Between May 26 and May 28 Ethiopian militias backed by the Ethiopian army reportedly clashed with the Sudanese army along the border. One Sudanese child and one military commander were killed while three civilians and six soldiers were wounded. The violence has resulted in a diplomatic row between the two governments, who were preparing a second joint committee meeting to discuss the demarcation of their common border. Although both countries say they seek a diplomatic outcome to the incident, tensions are high. A Sudanese spokesman told Al-Arabiya news that “[a]ll options are open if the Ethiopian aggression persist… We have sent reinforcements to the border to prevent any violations. The involvement of the Ethiopian armed forces in the recent assaults was evident.” An increased militarized border combined with an apparent willingness for violence could escalate border tensions even further.
In this week’s news highlights: Somalian NGO health workers abducted and murdered; Border skirmish on Ethiopia-Sudan border; Amnesty International urges Ethiopia to prosecute human rights violations of security forces; TPLF calls for elections; Eritrean organisations write to Abiy Ahmed over refugee policy; Reports of deliberate starvation in Eritrea; Dire situation in Eritrea explained 2 years after the peace agreement; Malta and Libya to set up ‘centres’ countering migration; Dutch foreign affairs minister answers parliamentary questions on Eritrea; European Parliament asks the EU to stop forced labour; Local Greeks protest expansion of migrant camp; Asylum seekers in Greece protest eviction; UNHCR concerned over asylum seekers in Greece; ECRE overview of COVID-19 response in Europe; 30 migrants and refugees murdered in Libya by trafficker’s family; UK’s financial support to Libya under judicial review; UNICEF helps displaced families near Tripoli; And Africa needs solidarity amid economic and health consequences of COVID-19
Between May 24 and May 27 around 400 migrants and refugees have been picked up by the Libyan coastguard and returned to Libya. Two of them drowned during the operation. An additional 90 migrants and refugees have been stopped by a commercial ship and have been returned to Libya as well. The pushback operations are funded and supported by the European Union (EU) and individual member states like Malta and Italy. While Libya has been an unsafe place from the start of the EU’s so called externalized border policy, COVID-19 brings even more risks as detention camps in Libya are high-risk areas for the spread of the virus and rescue operations on the Mediterranean Sea have been minimized. An additional element of danger is the intense civil war in Libya, which has turned into a geopolitical conflict and a proxy war between Russia and The United Arab Emirates (UAE) on the one hand and Turkey on the other. The war takes its toll on the civilian population; on June 1 another 5 civilians were killed and 11 wounded in a rocket attack near Tripoli.