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: 116 people killed and opposition arrested in Ethiopia amid protests; 30 Eritrean Christians arrested at a wedding; COVID-19 restrictions fuel radicalization in Kenya; 3000 Congolese refugees entered in Uganda through temporary border opening exception; Eritrean road project only benefits multinational’s interests, states article; Call for eyewitness accounts of Sawa military school in Eritrea; Pope Francis calls Libyan detention centers for migrants “concentration camps”; Foreign involvement in Libya at “unprecedented levels”; Italian Senate renews mission in Libya; Ocean Viking finally allowed to disembark; 52 migrants and refugees not allowed off animal cargo ship; EC announces monitoring system against illegal pushbacks; EU handbook for family reunification announced; Greece advised to roll back criminalization of NGOs; Law expert explains how the EU criminalized humanitarian help of refugees; And Eritrean refugees experience isolation and uncertainty in Europe.
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.