News Highlights: Eritrean Patriarch Antonios seen at Mass, Italy threatens EU, summer break

This week in the News Highlights: EEPA takes a summer break and the News Highlights will continue 17 August; Italy is keeping the option open of granting temporary visas for migrants; right-wing group aims to help returning migrants and refugees to Libya; Patriarch of the Eritrean Orthodox Church, Abune Antonios, was seen at a Mass but according to witnesses, he was not allowed to speak; shots were fired in a three-hour exchange between the Eritrean and Ethiopian military; negotiations on sanctions US-Sudan continue; and state of emergency is declared in four South Sudan states.


Italy: considering temporary visas to allow migrants to travel the EU
reports that Italy is keeping all options open in its struggle to gain more support from other EU member states in the ‘migration crisis’. In an interview published on the Foreign Ministry website, it was stated that the country is in a ‘tug of war’ to gain more solidarity. As a way of grabbing the attention of the EU member states, it keeps the option of granting temporary visas open.

Meanwhile, France’s new prime minister shows little indication that France will open its borders or meet its quota on the EU relocation scheme, to the frustration of Italy.

Mediterranean Sea: Right-wing group aiming to stop migrants getting to Europe
reports that a right-wing group is aiming to help Libyan coast guards by returning refugees and migrants to Libya and destroying the boats. Human rights defenders argue that its original mission was to stop NGO rescue boats from doing their work, although the group now denies this. With a new code of conduct pending for NGOs that could keep them out of Libyan waters, it is feared that the death toll for refugees and migrants may rise.

Meanwhile, the European Commission plans to limit the sale of rubber boats to Libya. Luxembourg’s Foreign Minister, Jean Asselborn, warns that migrants and refugees brought back to Libya have to face horrible conditions in what the minister refers to as “sometimes concentration camps”.

Greater Horn of Africa

Eritrea: Patriach Abune Antonios makes a public appearance, but seemingly nothing changed
Evidence from inside Eritrea, collected by the Freedom Friday (Arbi Harnet) movement, confirms that the Patriarch of the Eritrean Orthodox Church, Abune Antonios, was present at a Mass on Sunday in Asmara, Eritrea. The 90-year-old Patriarch has been under house arrest since 2007. However, further information that emerged suggests that the meeting was carefully orchestrated by the Eritrean regime, that the Patriarch did not speak and that it seems he has not been released or reinstated. In addition, fears about his wellbeing remain.

Eritrea: firing shots on Ethiopia-Eritrea border
About three hours long, shots were fired on the border between Ethiopia and Eritrea on Wednesday, Martin Plaut reports. Reportedly, the shooting started after the Eritrean military opened fire on a group of around 40 fleeing refugees, and the Ethiopian military retaliated.

Eritrea: Radio Erena broadcasts from Paris to Eritrea
The Guardian
published an in-depth piece about radio station Radio Erena and its founder Biniam Simon. The radio station broadcasts carefully collected information into the closed country, fighting a never-ending battle with the Eritrean regime who tries to shut them down.

Sudan: sanction negotiations with US to continue
Last week, Sudan stated that negotiations with the US would be stopped after the Trump-administration announced that it would extend the deadline of its decision on lifting sanctions. Sudan President Omer Al-Bashir reportedly agreed to resume negotiations at the request of Saudi Arabia.

South Sudan: State of Emergency declared in four states by President Kiir
South Sudan’s President, Salva Kiir, has declared a state of emergency in four states where heavy fighting between the government and the rebels takes place. The state of emergency will restrict movement of civilians at night. Some sources of VOA News express fear that the restrictions will affect the rights of citizens and restrict the actions of NGOs.

South Sudan: Climate change a threat, especially in conflict areas
The whole greater Horn of Africa is under severe threat from climate change, with the effects already clearly visible in the recent drought and hunger. Especially in conflict areas such as South Sudan, the recent temperature rise – with the temperature rising about 2.5 times faster than elsewhere in the world – is particularly devastating. ABC News reports.

We hope to see you again in August