea and at Port Said, close to the Suez Canal.

Increasing strategic premiums attached to overseas bases could well mean Cairo may soon need to revise its traditional policy on the issue and consider developing a strategic presence that enables extended power projection capability through arrangements with partners such as Eritrea.

Eritrea’s growing alignment with Egypt is, however, causing concerns with Ethiopia and Sudan. Cairo and Addis Ababa have been locked in a dispute over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), the continent’s biggest hydroelectric dam being constructed on the Nile River’s main tributary that could threaten Egypt’s water security.

Sudan, which backs GERD, has had complicated ties with Cairo and an unresolved dispute over the Egyptian-controlled Halayeb Triangle, which is near Egypt’s new Ras Banas base.

On the other hand, Ethiopia has been landlocked and without a coastline since Eritrea seceded from it in 1993 following a violent conflict that has killed more than 80,000.

Ethiopia and Eritrea technically remain at war and last witnessed major clashes in 2016. Having built one of Africa’s most capable air and ground forces, Addis Ababa’s confessed desire to reconstitute a naval capability to protect its interests at sea is giving rise to anxiety in Eritrea.

Sudan and Ethiopia have formed a joint military operation along their border whereas Sudan dispatched thousands of troops to its border with Eritrea in response to Egypt’s reported troop deployment to the country three years ago.

Egypt dismisses any intent to interfere in Ethiopia and Sudan as conspiratorial and “fake news.” Despite resolving key disagreements related to GERD with Ethiopia earlier this year when Washington hosted talks that involved the World Bank, symptoms of mistrust between the African neighbours linger.

As Egypt assumes an enhanced regional maritime security role, its future strategy may well need to feature deeper engagement on military matters with security partners such as Eritrea but it will also have to contend with the same traditional rivalries that opened up space in the region for an international military build-up in the first place.

March 14, 2020 Ethiopia, News

Ethiopia: Closure of Hitsats refugee camp in Tigray region

[Thanks to EEPA for this report]

It has been reported that Ethiopian authorities announced the closure of the Hitsats refugee camp in the Northern Ethiopan Tigray region, which hosts around 18.000 Eritrean migrants, states Ezega.com.

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The source writes that refugees have been told to relocate by authorities.

The news has been confirmed by anonymous sources in the camp, who state that refugees are expected to relocate to a camp which is overcrowded and has no infrastructure.

The Ethiopian authorities reportedly cited budget concerns as reason for the closure of the refugee camp, which would leave more than ten thousands of refugees, many of them minors, with an uncertain future.

However, sources suggest that the budget had already been allocated and that the political situation with Eritrea is really motivating the closure.

The refugees are reportedly refusing to leave the camp, and the situation is ongoing as government bodies and the UNHCR are discussing how the situation should be resolved.

Sources:

Closure of Hitsats refugee camp in Ethiopia

Anonymous sources confirmed that the federal government of Ethiopia ordered the closure of Hitsats refugee camp in Tigray province of Ethiopia. All camp refugees have been asked to relocate to another camp which is already overpopulated and does not have a functioning infrastructure. The government justifies the closure as a ‘budget constraint’, however UNHCR argues that the budget for 2020 was already approved and allocated to the Administration for Refugee & Returnee Affairs (ARRA), a governmental agency which has the mandate over refugees in Ethiopia. Hitsats, as the youngest camp in Tigray region, is currently home to more than 10,000 Eritrean refugees.

The new decision has received pushback by refugees who have written a petition to the federal government condemning the order. The closure is therefore delayed as refugees are refusing to leave the camp. Several governmental agencies together with UNHCR are meeting in Addis Ababa to discuss the petition and give their final verdict. Neither refugees nor organisations working in the camp know what will happen next and whether government will use force or another strategy to move people out.

According to a source, the move is linked to the political games that are being played on the regional level since the peace deal between Ethiopia and Eritrea has been signed. On the national level, the regional government of Tigray has promised to support refugees in Hitsats and is ready to oppose the federal government. The Deputy President of Tigray said during a meeting of Tigray People’s Liberation Front party that “no force can close the refugee camps in Tigray region”.

Eritreans flee their country due to continuous oppression of the regime through indefinite national service. Ethiopia has kept its doors opened for Eritrean refugees for several years and Eritreans were granted prima facie refugee status. New asylum policy, however, does not allow newly arrived Eritreans to be registered or given asylum. The number of registered individuals decreased from 250-500 per day to only 30 per day. Those who are denied registration are settling illegally in nearby towns and host communities without any help or support from organisations.  According to analysts the government aims to frustrate the refugees and make conditions difficult for them so that they return back to Eritrea. This will allow the government to close all camps rather than openly sending refugees back which goes against international law.

The current situation brought uncertainty and concerns to the refugee population. According to a source “the situation is a bit tense [in Hitsats]. Refugees are vowing not to leave and openly said they would rather die than to leave the camp”. This adds to already high prevalence of traumatic experiences that refugees have undergone. The lack of clarity, information, and monitoring of the situation is exposing refugees to greater vulnerability. It has been observed that those refugees who have limited information are at high risk to fall in the hands of human traffickers.

Ethiopia to Close Hintsats Refugee Camp in Tigray State

By Staff Reporter

Hintsats-refugee-campMarch 8, 2020 (Ezega.com) — The future for 18,000 Eritrean migrants in Hintsats refugee camp is uncertain as Ethiopian authorities announced the decision to shut down the seven-year-old refugee camp in Tigray region of northern Ethiopia.

The Tigray regional government warned that the refugees will face punishments if they are forced to return to their home country.

The Ethiopian government did not disclose why it has decided to close the camps in Tigray contrary to its international obligations and for which it was praised by world bodies for so long. Observers believe this has to do with regional politics between the governments in Addis Ababa and Asmara and to satisfy demands by the Eritrean regime.

Ezega.com learned that the refugees were told by the Ethiopian Administration for Refugees and Returnees Affairs (ARRA) to evacuate in ten days and move to another camp.

The Hintsats refugee camp is located near Shire town of Tigray region. It is one of the six refugee camps, sheltering Eritrean migrants and asylum seekers.

Last year, the government of Ethiopia announced plans to close all 27 refugee camps in the country over the next 10 years and integrate the migrants into local communities.

Ethiopia hosts more than 850,000 refugees from South Sudan, Somalia, Yemen and Eritrea, and shelters more refugees than all but one African country, Uganda.

Thousands of young Eritrean migrants have been flooding Ethiopia fleeing a combination of political-economic conditions that include general lack of freedom, conscription and poor economy. Reports reveal that Eritrean migrants largely unaccompanied continue to enter Ethiopia’s Mai-Aini and Hintsats refugee camps in journeys full of risks.

The Tigray regional government and UNHCR said they do not know if the camp would be closed during a discussion with representatives of the refugees.

The refugees told local media that the decision on the closure of the refugee camp comes after an agreement was reached between Addis Ababa and Asmara.

The Eritrean government wants to cut flow of Eritrean migrants to Hintsats refugee camp which is located near the Ethio-Eritrean border.

Deputy President of the Tigray regional state Debretsion Gebremichael recently said the central government was conspiring to shut down the Hintsats refugee camp. “No force can close the refugee camps in Tigray region, Deberetsion said during the 45th founding anniversary of TPLF.

Following the July 2018 peace agreement, the Ethiopian and Eritrean governments reopened crossing points on their shared border on September 11. According to the Shire District administration, up to 15 000 Eritreans crossed into Ethiopia, some to visit relatives or to buy goods, and many to stay. The opening of the crossing points however did not stay long – not more than two months.

According to UNHCR, the average daily arrival rate of Eritrean migrants has increased, bringing the total number of Eritrean refugees in Ethiopia to 175 000, a large proportion of whom are unaccompanied minors

Eritrean refugees in the Ethiopian side – Living in an uncertain situation

By the end of 2019, the registered number of Eritrean refugees in Ethiopia is nearly 140,000, refugees who crossed through Tigray and Afar regions. Since PM Abiy Ahmed openly started talking about closing the camps, these refugees are in dilemma now. Its unclear why he said so, at least, my sources don’t know the motive behind the move. But one thing is certain that he is not in good terms with TPLF.

Anyway, out of fear of uncertainty, refugees are moving out of the camps and settling in urban cities. However, a refugee must have a relative to reunify with and address prior leaving the camp. Refugees have to look for someone to give them their phone number and address to give it to the camp management. Ethiopians and Eritreans living in Ethiopia found this as an opportunity to make money, charging them from 2000 to 3000 Birr to release their address info. A lucrative business started already!!

On the other hand, there is a precondition from the camp management that refugees who leave the camp will be deprived their refugee status – will not be recognized by UNHCR as refugees (will be removed from the refugee database). The situation is like choosing between a rock and hard place. Refugees are in hard choice, and that the international community have a responsibility to monitor the situation closely. We should leave no one behind to suffer due to the political unrest waged between the central government and the Tigray Regional Administration, in addition to the PIA’s unsacred gesture to involve himself in helping Dr Abiy against the fight with TPLF. Innocent refugees shouldn’t be victims of whatever Isaias and Dr Abiy are cooking behind the scene to topple TPLF from power.

I call upon UNHCR, Administration for Refugee and Returnee Affairs (ARRA), and others concerned international institutions to closely follow and monitor the developments in refugee affairs, especially in the Tigray region refugee camps. Refugees close to 90,000 in four camps are in a very uncertain situation.

March 13, 2020 News

Eritrean workers are labouring away, upgrading the road linking landlocked Ethiopia with the port of Massawa. The road project is being funded by the European Union. The aim of rehabilitating the route is to boost trade between these two neighbours who are attempting to put their conflicts behind them.

As the EU explained: “The specific objective is to improve transport connectivity for commercial trade along the arterial roads between Massawa and the Ethiopian border.”

It could provide Ethiopia with a more direct route to the sea than through the port of Djibouti.

EU and UK ambassadors inspect EU Emergency Trust Fund for Africa aided road programme in Eritrea

The EU has committed Euros 20 million to the project. A further Euro 60 million has been promised for the second phase of project. The aid is part of broader EU plans to halt the flow of refugees and migrants crossing the Mediterranean from Africa. There are 26 such projects from Senegal in the west to Somalia on the east.

But in Eritrea the EU project is at the centre of a controversy that refuses to go away. This is because Eritrea uses conscripts trapped in the country’s notorious National Service as labour. The conscripts are meant to serve for just 18 months, but are held indefinitely. Some have been held in National Service for 20 years or more.

The programme, initiated in 1995, involves all Eritreans on entering their twelfth grade at school, to complete their education with military service. Reports for the UN Human Rights Council provided evidence of the brutal treatment of these young people, with physical abuse frequently meted out to men and sexual abuse for women.

“Enslavement”

Apart from being held indefinitely, they are paid a pittance according to Human Rights Watch. The extensive report from the UN Commission of Enquiry into Human Rights in Eritrea concluded that:

“there are reasonable grounds to believe that within the context of military and national service programmes, Eritrean officials exercise powers attaching to the right of ownership over Eritrean citizens. It further determines that despite the justifications for a military/national service programme advanced in 1995, the military/national service programmes today serve primarily to boost the economic development of the nation, profit state-endorsed enterprises, and maintain control over the Eritrean population in a manner inconsistent with international law. Thus there are reasonable grounds to believe that Eritrean officials have committed the crime of enslavement, a crime against humanity, in a persistent, widespread and systematic manner since no later than 2002.”

The European Union is fully aware that National Service conscripts held in slave-like conditions from which they cannot escape, on pain of facing military discipline, is being used in this project.

As the EU’s own document EU planned road project Eritrea the road rehabilitation project puts it: ‘National Service continues to provide employment in all aspects of civilian life for which remuneration is given.’

The European Union has sent its ambassadors to inspect the project. Brussels and other European capitals are fully aware of what is taking place. In February EU ambassadors visited the road rehabilitation project to inspect the work.

EU and UK ambassadors inspect EU Emergency Trust Fund for Africa aided road programme in Eritrea

Eritrea’s use of forced labour is confirmed by the most recent report from the Danish Refugee Council. Following a visit to Eritrea, the council said that the situation was not improving:

“According to the interviewed sources, there has been no observed changes, or improvements, in the working or living conditions for conscripts of national service after the peace agreement. Furthermore, none of these sources anticipated any changes in the foreseeable future.”

As the Danish report explains, pay for National Service conscripts “in reality amounts to approximately 500-800 nakfas per month.” This is between US$33 and $53 per month – less than $2 a day for backbreaking work. Even this is subject to government taxes and deducations.

Worst of all, it is labour from which the conscripts cannot escape, since they live under military discipline. It is a form of modern slavery.

Europe hides the reality

The EU has been aware of this situation for the last four years. In 2016 the German magazine, Der Siegel, uncovered the EU’s sensitivities about revealing details of some of its projects, with documents instructing civil servants “under no circumstances” to make public what was under discussion.

European officials and politicians are clearly concerned that their funding of aid projects that use what amounts to slave labour would be considered reprehensible by the public.  Its Africa Trust Fund is established under the European Development Fund and is therefore bound by the legal framework of the Cotonou agreement and the Lisbon Treaty. Both include clauses protecting human rights, democracy and the rule of law.

It’s no wonder the EU is concerned about the discrepancies between its public commitments and its aid programmes.

European spokespersons have attempted to distance the EU from criticism. They point out that the EU project only covers the procurement of material and equipment to support the rehabilitation of roads and not the labour.

A legal challenge

The EU now faces a legal challenge in the Netherlands for its role.

Letter-of-Summons-EU-Emergency-Trust-Fund-for-Africa

The action by Human Rights for Eritreans calls for an immediate cessation of the programme. It cited EU Parliamentary resolutions which declared that Eritrea’s system of forced labour was a ‘form of slavery.’

More recently, the issue is being raised in the British Parliament by the All Party Parliamentary Group on Eritrea. The group is considering sending a delegation to Eritrea to monitor what is taking place. Recent newspaper coverage has ensured that the issue is getting the international attention it needs.

Hintsats-refugee-camp

March 8, 2020 (Ezega.com) -- The future for 18,000 Eritrean migrants in Hintsats refugee camp is uncertain as Ethiopian authorities announced the decision to shut down the seven-year-old refugee camp in Tigray region of northern Ethiopia.

The Tigray regional government warned that the refugees will face punishments if they are forced to return to their home country.

The Ethiopian government did not disclose why it has decided to close the camps in Tigray contrary to its international obligations and for which it was praised by world bodies for so long. Observers believe this has to do with regional politics between the governments in Addis Ababa and Asmara and to satisfy demands by the Eritrean regime.

Ezega.com learned that the refugees were told by the Ethiopian Administration for Refugees and Returnees Affairs (ARRA) to evacuate in ten days and move to another camp.

The Hintsats refugee camp is located near Shire town of Tigray region. It is one of the six refugee camps, sheltering Eritrean migrants and asylum seekers.

Last year, the government of Ethiopia announced plans to close all 27 refugee camps in the country over the next 10 years and integrate the migrants into local communities.

Ethiopia hosts more than 850,000 refugees from South Sudan, Somalia, Yemen and Eritrea, and shelters more refugees than all but one African country, Uganda.

Thousands of young Eritrean migrants have been flooding Ethiopia fleeing a combination of political-economic conditions that include general lack of freedom, conscription and poor economy. Reports reveal that Eritrean migrants largely unaccompanied continue to enter Ethiopia's Mai-Aini and Hintsats refugee camps in journeys full of risks.

The Tigray regional government and UNHCR said they do not know if the camp would be closed during a discussion with representatives of the refugees.

The refugees told local media that the decision on the closure of the refugee camp comes after an agreement was reached between Addis Ababa and Asmara.

The Eritrean government wants to cut flow of Eritrean migrants to Hintsats refugee camp which is located near the Ethio-Eritrean border.

Deputy President of the Tigray regional state Debretsion Gebremichael recently said the central government was conspiring to shut down the Hintsats refugee camp. “No force can close the refugee camps in Tigray region, Deberetsion said during the 45th founding anniversary of TPLF.  

Following the July 2018 peace agreement, the Ethiopian and Eritrean governments reopened crossing points on their shared border on September 11. According to the Shire District administration, up to 15 000 Eritreans crossed into Ethiopia, some to visit relatives or to buy goods, and many to stay. The opening of the crossing points however did not stay long - not more than two months.

According to UNHCR, the average daily arrival rate of Eritrean migrants has increased, bringing the total number of Eritrean refugees in Ethiopia to 175 000, a large proportion of whom are unaccompanied minors.

Source=https://www.ezega.com/News/NewsDetails/7803/Ethiopia-to-Close-Hintsats-Refugee-Camp-in-Tigray-State

State television says prime minister is safe after blast in the capital, Khartoum.

10 hours ago
Sudan PM Abdalla Hamdok survives assassination attempt
Sudanese rescue teams and security forces gather next to a damaged vehicle at the site of an assassination attempt against Sudan's Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok [Ashraf Shazly/AFP]

Sudan's Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok has survived an assassination attempt after a blast near his convoy in the capital, Khartoum.

Hamdok wrote on Twitter he was "safe and in good shape" following Monday's explosion.

More:

"What happened will not stop the path of change, it will be nothing but an additional push in the strong waves of the revolution," added the veteran economist, who became prime minister in August, months after a pro-democracy movement forced the army to remove longtime President Bashar al-Bashir.

Hamdok also shared a photo of himself smiling and seated at his desk, while a TV behind him showed news coverage reporting he had survived.

Members of Hamdok's office told Al Jazeera the attack happened as the prime minister was heading to his office.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility.

Footage posted online showed two damaged white vehicles used by Sudan's top officials parked on a street. Another vehicle was badly damaged in the blast.

Meanwhile, Sudan's security council in a statement condemned the attack, saying it would seek help from friendly countries to identify those involved and bring them to justice.

A general view shows the site of an assassination attempt against Sudan's Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok, who survived the attack with explosives unharmed, in the capital Khartoum on March 9, 2020. - A
The site of an assassination attempt against Sudan's Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok [Ashraf Shazly/AFP]

'Terror attempts'

Falih Salih, Sudan's information minister, said an investigation was under way to determine who was behind the attack.

"Terrorist attempts and dismantling the old regime will be dealt with decisively," he said.

Al-Bashir's overthrow last April was followed by months of negotiations between the military and the pro-democracy movement.

The two sides reached a power-sharing deal in August which established a joint military-civilian, 11-member sovereign council that will govern Sudan for the next three years, when elections are scheduled to be held.

The prime minister has pledged to work towards ending the country's economic crisis and establishing peace.

Born in 1956 in south-central Kordofan province, Hamdok has more than 30 years of experience as an economist and senior policy analyst specialising in economic development across Africa.

Sudanese rescue teams and security forces gather next to damaged vehicles at the site of an assassination attempt against Sudan's Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok, who survived the attack with explosives
Rescue teams and security forces next to damaged vehicles at the site of the assassination attempt [Ashraf Shazly/AFP]

Prince MBS

 

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Reports suggest that Saudi officials have arrested members of the royal family for allegedly plotting a coup. File photograph: Pavel Golovkin/AP.

Regional sources see move by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman as effort to consolidate power

Saudi Arabian authorities have detained three senior princes including Prince Ahmed bin Abdulaziz, the younger brother of King Salman, and Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, the king’s nephew, for allegedly planning a coup, sources said.

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, King Salman’s son and de facto ruler of the country, which is the world’s top oil exporter and a key US ally, has moved to consolidate power since ousting Mohammed bin Nayef as heir to the throne in a 20 17 palace coup.

Later that year, he arrested several royals and other prominent Saudis, holding them for months at Riyadh’s Ritz Carlton hotel, in an anti-corruption campaign that caused shockwaves at home and abroad.

Four sources said that Prince Ahmed and Mohammed bin Nayef were detained in the latest operation. Two sources, including a regional source, said Mohammed bin Nayef and his half-brother, Nawaf, were detained while at a private desert camp on Friday.

Crown Prince Mohammed, who is also referred to as MbS, “accused them (the princes) of conducting contacts with foreign powers, including the Americans and others, to carry out a coup d’etat,” the source said.

“With these arrests, MbS consolidated his full grip on power. It’s over with this purge,” the source added, indicating that no rivals remain to challenge his succession to the throne.

Another source said the princes were accused of “treason”.

The Saudi government media office did not respond to a request for comment on the detentions, which were first reported by The Wall Street Journal.

Approved

The regional source said King Salman had approved the latest detentions. “The king signed off on the arrests,” the source said, adding that the king is in a mental and physically sound state.

The king met British foreign secretary Dominic Raab on Thursday in the Saudi capital Riyadh. Both King Salman and the crown prince attended a cabinet meeting on Tuesday.

Crown Prince Mohammed (34) has fuelled resentment among some prominent branches of the ruling family by tightening his grip on power. Some critics have questioned his ability to lead after the 2018 murder of a prominent journalist by Saudi agents and the largest-ever attack on Saudi oil infrastructure last year.

The source said royals seeking to change the line of succession view Prince Ahmed, King Salman’s only surviving full brother, as a possible choice who would have support of family members, the security apparatus, and some Western powers.

Saudi authorities have not commented on issues of succession or criticism of the crown prince’s leadership. Prince Mohammed is popular among Saudi youth and also has staunch supporters within the royal Al Saud family, which numbers around 10,000 members.

Saudi insiders and Western diplomats say the family is unlikely to oppose the crown prince while the 84-year-old king remains alive, saying the monarch is unlikely to turn against his favourite son, to whom he has delegated most responsibilities of rule.

Low profile

Prince Ahmed has largely kept a low profile since returning to Riyadh in October 2018 after 2½ months abroad and Saudi watchers have said there is no evidence he is willing to take the throne. During that trip abroad, he appeared to criticise the Saudi leadership while responding to protesters outside a London residence chanting for the downfall of the Al Saud dynasty.

Ahmed was one of only three people on the Allegiance Council, made up of the ruling Al Saud family’s senior members, who opposed Mohammed bin Salman becoming crown prince in 2017, sources said. Mohammed bin Nayef’s movements have been restricted and monitored since then.

The latest detentions come at a time of heightened tension with rival Iran and as the crown prince implements social and economic reforms, including an initial public offering by oil giant Saudi Aramco on the domestic bourse last December. Saudi Arabia is also the current chair for the Group of 20 major economies.

The crown prince has been lauded at home for easing social restrictions in the conservative Muslim kingdom and trying to diversify the economy away from oil. But he has come under international criticism over a devastating war in Yemen, the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the kingdom’s Istanbul consulate, and the detention of women’s rights activists seen as part of a crackdown on dissent. - Reuters

Source=https://www.irishtimes.com/news/world/middle-east/saudi-arabia-detains-three-senior-royals-for-allegedly-planning-coup-1.4196491

March 6, 2020 News

On Monday 9th and Tuesday 10th March the whole UN ‘family’ is due to meet in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, to discuss its policy towards Eritrea.

Eritrea Focus, backed by seven other Eritrean human rights and campaigning organisations, and the UK chapter of Publish What You Pay, issue this call for the UN to change its policy: back the people, not the regime!

[briefing below]


 

Screenshot 2020-03-04 at 18.04.38 

04 March 2020

 

A call for the UN to re-assess its relations with Eritrea 

From: Eritrea Focus

The United Nations is due to meet in Nairobi on Monday 9th and Tuesday 10th of March to consider how best to work with the government and people of Eritrea. This is a possibly unique opportunity for all the UN ‘family’ to re-orientate its approach.

All Eritreans know, and appreciate, the work the UN in its many facets have done over the years, including the vast numbers who have been sheltered by the UN refugee agency upon whom so many still depend. But it is vitally important that the UN takes seriously its own research, analysis and advice. This was provided to it by the Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in Eritrea and followed up by the UN Special Rapporteurs for Eritrea who have regularly reported to the UN Human Rights Council.

The most recent UN Human Rights Council received a highly critical report from the current Special Rapporteur, in which she concluded that in key areas including the rule of law, reform of the national service, progress on civil liberties, progress on women’s rights there had been what she said was: “no concrete evidence of progress.” Rather, there had been the continued arrest of businessmen, religious and community leaders. Political prisoners remain in jail – some for as many as 26 years – without trial. Nor have the Eritrean authorities granted the Special Rapporteur the co-operation and access to the country that members of UN have repeatedly called for.

Her analysis is reinforced by the work of outside bodies like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch. The latter’s most recent assessment is chilling. It concludes that there has been no “peace dividend” for Eritreans from the recent rapprochement with Ethiopia.

This analysis was recently endorsed by Reinhard Frauenfeld, of UNOPs, which is overseeing the European Union’s road-rehabilitation programme in Eritrea. As he rightly pointed out, there has been “a lot of engagement” with the government of Eritrea, but “little to show, so far” in terms of improvements in the country’s human rights.

Time to act

It is time for the UN to take the weight of evidence seriously and to re-assess its relationship with Eritrea. It cannot continue with “relations as normal” by interacting uncritically with such a vicious and cruel regime which has driven hundreds of thousands into exile.

We call for a new direction for the UN in Eritrea – one that puts the needs of the people, rather than the regime – as its first priority. There cannot continue to be normal and supportive relations with a government that so blatantly violates the rights of its own citizens. There must be timely, monitored pressure on the Eritrean government to live up to their commitments on human rights and to free their people from the subjugation in which they currently live.

This comes at a time when the plight of Eritrean refugees hang in the balance. There are worrying signs that the rights of Eritreans who have fled into Ethiopia are being restricted. The situation in Libya, in particular, is critical, with Eritreans now trapped in a war zone. We call on the UN, and the UNHCR in particular, to act expeditiously to answer the needs of these people.

Habte Hagos

Chairman


In Solidarity with Eritrea Focus’s call for the UN to reassess its relations with Eritrea

Picture 1Africa Monitors Picture 2Eritrean Diaspora in East Africa (EDEA) Picture 33) Eritrean Movement for Democracy and Human Rights (EMDHR) Picture 4Network of Eritrean Women Picture 5Foundation Human Rights for Eritreans Picture 6Horn of Africa Civil Society Forum Picture 7Human Rights Concern Eritrea Screenshot 2020-03-06 at 10.35.13Publish What You Pay UK

Briefing ahead of the UN meeting on Eritrea, 8 and 9th March 2020

A call to action

We have what may be a unique chance to try to shape UN policy towards Eritrea.

Next Monday and Tuesday (9 – 10 March) the UN is holding a meeting in Nairobi of ALL parts of the UN operating in Eritrea to review what they do.

We know this from a statement by Reinhard Frauenfeld, regional head of UNOPS, which is overseeing the road reconstruction work in Eritrea for the European Union. He made the statement before the EU Parliament on 18 February (he said it was in April, but now know that the meeting is in March).

https://www.europarl.europa.eu/streaming/?event=20200218-1000-COMMITTEE-DEVE&start=2020-02-18T09:10:23Z&end=2020-02-18T11:30:07Z&language=en

The review will be led by the UN Department of Political Affairs.

In his EU statement, Mr Frauenfeld accepted that there was “a lot of engagement” with the government of Eritrea, but “little to show, so far” in terms of improvements in the country’s human rights. He is right. Human Rights in Eritrea are as bad as ever, as can be seen from the recent assessment by Human Rights Watch.

https://www.hrw.org/news/2020/02/19/statement-european-parliaments-committee-development-human-rights-situation-eritrea

This assessment was reinforced by Daniela Kravetz, the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Eritrea. As she put it on 26th February 2020: “I have seen no concrete evidence of progress in any of these areas.”

https://eritreahub.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/HRC43_SR-Eritrea_26.02.2020.pdf

We need to urgently move to try to put pressure on the UN not to do “more of the same” – it is not working.

We are trying to coordinate a push with friends and allies across the world.