News Highlights: Study 2% Eritrean diaspora tax, clashes in Ethiopia, remembering crackdown Eritrea

(Photo by Jonathan Alpeyrie/Getty images)

In this week’s news highlights: new study published on 2% diaspora tax for Eritreans in Europe confirming reports of coercion and threat; German charity denies Italian allegations that its rescue ship has had contact with Libyan smugglers; European Parliament delegation visits Tunisia to discuss about current situation of migrants and refugees; BCC launches websites for Eritrean and Ethiopian audiences; Ethiopian ethnic crisis may escalate as officials point fingers at each other; Eritrean people remember the day in which the government crackdown of 2001. 


The Netherlands: Dutch government condemns Eritrean diaspora tax
An official study commissioned by the Dutch government has confirmed concerns related to uncertain legality, intimidation and coercion related to the 2% Eritrean diaspora tax. The report investigated the legal basis, the modalities, perceptions and the role of the Eritrean government (including embassies) of the tax in seven European countries. The Dutch government plans to send the study report to the African Union and several UN bodies such as the UN Security Council. It also warns that if solid proof of coercion, intimidation and other illegal practices emerge involving the Eritrean embassy in The Hague, diplomatic measures are not ruled out. 

Italy: German charity ‘Jugend Rettet’ denies any contact with Libyan smugglers
The head of the German organisation ‘Jugend Rettet’ has declared that no partnership or contact has ever existed between the organisation and human smugglers from Libya. The organisation is challenging the seizure of its ship, the Iuventa, by Italian authorities. In the trial taking place in Trapani, Italian authorities allege that the organisation was in contact with human smugglers, a claim which is described by ‘Jugend Rettet’ as a “smear campaign”.  

European Parliament: A delegation of MEPs currently in Tunisia to discuss migrants’ situation
A delegation of Members of the European Parliament from the Civil Liberties Committee is in Tunisia from 18 to 22 September in order to discuss with the current situation for migrants and refugees with the Tunisian government. The delegation will also discuss the Trust Fund for Migration projects in Libya with NGOs.

Greater Horn of Africa

Ethiopia: clashes between Oromos and ethnic Somalis cause deaths
In Ethiopia, thousands of people have fled and as many as 30 people have been reported killed in the Somali region. The BBC explains the conflict and states that the involvement of high-ranking officials from the two regions, who are blaming one another, could cause the conflict to escalate further. 

Eritrea: remembering the government crackdown
Sixteen years ago the Eritrean President Isaias Afeworki arrested many political opponents and free journalists. Free press was closed down and therefore, 18 September is often referred to as ‘Black Tuesday’. Abraham Zere from PEN Eritrea remembers Eritrea as it was before the crackdown.

Eritrea and Ethiopia: BBC launches websites aimed at Eritrean and Ethiopian audiences
BBC has launched three websites specifically created in order to provide news and data in Ethiopia and Eritrea. The websites cover three languages,  Amharic, Afaan Oromo and Tigrinya.  The BBC aims the project to be a ‘source of truth’ in the countries. The launch of the websites will be followed by the launch of a radio programme in several months. 

Horn of Africa: 37 million in need of food aid
Drought and conflict are causing an estimated 37 million people in Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, and Yemen to be in need of emergency food assistance. Diarrheal diseases worsen the situation. Earlier this year, organisations like Oxfam warned that hunger crises in the Horn of Africa may get even more severe in the near future, due to the effects of climate change.