News Highlights: EU engagement Eritrea failing, leaked document EU-Ethiopia repatriation, EP resolution Sudan

In this week’s news highlights: EU attempts at engagement with Eritrea “producing little […] in terms of tangible results”; concern over 700 people that may soon be deported from the United States to Eritrea; Ethiopia and EU may soon sign a deal on repatriation, according to leaked draft document; The 2017 EU-AU summit ends without agreement on forced returns statement; European Commission sets out key points for combatting human trafficking; EU Parliament adopted a resolution on freedom of expression in Sudan; Amnesty International press release on Libya; and some German pilots refuse to repatriate Afghan people.

Greater Horn of Africa

Eritrea: EU attempts at engagement and aid bearing no fruit
An article of the Telegraph discusses European Union engagement and development funding to Eritrea. The article argues that the Eritrean regime, which itself plays a role in and benefits from the migration, gives nothing in return for the EU’s attempts at engagement. The attempts have produced little for the EU, while people continue to flee. The article quotes an EU official that worked on Eritrea until recently, saying: “Our accelerated re-engagement with the Eritrean government has produced little, if anything, in terms of tangible results.”

Eritrea: Eritrean organisations concerned over Eritrea repatriation policy developments
A statement published on The America Team for Displaced Eritreans’ web page foresees the imminent deportation of 700 Eritrean refugees from the United States to Eritrea and furthermore it warns of the concrete possibility of torture and executions awaiting the refugees once deported. Under US pressure, the Eritrean regime has agreed to issue travel documents that make deportation possible. The first case is currently being processed, and the outcome of this process might have wider implications if other countries take example, including in Europe.

Ethiopia: Ethiopian government seemingly about to sign a deal with EU to expel Ethiopians
A leaked draft document from the Council of the European Union, published by journalist Martin Plaut, suggest that Ethiopia and the EU may soon sign a deal on repatriation. The document states: “the Government of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia and the European Union (EU) agreed on the Admission Procedure applicable only for Ethiopian nationals who are illegally present in the EU Member States (EUMS).” Furthermore the document outlines a drafted plan composed of six sections: “General Provision; required travel documents; issuance of laissez-passer; travel documents; post admission and final provisions.”


Europe and Africa: The 2017 EU-AU summit outlined common thoughts but divergent bureaucracy
A joint statement published after the conclusion of the 2017 EU-AU summit shows both of the continents condemning the human trafficking situation currently ongoing in Libya. However official conclusions about the resolution of this issue have not been published yet. An article by Euractiv suggests the question concerning voluntary or forced returns is the reason for this delay. According to Euractiv’s sources,  “Europeans don’t appreciate the term voluntary” but on the other hands African answer is “we can not force people to go back to countries where they will not be safe.”

European Commission: key action points set over human trafficking and crime
The EU Commission published a follow-up report on the eradication of human trafficking and other related criminal activities. The report, addressed to the EU Parliament and Council, aims to set out key points in the fight against organised crime profiting from the trafficking of human beings. The key points identified by the Commission are: “disrupting the business model and untangling the trafficking chain, provide better access to and realise the rights for victims and intensify a coordinated and consolidated response both within and outside the EU.”

European Parliament: EU Parliament expresses deep concern over Sudan and the case of Mohamed Zine al Abidine
Mr. Zine al Abidine is a journalist convicted to 5 years of jail by Sudanese authorities. In 2012 he published and article criticising the alleged corruption inside the family of Sudan President Omar al-Bashir. The EU Parliament adopted a resolution asking Sudan to “immediately review all charges against Mohamed Zine al Abidine.” Through the resolution the Parliament expresses its deep concern over the situation regarding freedom of expression in Sudan.

Germany: Pilots refuse to operate 222 deportation flights
Between January and September of this year, more than 200 flights have been stopped by German pilots due to their concern for the safety of Afghan people being returned. Germany considers Afghanistan as a ‘safe country’ of origin in some cases, therefore the German government has ordered deportations for some Afghan people. Lufthansa spokesman Michael Lamberty told “The decision not to carry a passenger, was ultimately down to the pilot on a case-by-case decision [..] If he has the impression that flight safety could be affected, he must refuse the transport of a passenger.”

North Africa

Libya: Amnesty International blames EU-Libya deals for the human trafficking situation
Amnesty International Director for Europe John Dalhuisen expresses his point of view on the ongoing Libya situation: “two weeks of hand-wringing about slave auctions in Libya have been followed by two days of announcements designed to maintain the pretence of humanitarian concern, while keeping Europe’s primary aim – the closure of the central Mediterranean route – intact [..] The reality is that hundreds of thousands of refugees and migrants have found themselves trapped in Libya, and exposed to horrific abuses, as a result of the EU’s intensive cooperation with Libyan authorities.”