News Highlights: Eritrea to send delegation to Ethiopia, UK Home Office’s delays lead to child migrants’ deaths, Hungary’s anti-immigration laws

In this week’s news highlights: Eritrean-Ethiopian relationship developments – Eritrea to send delegation; Ethiopian security forces accused by PM Abiy; Rebel leader and president meet to discuss peace in South Sudan; Stop harassing news outlets, Sudanese advocacy group urges the government; Sudan and South Sudan to be assisted by new EU fund; Mishandlings of asylum requests by the UK Home Office has lethal outcomes; Hungarian anti-immigration laws passed; EU’s informal deal on migrants’ access to labor market; MSF urges politicians to put human lives first; UN Refugee Commissioner Grandi’s statement for World Refugee Day; and the Post- Cotonou Agreement’s focal points.

Greater Horn of Africa

Eritrea: Eritrea’s first response to peace deal with Ethiopia gives measure of hope
Eritrea, having recently been offered a peace deal by Ethiopia to end their border dispute, responded that it is viewing this as “positive signals”. Eritrean PM Afwerki said he is sending a delegation to Addis Ababa to understand the position of his Ethiopian counterpart, and “chart out a plan”. Ethiopian PM Abiy’s chief of staff said “the prime minister welcomed Isaias’s statement and promised the Eritrean delegation would be welcomed “warmly and with considerable goodwill” “, as Foreign Desk News reports.

Ethiopia: Ethiopian PM accuses security institutions of torture
Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has accused the country’s security institutions of carrying out acts of terrorism by wrongfully imprisoning and torturing people. “Does the constitution say anyone who was sentenced by a court can be tortured, put in a dark room? It doesn’t. Torturing, putting people in dark rooms, is our act of terrorism,” MrAbiy told MPs.

South Sudan: South Sudanese President and rebel leader meet in an effort to stop the conflict
South Sudan’s president Salva Kiir and South Sudanese rebel leader Riek Machar met yesterday, June 20, for the first time since 2016, when a peace deal collapsed and fighting re-erupted between their forces. The meeting took place in Ethiopia. The Ethiopian prime minister’s chief of staff said that “Faced with the continued suffering in South Sudan, Ethiopia simply can’t stand by. With more work, a peaceful future is possible”, Reuters reports.

Sudan: Sudanese authorities must stop harassing news outlets, advocacy group urges
After the recent entire seizure of two daily prints and the interrogation of two journalists,the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), an advocacy group for the promotion of press freedom worldwide, called on the Sudanese security service to stop censoring news outlets, questioning journalists, and revoking reporters’ accreditation. In a statement released on Monday, the CPJ said they sent the request by email to the Sudanese authorities from whom they have not yet receiveda response. “Sudanese authorities cannot hide behind the censor every time a journalist expresses a critical opinion or exposes harsh realities,” said CPJ Middle East and North Africa Program Coordinator Sherif Mansour.


UK: Sources show that delays of the UK Home Office in processing asylum claims cause deaths
At least 3 Eritrean teenagers have committed suicide the last 6 months after their arrival in Britain. It is true that the UK Home Office is not sending people back to Eritrea as it is considered too dangerous; however, the child asylum seekers are not granted refugee status, remain in limbo and resort to drastic ways out. The Guardian reports that a study by the children’s commissioner has warned that “testimony from migrant children demonstrates how the experience of uncertainty and waiting leads to a state of paralysis and depression, seriously undermining their wellbeing”.

Hungary: Hungarian Parliament passes anti-immigration laws
Yesterday, Wednesday 20 June, the Hungarian Parliament approved the much disputed bill package that criminalizes help given to ‘illegal’ migrants. Moreover, another constitutional amendment contrary to EU law – stating that an “alien population” cannot be settled in Hungary – was passed. “The legislation narrows the scope for action by non-governmental organisations (NGOs), making their workers liable for jail terms for helping migrants to seek asylum when they are not entitled to it”, EurActiv reports.

New EU humanitarian assistance for Sudan and South Sudan released
The European Commission announced it is releasing €68 million for humanitarian assistance for vulnerable communities fleeing the conflict in Sudan and South Sudan.“The EU is stepping up its support asmany people in Sudan and South Sudan face massive humanitarian needs. Our aid will provide essential supplies such as food and healthcare and allow our partners to continue their lifesaving work on the ground. Above all, it is crucial that humanitarian workers can deliver aid safely so they can help those most in need. Aid workers are not a target”, said Commissioner or Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management Christos Stylianides.

EU: Informal EU deal gives easier labour market access to asylum seekers
Under aninformal deal between European Parliament and EU Ministers, also foreseeing strengthened protection for minors, asylum-seekers will get access to the EU labour market more quickly.The core goal of the revised Reception Conditions Directive is to ensure equivalent reception standards in all EU countries, aiming at reducing “secondary movements” within the EU and, subsequently, guaranteeing a fairer distribution of applicants among countries, a press release of the European Parliament reads.

EU: Doctors without Borders urge governments to put human lives first
The Doctors without Borders (MSF) denounced the recent incident with Italy’s port closure to prevent 630 migrants and asylum seekers from disembarking. “The men, women, and children on board the Aquarius have fled conflict and poverty, and have survived horrific abuse in Libya” said KarlineKleijer, MSF Head of Emergencies. “We are grateful to Spain for stepping in, even as Italian and other European governments have shamefully failed in their humanitarian responsibilities and placed politics over the lives of vulnerable people.” Ahead of the European Council meeting next week, MSF calls on European governments to put human lives first.

UN’s Grandi: “Solution for refugees are at hand, we only have to act”
Yesterday, Wednesday 20 June, on the World Refugee Day, a strange but hopeful coincidence happened: Filippo Grandi, UN High Commissioner for refugees was on the same flight with 122 refugees mostly from Eritrea and Somalia leaving from Libya. Grandi, Al-Jazeera reports, said that “These are emotional days that I will never forget”. A few hours earlier, these refugees were still living in one of Libya’s detention facilities. “In the midst of harsh political debates about migration in Europe, this flight wants to send us a strong message to world leaders: solution for refugees are at hand, we only have to act”, Grandi said.

Post- Cotonou Agreement: radicalization and South Sudanese conflict on the spotlight
Members of the European Parliament and their counterparts from 78 ACP countries discussed and adopted several resolutions yesterday, June 20, about their post-Cotonou relations. One of the things that the MEPs asked for was the strengthening of the parliamentary dimension of the future agreement, called the ACP and EU countries to strengthen their efforts to combat radicalization, and, in an urgent resolution, they called on all parties to cease the hostilities in South Sudanand insisted that there cannot be any military solution to the conflict.