News Highlights: Joint Sudan-Ethiopia border force, Italy refuses to let 177 migrants disembark, 1 in 31 die on Mediterranean Sea

In this week’s news highlights: highlights of the past month; Sudan and Ethiopia agree on joint border force; Eritrean President plans new visit to Ethiopia; Eritrea-Ethiopia peace faces tough negotiation points; Amnesty International Op-Ed states that Eritrean demobilization plan is urgently needed; UN Special Envoy comments on South Sudan peace effort; Italy refuses to let migrants disembark and threatens to return them to Libya; UNHCR and Amnesty sound alarm over deaths at sea; and ARCI report calls attention to dangers of border externalization.
Greater Horn of Africa

Sudan and Ethiopia: agreement for joint border force
In an August meeting in Khartoum, the Military Chief-of-Staffs from Ethiopia and Sudan agreed to deploy a joint border force at the border between Sudan and Ethiopia. The stated aim is to fight terrorism, illegal migration and human trafficking. The countries also agreed that the demarcation of the border, which is not clear everywhere, should be accelerated.

Eritrea-Ethiopia peace: Eritrean President plans second visit
Eritrean President Isayas Afewerki is planning another trip to Ethiopia, as announced by Ethiopia’s chief of communications. The exact date for the visit is not yet known. Meanwhile, Africa Monitors reports on the consequences the peace might have for Eritrean refugees in Ethiopia.

Eritrea-Ethiopia peace: potential sticking points
An analysis by Caitlin Vito of IISS highlights potential difficulties in the peace process between Eritrea and Ethiopia. Freedom of movement across the border, border demarcation and port access are highlighted as sensitive issues. Vito warns that specific policy is needed, requiring careful negotiation to meet the high expectations.

Amnesty Op-Ed: no more excuses for national service in Eritrea
Fisseha Tekle of Amnesty International writes that the widely criticized indefinite national service in Eritrea has to stop, especially now that the peace deal with Ethiopia has erased all excuses. Tekle describes how the national service has torn families apart. The government must now come with an urgent and clear plan for demobilization, says Tekle.

South Sudan: UN Special Envoy comments on peace deal
The latest effort for peace in South Sudan has been met with caution after previous deals were quickly broken. United Nations Special Envoy Nicholas Haysom states that elements of the current process are encouraging, but emphasizes that international support requires a clear demonstration of sustainability of the agreements.


Italy leaves 177 migrants and refugees stranded at sea
This week, Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini refused to allow rescued refugees and migrants off a boat. The people are not allowed to disembark until other European countries agree to relocate them. Salvini has threatened to send the people back to Libya if Europe does not “seriously offer Italy some concrete help.” Earlier in the month, however, the European Commission warned that Libya was not fit for return of migrants and that this could constitute a violation of international law. Meanwhile, The Telegraph states that EU funding was used to escort another stranded ship, the Aquarius, to Italy. The funds were meant for rescue operations.

UNHCR and Amnesty sound alarm over migrant and refugee deaths at sea
The UNHCR released a statement in August sounding the alarm over migrant and refugee deaths in the Mediterranean Sea. Over 1500 people have passed away since the beginning of this year, of which 850 died in June and July alone. UNHCR warned that the ratio is now 1 in 31 people perishing at sea, compared to 1 in 49 in 2017. Amnesty published a report criticizing recent policy by Italy that leaves boats stranded at sea, and warns the EU of the consequences of containing refugees and migrants in Libya.

Report draws attention to dangers of border externalization
The Italian NGO ARCI has launched a report pointing to the dangers of EU border externalization. The report presents case studies on Sudan, Nigeria and Tunisia. The European success story of reduction in illegal arrivals goes hand in hand with violation of human rights in Africa, the report states.