News Highlights: Conference Eritrea in Brussels, Dawit Isaak shortlisted for Sakharov Prize, situation in Sabratha critical

In this week’s news highlights: Brussels conference ‘Eritrea and the Ongoing Refugee Crisis’ next week; Eritrean official denied entry at conference US, sparks rumors of arrest; protests in Ethiopia; food shortage for South Sudanese refugees in Uganda; OXFAM published a report warning EU about its migration policies; ‘illegal migrant smuggling’ topping EU security priorities; Dawit Isaak shortlisted as finalist for EU Sakharov prize; Merkel agrees on 200.000 net migration limit; migrants and refugees in Sabratha left stranded after fighting.


Next week Thursday (19 October), the conference ‘Eritrea and the Ongoing Refugee Crisis’ will take place in Brussels, co-hosted by EEPA. The programme includes the UN Special Rapporteur on Eritrea, refugees, experts, scholars and members of European Institutions. Please find below the link to the programme and to the registration page.

  • Click here for the programme
  • Please click here to register  (registration required)

Greater Horn of Africa

Eritrea: rumors of arrest of Eritrean official Yemane Gebreab in USA
Rumors started spreading the news of the alleged detention by American authorities of Eritrean Government member Yemane Gebreab. The Eritrean politician was supposed to chair a conference in Washington DC despite being on the list of individuals who pose an “unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States” signed by Obama’s administration and accepted by Trump’s current one. However, according to additional reports, he was denied access to the event, but not detained.

Ethiopia: warning of violent protests by the US embassy
The US embassy in Ethiopia issued a warning of violent protests, including casualties, in Ethiopia around Shashamane, 250 km south of Addis Ababa.

South Sudan: food becoming scarce for refugees in Uganda
Food rations for South Sudanese refugees are being cut in Uganda as food aid becomes increasingly challenging. The UN World Food Programme is facing shortage of funds.

Eritrea: ‘The Lawless Nation’ book launch
A new book, titled ‘The Lawless Nation: A Story of an Eritrean Family’ by Berhane T. Weldegergis, was launched. The book aims to define Eritrea’s current situation through real life testimonies and stories. The author himself is an Eritrean refugee in the diaspora.
N.B. Copies of the book will be available at the Conference “Eritrea and the Ongoing Refugee Crisis” Brussels, October 19th, 2017.


Europe: Oxfam urgently asks for a shift of direction regarding migration policies
A new report published by Oxfam shines a light on the lack of protection for migrants and refugees in the current migration agenda of the European Union. The international organisation is asking for a ‘shift in direction’ in order to produce real long-term solutions to address refugee crises. As stated by Oxfam’s Humanitarian Campaign Manager Claire Seaward: “Europe is turning its back on people in need and on the foundation of the European project”.

Europe: fighting illegal migration top EU security priority
reports that the internal security group of the European Council regards ‘facilitation of illegal migration’ the top priority in the upcoming EU policy cycle for internal security. Migrant smuggling and the prevention of illegal migration are the crimes involving the most EU member states, stated the chair of the internal security group in a meeting with MEPs. Other matters like weapon trafficking and child exploitation are seemingly lower on the ladder of priorities.

European Parliament: Sakharov prize finalists announced, including Eritrean-Swedish journalist Dawit Isaak
Members of the European Parliament from the foreign affairs and development committees shortlisted three names as finalists for the prestigious Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought. Guatemalan Aura Lolita Chavez Ixcaquic, Venezuela’s democratic opposition led by Julio Borges and Swedish-Eritrean journalist and playwright Dawit Isaak were officially selected. Dawit Isaak was arrested in Eritrea in 2001 but never charged or tried and his location and state of wellbeing are unknown.

Germany: Angela Merkel’s party CDU agrees with CSU on migration limit of 200.000
Angela Merkel’s party CDU agreed with its sister party CSU on a net migration limit of 200.000 a year. Although Merkel long resisted a limit, according to Bloomberg, she gave in after the large win of the far-right party AfD in the last election. The limit may complicate Merkel’s attempts to form a coalition with the Green party, which questions the limit. 

Northern Africa

Libya: Situation Sabratha described as critical by UN Agencies
The International Organisation for Migration and the UN Refugee Agency warned of critical conditions in Sabratha. Under pressure of the EU and Italy, the Tripoli government struck a deal with an armed group in order to stop departures of migrants to Europe. The fighting that broke consequently killed 43 people and wounded 340 over a few weeks, and it left large numbers of migrants that had been held by the armed group with nowhere to go. Sadeeq Al-Jayash, head of the emergency committee in the town Zuwara, described hundreds of migrants and refugees walking almost 25 km and reaching Zuwara in desperate conditions.

Egypt: Africa Monitors fear potential for hostilities against refugees
The organization Africa Monitors fear that the negative attitude of citizens in de Ard-Lewa district in Egypt towards refugees could lead to hostilities.