News Highlights: Abiy visits Europe, undocumented deaths on refugee routes in Africa, Eritrean accused of aiding kidnappers on trial in Germany

In this week’s news highlights: At least 18,400 migrants died in Africa since 2014, says AP; Eritrea accuses Germany of “meddling” in its affairs; Sudan and Eritrea to normalize relations: report; social media manipulation could threaten African democracies; trial against alleged Eritrean trafficking gang member; Danish Refugee Council denounces EU-Libya cooperation on migration; almost 100,000 migrant boat arrivals in 2018; Austria not to sign global migration compact; de facto leader of Eritrean church says Patriarch “lost faith”; Germany and the Netherlands to finance Nigerien border force; and French-Italian rivalry could harm Libyan peace process.
Greater Horn of Africa

Associated Press tally finds at least 18,400 migrants have died or disappeared in Africa since 2014
According to an Associated Press tally, at least 18,400 migrants have died or disappeared within Africa since 2014, with 8,700 migrants having been reportedly disappeared on their way out of the Horn of Africa. The International Organisation for Migration (IOM) deems it possible that more migrants have died in the Sahara Desert than in the Mediterranean Sea; however, it is difficult to find and identify the dead bodies as they quickly decompose in the heat and are buried by sand.

Eritrea: Eritrean Government accuses Germany of “meddling” after criticism of lack of human rights reforms
After the German foreign minister Heiko Maas criticized Eritrea at the German Bundestag for not having undertaken similar reforms as Ethiopia and for continuing human rights violations, the Eritrean government called the statement “appalling” on its website and called upon Germany to “refrain from meddling in the affairs of the Horn of Africa.” It also stated that Maas’ statement “reflects the hostile stance that the German Government has held against Eritrea for a long time now.”

Sudan and Eritrea will normalize their bilateral relations, Sudanese press report says
According to a report published by Al-Meghar newspaper in Sudan, Sudan and Eritrea are about to normalize their bilateral relations. The move comes after Sudan closed the borders amid accusations of Eritrean support for rebel groups in Sudan in January 2018. Al-Meghar newspaper reported on Sunday that Eritrean president Isaias Afwerki and Sudanese president Omer al-Bashir would meet in the coming days. Reportedly, there are unnamed Sudanese political parties that are trying to achieve a normalization of the bilateral relations.

Eritrea: Parents are often separated from their children for many years if they flee
Africa Monitors
reports that many Eritrean parents leave their children and their spouse behind when they attempt to flee the country for a better future. They either leave their family behind in Eritrea or a neighbouring country while they seek to receive a residence permit or asylum in Uganda or Europe. This separation has a huge psychological impact on all family members. Africa Monitors also tells the story of a 16-year old Eritrean refugee in Cairo who has developed serious anxieties due to his traumatic escape from Eritrea.

How African democracy is affected by social media manipulation
Even though the topic media manipulation is relevant everywhere, journalist Martin Plaut describes how some articles have shown that Africa is particularly vulnerable to this as it already faces a number of conflicts. “African democracies are threatened by orchestrated social media attacks. Our mobile phones and laptops may now be as dangerous as the riot policeman, political thug or torturer. Our precious rights are being manipulated, undermined and distorted – without a blow being struck”, the article reads.

Ethiopia: Chinese investors must reassess risk management after botched railway project, says SCMP
An article in the South China Morning Post cites the Sinosure, a Chinese export and credit insurance company, saying they made a loss of almost $1 billion due to mistakes in the $4 billion Addis Ababa-Djibouti freight railway. The railway has also been underused due to power shortages. Sinosure provided payment guarantees for the project and is also active in other countries.


Germany: Trial against Eritrean man accused of abduction with the purpose of blackmail begins
The trial of an 26-year-old Eritrean man, who has been a recognised refugee in Germany since 2016, began in Düsseldorf on Tuesday. He is accused of having collected up to €2,000 per person living in Germany for the smuggling of their relatives to Europe. According to the prosecution, the Libyan smuggler gang that the defendant was part of threatened families to kill their relatives, whom they had kidnapped in Sudan, in the event of non-payment. An Eritrean woman who paid the defendant had reported him to the police.

Denmark: Danish Refugee Council denounces EU-Libya cooperation on migration
The Danish Refugee Council (DRC) has denounced the EU’s migration policy in Libya and other third countries in a statement, saying that the EU is successful in reducing the number of arrivals but is on “a path that is subordinating protection responsibilities and that compromises the EU’s ability to advocate with States to uphold rights and standards.” The DRC also criticized the criminalization of NGOs involved in search-and-rescue operations and the outsourcing of migration management to the Libyan coastguard as it has caused more deaths at sea and more human rights violations in Libya.

Ethiopian prime minister Abiy Ahmed visits Paris, Berlin and Frankfurt
Abiy Ahmed visited Europe for the first time as Ethiopian prime minister this week. In Paris he held talks with Macron, in Berlin he attended the G20-Compact with Africa and in Frankfurt he spoke before diaspora Ethiopians in a stadium. On his trip he promoted investment in Ethiopia and made development cooperation agreements with France.

Almost 100,000 migrants have reached Europe in 2018 by sea, nearly 2,000 have died
According to the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) as of 30 October 2018, 97,857 migrants and refugees entered Europe via sea and 1,987 died in the Mediterranean Sea. Spain remains the main port of entry with 47,433 or 48% of all arrivals. In the month of October, almost 360 migrants arrived in Spain daily, an unprecedented rate for Spain. In Greece and Italy as of 30 October, 26,679 and 22,027 migrants arrived respectively. Most migrants, namely 1,267 died near Italy.

Austria: EU Commission criticizes government for not signing the global migration compact
A spokeswoman for the European Commission said that they regretted Austria’s decision not to sign the global compact on migration, saying that as a global challenge, migration needs global solutions. The Austrian government explained its refusal to sign the compact with its concern it could lead to “a human right to migration”, a claim dismissed by the UN. Also the Czech prime minister, Andrej Babiš, on Thursday, advocated for not signing the compact for the same reason.

Norway: Effective leader of Orthodox Church says arrested Patriarch “lost his faith” in St. Mary
During a visit to Norway, the effective leader of Eritrea’s Orthodox Church appointed by the Eritrean government, Abune Lukas, said that Patriarch Antonius had been arrested because he had “lost his faith” in St. Mary and backed a radical group called Teadso, but that he was sure that the Patriarch was well taken care of. It was the first time these allegations were made public, according to the report.

Germany and the Netherlands will finance Nigerien border forces
Germany and the Netherlands will provide €10 million to fund the training and equipment of Nigerien police forces. The Niger police said the aim was to fight ‘illegal migration’, human trafficking, drugs and terrorism. The first officers will be deployed at the border of Niger. Meanwhile Morocco tightened its visa requirements, imposing an online entry permit rule for citizens from African nations who could formerly enter without visa.

Northern Africa

Libya: French-Italian rivalry is hurting the peace process, says Foreign Affairs
An analysis in Foreign Affairs warns against the disruptive impact of a French-Italian political rivalry on the peace process in Libya. According to the article, both the Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte and the French president Emmanuel Macron want to be seen as Europe’s leaders in Libya, advancing different agendas. While Italy is interested in Libya’s gas and oil as well as reducing the number of migrants heading towards Italy, France wants to maintain its influence in Libya’s South and the Sahel Zone.