In this week’s news highlights: European Parliament condemns al-Bashir in resolution on Sudan protests; Ethiopia ratifies new refugee proclamation; terrorist attack in Kenya; Four commercial checkpoints to open along Ethiopia/Eritrea border; Resilient smuggling networks are still active between Sudan and Eritrea; Eritrea attempts to intimidate BBC; refugees without food and water after clashes in Libya; European Parliament debates asylum and migration policy; Switzerland concludes return agreement with Ethiopia; EU increasingly relying on “informal” migrant returns to Sub-Saharan Africa: report; OECD report about economic chances of migration; and Merkel says EU Turkey deal is dysfunctional. In other news: new report on human trafficking for ransom and protests in Zimbabwe.
Greater Horn of Africa
Sudan: European Parliament passes resolution condemning excessive force by Sudan government
The European Parliament adopted a resolution condemning the Sudanese government for its excessive violence, arbitrary arrest and detentions in relation to the Sudan protests. The Parliament demands that president Al-Bashir comply with international law and “further supports the role of the ICC in pursuing the charges of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide against him.” In addition, the European Parliament expresses concern that the EU’s cooperation with Sudan for migration management strengthens the regime in its human rights abuses. The UN High Commissioner on Human Rights also expressed deep concern over the ongoing violence in Sudan.
- European Parliament resolution of 17 January 2019 on Sudan
- Sudan: UN rights chief alarmed over ‘excessive force’, alleged use of live fire against protestors
Ethiopia: Refugee proclamation ratified
The Ethiopian House of Representatives has ratified the revised refugee proclamation. The revised law grants more rights to refugees, such as obtaining work permits, accessing primary education and opening bank accounts. UNHCR states that Ethiopia now has “one of the most progressive refugee policies in Africa”. The proclamation will allow refugees to work out of the camps, among other things.
Kenya: Al-Shabaab claims terror attack in Nairobi, claiming lives of 21
21 people have died so far in an attack in Nairobi that was claimed by militant group Al-Shabaab. Armed men attacked the upscale DusitD2 hotel and business complex in the Westlands area and lay siege to the complex for 19 hours with explosions and gunfire. It is reported that two persons have been arrested in relation to the attack. Five attackers have been killed.
Ethiopia/Eritrea: Four commercial checkpoints to open along border
The Ethiopian Customs Commission has indicated that the governments of Ethiopia and Eritrea plan to open four commercial checkpoints along the border. The checkpoints would serve to regulate trade between the two countries.
Eritrea: Sudan continues to be destination for refugees
An analysis on African Arguments discusses why continue to flee to Sudan, despite the open border with Ethiopia, which would seemingly offer an easier route to flee. Reasons include, according to the article, Eritrean skepticism of the changes at the border, overcrowding of Ethiopian refugee camps, and most of all, the resilience and flexibility of the Sudan trafficking and smuggling networks.
Eritrea: Eritrean information minister tries to intimidate BBC Tigrinya Service
Yemane G. Meskel, information minister in Eritrea, announced on Twitter that he would ban contact with the BBC Tigrinya Service. He claims that the BBC coverage is unjustly negative. The British Ambassador has been summoned by the Eritrean Foreign Affairs Ministry in relation to the BBC coverage.
Libya: Refugees without food or water after clashes in Libya
Fighting broke out around the Tripoli area in Libya this week, leaving refugees in desperate situations. After a militia group failed to withdraw from the Qasr Bin Gashir area south of Tripoli, the protection force of the UN-backed government attacked. Other clashes in the area threatened the unstable ceasefire as well. Reports from the Bin Gashir detention centre, run by the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), state that the refugees have been without food and water for two days.
European Parliament debate about European asylum and migration policy
On Tuesday, members of the European Commission and the Council of the EU debated in the European Parliament about the future of the European asylum and migration policy. Commissioner for migration, Dimitris Avramopoulos, called upon member states to accept a temporary arrangement before the upcoming European elections that would prevent the need for ad hoc solutions for the disembarkation and redistribution of migrants picked up by rescue vessels, saying that although the problem had become smaller, political resistance seemed to be bigger. Members of the European Parliament, Representatives of ALDE, S&D, Greens/EFA, and GUE/NGL, called upon member states to show more solidarity and end the resistance to the overhaul of the Dublin regulations that was passed by a 2/3 majority in the European parliament in 2017. Speaking for the Council of the EU, Romanian foreign minister Melania Ciot listed the projects aimed at reducing irregular migration which the EU had funded in third countries. She also said that the Council was prioritizing preventing secondary migration in Europe “to come to a structural solution” of the issue.
- EU seeks temporary deal over refugees and migrant rescued at sea
- The parliamentary debate on Tuesday (transcripts not yet available)
Switzerland: Agreement with Ethiopia enables deportations
In an agreement with Switzerland the Ethiopian government commits to taking in Ethiopian nationals from Switzerland who do not have a residence permit. After the EU had made a similar agreement with Ethiopia in February 2018, Ethiopia agreed to extend this policy to Switzerland. The new agreement also contains a provision that Ethiopia helps Swiss authorities with identity verification of Ethiopian nationals. In turn Switzerland will support a project of the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) and the Ethiopian Agency for Refugees and Reintegration Affairs (ARRA).
EU increasingly relying on ”informal” migrant returns to Sub-Saharan Africa: report
A report by the Migration Policy Institute says that around one fourth of the approximately three million new undocumented immigrants in the EU who arrived within the last decade are from Sub-Saharan Africa. According to the report, the main countries of origin are Nigeria, Senegal and Eritrea. As the actual return rate has been around one third, so the EU is trying to enforce more deportations. The report claims that since 2016 the EU has significantly shifted its attention to making “informal”, i.e. legally non-binding agreements with countries of origin about returns. This is reportedly due to domestic pressure in countries of origin whose people rely on remittances from Europe.
- An “Informal” Turn in the European Union’s Migrant Returns Policy towards Sub-Saharan Africa
- The original report
Equal access to labour market for asylum-seekers crucial for integration: OECD report
According to a new report from the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) immigration can have a positive impact on OECD economies if they enhance refugees and vulnerable migrants’ employability. The report says that quick and equal access to the labour market as well as additional education and vocational training for unaccompanied minors is a key for successful integration. Although short-term costs are associated with migration, in the long term member states will benefit from a higher economic growth. The report gives recommendations for policy-makers on how to further improve the response to migration flows.
Greece: Merkel says EU-Turkey deal is dysfunctional
During a state visit to Greece, German chancellor Angela Merkel said that the EU Turkey deal was dysfunctional as Greece does not return all migrants to Turkey and they still reach Greek islands from where they move on to the mainland and to other EU countries. She said it was unacceptable that some European countries did not care about this problem. On the other hand, the mayor of Barcelona, Ada Colau, criticised the current European immigration policy as “suicide” saying that the EU is contradicting its foundation on human rights.
- EU-Turkey migrant deal ‘not working properly’: Germany’s Merkel
- Barcelona mayor calls EU migrant policy ‘suicide’
Human Trafficking: New report covers human trafficking for ransom
A report by German organisation Desert Rose explores the new modus operandi for human traffickers that has come to be known as trafficking for ransom. Spreading from the Sinai region to other countries, particularly Libya, this cruel form of human trafficking sees people tortured and begging for ransom from family members via mobile phones.
Zimbabwe: Fuel price protests break out
Protests have turned violent in Zimbabwe after the government increased fuel prices, causing people to take to the streets. It has been reported that at least five people were killed in the protests. In addition, many, including opposition leaders, have been arrested.