News Highlights: Israel re-examines asylum cases, new ruling Chairman in Ethiopia, rescue NGO accused of human trafficking

In this week’s news highlights: Israel re-examines Eritrean cases for asylum; Amnesty International condemns Israeli refugee policy; Abiy Ahmed elected head of EPRDF ruling coalition in Ethiopia;10.000 displaced Ethiopians in Kenya; South Sudan claims Sudan threatens their sovereignty; Number of incidents with car bombs in Somalia; Many Somali refugees return home to help rebuild it; Spanish NGO accused of trafficking after refusing to send rescued people to Libya; and the EU prioritizes migration in new partnership with Africa.

Greater Horn of Africa

Eritrea: Israeli Population and Immigration Authority reexamines cases for refugee status
Following a ruling of a court in Jerusalem that desertion from the Eritrean army can serve as a basis for obtaining refugee status, Israel’s Deputy Attorney General has called for a re-examination of cases of Eritreans imprisoned in Saharonim prison.Their applications for refugee status were denied. “The review shall be conducted as swiftly as possible, so that infiltrators who can be released from custody are not detained further. A decision regarding release will be made upon the completion of the review of each individual case,” describes a Justice Ministry document. The review should be concluded by 29 March.

Eritrea and Sudan: Israeli policy feeds global refugee crisis, Amnesty International says
Amnesty International has described the Israeli policy on refugees and asylum seekers as an example of political measures that bolsters the refugee crisis. “The forced – and illegal – deportation of Eritrean and Sudanese asylum-seekers is a reckless abandonment of responsibility. This is an example of the ill-thought-out policies that have fed the so-called global refugee crisis” said Philip Luther, Amnesty International’s Research and Advocacy Director for the Middle East and North Africa.

Ethiopia: New chairman elected for Ethiopian ruling coalition
According to state media, the Ethiopian chairing coalition has elected Abiy Ahmed as its new chairman. Ahmed, belonging in the Oromo ethnic group, is now expected to become Ethiopia’s next prime minister. Having won 108 out of 180 votes in a meeting of the Council of the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), he is now expected to be sworn in as prime minister in a matter of days. Analysts seem optimistic over his election.

Ethiopia: Following security operations in Ethiopia, 10,000 people have been displaced to Kenya
On March 10, the Ethiopian security forces conducted a military operation in Moyale, Ethiopia, causing the death of 13 people, while 20 were injured and 16 were reported as missing. The Ethiopian government announced that this happened due to false intelligence about the presence of the militant opposition group (OLF) in the area. However, the incident has led to the displacement of around 10,000 people to Kenya.

South Sudan: South Sudan warns Khartoum for response to any provocation
South Sudanese army spokesperson claimed that Sudanese troops aligned their heavy military equipment along the border, threatening South Sudan’s sovereignty. “Where there is movement of manpower with equipment of combat service support, it raises an eyebrow” the spokesperson said, adding that South Sudan would respond to any form of provocation by the Sudanese military.

Somalia:Car explodes outside Somali Parliament
A car exploded under suspicious circumstances last Sunday after soldiers stopped it at a security checkpoint, with three people reported to be dead and one wounded. Similar occurrences are said to have been happening in the last days; a few hours before the last incident, a similar one had happened outside Mogadishu, and 3 days before at least 14 people were killed in a car bombing on a busy road of the Somali capital. Al Jazeera described that “Mogadishu is often a target of attacks by al-Shabab, which is fighting to overthrow Somalia’s internationally recognized government”.

Somalia: Somali refugees return home to rebuild the country
Having always felt a ‘sense of duty’,many Somali refugees go back home to support the ones left behind, reports The Guardian. The article describes that “the sheer numbers of diaspora returnees is unique to a country that has seen decades of war and lawlessness. In 2015, two million Somalis living outside the country were sending home so much money to support the households who stayed behind that the remittances accounted for 23% of GDP”.


Spain: Having refused to hand refugees over to Libya, NGO accused of human trafficking
Members of a Spanish NGO are accused of human trafficking after they have rescued refugees in the Mediterranean Sea. It was reported that the NGO picked up the refugees well outside Libyan territorial waters, after receiving a rescue distress signal from the Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre in Rome who then instructed them to hand the people over to the Libyan coast guard. However, the people refused to board the Libyan vessel.The NGO is said to have been fearful of possible “illegal push-backs to Libya given the rescue was well beyond Libyan territorial waters”. Now, the chief prosecutor of Catania has accused them of trafficking for having refused to hand people rescued over to the Libyans.

EU: Migration and security foreseen at the heart of post-Cotonou Agreement
EU and Africa are beginning the talks for a post-Cotonou agreement, as it ceases to apply in 2020. The issues to consider are plenty, but the EU has already prioritized migration and security. Koen Vervaeke, managing director for Africa at the European External Action Service (EEAS), stressed that “The EU’s new partnership with Africa must do more with migration [policy]. We must partner with Africa to fight trafficking and migrant smuggling”. Furthermore, he said that the EU wants to also improve the mechanisms for the African’s legal migration to Europe.