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Latest Publication

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Decentralised Rural Energy to Meet Energy Needs of Rural Communities and Farmers: Simple, Accessible, Affordable and Sustainable
Editor: Mirjam van Reisen
Publisher: Hivos

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

The Human Trafficking Cycle: Sinai and Beyond
Authors: Mirjam van Reisen, Meron Estefanos & Conny Rijken
Publisher: Wolf legal publishers
For full list of publications

Sinai trafficking Symposium

sinai-childrenA Symposium on “Sinai Trafficking” at Cincinnatti University brought together 200 academics and members of the Eritrean community.  Participants not only came from Cincinnati but from cities across the United States, even as far away as Houston.

Chaired by Professor Habtu Ghebre-Ab, the Symposium sought to promote greater understanding about the Human Trafficking Cycle in which so many young Eritreans have been caught.

Read more: Sinai trafficking Symposium

Eritrean taxing of diaspora challenged in UK

Eritrean-ambassador-2The Eritrean regime's continued demand that Eritreans living abroad should continue to pay tax faces a legal challenge in the UK. A complaint has been file with Police by members of the Eritrean community in London.

The complaint is supported by papers clearly showing that the Eritrean Embassy in London is continuing to demand the 2% tax from Eritrean residence in the UK, despite being declared illegal by the United Nations.

Read more: Eritrean taxing of diaspora challenged in UK

Sinai Trafficking defines specific form of trafficking

sina-tortureThe phenomenon coined “Sinai Trafficking” is defined in an article published by Cogitatio in Social Inclusion Open Access Journal.  Authors Professor Mirjam van Reisen and Dr. Conny Rijken argue that the form of trafficking first observed in Sinai should be considered a specific and new form of trafficking that needs appropriate legal responses.

Read more: Sinai Trafficking defines specific form of trafficking

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

Israel to deport migrants to Rwanda

CCTV America Eritrea