News Highlights: Eritea sanctions under review; new border cooperation in the Horn of Africa; concerns about new migrant “lie detector”

In this week’s news highlights: new border cooperation in East Africa; UN Security Council could lift Eritrea sanctions; Eritrean clergymen criticize government; new visa-on-arrival policy in Ethiopia; Eritrean president gives TV interview; African Development Bank negotiating with Eritrea; UAE to open base in Somaliland; S&D group organizes Africa week; migrant “lie detector” causes concerns; EU, Africa, Pacific nations negotiate new agreement; and Libyan coast guard intercepts over 14,000 migrants in 2018.


Greater Horn of Africa

New inter-agency cooperation at borders planned for Horn of Africa
Border agencies from Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan, Uganda and Tanzania have agreed to establish “inter-agency cross-border technical working groups” in order to improve cooperation and the efficiency of border operations. In October, border management agents participated in a workshop organized by the International Organization for Migration (IOM). Ethiopia and South Sudan agreed for the first time to conduct joint, cross-border patrols and to open new border crossings points.

UN Security Council considers lifting sanctions on Eritrea
A draft resolution by the United Kingdom proposes an immediate end to the arms embargo and targeted sanctions, such as a travel ban and asset freezes. It also calls upon Eritrea and Djibouti to normalize relations and settle a decade-old border dispute. According to anonymous diplomats, France and some other countries wanted to maintain some pressure on Eritrea. In September, Eritrea and Djibouti had agreed to try to reconcile. Both the US and China have military bases in Djibouti.
However, according to anonymous UN officials Djibouti is unhappy about the lifting of sanctions as the conflict has not been resolved yet.

Eritrea: Clergymen criticize Eritrean government
Speaking in London, Abune Makarios, Bishop general in the Orthodox Coptic Church, welcomed the peace agreement between Ethiopia and Eritrea, but criticized that Eritrean president Isaias Afwerki did not consult his people and that there was no parliament. The bishop said he wanted prisoners in Eritrea to be released. In Eritrea, Catholic priest Aba Teklemichael Tewelde has urged the Eritrean government to take its people’s needs into consideration by bringing about fundamental change, such as the participation of diaspora Eritreans and those currently in prison in the political process.

Ethiopia: New Visa-on-Arrival policy starting for AU nationals
African Union travellers entering Ethiopia by plane will receive a visa when they land in Ethiopia. The new policy was launched at the headquarters of the African Union (AU) in Addis Ababa. Ethiopia’s state minister for foreign affairs, Hirut Zemene, said “The issuance of visa on arrival for all Africans will clearly demonstrate our resolute to the ideals and objectives of the AU and determinations to continue to play rightful roles towards free movement of people and the realization of our integration agenda.” The policy is expected to boost tourism and investment in Ethiopia.

Eritrea: President Isaias Afwerki gives interview, wants to consolidate peace with Ethiopia
According to the official website of the Eritrean ministry of information, president Isaias gave an interview on Eritrean national television, saying that Eritreans and the Eritrean government will work to consolidate the peace agreement. In the interview he praised Eritreans for their “steadfastness and resilience.” He also said that “[t]he agenda of pitting Eritrea against Ethiopia as antagonists, an agenda that also sought to isolate Eritrea globally, has concluded. It never succeeded.”

African Development Bank and Eritrea to restart relations, Eritrea and Ethiopia to regulate trade
The African Development Bank (AfDB) and Eritrea have taken initial steps to restart relations. At the end of the process, the AFDB could lend again to Eritrea. The AfDB’s southern Africa director-general Kafil Kapoor said that it will depend on the Eritrean government how long this process takes. In the meantime, the Ethiopian News Agency (ENA) reports that according to the Ethiopian Ministry of Revenue, a legal framework to that regulates trade between Eritrea and Ethiopia is under preparation.

ICG briefing on increasing influence of UAE in the Horn of Africa
In a briefing about the influence of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in the Horn of Africa, the International Crisis Group (ICG) comments on the increasing role of the UAE in the Horn of Africa. This influence could reshare the geopolitical situation in the Horn, the report states.  According to the briefing, relations between the UAE and Mogadishu are soured because the UAE engage in several Somali states without informing the federal government, fuelling tensions between state and federal government. The UAE’s engagement in the Horn of Africa is also aimed at suppressing Iranian influence in the region.



EU’s plan for a “smart lie-detection system” raises accusation of pseudoscience
A consortium of the Hungarian national police, Latvian customs and Manchester Metropolitan and Leibnitz universities have designed a technology that analyses the micro-expressions of those seeking to enter EU territory to see if they are being truthful about their personal background and intentions. “The system will collect data that will move beyond biometrics and on to biomarkers of deceit”, said the project’s coordinator Boultadakis in Luxembourg. However the project has been criticized by experts as the system would deliver unfair outcomes and “lead to the implementation of a pseudoscientific border control”, says Kleinberg an assistant professor in data science at University College London.

A new EU-Africa partnership: Europe and Africa can change global politics in a ‘revolutionary’ way
The Socialists and Democrats group in the European Parliament (S&D) held an ‘Africa Week’ conference on 5-8 November discussing the development of the new partnership between the EU and Africa. Federica Mogherini, the EU’s top diplomat, pointed out that today’s model of international collaboration is dangerously based on a power game and a “zero-sum” game, “… but this is this is a continuous learning process in which we exchange experiences, so governance based on cooperation inside the regions and among the regions.” The conference further highlighted that the EU and Africa relation should not be limited to migration. The root cause of migration is inequalities, it was stated.


North Africa migrant ‘camps’ not on EU agenda, says Juncker
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said that a suggestion that the European Union might try to set up migrant camps in North Africa, also called ‘disembarkation platforms’ before, should “no longer on the agenda and never should have been.”

EU and ACP states negotiations on the new relationship
The EU and the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) states are holding talks of a new agreement. The talks come as ACP-EU Partnership Agreement heads toward its expiry date in February 2020. The aim of the talks is to obtain a new agreement that consists of general objectives, principles and priorities. Migration is set to be a key point in the EU-Africa agreement, if it is up to the EU. Taken that EU is determined to use development assistance as ‘leverage’ to get African countries’ assistance in stopping irregular migration, the tensions between ACP and African Union over who represents the voice of Africa in Europe is in the spotlight.


Northern Africa

Libya: 14,249 migrants and refugees intercepted, 11,878 registered in 2018, and 930 resettled
The UNHCR reports that Libyan Coast Guard has intercepted or rescued 11,878 migrants as of 29 October. In October, 351 refugees and migrants were returned to Libya, a 45% decrease compared to previous months. The UNCHR has registered 11,878 refugees and asylum-seekers in 2018 so far and since 1 September 2017 930 individuals were submitted for resettlement to seven European countries and Canada.