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Latest Publication


Women Leadership Cover-10-7-14
Women's Leadership in Peace Building
Conflict, Community and Care
Editor: Mirjam van Reisen
Publisher: Africa World Press

This volume presents research and analysis about the role women play as peace builders. Set against the present crises of war, destabilisation, economic downturns, human rights violations and state interventions that have led to unprecedented numbers of refugees in many regions of the world, the contributors look at different contexts in which women constitute an important element of peace building. The volume builds on earlier the earlier work of Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and Elisabeth Rehn on "Women, War and Peace" (2002).

Book-cover2
The Human Trafficking Cycle: Sinai and Beyond
Authors: Mirjam van Reisen, Meron Estefanos & Conny Rijken
Publisher: Wolf legal publishers

This study looks at what happens to people who are captured, extorted and tortured in the Sinai. Treated as commodities, sold and resold – these people are trafficked. The vocabulary of ‘warehouses’ and ‘auctions’ and the negotiation of the ‘price’ of the hostages is reminiscent of the age of slavery, when the value of people was determined by their market price.
For full list of publications

Flawed Danish Migration Report shows Need for Realistic Benchmarked Approach on Eritrea

Eritrean refugees LampedusaBy Mirjam van Reisen

An unapologetic Dutch blogpost by the chair of the Dutch YPFDJ, Meseret Bahlbi, gives an indication of the urgent need for a sober and realistic benchmarking of a process of change in Eritrea, which is heralded in some quarters. The YPFDJ is the youth wing of Eritrea’s only allowed political party. It has an active membership that actively sends out the messages of the party. Unashamedly Bahlbi is expressing the position of Eritrea’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Osman Saleh who called for an urgent review of European migration policies towards Eritreans. According to Minister Saleh these are “to say the least, based on incorrect information”. Bahlbi makes similar claims, suggesting further that his views are vindicated by a recent Danish report. Offering contradictory arguments, this report by the Danish Migration Service suggests returning Eritrean migrants home because of current changes in Eritrea. Human Rights Watch has criticised the report as deeply flawed. Meanwhile the Danish Migration Service has publicly expressed doubts on the content of its report.

Change in Eritrea would be a welcome step. Eritreans are trapped in their country that is much reminiscent of the situation in the GDR before the fall of the Berlin Wall. Despite an effective shoot-to-kill policy on the border, the number of refugees has been dramatically rising this year. In October it was estimated that 200 Eritreans were fleeing daily to Ethiopia. Many more refugees would have been crossing over the border with Sudan. From January to August 2014 alone, more than 28,000 Eritreans, including almost 3,000 unaccompanied children, came to Italy alone by sea. Despite danger to their lives, Eritrean youth have been voting with their feet. The UNHCR guidelines are clear that the majority of refugees are political refugees and ample evidence show that these flows result from the serious human rights violations in the country.

Meanwhile a range of measures has been announced in EU Member States to deal with the increasing numbers of Eritrean asylum-seekers and to try to curb the numbers. These include more stringent border controls, increasing fences around Europe, decreasing reception centres and additional nationality checks to slow down asylum procedures.

The idea of change in Eritrea would offer an instantaneous solution to the migration crisis. The idea for change has been welcomed by the Italian government. In July this year Italy’s Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Lapo Pistelli, made an official visit to Asmara. The enthusiasm with which he greeted a “new beginning” was reflected in the official communiqué put out by the Italian government: “It’s time for a new start”. This was Deputy Minister Pistelli’s comment during his visit to Asmara: “I am here today to bear witness to our determination to revitalise our bilateral relations and try to foster Eritrea’s full reinstatement as a responsible actor and key member of the international community in the stabilisation of this region”.

The new High Representative of the EU is Mrs Mogherini. Recently EU Top officials met in Khartoum with representatives of the Eritrean government. The British Foreign and Commonwealth Office has confirmed that a team of British officials visited Eritrea on Monday and Tuesday this week. They were – in the words of a government spokesman - looking at drivers of migration to the European Union and the UK. This was, he explained, part of the Khartoum Process. This is looking at the underlying causes of migration with “source countries”. The spokesperson for the President of Eritrea has already tweeted that the British delegation was looking at the “multilayered facets of migration and trafficking”. Eritrean groups in Europe have expressed concern of a scenario in which the EU seeks collaboration with Eritrea, paving the way for asylum seekers being returned. In a detailed report, the groups have asked that the EU listens to their agony.

The rapprochement sought by the Eritrean regime is reminiscent of an earlier attempt in 2009 by the then EU Commissioner, Louis Michel. He had been given assurances that journalist Dawit Isaac would be released. He traveled to Asmara, signed an aid programme with the Eritrean government, but Dawit Isaac remained in prison. The danger this time around is that the EU will offer Eritrea support and a cleaning up of its image, but that it will continue to receive Eritrean refugees, because these are desperate and will risk anything to reach a safe place.

Change in Eritrea is a wish shared by all, including the many asylum-seekers. However, a Benchmarked Assessment is needed to assess whether real change is taking place. The UN Commission of Inquiry, invited to Eritrea for the first time since years, could establish such clear benchmarks. A first benchmark should certainly be the release of the many political prisoners such as Dawit Isaac, who have been languishing for over 15 years in brutal conditions without trial at the hands of the Eritrean military dictatorship.

The economic cost of Ebola

ebola-is-realThe cost of Ebola to Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea will be more than 2 billion dollars, according to the World Bank.

The Bank forecasts a severe drop in economic growth for all three countries for 2014 and 2015 with the prospect of recession in Sierra Leone and Guinea for 2015.  The epidemic has severely disrupted normal economic activity, and with a need for all available resources being put into controlling the spread of the disease, public investment in other areas has been reduced.

Read more: The economic cost of Ebola

Enabling Access to Decentralised Renewable Energy for Econcomic Development in Africa

141104-006Enabling access for remote rural communities to sustainable and affordable energy services can only be achieved through a multi-stakeholder approach.  This was the conclusion of an informal hearing at the European Parliament on 4 November focusing on Economic Development in Africa through access to Decentralised Renewable Energy.

Organised by Hivos with the support of EEPA, and co-hosted by MEPs Bas Eickhout and Doru Frunzulica, the meeting brought together representatives from the European Parliament and European Commission, from the secretariat of the African Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) group of countries, from the private sector, and from civil society both in Europe and in Africa.

For report of the meeting click here
For presentation by Jean-Pierre Kempeneers, Head of Philips European Affairs Office click here
For the presentation of Paolo Ciccarelli, Head of Unit Water, Energy, Infrastructure DG Development Cooperation – EuropeAid click here
To read Hivos briefing paper on Decentralised Renewable Energy in EU Development click here
To read AIV report on New Paths to International Environmental Cooperation click here
To read AIV report on Interaction between Actors in International Cooperation click here
For pictures of the informal hearing click here

EU should appoint woman as Ebola envoy

Mirjam-van-ReisenAs EU leaders discuss the appointment of an EU envoy for Ebola, EEPA Director Mirjam van Reisen argues in an article on EurActiv why the EU's envoy should be a women.

Ebola hits women. 75% of the victims of the Ebola virus are female. They look after sick children, husbands, and members of the family. Minister of Development of Liberia, Julia Duncan-Cassell, requested last week that more international women are appointed to give leadership to the fight against Ebola.

Read more: EU should appoint woman as Ebola envoy

International Colloquium on Women's Empowerment and Peace Building

1410-AWC-ICWL2Hosted by the Association of Women's Clubs in Zimbabwe the International Colloquium was held five years after the first Colloquium hosted by President Sirleaf in Liberia, co-hosted with President Halonen from Finland.

The Colloquium reviewed the progress made to implement the Monrovia Declaration adopted in Liberia in 2009. The Colloquium paid particular attention to the situation of women's leadership and peace-building in Zimbabwe, particularly assessing the space for women in rural settings. The work of the Colloquium focused on the way in which women can negotiate security and protection within society. The Collloquium adopted the Harare Declaration.

The Colloquium continued in The Netherlands, Leiden, as part of the Africa Works! Conference. The Netherlands Colloquium and conference were opened by Minister Julia Duncan - Cassell, Liberia's Minister of Gender and Development, repesenting President Sirleaf. For the text of the speech click here.

A resolution was adopted calling for more women in the leadership to fight against Ebola, noting that 75% of the victims are women. Women are the predominent care-givers of the sick and as a result are at greater risk, yet women are largely absent from leadership postions. The Dutch Minister of Trade and Development announced that Hans Docter had been appointed as the Dutch Envoy on Ebola. An EU Envoy on the fight against Ebola is expected to be appointed by the EU in the coming days.

At the Colloquium a book was presented with a foreword from President Ellen Johnson - Sirleaf called "Women's Leadership in Peace Building: Conflict, Community and Care". The book can be ordered from Africa World Press.

Media exposure

BBC-mvr-131204Interview on BBC
 Nieuwsuur-mvr-140520bInterview op Nieuwsuur
YouTube SymposiumMarga Klompé Symposium - Tilburg University
Statement Mirjam van Reisen (YouTube)Interview EEPA Director Prof. Dr. Mirjam van Reisen
Statement Meron Estefanos (YouTube)Interview Meron Estefanos
Prof. Dr. Mirjam van Reisen on the legacy of Marga Klompe