News Highlights: Shooting at protests in Asmara, hotel attack in Mogadishu, Sahel G5 force launched

In this week’s news highlights: shots were fired at protests in Asmara, Eritrea – reports of casualties and injuries still unconfirmed; Eritrean organisation Freedom Friday calls for unity; war crimes trial against Ethiopian-Dutch Eshetu Alemu has started; Al-Shabaab attacked Mogadishu hotel using IDs and uniforms of security forces; South Sudan and Sudan leaders meet; UN Special Rapporteur on Eritrea calls for protection of refugees; Sahel G5 force against terrorism and trafficking launched.

Greater Horn of Africa

Eritrea: Protest and shooting in Asmara
Protests occurred in Asmara, the capital city of Eritrea, against a political action to scrap religious teachings at schools. The protests reportedly emerged from the Muslim community after school chairman Hajj Musa Mohammed Nur was arrested, though other religions also joined the protest. Shots were fired, as shown by videos of that have emerged. The U.S. Embassy in Asmara issued a warning on the shooting. News about injuries and possible deaths is still unconfirmed, though reports from an opposition group working from Ethiopia claim that 28 were killed.

Eritrea: Background article helps understanding current situation
A background article published by Eritrean organisation Arbi Harnet (Freedom Friday) on Asmarino Independent aims to explain the escalation of the protest in Asmara. The article states that some of the causes which led to the clash between protesters and police date back to 2014.

Eritrea: Activists call for unity against PFDJ
An appeal of unity across all religions and backgrounds has been made by Freedom Friday. The statement, published by Martin Plaut, states that contrary to what the Government says, not only Muslim people took part to the rally last Tuesday and that ‘we are all victims of the same persecution and yesterday we stood up against them together’.

Ethiopia: War crimes trial kicks off in The Hague
A war crimes trial against Eshetu Alemu has begun in the Netherlands. Alemu is the former aide of the dictator Mengistu Haile Mariam, who ruled Ethiopia during the period known as ‘The Red Terror’ in the ‘70s. Alemu is accused of ordering the execution of 75 people and of torture and inhumane treatment. At the trial opening, Alemu claimed that ‘authorities have the wrong perosn’.

Somalia: Al-Shabaab attacks Mogadishu Hotel using Intelligence IDs and killing 23
Only two weeks after the deadliest terrorist attack in the country, which killed over 350 people in the heart of Somalia’s capital city, another attack took place in Mogadishu. The attackers acted following a bomb explosion in front of the hotel, and were able to enter the venue due to the possession of Ids and uniforms of Somalia’s Secret Services. They killed 23 people over 12 hours, including children.

South Sudan: President Salva Kiir flies to Sudan to discuss border issues
South Sudanese president Salva Kiir is currently in Sudan in order to attend a two day meeting with Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir. News sources state that the meetings are aimed to solving border and security issues.


Geneva: UN Special Rapporteur on Eritrea calls attention to regime’s impunity
The UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Eritrea, Sheila B. Keetharuth, called for an immediate response over the Eritrean regime’s impunity and severe human rights violations in a speech at the UN General Assembly.  She calls for protection of Eritrean refugees, and has proposed concrete benchmarks to measure progress in the country. “I appeal to the international community not to turn their backs on Eritrean refugees for short-term political gain in response to populist electoral demands or promises, which can translate into actual restrictions, harassment and human rights violations”.

Europe: The ambiguous role toward people helping refugees
An opinion article published by Euractiv looks at  the European Union’s current role and aims in the ‘migrant crisis’. The articles focuses on the analysis of what can be seen as a change of attitude toward people and organisations helping refugees.

North Africa

Sahel region: ‘G5’ Sahel force begins operations
A military force combining the forces of five countries has started operations in the Sahel region to fight terrorism and human trafficking. The countries Mali, Niger, Chad, Burkina Faso and Mauritania are backed by French troops and $60 million in funding by the U.S., but the UN did not financially back the force.

Libya: The ‘empty promise’ of Abu Salim’s detention camp
The Guardian published a testimony of a refugee resigned to his destiny after many months of empty promises and illusions. Ali a 24 years old Nigerian who has been detained in Abu Salim’s camps for weeks and who wants to tell his story. Another witness of the inhuman chaos which Libya has become.