News Highlights: Sudan-Eritrea border to reopen, CSOs call for UN mission in Sudan, Sea-Watch 3 finally docks

In this week’s news highlights: Civil society organisations call for international fact finding mission in Sudan; arrests continue in Sudan despite order to release prisoners; border between Eritrea and Sudan will reopen after a year; UPR review for Eritrea takes place; roadmap for cooperation Eritrea-Ethiopia is ready, says Ethiopia; 350 migrants evacuated from Yemen; ship with 47 migrants finally allowed to dock; Nigerian girls trafficked for prostitution in Italy; EU is building walls by supporting dictatorial regime, states article; France evacuates Paris migrant camp; UNHCR evacuates first people from Libya in 2019; and a teenager in the UK tells his harrowing Libya story.

Greater Horn of Africa

Sudan: Civil society organisations call upon the UNHRC to establish fact finding mission
As Sudan’s protests continue this week, civil society groups issued a statement to urge the UN Human Rights Council to implement an international fact finding mission in Sudan to investigate violence and killings against protesters and detainees. The statement also calls upon the government of Sudan to end the censorship, excessive force and arbitrary detention used to repress the protests. Meanwhile, ticketing in Sudan for Kenya Airways and Qatar Airways has been suspended. Sudanese military leader Kamal Abdul Maarouf has stated, however, that the army will not support the protests and will not “allow the Sudanese state to fall.”

Sudan: Head of intelligence agency announces release of prisoners while arrests continue
The head of the Sudanese Intelligence agency NISS announced this week that protesters arrested in the anti-government demonstrations would be released. However, arrests have continued. It was announced that Mariam Sadiq al-Mahdi, opposition leader and daughter of main opposition leader Sadiq al-Mahdi, was arrested a day after the release of prisoners was ordered.

Sudan/Eritrea: al-Bashir announces the opening of the border with Eritrea
The border between Sudan and Eritrea, which has been closed in January 2018, will reopen, announced Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir from the city of Kassala. The explanation that was given was that the countries shared history, blood and geography. “Politics will not divide us,” said Bashir.

Eritrea: Eritrea’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR) takes place as human rights abuses continue
Eritrea’s human rights record was examined by the UN Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR) Working Group for the third time on Monday, 28 January 2019. Although the Eritrean government has stated in its report its willingness to intervene and state that they have addressed the recommendations of the previous UPR, many Eritreans and NGOs that work on Eritrea have reported continued serious violations of human rights.

Eritrea and Ethiopia are ready to sign a bilateral cooperation agreement, says Ethiopia
The preparation of a ‘roadmap’ to institutionalize cooperative relation between Ethiopia and Eritrea is ready, said Workneh Gebeyehu of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ethiopia. The roadmap should formalize relations on areas such as trade, immigration and transport.

Ethiopia: 350 migrants airlifted from Yemen to Ethiopia by IOM
The International Organisation on Migration (IOM) flew 350 Ethiopian migrants out of Yemen under their Voluntary Humanitarian Return programme. Despite the war and extremely harsh circumstances, refugees and migrants from the Horn of Africa continue to use Yemen as a transit point.


Mediterranean Sea: Sea-Watch 3 allowed to dock after 11 days at sea
On 19 January, the ship Sea-Watch 3 rescued 47 people from the Mediterranean Sea, but the ship was not allowed to dock. The ship flew a Dutch flag, but the Dutch government refused to take responsibility for the people on board. As the case came to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), Italy was ordered to provide food, water and medical aid to the survivors. A day later, the ship was finally allowed to dock as France, Germany, Malta, Portugal, Romania and Luxembourg, in addition to Italy, agreed to host those on board. Earlier, it was announced that the Sea-Watch 3’s crew may face prosecution for ‘aiding illegal immigration.’

Italy: Arrests made in human trafficking ring between Nigeria and Italy
In Sicily, arrests were made in the case of human trafficking of at least 15 Nigerian girls who had been trafficked from Nigeria through Libya to Italy. The girls may have been promised work in Italy, but were instead frightened with rituals and trafficked to Italy where they were forced into prostitution.

Europe: EU is supporting dictatorial regimes to stop migration
Journalist Martin Plaut comments on the EU’s cooperation with dictatorial regimes to stop migration. Through initiatives such as the Regional Operational Centre (ROCK) in Sudan, EU officials are working directly with dictatorial regimes and spending money through funds such as the EU Trust Fund for Africa (EUTF). This cooperation has put a ‘wall’ that is effective in controlling migration, but bad for human rights.

France: French Police clear out 300 migrants living under a bridge in Paris
French police have evacuated 300 migrants living in refugee camps under a bridge at Porte de la Chapelle, Paris. The police stated that the people had been relocated and went willingly. Bruno Andre, Paris Region Prefect said “For the past few weeks, we have been regularly sending people to shelters all over the Paris region — these people are then given a place to stay, and today, 299 people were willing to be dealt with.”


UNHCR evacuates the first people of 2019 from detention centres in Libya
130 people have been evacuated from detention centres in Libya, the first people of 2019 to be moved out. The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), which arranges the evacuation, stated that many more are in desperate need for evacuation and urges countries to accept resettlements from Niger, where the migrants and refugees are taken after evacuation. Head of the Presidential Council in Libya stated that there are 20.000 people currently in government-controlled detention centres. Many thousands more are on the streets or in the hands of human traffickers.

Teenager tells his story of abuse in Libya
The HuffingtonPost published the story of ‘Isaias’, an 18-year-old Eritrean who was tortured and starved in Libya. He was held by trafficking gangs and put in several different detention centres, where his arms were broken by guards after he had tried to escape. He states that the money being given to support refugees in Libya, by Britain and the EU, has the exact opposite effect.