News Highlights: Refugees in Libya protest conditions, EU external funding re-assessed, Meeting Eritrea, Ethiopia and South Sudan

In this week’s news highlights: the EU stands responds to Hungry’s representation of its migration policy; the S&D group deplores the lack of human rights consideration in the EU migration policy; The European Parliament wants to consolidate the EU’s external funding instruments; France arrests more than 60 migrants trying to reach the UK by boat in Calais; Refugees protest against inhumane conditions in Libyan detention centres; Human traffickers profit from returns to Libya; Chad closes its border with Libya; South Sudan, Ethiopia and Eritrea meet in Juba to strengthen their relations; US congress visits Eritrea for the first time in 14 years; and Kenya and Somalia work on peace under the mediation of Ethiopian Prime Minister.

Europe: the EU responds to accusations and fake news about its migration policy
The European Commission published an factsheet in which they aim to debunk the “15 myths” of the European migration policy, reports The Guardian. This followed the Hungarian misinformation campaigns on the EU election posters, which showed misleading claims about migration. According to the Commission, Europe is no longer in crisis – the UNHCR estimates  a 89% reduction on those who made the journey crossing the Mediterranean sea in 2015 – writes the newspaper. However, campaign groups state that the EU carries complicity in its deals with the Libyan coastguard and for turning a blind eye to the suffering of migrants and refugees in detention centres, where they face threats of violence and death.

European Parliament: S&D group criticise EU’s external policy
The European Parliament Party S&D (Socialists & Democrats) published a press release about their visit in Rome, with the objective of meeting migrants and refugees located in community centres to collect first-hand information on their situation. The team was part of the sub-committee on human rights of the European Parliament. Chair Antonio Panzeri and S&D Group spokesperson on human rights, Soraya Post, stressed the need to review the Dublin agreement and asylum conditions, and highlighted the deplorable living conditions of refugees in Libyan detention centres. The two members of the European Parliament condemned the European Union for its complicity in inhumane treatment in Libya through its migration policy.

European Parliament: AFET and DEVE committees increase the EU budget for international cooperation
The Foreign Affairs (AFET) and Development (DEVE) committees of the European Parliament adopted a joint position on the establishment of the Neighbourhood, Development and International Cooperation Instrument, with a proposed budget of € 93 billion. The proposal was made in the context of the Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) of the EU for 2021- 2027. If approved by the Parliament and the EU ministers, the new financial instrument would merge most of the EU’s external financing instruments, including the European Development Fund (EDF). The EDF is currently outside of the EU’s budget. The NGO CONCORD states in a recent report that the text adopted by the committees represents an improvement to the original proposal of the Commission and presents a step in the right direction.

France: 63 migrants trying to reach England arrested by the French authorities
On Saturday evening, March 2, about one hundred migrants entered the port of Calais, hoping to reach the United Kingdom, writes The Telegraph. The French newspaper Le Monde reports that about 50 migrants managed to board the Calais Seaways Ferry  via a ladder. According to Le Monde, the operation was conducted by smugglers. According to Reuters, the French police arrested 44 people, however, the newspaper Le Monde estimates that the total number of arrests is about 63.

North Africa

Libya: Refugees in Libya protested against inhumane conditions in detention centres
As EEPA reported last week based on Facebook statements, Sally Hayden on Al Jazeera reports that 30 refugees and migrants have been brought to an underground cell and allegedly tortured in Libya for breaking out and holding a protest against the conditions under which they have been detained. An estimated 150 male detainees escaped on Tuesday, 26th February. The majority of those detained in the past 18 months were returned to Libya by the Libyan coastguard after they tried to reach Europe. During the protest they have demanded a visit from officials from the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) to further their situation. The International Organization for Migration demanded access to the migrants who were removed from the Triq al-Sikka facility after the protest last week.

Libya: The business of human trafficking in Libya
On the pages of L’espresso, Roberto Saviano, Italian journalist and writer, explains the situation of over 700 thousand people trapped in Libya. Saviano says that is impossible for them, in the majority of cases, to leave Libya in order to return to their home country or to try and reach the Italian coast. In fact, they represent a business for human traffickers who extort large ransoms from them and their families. When they try to escape Libya via the sea, many are returned to start the nightmare all over again.

Chad: Security Minister announces closure of its border with Libya
Chadian security Minister Mahamat Abali Salah announced the closure of Chad’s border with Libya, a month after the intrusion of a rebel group from southern Libya, reports the Libyan Address. Earlier in 2017, the country had closed its 1400 km border with Libya, before partially reopening it a few months later, writes apanews. International Edition VOA Africa news reports that the north-western Chadian region (Tibesti) is a desert site attracting “terrorists and rebels” and points out that the borders between Sudan, Chad, Libya and Niger are porous and conducive to trafficking, says the Chadian security Minister.

Greater Horn of Africa

South Sudan: Eritrea, Ethiopia and South Sudan hold a meeting in Juba
On Monday, March 4, Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki and  travelled to Juba, South Sudan, to meet with President Salva Kiir. According to Eritrean state news agency Tesfanews and the South Sudanese Minister of Information Michael Makuei, this official meeting aims to strengthen relations between the three countries. Major topics such as regional peace, economic links and infrastructure development were discussed, says Africa News.

Eritrea: U.S. congressional delegation visits Eritrea for the first time in 14 years
On Sunday 3 March, Karen Bass, Ilhan Omar and Joe Neguse, three American congress members, travelled to Asmara for the first time in 14 years to strengthen ties with Eritrea, as per the Eritrean government’s twitter account. The delegation hopes that human rights reforms will be implemented, but above all that US nationals (including four members of the US Embassy staff) will be released, writes Africa News.

Ethiopia: Ethiopian Prime Minister works to reconcile Kenya and Somalia
Ethiopia reported that Kenya and Somalia have agreed to “work for peace” in order to end their dispute over a maritime area in the Indian Ocean, Africa News reports. The Somali (Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo) and Kenyan (Uhuru Kenyatta) presidents met in Nairobi under the mediation of the Ethiopian Prime Minister to restore diplomatic relations between their two countries, writes the East African newspaper.