Switzerland may return Eritreans, MEPs call on Member States to focus on migration, EU Council conclusions on South Sudan

In this week’s news highlights: Switzerland assessing 3,200 Eritreans for possible deportation; European Parliament talks about migration policy reform; Macron proposes new EU fund for migration; EU Council conclusions on South Sudan; Accusations of NGO aiding human trafficking in Italy continues; Somalia retains another UAE plane; In-depth articles on youth in the Horn of Africa; Refugees International publishes report on Libya; Captive Eritreans in Israel released; And abuses of African refugees in Yemen.


Switzerland: Eritreans in Switzerland may face deportation
Around 3,200 Eritreans are to face deportation from Switzerland back to Eritrea, on the basis of a ruling of the country’s Federal Administrative Court in 2017 which ordered that the return of Eritrean nationals is lawful provided they have completed their military service; following the verdict, Switzerland is reviewing 3,200 concrete cases. It should be noted however that there is no agreement with the Eritrean government on readmission yet. The Swiss State Secretariat for Migration, in a letter sent to the Eritreans concerned, reads that “The SEM thus intends to annul the provisional admission and order the enforcement of the return.”

EU: EP stresses need to bring migration reform back in focus
In the European Parliament April plenary in Strasbourg, Members urged the EU leaders to be more decisive on reforming the EU migration policy. They called for better protection of the EU’s external borders, introducing national quotas for receiving migrants, and reiterated the idea of an EU Marshall Plan for Africa. The migration package should also be brought back on the agenda for the upcoming EU summits in order to define a common position and to reach a breakthrough, they stressed.

EU: French President proposes establishing EU fund to deal with migration
French President Macron, during his speech at the European Parliament on Tuesday 17 April, said that the Parliament should progress on migration before the end of its term in 2019. He suggested that there should be a new EU fund for helping towns hosting and integrating refugees. Furthermore, he called on ‘European sovereignty’ to deal with the increasing authoritarianism, indirectly pointing to Poland and Hungary.

EU: European Council adopts conclusions on South Sudan
On Monday 16 April, the European Council adopted conclusions on the situation in South Sudan characterizing 2018 as a critical year, asthe term of the Transitional Government of National Unity comes to an end. The EU reaffirmed its willingness to support South Sudan, if the latter reforms its system of corruption, stops the culture of impunity and ends the human rights abuses.  Nevertheless, the EU urged all the parties to the conflict to “immediately cease fighting and participate in the peace process in good faith.”

Italy: Allegations that NGO helps human trafficking continue
Some weeks ago, three crew members of a Spanish NGOboat‘Open Arms’ were accused of human trafficking after they rescued refugees in the Mediterranean Sea. On Monday 16 April, an Italian judge ordered them to be released, however the prosecutors are still investigating whether the captain and the mission’s coordinator should face trial on “charges of enabling illegal immigration”. The Guardian reported that “the case comes amid growing concerns that NGOs are being criminalized for trying to save lives in the Mediterranean”.

Greater Horn of Africa

Somalia: Another incident between Somali authorities and UAE airplane
After last week’s incident with Somali authorities seizing $ 9.6 million from a plane that had landed from the United Arab Emirates, another airplane that landed in Somalia is said to have been stopped from leaving the country, as Emirati military trainers on board refused their luggage to be searched. Local news said that talks between the Puntland region’s Somali authorities and the UAE are under way, with the UAE foreign ministry not commenting on the matter.

Life and Peace Institute on the Horn of Africa’s youth
LPI has published four new articles on the youth of the Horn of Africa. They are pointing to the difficulty of addressing the challenges of the aforementioned, their multifaceted exclusion and the need to engage them in countering violent extremism. The inclusion of youth  has emerged as a top priority in the agenda of stabilizing the region.


RI report on Libya recommends new actions
A report from Refugees International sheds light on the harrowing experiences of migrants and refugees trying to reach the European shores from Libya and offers recommendations to the stakeholders to improve their policies.For instance, it suggests to deploy a search-and-rescue operation and to resettle refugees with urgency “via UNHCR’s ETM program and support other countries that would be willing to replicate the ETM model; also, where possible, resettle refugees and asylum seekers directly from Libya”.


Israel: African refugees held in Israel released
Following a decision of the High Court of Israel, the Eritrean asylum seekers held in prison are now released, as the agreement of the State with Rwanda to take them in has collapsed and the discussions with Uganda have not been fruitful either – although discussions are reportedly still ongoing. A common statement by human rights organizations has condemned the Israeli actions and urged them to promote real solutions and “examine the asylum requests in a fair manner”.

Yemen: Horn of Africa’s asylum seekers in Yemen describe horror
Survivors of the journey from the Horn of Africa to Yemen have described to the UNHCR the horror they have faced in Yemen. Asylum seekers in Yemen are being held indefinitely and without due processes, are abused and held in detention facilities and they are threatened with being deported back to their countries. UNHCR reports that it has supported the Yemeni authorities to deal with the issues, and last year they launched a regional awareness campaign to inform those who are thinking to take the journey.