News Highlights: Eritrea-Ethiopia Peace Agreement Signed, EU Funds New Migration Action in North Africa

In this week’s news highlights: The new Eritrean-Ethiopian agreement ends no war, no peace situation; Though Eritreans are happy about the deal with Ethiopia, they remain uninformed about Afwerki’s impetus; UN extended mandate of Special Rapporteur for Eritrea; South Sudanese opposition SPLM (IO) urges for AU’s additional involvement in peace process; Eritrean Afar People’s Declaration; New booklet sheds light on Eritrea; ten NGOs send letter to the AU urging for improvement in shrinking civic space; EC announces new fund for North Africa migration management; Austrian Interior Minister wants to push EU to stop accepting asylum claims; and Doctor in Lampedusa horrified by the situation of his refugee patients.

Horn of Africa

Eritrea: New agreement ends no war, no peace situation between Ethiopia and Eritrea
Eritrea and Ethiopia have agreed to end the conflict that has existed between the two countries since 1998. In signing the agreement the Prime Ministers of the two countries made a commitment to begin normalizing relations between their countries. In announcing the agreement Eritrean Information Minister said that the “state of war that existed between the two countries has come to an end”.

Eritrea: Eritreans happy for deal with Ethiopia but uninformed on dealings
The new agreement between Eritrea and Ethiopia has given hope to the people of Eritrea; however, a lot remains unclear. The state media did not fully cover the topic nor Eritrean President Afwerki’s motivations for these negotiations. PEN Eritrea Director Abraham T. Zere describes that “while the Eritrean leadership did indeed welcome Ethiopia’s efforts to normalize relations, it did not take any steps to ease its tight grip on the media. […] If the state media does not start to adequately inform Eritreans about what is really going on, they will soon start to lose any remaining trust they have in their leadership and, even more importantly, in the possibility of peace”.

UN extends mandate of Special Rapporteur of Eritrea
In a resolution adopted, the UN Human Rights Council decided to extend the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Eritrea for one more year. The resolution asks the Special Rapporteur to assess and report about the situation of human rights in the country, “and requests the Office of the High Commissioner to present an oral update to the Human Rights Council at its fortieth session on progress made in the cooperation between Eritrea and the Office, and on its impact on the situation of human rights in Eritrea”.

South Sudan: AU should be more involved in South Sudan’s Peace process, SPLM (IO) says
The Sudan’s People Liberation Movement SPLM- SPLA (IO) chairperson characterized the Khartoum round of talks for peace in South Sudan as non transparent and non inclusive, and asked for a more active involvement of the African Union (AU) in the dealings. “The SPLM/SPLA (IO) rejected the proposal as it only focuses on accommodation of politicians and ignores the radical reforms needed in order to effect fundamental change in our country”, said Mabior Garang de Mabior the head of SPLM-IO information committee.

Eritrea: The Uppsala Declaration of the Eritrean indigenous people
The Eritrean Afar people of Eritrea assembled in Uppsala, Sweden, to declare that “it is the solemn will of the Eritrean Afar People to participate in a democratic and transitional process for the democratization of Eritrea” on the basis of principles such as the rule of law, democracy, the rights of freedom of religion, conscience, expression, association and many more. Moreover, the declaration sets out that all nationalities of Eritrea who have fled the country “shall have the right of return to their homes and properties in Eritrea, the right to be compensated for the persecution and for the other losses that they have suffered and to have Eritrean citizenship”.

New Booklet with output from Eritrea conference in Brussels
A new booklet titled “Eritrea: A Country Under the Sway of a Dictatorship” is now published. The publication is based in large part on the contributions of a conference on Eritrea in Brussels in 2017, co-organized by EEPA together with other civil society organizations. It covers a number of topics such as the Eritrean refugees in Israel, United Nations and Eritrea, human rights abuses, religious prosecution and more.

African Union: 10 NGOs send letter to the AU, show common position on shrinking civic space
In a letter to the African Union (AU), ten Non Governmental Organizations (NGOs) express their common position on the shrinking space of the civil society in Africa. They call on the AU to protect the civic space and the participation of citizens in policy processes, to make sure that governments ensure protection of women human rights defenders, to ratify and fully implement the African Charter on Humans and Peoples’ Rights and more.


European Commission approves new financial package migration management in North Africa
On Friday 6 July, the European Commission announced that they approved three new programmes of €90 million from migration management in North Africa. As they described, “this follows last week’s European Council’s conclusions in which Leaders committed to stepping up support along the Central Mediterranean route. The new programmes under the EU Emergency Trust Fund for Africa will increase EU assistance to refugees and vulnerable migrants and improve partner countries’ ability to better manage their borders”.

Austrian Interior Minister says will push the EU to change its migration policy
The Austrian Interior Minister said yesterday, 10 July, that he will put pressure to the EU to change its migration policy in a way that would make it impossible to request asylum on European soil.  Any different solution, he said, “would encourage traffickers to say: ‘I take your money to bring you to the European Union because you are guaranteed the right to make a request for asylum, with a very, very weak probability of being sent back’”.

Doctor working in Lampedusa describes horror of migrants’ health conditions
Pietro Bartolo, doctor at a clinic on the Italian island of Lampedusa describes his everyday life of treating migrants and asylum seekers who manage to arrive inItaly from Africa. He describes thatwhen they arrive some are close to death and some have evensuffered “electric currents applied to the head or genitals, gunshot wounds, and razor-blade cuts”. Targeting politicians’ actions in facing this tragedy, he says: “The motto of Lampedusa is written across a great mural found on the island’s Favaloro pier. These words appear: “Protect people and not borders””.