In this week’s news highlights, the European Parliament has passed a strong resolution on Eritrea; EU development aid for strengthening the military in countries like Somalia stirs criticism and fear of increasing militarisation of aid; tensions in the Netherlands and Italy over Eritrean festivals; Eritrean capital named World Heritage; U.S. decision on lifting of sanctions for Sudan delayed, Sudan freezes negotiations; and Libya coast guard involved in criminal activity, but still receiving EU support.
European Parliament: strong resolution passes on Eritrea
Last week, a strong resolution on Eritrea, notably the cases of Dawit Isaak and Abune Antonios, was passed in the European Parliament. Among many things, the resolution strongly condemns the human rights situation in Eritrea, it denounces the aid of the European Commission to Eritrea and calls for full transparency, and it calls for the people responsible for crimes against humanity to be held accountable. The resolution also calls for EU member states to take action against the 2% diaspora tax.
- European Parliament resolution of 6 July 2017 on Eritrea, notably the cases of Abune Antonios and Dawit Isaak
European Union: development aid for strengthening military
Politico reports that the European Parliament has backed controversial plans by the European Commission to spend development aid – meant for peace building – to strengthen the military in countries like Somalia. The Foreign Affairs committee already voted in favour, despite critics stating that it shows increasing militarisation of EU aid. The Legal Affairs committee narrowly backed it as well today, despite earlier doubts about the legality.
Netherlands: tensions around upcoming Eritrean festival
Earlier this year, tensions rose high as a protest from the Eritrean diaspora led to the cancelling of an event in the Netherlands where right hand of the Eritrean President, Yemane Gebreab, was present. Now, tensions rise again as Dutch news reports that, again, high officials of the controversial Eritrean regime may be present at the Eritrean Holland Festival this weekend. A demonstration from the Eritrean diaspora is planned.
Italy: Eritrean ambassador attacked
It is reported that some Eritrean officials were attacked in Rome, and the previously mentioned Yemane Gebreab might have been among them. There has been no official report. Confrontations with Eritrean regime officials in the past have been scarce and peaceful, but the anger in the Eritrean diaspora might be starting to come to the surface.
Wider Horn of Africa
Sudan: decision U.S. on sanctions delayed
U.S. President Donald Trump has extended the deadline of his decision on lifting sanctions to Sudan by three months. More time is needed for review, says Trump, who has not yet appointed a special envoy to Sudan. In response, Sudan announced that it has halted negotiations with the United States.
- Trump delays decision on lifting sanctions against Sudan
- Sudan halts talks with U.S. after decision on lifting sanctions postpone
South Sudan: heavy fighting forces more people to flee
Bloomberg reports that 5.000 people have fled to Ethiopia from South Sudan as the army fights with the rebels in the northeastern region.
Djibouti: China sets up military base
The first overseas military base of China is being established in Djibouti, reports state. The Chinese government has stated that it will be used for humanitarian aid as military cooperation.
Eritrea: Asmara named World Heritage Site
Asmara, the capital of Eritrea, has been named a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, the cultural organization of the United Nations. Asmara’s beautiful Italian Art Deco architecture is called an “an exceptional example of early modernist urbanism” by UNESCO and has earned it the nickname Little Rome.
Libya: accused of crimes, Libya coast guard still supported by EU
The Washington Post reports on allegations that the Libya coast guard can be linked to criminal activities, including human trafficking and slave trade. They are also accused of sinking boats when smugglers do not pay a fee. Human rights activists, among others Doctors Without Borders, state that the EU should not be aiding the Libya coast guard, as this endangers lives.