News Highlights: Eritrea to chair Khartoum Process, EU human rights sanctions supported by Member States, Ethiopian electoral reform

In this week’s news highlights: Concern over Eritrea chairing the Khartoum Process; The fragility of the Eritrean identity as result of separation; Eritreans fleeing to Sudan; Ethiopian PM wants electoral system improvements; U.S. military kills three Al-Shabaab militants in Somalia; Sudan appears willing to continue peace talks; Africa should work on itself, rather than how Europe sees it, Estefanos says; Dutch proposal for EU human rights sanctions regime gains support; FRA report shows European racism towards skin color strong; UK National Health System hostilities towards asylum seekers; and EU aims at resuming political efforts in Yemen.

Greater Horn of Africa

Eritrea-EU: Eritrea to chair the Khartoum Process
An article in The Conversation describes that Eritrea will take over as chair of the Khartoum Process in 2019. The Khartoum Process is designed to reduce migration between Africa and Europe by fighting trafficking and smuggling of human beings. It includes controversial initiatives such as training of Libyan border guards. The article expresses concern that the dictatorial regime of Eritrea will now be in charge of the Khartoum Process, whereas many people continue to flee Eritrean repression and Eritrean officials have been implicated in human trafficking.

Eritrea- Ethiopia: New York Times sheds light on the fragility of the Eritrean and Ethiopian identities
Salem Solomon, Eritrean journalist at the New York Times, describes how she and her family were deported from Ethiopia in 1998 and how the border conflict kept many families separated for nearly 20 years. Apart from people like her, “some 70,000 Ethiopians were expelled from Eritrea. What all deportees share is a knowledge of how fragile nationality and identity can be. We were born in a country and believed we had basic birthrights as citizens. Instead, we learned that ruling politicians can make any excuse to take those rights away — even not liking the color of our eyes.”

Despite the peace deal, Eritreans still flee to Sudan
Despite the Eritrea-Ethiopia peace agreement, Eritreans continue fleeing the country. As their numbers have increased rapidly in the past months, the same has happened with the vulnerability of people to human trafficking and smuggling. Two young Eritreans who moved to Sudan in this way describe the hardships they faced on their way.

Ethiopia: Ethiopian Prime Minister discusses ways to reform electoral system
In a campaign to open up a political arena dominated by his ruling coalition, Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed exchanged opinions with members of opposition parties on ways to reform the country’s electoral system. “The meeting with 81 opposition groups on Tuesday discussed ways of ensuring elections in 2020 were “free and fair”, the Ethiopian leader’s office said on Twitter. There was no immediate comment from opposition groups”, Al Jazeera has reported.

U.S. military kills 3 Al-Shabaab Islamist group militants in Somalia
The United States military announced that on Tuesday it killed three militants in an air strike targeting Al-Shabaab in Somalia. Africom (the military’s Africa Command) said that the strike was carried out near the Somali regions of Quy Cad and Debatscile. In a statement, they said that they are currently assessing whether this air strike killed or injured any civilians, Reuters reported.

Sudan: Sudanese government appears willing to commit to peace
On Monday 26 November, the Sudanese government reiterated its willingness to hold peace talks with the signatories of the African Union roadmap agreement to achieve peace in Sudan. Bushara Gumaa Aror, Sudanese Government Spokesperson and Information Minister, “said the government is willing to resolve the national issues and call on all the parties including armed groups to listen to the voice of reason and commit themselves to the peace”, an article on Sudan Tribune reads.

Estefanos: Focus on inner-African problems driving migration, not on how Europe perceives us
Meron Estefanos, Eritrean journalist in Sweden, describes the mistake of focusing on how Europeans perceive African migration and not focusing on the political and socio-economic factors that drive migration. “It is our failure as a continent that is creating the migration crisis in Africa. The myths associated with African migrants are the spillover effect of our failure to deal with the root cause of refugees. Most importantly, we should hold our governments responsible”.


EU human rights sanction regime gains support by EU Member states
The Dutch proposal for enforcing an “EU human rights sanction regime” is gaining more attention by the EU Member States, the EUobserver describes. In a meeting with diplomats from the 27 EU capitals in The Hague, “a number of those present indicated their willingness to work further on the initiative … We now intend to pursue this proactively in the framework of the [EU] Council”. On December 10, in the next EU Foreign Ministers meeting in Brussels, the Dutch Foreign Minister Stef Blok will draw attention to this initiative “with a view to reaching agreement on a mandate for the EEAS to develop such a sanctions regime”, the ministry said.

FRA report: Racism based on skin color in Europe still pervasive
People of African descent face “widespread and entrenched prejudice and exclusion” across the European Union, a study by the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) has suggested and has urged countries to take action. In particular, they face race-related violence, discriminatory policy profiling and discrimination in the job market and in housing. “It is a reality both shameful and infuriating: racism based on the colour of a person’s skin remains a pervasive scourge throughout the European Union,” FRA director Michael O’Flaherty said in the foreword to the report.

Report shows NHS hostile policies towards asylum seekers in the UK
Asylum seekers who need health care in the United Kingdom are scared due to the government’s “hostile environment” policies. The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) has reported that people have gone without medical help since ministers forced the NHS to impose upfront charges to access care last year. “People seeking and refused asylum are likely to have particular health needs because of past distressing experiences and the traumatic effects of fleeing to a different country. It’s therefore crucial that they are able to fully and easily access healthcare and that their rights are protected by keeping healthcare separate from immigration enforcement. This is just about common humanity” Rebecca Hilsenrath, the Chief Legal Officer to the Equality and Human Rights Commission said.

European External Action Service supports end of conflict in Yemen
The European Union’s policy in ending the conflict in Yemen has been through political settlement. As this has not brought results but has rather created the worst humanitarian crisis in the world, the EU aims now at the resumption of political talks and increased diplomatic activity. “It is therefore critical that all sides urgently commit to a de-escalation to create space for negotiations”, the European External Action Service (EEAS) said in a press release.