News Highlights:Israeli pilots refuse to deport refugees, Libyan torture videos sent to family, missing migrant children in EU

In this week’s news highlights:Israeli pilots are refusing to deport Sudanese and Eritrea refugees; Eritrean president demands compensation fees, claiming Israel wants to deport Eritreans to Eritrea;; political relations around Eritrea are changing; South Sudan dangerous for aid workers; New evidence in a study on smugglers suggests individuals play large role; Rise in the number of missing unaccompanied migrants in EU; EU calls for renewed cooperation to fight human trafficking; Eritrea tops Swiss  2017 asylum seekers list; IOM asking for 1.4 billion to help refugees; videos of torture used to extract ransom from family members of refugees in Libya.

Greater Horn of Africa

Sudan and Eritrea: Israeli pilots refusing to deport refugees to third countries

Some Israeli pilots have refused to deport Eritrean and Sudanese refugees stating “I won’t fly refugees to their deaths.”  Israel has been deporting the refugees ‘voluntarily’ to third countries, Rwanda and Uganda, or face indefinite imprisonment. However, some pilots do not want to deport people to countries where their lives might be in danger.

Eritrea: Compensation fee demanded of Israel for deported Eritreans
Eritrean president Isaias Afewerki claims that the Israeli government has asked Eritrea to accept thousands of Eritrean ‘illegal immigrants’. Isaias further stated in a recent interview that he would demand of the Israeli government for a compensation fee of 50,000$ for every Eritrean deported from Israel.

Eritrea: UnderstandingEritrea’s role inside Horn of Africa tensions
An article published by IDN-IndepthNews has a looked at the Eritrean position in the recent Horn of Africa regional tensions. The article looks at the relation between Eritrea and Egypt, the Sudanese and Turkish agreement over Suakin island, and the controversies over the Ethiopian project for a dam in the Nile river. Furthermore, last week, Eritrea received a strong diplomatic signal from the Netherlands by declaring the head of the Eritrean embassy office in The Hague ‘persona non grata’.

South Sudan: UN office for the coordination of humanitarian affairs: At least 28 aid workers killed in South Sudan in 2017
In November, the South Sudanese President ordered free movement for aid agencies all over the country, but despite this there have been several violent incidents in which aid workers were involved. 28 aid workers have been killed and while others were displaced, making the country one of the world’s most dangerous place for humanitarian fieldworkers.

Africa: Individuals, not criminal gangs, smuggle people from Africa study statesEven though smugglers are often portrayed as organized gangs, a study has argued that it is independent operators that control the routes of people smuggled to Europe from Africa. The study sheds light on the organizational traits, strategies and patterns of the smugglers.


Europe: The number of missing unaccompaniedmigrants is rising
Italian children rights association Telefono Azzurro called attention to the number of underaged migrants who have disappeared in Europe during the past few years. From 2012 to 2016, the number of unaccompanied minors who were untraceable rose from 1,754 to 6,508. Telefono Azzurro’s President Ernesto Caffo said that the project aimed to “…create a pathway to inclusion for these youngsters that might protect them from trafficking and all forms of exploitation.”

Europe: Human Trafficking in the EU needs more effective cooperation
Recently a number of Members of the European Parliament submitted questions regarding human trafficking in the EU, with the Commission answering that the EU Member States are encouraged to share information and best practices to render investigations and prosecutions more effective. EU Commissioner for Migration, Justice and Home Affairs Avramopoulos said that if the anti-trafficking rules are not respected, he will not hesitate to start infringement procedures.

Switzerland: Eritrea is the first country of provenance for asylum seekers in 2017
Eritreans top the Swiss asylum seekers list of 2017, followed by Syrian and Afghan people. The Swiss government revealed that in 2017, a fifth of the total of asylum requests came from Eritreans. However data showed that the overall rate of asylum requests for last year fell to the lowest level since 2010, almost a third less than the 2016 level.

Europe: Adjusting to a changing landscape: IOM to help more that 80 Million People in 50 Countries
Compared to last year’s amount of 1.1 billion USD, International Organisation on Migration (IOM) is appealing for almost 1.4 billion this year to respond to the rapidly changing humanitarian needs. This fund will be used to support vulnerable groups of people and to cover organized activities regarding crisis prevention, emergency response, transition and recovery, says the Agency.

North Africa

Videos of torture in Libya sent to refugee family members by human traffickers demanding ransom
Belgian media showed images of Sudanese refugees held captive and tortured in Libya, showing the reality of torture for ransom in the country. These articles explain how migrants and refugees in North Africa are promised safe passage to Europe by smugglers, but often their journey ends in the hands of human traffickers in Libya. Here they are imprisoned and tortured while their families back home receive the images, together with ransom demands. Research has indicated the involvement of the Eritrean and Sudanese regime in human trafficking.