News Highlights: South Sudanese peace deal, Eritrean and Ethiopian leaders to meet soon, EU Summit’s conclusions on migration

In this week’s news highlights: South Sudan peace deal signed; UN Assistant Secretary General for Peacekeeping Operations discusses the peace deal; Eritrean and Ethiopian PMs to meet soon; The new EU Conclusions on migration management further increase border externalization, proposing ‘disembarkation platforms’; Experts denounce EU migration policy; Don’t build walls, support refugees to support themselves, ex refugee says; Oxford Professor suggests EU can be taught lessons by Africa’s migration management.

Horn of Africa

South Sudan: Salva Kiir says he is”committed to respect” the peace deal signed
A peace agreement between South Sudan President Salva Kiir and his rival Riek Machar has been signed, with hopes that this time it will end the deadly hostilities in South Sudan. According to Al Jazeera, Salva Kiir showed commitment to respect the peace deal. Past peace deals have failed. A South Sudanese rights activist showed optimism: “This will be different from previous ceasefire ever signed before. This is because warring parties were easily tempted to violate it and ran back to Khartoum and got their military to support to fight the government. With this ceasefire, there will be nowhere to run to again since Sudan government is now the peace broker”.

South Sudan: UN Peacekeeping operations: peace will come only if the deal is inclusive
During a general briefing of the UN Security Council on South Sudan on 28 June, after the country’s efforts for ceasefire, Bintou Keita, UN Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, praised the IGAD efforts achieve peace in South Sudan. However, Keita stressed the need for a comprehensive peace in South Sudan and not a bilateral deal between two leaders, Sudan Tribune reported. “While the outcome of regional and international efforts to deliver a political settlement is yet unclear, I must reiterate that peace will only be sustained if the revitalized agreement is inclusive, fair, addresses the root causes of the conflict and engages all stakeholders, including women and youth,” Keita said.

Eritrea –Ethiopia: The two Prime Ministers are said to be meeting soon, sources say
According to Ethiopian sources, after the recent visit of the Eritrean delegation to Ethiopia, the Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy is meeting the Eritrean President soon. After Tuesday’s meeting, Eritrean Foreign Minister Osman Saleh said the Eritreans “have opened the door of peace” while PM Abiy said he hoped the dispute would end with this generation and reiterated his willingness to transfer territory. Abiy has sent a letter to President Afwerki, Ethiopia’s Fana reported.


EU Conclusions on migration: EU leaders trample basic human rights, MEPs say
After hours of consultation, the 28 European Member States adopted a series of conclusions to tackle the ‘migration problem’. Border externalization continues while another goal is the intensification of efforts to stop smuggling of people on the central Mediterranean route. It also includes the concept of third country ‘disembarkation platforms’, which UNHCR and IOM have criticised. Moreover, the EU “will step up its support for the Sahel region, the Libyan Coastguard, coastal and Southern communities, humane reception conditions, voluntary humanitarian returns, cooperation with other countries of origin and transit, as well as voluntary resettlement”. A first criticism came from GUE/NGL party of the European Parliament, a left-wing coalition of 52 parliamentarians, saying that these conclusions are part of “an aggressive drive to externalize EU borders through shady deals with repressive regimes that have resulted in migrants being taken into slavery in Libya and thousands of deaths in the Mediterranean.”

As the EU Council discussed migration, experts denounced EU migration policy
As EU leaders met in Brussels to discuss migration, experts denounced current EU migration policy as ineffective in tackling human trafficking and undermining migrant and refugee rights. A public hearing took place in the European Parliament today on the impact of EU external action in the Horn of Africa and addressing the criminalization of refugees and impunity of human trafficking. The speakers emphasized the importance of protection in the region, addressing human trafficking at the highest level and to the source. The experts denounced the cooperation on migration of the EU with governments who are involved in human trafficking. The meeting took place as the European Council met on migration in Brussels.

Ex refugee, now NGO co-founder says we should “help refugees help themselves”
Robert Hakiza, refugee who fled Democratic Republic of Congo and co-founded NGO  Young African Refugees for Integral Development (YARID) in Uganda narrated his story at the UNHCR-NGO consultations in Geneva 27-29 June. His message was clear: “Closing borders to refugees is not the solution. Among refugees are doctors, lawyers, and other university graduates that can make valuable contributions to host communities. Instead of building walls, we would do better to support programs to help refugees help themselves”.

Europe can be taught from the way Africa deals with refugees, Oxford Professor says
European cooperation with Africa is based upon migration partnerships to strengthen borders, reduce departures and increase returns. Alexander Betts, professor in the University of Oxford, says that Europe also has to see how African states, even though they host more refugees than any other region in the world, adopt “pioneering solutions from which the rest of the world might learn”. “None of these African models is perfect. But they remind us that, when it comes to refugees, positive things are happening beyond Europe. We should support Africa’s economic inclusion of refugees, and we might even learn from it”, Prof. Betts added.