News Highlights: More money for Turkey deal, Eritrea in Human Rights Council, Video of Hajji Musa’s funeral

In this week’s news highlights: The UN Human Rights Council discussed Eritrea; video emerges of respected Eritrean elder’s funeral; letter of an Eritrean citizen to his President; South Sudan runs out of money; EU announces stricter migration measures and more money for Turkey; European Parliament urges release of human rights defenders in Sudan; EEAS updates on migration actions; and data should be used cautiously when it comes to refugees and migrants, expert warns.

Greater Horn of Africa

Eritrea: UN Human Rights Council discusses situation – no change in human rights
At the UN Human Rights Council, an ‘enhanced interactive dialogue’ on human rights in Eritrea took place on 12 March. It included an update from the Special Rapporteur on Eritrea, Sheila Keetharuth , which showed that human rights violations continue. Multiple human rights organizations and experts called for international support, while attention was also given to human trafficking and to the continuous imprisonments of the political opposition and of journalists. Eritrea itself was not there to take the floor. Furthermore, on Wednesday, U.N. Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights Kate Gilmore called for the release of those arbitrarily arrested and detained in the country.

Eritrea: Video of widely recognized Eritrean elder’s funeral to inspire generations
Recently, a widely recognized Eritrean elder with a history of efforts to resist certain policies implemented by the regime of the country passed away in jail causing upheavals in Asmara. On March 3 the funeral was recorded informally for, as the article writes, if someone recorded and aired it formally, the people responsible would face severe consequences by the state of Eritrea. This video, the Awate Team says, “will inform Eritreans for generations to come, how a 93-year old patriot defied injustice and chose to die for his rights.”

Eritrea: A citizen’s letter to Eritrea’s President Isaias Afwerki sheds light to the country’s tragedy
A citizen of Eritrea has written an open letter to the President  of the country, published on the website Awate, describing the experiences of living in Eritrea. The letter highlights that the way President Afwerki has been ruling the country is the source of the person’s biggest scars and their surprise when the former chose to change “his love for Eritrea into a hatred of its people”. “Do not let your temporary power deceive you, Isaias”, the letter reads at  the end.

South Sudan: President openly states that the county is out of money
The President of South Sudan has openly stated that the country has no more cash reserves. Heargued that the war was to blame and that the economy could be fixed if the war stopped so that investors and other money-generating activities could go back to normal.  Sources say that the conflict and political differences could come to an end if the government makes compromises or shows “a willingness to accept and implement the 2015 peace agreement in good faith.”


European Union: Stricter migration measures announced
The European Commission’s Dimitris Avramopoulos announced stricter migration measures, including an extra 3.7 billion Euros for the ‘Turkey deal’. The deal includes return and reception of Syrian refugees in Turkey, but it is considered controversial. The EU’s announcement also included restricting visas to countries who refuse to accept returned migrants who have not obtained asylum.

European Parliament: MEPs urge Sudan to respect human rights
In its latest plenary session in Strasbourg, the European Parliament has called for respect of human rights and the immediate release of human rights defenders, such as the Sakharov Prize Laureate Salih Mahmoud Osman. Furthermore, the Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) condemned the practice of torture and ill-treatment of detained persons and demonstrators, while they also urged for the Sudanese government to immediately sign and ratify the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women. Lastly, they asked the EU and the member states to provide support to those Sudanese authorities and citizens who are “genuinely seeking change”.

EEAS:Mogherini sees progress in handling migration, however “there is still work to be done”
The EU High Representative Federica Mogherini addressed the Members of the European Parliament, saying that due to the agreement between the EU, the African Union and the UN, more than 16,000 people from camps in Libya were rescued. She noted that the EU’s naval operation Sophia has managed to apprehend suspected smugglers and traffickers and neutralized vessels used by criminals. She stated that the European Union – African Union – United Nations Taskforce will continue to transfer migrants and people in need of international protection in the detention centers.

Opinion: ‘Data-driven Humanitarianism’ poses important risks

Improving data collection to help refugees and migrants has been applauded by many, such as UNICEF, UNCHR and the World Bank. However, some argue that there are reasons to be cautious with this enthusiasm for ‘data-driven humanitarianism’, cautions an article on Chatham House. One of them is that authoritarian states could make use of such data for surveillance, discrimination and punitive action. As Dr. Jess Crisp, expert on refugees and humanitarianism, suggests, “Protecting people on the move starts not with better data, but with an ability to understand the key threats to their rights and to change the behaviour of those responsible for putting refugee and migrant lives at risk.”