This week’s news highlights: Eritrean prisoners defenseless against COVID-19; Eritrea celebrates 29 years of independence amid criticism; Urban refugees face increased struggle for basic needs in East Africa; Ethiopian migrants not aware of risks moving to Saudi Arabia, says IOM; Renewed intercommunal violence South Sudan; Eritrean refugee dies in migrant detention centre in Libya; Hundreds of people intercepted by Libyan coastguard in matter of days; Mercenaries from all over the world keep pouring in Libya despite UN embargo; The story of a boat that left Libya for Europe but disappeared; Greece accused of illegal pushbacks; Malta rescues 140 migrants and refugees in Mediterranean Sea but holds them offshore; France planning to relocate 750 asylum seekers from Greece; Story of how Eritrean child refugee survived shipwreck; EPP launches migration group; Webinar on Sea Rescue; And Oxfam withdraws from 18 countries.
A Dutch Foundation of Eritrean refugees, Foundation Human Rights for Eritreans, has filed a lawsuit in the Amsterdam court against the European Union (EU) for its role in financing a road building project in Eritrea that uses forced labor. The Foundation, together with their Dutch Lawyer Emiel Jurjens, demand the EU stops the 80 million euro support to Eritrea. While the European Commission acknowledges that the funded project entails labour from Eritrea’s indefinite and forced national service, in direct violation of EU’s fundamental principles and international law, it deflects blame by claiming that the EU is not paying directly for labor itself but rather for the equipment. Besides the use of forced labor, the EU has no direct oversight or proper monitoring scheme to safeguard the Eritrean national conscripts forced to work on the project or ability monitor how the money is spent. The EU has already pledged 80 million and is looking to spend an additional 120 million on subsequent phases. The lawsuit enters uncharted legal territory in a complex web of jurisdiction and accountability.
While the European Union (EU) is looking to further bolster Libya and the Libyan coastguard, a majority of Members of European Parliament (MEPs) and a number of Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) Intergovernmental Organizations (IGOs) and experts criticize the EU’s involvement in the human rights abuses that are systematically taking place inside Libya. They state that Libya is not a safe place for the disembarkation of migrants and refugees and that by financially supporting Libyan institutions that facilitate widespread and systematic human rights abuses, the EU has been complicit in these crimes. This week steps were taken to address and review the EU’s policies and accountability inside Libya.