News Highlights: Eritrean elder passes away causing unrest, South Sudanese oil money, drought impact on Somalia

In this week’s news highlights: Upheaval in Eritrea after death of widely recognized elder; Sudan-Eritrea border update by African Monitors; South Sudanese government denies allegations of using oil money to fund civil war; U.S. Secretary of State Tillerson’s visit to Ethiopia amidst civil unrest; Drought causes conflict in Somalia; UN OHCHR’s latest global report on human rights; Libya discussions in the European Parliament with EU and UNHCR; Italy’s election results may mean tougher stance on migration; Eritrean women’s protest at ICC in The Hague.

Horn of Africa

Eritrea: Death of respected elder causes upheavals against the government
According to a report by PEN Eritrea, Hajji Musa Mohammednur, a widely recognized Eritrean with a past of efforts to resist the regime of the country passed away in jail causing upheavals in Asmara last week. He reportedly refused to leave jail in solidarity to the protesters arrested after the protests in Asmara of October 2017. Sources say that, on the one hand, the government may be relieved by the passing of Mohammednur despite the disturbances it inspired. On the other hand, the sad demise “may only further confirm the government’s moral bankruptcy as they grow increasingly tired of, and increasingly bold in their resistance to, Afwerki’s almost 27-year rule”, writes Abraham T. Zere.

Sudan: Refugees continue to cross the border, Eritrean markets affected
Africa Monitors has published an update on the situation of the border closing between Sudan and Eritrea. Prices are reportedly skyrocketing in Eritrea, which is not self-sufficient – a situation worsened by drought. Trafficking from Sudan to Libya has also resumed at a greater scale, the monitors say.

South Sudan: Report states that oil money is used to finance civil war
An investigative report by NGO Global Witness shows that the South Sudanese government has used millions funneled through the national oil company to fund the ongoing civil war. It describes that the company involved, Nile Petroleum Corporation, is unregulated and is under direct government control.  “This combination of capture and secrecy has allowed it to funnel millions in oil revenues to the country’s brutal security services and ethnic militias with limited oversight and accountability”, the report writes. The South Sudanese government has denied the claims.

Ethiopia: Ahead of Tillerson’s visit in Ethiopia, state of emergency spreads
Strikes protesting the Ethiopian state of emergency spread across the Oromia region ahead of U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s arrival for talks with the country. The country’s state of emergency requires prior permission for rallies,public meetings and strikes and forbids absence from work ‘without enough reason’ said a broadcasting company funded by the government. However, the youth of the Oromia territory, which surrounds Addis Ababa, will go on a three-day strike to protest against the emergency measures that the Ethiopian parliament ratified without meeting a required two-thirds quorum, sources say.

Somalia: Continued drought increases chance of conflict
A report by PBS Newshour covers the effect of drought on Somalia. Drought is becoming more frequent and more severe in the Horn of Africa due to climate change. Somalia’s rural areas have been hit hard as the rains have failed again, the report says, and conflict over fertile land is increasing.

Annual Report of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rightsurges countries to respect human rights
In the report, the OHCHR welcomes human rights developments in countries like Somalia, however encourages the governments to build institutions and bring peace. Furthermore, it notices the near-complete lawlessness in Libya, the “clear pattern of ethnic persecution” in South Sudan, the journalists’ arrests and detention in Sudan and the state of emergency in Ethiopia. It is also highly concerned about human rights issues in Eritrea and notices that the country “will be the subject of an interactive dialogue on 12 March and an oral update on 14 March”.


European Parliament: Libya-discussions in the European Parliament highlight key issues
Key players in the European Union believe that the core difficulty in shaping policy on Libya is the division between the structure of the Libyan Political Agreement and the external issues the country is facing, as well as the geopolitical interests of the various groups involved and (human) trafficking. However, the European Parliament makes an important addition to the discussion regarding security.

Italy: Election outcomes herald harder action against migration
Italy’s election results this week have largely favouredright-wing and populist parties that have campaigned against migration. A large part of the problem is the lack of solidarity in some EU member states on migration, say European Union officials in a Reuters article, leaving Italy and Greece to deal with the majority of refugees and migrants arriving in Europe.

The Netherlands: Eritrean women protest in front of ICC
On the occasion of the International Women’s Day, an Eritrean Women’s Demonstration took place today in The Hague outside the headquarters of the International Criminal Court. This was organized by the Association of Eritrean Women for Justice Switzerland, the Eritrean Women for Justice Norway, the Network of Eritrean Women, the Eritrean Women for Justice in the Netherlands, Germany, UK, Sweden, Norway, Switzerland and the Eritrean Women EPDP. More to follow on our website