News Highlights: France deports Eritrean woman, UNHCR warns of deadly summer on Mediterranean Sea, Arrests and internet shutdown Sudan

In this week’s news highlights: Refoulement of an Eritrean woman from France to Eritrea; Migration pushback could lead to instability; seven bodies recovered off the Greek coast; Sudanese opposition leaders arrested in Sudan; al-Bashir to be charged with corruption; NGOs write to UNSC on Sudan; Sudan’s Internet shutdown continues; African writers and activists urge Eritrean President for change; Eritrean diaspora protests through #Enough; Leaked Russian documents show plans for Africa; Report on an Ethiopian dam’s effect on livelihoods; UNHCR warns of deadly summer on the Mediterranean Sea; 160 persons apprehended by the army in Chad. 



France: Refoulement of an Eritrean woman to Eritrea
The prefecture of the Pyrénées-Orientales (South-West of France) deported an Eritrean national to Eritrea on 6 June, where she may face punishment, imprisonment and drafting into the indefinite national service. According to RFI Africa, the French prefecture arrested the young woman on 8 May at the Spanish border with a “counterfeit” residence permit. The French newspaper Le Figaro explains that the Eritrean woman filed an asylum application with the administrative court and appealed unsuccessfully, after being placed in a detention centre in Toulouse by the French Office for the Protection of Refugees and Stateless Persons (OFPRA), reports Le Figaro. La Cimade, a French NGO advocating for the rights of migrants and refugees, states that the young woman has been deprived of a real right of appeal and that this is the first expulsion carried out by France to Eritrea.

Europe: Increased push for returns could lead to increased instability in Africa
The Institute for Security Studies (ISS) reports on the increased focus of the European Union on sending migrants back to their countries of origin. African politicians are reluctant to accept returns due to local politics and other difficulties, such as lack of reintegration. The EU has therefore increasingly tied migration control in with development aid packages and has engaged with “questionable groups” to manage migration, a strategy which the ISS criticizes as “compromising human rights and undermining democracy” and “risk[ing] increasing political instability.”

Greece: Seven migrants die close to Greek Islands, trying to reach Europe
The bodies of two children, four women and a man were recovered on Tuesday morning off the port of Mytilene (Lesbos) in Greece. The Greek coast guard rescued 57 other people. “Redoubled efforts are needed to ensure safe and legal ways to reach Europe, so people stop risking their lives in the hands of ruthless traffickers and smugglers” said Philippe Leclerc, UN Refugee Agency representative in Greece.

Greater Horn of Africa

Sudan: Two opposition leaders arrested after visit of Ethiopian PM
After a meeting between Sudanese opposition and Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed in Khartoum, Sudanese security forces arrested two opposition leaders present at the meeting. Mohamed Esmat and a leader of the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N), Ismail Jalab. Mohamed Esmat and Jalab are leading members of the Freedom and Change alliance. On Thursday, the Transitional Military Council met with a senior United States diplomat, who hoped to encourage talks between opposition and military. Meanwhile, it was announced that ousted President Omar al-Bashir would face charges of corruption.

Sudan: Internet shutdown continues in Sudan
The Sudanese internet shutdown is complicating communication within the country, especially within hospitals and emergency communications in general. Priyanka Motaparthy, Acting Emergencies Director at Human Rights Watch, says “If the Transitional Military Council genuinely intends to restore peace and maintain good will with civilian opposition leaders, it should reverse this dangerous shutdown, which puts even more lives at risk”. Activists started to report internet shutdowns on June 3rd, when over a 100 people were reported killed after a protest camp was shut down violently. The names of this 100 people are reported by the Middle East Eye.

Sudan: Sudanese people continue to protest peacefully after the crackdown
Sudanese journalist and activist Reem Abbas described the conditions that protesters in Sudan are facing after the recent crackdown in Khartoum, where over a hundred people were killed. According to Abbas, the Transitional Military Council is pushing people to use violence. However, protesters continue to demonstrate peacefully, even as shops, markets, banks and industries are closed. Despite the continued protest, the military junta “does not want to give up control,” stressed Abbas. She highlighted that military establishment pursues power and that represents the legacy of former al-Bashir President era.

Sudan: Thirty NGOs call the UN to prevent violence in Sudan
30 civil society organisations from around the world called upon the UN Security Council to prevent further bloodshed and support democratic change in Sudan. According to the letter, help is urgently needed for the Sudanese citizens in order to change the current situation of oppression. The NGOs highlighted the actions of the Rapid Support Forces, the crackdown, the internet and media disruption as well as the violence against protestors and civilians. The civil society organisations state that these events show that the Transitional Military Council is not committed to a peaceful transition to a democratic civilian government.

Eritrea: 100 African writers and activists urge President Afwerki to launch political reforms
Writers and activists from all over Africa have written an open letter to the President of Eritrea concerning the imprisonment of journalists and the neglect of human rights. Media reports that the peace process with Ethiopia in 2018 raised hope among Eritreans and the international community, but in reality the lack of change means Eritreans are still fleeing the country. The writers of the open letter proclaim solidarity with the “many Eritreans we see enduring all manner of risk and suffering in search of a better life outside their homeland. We acknowledge that we too hail from nations with varying governance and developmental challenges.” Meanwhile, Eritrean diaspora continues its social media campaign, under the hastag #Enough, to push for change.

Africa: Leaked documents on Russia’s strategy in Africa
Guardian reports on leaked Russian documents showing the intent to increase Russian influence on the African continent. The documents show that Russia is aiming to increase its presence in at least 13 African countries by building relations with existing rulers, undercover “agents”, military deals and a new ruling class.

Ethiopia: Think tank warns of dam’s effect on livelihoods
The think tank Oakland Institute has written a report about the effect of the Gibe III dam on livelihoods of indigenous people. The indigenous people of the Lower Omo Valley say in the report that promises of adequate compensation for the loss of lands have been broken by the government, leading to hunger. The report calls upon the Ethiopian government to urgently act.

North of Africa

Mediterranean Sea: UNHCR spokesman warns about a deadly summer on the Mediterranean Sea
The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) declared that the risk of migrants and refugees becoming shipwrecked and dying in the Mediterranean is at a peak. The coming of summer and the violence in Libya mean more people are currently aiming to leave, pursuing the chance of safety. Only one of the ten NGO rescue boats previously active is currently operating in the Mediterranean Sea, at a time when refugees are desperately trying to flee Libya. NGOs report that almost 700 people have left the coast of Libya in recent days, among which 5% were intercepted by the Libyan coastguard and sent back to detention centres. In this regard, the spokeswoman for the UN refugee agency in Italy, Carlotta Sami, said “if we do not intervene soon, there will be a sea of blood.” Currently, a German boat captain faces prosecution in Italy for rescuing refugees and migrants at sea.

Chad: 160 persons apprehended in a few days by the army in the North
Alwihda info reports that defence and security troops belonging to the Joint Mobile Commission of Chad had intercepted a convoy of about 100 people in Wour, Tibesti province, in the far north of Chad. Migrants and refugees were on board 25 vehicles, headed for Libya. This included minors as young as 13 years old. Foreign passports, firearms, metal detectors and narcotics were seized in the convoy.