News Highlights: Attack in Somalia, Swiss aid to Eritrea, Libya political meeting

In this week’s news highlights: Devastating attack in Somalia; Ethiopian government official resigns; South Sudan refugee video report; story of an Eritrean minor; Switzerland starts new programmes with Eritrea; France announces tougher measures on migration; Libyan political leaders to meet in Tunis; UNHCR statement on Libyan detention camps; operations in the Mediterranean saved 600 people; Egyptian army engaged in fighting with terrorist groups in Sinai region.

Greater Horn of Africa

Somalia: Truck-bomb in Mogadishu, the deadliest attack in the history of the country

A truck-bomb loaded with several hundreds of kilograms of home-made and military explosive material went off in the city centre of Mogadishu. Following official reports on the attack, more than 300 people died – a number expected to rise – and hundreds are seriously injured. A second truck filled with explosive material was found unexploded and the suspect was reported to be an ex-soldier whose town was raided by local and US troops. The episode was linked by officials to the conflict raging in between Al-Shabaab terrorists and the Somalian army, although the attack has not been claimed yet by Al-Shabaab.

South Sudan: fighting continues devastating impact on South Sudanese population
The four-year-old civil war between South Sudanese soldiers and rebel militias is continuing, with the United Nations stating that half the country’s population – 6 million – is in need of aid. During these four years around 2 million people have fled the country, causing one of the worst refugee crises in the region. PBS journalists made a report from Uganda.

Ethiopia: New twist inside Ethiopian government
Bereket Simon, a high-ranking official responsible for the coordinator in charge of Policy Studies and Research, announced his resignation. Mr. Simon’s announcement comes just weeks after the resignation of Mr. Baye Tadesse, Protocol Chief of the Ethiopian Prime Minister, who asked for political asylum to the USA government.

Eritrea: story of a young girl’s journey to Ethiopia
Africa Monitors have translated the story of a young girl estimated around 11-13 years old, who crossed the Eritrean-Ethiopian border on foot, on her own. It describes her journey to Ethiopia in search of her four brothers, who had fled the national service. It illustrates the fragmentation of Eritrean families.


Switzerland restarts cooperation programmes with Eritrea
Swiss foreign minister announced that after 11 years, Swiss organisations will restart cooperation programmes in Eritrea at least until the end of 2019. This news raised some controversial questions especially due to the fact that the head of one of the  main organisation involved in this projects, Mr. Toni Loch, has been described as a personal friend of Eritrean President. Furthermore, some sources state that Loch has blocked visas to Eritrea for Swiss journalists who accuse the Eritrean regime of being a dictatorship.

France: Macron announces that convicted migrants will be deported

French president Manuel Macron announced that undocumented migrants convicted of a crime could be deported immediately, regardless of their background and the nature of the crime itself. RT reports that the move is speculated to come as an appeasement to the far-right voter base. 

Northern Africa

Libya: New meeting in Tunisia between the two opposite factions
An announcement was made of a new meeting scheduled for this Saturday between general Haftar and Tripoli government prime minister Al-Sarraj as an attempt for a political settlement. The meeting will be hosted in the capital city of Tunisia.

UNHCR speaks about Libyan detention camps critical contditions

Andrej Mahecic, UN Refugee Agency spokesman, made a statement in Geneva on the current situation in Libyan detention camps. The situation in Libya is critical and the recent devastation of the city in Sabratha ‘further reaffirms the need for international action’, said Mahecic.

Mediterranean sea: Libya’s critical situation effecting refugee arrival

Several operations over 36 hours, a combined effort between the German NGO ‘SOS Mediterranee’ and the Italian Coast guard, saved around 600 refugees. This number is the highest since the Italian government reached an agreement with the Libyan authorities during this summer. Spokesman for the UN Refugee Agency in Rome, Federico Fossi stated ‘We need to see over the medium-term if there is a new trend’.

Egypt: Sinai region under severe pressure by terrorists
The Sinai region is again the stage of fighting between Egyptian army and organised terrorist groups. As can be read from an unofficial statement, a troup of Military soliders was attacked by a several groups of heavily armed terrorists near the Sinai town of Sheikh Zweid. The army deployed helicopters and during the fight 24 attackers and 6 soldiers died.