News Highlights: deportations to Afghanistan, Europe’s refugee children, tensions in the Horn of Africa

This week’s news highlights include an update about the latest European developments concerning Afghan asylum seekers and unaccompanied minors in Europe. Also this week: political developments at the Horn of Africa, covering the latest news in Somaliland, South Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya and Eritrea.





Afghanistan: Germans protest against deportations
Last Saturday, several thousands protested against Germany’s “return and readmission” operations of failed Afghan asylum seekers in the main cities of Germany. Critics say the country is not safe for returnees but the EU supports the return operation with another agreement on EU-Afghanistan cooperation agreement which will be signed tomorrow, 17 February 2017.

Europe: Unaccompanied Minors
Earlier this month, UK Home Office decided to drastically downsize intake of refugee minors after the Calais refugee camp was closed. SkyNews reports that the Home Office said it would now stop receiving children via the so-called Dubs amendment at the end of March. Europe correspondent of SkyNews Mark Stone talked to the minors living in the streets of Calais and argues that removing the Dubs Amendment and the prospect of a safe passage to the UK will not solve the problem but encourage minors to turn to traffickers to smuggle them across the channel.

Arte released a documentary about the flight of unaccompanied minors. The movie shows the struggles the children encounter in EU member states and how many are commonly treated as criminals instead of children. The documentary also sheds light on the defects in European asylum system that fails to provide adequate protection to a currently estimated number of 30.000 minors in Europe. The documentary is available in German and French.


Horn of Africa

Somaliland: military base
The self-declared republic Somliland agreed to allow the United Arab Emirates to set up a military base in the port of Berbera, BBCNews reports. Somaliland’s President Ahmed Mohamed Silanyo justified the military base with economic benefits for the country. Critics see the base in the Horn of Africa as controversial  because of its strategic importance for Gulf nations and their ongoing military operations in Yemen.

South Sudan: crises
According to the UNHCR the 1.5 million mark of people displaced from South Sudan in the region which makes the country the third-largest source of refugees, right after Syria and Afghanistan. The situation on the ground worsens. Civilians continue to flee as a result of increasing insecurity in the region. UN officials warn that ethnic cleansing is is imminent.  

Ethiopia, Kenya: dams cut water supply 
Two days ago, 14 February 2017, Human Rights Watch reported about a significant drop in Kenya’s Lake Turkana that is threatening the livelihood of indigenous people in Ethiopia and Kenya. The decrease in the lake’s water level is due to newly-built dams and plantations in Ethiopia’s lower Omo Valley that are now cutting the water supply in Northern Kenya. The projects are now under heavy criticism by human rights activists but also by environmentalists and UNESCO.

Ethiopia: state of emergency perseveres 
The Guardian provides an overview about the current political climate in Ethiopia. According to the article, published last Saturday, 12 February 2017, new protests are on the rise demanding political change and true democracy. However, critics question whether grievance and anger can be transformed into action and doubt that the protesters have enough power to change the system. 

Eritrea: Abubaker Suleiman passed away 
Last week Wednesday, 8 February 2017, Abubaker Suleiman, the secretary of the Executive committee of the Eritrean Federal Movement, died in Khartoum, Sudan. Abubaker Suleiman was a well-known member of the Eritrean opposition dialogue forum and contributed to the establishment of the Eritrean National Council for Democratic Change at the Awasa congress in 2011.


The EEPA-Team