News Highlights: hunger strike in Israel as asylum seekers are jailed, Eritrea denies border talks with Ethiopia

In this week’s news highlights: Israel:First Eritreans in jail, triggering hunger strike among asylum seekers; Canada concerned with the situation in Israel; The story of a deported Eritrean who is now in Italy;report of border talks between Eritrea and Ethiopia, Eritrea denies report; Somalia’s Al-Shahaab in crisis of morale; Ethiopia in political turmoil; Ethiopian ruling party on its way out, US Congressman implies; US urges Ethiopia to reconsider martial law; Frontex reports on African asylum seekers; Soros used as enemy by Hungary in anti-migration narrative.



Israel jails the first Eritreans, African asylum seekers go on hunger strike
On February 21, Israel indefinitelyjailed the first 7 Eritrean asylum seekers that refused to be sent to Rwanda. “This is the first step in a what is a globally unprecedented deportation operation, a move tainted by racism and complete disregard for the life and dignity of asylum seekers,” the Hotline for Refugees and Migrants and ASSAF, two Tel Aviv-based refugee rights groups, said in a statement on Wednesday. In protest, 750 African asylum seekers went on a hunger strike.

Canada officially registers its concerns over the situation in Israel
Foreign Affairs Ministry said that Canada does not support policies of mass deportations of asylum seekers whose rights are laid out in the Geneva Convention on the Status of Refugees, towhich Israel is a signatory. Being the country that resettles the highest number of African asylum-seekers from Israel, Canada is in direct contact with the Government of Israel to convey Canada’s concerns.

Deported by Israel, the story of one of the Eritreans who found their way to Europe
After around 80 recorded cases where people relocated from Israel risked their lives by taking dangerous journeys towards Europe, the UNHCR recently appealed to Israel to stop its policy of forcefully relocating Eritreans and Sudanese people. The story of Asmorom, who is in Italy after ten years of struggle, sheds light on the grave circumstances that the Eritrean asylum seekers go through.

Horn of Africa

Eritrea: Eritrea denies talks with Ethiopia over border resolution

This week, the Indian Ocean Newsletterreported that discussions were underway between Ethiopia and Eritrea to resolve the border issue between the countries. The report mentioned details such as the names of the people involved and the meetings that are to take place. Eritrea, however, has categorically denied the report, describing it as ‘false’.

Somalia: Defectors reveal Al-Shahaab’s crisis of morale
The Somalian terrorist group Al-Shahaab is in financial crisis which has reportedly led to a crisis of morale. Intelligence documents have revealed the severity of the situation; they recruit child soldiers and suicide bombers, they treat gay people brutally, conduct forced marriages, and use civilian populations as human shields. Recent defectors have described the group as an “Islamic government without the interference of western powers in Somalia”.

Al-Shabaab plundering starving Somali villages of cash and children

Ethiopia: tumultuous political times as PM steps down, state of emergency is declared over anti-government protests
After the Ethiopian Prime Minster resigned last week, several experts say that Ethiopia is undergoing a historical moment in its political history. A six-month state of emergency was declared. Worrying is the fact that the Ethiopian Minister of Defense announced on Friday 16 February that protests and speech that could “incite and sow discord” will be banned.

Ethiopia: US prompts Ethiopia to reconsider martial law
After the country decided to institute martial law, the US embassy in Ethiopia urged them to reconsider this decision as they state it reverses the progress of the country in creating a more inclusive political space and it restricts fundamental rights such as freedom of assembly and expression. Other means should be found to protect lives and property, the statement said.

Ethiopia: US Congressman implies that Ethiopian ruling party is on its way out
On Wednesday 21 February, United States Congressman Dana Rohrabacher Tweeted “Game Over TPLF”, addressing the Tweet tothree peoplespecifically: the Eritrean Ambassador to Japan, an expert of political and security matters, and an Ethiopian activist. Sources say that the Congressman had issued an ultimatum for the government to allow UN rights monitors entry to examine human rights issues. The deadline for this was reported to be February 28, 2018, or the government could face a formal condemnation vote by US House ofRepresentatives.


Frontex: Africans made up nearly two-thirds of “illegal arrivals” to Europe in 2017
Even though numbers on the Libya-Italy route have declined since last July, as Libyan authoritiesbegan to block departures aided by the EU member states, Frontexsaid the crossings to Spain have more than doubled from below 10,000 in 2016. The EU has struggled to increase the returns of people who do not qualify for asylum in Europe..

Hungary: Soros is the ideal enemy that Hungary needs right now, Hungarian MEP says
A Hungarian Member of the European Parliament(MEP) said Hungary uses allegations against pro-migration Soros to mobilize anti-migration attitudes. .The government has been trying to build up “hate propaganda” against refugees on the basis that they are a threat to the Christian culture. Hungarian Prime Minister Orban recently told an audience that “Christianity is Europe’s last hope” and that, with mass immigration, especially from Africa, “our worst nightmares can come true. The West falls as it fails to see Europe being overrun.”