The use of conscripted labour in EU projects and Eritrea’s engagement in committing human rights violations in the Tigray Region have prompted the European Commission (EC) to “de-commit” more than €100 million from eight upcoming Eritrean development projects. A letter written by Jutta Urpilainen, European Commissioner for International Partnerships, revealed that nine projects worth €141.3 million were initially approved for implementation through the EU Emergency Trust Fund for Africa (EUTF) but due to concerns over Eritrea’s stance on human rights, only one project, valued at €19 million, was disbursed. This recent move has highlighted the friction within the EU’s “dual-track” approach to Eritrea which attempts to mix development assistance and political dialogue.
In this week’s news highlights: Libyan authorities kill 3 migrants; 200 children intercepted and detained in Libya; Widespread human rights violations on route to Mediteranean; COVID-19 a significant threat to Ethiopia; Millions at risk in South Sudan; Human rights abuses and trafficking in South Sudan; Appeal against Eritrea’s conflict preparations; Malta waits 30 hours to rescue migrants and refugees; 100 vulnerable asylum seekers relocated from Greece; Hundreds try to flee Italian overcrowded asylum centers; And Migrants and refugees to be transferred from Lampedusa.
The European Union (EU) states that it looks for ways to facilitate improvements in human rights, governance and economics in Eritrea through its development aid. The fundamental problem, however, is that the Eritrean authorities seem to show no interest in these improvements and that it actively persecuted people in its own country that have demanded these improvements. The attempts from the EU to demand structural changes from the Eritrean regime have so far been unsuccessful, mostly due to its lack of bargaining power. On 25 June several members of the German Bundestag and human rights experts discussed the relation between the EU and Eritrea in a public intergroup zoom discussion; during this discussion some of these alternatives were debated. The Zoom discussion was moderated by Bundestag member Kathrin Vogler, representative of Die Linke (the left), and Rudi Friedrich of Connection e.V., which provides international support for conscientious objectors and deserters.