News Highlights: International group enters Eritrea, Violence in Libya traps migrants, Italy and Hungary to form ‘anti-migration front’

In this week’s news highlights: A group of international researchers and academics cross into Eritrea to assess the situation; German minister visits Eritrea; Ethiopian PM holds press conference promising continued reforms; Heavy rain has caused damage in Sudan; South Sudan rebel leader ready to sign comprehensive peace deal; Clashes in Libya trap migrants and refugees in detention centres; Italy and Hungary form anti-migration front; Italian deputy PM threatens to block EU budget; NGO concerned about situation on Greek Island; and Germany experiences far-right protests and violence.

Greater Horn of Africa

Eritrea/Ethiopia: A group of researchers and academics crosses the border into Eritrea
A group of international academics and researchers crossed the border into Eritrea under protection. Now that there is officially peace between Eritrea and Ethiopia, the group wanted to see the current situation for the people. The reports are that the situation of peace between the countries has not yet benefitted the people of Eritrea. Young unaccompanied and separated children, elderly and youth fleeing the national service continue to cross into Ethiopia in roughly the same numbers. People on both sides of the border, however, are keen to unite.

Eritrea: Eritrean minister interviewed after German minister visits
Deutsche Welle
interviewed Eritrean minister Osman Saleh, after a visit by German minister of economic cooperation and development, Gerd Müller, this week. In the interview, Osman stated that no concrete things were achieved in the meeting, but the pair reportedly spoke about possible German support. He further stated that the outflow of Eritrean citizens was decreasing and that the migration problem was caused by the EU’s asylum procedures in the first place. He also added that foreign Eritreans would be welcome to return. Minister Müller also traveled to Ethiopia and several other African countries.

Ethiopia: Reforms draw donors back to Ethiopia
reports that donors, such as the World Bank, are showing  willingness to support Ethiopia after the recent reforms implemented by new prime minister Abiy Ahmed. Abiy announced in a press conference this week that the World Bank is set to give budgetary support of $1 billion for the first time since 2005. Abiy made several other announcements, among which the promise that the 2020 elections would not be delayed.

Sudan: Heavy rains hit Sudan regions, Kassala state visited by Dutch ambassador
Heavy rain has lead to flooding in regions of Sudan. Among others Kassala and Khartoum have been affected. The floods have caused damage to infrastructure and homes. It has also caused injuries and several deaths are reported. Dutch ambassador Karin Boven visited Kassala to discuss the floods and migration with the governor.

South Sudan: Rebel leader reportedly ready to sign final peace deal
A South Sudanese official has reported that Riek Machar, South Sudan rebel leader, has agreed to sign a comprehensive peace deal. Earlier in the week, Machar refused to sign the deal.

Northern Africa

Libya: Clashes lead to further insecurity for refugees and migrants
The situation in Libya is “rapidly deteriorating”, says the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). The rise of several large militias has created instability in the Tripoli area, which has lead to battles in the streets. It is reported by aid workers that the fighting has left hundreds of migrants and refugees trapped in detention centres, in some cases without access to food.


Europe: Anti-migration ministers of Italy and Hungary band together
Italian interior minister Matteo Salvini and Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orbán have discussed the formation of an anti-migration front. The two ministers spoke after Salvini’s ultimatum to the EU to relocate 177 refugees and migrants – who were blocked from disembarking in Italy by Salvini – was refused. The refugees and migrants were eventually allowed off the boat after guarantees by the Catholic Church in Italy, Albania and Ireland to take most of them in, reports The Guardian. Many of the refugees are reported to be Eritreans and Somalis who have suffered torture and rape in Libya.

Italy: Italy’s deputy prime minister threatens to block EU budget over migration
After failing to reach agreements with EU member states on the 177 rescued refugees and migrants, Italy’s deputy prime minister Luigi Di Maio threatened to block or delay the approval of the new seven-year EU budget. Earlier, he had threatened to withhold Italy’s contribution to the budget. Italy also proposed a rotation of disembarkation ports under rescue operation Sophia. Currently all disembarkations under the operation are in Italy.

Greece: NGO publishes report on the situation of refugees in Lesvos
The NGO Refugee Rights Europe report on the situation on the Island of Lesvos in Greece. They state that many refugees and displaced people are trapped on the island and problems with living conditions and overcrowding keep growing. The EU-Turkey deal stipulates that people cannot be moved to Greece until it has been assessed whether they can return to Turkey, a procedure which is severely delayed in many cases, states the NGO.

Germany: Far-right violent protests, accusations of hunting foreigners
A German man was killed, with suspects being an Iraqi and a Syrian man. Following the killing, violent protests broke out in Germany. Some media report that people perceived as immigrants have been attacked by the protestors.